MoboReader > Literature > Ismailia


Ismailia By Sir Samuel White Baker Characters: 43842

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03

ON 15th January, 1873, the sentry on the rock citadel reported a party arriving from the Unyoro road. Shortly after, the reports of guns were heard, and it was made known that envoys had arrived from M'tese, the king of Uganda, together with an escort of natives, and two of my soldiers from Rionga. M'tese's people were armed with guns.

The envoys were quickly ushered into the new divan, which was a circular, lofty building, twenty feet in diameter, neatly plastered, and painted light grey with a mixture of wood-ashes.

Ali Jusef, the principal envoy, was a native of Sishuaali, on the coasts of the Red Sea entrance, and the Indian Ocean. I had several officers who were natives of the same country, including the gallant Ferritch Agha and Said Agha: thus I had excellent interpreters.

The envoys were beautifully clean, in white Bombay cotton clothes, and they were quite civilized, and as intelligent as Europeans. They appeared to have a thorough knowledge of the route to India, and the various tribes along the eastern coast of equatorial Africa.

These people gave me much useful information; and I shall, as usual in this work, simply extract from my journal the exact entry made at the moment whenever I received geographical reports from the natives: thus I shall give to the public the unpolished statements precisely as I heard them; upon which data theoretical geographers may form their own opinions.

"The envoys report, that from Ujiji (pronounced by them Uyeye) you can travel by lake direct to Magungo, the lake being the M'wootan N'zige.

"The Victoria N'yanza is called by two names, 'Sessy' or 'Kurewe.'

Although large, it is small in comparison with the M'wootan N'zige"

There was no news of Livingstone; but, according to my request from Masindi, M'tese had sent everywhere in search of him, and he had forwarded my two letters addressed to him in different directions.

The king, M'tese, had written me a letter expressing great friendship, and declaring that when the news of Kabba Rega's treachery had reached him, he had sent an army under General Congow, to be placed at my disposal.

This army was now quartered at Mashudi, (two days' march from Rionga's island, on the road to Masindi) waiting for my orders. M'tese begged me to visit him as soon as possible, as he only had one desire, i.e. "to see my face," and that he "did not wish for presents."

This was a model African potentate; at the same time I could not possibly visit him, as my term of service would expire upon the 1st of April.

I was much disappointed at this impossibility, as M'tese can do more for

Central Africa than any other potentate. He behaved well to Speke and

Grant, and he had been very true to me.

On 11th February, fresh envoys arrived from M'tese, including my old friend Waysooah, who was as usual dressed very carefully in Indian costume, with a handsomely-worked cotton robe.

M'tese had written me another letter in Arabic, begging me to send him one of my soldiers as my representative, if I could not come personally.

The road was now declared to be practically open between Fatiko and

Zanzibar by means of M'tese's friendship.

This excellent man, who was now a Mohammedan, and kept an Arab secretary, had already sent to Ujiji in search of Livingstone, according to my request, and his messengers had returned with the news, "that he had been at Ujiji, and had crossed the lake to the west; since which, nothing had been heard of him."

M'tese's people were still in search of Livingstone. Ujiji was declared to be on the "M'wootan N'zige," i. e. the Albert N'yanza.

I give this information exactly as I received it.

I now wrote a letter to Dr. Livingstone, of which the following is a copy:-


("N. lat. 3 degrees 1 minute; E. long. 32 degrees 36 minutes,)

"February 13th, 1875.


"M'tese, the king of Uganda, has been searching for you, according to my instructions sent to him in June 1872.

"He also forwarded my letters to be given to you when met with.

"His envoys have now visited me at Fatiko, with the report that M'tese's messengers heard of you as having formerly been at Ujiji; but that you had left that station and crossed the Tanganyika to the west.

"Nothing more is known of you.

"I have sent a soldier with the envoys who convey this letter; he will remain with M'tese. This soldier (Selim) was one of Speke's men, who travelled from Zanzibar to Cairo.

"M'tese will take the greatest care of you. He has behaved very well to the government.

"Since I wrote to you in June, Kabba Rega treacherously attacked me with many thousand men.

"I thrashed him thoroughly, and I have set up Rionga, the old enemy of his family, who is now sheik of the government.

"M'tese sent Congow with several thousand men to assist the troops.

"I trust, my dear Livingstone, that this letter may reach you. Do not come down the lake. It is now well known that the Tanganyika is the Albert N'yanza; both known as the great lake M'wootan N'zige.

"A steamer will, I trust, be on the lake this year.

"Ever yours most sincerely,


On 13th February, after a few days' pleasant sojourn at Fatiko, M'tese's envoys returned to Uganda, accompanied by my representative, Selim, who, although a private, was a very intelligent Suachli; he had formerly accompanied Speke from Zanzibar. I gave Selim instructions to impress upon M'tese the necessity of assisting Livingstone without a moment's delay.

It is interesting to remember, now that the great traveller is dead, that the arrangements I had made for his assistance would have secured his safety, and would have enabled him to pursue his geographical investigations northward, without the slightest risk or difficulty, beyond the bodily fatigue which is inseparable from African travel.

My letter was not only delivered by M'tese's orders into the hands of Lieutenant Cameron, R.N. at Unyamyembi, but M'tese actually sent me his reply through the weary distance to Gondokoro! This reply was received by my successor, Colonel Gordon, and was forwarded to the Khedive, as a proof of the effect of the expedition under my command, in opening through postal communication in the heart of Africa. People who are unacquainted with the difficulties of Africa cannot sufficiently appreciate this grand result. The intelligent king, M'tese, should receive a present from our government, as a reward for having exerted himself to assist an English consul in distress. The small sum of 200 pound Sterling, judiciously expended, would procure trifles that would be treasures to M'tese, and would do more to open up Central Africa to travellers than any other means.

I fear this may be forgotten, and that M'tese will be neglected after this truly philanthropic effort to relieve an English traveller and CONSUL when in difficulty.

I wrote a letter thanking M'tese for all that he had done, and assuring him that our country would be grateful to him for any assistance that he might render Livingstone. At the same time that I thanked him for his aid to myself, I begged he would recall his army from Unyoro, as my troops, although few, were strong, and that, having already defeated Kabba Rega, I required no assistance.

I sent General Congow a present of a sword, and a few articles to M'tese, in return for a specimen of beautifully-dressed skins, sewn together as neatly as the work of a French glover…

The time wore on in considerable anxiety concerning the party that I had sent to Gondokoro under Wat-el-Mek for reinforcements.

I had allowed them forty-two days for their return to Fatiko with the cattle and troops, but no intelligence had been received of their movements from the week they had started. Fortunately the abundance of game in the neighbourhood had supplied the troops with meat.

At length, after ninety-three days' absence, news was brought that Wat-el-Mek and the troops were close at hand. Shooli had arrived at daybreak to say that a native had seen them on the previous evening on the north side of Shooa hill, about seven miles from Fatiko.

At 2.30 P.M., on 8th March, we distinguished the white uniforms ascending the plateau at the north end of the Fatiko plain; and shortly after, the main body emerged from among the rocks and foliage, and formed on the level ground. I at once distinguished with the telescope the lieutenant-colonel, Tayib Agha, upon his well-known powerful white horse.

My troops in full uniform went out to meet the reinforcements, which quickly marched up and formed on the level turf outside the fort upon the north side.

I rode out and inspected the troops.


The lieutenant-colonel, Tayib Agha, had made a sad mess of his command during the march. He had quarrelled with Wat-el-Mek; and simply because some of the native carriers had absconded in a portion of the Bari country named Moogi, he had set fire to the villages in revenge! This was in a country, where I had established peace.

The Baris had attacked the troops, and had not only killed twenty-eight of our men, but had stripped the bodies, and possessed themselves of clothes, arms, and ammunition. They had also captured the cattle.

Although Tayib Agha had about 280 men, he actually retreated and dared not attack the natives to recover either the bodies of his men or their muskets! (The lieutenant who commanded the unfortunate detachment was killed while defending himself bravely to the last. In addition to the twenty-eight soldiers, two Bari interpreters were also killed, making a total loss of thirty.)

I at once determined to leave Major Abdullah as commandant at Fatiko, and to take Tayib Agha back to Gondokoro, as he was not fit for an independent command.

The immense delay in sending up the reinforcements had been occasioned by the long voyage from Khartoum.

When Wat-el-Mek had reached Gondokoro, the troops HAD NOT ARRIVED from

Khartoum; therefore he was obliged to wait.

When at length they did arrive, they had been THIRTEEN MONTHS on the voyage to Gondokoro, and had passed the rainy season with the slave-traders in the camp of Kutchuk Ali on the Bahr Giraffe; this river they reported as navigable, owing to my canals, which had continued open.

It was the old story of delay and indolence, unless I was personally present to force them forward.

I had now 620 men, therefore I reinforced Rionga and the various stations. I thus garrisoned strongly Fatiko, Fabbo, and Paniadoli-the stockade opposite Rionga's island, in N. lat. 2 degrees 6'.

The country of Unyoro was now completely in the grasp of Ali Genninar and Rionga. Unyoro extends to the south of the equator on the shores of the Albert N'yanza, where Kabba Rega was supposed to be hiding.

On 14th March I drew out the following orders for Major Abdullah, who would remain as commandant of Fatiko:-

"1. Observe the rules at present existing respecting sentries.

"2. Observe the rules at present existing for cleanliness of camp.

"3. Plant negheel grass on ramparts during the rainy season.

"4. Clean out the fort ditch once every month.

"5. Each company of troops is to cultivate corn and vegetables at the commencement of the rains.

"6. Each company to be exercised at musketry drill for one hour daily.

"7. All troops to be exercised at light-infantry drill for three hours on Mondays and Fridays, upon which days there will be no other work.

"8. The corn-tax is to be regularly collected, so that three months' supply shall be the minimum in the camp granaries.

"9. The bugle to sound the night alarm once every month, to accustom the men to night quarters.

"10. The troops to occupy their stations at general quarters, according to present practice.

"11. Banana plants to be introduced upon every opportunity from Magungo.

"12. Coffee-berries [*] to be sown in nursery-beds, when received from M'tese.

[*Footnote: I had written to him for a supply of coffee-seed.)

"13. The old huts to be cleared away and replaced by new, constructed in lines similar to those in the south camp.

"14. No ivory to be purchased in exchange for cattle, but only in barter for goods.


"16. The bugle to sound 'Extinguish fires' at 8 p.m."

Having left everything in perfect order in the new central territory, I was ready to start for Gondokoro on 20th March.

I had been two years and five months without any news or communication with either Egypt or Europe when the post arrived with Wat-el-Mek. About 600 copies of the Times had arrived at once. We had been introduced to the Tichborne case; and of course had, at the earliest stage of the trial, concluded that the claimant was Arthur Orton. The news that is almost stereotyped in English newspapers gave us the striking incidents of civilization. Two or three wives had been brutally knocked about by their husbands, who had received only a slight punishment. A prominent divorce case; a few Irish agrarian outrages; a trial in the ecclesiastical court of a refractory clergyman; the smash-up of a few public companies, with the profitable immunity of the directors; a lady burnt to death; a colliery explosion; several hundred railway accidents, which induced me to prefer walking; the Communists had half destroyed Paris; republican principles were fast spreading through England; the Gladstone ministry would last for ever; some babies had been poisoned, and the baby-farmer had been hanged; deceased wife's sisters were to marry their disconsolate brothers; England was to pay a tribute to America (for the freaks of the Alabama); drunkenness was on the increase; ladies were to become our physicians; &c. I was almost afraid to return home; but as I had some friends and relations that I wished to see again, I left my little paradise, Fatiko, and marched for Gondokoro, accompanied by my good natives, Shooli and Gimoro.

After the absurd conduct and the defeat of Tayib Agha at Moogi, I fully expected to have to fight my way through; but upon arrival in that district the natives knew me, and we were not molested. They even sent me six cows which had been lost by Tayib Agha on the road during his unlucky march.

I had taken under my especial protection a number of Bari women and young girls whom Wat-el-Mek and Tayib Agha had pressed into their service to carry loads during their journey from Gondokoro to Fatiko. There can be no doubt that these poor creatures never would have been returned to their country, had I not delivered them; but seeing their condition upon their arrival at Fatiko, I had ordered them to accompany me, and to show me the position of their homes during the march.

On arrival at the broad dry bed of a stream about two days' march from Gondokoro, we halted beneath the shade of a large tree for breakfast. The women and children now approached, and hesitatingly declared that this was their country, and their villages were near. They evidently doubted my sincerity in restoring them, which hurt me exceedingly.

"Go, my good women," I exclaimed, "and when you arrive at your homes, explain to your people that you were captured entirely against my will, and that I am only happy to have released you."

For a few moments they looked around them, as hardly believing the good news. In another instant, as the truth flashed across their delighted minds, they rushed upon me in a body, and before I had time for self-defence, I found myself in the arms of a naked beauty who kissed me almost to suffocation, and with a most unpleasant embrace licked both my eyes with her tongue. The sentries came to my assistance, together with the servants, who withstood the grateful crowd; otherwise both my wife and myself would have been subjected to this painful thanksgiving from the liberated Bari women.

Their freedom having been explained, we gave each a present of beads as a reward for the trouble they had undergone, and they went away rejoicing, upon the road to their own homes.

We arrived at Gondokoro on 1st April, 1873, without the slightest disturbance during the march. This was the exact day upon which my term of service would have expired, according to my original agreement with the Khedive.

I halted the troops about half a mile from Gondokoro, to allow them to change their clothes, when I observed with the telescope some of the Englishmen approaching. Several of my welcome countrymen at length arrived.

"Where is Mr. Higginbotham?" I asked, as I was eager to see my chief engineer and friend.

There was a slight pause before the reply-"HE DIED ON THE LAST DAY OF


I was quite overpowered with the dreadful news! Poor Higginbotham! who had been my right hand throughout the early portion of the expedition! He was a man who so thoroughly represented the character that we love to think is truly English, combining all energy, courage, and perseverance. He was gone!

We marched into Gondokoro. Fourteen months had made a change for the worse. I had left the station with a neat ditch and earthwork; the environs had been clean. It was now a mass of filth. Bones and remnants of old clothes, that would have been a fortune to a rag-and-bone shop, lay scattered in all directions. The ditch was filled up with sand, and the fallen bank washed in by the heavy rains, as it had never been cleansed during my absence.

The guns fired a salute; Raouf Bey and the troops appeared in good health; and I was shown into poor Higginbotham's house on the cliff above the river.

A beautiful new steamer of 108 tons, built of steel, with twin screws, was floating on the stream. This was the work of my Englishmen, who had taken a pride in turning out the best results that Messrs. Samuda Brothers and Messrs. Penn & Co. could produce.

I went on board to inspect the new vessel directly after breakfast. She had been admirably constructed, and being devoid of paddles, she would be able to glide through the narrow channels of the Bahr Giraffe like a fish.

Although the station was dirty and neglected, I must do Raouf Bey justice in acknowledging that he had paid much attention to the gardens on the islands, which were producing so abundantly that the troops received rations of vegetables daily.

Raouf Bey had also shown determination, and had accepted great responsibility in shooting a soldier for desertion during my absence.

It appeared that the reinforcements lately received from Khartoum were merely slaves that had been sold to the government, and had rapidly been trained for soldiers. Many of these people had originally come from the White Nile, therefore they were disposed to desert upon the first opportunity.

A considerable number had deserted, with their arms and ammunition. They had also stolen Raouf Bey's guns and rifles from his house, and had absconded to Belinian. Raouf Bey had called upon the Belinian to give up the deserters; but the Belinian natives had only replied to the summonses by making nightly demonstrations of attack against the station of Gondokoro, which had rendered sound sleep impossible for the last month. Raouf Bey had accordingly invaded Belinian, and had fought a pitched battle, in which the deserters who had joined the Baris fired upon the troops. Two of them were killed. (On this occasion, the Baris being well supplied with muskets and ammunition, the troops of Raouf Bey suffered considerable loss.)

I immediately sent for Allorron, who had now become a faithful sheik of the government. He confessed all his sins, and of course laid the whole blame upon Abou Saood, who he declared had deceived him, and instigated him against the government. I did not wish for any explanations upon the truth of which I could not rely. I therefore ordered him to go at once to Belinian, and inform the natives that, unless they gave up the deserters, I should pay them a visit with the "red shirts," who had now returned with me from Fatiko. At the same time I promised him three cows if he succeeded.

In a few days he returned with two deserters. These men were tried by court-martial, and having been found guilty, they were shot in the presence of the regiment.

Order and discipline were at once restored among the troops.

Now that I had returned with the "Forty Thieves," the natives of Belinian no longer visited the camp at night, but the country shortly became quiet and peaceful.

Wat-el-Mek, who had accompanied me from Fatiko, returned with reinforcements and a herd of cattle to his district. I parted with regret with my good men Shooli and Gimoro, to whom I gave some useful presents.

On 10th April I commenced a new fort with ditch and earthwork around the magazines, but the sandy nature of the soil will cause much trouble during the heavy rains.

I ordered Mr. Marcopolo to take stock, together with an Egyptian officer (Foad Effendi), of everything that remained within the magazine, and to take a receipt for his stores. This task occupied nearly a month.

The Englishmen had carefully packed everything that belonged to the No. 3 steamer and machinery, and had stowed her in a magazine that was given in charge of an officer, who gave a receipt for the contents.

Everything was ready by the 25th May for our return homewards. I erected a monument of red brick coated with pitch over my poor friend Higginbotham's grave, within my garden, near the spot where the missionaries were formerly buried.

We started on the 26th, having taken a farewell of my gallant "Forty Thieves," many of whom showed much emotion at parting. As I walked down the line of troops when I took official leave, my old soldiers broke the bounds of discipline by shouting: "May God give you a long life! and

may you meet your family in good health at home!"

I felt a choking sensation in saying good-bye; but we were soon on board, and the steam was up.

The new steamer, the Khedive, took us in tow, and we travelled rapidly down the stream towards home in old England.

Although I had written the most important letters to the Khedive and to his minister in October 1871, I had, to my amazement, NOT RECEIVED ONE WORD IN REPLY by the post that had arrived from Egypt. I had apparently been looked upon as a dead man that did not require a letter. It appeared that my existence was utterly ignored by the Egyptian government, although I had received my letters in due course from England.

On arrival at the Bahr Giraffe, we found that the canals which I had formerly cut were much improved by the force of the stream. Although these passages were narrow, they had become deep, and we progressed with comparatively little trouble.

On 7th June, three sails were reported ahead on the horizon. We pushed forward with some curiosity, but unfortunately a sudd of vegetable rafts had closed the passage for a short distance, which required about an hour to clean; this delayed the chase.

That evening, as we had stopped for the night at a spot known as the "Three Dubbas," we heard a woman's voice from the high grass addressing us in an imploring tone. I immediately sent a boat to make inquiries, as one of our native girls understood the language.

It appeared that the woman had the small-pox, and she had been therefore thrown into the high grass, and abandoned by the vakeel of the three vessels that we had observed in the distance. She described these vessels as being crowded with slaves.

I gave the unfortunate creature a supply of six days' food, together with a cooking-pot and some firewood, but I dared not introduce so horrible a disease as the small-pox among our party. She was thus left alone upon the dubba. (At this season native fishermen visited the dubba, therefore she was most probably discovered on the following morning.)

On 8th June we steamed along, towards the tall masts and yards of the three vessels which we perceived upon the horizon.

The intricacies of the narrow channel were such that we did not overtake the slavers until sunset.

We then anchored for the night in a lake, while I sent a boat forward into the canal occupied by the three vessels to order the vakeel of the company to visit me immediately.

In a short time the boat returned with my old acquaintance Wat Hojoly, the vakeel of the Bohr station belonging to Abou Saood.

I had always liked this man, as he was generally straightforward in his manner. He now told me, without the slightest reserve, that during my absence in the south, several cargoes of slaves had passed the government station at Fashoda by bribing the governor; and that he would certainly have no difficulty, provided that I did not seize him. He confessed that he had 700 slaves on board the three vessels, and according to orders that he had received from his master, Abou Saood, he was conveying them to their destination, a few days south of Khartoum, on the White Nile; at which point they could either march overland to the west via Kordofan, or to the east via Sennaar; whence they could pass unmolested to the Red Sea or to other markets.

The small-pox had broken out among the slaves, several of whom had died.

I was most thoroughly disgusted and sick at heart. After all the trouble and difficulties that we had gone through for the suppression of the slave trade, there could be no question of the fact that Abou Saood, the great slave-hunter of the White Nile, was supported by some high authority behind the scenes, upon whom he could depend for protection.

This was apparently the last act of the drama, in which the villain of the piece could mock and scoff at justice, and ridicule every effort that I had made to suppress the slave trade. His vessels were actually sailing in triumph and defiance before the wind, with flags flying the crescent and the star, above a horrible cargo of pest-smitten humanity, in open contempt for my authority; which Wat Hojoly had been carefully informed did not extend north of Gondokoro.

I asked this plain-spoken agent whether he was quite sure that he could pass the government station? "Oh yes," he replied, "a little backsheesh will open the road; there is nothing to fear."

I was then informed by the same authority that Abou Saood had gone to Cairo to appeal to the Khedive's government against my proceedings, and to represent his TRADE as ruined by my acts.

This was a remarkable disclosure at the end of the last act; the moral of the piece was thus explained before the curtain fell. The slave-hunter par excellence of the White Nile, who had rented or farmed from the government, for some thousands sterling per annum, the right of TRADING in countries which did NOT belong to Egypt, was now on the road to protest against my interference with his TRADE, this innocent business being represented BY THREE VESSELS WITH SEVEN HUNDRED SLAVES THAT WERE TO PASS UNCHECKED BEFORE THE GOVERNMENT STATION OF FASHODA.

I told Wat Hojoly that I did not think he would succeed upon this occasion, but that I should certainly not lay hands upon him.

I had not received replies to my letters addressed to the Khedive, therefore I was determined not to exert physical force again; at the same time I made up my mind that the slave vessels should not pass Fashoda.

After some delay, owing to a shallow portion of the river, we passed ahead, and the fearful stench from the crowded slave vessels reeking with small-pox followed us for quite a mile down the wind. (Fortunately there was a powerful force with Wat Hojoly, whom I called upon for assistance in heaving the steamer over the bank; otherwise we must have dug a channel.)

On 19th June, at 3.30 P.M., we reached Fashoda. The governor at once came on board to receive us.

This officer hall been only recently appointed, and he appeared to be very energetic and desirous to assist me in the total extinction of the slave trade. I assured the governor (Jusef Effendi) that I had entirely suppressed it in my territory, and I had also suppressed the river trade in 1870; but if the authorities were determined to connive at this abomination, I had been placed in a disgracefully false position, and had been simply employed on a fool's errand.

Jusef Effendi assured me that it would be impossible for vessels to pass Fashoda with slave cargoes now that he represented the government, as the Khedive had issued the most positive orders within the last six months against the traffic in slaves; therefore such instructions must be obeyed.

I did not quite see that obedience to such orders was absolutely necessary, as the slave trade had been similarly prohibited by proclamation in the reign of the late Said Pacha, but with no permanent effect.

There were two fine steamers lying at Fashoda, which had formed a portion of the fleet of six steamers that I had sent up from Cairo some years ago to tow my flotilla up the White Nile. This was the first time that I had ever seen them.

I now told Jusef Effendi that he would be held responsible for the capture of Abou Saood's three vessels, together with the 700 slaves; at the same time, it would be advisable to allow them to arrive at Fashoda before their capture should be attempted; as the fact of such an audacious contempt of law would at once implicate the former governor as having been in the habit of connivance.

Jusef Effendi appeared to be in earnest. He was an active and highly intelligent Circassian who held the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

My servants had discovered by chance, when in communication with Wat Hojoly, that Salim-Wat-Howah, who had been one of the principal ringleaders in the attack upon the troops at Fatiko, and had subsequently knocked down Suleiman and possessed himself forcibly of the ammunition from the magazine, with which he and his party had absconded, was now actually concealed on one of the three slave vessels. I had taken care not to mention his name to Wat Hojoly, lest he should be left at some station upon the route, and thus escape me.

I now gave a written order to Jusef Effendi to arrest him upon the arrival of the slave vessels, and to send him to Khartoum in irons.

The news of Abou Saood's personal appeal to the government at Cairo was confirmed by the best authorities at Fashoda.

On 21st June I took leave of Jusef Effendi, and upon the 28th, at 11

A.M., we arrived at the large tree which is within five miles of

Khartoum, by the short cut across the neck of land to the Blue Nile.

I stopped at this tree, and immediately wrote to Ismail Ayoub Pacha, the new governor of Khartoum, to telegraph INSTANTLY to Cairo to arrest Abou Saood.

I sent this note by a faithful officer, Ferritch Agha, with positive orders that he was to deliver it into the hands of Ismail Pacha.

This order was immediately carried out before any people in Khartoum had an idea of my return. Had I at once steamed round the point, some friend would have telegraphed my arrival to Abou Saood in Cairo, and he might have gone into concealment.

In the afternoon we observed a steamer rounding the distant headland at the point of junction of the two Niles. She rapidly approached, and in about half an hour my old friend, Ismail Ayoub Pacha, stepped on board my diahbeeah, and gave us a hearty welcome.

There was no letter either from the Khedive or Cherif Pacha, in reply to the important communications that I had written more than two years ago.

Ismail Ayoub Pacha was a friend of eight years' date. I had known him during my first expedition to the Nile sources as Ismail Bey, president of the council at Khartoum. He had lately been appointed governor, and I could only regret that my excellent friend had not been in that capacity from the commencement of the expedition, as I should have derived much assistance from his great energy and intelligence.

Ismail Ayoub Pacha is a Circassian. I have observed that all those officers who are superior to the average in intellect and general capacity belong to this race. The Circassians are admirably represented in Cherif Pacha, who is well known and respected by all Europeans in Egypt for his probity and high intelligence; and Riaz Pacha, who was lately the Minister for Public Instruction, is a Circassian much beloved and respected.

Ismail Ayoub had commenced a great reform in the Soudan, in his endeavour to put down the wholesale system of bribery and corruption which was the ruin of the country. He had also commenced a great work, according to the orders he had received from the Khedive, to remove the sudd or obstruction to the navigation of the great White Nile. He succeeded in re-opening the White Nile to navigation in the following season.

The Khedive had given this important order in consequence of letters that I had written on 31st August, 1870, to the Minister of the Interior, Cherif Pacha, and to his Highness direct on 8th October, 1871, in which communications I had strenuously advocated the absolute necessity of taking the work in hand, with a determination to re-establish the river in its original navigable condition.

Ismail Ayoub Pacha had been working with a large force, and he had succeeded in clearing, according to his calculations, one half of the obstruction, which extended for many miles.

There was no engineering difficulty in the undertaking, which was simply a matter of time and steady labour.

The immense force of the main stream, thus confined by matted and tangled vegetation, would materially assist the work, as the clearing was commenced from below the current.

The work would become lighter as the head of the sudd would be neared.

A curious accident had happened to Ismail Pacha by the sudden break-up of a large portion of the sudd, that had been weakened by cutting a long but narrow channel.

The prodigious rafts of vegetation were hurried before the stream like ice-floes, and these masses having struck against a line of six noggurs, the vessels were literally swept away and buried beneath the great rafts, until they capsized and disappeared for ever in the deep channel.

Late in the evening Ismail Pacha took leave and returned in his steamer to Khartoum. We had enjoyed a long conversation, and I felt sure that the Soudan and Central Africa would quickly feel the benefit of Ismail Ayoub Pacha's administration, as he combined great energy and determination with nine years' experience of the requirements of his province.

On 29th June the new steamer, the Khedive, rounded the point at full speed with our diahbeeah in tow.

All the population of Khartoum thronged to the banks and the new quay to witness the arrival of the extraordinary steamer that travelled without paddles, and which had been constructed by the Englishmen at Ismailia (Gondokoro).

The troops were in order, and as the Khedive drew alongside the quay we were warmly welcomed by Ismail Ayoub Pacha with the usual formalities.

A few days latter, a steamer arrived from Fashoda with the three vessels in tow belonging to Abou Saood, which had attempted to pass the government station with more than 600 slaves on board, about 100 having died of the small-pox since I had left the Bahr Giraffe. The small-pox was still raging on board, therefore the vessels were taken to the north bank of the Blue Nile and placed in quarantine.

As the guard passed by with prisoners, I recognized my friend the vakeel, Wat Hojoly, in irons. The unfortunate man had found a new governor at Fashoda instead of his old acquaintance; thus he did NOT pass free; as I had anticipated.

Walking next to the vakeel, heavily chained, with his wrists secured in a block of wood similar to stocks, came the cream of ruffians, Salim-Wat-Howah, nailed at last.

This villainous-looking fellow was afterwards tried before the medjeldis, or tribunal, and by overpowering evidence he was found guilty of having first threatened to attack Major Abdullah in the government camp of Fatiko; and secondly, with having actually given the orders to fire, and having fired himself, on 2nd August, 1872, when we had been treacherously attacked by Abou Saood's company.

I spoke in favour of Wat Hojoly, as he had otherwise behaved well towards the government, and he was simply carrying out the orders of his master, Abou Saood.

It had been the usual custom in the Soudan to spare the employers, who were the most responsible parties, but to punish the small fry, such as vakeels, and the reis, or captains of vessels.

Ismail Pacha had made great improvements in Khartoum, and he had completed the new government house that had been commenced by his predecessor, Moomtazz Pacha, who was also a most intelligent Circassian. He had likewise made a great change by converting a large open space into a public garden, where it was his intention that the military band should play every evening for the amusement of the people.

Steam irrigation works were also commenced on the north side of the Blue

Nile for the cultivation of cotton.

After a few days at Khartoum we took leave of our good friend, Ismail

Ayoub Pacha, and started for Cairo by steamer.

I had left my two boys, Saat and Bellaal, with Ismail Pacha, to be instructed either as musicians or soldiers, the latter profession being their great ambition. There was already a school established for the education of the more intelligent negro boys that might be liberated from the slave-traders.

Upon our arrival at Berber, I found a considerable improvement in the country. The Arabs were beginning to return to the fertile banks of the river, and to rebuild their sakeeyahs or water-wheels. This change was the result of a wise reform instituted by the Khedive, in dividing the Soudan into provinces, each of which would be governed by a responsible and independent official, instead of serving under a governor-general at the distance of Khartoum.

Hussein Khalifah was now the governor of Berber. He was the great Arab sheik of the desert who had so ably assisted Mr. Higginbotham in transporting the machinery and steamer sections by camels from Korosko to Berber across the great Nubian desert, for a distance of about 400 miles. The Arabs were much pleased at his appointment as governor, as he was one of their race.

In starting from Berber for Souakim, I had the great misfortune to lose by death one of my excellent Englishmen, David Samson. He had been ailing for some time, and the intense heat of July was more than he could endure in riding across the desert. Poor Samson died on the first day's march, and I had his body conveyed to Berber, where it was buried in the Coptic cemetery with every mark of respect.

This was a sad termination after a journey of nearly four years and a half, when he was on the hopeful road towards home.

We were nearly wrecked during the voyage from Souakim to Suez, as the engine of the sloop-of-war was out of repair. We then changed to another steamer, which carried away the cap of her rudder during a heavy sea and fresh northerly gale. Fortunately our English shipwrights were on board, and Lieutenant Baker, R.N., knew his work; thus we escaped drowning on a coral reef, which would assuredly have been our fate had we been left to the ignorance of the officers and crew.

We reached Cairo on 24th August at 4.30 P.M. On 25th I had the honour of presenting myself to his Highness the Khedive, to explain the large chart of his new territory that I had annexed in Central Africa.

I received from his Highness the Imperial order of the Osmanie, 2nd class, as a token of his approbation of my services. I had already had the honour to accept from his hands the order of the Medjidie, 2nd class, before I had started upon my mission. His Highness the Khedive now conferred upon Lieutenant Baker the order of the Medjidie, 3rd class.

I handed the botanical collection to his Highness the Khedive, which had been carefully prepared throughout the journey by Lady Baker. Unfortunately more than 300 specimens of plants had been destroyed by the conflagration at Masindi. The botanical specimens, together with samples of the fibres, skins, and the salt of the new territory, were ordered to be forwarded to the Vienna Exhibition.

The Khedive expressed his determination to judge Abou Saood by a special tribunal, composed of Cherif Pacha, Nubar Pacha, and Ismail Pacha, the Minister of Finance. I handed seventeen documents to Nubar Pacha, with evidence sworn to upon the Koran before witnesses, and properly sealed by Wat-el-Mek, Suleiman, the sheiks of the country, Major Abdullah, and others, against Abou Saood, charging him with various crimes, including treason in having given the orders that his Fatiko company should fire at me and the government troops. I took a receipt for these important documents.

I had also brought up several of the "Forty Thieves" as viva-voce

witnesses, in addition to Lieutenant Baker, R.N., Lieutenant-Colonel

Abd-el-Kader, Captain Mohammed Deii, and two servants, Suleiman and

Mohammed Haroon. Thus all the evidence was in official order:-

I 26th Jumay Owal, 1289, report of Major Abdullah (commandant of

Fatiko): threatening conduct of Abou Saood's vakeels during my absence.

2. 28th Jumay Owal, 1289, the declaration of the regimental officers of Fort Fatiko.

3. 6th October, 1872, 1st Shaban, 1289, the declaration of the vakeels of Abou Saood (Wat-el-Mek and Suleiman), that they had acted according to orders received from Abou Saood.

4. 26th Jumay Owal, 1289, Major Abdullah's declaration against Abou Saood and his company at Fatiko.

5. 12th Jumay Ocher, 1289, declaration of the chiefs of the country, complaining of the kidnapping of women and children, massacres, &c., committed by Abou Saood and his companies.

6. Declaration of Abou Saood's men, containing declarations of Mohammed, Wat-el-Mek, and Besheer Achmet, that Abou Saood gave the order to fire at the Pacha and the government troops. Two large papers.

7. 29th Jumay Owal, 1289, letter from Abou Saood from Fabbo.

8. 29th Rebi Owal, 1289, Major Abdullah's reasons for not detaining Suleiman, and for not arresting Abou Saood.

9. 2nd Jumay Acher, 1289, letter from Abou Saood, Fatiko.

10. 29th Jumay Owal, 1289, order for confiscation of Fatiko after the attack made upon the troops.

11. Letter from officers of Fabbo.

12. 4th Regeb, 1289, report of Abou Saood's escape with government guns, &c.

13. 22nd Jumay Acher, 1289, letter from vakeel Suleiman, Fabbo.

14. 3rd November, 1872, proces-verbal; declaration of Suleiman and Abou Saood's people.

15. 1st Shaban, 6th October, 1873, copy of orders to Wat-el-Mek.

16. Mohammed the dragoman's declaration.

17. Wat-el-Mek's declaration that he and his people were always paid by Abou Saood in slaves, and that the conduct of the stations was according to his orders. Also that he had obeyed Abou Saood's orders in attacking me at Fatiko.

His Highness the Khedive had the kindness to confer promotion upon my faithful officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Abd-el-Kader, to the rank of kaimakam; and Captain Mohammed Deii to the rank of saccolassi. He also granted a reward to the soldiers who had fought the battle of Masindi, and marched through eight days of ambuscades to Foweera.

A gratuity of a month's pay was given to every English engineer and mechanic, and they started for England.

After a delay of about six weeks in Egypt, his Highness afforded us a gracious and hospitable occasion of taking leave of himself and the young princes, to all of whom I am indebted for much courtesy and kindness.

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top