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   Chapter 3 THE RETREAT

Ismailia By Sir Samuel White Baker Characters: 38707

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03

"April 1.-All the vessels are stuck fast for want of water! This is terrible. I went on in advance with my diahbeeah, accompanied by Mr. Baker, for about three miles to explore. Throughout this distance the greatest depth was about four feet, and the average was under three feet. At length the diahbeeah, which drew only two feet three inches, was fast aground! This was at a point where two raised mounds, or dubbas, were on opposite sides of the river. I left the vessel, and with Mr. Baker, I explored in the rowing boat for about two miles in advance. After the first mile, the boat grounded in about six inches of water upon firm sand. The river, after having deepened for a short space, was suddenly divided into three separate channels, all of which were too shallow for the passage of the diahbeeah, and two were even too shallow to admit the small boat. The boatmen jumped out, and we hauled her up the shallows until we reached the main stream, above the three channels, which ran from the S.S.E., but having no greater mean depth than about two feet six inches.

"We continued for some distance up the stream with the same unfortunate results. The banks, although flooded during the wet season, were now dry, and a forest was about a mile distant. Having left the boat and ascended a white ant-hill, about eight feet high, in order to take a view of the country, I observed a herd of very beautiful antelopes, of a kind that were quite un known to me.

"By careful stalking on the flat plain from one ant-hill to another, I obtained a fair shot at about 140 yards, and killed. Both male and female have horns, therefore I found it difficult to distinguish the sex at that distance. I was delighted with my prize; it was a female, weighing, I should estimate, about twenty stone, clean. The hide was a deep reddish yellow, with black shoulders and legs, also black from the hind quarters down the hind legs. It belonged to the species hippotragus, and had horns that curved backwards, something similar to the hippotragus niger, but much shorter.[*]

[*Footnote: Vide Appendix. This antelope, which I considered to be a new species, proved to be the Damalis Senegalensis of Western Africa.]

"We soon cut it into quarters, and carried it to the boat. This little success in sport had cheered me for the moment; but the happy excitement quickly passed away, and we returned to the diahbeeah quite disheartened. It is simply impossible to continue the voyage, as there is no means of floating the vessels.

"To-morrow I shall explore the channel No. 3, which runs from the W.S.W.

"April 2.-I explored the west channel. This is very narrow, and overgrown with grass. After about a mile we arrived at a shallow place only two feet deep. The whole river is absolutely impracticable at this season. During the rains, and even to the end of December, when the river is full, the vessels could pass, but at no other time. All my labour has been useless, but it would be utterly absurd to attempt a further advance. I have therefore determined to return at once to the Shillook country, and establish a station. Mr. Higginbotham and party will then unite with us, and I will collect the entire force from Khartoum, and start with the expedition complete in the end of November. Although I am grievously disappointed, I am convinced that this is the wisest course. During the rainy season the troops shall cultivate corn, and I shall explore the old White Nile in a steamer, and endeavour to discover a navigable channel via the original route by the Bahr Gazal.

"I was obliged with a heavy heart to give the sad order to turn back; at 3 p.m. we arrived at the assembled fleet.

"I summoned all the officers, and in the presence of Raouf Bey I explained the necessity. The vessels immediately commenced the return voyage, all the officers and men being delighted at the idea of a retreat which they imagined would take them to Khartoum, and terminate the expedition; thus I had little sympathy.-However, I determined to make arrangements for the following season that would enable me to cut through every difficulty. I kept these intentions to myself, or only shared them with my wife and Lieutenant Baker.

"April 3.-Washed decks early, and sent off three soldiers, thus reducing the escort on the diahbeeah to seven men.

"The entire fleet was in full retreat with wind and stream in favour. I would not permit the diahbeeah that had always led the advance to accompany them in the retreat; therefore I allowed them to push on ahead.

"A shower of rain fell to-day; also yesterday.

"A few minutes after starting, both the steamers stuck fast. As I was walking the poop of the diahbeeah, I noticed with the telescope an antelope standing on the summit of an ant-hill about a mile and a quarter distant. There is no change so delightful as a little sport if you are in low spirits; thus, taking the rifle, I rowed up the river for about half a mile in the small boat, and then landing, I obtained the right wind. It was exceedingly difficult to approach game in these extensive treeless flats, and it would have been quite impossible, had it not been for the innumerable hills of the white ants; these are the peculiar features of these swampy countries, and the intelligence of the insects directs their architecture to a height far above the level of the highest floods. The earth used in their construction is the subsoil, brought up from a considerable depth, as the ant-hills are yellow, while the surface soil is black. The earth is first swallowed by the insect and thus it becomes mixed with some albuminous matter which converts it into a cement that resists the action of rain. These hills were generally about eight feet high in the swampy districts, but I have frequently seen them above ten feet. The antelopes make use of such ant-hills as watch towers, from which lofty position they can observe an enemy at a great distance. It is the custom of several varieties to place sentries while the herd is grazing, and upon this occasion, although the sentry was alone visible, I felt sure that the herd was somewhere in his neighbourhood. I have noticed that the sentries are generally bulls. On this occasion I resolved, if possible, to stalk the watchman. I was shooting with a very accurate express rifle, a No. 70 bore of Purdey's, belonging to my friend, Sir Edward Kerrison, who had kindly lent it to me as a favourite weapon when I left England. The grass was very low, and quite green, as it had been fired by the wandering natives some time since; thus, in places there were patches of the tall withered herbage that had been only partially consumed by the fire while unripe: these patches were an assistance in stalking.

"It was, of course, necessary to keep several tall ant-hills in a line with that upon which the antelope was standing, and to stoop so low that I could only see the horns of the animal upon the sky-line. In some places it was necessary to crawl upon the ground; this was trying work, on account of the sharp stumps of the burnt herbage which punished the hands and knees. The fine charcoal dust from the recent fire was also a trouble, as the wind blew it into the eyes. The watermark upon the ant-hills was about eighteen inches above the base, proving the height of the annual floods; and a vast number of the large water helix, the size of a man's fist, lay scattered over the ground, destroyed and partially calcined by the late prairie fire.

"The sun was very hot, and I found crawling so great a distance a laborious operation; my eyes were nearly blinded with perspiration and charcoal dust; but every now and then, as I carefully raised my head, I could distinguish the horns of the antelope in the original position. At length I arrived at the base of the last ant-hill from which I must take my shot.

"There were a few tufts of low scrub growing on the summit; to these I climbed, and digging my toes firmly into an inequality in the side of the hill, I planted my elbows well on the surface, my cap being concealed by the small bushes and tufts of withered grass. The antelope was standing unconsciously about 170 yards, or, as I then considered, about 180 yards from me, perfectly motionless, and much resembling a figure fixed upon a pedestal. The broadside was exposed, thus it would have been impossible to have had a more perfect opportunity after a long stalk. Having waited in a position for a minute or two, to become cool and to clear my eyes, I aimed at his shoulder. Almost as I touched the trigger, the antelope sank suddenly upon its knees, in which position it remained for some seconds on the summit of the ant-hill, and then rolled down to the base, dead. I stepped the exact distance, 169 paces. I had fired rather high, as the bullet had broken the spine a little in front of the shoulder-blade. It was a very beautiful animal, a fine bull, of the same kind that I had killed on 1st April. This antelope was about thirteen hands high at the shoulder, the head long, the face and ears black, also the top of the head; the body bright bay, with a stripe of black about fifteen inches in width extending obliquely across the shoulder, down both the fore and the hind legs, and meeting at the rump. The tail was long, with a tuft of long black hair at the extremity. The horns were deeply annulated, and curved backwards towards the shoulders.

"This was a very large animal, that would have weighed quite thirty stone when gralloched. My boatman, who had been watching the sport, immediately despatched a man for assistance to the diahbeeah. I enjoyed the beauty of this animal: the hide glistened like the coat of a well-groomed horse.

"I did not reach the diahbeeah until 6 p.m.; we then started without delay, and reached the fleet at midnight, at the junction of the ditch through which we had previously arrived at the main river.

"April 4.-The vessels are passing with great difficulty over the shallow entrance of the ditch.

"April 5.-All the vessels have passed. At 6 p.m. we succeeded, after much labour, in getting the last of the steamers through. This accomplished, and having the stream in our favour, we passed along in a compact line for about a mile and a half, the ditch that we had opened being clear and in good order.

"April 6.-Another soldier died. This poor man was the companion of him who, a few days ago, prophesied his own end when he lost his friend. Curiously enough, he died as he was passing the spot where his friend was buried, and we had to bury him in the same ant-hill. The Egyptian troops are very unhealthy. When they first joined the expedition, they were an exceedingly powerful body of men, whose PHYSIQUE I much admired, although their MORALE was of the worst type. I think that every man has lost at least a stone in weight since we commenced this dreadful voyage in chaos, or the Slough of Despond.

"The boats reached the small lake, and continued their voyage through the channel, and anchored for the night at the northern extremity of the five-mile lake. We catch delicious fish daily with the casting-net; the best are the Nile perch, that runs from a pound to four or five pounds, and a species of carp. One of my boatmen is a professional fisherman who understands the casting-net, but he is the only man who can use it.

"April 7.-The channel is again blocked up; all hands clearing into the next lake. Another soldier died-making a total of nine; with two sailors and a boy-total twelve.

"April 8.-Passed into lake No. 2, and by the afternoon reached lake No. 3, where we found our old channel blocked up. I set men to work to open the passage, but there is no chance of its completion until about noon to-morrow. Since we passed this lake a change has taken place, the obstruction through which we cut a channel has entirely broken up. Large rafts of about two acres each have drifted asunder, and have floated to the end of the lake. It is thus impossible to predict what the future may effect. There can be no doubt that the whole of this country was at some former period a lake, which has gradually filled up with vegetation. The dry land, which is only exposed during the hot season, is the result of the decay of vegetable matter. The ashes of the grass that is annually burnt, by degrees form a soil. We are even now witnessing the operation that has formed, and is still increasing, the vast tract of alluvial soil through which we have passed. There is not a stone nor even a small pebble for a distance of two hundred miles; the country is simple mud.

"April 9.-Passed the old channel at 11.45 a.m., after much labour, and we found the long five-mile cutting pretty clear, with the exception of two or three small obstructions. At 5.30 p.m. we reached the Bahr Giraffe, from which extremely narrow channel we had first commenced our difficult work of cutting through many miles of country.

"Who could believe the change? Some evil spirit appears to rule in this horrible region of everlasting swamp. A wave of the demon's wand, and an incredible change appears! The narrow and choked Bahr Giraffe has disappeared; instead of which a river of a hundred yards' width of clear running water meets us at the junction of our cutting. As far as the eye can reach to the E.S.E., there is a succession of large open sheets of water where a few days ago we saw nothing but a boundless plain of marsh grass, without one drop of water visible. These sheets of water mark the course of a river, but each lake is separated by a dam of floating vegetation. The volume of water is very important, and a stream is running at the rate of three miles an hour. Nevertheless, although in open water, we now find ourselves prisoners in a species of lake, as we are completely shut in by a serious dam of dense rafts of vegetation that have been borne forward and tightly compressed by the great force of this new river. It is simply ridiculous to suppose that this river can ever be rendered navigable. One or two vessels, if alone, would be utterly helpless, and might be entirely destroyed with their crews by a sudden change that would break up the country and inclose them in a trap from which they could never escape.

"We passed the night at anchor. Many hippopotami are snorting and splashing in the new lakes.

"April 10.-After a hard day's labour, a portion of the fleet succeeded in cutting through the most serious dam, and we descended our old river to the dubba, or dry mound, where we had first discovered vestiges of the traders. The No. 10 steamer arrived in the evening. The river is wider than when we last saw it, but is much obstructed by small islands, formed of rafts of vegetation that have grounded in their descent. I fear we may find the river choked in many places below stream. No dependence can ever be placed upon this accursed river. The fabulous Styx must be a sweet rippling brook, compared to this horrible creation. A violent wind acting upon the high waving plain of sugar-cane grass may suddenly create a change; sometimes islands are detached by the gambols of a herd of hippopotami, whose rude rambles during the night, break narrow lanes through the floating plains of water-grass, and separate large masses from the main body.

"The water being pent up by enormous dams of vegetation, mixed with mud and half-decayed matter, forms a chain of lakes at slightly-varying levels. The sudden breaking of one dam would thus cause an impetuous rush of stream that might tear away miles of country, and entirely change the equilibrium of the floating masses.

"April 11.-I sent a sailing vessel ahead to examine the river, with orders that she should dip her ensign in case she met with an obstruction. Thank God, all is clear. I therefore ordered the steamers to remount their paddles.

"We started at 10 p.m.

"April 12.-At 11.30 p.m. we met five of Ghatta's [*] boats bound for the White Nile. These people declared their intention of returning, when they heard the deplorable account of the river.

[*Footnote: one of the principal Khartoum ivory and slave-traders]

"At 2 a.m. we arrived at our old position, close to our former wood station in the forest.

"April 13.-Started at 11.30 a.m. The river has fallen three feet since we were here, and the country is now dry. Mr. Baker and I therefore walked a portion of the way upon the banks as the diahbeeah slowly descended the stream. There were great numbers of wild fowl; also hippopotami, and being provided with both shot guns and heavy rifles we made a very curious bag during the afternoon, that in England or Scotland would have been difficult to carry home; we shot and secured two hippopotami, one crocodile, twenty-two geese, and twenty ducks.

"At 7 p.m. we arrived at the station of Kutchuk Ali. I sent for the vakeel, or agent, commanding the company, to whom I thoroughly explained the system and suppression of the slave trade. He seemed very incredulous that it would actually be enforced; but I recommended him not to make the experiment of sending cargoes of slaves down to Khartoum, as he had done in previous years. He appeared to be very confident that because his employer, Kutchuk Ali, had been promoted to the rank of sandjak, with the command of a government expedition, no inquiry would be made concerning the acts of his people. No greater proof could be given of the insincerity of the Soudan authorities in professing to suppress the slave trade, than the fact that Djiaffer Pacha, the governor-general of the Soudan, had given the command of an expedition to this same Kutchuk Ali, who was known as one of the principal slave-traders of the White Nile.

"April 14.-One of my black soldiers deserted, but was captured. We also caught a sailor who had deserted to the slave-hunters during our passage up the river, but as we returned unexpectedly he was discovered. The colonel, Raouf Bey, reported this morning that several officers and soldiers had actually purchased slaves to-day from Kutchuk Ali's station; thus, the Khedive's troops, who are employed under my command to suppress the slave trade, would quickly convert the expedition into a slave market. I at once ordered the slaves to be returned, and issued stringent instructions to the officers.

"I saw this afternoon a number of newly-captured slave women and girls fetching water under the guard of a scoundrel with a loaded musket. I know that the station is full of slaves; but there is much diplomacy necessary, and at present I do not intend to visit their camp.

"April 15.-To prevent further desertions, it was necessary to offer an example to the troops. I therefore condemned the deserter who was captured yesterday to be shot at noon.

"At the bugle call, the troops mustered on parade in full uniform. The prisoner in irons was brought forward and marched round the hollow square, accompanied by muffled drums.

"The sentence having been declared, after a short address to the men, the prisoner was led out, and the firing party advanced. He was a fine young man of about twenty years of age, a native of Pongo, who had been taken as a slave, and had become a soldier against his will.

"There was much allowance for desertion under the circumstances, and I

was moved by the manly way in which he prepared for death. He cast his eye around, but he found neither sympathy nor friends in the hard features of the officers and men. The slave-trader's people had turned out in great numbers, dressed in their best clothes, to enjoy the fun of a military execution. The firing party was ready; the prisoner knelt down with his back towards them, at about five paces distant. At that moment he turned his face with a beseeching expression towards me; but he was ordered immediately to look straight before him.

"The order, 'Present,' was given, and the sharp clicking of the locks, as the muskets were brought on full cock and presented, left but another moment . . . . .

"At that instant I ordered the firing party to retire, and I summoned the prisoner, who was brought up in charge of the guard. In the presence of all the troops I then explained to him the necessity of strict discipline, and that the punishment of death must certainly follow desertion, at the same time I made such allowance for his youth and ignorance that I determined to reduce the punishment to that of flogging, which I trusted would be a warning to him and all others. I assured him, and the troops generally, that although I should never flinch from administering severe punishment when necessary, I should be much happier in rewarding those who should do their duty. The prisoner was flogged and kept in irons. The troops formed into sections of companies and marched past with band playing; each company cheering as they passed before me; but the crowd of slave-hunters slunk back to their station, disappointed that no blood had been spilt for their amusement.[*]

[Footnote: It was satisfactory to me that this young man, who was pardoned and punished as described, became one of the best and most thoroughly trustworthy soldiers of my body-guard; and having at length been raised to the rank of corporal, he was at the close of the expedition promoted to that of sergeant. His name was Ferritch Ajoke.]

"No person except Lieutenant Baker and the colonel, Raouf Bey, had been in the secret that I HAD NEVER INTENDED TO SHOOT THE MAN. I had merely arranged an impressive scene as a coup de theatre, that I trusted might benefit the MORALE of the men.

"We were now in the fine clear stream of the Bahr Giraffe, which, having received numerous affluents from the marsh regions, was united in one volume. We got up steam and started at 4.30 p.m., and the diahbeeah, towed by the steamer down stream, travelled at about nine miles an hour until 8 a.m., making a run of 125 miles.

"We then stopped at a large forest on the west bank to cut wood for the steamer.

"April 16.-Went out shooting with Mr. Baker, and shot two Ellipsyprymna antelopes. The country is beautiful, but game is scarce. The forest is much broken by elephants, which appear to frequent it during the wet season. These animals are very useful in preparing wood for the steamers' fires. They break down the green trees, which dry and become good fuel. Were it not for the elephants, we should only find dead wood, which is nearly all either hollow or rotten, and of little use as firewood. Today we met four vessels from Khartoum that had followed me with a reinforcement of one company of troops, with letters from Djiaffer Pacha and Mr. Higginbotham.

"April 17.-We steamed about thirty-seven miles and then halted at a good forest to fill up our supply of wood. The forest on the left bank is about thirty-seven miles in length, but it is merely a few hundred yards in width, beyond which the country is prairie. On the east bank, where there is no forest, we saw giraffes, buffaloes, and antelopes in considerable numbers during the day.

"April 18.-Filling up wood in the morning. We then travelled three hours, and halted eleven miles from the White Nile junction. During the voyage we saw a lion and lioness with five cubs running off alarmed at the steamer.

"In the afternoon I went out and shot seven geese and two fine black bucks.

"Lieutenant Baker was unfortunately ill with fever. Here we met four more vessels with a company of soldiers from Khartoum. They of course remained with us.

"April 19:-In an hour and a half we arrived at the White Nile, and twenty minutes later we saw three vessels belonging to the mudir, or governor, of Fashoda. We heard from the people on these boats that the governor (Ali Bey, the Koordi) was making a razzia on the Shillook tribe. The banks of the river were crowded with natives running away in all directions; women were carrying off all their little household goods, and children were following their parents, each with a basket on their heads containing either food or something too valuable to be left behind. I immediately went off in a rowing boat, and, after much difficulty, I succeeded in inducing some of the natives who could speak Arabic to stop and converse with me. They declared that the Turks had attacked them without provocation, and that the Koordi (as the governor of Fashoda was called) had stolen many of their women and children, and had killed their people, as he was generally plundering the country. I begged the natives not to fly from their district, but to wait until I should make inquiries on the following day; and I promised to restore the women and children, should they have been kidnapped.

"I halted at a forest about nine miles from the junction of the Bahr

Giraffe, where a bend of the river concealed the steamers and diahbeeah.

"Late at night, when most people were asleep, I sent orders to the chief engineer of the No. 10 steamer to have the steam up at five on the following morning.

"April 20.-We started punctually at the appointed hour; my diahbeeah, as usual, being towed by the steamer. As we rounded the point and quickly came in sight of the governor's vessels, I watched them with a powerful telescope. For some time we appeared to be unobserved. I knew that the troops were not celebrated for keeping a sharp lookout, and we arrived within three-quarters of a mile before the sound of our paddles attracted their attention. The telescope now disclosed some of the mysteries of the expedition. I perceived a considerable excitement among the troops on shore. I made out one tent, and I distinguished men hurrying to and fro apparently busy and excited. During this time we were rapidly approaching, and as the distance lessened, I could distinctly see a number of people being driven from the shore on board a vessel that was lying alongside the bank. I felt convinced that these were slaves, as I could distinguish the difference in size between the children and adults. In the mean time we were travelling at full speed (about eight miles an hour) in the broad but slack current of that portion of the White Nile.

"At 6.35 we ranged up alongside the bank opposite the tent which belonged to the Koordi governor of Fashoda. We had passed close to the three vessels, but no person was visible except their crews. My arrival was evidently quite unexpected, and not very agreeable.

"The governor shortly appeared, and was invited on the poop deck of my diahbeeah; this was always furnished with carpets and sofas so as to form a divan.

"After a pipe and coffee, I commenced the conversation by describing the impossibility of an advance at this season via the Bahr Giraffe, therefore I had found it necessary to return. He simply replied, `God is great! and, please God, you will succeed next year.'

"I now asked him how many troops he had with him, as I noticed two brass guns, and a number of irregular cavalry, in addition to some companies of infantry. He replied that he had five companies in addition to the cavalry and mounted Baggara Arabs; and that he was `collecting the taxes.'

"I begged him to explain to me his system of taxation; and to inform me whether he had established a poll, or a house tax, or in what special form the dues were represented. This seemed to be a great puzzle to the mind of the governor, and after applying to my colonel, to whom he spoke in Turkish, he replied that the people were very averse to taxation, therefore he made one annual tour throughout the country, and collected what he thought just.

"I asked him whether he captured women and children in the same way in which he annexed the natives' cattle. To this he replied by a distinct negative, at the same time assuming an expression of horror at such an idea.

"I immediately ordered my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant-Colonel Abd-el-Kader, to visit the vessels that were lying a few yards astern. This was a very excellent and trustworthy officer, and he immediately started upon an examination. In the mean while the Koordi governor sat rigidly upon the sofa, puffing away at his long pipe, but evidently thinking that the affair would not end in simple smoke.

"In a few minutes I heard the voice of my colonel angrily expostulating with the crew of the vessel, who had denied that any slaves were on board. Almost at the same time a crowd of unfortunate captives emerged from below, where they had been concealed, and walked singly along the plank to the shore; being counted by the officer according to sex as they disembarked. The Koordi governor looked uncomfortable, as this happened before our eyes. I made no remark, but simply expressed a wish to walk round his encampment.

"Having passed through the place of bivouac, where the foulest smells attacked us from all sides, I thoroughly examined the spot, accompanied by Lieutenant Baker and a few officers of my staff. There was no military order, but the place was occupied by a crowd of soldiers, mingled with many native allies, under the command of an extremely blackguard-looking savage, dressed in a long scarlet cloak made of woollen cloth. This was belted round his waist, to which was suspended a crooked Turkish sabre; he wore a large brass medal upon his breast, which somewhat resembled those ornaments that undertakers use for giving a lively appearance to coffins. This fellow was introduced to me by the Koordi as the `king of the Shillooks.'

"In the rear of the party, to which spot I had penetrated while the Koordi was engaged in giving orders to certain officers, I came suddenly upon a mass of slaves, who were squatted upon the ground, and surrounded by dirty clothes, arranged like a fence, by the support of lances, pieces of stick, camel saddles, &c. These people were guarded by a number of soldiers, who at first seemed to think that my visit was one of simple curiosity.

"Many of the women were secured to each other by ropes passed from neck to neck. A crowd of children, including very young infants, squatted among the mass, and all kept a profound silence, and regarded me with great curiosity. Having sent for my notebook, I divided the slaves into classes, and counted them as follows:-

Concealed in the boat we had discovered, 71 Those on shore guarded by sentries were 84 -- 155

including 65 girls and women, 80 children, and 10 men. The governor of Fashoda, whom I thus had caught in the act of kidnapping slaves, was the person who, a few weeks before, had assured me that the slave trade was suppressed, as the traders dared not pass his station of Fashoda. The real fact was, that this excellent example of the Soudan made a considerable fortune by levying a toll upon every slave which the traders' boats brought down the river; this he put into his own pocket.

"I immediately informed him that I should report him to the Khedive, at the same time I insisted upon the liberation of every slave.

"At first he questioned my authority, saying that he held the rank of bey, and was governor of the district. I simply told him that `if he refused to liberate the slaves, he must give me that refusal in writing.' This was an awkward fix, and he altered his tone by attempting to explain that they were not slaves, but only held as hostages until the people should pay their taxes. At the same time he was obliged to confess that there was no established tax. I heard that he had received from one native ten cows for the ransom of his child, thus the stolen child was sold back to the father for ten cows! and this was the Soudan method of collecting taxes! If the unfortunate father had been shot dead in the razzia, his unransomed child would have been carried away and sold as a slave; or should the panic-stricken natives be afraid to approach with a ransom for fear of being kidnapped themselves, the women and children would be lost to them for ever.

"I was thoroughly disgusted. I knew that what I had happened to discover was the rule of the Soudan, and that the protestations of innocence of governors was simply dust thrown into the eyes. It was true that the Shillook country was not in my jurisdiction; but I was determined to interfere in behalf of the slaves, although I should not meddle with the general affairs of the country. I therefore told the Koordi that I had the list of the captives, and he must send for some responsible native to receive them and take them to their homes. In the mean time I should remain in the neighbourhood. I then returned to the fleet that I had left at the forest. In the evening we were joined by most of the rear vessels.

"April 21.-At 9.30 a.m. we sighted eleven vessels in full sail, approaching from Khartoum, with a strong N.E. wind, and shortly afterwards we were delighted by the arrival of Mr. Higginbotham, Dr. Gedge, and the six English engineers, shipwrights, &c., all in good health.

"April 22.-I paid a visit to the Koordi's camp, accompanied by Mr. Baker and Mr. Higginbotham, as I wished to have European witnesses to the fact. Upon arrival, I explained to the governor that he had compromised the Egyptian Government by his act, and as I had received general instructions from the Khedive to suppress all slave-hunters, I could only regard him in that category, as I had actually found him in the act. I must, therefore, insist upon the immediate and unconditional release of all the slaves. After an attempt at evasion, he consented, and I at once determined to liberate them personally, which would establish confidence among the natives.

"Accompanied by Lieutenant Baker and Mr. Higginbotham, and the various officers of the staff, I ordered the ropes, irons, and other accompaniments of slavery to be detached; and I explained through an interpreter to the astonished crowd of captives, that the Khedive had abolished slavery, therefore they were at liberty to return to their own homes. At first, they appeared astounded, and evidently could not realize the fact; but upon my asking them where their homes were, they pointed to the boundless rows of villages in the distance, and said, `Those are our homes, but many of our men are killed, and all our cattle and corn are carried off.' I could only advise them to pack off as quickly as possible, now that they had the chance of freedom.

"The women immediately took up their little infants (one had been born during the night), others led the very small children by the hand, and with a general concert, they burst into the long, quavering, and shrill yell that denotes rejoicing. I watched them as they retreated over the plain to their deserted homes, and I took a coldly polite farewell of the Koordi. The looks of astonishment of the Koordi's troops as I passed through their camp were almost comic. I shall report this affair to the Khedive direct; but I feel sure that the exposure of the governor of Fashoda will not add to the popularity of the expedition among the lower officials.

"April 23.-I started with two steamers and two diahbeeahs to explore a favourable spot for a permanent station. We reached the Sobat junction in three hours and a quarter, about twenty-five miles. From the Sobat, down stream, we steamed for forty minutes, arriving at a forest, on a high bank to the east, where some extraordinary high dome palms (palma Thebaica), together with dolape palms (Borassus Ethiopicus), gave an air of tropical beauty to a desolate and otherwise uninviting spot.

"I fixed upon this place for a station as the ground was hard, the position far above the level of high floods, and the forest afforded a supply of wood for building purposes and fuel.

"April 24.-We steamed for half-an-hour down stream to a large village on the west bank, named Wat-a-jook. Thence I went down stream for one hour to the grove of dolape palms and gigantic India rubber trees. This was formerly a large village, known as Hillet-el-dolape, but it has been entirely destroyed by the governor of Fashoda. After much difficulty, I induced some natives to come to me, with whom I at length made friends: they all joined in accusing the Koordi governor of wanton atrocities.

"In the afternoon, not having discovered a spot superior to that I had already selected for a station, we returned; but we had not travelled more than an hour and a half when the engine of the No. 10 steamer broke down. On examination, it appeared that the air pump was broken. Fortunately the accident occurred close to the spot selected for a station.

"April 25.-At 12.30 p.m. I sent back the No. 8 steamer to call the fleet to the station. I soon made friends with the natives, great numbers of whom congregated on the west bank of the river. All these people had heard that I had liberated the women and children.

"April 26.-The steamer and entire fleet arrived in the afternoon.

"The natives brought a bullock and a Pongo slave as a present from the chief. I freed the slave, and sent a piece of cloth as an introduction to the chief.

"April 27.-This was a busy day passed in measuring out the camp. I set several companies at work to fell the forest and to prepare timber for building.

"April 28.-Pouring rain. No work possible.

"April 29.-The Englishmen set up their forge and anvil; and we commenced unloading corrugated iron sheets to form our magazines. Fortunately, I had a number of wall-plates, rafters, &c., that I had brought from Egypt for this purpose, as there is no straight wood in the country.

"The sheik or head of the Shillook tribe sent envoys with a present of four bullocks and two small tusks, with a message that he wished to see me, but he was afraid to come. I accordingly sent the messengers back in the No. 8 steamer with ten soldiers as an escort to bring him to my station.

"April 30.-We commenced erecting the iron magazines. Lieutenant Baker, Mr. Higginbotham, and the Englishmen all actively employed, while Raouf Bey and his officers, instead of attending to the pressing work of forming the permanent camp, sit under a tree and smoke and drink coffee throughout the day.

"The artillerymen are nearly all ill; likewise many of the Egyptian regiment, while the black troops are well and in excellent spirits. There is no doubt that for this service the blacks are very superior to the Egyptians: these are full of religious prejudices combined with extreme ignorance, and they fall sick when deprived of the vegetable diet to which they are accustomed in Egypt.

"In the evening the steamer returned with the true Shillook king, accompanied by two of his wives, four daughters, and a retinue of about seventy people."

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