Some division of territory, or of pasturage among the hordes of the desert, was doubtless the cause, that the Europeans, who desired to carry on the gum trade, formerly chose the dangerous bay of Portendic, surrounded by a vast amphitheatre of burning sands, in preference to Cape Merick.
One of the camels, laden with provisions, is immediately dispatched; those who conduct it are to go, if necessary, to Portendic, to fetch our companions in misfortune; or at least to get some information respecting them. The English envoy had money to buy us provisions. He informed us that we had still three days march to the Senegal.
Its elevation and nature, afford a facility of defence, which is not found at Portendic; where there is not at present the smallest appearance of vegetation. The Estuary of the river, St. John, at the back of this Cape, is now entirely destitute of verdure, and humidity, and salt is abundant in the neighbourhood.
After this pretended reconnaissance of the 2d July, if we were persuaded that we had seen that Cape, we should have steered west, to double the bank of Arguin; the danger once passed, the course should have been again directed to the south which is the route to Senegal; but he who for some days past had guided the course of the ship, thought proper to persuade the captain, to take immediately the southerly course, and to steer for Portendic.
Sixty-three men threw themselves into the water and reached the shore, which is only a dry and burning sand, it must have been a few leagues above Portendic. I took care not to imitate them. I remained with about twenty-six others in the long-boat, all determined to endeavour to reach the Senegal with our vessel, which was lightened of above two-thirds of its burden. It was the 6th of July.