The Wild Tribes of the Soudan

Source: F.L. James, The Wild Tribes of the Soudan: an account of travel and sport chiefly in the Basé country, Being personal experiences and adventures during three winters spent in the Soudan (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1893 [orig. pub. London, 1883), p. 70

Text: On one occasion we exhibited the magic-lantern, to the intense delight of a large crowd who came after dinner on purpose to see it, and had never seen any thing so wonderful before. We worked the lantern from the inside of a tent, with a sheet hung in front of the door. We always commenced the show by displaying portraits of the Queen and Prince of Wales: these were both very popular, and invariably re-demanded. We had been careful, before leaving England, to choose subjects for the slides that we thought would interest them; and their exhibition was always successful. The most popular consisted of a series of animals found in Africa, such as the lion, hippopotamus, elephant, etc.; and when we displayed a representation of a man escaping up a tree from a crocodile, with the beast opening and shutting its mouth, and trying to seize him, they fairly shrieked with laughter.

Some of the slides represented the Suez Canal, English scenes, caravans in the desert, African villages, etc.; and all these were explained to them in Arabic, to their intense delight, while the Arabic was translated into their own tongue for the benefit of those that did not understand that language. As a termination to the entertainment, we sent up one or two rockets, and lighted a Bengal light or two; by which time our reputation as wonderful magicians was fairly established among them. As a hint that the show was over, and that it was time for the crowd to retire, we hit upon the expedient of conducting the sheik, by the light of a Bengal light, to his horse, which was in waiting for him outside our zariba. The result was a most happy one; a veritable retraite aux flambeaux took place, and the camp was cleared in less than five minutes.

Comments: Frank Linsly James (1851-1890) was a British explorer, who explored the Soudan and Somalia in particular, and who was killed by a wounded elephant in Gabon.

Links: Copy at Hathi Trust

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