Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

"Did you accompany him from thence to Timbuctoo? — Yes.

"How was he received at Timbuctoo ? — Well. "How long did he remain at Timbuctoo ? — About two months.

"Did you leave Timbuctoo with Major Laing ? — Yes.

"Who went with you ? — A koffle of Arabs.

"In what direction did you go ? — The sun was on my right cheek.

"Did you know where you were going ? — To Sansanding.

"Did you see any water, and were you molested ? — We saw no water, nor were we molested till the night of the third day, when the Arabs of the country attacked and killed my master.

"Was any one killed besides your master ?—I was wounded, but cannot say if any were killed.

"Were you sleeping near your master ? — Yes.

"How many wounds had your master? — I cannot say; they were all with swords; and in the morning I saw the head had been cut off.

"Did the person who had charge of your master commit the murder ? — Sheik Burbasch, who accompanied the Rels, killed him, being assisted by his black servants with swords, when asleep.

"What did the sheik then do ? — He went on to his country. An Arab took me back to Timbuctoo.

"What property had your master when he was killed ? — Two camels: one carried the provisions; the other carried my master and his bags.

"Where were your master's papers ? — In his bag.

"Did you endeavour to preserve them? — I was so stunned with the wound, I never thought of the papers.

"Were the papers brought back to Timbuctoo? — I don't know."

And this Arab thus deposes before the Kadi of Tripoli: —

"Appeared before me, &c. and maketh oath, according to the established form of the Mahomedan faith, Bungola, servant to the late Major Laing, who swears that he was with his master three days beyond Timbuctoo, and saw his master murdered; and that he actually saw the head separated from the body.

"Signed, Sic. in the presence of his highness's minister,

« H. D'GniEs."

By the following extract, however, from the "Semaphore," of Marseilles, it appears that the above-named Hassouna D'Ghies is strongly suspected of having been an accessary to Major Laing's assassination, and of having obtained the brave but unfortunate traveller's papers, and subsequently disposed of them to the French consul:—

"It was known some days ago that Baron Rousseau, the French consul-general, and charge d'affaires at Tripoli, had taken down his flag, in consequence of very serious disputes between the Pasha and him, respecting the papers of Major Laing. If we may credit the information which we have received, Baron Rousseau is implicated in this affair. As soon as the official documents, which we expect, have reached us, we shall lose no time in laying them before the public.

NEWS RECEIVED FROM TRIPOLI.

"It was about three years ago, that Major Laing, son-inlaw of Colonel Hammer Warrington, consul-general of England in Tripoli, quitted that city, where he left his young wife, and penetrated into the mysterious continent of Africa, the grave of so many illustrious travellers. After having crossed the chain of Mount Atlas, the country of Fezzan, the desert of Lempta, the Sahara, and the kingdom of Ahades, he arrived at the city of Timbuctoo, the discovery of which has been so long desired by the learned world. Major Laing, by entering Timbuctoo, had gained the reward of 3000/. sterling, which a learned and .generous society in London had promised to the intrepid adventurer who should first visit the great African city, situated between the Nile of the Negroes

**

[graphic]

and the river Gambaron. But Major Laing attached much less value to the gaining of the reward, than to the fame acquired after so many fatigues and dangers. He had collected on his journey valuable information in all branches of science; having fixed his abode at Timbuctoo, he had composed the journal of his travels, and was preparing to return to Tripoli, when he was attacked by Africans, who undoubtedly were watching for him in the desert. Laing, who had but a weak escort, defended himself with heroic courage: he had at heart the preservation of his labours and his glory. But in this engagement he lost his right hand, which was struck off by the blow of a yatagan. It is impossible to help being moved with pity at the idea of the unfortunate traveller, stretched upon the sand, writing painfully with his left hand to his young wife, the mournful account of the combat. Nothing can be so affecting as this letter, written in stiff characters, by unsteady fingers, and all soiled with dust and blood. This misfortune was only the prelude to one far greater. Not long afterwards, some people of Ghadamis, who had formed part of the major's escort, arrived at Tripoli, and informed Colonel Warrington that his relation had been assassinated in the desert. Colonel Warrington could not confine himself to giving barren tears to the memory of his son-in-law. The interest of his glory, the honour of England, the affections of a father — all made it his duty to seek after the authors of the murder, and endeavour to discover what had become of the papers of the victim. An uncertain report was soon spread that the papers of Major Laing had been brought to Tripoli by people of Ghadamis; and that a Turk, named Hassouna D'Ghies, had mysteriously received them. This is the same D'Ghies whom we have seen at Marseilles, displaying so much luxury and folly, offering to the ladies his perfumes and his shawls—a sort of travelling Usbeck, without his philosophy and his wit. From Marseilles he went to London, overwhelmed with debts, projecting new ones, and always accompanied by women and creditors. Colonel Warrington was long engaged in persevering researches, and at length succeeded in finding a clue to this horrible mystery. The Pasha, at his request, ordered the people who had made part of the Major's escort, to be brought from Ghadamis. The truth was at length on the point of being known; but this truth was too formidable to Hassouna D'Ghies for him to dare to await it, and he therefore took refuge in the abode of Mr. Coxe, the consul of the United States. The Pasha sent word to Mr. Coxe, that he recognised the inviolability of the asylum granted to Hassouna; but that the evidence of the latter being necessary in the prosecution of the proceedings relative to the assassination of Major Laing, he begged him not to favour his flight. Colonel Warrington wrote to his colleague to the same effect. However, Hassouna D'Ghies left Tripoli on the 9th of August, in the night, in the disguise, it is said, of an American officer, and took refuge on board the. United States corvette Fairfield, Captain Parker, which was then at anchor in the roads of Tripoli. Doubtless, Captain Parker was deceived with respect to Hassouna, otherwise the noble flag of the United States would not have covered with its protection a man accused of being an accomplice in an assassination.

"It is fully believed that this escape was ardently solicited by a French agent, whom we see, with a profound sentiment of grief, engaged in this affair. It is even said, tjiat the proposal was first made to the captain of one of our (French) ships, but that he nobly replied, that one of the king's officers could not favour a suspicious flight, — that he would not receive Hassouna on board his ship except by virtue of a written order,—and, at all events, in open day, and without disguise.

"The Fairfield weighed anchor on the 10th of August, in the morning.

"The Pasha, enraged at the escape of Hassouna, summoned to his palace Mohamed D'Ghies, brother of the fugitive, and there, in the presence of his principal officers, commanded him with a stern voice to declare the truth. Mohamed fell at his master's feet, and declared upon oath, and in writing, that his brother Hassouna had had Major Laing's papers in his possession; but that he had delivered them up to a person, whom we shall refrain from naming, for a deduction of forty per cent on the debts which he had contracted in France, and the recovery of which this person was endeavouring to obtain by legal proceedings.

"The declaration of Mohamed extends to three pages, containing valuable and very numerous details respecting the delivery of the papers of the unfortunate Major, and all the

circumstances of this strange transaction

The shape and the size of the Major's papers are indicated with the most minute exactness; it is stated that these papers were taken from him near Timbuctoo, and subsequently delivered to the person above mentioned entire, and without breaking the seals of red wax, — a circumstance which would demonstrate the participation of Hassouna in the assassination: for how can it be supposed, otherwise, that the wretches who murdered the Major would have brought these packages to such a distance, without having been tempted by cupidity, or even the curiosity so natural to savages, to break open their frail covers?

"Mohamed, however, after he had left the palace, fearing that the Pacha, in his anger, would make him answerable for his brother's crime, according to the usual mode of doing justice at Tripoli, hastened to seek refuge in the house of the person of whom we have spoken, and to implore his protection. Soon afterwards the consul-general of the Netherlands, accompanied by his colleagues the consuls-general of Sweden, Denmark, and Sardinia, proceeded to the residence of the person pointed out as the receiver, and in the name of Colonel Warrington, and by virtue of the declaration of Mohamed, called upon him instantly to restore Major Laing's papers. He answered haughtily, that this declaration was only a tissue of calumnies; and Mohamed, on his side, trusting doubtless in a pretended inviolability, yielding perhaps to fallacious promises, retracted his declaration, completely disowned it, and even went so far as to deny his own hand-writing.

"This recantation deceived nobody; the Pasha, in a trans

« ElőzőTovább »