While Park was waiting on the banks of the Niger for a
passage, the king of the country was informed that a white man intended to
visit him. On this intelligence, a messenger was instantly dispatched to
tell the stranger that his majesty could not possibly admit him to his
presence till he understood the cause of his arrival, and also to warn him
not to cross the river without the royal permission. The message was
delivered by one of the chief natives, who advised Mr. Park to
seek a lodging in an adjacent village, and promised to give him some
requisite instructions in the morning. Mr. Park immediately complied with
this counsel; but on entering the village he had the mortification to find
every door closed against him. He was, therefore, obliged to remain all the
day without food, beneath the shade of a tree. About sunset, as he was
turning his horse loose to graze, and expected to pass the night in this
lonely situation, a woman returning from her employment in the fields
stopped to gaze at him, and observing his dejected looks, enquired from
what cause they proceeded? Mr. P. endeavoured, as well as he could, to make
known his destitute situation. The woman immediately took up his saddle and
bridle, and desired him to follow her to her residence, where, after
lighting a lamp, she presented him with some broiled fish, spread a mat for
him to lie upon, and gave him permission to continue under her roof till
morning. Having performed this humane action, she summoned her female
companions to their spinning, which occupied the chief part of the night,
while their labour was beguiled by a variety of songs--one of which was
observed by Mr. Park to be an extemporaneous effusion, created by his own
adventure. The air was remarkably sweet and plaintive, and the words were
literally the following:--
"The winds roared, and the rain fell.
The poor white man, faint and weary, came and sat under our tree.
He has no mother to bring him milk, no wife to grind him corn.
_Chorus._ Let us pity the white man: no mother has he to bring him
milk, no wife to grind his corn."