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Title: A Prisoner of the Khaleefa: Twelve Years Captivity at Omdurman
Author: Neufeld, Charles
Language: English
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 A Prisoner of the Khaleefa; Twelve Years’ Captivity at Omdurman.
 By Charles Neufeld.



A PRISONER OF THE KHALEEFA

[Illustration: NEUFELD IN CAPTIVITY.]



 A PRISONER OF · ·
 · · THE KHALEEFA

 Twelve Years’ Captivity at Omdurman

 BY
 CHARLES NEUFELD

 _WITH NUMEROUS PORTRAITS AND PLANS_

 LONDON: CHAPMAN & HALL, LD.
 1899



 PRINTED BY
 WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED.
 LONDON AND BECCLES.



 Dedication
 TO
 PUBLIC OPINION

 CHARLES NEUFELD



CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

The calumnies of critics—My female slave—Real object of my
journey—Preliminary arrangements—General Stephenson’s letter . . . 1–7

CHAPTER I

I START FOR KORDOFAN

Engagement of guides—A neglected warning—Hasseena accompanies the
party—Dervishes reported on the road—Non-arrival of Hogal—Dervishes
sighted at Selima Wells . . . 8–14

CHAPTER II

BETRAYED BY GUIDES

Different routes over the desert—A quarrel amongst the guides—Scouts
sent out—Hassan convicted of error—Zigzagging in the desert—A council
of war—Surprised by the dervishes—The fight—Taken prisoners . . . 15–28

CHAPTER III

IN THE HANDS OF THE DERVISHES

Conference of the Emirs Farag and Hamza—Halt for the night—Baggage
looted by dervishes—The Emirs confiscate all treasure for the
Beit-el-Mal—Cross-questioned on my letters—Called a Government
spy—Tortured by dervish guards—Rescued by Hamza and reserved for Wad en
Nejoumi . . . 29–40

CHAPTER IV

ARRIVAL IN DONGOLA

Display of dervish horsemanship—Flogging among the Ansar—Hasseena is
searched—Insults of the rabble—I am brought before Nejoumi—I declare
myself a merchant—Evidence of a Christian girl-convert against
me—Execution of fourteen Arabs of the party—I am re-examined and sent
to the Khaleefa . . . 41–52

CHAPTER V

THE REAL HISTORY OF THE CAPTURE

Extracts from newspaper and official accounts—The antecedents of the
guide Gabou—Dissensions in the Kabbabish tribe—Gabou schemes for his
own section—Hassan’s part in the matter—Gabou reveals the plot to
Nejoumi and enlists Hogal on his side—The Emirs prepare to intercept
me—Capture of the caravan—Hogal’s deceit and its excuse . . . 53–63

CHAPTER VI

DONGOLA TO OMDURMAN

Preparations for the journey—Nejoumi’s friendly disposition to the
Government—His loss of faith in the Mahdist movement—Why the guide Amin
was executed—Horrible death of an old Arab woman—In the market-place
of Omdurman—First meeting with Slatin—I am chained and tortured—I
defy the Khaleefa—A mock execution—The Khaleefa is merciful—Slatin
intervenes—Letter to Mankarious Effendi—Imprisoned by Slatin’s
advice . . . 64–79

CHAPTER VII

THROWN INTO PRISON

Methods of shackling—My first night in prison—Hasseena sent to the
head-gaoler’s hareem—Mahmoud Wad Said—Ajjab Abou Jinn—The three sons
of Awad el Kerim—Sheikh Hamad El Nil—Ahmed Abdel Maajid and his
bride—Lessons in Mahdieh—I visit Khartoum in chains—Again before the
Khaleefa—My chains removed . . . 80–92

CHAPTER VIII

PRISON LIFE

Prayers—Night in the Abou Hagar—Possibilities of escape—News from
Egypt—Idris-es-Saier—His methods of extortion—A prison homily—Effectual
blackmail . . . 93–104

CHAPTER IX

MY FIRST CHANCE OF ESCAPE

Ahmed Nur ed Din—His relations with Gabou—We plan an escape—Death of
Nur ed Din—My sickness and recovery—Treatment of typhus—I decline
to be converted—Meal-time in the Saier—Father Ohrwalder’s charity—A
famine—The struggle for food—Ministrations of Hasseena—Mutual help
amongst the prisoners . . . 105–119

CHAPTER X

PRISON JUSTICE

Escapes from the Saier—The advantages of matrimony—Tactics of the
gaolers—I become doctor to the hareems—Discipline amongst women
prisoners—My first flogging—The gaoler dismissed—Method of flogging—I
am flogged again—My mental agony . . . 120–133

CHAPTER XI

A SERIOUS DILEMMA

Newspaper calumnies—Hasseena’s condition—A disputed
paternity—Mohammedan laws of marriage and divorce—I decide to claim
the child—Idris disputes the claim—A jury of matrons decides in my
favour—Birth of “Makkieh”—The Khaleefa’s congratulations—Joseppi, the
German baker . . . 134–144

CHAPTER XII

IBRAHIM WAD ADLAN

Friendship with Wad Adlan—His directorship of the Beit-el-Mal—The
Khaleefa grows jealous—Adlan thrown into prison—The advantages
of trading—Adlan reinstated—I design the Mahdi’s tomb—Letters to
Mankarious Effendi—The guide Moussa Daoud el Kanaga—Reports from
Egypt—Escape of Joseppi—Treachery of spies—Disgrace and death of
Adlan . . . 145–159

CHAPTER XIII

THE TRUE HISTORY OF MY ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE

Letters of the German Consul and my manager to Mankarious—Kanaga’s
visit to Cairo—He receives a letter to Slatin—He is captured at
Berber and turns back—The War Office letter to my wife—My answer to
calumnies . . . 160–169

CHAPTER XIV

A PRISONER AT LARGE

Belief in evil spirits—Shwybo as an alchemist—He is flogged for
his pains—I am told to make saltpetre—Released from my fetters—The
gunpowder factory at Halfeyeh—Death of Makkieh—I am transferred
to Khartoum—Our gunpowder a deliberate failure—Visits of Father
Ohrwalder—News of his escape . . . 170–184

CHAPTER XV

DIVORCED AND MARRIED

Hasseena’s thievish propensities—I am compelled to divorce her—The
Khaleefa finds me a wife—I forestall his good offices—Umm es
Shole—Mohammedan divorce and re-marriage—A further dilemma—The second
child dies—Hasseena proves irreclaimable . . . 185–194

CHAPTER XVI

HOPE AND DESPAIR

Mankarious’ first envoy returns—Arrival of second envoy—Rossignoli’s
guide Abdallah—Projected method of escape—Abdallah’s treatment
of Rossignoli—Slatin escapes—My chains redoubled—The Khaleefa’s
fury—Slatin’s reputation amongst the Mahdists—His letter read to
the Muslimanieh—Confiscation of his wives and property—My deliverer
returns—I am again in the Saier . . . 195–208

CHAPTER XVII

A NEW OCCUPATION

Nahoum Abbajee engages me—Emptiness of the treasury—Unsatisfactory
state of the currency—I am transferred to the arsenal—I design
blocks for the Mint—We do great damage—The Khaleefa’s buried
treasure . . . 209–215

CHAPTER XVIII

MY SECOND IMPRISONMENT

Idris a reformed character—He ensures my kind treatment—Fauzi’s first
night in prison—Kadi Ahmed’s captivity—His death by starvation—Death
of Wad Zarah—Letters from Europe—My replies—My reflections in
prison . . . 216–225

CHAPTER XIX

RUMOURS OF RELIEF

Khartoum again—Thoughts of Gordon—At work in the arsenal—Extracting
precious metals—Chemical experiments—The troops advancing—I invent
a powder-mill—Its manifold defects—I scheme to gain time—Wholesale
destruction of metal—Repairing a steamer—My letter to Onoor—In a fever
for news . . . 226–241

CHAPTER XX

PREPARING TO RECEIVE THE GUNBOATS

In the Saier as a visitor—I send intelligence to the English—Anxiety
amongst my circle—Embassy from Abyssinia—The Khaleefa’s reply—Mahmoud
disobeys orders—Defeat of Osman and Mahmoud at the Atbara—Manufacture
of torpedoes—I decline to assist—My chains redoubled—The torpedoes
explode—I become a centre for Government sympathizers—Frustrating the
mines . . . 242–256

CHAPTER XXI

NEARING THE END

Conflicting rumours—Appeals to prophecy—I suggest a night attack—I send
more information to the army—Mad struggle with a gaoler—Negotiations
with Idris—The Khaleefa sallies out—The gunboats open fire—I
go mad—Arrival of fugitives—The riderless horse—The Khaleefa’s
despair . . . 257–268

CHAPTER XXII

AT LAST

Threats of the prisoners—The routed army in flight—Macdonald’s
brigade—Illuminating the Ratib—Soudanese sang-froid—Sheikh ed Din
repulsed—Attack upon Macdonald—Destruction of Yacoub—Flight of the
Khaleefa—His narrow escape from the Sirdar—The Sirdar enters the
prison—We meet—The head-quarters’ mess—Mr. Bennet Burleigh—My German
tongue forsakes me . . . 269–280

CHAPTER XXIII

THE SIRDAR AND SAVAGE WARFARE

The looting of Omdurman—Soudanese troops to the rescue—Genial
horseplay—A war correspondent’s article—The Sirdar errs in giving
quarter—Lex talionis—The ferocity of wounded dervishes—No succour
desirable—A challenge to correspondents . . . 281–288

CHAPTER XXIV

BACK TO CIVILIZATION

High hopes—Disillusionment—Attitude of the War Office—I am forced to
defend myself—Newspaper calumnies—The News Agency representative—A good
Samaritan—Sir George Newnes . . . 289–299

CHAPTER XXV

HOW GORDON DIED

Conflicting accounts—A hero’s death—Hope deferred—Gordon’s last
night—Value of my testimony—Father Ohrwalder’s evidence—“Ten
Years’ Captivity” criticized—Justification of Gordon—The trader as
missionary—A tribute to Gordon . . . 300–324

APPENDICES

I. Hassan Bey Hassanein . . . 325–331

II. Orphali . . . 332–337

III. Letter dictated by the Khaleefa to General Stephenson . . . 338–339

IV. Ibrahim Pasha Fauzi—Gordon’s favourite officer . . . 340–345

V. Ahmed Youssef Kandeel . . . 346–348

VI. The Soudan: its Past, Present, and Future . . . 349–359



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


1. Neufeld as found by the Sirdar . . . _Frontispiece_

2. An Arab Guide . . . 8

3. The Khaleefa’s Eunuchs at Attention . . . 37

4. The Khaleefa’s Tender Mercies . . . 45

5. Sheikh ed Din’s Eunuch in his Master’s Marriage-Jibbeh . . . 64

6. Writing under Difficulties . . . 77

7. A Group of Prisoners . . . 84

8. Learning the Mahdi’s Ratib . . . 94

9. Idris-es-Saier . . . 103

10. Catarina . . . 114

11. A Flogging by Order of the Khaleefa . . . 129

12. Meal-time in the Saier . . . 143

13. Moussa Daoud el Kanaga . . . 154

14. Mankarious Effendi with Guides . . . 164

15. Umm es Shole and two Children . . . 189

16. Said Bey Gumaa . . . 203

17. Fauzi Pasha in Dervish Dress . . . 218

18. Neufeld’s Hut in the Saier, showing the Famous Anvil . . . 223

19. Onoor Issa . . . 226

20. Powder-machines . . . 236

21. A Group—from Photograph taken at the Feast of Beiram, 1899 . . . 242

22. Neufeld doubly fettered . . . 252

23. Shereef, the “False Fourth Khaleefa” . . . 263

24. The Flag of Khaleefa Shereef . . . 273

25. Trophies taken at Omdurman . . . 282

26. Khaleel Agha Orphali . . . 303

27. Hassan Bey Hassanein . . . 325

28. Fauzi Pasha in Uniform . . . 340

29. Ahmed Youssef Kandeel . . . 346

Map showing Proposed Route and Route actually taken by Caravan . . . 15

Sketch accompanying Author’s Account of Capture . . . 23

Plans of Palace at Khartoum illustrating the Death of Gordon . . . 334



|1|

A PRISONER OF THE KHALEEFA

INTRODUCTION


Within seventy-two hours of my arrival in Cairo from the Soudan,
I commenced to dictate my experiences for the present volume, and
had dictated them from the time I left Egypt, in 1887, until I had
reached the incidents connected with my arrival at Omdurman as the
Khaleefa’s captive, when I became the recipient of a veritable sheaf of
press-cuttings, extracts, letters, private and official, new and old,
which collection was still further added to on the arrival of my wife
in Egypt, on October 13.

My first feelings after reading the bulk of these, and when the
sensation of walking about free and unshackled had worn off a little,
was that I had but escaped the savage barbarism of the Soudan to
become the victim of the refined cruelty of civilization. Fortunately,
maybe, my rapid change from chains and starvation to freedom and
the luxuries I might allow myself to indulge in, brought about its
inevitable result—a reaction, and then collapse. While ill in bed I
could, when the delirium of fever had left |2| me, and I was no longer
struggling for breath and standing room in that Black Hole of Omdurman,
the Saier, find it in my heart to forgive my critics, and say, “I
might have said the same of them, had they been in my place and I in
theirs.” But the inaccuracies written and published in respect to my
nationality, biography, and, above all, the astounding inaccuracies
published in connection with my capture and the circumstances attending
it, necessitate my offering a few words to my readers by way of
introduction; but I shall be as brief and concise as possible.

I have, both directly and indirectly, been blamed for, or accused
of, the loss of arms, ammunition, and monies sent by the Government
to the loyal Sheikh of the Kabbabish, Saleh Bey Wad Salem. Some have
gone so far as to accuse me of betraying the party I accompanied into
the hands of the dervishes; a betrayal which led eventually to the
virtual extermination of the tribe and the death of its brave chief.
The betrayal of the caravan I accompanied _did_ lead to this result; it
also led me into chains and slavery.

According to one account, I arrived at Omdurman on the 1st or 7th of
March (both dates are given in the same book), 1887; yet, at this
time, to the best of my recollection, the General commanding the Army
of Occupation in Egypt, General Stephenson, was trying in Cairo to
persuade me to abandon my projected journey into Kordofan. In a very
recent publication, in the preface to which the authors ask their
readers to point out any inaccuracies, I am credited with arriving as
a captive at Omdurman in |3| 1885, when at this time I was attached
as interpreter to the Gordon Relief Expedition, and stood within a few
yards of General Earle at the battle of Kirbekan when he was killed. It
is probable I was the last man he ever spoke to.

The guide and spy who reported my capture and death on the 13th or 14th
of April, 1887, only reported what he thought had actually happened,
as a possible result of arrangements he had made; while the refugee
Wakih Idris, who reported in August, 1890, that I was conducting a
large drapery establishment in Omdurman, must have been a Soudanese
humorist, and, doubtless, hugely amused at his tale being believed
in the face of the Mahdi’s and Khaleefa’s crusade against finery and
luxuries (although the tenets may have stopped short at the entrance
to their hareems), and when every one, from the highest to the lowest,
had to wear the roughest and commonest of woven material. A drapery
establishment is generally associated with fine clothing, silks,
ribbons, and laces; in Omdurman, such an establishment, if opened,
would have been consigned to the flames, or the Beit el Mal, and its
proprietor to the Saier (prison).

Yet again, when I am more heavily weighted with chains, and my gaoler,
to evidence his detestation of the Kaffir (unbeliever) entrusted to
his charge, goes out of his way to invent an excuse for giving me the
lash, I am reported as being at liberty, my release having been granted
on the representations of some imaginary Emir, who claimed it on the
ground that I had arranged the betrayal of Sheikh Saleh’s caravan. |4|

There is one subject I must touch upon, a subject which has made the
life of my wife as much of a hell upon earth during my captivity, as
that captivity was to me; and a subject which has caused the most
poignant grief and pain to my near relatives. I refer to my Abyssinian
female servant Hasseena. The mere fact of her accompanying the caravan
opened up a quarry for quidnuncs to delve in, and they delved for
twelve long years. It is needless to dilate upon the subject here;
suffice it to say that if, when my critics have read through my plain
narrative, they have conscience enough left to admit to themselves
that they have more injured a woman than the helpless, and in this
particular connection, ignorant captive, who has returned to life to
confront them, and if they try in future to be as charitable to their
own flesh and blood as some of the savage fanatics were to me in the
Soudan, I shall rest content.

My narrative, and here I wish to say that it is presented as I first
dictated it, notwithstanding my being confronted with, as it was put to
me, “contradictions” based upon official and semi-official records and
reports, may be depended upon as being as correct a record as memory
can be expected to give of the events of my twelve years’ existence,
from All Fools’ Day, 1887, when, in spite of all warnings, I rode away
from life and civilization to barbarism and slavery.

At the beginning of 1887, Hogal Dufa'allah, a brother of Elias Pasha,
a former Governor of Kordofan, came to me at Assouan and suggested
my accompanying him to Kordofan, where large quantities of gum |5|
were lying awaiting a favourable opportunity to be brought down,
he possessing a thousand cantars (cwts.). The owners of the gum
were afraid to bring it to the Egyptian frontier, believing that
the Government would confiscate it. Hogal was of opinion that if I
accompanied him, we should be able to induce the people to organize
a series of caravans for the transport of the gum, he and I signing
contracts to buy it on arrival at Wadi Halfa, and guaranteeing the
owners against confiscation by the Government. Letters and messages,
he said, would be of no avail; the people would believe they were
traps set for them by the Government, and it was out of the question
for us to attempt to take with us the large amount of money required
to purchase the gum on the spot. I being looked upon as an Englishman,
and an Englishman’s word being then considered as good as his bond,
Hogal was sure of a successful journey; so it was finally agreed that
Hogal and I should make up a small caravan, and get away as early as
possible. At this time, February, 1887, the loyal sheikh, Saleh Bey
Wad Salem, of the Kabbabish tribe, was holding his own against the
Mahdists, and had succeeded in keeping open the caravan routes of the
Western Soudan.

Hogal and I came to Cairo to make various business arrangements, and
while here I called upon General Stephenson and Colonel Ardagh, and
asked permission to proceed. They tried to persuade me to abandon
what appeared to them a very risky expedition; but, telling them that
I was bent upon |6| undertaking it, permission or not, I was asked
if I would mind delivering some letters to Sheikh Saleh, as a visit
to him was necessary to procure guides for the later stages of the
journey. I was also to inform him verbally that his request for arms
and ammunition had been granted; that he should send men at once to
Wadi Halfa to receive them; and that a number of messages to this
effect had already been sent him. General Stephenson evidently gave the
matter further consideration, for, on calling for the letters, they
were not forthcoming. He said he would write to me to Assouan; but, he
continued, he would be glad if I would encourage Saleh, or any of the
loyal sheikhs I met, to continue to harass the dervishes, and let him
have what information I could on my return respecting the country and
the people.

The precise circumstances under which I received his letter I have
forgotten, but my former business manager tells me that, one evening at
Assouan, he found lying on the desk an official envelope, unaddressed,
opened it, and was still reading the letter it contained when I walked
in, and exhibited great annoyance at his having seen it. This was
the letter from General Stephenson to me, referred to by Slatin and
Ohrwalder. I remember it but as a sort of private communication, not
in any way official; and I think it well at an early moment to state
so, as it has been borne in upon me that there is an impression in
certain quarters that I might, on the strength of references made to it
in Father Ohrwalder’s and Slatin |7| Pasha’s books, make some claim
against the British Government, and I consider it advisable to say at
once that no such idea ever occurred to me.

Completing our arrangements in Cairo, Hogal and I started south, Hogal
going to Derawi to buy camels for the journey to Kordofan, and I going
to Assouan and Wadi Halfa to make final arrangements and prepare food
for the desert journey.



|8|

CHAPTER I

I START FOR KORDOFAN


Before leaving Assouan for Cairo, I had made an agreement with Hassib
el Gabou, of the Dar Hamad section of the Kabbabish tribe, and Ali el
Amin, from Wadi el Kab, to act as guides for us as far as Gebel Ain,
where we hoped to find Sheikh Saleh. Gabou was in the employ of the
military authorities as spy, receiving a monthly gratuity or pay. He
and Ali el Amin were each to receive three hundred dollars for the
journey, a hundred and fifty dollars each to be paid in advance, and
the remainder at the end of the journey. On arrival at Gebel Ain, they
were to arrange for guides for us from amongst Saleh’s men. The route
we had chosen is shown on the accompanying plan, taken from a map
published by Kauffmann, a copy of which I had with me, and another copy
of which I have been fortunate enough to find since my return.

[Illustration: AN ARAB GUIDE.]

On arriving at Derawi, Hogal set about at once buying camels. Our party
was to consist of Hogal, Hassib el Gabou, Ali el Amin, my Arabic clerk
Elias, my female servant Hasseena, myself, and four men whom Hogal was
to engage, to bring up our party to |9| ten people, so that we might
be prepared to deal with any small band of marauding dervishes. Hogal
was to purchase camels from the Ababdeh, who possessed, and probably
still do, the best camels for the description of journey we were
undertaking. He was to take them into the desert to test their powers
of endurance, as, from the route chosen, they might have to travel
fifteen days without water. He was also to purchase extra camels to
carry water, so that if the necessity arose, we could strike further
west into the desert than arranged for, and be able to keep away from
the wells for thirty days. We were to take with us only such articles
as were essential for the journey; food, arms and ammunition, three
hundred dollars in cash, and our presents of watches, silks, jewellery,
pipes, and ornaments for the sheikhs we met.

Hogal was to leave Derawi on or about the 20th March, and bringing the
camels through the desert on the west of the Nile, was so to time his
last stage as to reach Wadi Halfa at sunset on the 26th or 27th. The
guides, my clerk, servant, and myself were to slip over by boat, and
our caravan was to strike off west at once. Our departure was to be
kept as secret as possible.

On my reaching Shellal after leaving Hogal at Derawi, I was overtaken
by an old friend, Mohammad Abdel Gader Gemmareeyeh, who, having learned
in confidence from Hogal the reason for his purchasing the camels,
hurried after me to warn me against employing Gabou as guide, as he
knew the man was not to be trusted. He told me that Gabou was acting
|10| as spy for friend and foe, and was being paid by both, but this
I did not then credit. I laughed at the man’s expressed fears, and
telling him that as Hogal and I were to direct the caravan, and Gabou
was to accompany us as guide, I had no intention of abandoning a
journey, at the end of which a small fortune awaited me. I knew very
well that not a single person was to be trusted out of sight and
hearing, but as there was no reason why Gabou should not be kept within
both, there was equally no reason why I should have any fears. Besides
this, I was vain enough to believe that perhaps I might, as a result
of my journey, be able to hand to the military authorities a report of
some value, and the halo of romance, which still hung over everything
Soudanese, was in itself no little attraction.

I reached Wadi Halfa about March 23, and set to work quietly with final
arrangements. Hasseena had elected to accompany us, and this on the
suggestion of Hogal, his reasons being first, that being accompanied
by a woman, the peaceful intentions of our little caravan would be
evidenced; secondly, that Hasseena, when the slave of her old master
of the Alighat Arabs, had on a number of occasions made the journey
between El Obeid, Dongola, and Derawi, and would be of great use to
us in hareems in very much the same way that a lady in civilized
countries, having an _entrée_ to a salon, is occasionally able to
further the interests of her male relatives or friends; and in the
East, _all_ women have the _entrée_ to hareems.

The morning after my arrival at Wadi Halfa I |11| heard that forty
of Sheikh Saleh’s men, led by one of his slaves, Ismail, had already
arrived to take over the arms and ammunition. Gabou came to me the
same day, and suggested our abandoning the proposed expedition, as he
was afraid that the dervishes might hear of Saleh’s men coming in, and
send out bands to intercept the caravan on its return, and we might
fall into the hands of one of them. Believing that Gabou was simply
trying to induce me to add to his remuneration for the extra risks,
I told him I should hold him to his agreement. A day or two later,
seeing that I was determined to go on, he suggested that we should, for
safety, accompany Saleh’s men, but this I objected to. The Kabbabish
were fighting the dervishes, and lost no opportunity of pouncing down
upon any small bands, and I had no particular wish to look for more
adventures than my expedition itself was likely to provide. There was
also the question of time; Sheikh Saleh’s baggage camels would only
move at the rate of about a mile an hour, while ours would cover two
and a half to three miles easily.

On March 24, I received a telegram from Hogal, then at Assouan,
announcing his arrival there with the camels, and his intention to
come on at once, so that he should have reached Wadi Halfa on the 28th
or 29th of the month. Gabou now exhibited particular anxiety that we
should join Saleh’s party, and took upon himself to make an arrangement
with them. On my remonstrating with him, he said that if the dervishes
were on the road, they would certainly be met with between Wadi Halfa
and the Selima Wells, |12| or, maybe, at the wells themselves, and
this was the only part of our route where there was any likelihood of
our coming in contact with them, our road, after Selima, being well
to the west. “Now,” said he, “if Saleh’s caravan goes off, and the
dervishes on the road are not strong enough to attack, they will allow
the caravan to pass, but wait about the roads either in the hope of
getting reinforcements in time to attack, or with the hope of attacking
any smaller parties.” He believed the dervishes might go on to the
wells, and encamp there, so that in either case we should fall into
their clutches. It was Gabou’s opinion that Sheikh Saleh’s caravan was
strong enough to annihilate the dervish bands, which he _now_ said he
had heard were actually on the road. This decided me. I asked him why
he had not told me of this before. He had forgotten to do so!

The 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st of the month passed, and still no
appearance of Hogal and the camels. Ismail was impatient to be off, and
Gabou suggested, that as my camels must be close at hand, Hasseena,
Elias, El Amin and I should start with Saleh’s caravan, he following us
as soon as our camels arrived. My camels being in good condition, and
unloaded, would, he said, overtake the caravan in a few hours, and he
was very anxious to test them for trotting speed while overtaking us.
We were joined at Wadi Halfa by about twenty Arabs of different tribes,
bringing our caravan up to sixty-four men and about a hundred and sixty
camels. Gabou gave us as guide for Selima, a man named Hassan, also of
the |13| Dar Hamads. Crossing to the western bank of the Nile early
on the morning of April 1, 1887, by ten o’clock we had loaded up and
started on that journey to the Soudan, which was to take me twelve long
years to complete.

When we had been two days on the road, I began to feel a little uneasy
at the non-appearance of my camels; but thinking that maybe Gabou
had purposely delayed starting so as to give them a stiff test in
hard trotting, I comforted myself with this reflection, though as day
after day passed, my anxiety became very real. On the night of April
7, we judged we must be close to Selima Wells, and sent out scouts to
reconnoitre; they reached the wells, and returned saying that they
could not find traces of any one having been there for some time. Our
caravan reached the wells between nine and ten o’clock in the morning,
and about midday, while we were occupied in watering the camels and
preparing food, we heard a shot fired from the south-east, and shortly
afterwards one of our scouts came in saying that he had been sighted by
a party of about twenty men on camels; one of the men had fired at him
at long range, and the whole party had then hurried off to the south.

A hurried conference was held; it was the general opinion that this
party must be scouts of a larger one, and that they had gone off for
the purpose of apprising their main body. Ismail decided upon pushing
on at once. There was little time for me to consider what to do; to
return to Wadi Halfa was out of the question, as Ismail could not spare
any of his men as a |14| bodyguard; to wait at the wells was not to
be thought of, and the only other alternative was to go on with the
caravan. I told Elias to write out short notes for Hogal and Gabou,
which I had intended to leave at the wells; but as Ismail pointed out,
I should have to leave them conspicuously marked in some way to attract
attention, and, if the dervishes got to the wells first, or if those
we had seen returned with others, they would be the first to get the
notes, which would endanger our caravan, and the little party I was so
anxiously expecting. There was nothing for it but to go on and hope for
the best. If the worst came to the worst, it meant only that my gum
expedition was temporarily delayed, and that I should, after reaching
Sheikh Saleh, take my first opportunity of getting north again.

[Illustration]



|15|

CHAPTER II

BETRAYED BY GUIDES


There are five caravan routes running from Selima Wells—that furthest
west leading to El Kiyeh, the next to El Agia, and the one in the
centre leading to the Nile near Hannak, with a branch running to
Wadi el Kab. Our objective being to meet Sheikh Saleh at Gebel Ain,
we should have taken the route leading to El Agia, and this we had
selected, because, as it was well out in the desert, there was little
likelihood of our encountering any roving bands of dervish robbers.
When we had been on the road a few hours, I ventured the opinion that
we had taken the wrong route, and a halt was called while I examined
the map I had with me, after which examination I felt certain that we
were marching in the wrong direction. The guide Hassan was equally
certain that we were on the El Agia road. A discussion ensued, which
was ended by Hassan telling me, with what he intended to be withering
sarcasm, “I never walked on paper” (meaning the map); “I have always
walked on the desert. I am the guide, and I am responsible. The road
you want us to go by leads to El Etroun (Natron district), |16| sixty
marches distant; if we take your road and we all die of thirst in the
desert, I should be held responsible for the loss of the lives, and
your paper could not speak to defend me.” Hassan’s dramatic description
of the scene of his being blamed by the Prophet for losing these
valuable lives if he trusted to a “paper,” had more to do with his
gaining his point than pure conviction as to whether we were on the
right road or not. From El Agia, as Saleh’s men said, they knew every
stone on the desert, but in this part they had to trust to Hassan.

During the whole of this first day we forced the baggage camels on at
their best pace, travelling by my compass in a south and south-easterly
direction. The arrangement I had made with Gabou for my own caravan,
which arrangement Ismail had agreed to when Gabou suggested our
travelling with them, was that we should travel a little to the west
of the El Agia camel tracks, but keep parallel to them. When we halted
that night I spoke to Ismail about this, and asked him to keep to this
part of the agreement—that is to say, to travel parallel to, and not
on, the track. Hassan objected, as it meant slower travelling. Still
pressing on after a short rest, Hassan zigzagged the caravan over stony
ground with the object of losing our trail, as our caravan, consisting
of about 160 camels, was an easy one to track up.

We travelled fast until mid-day of the 10th, when we were obliged
to take a rest owing to the extreme heat. We were in an arid waste;
not the slightest sign of vegetation or anything living but |17|
ourselves to be seen anywhere. Off again at sunset, we travelled the
whole night through, my compass at midnight showing me that we were,
if anything, travelling towards the east, when our direction should
certainly have been south-west. At our next halt I spoke to Ismail
again, but Hassan convinced him of his infallibility in desert routes.
The following morning, the 11th, there was no disguising the fact about
our direction: the regular guides travel by the stars at night-time,
but they laugh at the little niceties between the cardinal points,
as Hassan laughed at me when I tried to get him to believe in the
sand diagram I showed him, with the object of proving to him that a
divergence increases the further you get away from the starting-point.
El Amin now joined me in saying that he thought we were on the wrong
road, but Hassan was prepared. He had, he said, during the night,
led us further into the desert to again break our trail, and that he
was now leading us to the regular road. El Amin replied that it was
his opinion that Hassan had lost the road in the night, and now was
trying to find it. This led to a lively discussion and an exchange of
compliments, which almost ended in a nasty scuffle, as some were siding
with Hassan and others with El Amin.

Acting upon my advice, men were sent out east and west to pick up the
regular caravan route. Hassan declared that a branch of the regular
road would be found to the east, Amin and I declared for the west.
Hassan took two men east, and Amin, accompanied by two others, went
west. About an hour after sunset |18| both parties returned. El Amin
arrived first, and reported that they had failed to find any trace of
the road. Hassan came shortly afterwards, and, having heard before
reaching Ismail of the failure of the others, came up to us jubilant
and triumphant, as a road had been picked up where he said it would.
They had not only picked up the road, but had come to the resting-place
of a caravan of fifteen to twenty camels, which could only be a few
hours ahead of us, as the embers of the caravan’s fire places were
still hot. I judged it best to be silent on the subject of the route
now, though Amin, jibed and scoffed at by the victorious Hassan, was
loud in his declarations that we were on the wrong route, and that
Hassan had lost his way; this nearly led to trouble again between him
and the two men who had accompanied Hassan, as they considered their
word doubted.

We travelled east during the night, and crossed the road which Hassan
had, during the day, picked up. But there was a feeling of uncertainty
and unrest in the caravan. One after another appealed to me, and I
could but say that I was still convinced my “paper” was right and
Hassan wrong. El Amin, pricked to the quick, spread through the caravan
his opinion that Hassan had not lost his way, but was deliberately
leading us in the wrong direction. When we halted on the 12th, Ismail,
noticing the gossiping going on, and the manner of his men, decided
upon sending out scouts to the east to see if they could pick up
anything at all in the way of landmarks. El Amin joined the scouts,
who were absent the whole day. They |19| returned at night with the
news that we were nearer the river than El Agia Wells, and on this,
our fourth day from Selima, we should have been close to El Agia. This
report, coming not from El Amin only, but from Saleh’s own people who
knew the district, created consternation. Again the “paper” was called
for, and on this occasion Hassan was told that the paper knew better
than he did.

That night scene of betrayed men, desperate, with death from thirst
or dervish swords a certainty, can be better imagined than described.
There had been no husbanding of the drinking-water, and it was almost
out; many, in the hurry of departure from Selima, had not filled
their water-skins. There was no doubt now that we were, as I had said
from the beginning, on the road to Wadi el Kab, and travelling in the
enemy’s country. But Hassan, threatened as he was, had still one more
card to play. He acknowledged that he had lost his way, but said this
was not altogether his fault; we, he said, had been travelling hard,
and, feeling sure he was on the right track, he had been careless,
or had neglected to look out for the usual marks, and that this was
because Amin and I had annoyed him at the beginning of the march, as to
the road. He now said that we were well to the west of El Kab, and on
its extreme limits where the wady disappeared into desert water could
be found, and being so far west, it was most improbable that we should
find any dervishes there. Another council was held. Hassan was for
continuing in an easterly direction; I proposed west, |20| believing
now that the wady would be found to the west; while Ismail, advised by
Amin, elected for a southerly direction. At last it was agreed that
Ismail, Hassan, and some men should ride hard in a south-westerly
direction, in the hopes of picking up some branch caravan route leading
to El Agia. The remainder of the caravan, with myself and Amin, were to
travel easily in a southerly direction for five hours, and then halt
and await the return to us of Ismail.

We halted between three and four in the afternoon, but no sooner had
we done so, when a heavy sandstorm burst upon us. There are varieties
of sandstorms as there are of most other things, but this was one of
the worst varieties. The air becomes thick with the finest particles,
which gives one more the idea of a yellow fog in the north than of
anything else I might liken it to. We were obliged to wrap our own and
the camels’ heads in cloths and blankets to protect ourselves, if not
from suffocation, from something very near it. The storm lasted until
after sunset, and as it must have obliterated all traces of our tracks,
scouts were sent out to sight Ismail. Up till midnight no signs of him
were forthcoming. Breaking up what camel saddles we could spare, we lit
fires to attract his attention to our position, and as these burned
low, shots were fired at intervals of five minutes. After ten or twelve
shots had been fired, I recommended that volleys of five should be
fired at the same intervals, and when I believe six had been fired, we
heard Ismail calling to us from the darkness. He had encountered the
sandstorm, but evidently had had |21| a worse time of it than we had.
He had heard our volleys, and had replied with single shots, but these
we had not heard.

On reaching the caravan, Ismail ordered the fires to be put out, and
the camels to be at once loaded and their fastenings well looked to.
The rifles were cleared of the sand which had accumulated on them,
and Ismail went round inspecting everything for himself. I called him
aside and asked him what he had discovered. He whispered one word,
“Treachery,” and returned to his inspection of the animals. When he
had satisfied himself of the arms being in readiness, and the cases so
secured that if the camels bolted they would not be able to throw off
their load very easily, he gave the orders to march. Ignoring Hassan
completely, he led us west, sending out as scouts, on fast camels, Darb
es Safai and El Amin, my guide; but at sunrise they came back to us,
saying that not a trace of road could be found.

I cannot weary my readers with a day-to-day record of our zigzagging
in the desert—one day Hassan in the ascendant as guide, another day El
Amin, and from this time I cannot pretend to remember the exact day on
which particular incidents happened. There were too many incidents to
attempt a complete record, even with a diary, had I kept one.

El Amin had confided to me and Ismail his firm conviction that Hassan
was doing all this purposely, and that he knew precisely whereabouts
we were, as he had noticed him making some sort of calculations, and
drawing lines with his camel-stick in the sand. |22|

Perhaps it was because I did not wish to, that I could not credit the
implied treachery. Gabou and Hassan belonged to the Kabbabish tribe,
and as the rifles and ammunition we were carrying were to assist
Sheikh Saleh to fight the common enemy, what object could there be in
betraying us? Saleh’s men would certainly fight to the death; betrayer
and betrayed would run equal risks of being killed—indeed, the betrayer
would almost certainly be killed instantly by those he was leading. I
therefore dismissed the idea from my head, took it for granted that the
man had actually lost his way, and declined to fall in with El Amin’s
suggestion to say “good-bye” to the caravan, make straight for the
Nile, and take our chances of passing clear as merchants, should we
meet any people on the road.

[Illustration: Sketch accompanying author’s account of capture]

On, I believe, our sixth day out from Selima, we crossed a caravan
route running east and west, and, referring to my map, I had no
hesitation in telling Ismail that this must be the caravan route
between El Kab and El Agia, but on which part of the road we were I
could not imagine. I wanted to attempt travelling along this road,
but Hassan declared it led to El Kiyeh. That we must now be close to
Wadi el Kab, every one knew. A “council of war” was held, at which it
was decided to risk going on, as we must be travelling towards the
wells on the extreme edge of the wady. We were to try and pick up the
wells, water the camels, fill our skins, and then strike direct west
and encamp at night-time, not to remain near the wells. While we were
discussing the situation, some |23| men had been sent along the
road to try and discover anything in the way of marks or tracks which
would give an idea as to our exact position, and they reported that
there could be little doubt of this being El Kiyeh road, and that El
Kiyeh must be six days distant. This news decided us. Our water-supply
was out. A six days’ march over that desert under such conditions
meant perishing of thirst, and there was, again, the uncertainty as to
whether we should be, after all, on the road to El Kiyeh or El Etroun.

One of the camels was ailing, so it was decided to kill it, and let
the men have a good meal of meat. Early the next day, I believe our
eighth or ninth day from Selima, an Alighat Arab was sent scouting to
the west; he never returned. We halted and waited for his return as
arranged, and lost the night’s travel in consequence. On the following
day, unmistakable landmarks were picked up, which proved that we were
but a few hours distant from the Wadi el Kab, and it was believed we
could reach the wells by sunset. Unloading the camels, and leaving
four men in charge of the baggage, we started off for the wells,
expecting to return the same night. We travelled without incident
until about two o’clock in the afternoon, when we reached the broken
ground skirting the wady proper. My guide, El Amin, and two men, had
been sent on ahead to reconnoitre. The place is dotted with sand-dunes
and hillocks from fifty to a hundred feet high, and on nearing the
first hillock, and when approximately at “A,” we heard a shot fired.
El Amin and his companions had then reached the spot |24| marked “G”
on the accompanying plan; we believed the shot to be a signal that
they had found water, and pressed on until we reached “B,” when shot
after shot was fired, the bullets whistling over our heads. At this
moment we saw Amin and his companions hurrying back to us. Next came
some broken volleys, but all the shots were high. Up to now we had not
seen our assailants, but the smoke from the rifles now discovered their
whereabouts—the hillock marked “C.”

I was slightly ahead of the main body, with Hassan, the guide, some
yards away on my right. Being mounted on a large white camel, well
caparisoned, and wearing a bright silk Kofeyeh on my head, I offered
an excellent mark, and shot after shot whistled over me. I was turning
my camel round to hurry back to the main body, when I saw Hassan fall
to the ground. Calling to my clerk Elias, who was nearest to him, to
help him back on the camel, or make the camel kneel to cover him, I
tried to get mine to kneel so that I could dismount, but the brute was
startled and restive. Elias called out that Hassan was “mayat khaalass”
(stone dead). Our men were now quickly dismounting and loading their
rifles. Bullet after bullet and volley after volley came, but no
one was struck as yet except Hassan. Making the camels kneel, as a
precaution against their bolting, we advanced in open order towards
the hillock from whence the shots came, I on the extreme left, Ismail
in the centre, and Darb es Safai on the right. Rounding the hillock
“C,” we caught the first glimpse of the enemy, about fifty strong, and
then rapidly retiring. |25| We fired a volley into them, on which they
turned and replied, and a pretty hot fusilade was kept up for some
minutes, but the firing was wild on both sides. I saw two of our men
fall, and about eight to ten of the dervishes. Picking up their dead
or wounded, they hurried off again, leaving two camels behind. Darb
es Safai, who was leading the right, and was now well in advance, was
the first to reach the camels, and discovered that they were loaded
with filled water-skins. Calling out, “Moyia lil atshan;[1] Allah
kereem!” (“Water for the thirsty; God is generous!”), he commenced to
unfasten the neck of one of the skins. A mad rush was made for the
water; arms were thrown down, and the men struggled around the camels
for a drink. I tried for a few seconds, when I reached them, to counsel
moderation, knowing the effect of a copious draught on the system under
the circumstances and condition they were in. Some of the men had been
three days without water, and the camel flesh they had eaten had not
improved matters.

    [1] _Moyia lil atshan._
    (Water for the thirsty.)

While the struggle was still in progress, Hasseena, who with Elias had
followed us up, ran to me saying that the dervishes were returning,
and, looking in the direction of “E,” I saw about a hundred and fifty
men advancing at a rapid pace. I raised the alarm, and Ismail gave
the call to arms; but few heard his voice in the din. Those few fired
a few shots, but it was now too late; in a moment the dervishes were
upon us, friend and foe one struggling mass. Above the noise could be
heard the voice of the dervish leader reminding |26| his men of some
orders they had received, and to “secure their men alive.” Even in
that moment it flashed upon me that we had been led into an ambush,
else why the reference to “our master’s orders” given by their leader?
Elias, Hasseena, and I ran towards “F” to take cover; it was no use my
using my fowling-piece on that struggling mass, as I should have struck
friend and foe. Just as we reached the base of the hillock, Elias was
captured, and the five or six dervishes who had pursued us occupied
themselves with examining the contents of the bag he was carrying—my
three hundred dollars, jewellery, etc. They gave a mere glance towards
me, and then moved off.

Pushing a few stones together, I laid out my cartridges, reloaded my
revolvers, and prepared to die fighting. Ismail, the leader of our
caravan, had by some means managed to get clear of the mass, and,
reaching my camel, mounted it and rode off, riding hard to the right of
“F.” Seeing Hasseena and me, he called to us to try and secure camels
and follow him up. Hasseena on this ran down the hillock; I had not
noticed her disappearance from the immediate vicinity of the hillock,
as I was too much occupied hurriedly making my diminutive zareeba
of stones. Glancing over the stones later, I was astonished to see
her walking at the head of the dervishes who had secured Elias, they
following in Indian file. Hasseena called out that I was given quarter,
and that I was to stand up unarmed. This I refused to do, and as they
kept advancing, I kept my gun pointed at them from between the stones.
Hasseena again called out, |27| saying that they had orders not to hurt
me, in evidence of which they fired their rifles into the air, and then
laid them on the sand.

By this time I could see that our men were bound, and grouped together
on the plain; I left my cover, descended the hillock, and advanced to
the dervishes, when I was saluted with yells and cries of “El Kaffir,
El Kaffir” (“the unbeliever”). One, maybe more fanatical than the
rest, after vituperating me, made a motion as if to strike at my head
with his sword. Looking him in the eyes, I asked, “Is this the word of
honour (meaning quarter) of your Prophet and master; you liar, you son
of a dog? strike, unclean thing!” While, as is only to be expected,
I was at that moment trembling with fear and excitement, I had lived
too long in the East to forget that a bold front and fearless manner
command respect, if not fear. My words and manner had the desired
effect, for one, turning to my would-be assailant, asked, “What are you
doing? Have you forgotten our master’s orders?” This was the second
time something had been said about “orders.” I put a few questions to
my captors, but they declined to reply to them, saying that I could
speak to the Emirs Hamza and Farag, and they hurried me towards them.
The Emir, whom later I knew to be Farag, asked my name, and what I
wanted in his country; then, turning to his followers without waiting
for a reply, called out, “This is the Pasha our master Wad en Nejoumi
sent us to capture; thanks be to God we have taken him unhurt.” The
latter remark was |28| made as a reproof to the man who had threatened
to strike me, as the incident had been reported, and also as a warning
to the others.

Taking me apart from the others, he continued, “I see you are thirsty;”
and, calling up one of his men, told him to pour some water over some
hard dry bread, and, handing it to me, said smilingly, “Eat—it is not
good for you to drink.” I divined his meaning. Had our men not made
that mad rush for the water, we might have had a very different tale to
tell, and who knows if, had we won the day and reached Sheikh Saleh,
the history of the Soudan for the past twelve years might not have read
differently? _Mine_ would have done so.



|29|

CHAPTER III

IN THE HANDS OF THE DERVISHES


I was handed over to two men, who were held responsible for my
well-being; Hasseena and Elias were placed together in the charge of
others, and we were ordered to seat ourselves a little distance away.
The dervishes had with them military tents which must have been taken
at Khartoum, and one was soon pitched. Here the Emirs and principal
men met to hold a conference and inquiry. Darb es Safai and others
were taken up one by one, and the question put to them direct, “Where
are the rifles and the cartridges?” for no case had, of course, been
brought on with us to the wells. They denied any knowledge of them;
then replied Farag, “We will find them for you, and show you how they
are used.” My turn came, and in reply to the usual question, I said
that I knew nothing at all about them; questioned still further, I
admitted that I had seen a number of boxes, but I could not pretend to
know what was inside of them. Asked then as to where they were, I said
I could not tell—in the desert somewhere; they had been thrown away,
as the camels, being tired and |30| thirsty, could not carry them any
longer. Still interrogated, I replied that the guide who had brought us
here was the first killed in the firing, and that I did not think any
one else of our caravan could find their way back to the place where
the boxes were left.

At this, rapid glances were passed from one to the other. Asked if I
was sure he was killed, I could only reply that my clerk had told me
so, that I had seen him fall, and indicated the place. Farag sent off
a man in that direction after whispering some instructions to him, and
during the few minutes he was away perfect silence reigned in the tent,
with the exception of the click, click of the beads of the _Sibha_
(rosary). When he returned, he whispered his reply to Farag. Two of
the Alighat Arabs who had joined us at Wadi Halfa were next brought
up and questioned; they did not give direct replies; they were taken
aside, but not far enough away to prevent my overhearing part of what
went on, when, as a result of promises and then threats, I gathered
that they undertook to lead the dervishes to the spot where the cases
had been left in the desert. It is quite certain, from the questions
put by the dervishes, that they were ignorant of the precise spot where
the baggage had been left, and it in a measure confirmed the death of
Hassan; but I have always had a suspicion that the man shammed death
and got away, to present himself later on to Nejoumi. He might easily
have mingled with the dervishes and not been seen by us.

The sun had now set; the conference ended, and orders were given by
Farag for all to march back by |31| the route we had come, the Alighat
Arabs, with Amin between them, leading. We marched for only an hour
or so, for our camels, being tired and not having been watered, gave
trouble. A halt was called for the night, and what water the dervishes
had was partly distributed. By sunrise the next day we were on the
march again, twenty-five men, well mounted, having been sent on in
advance with the guides. All Saleh’s men, wounded and sound, were
compelled to walk, the dervishes and their wounded riding on camels.

In the afternoon we reached the spot where we had left the four men in
charge of the baggage, to find them with their hands bound behind them.
The advance party had reached them about ten o’clock in the morning,
and had doubtless found them asleep, as no shots had been fired. The
men were not to be blamed in any way, and it really mattered but little
whether they were asleep or awake when taken, with the odds against
them. I had, on starting for the wells, left them the little water I
had saved; had they not had this, they could not have slept.

In the same way that Saleh’s men had forgotten everything in that mad
rush for the water, so did the dervishes break loose, forget all about
their prisoners, and rush on the pile of cases. The ground was soon
littered with rifles, packets of ammunition, sugar, clothing, food,
and the hundred and one articles to be found in a trading caravan,
for the cases and bales of the Arabs who had joined us at Wadi Halfa
contained only merchandise. My mind was soon made up; running towards
the other prisoners with my |32| hunting-knife, I thought that at all
events the thongs of a few might be cut, and making for the camels and
scattering in different directions, a few might have got clear. It was
a mad idea, but it was something. Before any part of my half-formed
plan could be put into execution, the guards were down on us. I was
taken to the Emir, Said Wad Farag, but I excused myself, saying that,
being a medical man, I had gone to see if I could attend to any of the
wounded. Complimenting me on my thought for the others, he recommended
me to think of myself, appropriated the knife the guards had found in
my hand, and told me he would let me know when to use it, warning me at
the same time not to attempt to speak to any of the other prisoners.

When the excitement over the loot had cooled down a little, a camel was
killed in honour of the occasion, and my servant Hasseena was ordered
to prepare some of the dishes. I was invited to eat with the Emirs.
Our first dish was the raw liver of the camel, covered with salt and
shetta—a sort of red pepper. I had seen this dish being eaten, but had
never partaken of it myself before. I had two reasons for eating it
now: first, I was hungry and thirsty; secondly, one of the first signs
of fear is a disinclination, I might say inability, to swallow food,
and fear of my captors was the last thing I intended to exhibit. After
the meal, my clothes were taken from me, as they looked upon them as
the dress of a kaffir, and I was turned out into the night-air with
my singlet, drawers, and socks as my complete wardrobe. My turban and
Baghdad |33| Kofiyeh were also taken, so that I was bareheaded into
the bargain.

When the dervishes had finished their food, and before they lay down
for the night, the Emir Farag sent for all the loot to be collected
and brought before his tent, when it would later on be distributed
according to the rules of the Beit-el-Mal (Treasury). This institution
and its working will be described later. Only a part of the loot was
collected, for the men, knowing from experience the extraordinary
manner in which loot “shrank” in bulk and numbers when placed in the
hands of the Emirs to be distributed according to rule, concealed in
the sand or beneath their jibbehs, whatever could be hidden there. The
pipes and tobacco found in the baggage were burned, as their use was
prohibited by the Mahdi. Amongst my things was found my letter-wallet,
and this was handed to the Emirs, who afterwards sent for me and
demanded to know the contents of the letters. I replied that they were
only business documents, receipts for goods, and such like, but that
if the wallet was handed to me, I would translate each document. Being
satisfied with this answer, Farag kept the wallet. Complaining of my
clothing having been taken, he allowed me to have my flannel shirt,
and gave me a piece of rag as head-dress. In this guise, I lay down
in the sand to doze and wake the whole night through, conscious yet
unconscious, with the incidents of the last eighteen days chasing each
other through my brain.

The camp was astir long before sunrise, and by sunrise we were on the
move east towards El Kab, |34| which we reached about three o’clock
in the afternoon. The “wells,” at the part we arrived at, are upon
ascending ground; but the name “well” in this instance is a misnomer.
They are shallow basins scooped out with the hands or any rough
implement, the water being found about three feet below the surface,
shrubs indicating where to scoop. The camels were watered and left to
graze on the scanty herbage. Another camel was killed to celebrate the
capture of the caravan, and again I was invited to take food with the
Emirs. I was asked only the most commonplace questions, but I could not
get any reply to those I put, except that Abdel Rahman Wad en Nejoumi
would tell me all I wished to know. While still with the Emirs, Farag
called up his followers again, and after congratulating them upon
the capture of the “English Pasha” and the caravan (though the Emir
knew very well who I was, from old days at Korti), he harangued them
on the advisability of obeying to the letter the orders of the Mahdi
transmitted to the Khaleefa, and by the Khaleefa to him, winding up
his oration with threats of punishment and imprisonment to any of the
faithful who robbed the Beit-el-Mal by concealing any of the loot,
after which he ordered every one to be searched again. I had many
opportunities later of seeing evidences of what the Emirs most relied
upon, in regard to the handing over of any loot—an exhortation to their
followers, and an appeal to their religious scruples—or threats of
punishment and imprisonment. Both went together, and were administered
in the order I have given them, and there was seldom an |35| occasion
when a search did not follow the appeal to their honesty, and when
punishment did not follow the search for concealed loot.

Wad Farag dismissed me for the night, but I had hardly lain down when
two dervishes stole up, and asked me to describe all the baggage I
had with me. I said that a list would be found in my wallet, which,
if they would bring to me, would allow of me giving them the required
information. One left me, for the purpose, I imagine, of asking the
Emir for the wallet, but returned shortly saying that I should _have_
to remember, and that the list I then gave would be compared with the
list in the wallet. There was no list in the wallet, but there were one
or two letters I wished to extract. I have thought since that, had I
exhibited less anxiety to get hold of the wallet itself, I might have
induced them to hand over these letters under one pretext or another. I
soon discovered from their questions that the dervishes were spying one
upon the other, for they asked me directly what were the contents of
the bag taken from Elias my clerk. I told them three hundred dollars,
gold and silver jewellery, and some jewellery which my servant Hasseena
had asked Elias to carry for her. Hasseena was sent for to describe her
jewellery. The information evidently gave these men huge satisfaction,
and taking Hasseena with them, they sent her back with cooking
utensils, food and firewood, and ordered her to prepare food for me.
Having had my food with the Emirs but a little time before, I was at
a loss to understand the meaning of this, but learned later on |36|
that it was to prevent any one else approaching her for information.
Whether these two men were, as they said, in charge of the Beit-el-Mal,
or whether, having seen any of the money or jewellery, they wanted to
get their share of it, I cannot say, but, in the light of subsequent
events, I should be inclined to believe the latter.

When the food was ready, I invited my guards to eat it. I was hoping
that a full meal, especially as their fatigue was very evident, would
induce them to sleep, and feigning drowsiness myself, moved off a few
yards, and scooped out a sand bed. I was prepared to risk anything for
liberty; we were in the neighbourhood of the wells, and might travel
for days without being out of reach of water. Explaining my plans to
Hasseena, I told her, under the pretence of collecting firewood, to try
and get up to Amin and Elias, cut their thongs with the large knife we
had had to cut up the meat sent us for food, and tell them to creep
towards a small tree which I had noticed during daylight, and await
me there. Some camels with their feet fastened by ropes were grazing
there, and I believed that we might get away unobserved, and get some
hours’ start. But the guards of the prisoners were not asleep; they
were very much awake, searching the prisoners for any valuables, an
operation which was carried out by each relief of guards, so that the
sun rose with us still in the hands of the dervishes.

[Illustration: THE KHALEEFA’S EUNUCHS AT ATTENTION.]

It was just after sunrise that we moved off again; my guardian must
have been impressed with my importance, for he saddled the camel for me
himself, and |37| brought me a gourd of camel’s milk. During this
day’s journey, the Emir Mohammad Hamza, of the Jaalin tribe, who was
commanding a section of the dervishes, rode up to me and inquired about
my health—the usual form of salutation. He told me not to be afraid of
any harm coming to me, and then rode off again. That evening we arrived
at a small encampment of dervishes close to some wells, when I was
taken before another Emir whom I was told was Makin en Nur, and who,
from the deference paid him by the others, was doubtless the chief.
He, too, put a few questions to me of the same commonplace nature as
the others, and waved his hand for me to be removed. On being sent for
again, I was accused of being a Government spy, and asked what I had
to say for myself. I replied, “I have told you the truth; what do you
want me to do now? tell you a lie, and say I _am_ a spy? If I do so
you will kill me for saying I am one, and if I say again I am _not_,
you will not believe me, and kill me just the same. I am not afraid of
you; do as you please.” When he questioned me again, I said, “I refuse
to answer any more questions.” My manner of speaking to them caused
no little surprise, as it was doubtless different to what they had
expected, and to what they had formerly experienced from captives.

A young dervish was called in, and told to conduct me to a spot
removed from the other prisoners. As we walked along, the youth said,
“God is just; God is bounteous; please God to-morrow our eyes shall
be gladdened by seeing a white Kaffir yoked with |38| a shayba to
a black one.” This shayba is the forked limb of a tree; the fork is
placed on the neck pressing against the larynx, the stem projecting
before the wearer; the right wrist is then tightly bound to the stem
with thongs of fresh hide, which soon dry and “bite” the flesh, and the
ends of the fork drawn as closely together as possible, and fastened
with a cross-piece. It is a cruel instrument of torture, for the arm
must be kept extended to its utmost; to attempt to relieve the tension
means pressure on the larynx; but when yoked to another man he throws
pressure on you, and you on him. A prod in the ribs under the arm of
either victim, with sword or rifle, affords endless amusement to their
tormentors in the victims’ gapes and grimaces as they gasp for breath;
but the captor’s cup of happiness is filled when an extra hard prod
knocks one man off his feet, and the poor wretches are only helped up
again when they are almost choking.

Irritated beyond endurance by the youth’s jibes and jests, and hoping
to put an end to everything at once, I threw my weight and strength
into one blow—and I was a powerful man then—and felled him senseless.
Taking his rifle, I strode back to the tent, almost foaming with rage,
and entered; my eyes must have been blazing; I glared from one to the
other, wondering whether to fire the one shot and then start “clubbing”
until I was cut down. Hamza was the first to speak, and jumping up,
held up his hand, saying, “Istanna” (wait). I hurriedly related what
had occurred, and said what I intended to do. Hamza |39| came to me,
saying, “La, la, la (no, no, no), there must be a mistake. You are not
to be put in a shayba; our orders are to deliver you alive and well.”
Then turning to the others, he continued, “Hand this man over to me;
I shall deliver him alive and well to Wad en Nejoumi; I hold myself
responsible for him.” Some demur was made, when, lowering the rifle,
I placed the butt on the ground, rested my chin on the muzzle, and
addressing myself to all, said that unless I was left in Hamza’s charge
I should press the trigger—on which my great toe was then resting.
Hamza again pressed his point, and said, “If you do not agree, and
this man does any harm to himself, I declare myself free of blame and
responsibility. I have heard of him; he will do as he says.” The effect
of the words was magical. “Take him away—keep him; do what you wish
with him; never let him come near us again—never. Never let him look
upon us with his eyes.”[2]

    [2] The Soudanese, indeed all Easterns, have a great horror of
    the “Evil Eye;” and the grey and grey-blue eyes of Europeans
    in anger, or even in a fixed stare, as I learned later, strike
    fear, if not terror, into the hearts of most.

Hamza, turning to me, said, “You must know now that our master, Wad en
Nejoumi, knew of your coming, and sent us to conduct you to him. His
orders were that you should be treated well; he wishes to speak to you.
I will give you security until Dongola, where he is waiting for you. I
do not know what he will do with you; maybe he will kill you—I cannot
say; but, for myself, I promise you will arrive in Dongola alive. If
anything happens to you, the Emir Wad en Nejoumi will kill me. Will you
|40| promise that you will leave yourself in my hands, will not try
to kill yourself, or attempt to escape?” I gave my promise, upon which
Hamza said, “Leave this man to me.”

The conversation which took place between us was of much longer
duration than the above would appear to indicate, but I cannot pretend
to remember _all_ that was said after the twelve years’ interval; the
above is the gist of it. I handed Hamza the rifle, and he, taking me
by the hand in the Bedawi manner, led me out of the tent, and towards
his section of the dervishes. On the way, in a few hurried whispers,
he gave me to understand that he was really still a friend of the
Government, and that I might trust implicitly in him. On reaching his
people, he called four men to attend to me, and sending for Hasseena,
told her to prepare such food as I was accustomed to. Hasseena came in
rags; her clothes, like mine, had been taken from her. He ordered one
of her dresses to be returned, and on my showing him how the skin had
been burned off my back and shoulders with the sun, he ordered that I,
too, should be supplied with more clothing.



|41|

CHAPTER IV

ARRIVAL IN DONGOLA


Instead of our starting off the next morning at sunrise, a sort of
“fantasia” was held. This consisted of men riding up and down the
camp with mimic combats between individuals—a sort of circus display.
Stricter watch was placed over me, and my guards warned against
allowing me to hold conversation with any one. At sunset we were off
again, and the following day halted in the desert, El Ordeh (Dongola)
being then, I was told, a few hours’ distant. We rested probably a
couple of hours, and marched until evening, but had not yet sighted
Dongola. A final search was made for concealed loot, and a piece of my
leather bag having been discovered on one of the men, he was flogged,
and, offering to confess, confessed that he had found the bag empty on
the ground. His clothing, and that of his section was searched, and
resulted in the discovery of seventeen of my Turkish dollars; a further
application of the courbag resulted in the discovery of the remainder
of the three hundred dollars, and a third one, of the greater part of
the jewellery. The flogging and searching delayed us, |42| and instead
of travelling that night, we only got away in the morning, arriving
within sight of Dongola at noon, when men were sent in to report our
arrival.

While awaiting the return of the messengers, discipline—what there
was of it—was relaxed, and the camp given over to jubilations. The
attentions bestowed upon me were not pleasant; both by words and
actions I was given to understand what the men hoped and expected would
be my fate. A respite was granted, when the man who had received the
floggings was brought to me so that I might certify that all the things
discovered on him and his companions were extracted from my cash-bag,
and that all the articles had been recovered. He seemed none the worse
for his experiences, and the matter was explained to me. When the Ansar
are flogged, upon an expedition, for a theft which, as the Emirs know,
every one would commit, so many stripes are ordered to be given; these
are given with the courbag (rhinoceros-hide whip) on the fleshy part of
the back, and over the clothing.

He forgave me, and blamed the sugar for his discovery. The
sugar-loaves, which were part of the goods of the Arabs who had joined
the caravan at Wadi Halfa, had been broken up and distributed. At the
wells some of the men had been noticed dipping pieces in the water and
munching them, and none of the sugar having been handed in when the
loot was collected, the first search was instituted, and this resulted
in the discovery of other hidden loot. I do not happen to know who
might be |43| the “father of sugar,” but I trust that the curses and
imprecations showered on his head by my dervish friend may not reach
him.

Hasseena was brought to be searched, and stripped naked; she cleverly
dropped my seal in the sand, and pressed it in with her foot. I
had asked her to get this seal from Elias, as, with this in their
possession, the dervishes might have written, through my clerk,
whatever letters they chose, and sealing them with my seal, have made
them appear authentic. Hasseena was again questioned as to who I was,
and persisted in saying that I was a merchant and not a Government
official, and while she was being threatened with the courbag, which in
this instance would have been applied as the cat-o’-nine-tails is at
home, the Emir Hamza came forward as a witness in my favour. Hamza was
another who, friendly as he was to the “Government,” had been driven
into the ranks of the dervishes. After the final search, a move was
made towards Dongola, opposite which town we arrived between two and
three o’clock in the afternoon. Before the town we descried a grand
parade of troops taking place, and as we halted a band struck up; from
the sound which reached us, the band must have been composed of bugles
and trumpets of all shapes, sizes, and pitch, with just as varied an
assortment of drums. In the medley they played could be heard snatches
of the so-called Khedivial hymn.

When the prisoners had been ranged up in such a manner as to make their
exhibit most effective, and when I, as the prisoner of the occasion,
had been |44| placed in the midst of the Emirs, a signal was given,
on which the horsemen of the paraded army charged down upon us in
their much-lauded and over-rated exhibition of horsemanship. This
exhibition consists of individual and collective charges right on to
the opposing line of onlookers, a sudden pulling up of the horse which
throws it on to its haunches, a meaningless shaking of swords and
spears over one’s head, a swerve to the left or right, the direction
being dominated by the half-broken jaw for which the sudden pulling
up with the brutal ring-bit with which the horses are ridden (?) is
responsible; another charge, and so on until the rider is tired or the
horse jibs. This is the usual programme, but it is occasionally varied
by accidents to horses and riders and onlookers, as, for example, the
affair of Khaleefa Ali Wad Helu, who, some few days before the battle
of Omdurman, gave an inspiriting exhibition to the faithful in front of
the Mahdi’s tomb, in order to instruct them how to charge the British
lines, and spoiled the whole thing by being thrown, breaking his wrist,
laming the horse, and nearly killing half a dozen of his most ardent
admirers who were in the front rank. This is not fiction.

[Illustration: THE KHALEEFA’S TENDER MERCIES.]

The parade and exhibition, called El Arrdah, given in celebration of
our capture, lasted more than an hour, when a move was made towards
Dongola, and on arrival at the town, Wad Hamza and Wad Farag led me
to the gateway of Nejoumi’s enclosure. We were kept waiting at the
entrance for some time, and it was as much as my guards could do to
protect me from the rabble; the people were in a most excited |45|
state, and my position was not rendered any the more comfortable by
my understanding the language. I was prodded with spears and swords,
and maybe for a quarter of an hour—it may have been more, it may
have been less—I was subjected to as severe an ordeal for patience
as ever man was put to. Many of those in the rabble knew me from
pre-abandonment days, but the cringing supplicants of former days were
now my bitterest foes and tormentors. Curses and imprecations are such
common accompaniments in ordinary disputes in the East—disputes over
the most trivial matters—that little new could assail my ears in a
country where a child just learning to babble may be heard, in childish
innocence, to lisp to its mother, “Il la'an abook,” or a much shorter
expression which, owing to the large number now understanding Arabic,
I cannot here use, but both of which expressions are in constant use.
It was the suggestive actions—some of beheading, some of mutilations,
others of a description which I may not even hint at, which nearly
drove me to exasperation; they did so actually, but I controlled
myself, and did not allow my exasperation to exhibit itself in any way,
either by word or deed.

On entering the enclosure, I was shown to a small room, on the floor of
which three people were sitting; one rose, and, taking my hand, said,
“El Hamdu lillah,” “Bis-Salaamtuk” (thanks be to God for your safety).
I was told to sit down. The three scrutinized me, and I returned their
gaze. For some moments nothing was said, and I was determined not to
be the first to break the silence. Presently food was brought |46|
in, and I was told to partake of it. As with the first meal with the
Emirs, I set to with a will, and continued eating after the others had
finished, taking not the slightest notice of my hosts. I was acting a
part, I admit, for indifferent as I might have appeared to all taking
place around me, I was at the same time “all eyes and ears.”

When I had finished, the one who had first spoken to me, and whom I
had guessed was Nejoumi, “introduced” himself to me. He prefaced the
series of questions he put to me by saying, “Do not be afraid; I hope
it will be my pleasure to receive you into the true religion, and we
shall be good friends.” Nejoumi assured me that I should soon get
accustomed to my new mode of life, and would in the end bless him for
having saved me. He then told me that he knew perfectly well who I
was, and, not being a “Government man,” my life was safe at his hands,
but my property, having been found in a caravan of enemies, must be
confiscated. I did not follow his reasoning, nor was I allowed to, for
he sent me off to the house of the Amin Beit-el-Mal (storekeeper or
director of the Beit-el-Mal), with instructions that I should be well
attended to. Hasseena was sent into the hareem of the same house.

Early the next morning Nejoumi sent for me, and upon arriving at his
enclosure, I saw that he had a number of Sheikh Saleh’s men under
examination. I learned later that some had admitted that I was once
in Government employ, and had fought against the Mahdi, but that now
I was a merchant only. There were, of course, numbers in the town who
remembered |47| me in connection with the expedition, and in order
to curry favour, they were not averse to credit me with exploits
and prowess which, if related to and believed in by the British
authorities, would have placed me upon an unearned pedestal. In this
instance they were related in the hope that I should be placed on
the now well-known “angareeb,” which in a few seconds would be drawn
away, leaving me suspended by the neck. When my turn for interrogation
came, my letter-wallet was handed to Nejoumi; he had, no doubt, had
the contents examined the night before. His first question was, “Which
are the Government papers?” I declared that there were none, and that
all the papers were business ones. He then inquired, “Are there no
papers from the friends of the Government?”—to which I answered, “There
may be; I am a merchant; I buy gum, hides—anything from the Soudan,
and sell them again to any one else who will buy them from me. It is
‘khullo zai baadoo’ (all the same) to me who the people are—friends or
enemies of the Government—provided they pay me. I gave good money for
what I bought, and wanted good money for what I sold.” Nejoumi then
told me that he had had the letters translated by a girl educated in
the “Kanneesa” (church) of Khartoum. General Stephenson’s letter had
been translated as a “firman” appointing me the “Pasha” of the Western
Soudan, with orders to wage war on the dervishes, for which purpose I
had been provided with money, rifles, and ammunition, and about forty
or fifty men as my personal bodyguard.

At first I was dumfounded; then, serious as my |48| position was,
I could not restrain myself from bursting out laughing. I protested
that the translation was false, and asked to be shown the document.
I was not shown it. To a man whom I surmised was the Kadi, I said,
“If the letter is a ‘firman,’ then it should be written in Arabic,
as the Soudanese did not read or understand English.” This remark
appealed to Nejoumi, who said that he did not believe the translation
himself, _as it was quite different from the news he had received from
Hassib-el-Gabou_. I made inquiries about this black female convert to
Christianity, and learned that she knew not a single word of English,
but few of Italian, and, like the remainder of such converts so-called,
went to the mission for what she could get out of it. I have forgotten
her name, but hope to discover it before completing my notes, when I
shall give it. It would be interesting to learn how much Christian
money had been wasted on the education of this supposed convert,
married then to a Danagli, and a shining light amongst the most
fanatical of the women, who, with their songs and dances, fanned the
flame of fanaticism amongst the men.

More of Saleh’s men were brought in and questioned—I questioned with
them. In the end, I admitted that General Stephenson’s letter asked me,
if I was passing Sheikh Saleh’s district, to tell him that arms and
ammunition were awaiting him at Wadi Halfa; but that I had nothing to
do with the sale of them, was proved by my arriving after they had been
taken over, and my papers would show that I had not sold them to him,
and that I was not going to collect the money for them, |49| as they
believed. The remainder of that conference is only a haze to me now,
but I remember that later the same day I was told that Nejoumi, pressed
by the other Emirs, had, in order to elicit the truth by frightening
the others, ordered the execution of fourteen of the Arabs who had
joined us at Wadi Halfa. Emin, my guide, for some reason or another
which I never discovered, was ordered to be executed at the same time,
and was first to be beheaded. My surmises upon this incident had better
be left to my next chapter.

On the following morning, the Amin Beit-el-Mal ordered me to get ready
to attend a “fantasia” which Wad en Nejoumi had arranged, and at which
he had ordered me to be present; but, being his prisoner, I must appear
as one, for which purpose a light ring and chain was placed on my neck,
and a light chain fastened to my ankles. On arrival at Nejoumi’s place,
I found the Kadi trying to persuade Darb es Safai and about twelve or
thirteen of Saleh’s men to become Mahdists. Darb es Safai was their
spokesman. They scorned the exhortations of the Kadi, and heaped on his
head whatever insults they could. Nejoumi was present, and to him Darb
es Safai said, “We have ridden behind our master, Sheikh Saleh, and we
refuse to follow you on foot as slaves; we have come here to die—let
us die.” Being told that if they persisted in their stubbornness they
would be killed, Darb es Safai repeated, “We have come to die—let us
die.” I was then removed to a small mud hut, told to sit down, and
here hundreds of the populace came to see me, flinging at me all the
abuse their rich language is |50| capable of, striving with each other
to excel in virulence. Darb es Safai and the others had been marched
off a short distance, and set to dig a shallow trench; when this was
finished, they were ordered to kneel at its edge, and their hands were
tied behind them; this action is practically the declaration of the
death sentence. Es Safai asked to be beheaded last, as he wished to see
how his men could die. Only one jumped to his feet when a few heads had
rolled into the trench, when Es Safai called out, “Kneel down. Do you
not see these cowards are looking at us?” This was the “fantasia” I was
to have assisted at, but, by some misunderstanding, I was spared the
horrible spectacle.

When the executions were over, my chains were removed, and I was again
taken before Nejoumi, and questioned as to what property I had in the
caravan, and also if I had any slaves. I said I might not possess
slaves, but had two servants—Elias, my clerk, and Hasseena, who was a
freed slave, and now my female servant. Elias had been cross-examined,
but had evidently, in his fright, contradicted himself time after time.
First he said he was my clerk, then he was the servant of some Ali Abou
Gordi of the Alighat tribe, then trading in the Soudan. Nejoumi told me
that, if Elias’s last tale was true, he could not be returned to me,
as he must be an enemy. I did my best for Elias, telling Nejoumi that
he was a good clerk and good writer, and that he might be very useful
to him in writing letters. Hasseena was brought in and protested that
she was my slave, not my servant; |51| that I had bought her, but,
as slaves were not allowed by the Government, I had had to give her a
_shehaada_ (certificate) declaring her free. Nejoumi made a present of
her to one of the men present, and on this Hasseena squatted on the
ground and refused to budge. She screamed to Nejoumi that he might, if
he chose, marry her himself, but said that whoever her husband might
be, he would die the same night, since she knew how to poison people
secretly. She knew nothing whatever about poisons, but this remark
probably was the reason for her being sent to the Khaleefa, as she
might be useful. She was sent back as “property” to the Beit-el-Mal.

My ordeal was not yet over; other chiefs came in, and the conference
opened soon developed into a heated, if not acrimonious, discussion
and dispute. I did not know Soudani sufficiently to follow all that
was said, besides which three or four were speaking rapidly at the
same time; but I gathered that Nejoumi wished to keep me by him, as he
believed that I might be made useful in signing letters which my clerk
would have to write. The others, believing the girl’s translation of
the letter, were for despatching me to the next world, and sending my
head as a gruesome present to the commandant at Wadi Halfa, accompanied
by the supposed “firman.” It is not a pleasant experience to sit down
and hear your fate being discussed, conscious that the sentence will
be carried out immediately. No criminal ever scanned the face of a
jury on its return to court as I did those of my savage captors, with
ears strained to catch every familiar |52| word; and, difficult as
it is after all these years to attempt to give a real analysis of
one’s feelings then, I can remember gloating over the thought that,
if death were the sentence, I would spring at the throat of the first
Emir I could reach, with my nails buried in and tearing at the flesh,
until a blow would finish all, and so rob the fanatical horde outside
of the pleasure of seeing a hated “Turk” publicly executed. That the
recollection is no imaginary one may be guessed from the fact that,
when I asked about Gabou’s “health” at Assouan after my release, one
part of that conjured scene sprang up, and doubtless would have been
acted, had Gabou been alive.

Nejoumi only partly won his point—I was to be sent to the Khaleefa.
Seven men were sent for, and Hasseena and I placed in their charge.
Nejoumi gave me some clothing, and also a hundred dollars from the
three hundred taken from me, and we were ordered off that night.



|53|

CHAPTER V

THE REAL HISTORY OF THE CAPTURE


(Extracts.)

 “He (Nejoumi) captured in the Oasis of Selima a large part if not
 the whole of the rifles. This was mainly owing to the imprudence
 of an enterprising German merchant named Charles Neufeld, who had
 accompanied the convoy, and, desirous of obtaining a supply of water,
 had descended to the Oasis, where he was captured by the enemy.”

 “. . . Most of them were killed, and a few, including Neufeld, were
 taken captive to Dongola; there they were beheaded, with the exception
 of Neufeld, who was sent to Omdurman, where he arrived on March 1,
 1887.”

 March 21, 1887.—“Sixty Kabbabish have arrived, sent by their chief to
 take over arms and money.”

 May 15, 1887.—“Mr. Neufeld is reported to have diverged from caravan
 of Kabbabishes to Sheikh Saleh to Bakah Wells, and to have been taken
 prisoner by the dervishes, as well as a few Kabbabish letters are said
 to have been captured; none from this office were entrusted to him”
 (Blue Book No. 2, 1888—Nos. 50 and 90).

 “Neufeld was now free. His release was owing to one of the Emirs
 representing to Abdullah Khalifa the great service Neufeld had been in
 enabling arms and ammunition to be taken from the Kabbabishes at the
 time Neufeld was captured” (Letter to Mrs. Neufeld from War Office.
 Cairo, 10.3.90). |54|

It would be as well to give at once the real history of my capture
as regards the circumstances and the arrangements made to effect
it. I received the details first from Ahmed Nur Ed Din, who, some
months after my capture, came to Omdurman on his own initiative to
try and effect my escape. His version was confirmed and amplified by
my intended companion Hogal, who again fell into the hands of the
dervishes in 1897, and was imprisoned with me until we were finally
released a few months ago.

The treachery of Gabou has also been confirmed by Moussa Daoud Kanaga,
who has just arrived from the Soudan to meet me, he having heard of my
release and arrival at Cairo. Moussa was one of the Soudan merchants
with whom I had had many dealings in former days, and believing he
could do something towards effecting my escape, he, after many attempts
to reach me, finally succeeded in doing so in September, 1889.

Instead of wearying my readers with snatches from one narrative and
the other, I will try, combining all, to make one clear and connected
story, having for this purpose deleted from the last chapter remarks
and questions put to me by Nejoumi at Dongola in order to introduce
them here.

The guide I had engaged for the journey, Hassib-el-Gabou, belonged to
the Dar Hamad section of the Kabbabish tribe which was settled in and
around Dongola. Gabou was employed as a spy by the military authorities
on the frontier, but there is not the slightest doubt that he was at
the same time in |55| the pay of Wad Nejoumi. He related to each side
just sufficient to keep himself in constant good grace and pay, and
failing authentic news of any description, he was able to fall back
upon his intimate local knowledge, his double dealings, his knowledge
of the people and language, and a fund of plausibility which at the
present day would not pass current for five minutes.

Between the Dar Hamad section, and the section acknowledging Saleh
Bey Wad Salem as their head, there were a number of old outstanding
jealousies which had not been settled; what they were all about I
cannot pretend to say, but one of the principal was, whether Sheikh
Saleh or the head of the Dar Hamads should be considered the senior.
It may not have been forgotten by those who have taken an interest
in Soudan affairs, that the existence of these tribal jealousies and
disputes between divided tribes was taken full advantage of by the
Mahdi and Khaleefa, in very much the same way as a political agent
runs one section of a party against another, and gains _his_ point, at
the cost and discomfiture of the others who, for the time being, were
unconsciously playing his game for him. Sheikh Saleh’s party were the
real Bedawi (men of the desert), and, therefore, more reliable than the
Dar Hamads, who had the “belladi” (town) taint or stigma attached to
them.

Gabou’s first plan was, according to his lights, to act loyal to his
section of the tribe, and so to arrange matters that the arms intended
for his rivals, Sheikh Saleh’s section, should fall into the hands
of his people; with those arms turned against the |56| dervishes,
he might see his section come to the front as _the_ support of the
Government, and maybe be in possession of the coveted title of Bey
and a Nishan (decoration), if his plans succeeded. I have no doubt
that, had his first plan succeeded, he would have been prepared with
a plausible tale, and gaining any slight advantage over the dervishes
would certainly have atoned for his defections. His plan as originally
conceived was as follows:—First, he wrote to his own sheikh giving
him full details of the arms and ammunition awaiting Saleh’s caravan,
and there is every reason to believe that the letters sent by General
Stephenson to Sheikh Saleh in the first instance, were delayed by Gabou
until his plans were complete. The guide Hassan, whom I believed had
been engaged at the last moment, had been engaged some time before, and
fully instructed in the part he had to play. Gabou had promised his
people that after Sheikh Saleh’s caravan left El Selima Wells, they
would be led towards the Wadi el Kab instead of El Agia Wells, so that
even had we filled our water-skins at leisure at Selima, we should only
have been provided with four, instead of eight days’ water, and two
days on the desert without water has its discomforts. When a Bedawi
will travel two or three days without water and not murmur, it can be
better imagined than described what Gabou’s promise to hand us over
“thirsty” meant; it meant precisely what actually did occur—the madness
of thirst approaching—the lips glued together, the tongue swollen and
sore in vain attempts to excite the salivary |57| glands—the muscles
of the throat contracted, and the palate feeling like a piece of
sandstone, the nostrils choked with fine sand, and the eyes reddened
and starting, with the eyelids seeming to crack at every movement. Only
those who have experienced what we did during those last days on our
journey to Wadi el Kab, can fill in the missing details in the history
of Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage.

The Dar Hamads, on receiving Gabou’s news, made their preparations;
arms buried in the ground to conceal them from the dervishes were
unearthed, but the very evident activity of the people excited the
suspicions of Wad Nejoumi. Believing that a revolt was intended, he
prepared to meet it; but, having his spies about, bits of the real
truth leaked out. Gabou was put to the test; either written messages or
messengers were sent to him by Nejoumi, asking about Saleh’s caravan
and the purposes for which they had gone to Wadi Halfa. When Gabou saw
that his first scheme had miscarried, rather than the caravan should
fall into the hands of his rivals, he preferred to reveal to Nejoumi
the plot he had planned for the benefit of his own people. It was on
this account that he had, as related, tried at one time to get me to
abandon the projected journey; and, as can be understood, there were
many reasons for his sending word to Nejoumi saying I was to accompany
the caravan. His keeping back of Ismail, the leader, day after day, was
only to allow of his messages reaching Nejoumi in time for him to make
complete preparations for intercepting us. |58|

Hogal arrived at Wadi Halfa the very evening of our departure, and sent
over his message. Gabou met him and gave him his confidence. He told
Hogal the means he had used to try and get me to abandon the journey,
but that he dared not give me the real reasons, as he knew I should
report the matter, and his head would then be in danger; he had done
the best he could by letting Nejoumi know who and what I was. Still
dexterously playing his cards, and to keep Hogal quiet, he said that he
knew that the English were going away; they certainly would not take
him with them, and as he and Hogal had their family ties in the Soudan,
unless he worked with Nejoumi, his “good word” would be of no avail
to his family and friends when the dervishes came down to occupy the
abandoned towns.

I trust that my readers are now beginning to see the light through
this dark conspiracy, and that I am making the narrative sufficiently
intelligible and clear without constantly requesting you to turn back
to earlier pages.

Gabou, playing a double part himself, and being naturally suspicious
of every one in consequence, thought that I might have divined his
treachery when the camels did not overtake us, and might change our
route in consequence; these suspicions he communicated to Nejoumi. Had
he not done this, I might have forgiven him—for it was every one for
himself in those days. There was not the least necessity for him to
warn Nejoumi that we might change our route on discovering that the
guide was leading |59| us in the wrong direction, for had Nejoumi’s
men _not_ found us, Gabou would not have been blamed.

Nejoumi, on receiving the news, despatched a large number of dervishes
under Wad Bessir to Umbellila, opposite Abou Gussi, and another
under Osman Azrak to El Kab opposite to El Ordeh (Dongola), and Said
Mohammad Wad Farag, Mohammad Hamza, Makin en Nur and Wad Umar to the
various wells in the Wadi el Kab, the latter having orders to keep
the Dar Hamads in check. I am giving this list of now famous names
from recollections of what I was told at Dongola and Omdurman, not for
the purpose of thereby investing with a halo of barbaric romance an
incident which was nothing more nor less than a bit of highway robbery,
but more with the idea, that should any of those named be still living,
and eventually come into the hands of the Government, they might be
questioned as to this affair, and their account compared with the
series of contradictory passages which head the present chapter.

Wad Farag sent a flying party to Selima Wells, led by a slave of Wad
Eysawee, named Hassib Allah. It was Hassib Allah who had fired the
shot we heard on the day of our arrival at Selima. When taken before
Wad Nejoumi at Dongola, one of the questions put me was, “Did you see
any one, or hear a shot fired the day you reached Selima,” to which I
answered “Yes,” as regards the latter part of the question, thereby
making an everlasting friend of Hassib Allah, as a reward had been
promised to whoever should first sight us and hurry back to the main
body with the news; |60| he had fired the shot, so that the question
might be put. Even in this you may gauge the amount of faith or
confidence the Ansar had in the word of their Emirs, and the amount of
credence a European might give to their tales when they lied to, and
deceived each other with such charming impartiality.

After despatching Hassib, Wad Farag divided his party, sending one
to the district between Wadi el Kab and the Nile, and the second,
commanded by himself, he led to the desert to intercept us. The Alighat
Arab sent out as a scout, who did not return, must have either been
captured by Farag, or what is more likely, as he was sent out by
Hassan, was an emissary of Hassan’s to Wad Farag or any of the other
dervishes to give them the news, as Hassan must have been aware of our
position and the proximity of the dervishes. The tracks we had picked
up on the road, when the embers of the caravan’s fires were found still
hot, were the remains of the fires of Hassib’s men, who had kept within
touch of us the whole time, only losing touch on the day following the
disappearance of the Alighats.

On reaching the broken ground leading to El Kab, my guide Amin and
the two others had been allowed to pass unchallenged intentionally,
as the dervish plan was to form themselves into three parties, which
were to rush us from three sides at the same moment. It was in direct
disobedience of orders that the first shots were fired at us, but it
was probably done by some one to gain the promised reward for sighting
us, and it ended, as already related, in a general fusilade. The |61|
camels loaded with filled water-skins were left behind purposely, but
their being left was a happy thought at the moment of Farag’s men. When
they retired, it was only to join the other section which was to have
rushed us from the left; the section to rush us in the rear being a
little further out in the desert than the plan shows.

Our leader Ismail I never saw or heard of again; he may have
succeeded in escaping altogether, only to be killed when the virtual
extermination of the tribe took place and Sheikh Saleh, standing on his
sheepskin, fell fighting to the last.

This account of the capture of the caravan, and the explanations given,
though not agreeing in essentials with the accounts given officially,
may be accepted as being as nearly correct in every detail as it is
possible for memory to give them, and the occasion was one of those
in life where even twelve years’ sufferings are not sufficient to
obliterate the incidents from the mind.

I feel some little confidence in offering to the world my version of
the circumstances attending my departure from Wadi Halfa for Kordofan,
the date upon which I really did leave Egypt—as unfortunate a date for
me as it evidently has been to some of my biographers,—and the actual
circumstances attending my capture, as I happened to be present on
the various occasions spoken of, and I do not think it will be asking
too much if I request that the same amount of credence be given to
my own story as has been given to that of others referred to in my
introduction, and in the extracts which head the present chapter. |62|

It now remains, before closing this chapter, to deal with Dufa'allah
Hogal and his part in the affair. In my first letter from Omdurman,
which letter was written for me by dictation of the Khaleefa, I am
made to say that I blamed Hogal for his deceit, but at the same time
thanked him for his deceit, as it had led me to grace. This was a
clever invention of the Emir’s at Dongola, or the Khaleefa himself, to
get Hogal into trouble with the Government, and draw away suspicion
from Hassan and Gabou. This letter was received by one of my clerks at
Assouan, who fortunately retained a copy before forwarding it on to
Cairo; a translation of it will be given later.

Hogal is not to be blamed for keeping his own counsel after Gabou
had given him his confidence. He had nothing to gain by telling the
authorities the truth, and he had everything to lose if he did. The
Khaleefa’s spies were everywhere in the Government and out of it, just
as the Government spies were amongst the Mahdists, and there can be no
doubt but that they were paid by both sides—and who is to blame them?
Hogal’s family ties and relations were in the Soudan, and there was no
use in his raising a question over a dead man. I may have something
to say about guides and spies later on, but it will not be with the
idea of calling any of them to justice. The only justice they knew
of was that contained in “Possession is nine points of the law,” or
“Might conquers right,” and it suited their natures admirably to play
a double game, rendered so easy for them with a Khaleefa who, having
made up his mind to |63| do a certain thing, ever kept that object in
view, and worked for its accomplishment, whilst on the other hand was
a Government which in their opinion did not seem to know its own mind
from one day to another as to what should be done with the Soudan and
its subjects resident there.



|64|

CHAPTER VI

DONGOLA TO OMDURMAN


During the early part of the night of April 27, the Amin Beit-el-Mal
told me to prepare for my journey to Omdurman, as Wad Nejoumi had
sent for me. There was little preparation I could make, except to beg
some sesame oil to rub over my face, shoulders, back, and feet. The
woollen shirt and clothing I had been allowed had not been sufficient
to protect me against the burning rays of the sun, and the skin was
peeling away from my face, shoulders and back, while my feet were
blistered and cut. My stockings had been worn through in a day’s
tramping through the sand. Taken to Nejoumi’s enclosure, Nejoumi and I
sat together talking for a considerable time. He told me that he had
wished to keep me by him for the purposes of “akhbar” (information, or
news), but that the other Emirs had insisted upon my being killed at
once, or sent to the Khaleefa with the supposed “firman” appointing me
“The Pasha of the Western Soudan,” to be dealt with by the Khaleefa
at Omdurman. Nejoumi said he had written asking that I should be sent
back to him. He put to me many |65| questions about the Government,
the fortifications of Cairo and Alexandria, Assouan, Korosko and Wadi
Halfa, and in particular he was anxious to know all about the British
army and “Ingleterra.” The advance up the Nile for the relief of Gordon
had evidently given him a very poor opinion of our means of transport,
at least as regards rapidity of movement, for when I told him of the
distance between Alexandria and England, and assured him that steamers
could bring in a large army in a week’s time, he smiled and said, “I am
not a child, to tell me a tale like that.” He may or may not have gone
to his grave believing that I was romancing, when I described to him
what an ocean-going steamer was like, and did my best to give him some
idea of the proportions of a Nile Dahabieh compared with an ocean-going
steamer and a man-of-war.

[Illustration: SHEIKH ED DIN’S EUNUCH IN HIS MASTER’S MARRIAGE-JIBBEH.]

I left him firmly impressed with the idea, and this impression was only
intensified months later when a number of his chief men were ordered
back to Omdurman and thrown into prison with me, that had Nejoumi had
any one in whom he could repose his confidence and absolute trust in
such a delicate matter, he would have sent in his submission to the
Government, and laying hands upon the Emirs sent by the Khaleefa to spy
upon him—for he was then under suspicion—would have led his army as
“friendlies” to Wadi Halfa, and have asked assistance to enable him to
turn the tables on the Khaleefa. What further leads me to make such a
bold assertion or statement is that the Emirs, or chief men, referred
to already as having |66| been thrown into prison with me at Omdurman,
gave me, as their fellow-captive, first their sympathy, and then their
complete confidence. I learned from them the fate of those of Saleh’s
caravan whom I had left alive at Dongola. They had, they told me, been
executed in batches of varying numbers at intervals of some days, Elias
my clerk being the last to be executed, and he not being executed until
about two months after my departure from Dongola. Nejoumi, for reasons
which will be at once seen, kept him alive to the last, and then
doubtless only gave the order for his execution when, despairing of my
being sent back to him, he gave way to the importunities of the other
Emirs anxious to see the last of Saleh’s people executed.

From what they confided to me, there could not be the slightest doubt
that a conviction of the imposture of the Mahdi’s successor was growing
and spreading amongst the Mahdists; but the system of espionage
instituted by the Khaleefa nipped in the bud any outward show of it.
There can be also no doubt that these confidants of Nejoumi had, in
some way, compromised themselves when speaking in the presence of some
of the Khaleefa’s agents, and that Nejoumi himself had only not been
ordered back with them because of his popularity and the Khaleefa’s
fear and jealousy of him. There was no one whom Nejoumi, or, for the
matter of that, any one—not even excepting the Khaleefa himself, might
implicitly trust in the Soudan. The man to whom you gave your innermost
confidences might be friend or foe, and as all changed face as rapidly
and constantly as |67| circumstances dictated, it would be safe to say
that no one in the Soudan for a single moment trusted any one else.

Whatever Nejoumi’s convictions may have been in the earlier days of the
Mahdist movement, it is certain that they underwent a great change.
Indeed, his advance against the Egyptian Army at Toski, when he was
killed, was, as I was told by some of his people imprisoned with me
after their return, only undertaken when he was goaded to it by the
reproaches of the Khaleefa, accusing him of cowardice and treachery,
accompanied with threats of recalling him to Omdurman—and Nejoumi knew
well what this implied.

In the last chapter I remarked that I would later offer some surmises
as to the reason why my guide Amin was the first to be executed at
Dongola, and it would be well to insert them here, while speaking of
my fellow-prisoners from Nejoumi’s army. Though they could not be
positive on the point, they were certain that Amin’s two or three
passages-at-arms with the guide Hassan had been related to the
assembled Emirs at Dongola immediately after our arrival, and Amin
was in consequence ordered to be at once executed. I expressed my
suspicions as to the actual death of Hassan at El Kab, and in face of
what I was told, I cannot help but believe that his falling from the
camel was an arranged affair, and that he came with the caravan to
Dongola, and gave evidence against Amin. Following up this suspicion or
supposition, it is very probable that he originated the “cock-and-bull”
story related to the military authorities, |68| detailing the supposed
incidents of the capture of Saleh’s caravan and myself. It will not
have been forgotten that the published official and semi-official
records report my capture at two different places a hundred and fifty
miles apart, or, in other words, a minimum of five days’ journey, and
at different dates,—in one instance announcing my arrival at Omdurman
as a captive one month before the caravan which I was supposed to have
betrayed—or been the cause of the capture of through “imprudence”—had
even started from Wadi Halfa.

In the early morning of April 28, I and Hasseena were taken outside
the town to where the guards and camels were awaiting us, and setting
off on our journey, travelled through Hannak, Debbeh, Abou Gussi, and
Ambukol. The incidents connected with our appearance at these places
are not of sufficient interest to warrant my detaining my readers with
them. From Ambukol we struck into the desert, making for the Nile at
Gebel Roiyan, enduring the inevitable discomforts and privations of
such a journey. On arrival at the village near Gebel Roiyan, we took
possession of what we believed to be a deserted house, and, after
taking a little food, lay down to sleep. During the night a wretched
old woman crept into my room, and commenced that peculiar wailing
known to those who have been in the East. She was, she said, “El umm
Khashm-el-Mus” (the mother of Khashm-el-Mus—but the expression may be
taken to imply merely that she was one of Khashm-el-Mus’s family or
relatives), whom Gordon had sent with gunboats to Metemmeh to |69|
accompany Sir Charles Wilson on his voyage to Khartoum. Her sons,
the whole of her family (or tribe), had been killed by the Khaleefa’s
order, and, as far as she knew, she was the only one left. Taking no
notice of my guards, who had come in, attracted by the wailing and
talking, she cursed the Mahdi, and every thing and every one connected
with him. The wailings of the poor creature, her pinched, sunken
cheeks, her glistening eyes, her skinny, hooked fingers, her vehement
curses on the Mahdi and Khaleefa, and the faint glow from the charcoal
embers which only served to outline the form of the old woman as some
horrid spectre as she stood up and prophesied my death, completely
unnerved me. If there was one night in my life upon which I required a
few hours’ rest it was on this—the last, as I knew, before my entering
Omdurman. But no sleep came to my eyes that night. Soon after the woman
left, a sound of dull thuds, a shriek, a moan, and then silence told
its own tale. She had been battered to death with curses on the Mahdi
on her lips.

The night was one long, horrible, wakening nightmare, but all was real
and not a fantasy of the brain. How I longed for the dawn! and how
impatiently I waited for it! For the first time I had fears for my
reason. The sensation I felt was as if a cord had been slipped round
my brain, and was gradually but surely tightening. But enough of this;
it is not necessary to interlard my experiences with painful mental
sensations, real as they were.

It was with some little difficulty that I shuffled my |70| way to the
camels next morning, to mount and get away on our last stage of the
journey to Omdurman. We reached the town at noon, on Thursday, May
5, and passed in almost unnoticed until we reached the market-place,
when the news having spread like wildfire, we were soon surrounded
by thousands of people, and it was with the greatest difficulty we
fought our way to the open praying-ground adjoining the burial-place
of the Mahdi. (The tomb had not then been built.) Here I was placed in
the shade of the rukooba. (The rukooba is a light structure of poles
supporting a roof of matting and palm branches, in the shade of which
the people rest during the heat of the day.) Two of my guards went
off to deliver Wad Nejoumi’s despatches to the Khaleefa, and also to
announce my arrival.

Shortly afterwards, Nur Angara, Slatin, Mohammad Taher, and the chief
Kadi, with others, came to question me. Slatin addressed a few words
to me in English, but not understanding him, I asked him to speak in
German, upon which he said in an undertone, “Be polite; tell them
you have come to join the Mahdieh in order to embrace the Mahdi’s
religion; do not address me.” Nur Angara, who put the majority of the
questions, asked, “Why have you come to Omdurman?” I hesitated a little
before replying, but did not hesitate long enough to allow my European
blood to cool sufficiently to reply “politely” to the imperious black
confronting me. I told him, “Because I could not help myself; when I
left Wadi Halfa it was to go and trade and not fight, |71| but your
people have taken me prisoner, and sent me here; why do you ask me that
question?” Slatin at this moved behind the other Emirs, and I believe
made some attempt to make me understand that I should speak differently
to them. My helplessness was galling to me; there was not a man there
whom, pulled down as I was, I could not with sheer strength have
crushed the life out of.

I was questioned about the number of troops at Wadi Halfa and Cairo,
the fortifications, etc., but neither places would have recognized the
fortresses I invented for the occasion, and the numbers of troops with
which I invested them. When told that news had been received from Wad
Nejoumi that the British troops were leaving, I admitted the truth of
this, but said that they could all be brought back to Wadi Halfa in
four days. All the questions, or nearly all, were in connection with
the army and the movement of the troops, and this will be understood
when it is remembered that, by some, I was believed to be “Pasha,” and
all Pashas in the Soudan were military leaders.

I have been shown a statement to the effect that my readiness to
talk “made a bad impression,” but this remark was not, at the time
of writing, sufficiently explanatory—and yet it may have been. Other
captives had grovelled at the feet of their captors; I did not, hence
probably the “bad impression” created; and while the world may blame
me for being so injudicious as to treat my powerful captors with such
scant courtesy, it can hardly be expected that I, even had I not passed
|72| six years in close connection with the British Army on the field
of battle, and in times of comparative peace, should in a moment
forget and lose my manhood, and cover with servile kisses the hands
of a savage black—and one of the murderers of Gordon to boot. I thank
God, now that I am restored to “life,” that my first appearance as the
Khaleefa’s captive “made a bad impression,” for even in this I choose
to accept an evidence that I was not what I have in some instances been
represented as being.

On the Emirs and others leaving me, some dervishes advanced, stripped
me of the jibbeh and clothes given me by Nejoumi, replacing them with
a soldier’s old jersey and cotton drawers. My feet were next fettered,
and a ring, with a long heavy chain attached, was fastened round my
neck. During that evening—indeed, during the whole night, crowds came
to look at me, while the ombeyeh (war-trumpet made from a hollowed
tusk) was sounded the whole night through. A woman, a sort of Mahdist
amazon, walked and danced up and down in front of me, singing and
gesticulating, but I could not catch the full meaning of her words.
Noticing Hasseena sobbing violently a few yards away, I called to her,
and asked what was the matter with her. She told me that the ombeyeh
was calling up the followers of the prophet to come and witness my
execution, and that the woman, in her rude rhyme, was describing my
death agonies, and my subsequent tortures in hell as an unbeliever. One
of my guards told me that what Hasseena had related was true, and I had
curiosity enough to ask him the |73| details of an execution; these
having been described to me, I refused food and drink. I was determined
to deprive the fanatics of one looked-for element connected with my
execution—but I may not enter into details.

At dawn the following morning, a dervish came to me, and crossing my
right hand over the left at the wrists, palms downward, proceeded to
bind them together with a rope made of palm fibre. When the ropes had,
with a bit of wood used as a tourniquet, been drawn well into the
flesh, water was poured over them. The agony as the ropes swelled was
excruciating; they “bit” into the flesh, and even now I cannot look at
the scars on my hands without a shudder, and almost experiencing again
the same sensations as those of twelve years ago.

With the perspiration rolling off me with the pain I was enduring,
and no longer able to conceal that I was suffering, I was led forth
to be the sport of the rabble. Made to stand up in the open space,
bareheaded, with thousands around me, I believed the moment for my
decapitation had come, and muttering a short prayer, I knelt down and
bent my head, but was at once pulled to my feet again; the populace
wanted their sport out of me first. Dervishes rushed at me prodding
with spears and swords, and while this was going on, two men, one on
each side of me, with the mouths of their ombeyehs placed against my
ears, blew their loudest blasts. One powerful man in particular, with
a large spear, gave me the idea that it was he who had been told to
give the final |74| thrust, and when he had made a number of feints,
I tried in successive ones to meet the thrust. One of the men guarding
me, taking the chain attached to the ring round my neck, pulled me back
each time, much to the delight of the assembled people.

The ropes with which I was bound had now done their work; the swollen
skin gave way, and the horrible tension was removed as the ropes
sank into the flesh. If I had exhibited any feeling of pain before,
I was now as indifferent to it as I was to the multitude around me.
A messenger of the Khaleefa, Ali Gulla, asked me, “Have you heard
the ombeyehs?”—a bit of the Khaleefa’s supposed pleasantry, when it
was by his orders that the mouths of the instruments had been placed
against my ears. On nodding my reply, Gulla continued, “The Khaleefa
has sent me to tell you that he has decided to behead you,” to which I
replied, “Go back to your Khaleefa, and tell him that neither he nor
fifty Khaleefas may so much as remove a hair from my head without God’s
permission. If God’s will it is, then my head shall be cut off, but it
will not be because the Khaleefa wills it.” He went to the Khaleefa
with this message, and returned saying, “The Khaleefa has changed his
mind; your head is not to be cut off; you are to be crucified as was
your prophet Aisse en Nebbi” (Jesus the Prophet); after saying which,
he told my guards to take me back to the rukooba while preparations
were made.

By this time, what with the fatigue and privations on the journey,
my head almost splitting as the result of the ombeyeh’s blasts, the
agony caused by the |75| ropes binding my wrists, and the torture of
scores of small irritating and stinging flies attacking the raw flesh
of my hands, and the sun beating down on my bare head, I was about to
faint. An hour later, I was ordered off to the place of crucifixion;
being heavily chained, I was unable to walk, so had to be placed upon a
donkey, on which I was held up by two men. On coming to a halt, instead
of the crucifix I had expected, I found a set of gallows. I was lifted
from the donkey and placed close to the “angareeb,” with the noose
dangling just over my head. Pain and faintness at once left me. A few
minutes more would end all, and I had made up my mind that that horde
should respect me even in my death. I tried to mount the angareeb, but
my chains prevented me. A tall black (the chief Kadi of the Khaleefa),
placing his hand on my arm, said, “The Khaleefa is gratified at your
courage, and, to show this, offers you the choice of the manner of your
death.” I replied, “Go back to your Khaleefa, and tell him that he may
please himself as to what form my death comes in, only if he wishes to
do me a favour, be quick about it; the sun burns my brain.” To which
the Kadi replied, “You will be dead in a few minutes; what will you die
as, as a Muslim or a Kaffir?” I was growing desperate, and answered at
the top of my voice, “Ed Deen mush hiddm terrayer nahaarda ou Bookra”
(Religion is not a dress to be put on to-day and thrown off to-morrow).

My reply, and the manner in which I gave it, I was gratified to see,
made him angry. While we were still talking, a man on horseback
made his way through |76| the crowd to us, and spoke to the Kadi,
who, turning to me, said, “Be happy, there is no death for you; the
Khaleefa, in his great mercy, has pardoned you.” To which I asked,
“Why? Have I asked for his pardon?” for I did not believe for a moment
that such was actually the case. I was at once bundled on to the
donkey, however, and taken back to the rukooba. Some one had reported
to the Khaleefa about the state of my hands, and a man was sent at
once with orders to have the ropes removed. Food in abundance was sent
me, but this I gave to the ombeyeh men who had escorted me back to the
rukooba, and I could even then smile at one of the men who complained
that he could not enjoy the food, as his lips—great thick black ones
they were, too—were as raw with blowing the ombeyeh all night as my
hands were with the ropes.

[Illustration: WRITING UNDER DIFFICULTIES.]

On the following day I was taken before the Kadis, with whom was the
Khaleefa and Slatin. I was asked, “Why have you come to Omdurman?” to
which I gave the same reply as I had given to Nur Angara. The letter
of General Stephenson was exhibited to me, and I was asked, “Is this
your firman?” to which I replied that it was no firman, but a letter
from a friend about business, and that it had nothing to do with the
Government. Slatin was told to translate it, but, fortunately, did not
translate it all. On his being asked his opinion of me, he told the
Khaleefa that from the papers found in my wallet, I appeared to be a
German and not an Englishman, but that I had the permission of the
English Government |77| to go to Kordofan on merchant’s business.
He also said that Sheikh Saleh’s name was mentioned, but only in
connection with business of no consequence. I was then asked if I
wished to send any message to my family. Naturally I did, and pen and
paper being given me, I commenced a letter in German to my manager at
Assouan; but, after a few lines had been written, the Khaleefa said the
letter had better be written in Arabic. The letter, when finished, was
handed to me to sign; but, not knowing the contents, I scrawled under
the signature, as a flourish, “All lies,” or something to this effect.

The letter was sent down by one of the Khaleefa’s spies, and was
delivered to the Commandant at Assouan. The word “Railway” appearing
as part of the address, it was sent to Mankarious Effendi, the
stationmaster, who, after taking a copy of it for reference, returned
it to the commandant, with the address of my manager. Mankarious
Effendi, having heard of my recent arrival in Cairo, has come to me
with the original copy of the letter taken in June, 1887. The following
is a literal translation of it:―

 “In the name of the most merciful God, and prayers be unto our Lord
 Mohammad and his submissive adherents.

 “From the servant of his lord Abdallah el Muslimani the Prussian whose
 former name was Charles Neufeld, to my manager Möller the Prussian in
 the Railway Assouan.

 “I inform you that after departing from you I have come to the Soudan
 with the men of Saleh Fadlallah Salem el Kabbashi, who were carrying
 with them the arms and ammunition and other articles sent to Saleh by
 the Government.

 “On our march from Wadi Halfa, notwithstanding our |78| precautions
 and care for the things in our charge, we arrived at the so-called
 Selima Wells, where we took sufficient water, and proceeded on our
 journey. Suddenly we were met by _six_ of the adherents in the
 desert; they attacked us, and we fought against them. Our number was
 fifty-five men. At the same time, a number of men from Abdel Rahman
 Nejoumi came up; they reinforced the six men and fought us, and in the
 space of half an hour we were subdued by them. Some were killed, and
 the rest were captured with all the baggage we had. Myself, my servant
 Elias and my maidservant Hasseena were among the captives. All of us
 were taken to Abdel Rahman Nejoumi at Ordeh, and by him sent to the
 Khalifat el Mahdi, peace be unto him, at Omdurman. On our arrival at
 Omdurman, we were taken to his presence, where we were found guilty
 and sentenced to immediate death; but the Khalifat el Mahdi, peace be
 unto him, had mercy upon us, and proposed unto us to take the true
 religion, and we accepted El Islam, and pronounced the two creeds in
 his presence: ‘I testify (bear witness) that there is none but God,
 and Mohammad is his prophet’; and then, ‘I believe in God and his
 Prophet Mohammad, upon whom God has prayed and greeted; and in the
 Mahdi, praise, peace be upon him and upon his Khaleefa.’ I further
 requested the Mahdi to grant me the ‘bai'a’ (oath of allegiance) which
 he was pleased to grant me, and thereupon shook hands with me. He then
 named me Abdallah, after embracing the true religion. Therefore I was
 pardoned by the Khalifat-el-Mahdi from the execution which I have
 deserved. He pardoned me because he is gracious, and for the sake of
 the religion of Mohammad which I now adhere to. So I thought it well
 to inform you all about these events, and I inform you further that
 Dufa'allah Hogal, although he deceived me, I cannot sufficiently thank
 him, because his deceiving me has resulted in the great mercy and good
 which has come to me. Saleh Fadlallah Salem is deserting and hiding in
 the desert, for fear of his life. All that I have informed you is pure
 truth. I am still living, thanks be to God for this and my health.
 17th Shaaban, 1304 (May 10, 1887).”

It is only now, November 25, 1898, that Mankarious has placed me in
possession of the real details. My manager, who when he returned to
Egypt a few |79| weeks ago, on hearing of my release, denied ever
having received any communication from me, on August 6, 1887, addressed
a letter to my father, written on my own business paper, saying that he
had received the above letter, had had it translated, and communicated
to the _Egyptian Gazette_, which paper published the letter in its
issue of August.

Slatin I saw but once again during my long captivity, and then it was
only in the distance on one occasion when he called at the prison to
give some orders to the head-gaoler. The Khaleefa I saw twice again, on
occasions to be referred to later.

After signing the letter, I was taken back to the rukooba, where, about
sunset, a man carrying a long chain came to me and said he had orders
to remove my fetters. Passing the chain through one of the anklets and
round one of the posts, he took a short pole, and used this as a lever
to force the anklets open. Whilst still engaged in removing the chains,
the chief Kadi came in, and ordered the anklets to be hammered back
again, and the ends cold welded.

I remained in the rukooba for the night, and the following morning was
placed upon a donkey and taken to the prison. I was told that, to save
my life, Slatin had suggested this course being taken, using as an
argument that I could there be converted to the Mohammedan religion,
and devote all my time to my instructors.



|80|

CHAPTER VII

THROWN INTO PRISON


On entering the prison I found myself in the company of about a hundred
poor wretches, Soudanese and Egyptians, and all chained. I was taken
at once to an anvil sunk in the ground until the striking surface was
almost level with it; first one foot and then the other had to be
placed on the anvil, while more anklets with chains connected, were
fitted to me. I had now three sets of shackles, and another ring and
chain was fastened to my neck. During my twelve years in chains, and
amongst the hundreds who came directly under my observation, I never
saw, as has been illustrated in some papers, any prisoner with chains
from the neck connected with the wrists or ankles. All prisoners were
shackled in the manner as shown in my photograph; the chain from the
neck was allowed to hang loose over the shoulder.

The shackling completed, I was taken to a room measuring about thirty
feet each way, but having a pillar about four feet wide to support the
roof, thus reducing the actual space to about twenty-six feet between
each face of the pillar and the walls. I was |81| assigned a place at
the wall furthest from the door, and between two men—in chains—dying
of small-pox. There were about thirty other prisoners in the room,
some lying down ill, to whom not the slightest attention had been paid
for days, as sickening visible evidences proved. Near the roof were a
few small apertures presumably for ventilation, but the only air which
could come into the place was through the doorway when it was opened.
The stench in the room was sickening—overpowering. I had little hopes
of surviving more than a few days in such a hole, and must have swooned
off soon after entering, for I remember little or nothing until roused
after the sun had set, when in the dim light I could see what appeared
to be an endless stream of prisoners coming through the door, and no
sooner was the door closed when a terrific din and uproar ensued.
Mingled with the clanking of chains, the groans of the sick, the moans
of the dying, and their half-uttered prayers to Allah to relieve them
of their sufferings, were the most fearful imprecations and curses as
the prisoners fought and struggled for a place near the walls or the
pillar, against which they could rest their backs; no sleep was to be
had; this had to be snatched during the day, when allowed out into the
zareeba. It is out of the question to try to describe my first night;
it is a confused horrible dream to me.

On the opening of the cell door next morning, I swooned again, and was
carried into the open air to come round, and I had no sooner partially
done so, when I was carried back, in order, as I was told, “to |82|
get accustomed to the place.” My first three days passed in fever
and delirium; my legs were swelling with the weight of the chains and
anklets; my earliest clear recollection was on what I knew later to be
the fourth day, when an Egyptian, Hassan Gammal, was sent to attend
to me. Later on, the same day, my servant Hasseena was sent to me to
prepare food and bathe my legs. Until now I had eaten nothing, and I
have no recollection of even taking a drink of water. Hasseena, on my
being sent into prison, had been sent into the Khaleefa’s hareem; but,
on her telling the women and eunuchs that she was with child, she was
promptly turned out. The money I had brought with me, and which had
been taken from me on my arrival, and sent to the Beit-el-Mal, was
given to Hasseena with which to purchase my food. On her entering the
prison enclosure, Idris-es-Saier, the head-gaoler, relieved her of the
money, saying he would take care of it, and shackling her with a light
chain, sent her into his hareem.

I now received permission to sit outside during the day, and also to
converse with the other prisoners. On my first entering the prison I
had been warned, under threats of the lash, not to speak to any one,
and the other prisoners, under the same threat, had been warned not to
speak to me. They, as may be guessed, were most anxious to talk to me,
and get some news from the outer world, but they were most guarded in
their inquiries. There were many prisoners in the place, who, to curry
favour with the gaoler or the Khaleefa, would have reported anything
|83| in the way of a complaint against their treatment—a wish on the
part of any one to escape, or an expressed hope that the Government
would soon send troops to release us. Knowing that the Government had,
for the time being, abandoned all thoughts of re-conquering the Soudan,
I told my fellow-captives, when they spoke to me about a probable
advance of the combined armies, that they must have patience until
the hot weather passed. Had I told them what I knew, their despair
could not have been concealed, and the truth would soon have reached
the Khaleefa’s ears. A number of the prisoners were old soldiers of
the Egyptian army, who had been taken at the fall of Khartoum and
elsewhere, and they waited day after day, week after week, and year
after year, still hoping that the Government for whom they had fought
would send troops to release them; but, with the greater number,
their release came only with death—at the gallows, at the Khaleefa’s
shambles, or by disease and starvation.

Imprisoned at one time with me was Mahmoud Wad Said, the Sheikh of the
Dabaanieh tribe, who for years had kept the Abyssinians in check on the
Egyptian frontier in the Eastern Soudan. At one time he was powerful,
rich in cattle, slaves, and lands, but had been taken prisoner early
in the Mahdist movement. When he had been imprisoned about three years
and four months, he became paralyzed, and his release was ordered by
the Khaleefa, who had so far relented as to allow of his dying with
his family, then at Omdurman, patiently waiting for |84| his promised
release. By their careful nursing and attention, the old man recovered,
only, when the Khaleefa heard of it, to be thrown into prison again,
where he passed another thirteen months, at the end of which time
he was once more released, on condition that he would collect the
remnants of his tribe, and attack his old enemies the Abyssinians, whom
the Khaleefa was then fighting with. A few months later I heard that
Mahmoud was dead, one report saying that he had died of a broken heart,
and the other that he had been “removed” by order of the Khaleefa, for
failing to bring together again a tribe, which the Khaleefa himself had
almost exterminated.

Another of my companions in adversity was Ajjab Abou Jinn, of the
Hammadah tribe; he fought with the Government troops at Sennar, and,
when defeated by the dervishes, he retired to his country with his
men until, on the fall of Sennar, he was attacked and defeated, his
property confiscated, and he taken prisoner to Omdurman, his wife being
sent into the Khaleefa’s hareem. After spending four years in prison,
he was considered sufficiently “educated,” and released, and in a few
months was allowed to return to his own country, when he set about
making preparations to attack the dervishes, and tried all means to
get into communication with the Government. Many of his people came to
see me in prison, in the hopes of learning news from me of a forward
movement.

[Illustration: Shereef. Zeigheir. Zeigheir’s father.

A GROUP OF PRISONERS.]

The three sons of Awad el Kerim, Pasha of the Shukrieh tribe, were also
in prison with me; their |85| father had died in prison shortly
before my arrival. After keeping the three brothers—Abdalla, Mohammad,
and Ali—for nineteen months, the Khaleefa promised to release them
on condition that their tribe came to Omdurman and tendered their
submission, which they did; but, coming unprovided with food, the
tribe in the four or five months they were kept waiting at Omdurman,
was decimated by disease and starvation, and then, and then only, the
Khaleefa kept his promise, and released their chiefs.

A man whom I almost struck up a real friendship with, was Sheikh
Hamad-el-Nil, a well-known religious teacher from the Blue Nile. Having
great influence over a large number of people, the Khaleefa, fearing he
might obtain a following, ordered him to Omdurman. Here a difficulty
arose as to what charge could be brought against him in order to
condemn him to imprisonment. Sheikh Hamad had taken neither one side
nor the other—Government nor Mahdieh, and had devoted his whole time
to a strict preaching of the Quoran, as he had done for years. No Kadi
dare condemn him on any charge made, suborn “witnesses” as the Khaleefa
would. But the Khaleefa was determined to effect his condemnation
by some means, more especially as Sheikh Hamad was rich, and the
Beit-el-Mal was short of funds. Men were sent to the Sheikh’s house
with orders to conceal some tobacco in the ground—others were sent to
discover it, and tobacco being forbidden by the Mahdi, Sheikh Hamad, in
spite of all protestations, was sentenced by the Kadi to imprisonment
and the |86| confiscation of his property. His health broke down after
about eighteen months’ privations, and he was released; but recovering
as did Mahmoud, he was again imprisoned, and died a few weeks later.
Of all those in the prison, Sheikh Hamad was the only one who dared
say openly to those whom he trusted that both Mahdi and Khaleefa were
impostors. Two of my first four years were spent mainly with the
Sheikh learning to read and write Arabic, discussing the tenets of the
Christian and Mohammedan religions, and telling him of our social life
and customs in Europe.

There was one arrival at the prison which I was rather pleased to
see—Ahmed Abd-el-Maajid, of Berber, a great supporter of the Mahdi and
Khaleefa, and one of the bitterest enemies of Christians and Europeans.
He was, for the Soudan, well educated, and he was also rich, and had
much influence, but his vanity got the better of him. He gave evidence
of his wealth in the richness of his dress and luxurious living, and
this had been reported to the Khaleefa, but as yet Maajid had not
accepted any of the Khaleefa’s pressing invitations to pay him a visit
to Omdurman. Maajid made up his mind to marry another wife—a young
and pretty one; preparations for the marriage ceremonies, and the
feastings which accompany it, were made on a large and lavish scale.
The Mahdi had fixed ten dollars as the sum to be paid to the parents of
the virgin upon her marriage; but Maajid paid one thousand, and this
scouting of the Mahdi’s orders coming to the ears of the Khaleefa,
he sent off a party to Berber with instructions to bring Maajid and
his bride back with |87| them. This party arrived at Berber while
the festivities were still going on, and Maajid could not refuse the
Khaleefa’s invitation this time. When he arrived at Omdurman, he was,
with his bride, who was reputed to be the most beautiful woman ever
seen in the Soudan, hurried before the Khaleefa and the Kadi. The
latter, having his brief ready, accused Maajid of having broken the
rules as laid down by the Mahdi, and also of having detained moneys
which should have been sent to the Beit-el-Mal, as was proved by his
having so much money when the coffers of the Beit-el-Mal were empty.
His property was confiscated and sent to the Beit-el-Mal; his bride was
taken possession of by the Khaleefa, and Maajid himself sent to prison,
where he spent six months, mainly occupied in cursing the face of his
bride, as it was this that had brought him to grief. At the end of the
six months, he was released and sent back to Berber “educated,” with a
strong recommendation from the Khaleefa not to be so ostentatious with
his wealth in future. The Khaleefa kept Maajid’s money—and also his
bride. It was this same Maajid, who, after Slatin’s escape, ferreted
out the people in Berber who had assisted Slatin’s guides, and had them
sent to the White Nile, where those who did not die on the journey
there died later.

Those I have mentioned above were what I might call the better class
of prisoners, with whom I mainly associated during my first two years
in prison; the remainder were slaves, thieves, ordinary criminals,
debtors, murderers, etc.

When I had recovered a little from my fever, I |88| was placed upon
a camel, and paraded past the huts, rukoobas, and zareebas, which at
that time constituted the town of Omdurman. A number of Hadendowas had
come in to tender their submission to the Khaleefa; and he had seized
the occasion to exhibit me to the “faithful” as the great Pasha sent
to conquer from him the Western Soudan, and to impress the Hadendowas.
A halt was made at the hut of the Emir Said Mohammad Taher, a relative
of the Mahdi, who, after relating his version of the death of Hicks
Pasha, and the destruction of his army, both of which events had,
according to him, been brought about through the agency of angels sent
by the Prophet for the purpose, gave me a long lecture on Mahdieh,
at the end of which he asked me my opinion of it. I told him that if
he wished for a few lessons himself on religion, and as to how the
God I prayed to dealt with His faithful, and the means His teachers
in Europe employed for converting people and making them religious,
I should be pleased to give him a few. The reply angered him, and
another batch of prisoners were, by his orders, told off to lecture
me the whole day long on Mahdieh. While quite ready to talk to them
about the Mohammedan religion as propounded in the Quoran, I would not
believe in the mission of the Mahdi or his new religion. When Taher
asked what progress I had made in my “education,” he was told that I
would make none in Mahdieh, but was ready to become a Mohammedan. I
knew perfectly well what an out-and-out acceptance of Mahdieh meant—my
release, but only to be put in charge of some troops, and, as I had
|89| fought with the British against the Mahdists, I had no wish to be
caught in the dervish ranks, fighting against them, or be found dead on
the field, after the fight, in the garb of a dervish, and pierced by a
British bullet.

Taher was not pleased, and reported my insubordination to the
Khaleefa. It was probably on my fifteenth day that, accompanied by
the Hadendowas, who had come in to make their submission, I was taken
by steamer to Khartoum, in order that I might be “impressed” with the
power of the Khaleefa and the truth of Mahdieh. We were first taken to
Gordon’s old palace, where Khaleel Hassanein, acting as the Mahdist
governor of the town, and at the same time director of the arsenal,
received us, and gave us food. We were taken through the rooms, then
dismantled, and shown at the head of the stairs what we were told were
the bloodstains of Gordon. After this, we were placed on donkeys, and
taken round the fortifications, while our “instructors” in Mahdieh,
pointing to the skeletons and dried bodies lying about, gave us word
pictures in advance of how the fortifications of Wadi Halfa and Cairo
would look after the Khaleefa, assisted by the angels, had attacked
them. It was a melancholy journey for me; and I am not ashamed to say
that as my thoughts flew back to that day at Kirbekan, when, full of
hopes, we pictured to ourselves the rescue of Gordon, fortifications
and skeletons grew dimmed and blurred, and finally were lost to view,
as a hot tear fell upon the back of my hand.

Taken back to prison, I became worse; the weight of the chains and
anklets dragging on me as I rode, |90| and the chafing of the skin,
set up an irritation, and the filth and dirt of the prison soon
contributed to the formation of large ulcers. It was while lying down
in the shade one morning, unable to move, at the time of the great
Bairam feast, that two camel men rode into the prison enclosure, and,
making one of the camels kneel down near me, ordered me at once to
mount, as the Khaleefa had sent for me. The other prisoners crowded
round and bade me good-bye, Mahmoud Wad Said telling me to pull myself
together, and to act as I did “when they tried to burst your head with
the ombeyehs.” There was a grand parade of the troops that day, and no
one but believed that I was to be executed in front of them.

The two men could tell us nothing but that the Khaleefa had sent for
me, and, living or dead, they were bound to take me. I was lifted on
to the camel, and taken off to the parade-ground outside the town.
The long, swinging stride of the camel communicated its motions to my
chains, and by the time I reached the Khaleefa, I was in a fainting
condition, with the ulcers broken, and their contents streaming down
the flank of the camel. The Khaleefa, noticing this, asked one of the
Emirs what had happened; although close to him, he would not address
a word directly to me, though I could hear what he said, and he could
hear my reply. When he heard the reason, he gave orders that the chains
were to be removed that night, and a lighter set fitted. The Khaleefa
was surrounded by his Emirs and bodyguard, and ranged on the plain
in front of us was his |91| great army of horse and camel men, and
foot-soldiers. I should have been marched past the whole army, but
before reaching the horsemen, the Khaleefa said to the Emir Ali Wad
Saad, “Tell Abdalla (myself) that he has only seen a quarter of the
army, and let him be brought for the parade to-morrow.”

The prisoners were astonished to see me return alive that evening, and
still more astonished at the orders given to Idris-es-Saier to remove
my chains at once, and put on a lighter set. For once, the Khaleefa’s
orders could not be carried out; the legs having swollen so much,
the anklets almost buried in flesh, could not be brought near enough
to the face of the anvil to allow of their being struck at, and the
following day I again attended parade in pretty much the same state
of collapse as the first. The Khaleefa was furious at this; he had no
wish to parade before his troops, as an evidence of his power, a man
who had to be held up on his camel. My gaoler was sent to, and asked
why he had disobeyed orders. He gave as reasons, first, that he had no
lighter chains, and secondly, that my legs were so swollen that he was
unable to get at the anklets. The Khaleefa replied that they were to
be removed that night, and they were, but it was a terrible ordeal for
me. Before leaving the parade-ground, he sent to me Said Gumaa’s donkey
and Slatin’s horse, telling me that I might ride either of them back
to town, as their motion would be better for me than the camel, but I
elected to remain on the camel.

I had done my best to get near Slatin, to have a |92| few words with
him, but he was hardly for a moment near the Khaleefa’s side, galloping
from one part of the army to another with his orders. Ali Wad Saad,
on the part of the Khaleefa, asked me what I thought of the army; to
which I replied, “You have numbers, but not training”—a reply which
gave little satisfaction to the Khaleefa, who could overhear it without
having to wait for Saad to repeat it to him. This was the last time
upon which I saw the Khaleefa, but I live in hopes of seeing him once
again.



|93|

CHAPTER VIII

PRISON LIFE


My first spell in prison was one of four years. After nine months the
rings and chains were removed from my neck, but the fetters I wore
continuously—with the exception of thirteen days—during the whole of
my captivity. A day-to-day record of my experiences is out of the
question, besides being unnecessary, even were it possible to give
them. I must content myself with a general description of the life
passed there, and give an idea of the day’s routine.

When I reached Omdurman, the prison proper consisted of the common
cell already mentioned (“Umm Hagar”—the house of stone), surrounded by
a large zareeba of thorn trees and branches, and standing about six
feet high. There were thirty guardians, each armed with a “courbag”
(rhinoceros-hide whip) with which to keep their charges in order.
There were no sanitary arrangements, not even of the most primitive
description. All prisoners had to be fed by their friends or relatives;
if they had neither they starved to death, as the prisoners, charitable
as they were to each other in the matter of food, had barely enough to
eat to keep body and soul together, for the |94| best, and greater
part of the food sent in, was eaten by the guardians.

At sunrise each morning the door of the common cell was opened, and
the prisoners were allowed to shuffle down to the banks of the Nile,
a few yards distant, for their ablutions and for water for drinking.
After this, we assembled for the first prayer of the day, in which all
had to join. When not working, we had to read the Mahdi’s “ratib,” a
description of prayer-book, containing extracts from the Quoran with
interpolations of the Mahdi. All the faithful were ordered to learn
this “ratib” off by heart,[3] and for this purpose each one had either
to purchase a copy or write one out. At noon the second prayer was
held, followed by another mid-time between noon and sunset, and a
fourth at sunset. We should have repeated the night prayer when the
night had set in, but as we were driven into the “Umm Hagar” at sunset,
the time which should have been given to this prayer was fully taken
up with brawls, fights, and those comprehensive curses of the Arabs,
commencing with the second person’s father, going back for generations,
and including all the female ancestors.

    [3] The “Ratib” occupied about three-quarters of an hour in
    recitation, and, by the Mahdi’s orders had to be repeated daily
    by every one after the morning and afternoon prayer; it ranked
    in importance with the five obligatory daily prayers ordained
    by the Quoran. It was also looked upon as a sort of talisman,
    and it was given out, after such fights as Toski, Ginniss,
    and the Atbara, that those killed were those who had either
    not learned the Ratib or had not a copy with them. The book
    was carried in a small leather case suspended from the neck.
    A number of copies were printed on the old Government press,
    but it was considered more meritorious to write out a copy
    rather than to purchase one, and the Mahdi had hoped that this
    Ratib would eventually become a sort of Quoran accompanied by
    its volumes of “traditions,” hence his anxiety that every one
    should learn to write.

[Illustration: LEARNING THE MAHDI’S RATIB.]

It has been found impossible, even in the most guarded and disguised
language, to insert here a real word-picture of a night in the Saier.
The scenes |95| of bestiality and filthiness, the means employed
for bringing the most powerful man to his knees with a single blow,
the nameless crimes committed night after night, and year after year,
may not be recorded in print. At times, and sometimes for weeks in
succession, from 250 to 280 prisoners were driven into that small room;
we were packed in; there was scarcely room to move our arms; “jibbehs”
swarmed with insects and parasites which in themselves made sleep an
impossibility and life a misery. As the heat grew more oppressive,
and the atmosphere—always vile with the ever-present stench of the
place—grew closer with the perspiring bodies, and with other causes,
all semblance of human beings was lost. Filth was thrown from one
side of the room to the other by any one who could move his hand for
the purpose of doing so, and as soon as this disgusting element was
introduced, the mass, in its efforts to avoid being struck with it,
swayed from side to side, fought, bit, and struggled as far as their
packed-in condition would allow of, and kicked with their bars and
chains the shins of those next them, until the scene became one that
only a Dante might describe. Any prisoner who went down on such a
night never got up again alive; his cries would not be heard above the
pandemonium of clanking chains and bars, imprecations and cursings, and
for any one to attempt to bend down to assist, if he did hear, only
meant his going under also. In the morning, when we were allowed to
stream out, five and six bodies would be found on the ground with the
life crushed and trampled out of them. |96|

Occasionally, when the uproar was greater than usual, the guards would
open the door, and, standing in the doorway, lash at the heads of
the prisoners with their hide whips. Always when this occurred death
claimed its five or six victims, crushed and trampled to death. I wish
I might say that I had drawn upon my imagination for what is given
above; I can but assure you that it gives but the very faintest idea of
what really occurred.

Until we had been set to make bricks and build a wall round our
prison, our life, in comparison with what it was later, was I might
say endurable. By baksheeshing the guards, we were allowed to go
down to the river during the day almost as often as we pleased;
and these excursions, taken presumably for the purpose of ablution
and drinking, gave us many opportunities of conversing with the
townspeople. This life I enjoyed but for a few months. A large number
of prisoners succeeded in escaping. Consequently the digging of a well
for infiltration water to supply the prisoners, and the building of a
wall round the prison were ordered by the Khaleefa to be completed as
rapidly as possible.

The prisoners who escaped were mainly slaves, and as most slaves were
chained to prevent their running away from their owners—hundreds going
about the town fettered—they had little difficulty in effecting their
escape from prison, and also from Omdurman. On being allowed to go
to the river to wash, they would wade down the bank until they came
opposite some large crowd of people, and |97| coming on the bank,
their chains would excite no suspicion, for, as I have already said,
hundreds similarly fettered were going about the town. Making their
way to the nearest blacksmith, he would remove their chains in a few
moments for the sake of obtaining the iron, which was valuable to him.

We were not at that time altogether without news; papers published in
Egypt were constantly arriving, brought by the Khaleefa’s spies, who
passed regularly backwards and forwards between Omdurman and Cairo,
keeping up communications between the Khaleefa and some of the more
fanatical Mohammedans resident at the capital. Since my return I have
inquired as to an incident which happened on the frontier in connection
with the army some years ago. I shall only relate what we heard, and
as given out by the Khaleefa and his Emirs. All the English officers,
according to the report received, had been dismissed, and had left with
the Sirdar. The English soldiers had also been removed from Egypt; so
the Khaleefa was jubilant, and looked forward to the near future when
the Egyptian troops would attempt to attack him, and when not a man of
them was to be left alive. I was to have been a witness of the great
battles when the angels of Allah were to fight with the believers, and
assist the Ansar to utterly exterminate the Turks. While this was still
the topic of conversation, another messenger arrived to say that the
trouble had been arranged; the English officers and troops were not
leaving, and as the Khaleefa’s hopes fell, ours rose. |98|

Of all the people whom the Mahdi himself appointed to posts, two,
and, I believe, two only, retained their positions up to the time
of the taking of Omdurman. One was Khaleel Hassanein, the director
of the arsenal, and the other Idris es Saier, the gaoler. Idris—for
he is still living—is a man of the Gawaamah tribe, a tribe that the
first missionary will have some little trouble with, unless he is
prepared to revise one of the Ten Commandments out of the Pentateuch
altogether, as the following story connected with my gaoler’s first
appearance in the world may indicate. Idris’s mother had a sister who,
tired of single blessedness, proposed to, and was accepted by, a swain
of the tribe who was a constant visitor to their hut. Idris’s mother
had also the intention of proposing to the same man, and having told
her sister this, the sister popped the question first, was accepted,
and then Idris’s mother upbraided her after the manner of her tribe,
which evidently consisted more of actions than of words. When the
happy swain put in his next appearance, Idris’s mother, with Idris in
her arms, asked him how he dare go against the custom of her section
of the tribe, and accept in marriage a girl who had had no children,
while she had already had two! “Saier” in the Gawaamah language means
“custom” and “customary,” and Idris was named Idris es Saier when, in
after years, a satisfactory explanation could not be found for his not
boasting a father. Idris’s mother afterwards married and ruled, with
her legitimate son, Saier’s family. When appointed as gaoler by the
Mahdi, his prison was |99| called “El-Beit-es-Saier” (the house of
Saier), which later was contracted to “Saier,” and the name eventually
replaced the proper word for prison, all prisons being called the
“Saier,” and the head-gaoler, “Saier.”

Idris had been a famous robber and thief, and he was never tired
of relating his exploits, and then winding up by pointing out what
Mahdieh had done for him, for by his conversion he was now the honoured
guardian of all thieves, robbers, and murderers, and there is little
doubt but that he had a sneaking regard for all such, as a link between
himself and his earlier days.

He was superstitious to a degree, and although the Mahdi and Khaleefa
had strictly forbidden fortune-telling and the writing of talismans,
Idris followed the example of the Khaleefa himself, and regularly
consulted the fortune-tellers, most of his ill-gotten gains going to
them in fees. He had had made twenty-five to thirty boards of hard
wood, about eighteen to twenty inches square, and on these he had
written daily, a Sourah from the Quoran. The ink with which the Sourahs
were written was a mixture of wood-soot—or lamp-black, when that could
be obtained—gum arabic, some perfume, and water. As soon as the writing
was finished, Idris would, after carefully washing his hands, take a
small vessel holding about two teacups of water, and carefully wash off
the writing, allowing the water to drip back into the vessel; not a
drop was to be spilled on the ground, otherwise the writing would have
to be done over again, for the name Allah, and many of His attributes,
|100| were then in the solution. Having washed the board clean, caught
every drop of water, and then drunk it, he would come to us, and
deliver himself of the following harangue, and as we heard it two or
three times a week for years, I have an almost verbatim recollection of
it.

“I am a born thief and robber; my people killed many on the roads,
and robbed them of their property; I drank as no one else could, and
I did everything possible against rule and religion. The Mahdi then
came and taught me to pray and leave other people’s property alone.”
(This last always raised a bitter smile from his hearers, as he used
to torture us to deliver up for “the Khaleefa” any small coin or
article of value we might come into possession of.) “How I have to
thank the Mahdi for having made me a good, holy, and new man, and he
will at the Day of Judgment be my witness, and take me with his ansars
to heaven. Think what I have been, and see what I am now! I have been
worse than any of you. If you stole anything, you stole when you were
with the Government, and you only did what the Government and every
one else did, you had authority to do so. I was worse than you, I had
no authority. God has pardoned me, and will also pardon you if you
repent and give to the Beit-el-Mal what you have taken from the poor,
for there are many poor now in the town crying for food, and there is
no money in the Beit-el-Mal to purchase any. I have given all my money
in charity, and my wives and children are crying for food. I have no
boats to bring me |101| merchandise, and I have no land to cultivate
to grow dourra” (Sorghum, a grain in the Soudan, which takes the place
of our wheat). “I am a prisoner as you are, and the pay I get is not
sufficient to feed my family. Yesterday there was no dourra in my house
to feed my children, they had to lie down hungry, and I thank God for
His grace in supporting me through these trials for which I shall be
rewarded in the next world. I am going to see my starving children now,
and then I shall pray to God, and ask him to release you if you repent,
and turn the Khaleefa’s heart to you. The Khaleefa knows everything you
do, and sees you all the day, for ‘El Nebbi Khiddr’ is his eyes and
ears, and El Nebbi Khiddr not only sees and hears what you are doing
and saying, but sees what your thoughts are.”

After this, all but myself used to rise and kiss his hands; I never did
so. At the end of the first harangue he gave in my presence, and at the
end of his harangues for weeks later, he would continue:—“And now you
man from the bad world, you understand Arabic well. The Khaleefa has
told me to instruct you in the true religion; your fellow-prisoners
will tell you how Hicks Pasha was, with all his army, killed by the
angels; not a single shot was fired, or a spear thrown, by the Ansar;
the spears flew from their hands, and, guided by the angels, pierced
the breasts of the unbelievers, and burned up their bodies. God is
great. You will soon learn that you are mistaken, and that all your
world is wrong; there is no religion but that of the Mahdi. How happy
you |102| should be to have lived in his time and entered into the
company of the Ansar. God now loves you; it is He who has brought you
to us, and with the Khaleefa’s blessing you will yet be numbered with
the Ansar, and you will fight against the unbelievers and Turks as
other converts have done. You have a strong mind, and the Khaleefa
therefore has not a bad opinion of you. Thank him for his mercy that
he did not kill you. Be converted, and I shall be pleased and proud of
you, and be as your father. You others, you have seen the Mahdi and the
Khaleefa and their dealings; tell him of them. You Hamad el Nil, you
are a learned man, and know more of religion than I do; make Abdalla
know who God is, and who is His prophet.”

[Illustration: IDRIS-ES-SAIER.]

At the end of my first lecture, Abou Jinn asked me how much money I
had. I inquired why. He replied, “Do you not understand? The Saier
wants some money from you.” I told him of the money Hasseena had, and
which the Saier was taking care of, on which he smiled and told me
that the Saier would not take the money himself, but he would compel
me to _give_ it to him for his “starving children.” A few days later I
was sent for to hear the Saier hold forth again, and on this occasion
he finished up by saying that some of us must have done something
wrong. The Nebbi Khiddr had reported it to the Khaleefa, who had in
consequence ordered him to add more chains to our feet, but that we
were to submit to this without bad feelings against the Khaleefa and
him. If we repented, the |103| Nebbi Khiddr would report it, and
the Khaleefa, as he was full of grace, would soon order the chains to
be removed again. All the principal prisoners, with the exception of
myself, were then marched to the anvil, and had their chains hammered
on. I was spared, as, after the first lecture, I had, on Abou Jinn’s
advice, sent word to the Saier to take fifteen of my dollars for his
“starving children.” We prisoners held a conference, and it was decided
to present more moneys. It took us two days to scrape together the
requisite sum—about fifty dollars—to which I added seventeen of mine.
This had the happy result of not only removing the extra chains of the
prisoners, but Hasseena’s also. The Saier called us together, gave us a
homily on repentance and good behaviour, and told us to continue in the
same path, as it was evidently looked upon with approval by the Nebbi
Khiddr.[4]

    [4] The Nebbi Khiddr is a mythical character in Islam. Sects
    are divided as to whether he is a prophet or not. His name does
    not appear in the Quoran. By some of the old writers he is made
    the companion of Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Having drunk of the
    waters of the Fountain of Life, he is believed by some to be
    ever present at one of the holy places. His exact whereabouts
    and his attributes have never been defined. The Mahdi killed
    two birds with one stone by appropriating this unclaimed
    prophet to himself; first, his supposed presence made Omdurman
    a holy place, as the Nebbi only appeared at holy places, and
    then, by investing him with the powers as related by Idris
    es Saier, he was able to impress the more ignorant of his
    followers of his—the Khaleefa’s—omniscience and omnipresence
    through the Nebbi Khiddr’s agency. The Mahdi laying claim to
    this prophet and attributing to him the powers he did, raised
    in the minds of Hamad-el-Nil and others their first suspicions
    as to the Mahdi and his mission.

But this Nebbi Khiddr was never satisfied for long with our conduct.
Every month he had something to report to the “Khaleefa,” and just
as regularly we were given extra chains, until a few dollars,
entrusted to Idris for the poor, had sent him to the Khaleefa with a
favourable report. All these ill-gotten moneys, as I have said, went to
soothsayers, fortune-tellers, and talisman writers, in whose absolute
power the |104| Saier was, though part went in baksheesh to the
servants and counsellors of the Khaleefa, whom the Saier had to keep in
funds in order to retain his place.

The Saier knew very well that not a single one of us believed in
this Nebbi Khiddr business, but as on the outside of the circle of
the principal prisoners—and they were the only ones from whom money
could be squeezed—were always gathered a number of the ignorant
and, therefore, more fanatical of the Khaleefa’s adherents, he had
invented this tale, which he gave year after year without the slightest
variation in words, in order to hoodwink them and prevent any tales
reaching the Khaleefa as to the sums “presented” by the prisoners.



|105|

CHAPTER IX

MY FIRST CHANCE OF ESCAPE


It was during my first months in prison that Ahmed Nur ed Din of the
Kabbabish succeeded in getting into prison, in the hope of effecting my
escape. I had for some years had dealings with Nur ed Din in connection
with the Intelligence Department, and also the caravan trade. When I
left Wadi Halfa with Saleh’s caravan, Nur ed Din was then at Saleh’s
camp with messages to him from the Government. On his return to Wadi
Halfa, he heard of what had happened, and coming at once to Omdurman,
he sent a message by my servant that he had come for me. All his
applications to get into the prison being refused by the guards, and
fearing to make an application to Idris es Saier or the Mehkemmeh, he
arranged with a friend to have a petty quarrel in the market-place;
his friend hurried him before the Kadi, and Nur ed Din was ordered
into prison. On seeing me walk towards him as he entered, as I did
not know then that he came as a prisoner, he gave me a “hooss,” the
Soudan equivalent for our “ssh” (silence), and walked off in another
direction. Later in the day, and when we were being |106| marshalled
to be driven into the common cell, he came next to me, and whispered,
“I have come for you; be careful; keep your eyes open; try and obtain
permission to sleep outside the Umm Hagar.” Two weeks elapsed before we
had another opportunity of exchanging a few words, but in the interval
Nur ed Din was ingratiating himself with the prisoners who associated
with me, and gradually allowing his curiosity to speak to the “white
kaffir” to be evident. It was necessary for him to act in this cautious
manner in order to avert suspicion, and another week passed after his
introduction to our little circle, before he dare seize an opportunity
to consult me about his health and numerous ailments—which was his
explanation when questioned about our long conversation together.

It was a strange story he had to tell. On meeting Gabou, Gabou at once
commenced to talk to him about some double dealings which he proposed
with both dervishes and Government. Nur ed Din was suspicious, and
did not fall in with the proposals; this then left Gabou at the mercy
of Nur ed Din, and the former picked a quarrel, during which Nur ed
Din accused Gabou of the betrayal of the caravan to Saleh. Others of
the Kabbabish were already looking askance at Gabou, and wondering
whether, if the truth once came out, they too would not be punished as
conspirators. Gabou was, they believed, then engaged upon some plot
which would render them harmless as regards himself should they make
a report against him to the Government, and in self-preservation they
held a conference with Nur ed Din. It was proposed that |107| some
one, for the honour of the tribe, should try and effect my release or
escape from Omdurman, while, as will have been seen, there was also the
element of self-interest in the matter. There was now a feud between
Gabou and Nur ed Din, and the latter volunteered to undertake the risk
of the journey to Omdurman.

His plan, when he saw that there was not the slightest hope of my being
released from prison, was a desperate one, and we ran every chance
of being killed in the attempt to escape, but this risk I was quite
willing to take. I knew Nur ed Din would make no mistakes. It was not
as if he was actuated by avarice in assisting me; but being engaged
in a death-feud, he sought every means to be the one left alive, and
he knew that if he could conduct me to Wadi Halfa, Gabou would soon
decorate a scaffold or be shot out of hand.

Nur ed Din, through the services of one of his party, a boy whom he
had brought with him, and who came into the prison daily as Nur ed
Din’s food servant, first arranged for relays of camels, then for the
purchase of rifles and ammunition, which were buried in the desert a
short distance from Omdurman. These preparations being complete, six
of the ten men at his first relay station were sent for to cut a hole
through the wall of the prison nearest the Nile, and this they were
to do on the night we sent a message to them or gave a signal, one
of the men being always near the bank, close to the selected part of
the wall. Final instructions were given on hearing that the |108|
camels were ready and well provided with water. After creeping through
the aperture, we were to make our way to the river, dragging an old
fishing-net behind us; rags were to be bound round the chains to deaden
their rattling; this part of the scheme was to hide my chains, and
prevent their clanging being heard. On passing the last of the huts, we
were to leave the river, and, mounting the camels, we were to travel
as fast as the camels would go, for twelve hours direct west, where we
would pick up the first relay. We had sent the boy out with a message
to our people to procure three revolvers and ammunition. Nur ed Din and
I were to take one each for use in case necessity arose before we could
reach the buried rifles; the other one of the men was to take, and, if
our flight was at once discovered, he was to fire towards a boat which
had been taken to the opposite bank, and swear that we had escaped by
its means. This would put our pursuers on the wrong scent for some
time. One revolver and seventeen cartridges only could be found then,
and Nur ed Din decided on waiting a few days until others could be
obtained.

Whilst these were being searched for, Nur ed Din became feverish, and
to my horror I saw all the symptoms of typhus fever developing. This
fever had been named Umm Sabbah (seven), as it invariably carried
off its victims in seven days. It may be guessed how anxiously and
carefully I nursed Nur ed Din, and how Hasseena was kept busy the
whole day brewing from tamarinds, dates, and roots, |109| cooling
draughts to allay his fever. He might have recovered, had he not kept
himself excited over the fear of losing his vengeance on Gabou, but he
gradually sank and died.

I was locked up in the Umm Hagar on the night of his death, and the
fever was then taking hold of me; two days later I was senseless,
and of course helpless. Hasseena, with two boys, used to carry me
about from shade to shade as the sun travelled, but my neck-chain
dragged, and sometimes tripped one or the other up, and then it was
that orders were given to remove it. Hasseena had been told that the
best remedy for me was a description of vegetable marrow soaked in
salt water; the water was drunk and the marrow eaten as the patient
recovered. The purgative properties of this medicine might suit Soudan
constitutions, and it evidently suited mine at the time, but I should
warn any of my readers, should they be so unfortunate as to contract
this fever, against attempting the remedy. When the decoction has
acted sufficiently, the mouth is crammed with butter, which to the
throat, at this stage of the “cure,” feels like boiling oil, and you
experience all the sensations of internal scalding. The next operation
is to briskly rub the whole body, and then anoint it with butter or
oil—butter by preference. The patient has nothing to say about his
treatment—he is helpless; every bit of strength and will has left him,
and when he has been rolled up in old camel-cloths and “sweated,”
weakness hardly expresses the condition he has arrived at. It was on
the thirteenth day of my attack that I reached |110| the final stage
of my treatment, and then I fell asleep, waking some hours later with
a clear head and all my faculties about me, though I was then but a
living skeleton.

The Khaleefa, hearing of my condition, thought it a favourable
opportunity for me to receive a few more lessons in Mahdieh, and my
period of convalescence was much prolonged owing to the worry and
annoyance which these teachers of Mahdieh were to me. Kadi Hanafi, one
of Slatin’s old Kadis, then imprisoned with me owing to his open avowal
that the justice and the sentences given by the Mehkemmeh (religious
courts) were against the teachings of the Quoran, told me that it was a
mistake on my part so openly to defy the Khaleefa, and that it would be
more “politique” to submit as had Slatin, who had now his house, wives,
slaves, horses and donkeys, and cultivated land outside the city. But
in my then condition, a little procession, for which my dead body would
be the reason, was much more to my liking, and I did not care in what
shape death came, provided that it did come.

Hanafi used up all his arguments in trying to persuade me to become a
good Muslim. Dilating on the power of the Khaleefa and my impotence, he
pointed to my chains, then weighing about forty pounds, and said that
the Khaleefa would certainly torture me with them until I submitted to
become a good Muslim. To this last argument I replied that if I did say
I would be converted, the Khaleefa, as soon as he heard of it, would
make me proclaim my conversion publicly, |111| and just as certainly
behead me immediately afterwards, to prevent my slipping back into
Christianity. Hanafi believed that the Khaleefa would still let me live
after embracing the Mohammedan faith in the hope of my accepting the
Mahdieh; he failed though to convert me, and the Khaleefa, hearing of
the result, and not believing that Hanafi had done all that he might
have done with his arguments, for this and other reasons sent him later
as a convict to Gebel Ragaf, near Lado, the convict station of the
Soudan.

By the time I had gained sufficient strength to attempt the flight,
the men engaged had lost heart, and there was no one to lead them. Nur
ed Din was dead, and as they only came into the thing for the money
they were to receive, and the dollars were not then forthcoming, they
decided not to run any risk, disbanded the camel-posts, and scattered
to their various homes.

How many hundreds of times have I regretted since that I did not take
Nur ed Din’s advice and escape at the time, leaving him behind. As he
said, there was no reason to be afraid that he would lose his head, as
his being so ill and also his being left behind would prevent suspicion
being directed towards him. During my twelve years’ captivity, this, my
first chance of escape, risky and desperate as it was, was the only one
which had in it a real element of success, for my conductor in saving
me was to save himself.

As is customary in all oriental prisons, the prisoners in the Saier had
either to purchase their own food, or their friends and relatives had
to send it into the |112| prison for them; failing money, friends and
relatives, the prisoners starved to death. I have already said that
the best and greater part of the food sent to the prison gates was
appropriated by the gaolers, that is to say, after Idris es Saier had
seen to the wants of his “starving children” and numerous household
first. Idris, even during the worst period of the famine, did not
lose flesh; he was always the same tall, stout, flat-nosed black,
both when I first saw him on May 10, 1887, and when I last saw him in
September, 1898. Nor was Idris quite so bad as he had been painted; he
would often—when the Nebbi Khiddr tale had had the desired effect in
repentance, or when he was in a good humour after a bout of marrissa
drinking—go out of his way to do his prisoners small kindnesses, such
as the removal of extra chains, and giving permission to sleep in the
open; but the Nebbi Khiddr institution left him so much at the mercy of
the Khaleefa’s immediate attendants, that his periods of good humour
were, in consequence, of very short duration. Some day, if I return to
the Soudan, or Idris pays a visit to civilization, I may learn from him
whom I have to thank for a few of the unnecessary hardships inflicted
upon me.

It might be asked why we, knowing that the guards would purloin the
greater part of the food sent in, did not arrange for a larger quantity
to be sent. There are two reasons, and the first is the least of the
two: the guards knew very well what was the minimum amount of food to
keep us alive, and just that quantity of food |113| would be allowed
to pass the portals of the Saier. The second reason was, that the sight
of more or better food being brought to a prisoner proved one of two
things: either the prisoner himself had received some money, or his
friends had, and the following day the time-worn Nebbi Khiddr tale,
properly translated, meant chains until more dollars were forthcoming.
Under such circumstances, the unlucky offender against Saier politics
would be called upon by the other mulcted prisoners to make good the
money they had been bled of, for the Saier was most impartial in the
matter of chains, and, certain of always getting the proper victim in
the end, invariably loaded a dozen or so with extra chains, and ordered
all into the Umm Hagar. An attenuated and burned chicken, or pigeon,
cost a few dollars in repentance, and also the wearing of extra chains
and the horrors of the Umm Hagar for nights, for it was advisable to
keep Idris waiting some days for an evidence of repentance, so that he
should believe, and the Khaleefa’s attendants believe also, that some
little difficulty had been experienced in collecting the few dollars
you had to pay.

Our usual food was “Asseeda,” the Soudan dourra (sorghum), roughly
pounded moist, and mixed into a thick paste, feeling and tasting to the
palate like sawdust. It was not a very nourishing dish, but it was a
heavy one, and stayed the pangs and gnawings of hunger. A flavour might
be imparted by allowing a quantity to stand for a day or two until
fermentation set in. Occasionally, but only occasionally, a sauce
|114| made from the pounded seed of the Baamia hybiscus, and called
“Mulakh,” could be obtained, and this, with the fermented asseeda,
made a veritable banquet. Friends in the town sent us, when they could
either afford or obtain it, a little wheaten bread, a bit of cheese or
butter, or a few pinches of coffee.

[Illustration: CATARINA.]

Amongst the many captives in Omdurman who did so much for me stands
out prominently Father Ohrwalder, the old Greek lady, Catarina—who was
a ministering angel alike to prisoners and captives—Mr. Tramba and
his wife Victoria, Nahoum Abbajee, and Youssef Jebaalee. Surely the
recording angel has placed to the right side of the account the little
deceptions practised by Father Ohrwalder to gain access to the prison,
when the few piastres of baksheesh he could afford were not sufficient
to satisfy the rapacity of the guards, in order to bring me some little
dainty, when, God knows, he was bringing me the lion’s share of what he
was in absolute need of himself. At one time he would present himself
at the gates as being “Iyyan Khaalas” (sick unto death), and, of
course, wished to see me once again before his dissolution. At another
time it would be that he had heard _I_ was dying, then, of course, he
wished to see _me_; and the changes would be rung by his coming in on
the pretext of wishing to see some other prisoner. With bowed head
and bent back, exaggerating the weak state he was then in, he would
crawl towards me, dragging one foot after the other, and, reaching me,
would sit down on the ground and sway his body to and fro—a little
pantomime which allowed of his |115| surreptitiously passing to
me the dainties he had brought in the old leather bag slung from his
left shoulder. Time after time he was turned away from the gates, and
this, too, after having paid the baksheesh; but his persistence secured
his seeing me every one or two months during my first three years in
prison, and the scraps of news he brought from the outside world—news
to both of us, though a year or two old—gave me something to think of
and turn over in my brain until his next visit. Death, as I told Father
Ohrwalder, I did not fear, but my great fear was insanity.

Often and often, when allowed to sleep in the open air at night-time,
instead of experiencing all the horrors of a night in the common cell,
the cool night-air would send me off into a sound sleep, from which I
would start up from some confused dream of old days, and, looking up to
the sky, would wonder to myself, half awake and half asleep, which was
the dream and which the reality, the old loved scenes, or the prison of
es-Saier at Omdurman. I would for some moments be afraid to look round
at the men chained on each side of me, and when I mustered up courage
to do so, and felt the weight of my irons and the heavy chain across
my legs, which bound our gang of fifty or sixty together, I would
speculate on how long it would be before the slender thread holding me
between reason and insanity snapped under the strain.

That my reason did not give way during my first period of imprisonment
I have but to thank Father |116| Ohrwalder and the friends mentioned.
Each one of them risked his or her comparative freedom, if not life,
to help me. Even during the worst nights in the Umm Hagar, when Hell
itself might be defied to match such a scene, when Madness and Death
stalked hand-in-hand amongst the struggling mass, and when, jammed
in tight with a number of the more fanatical prisoners, I fought and
struggled, bit and kicked, as did they for bare life, the thought of
having friends in adversity, suffering almost as much as I did, kept
that slender thread from snapping; but the mental strain caused me
most violent headaches and periods of forgetfulness or loss of memory,
which even now recur at times. But it was during the famine that the
Christian—more than Christian—charity of my friends was put to the
severest tests and never faltered. Food was at enormous prices, but,
day after day, Catarina brought her scrap of dourra or wheaten bread;
every day Youssef Jebaalee sent his loaves of bread, unmindful of how
much the guards stole, provided that I got a mouthful.

All the food sent for the prisoners did not, of course, reach them;
what little passed the gates of the Saier was fought for; those having
longer chains, or bars, connecting their anklets stood the best chance
in the race for food, as they were able to take longer strides. Had it
been under other circumstances, the scenes enacted might have provided
endless amusement for the onlookers, for they had in them all the
elements but one of a sack-race and old country sports. Seeing thirty
or forty living skeletons shuffling, leaping as |117| far as their
weight of chains and strength would allow, you knew, when one fell,
that it was the weakness caused by starvation which had brought him
down. There he would lie where he fell, given over to despair, whilst
those who did reach any messenger with food, rather than resenting the
stripes given by the guards with the courbash, would almost appear glad
of the open wounds these caused, so that they might caress the wounds
with their hands and lick the blood from their fingers. This picture
is not _over-_ but _under_drawn; but I have been advised to leave out
minute details and other scenes, as unnecessarily harrowing.

We heard that cannibalism was being practised in the town, but
none took place in the prison; in the Saier, when once the despair
engendered by starvation and cruelty took hold of a prisoner, he would
lie down and wait for death; food he would never refuse if offered,
but if water without food was offered, it was refused. Day after day,
for months, the bodies of eight or ten prisoners, who had died of
starvation, would be thrown into the Nile, and thousands must have died
in the Saier. The population of the prison was always kept up owing to
the hourly arrivals of starving wretches committed there for trying
to steal food in the market-place, and it was from such as these that
the fighting for food in the prison emanated chiefly. It can be well
imagined how the most civilized being might be driven to madness and
desperation, when, as the result of his trying to steal a bit of food,
maybe for himself, maybe for |118| a dying child, he is committed to
an oriental prison, and there, as he is taken to the anvil, the body
of the last victim to starvation is dragged up to have the shackles
knocked off only to be fitted on to him. Yet this happened not twice,
not scores, but hundreds of times in the prison of es-Saier during that
terrible famine.

After my servant Hasseena had been knocked down a number of times
and the food she was bringing me had been devoured by the starving
prisoners, we hit upon an expedient. Buying a gazelle skin, she had
this hung from her waist, under her dress, and left dangling between
her knees; the food for me was placed in this, but Hasseena always
carried, as a blind or decoy, a little food in her hands. This would be
pounced upon, when Hasseena, who had a healthy pair of lungs, as Wad
Nejoumi discovered at his first interview with her, would raise the
echoes with her screams. These gave her a clear path to me, and she
waited for a favourable opportunity to drop the gazelle skin on the
ground beside me.

It must not be thought from the foregoing that the prisoners had no
feelings for each other, and for those worse off in the matter of
food than themselves. There was more charity shown by those wild
fanatics, and almost savages, than is often shown in more civilized
places. Mahmoud Wad Said, so long as his little property held out, sold
portions of it day after day, and had sent into the prison for his
poorer fellow-prisoners, a large “geddahh” of asseeda and milk, night
and morning, and this gave thirty to forty |119| prisoners a meal each
day; others divided with their less fortunate friends the little food
they received. I have seen it stated that my charity to other prisoners
created a very good impression; but, then, how could I, the only white
and Christian in the prison—and, for the matter of that, the only
avowed Christian in the Soudan—not strive to show just a little more
self-denial and charity and kindness of heart than those “fanatics”
showed me?[5]

    [5] On reading over the foregoing to Father Ohrwalder, and
    asking him if he knew of any others who had assisted me with
    food while in prison, he first objected to my giving him any
    credit for what he had done, saying he had done but part of
    his duty towards me, and, in deference to his wishes, I have
    curtailed the account of his kindnesses towards me. He then
    expressed surprise that the name of Slatin did not figure
    amongst those of my benefactors, and it is only now that I hear
    from Father Ohrwalder of the risks Slatin ran in trying to
    help me. As can be well understood, this is hardly a subject
    on which, at the present time, I could approach Slatin, as it
    would practically be asking him how many dollars’ worth of
    thanks were due to him.

    On my arrival at Omdurman, it was believed by the Khaleefa,
    and others, that I was a brother of Slatin, and had started
    for Sheikh Saleh’s country with the idea of organizing an
    expedition to attack the Khaleefa and effect Slatin’s release;
    the latter, in consequence, was looked upon with more suspicion
    than ever, and bad as my position or condition was, his, in a
    measure, may have been worse. People in Omdurman—my servant and
    the prison barber in particular—gauging Slatin’s position to
    a nicety, had little fear or compunction in blackmailing him,
    day after day, after his first contribution to my sustenance,
    for more money and food, and in each instance it was asked for
    in my name. Others doubtless did the same, and poor Slatin,
    as he was then, must have been robbed right and left, his
    robbers perfectly secure in the conviction that even, should
    he discover their trick, he would be powerless to punish them,
    for had he attempted to do so, he would have placed his head in
    a noose for disobeying the Khaleefa’s orders, which were that
    he was never to speak to, or have any dealings with me. It is
    the least that I can do here to place the matter on record in
    connection with my experience, and leave Slatin to await the
    appearance of this in print to learn that my heartfelt thanks
    go out to him, while, at the same time, the world will better
    understand from the foregoing the difficulties of Slatin’s
    position with the Khaleefa.



|120|

CHAPTER X

PRISON JUSTICE


What I have written previously concerning the Nebbi Khiddr history
will, in the following notes of prison life, assist the reader in
better understanding how such mutual and transparent deceptions might
be practised by the Khaleefa and the gaolers as are related here.
It will be remembered that the Khaleefa, following the example of
the Mahdi, laid claim to the Nebbi Khiddr as his prophet or constant
messenger—a sort of modern Mercury amongst the Soudanese; hence the
mutual, but unacknowledged deceptions which might be practised by the
Khaleefa and his followers one against the other, but with always this
proviso: as the Khaleefa had the power of life and death, and his
spoken word was absolute, no one dare, even by suggestion, imply that
he had in any way deceived or hoodwinked Abdullahi, else the Nebbi
Khiddr would not have rested content until his detractor had been
shortened by a head.

When the many escapes from the Saier zareeba became of too common
gossip to be any longer concealed, Abdullahi ordered a wall to be
built in place |121| of the thorn zareeba, and later, to obviate the
necessity of the prisoners going to the Nile banks for drinking water
and ablutions, a well was sunk to provide infiltration water for the
purposes mentioned.[6] Until these works were ordered to be made, the
prisoners were mainly employed in building mud-brick houses for the
gaolers; and when these were finished we had to attend to certain of
the household duties—the tending of children, sheep, goats, and the
carrying of water from the Nile. Of all the tasks set the prisoners,
the household duties were the most pleasant, or, at all events, the
least distasteful. Most of the gaolers were able to keep up a large
establishment on the proceeds of their baksheesh and ill-gotten gains,
but with a multiplicity of wives or concubines a very natural result
followed—household bickerings and squabbles, in which one wife or
concubine was bound to come off worst; and this gave the wide-awake
prisoner engaged upon household duties his chance. He would soon detect
which concubine was being “put upon,” or whom the women-folk were most
jealous of, and in a few days’ time, as a result of his attentions in
carrying her pots and pans, and bringing her water as many times in the
day as she wished, he would be bemoaning in her sympathetic ears the
hard |122| fate of both of them, and trying to persuade her that what
she was enduring was far worse than his imprisonment and chains. The
old truism that “pity is akin to love” obtains equally as well under
the dusky hide of a Soudanese damsel as under the white skin of her
European sister, and very soon the pair would be maturing plans for
an escape and elopement. The main difficulty was the removal of the
man’s chains and a rapid flight to some distant village; but the Soudan
ladies are not a whit behind in woman’s resourcefulness face to face
with apparent impossibilities. Failing to arrange for a regular flight,
the woman would secure some place of hiding in Omdurman itself. She
would undertake all the arrangements, and I never knew of a failure in
their plans.

    [6] This well was named “Beer-el-Ummarra” (the well of the
    Emirs). When ordering its construction the Khaleefa instructed
    Idris es Saier to put all the important prisoners on the
    work, as the exercise would do them good. My gang consisted
    of Ibrahim Wad Adlan, Ajjab Abou Jinn, Mohammad Wad Bessir,
    Mohammad Abou Sinn, Abdalla Abou Sinn, Ali Wad-el-Hadd, Ahmed
    Abd-el-Maajid, Mahmoud Wad Said, Hassan Um Barak, and the
    Shereef Khaleel—the aristocracy, I might say, of the Soudan. We
    did little or no work ourselves, we paid the imprisoned slaves
    for doing it; but whenever Idris es Saier made his appearance
    he would find us all busy. When telling us of the Khaleefa’s
    orders, Idris hinted that it might be advisable for us to
    subscribe amongst ourselves for paid labour, and he would take
    charge of the money. At Wad Adlan’s advice, we said we rather
    liked the idea of having some work to do to keep us occupied,
    Adlan knowing that Idris would keep the money and make us work
    just the same, or else pay over again for another batch of
    slaves.

Each month a list of the prisoners in the Saier, and an account of
their progress in “education” would be submitted to Abdullahi, with
recommendations for the release of certain prisoners, and each month,
coincident with the preparation of this list, some prisoner would be
missing from his usual place that night and next morning—and for ever
afterwards; and this is how Soudan romances were managed. Sheep and
goats would stray unaccountably. As these accidents always happened
about sunset, the concubine would set off with the chained prisoner
to bring in the strayed animals at the precise moment when her lord
and master was engaged upon his official duties and locking up the
prisoners in the Umm Hagar. On his calling at his house, the temporary
absence would excite little or no suspicion, but as the hours sped
on |123| suspicions were aroused, and if on the following morning or
the same night the sheep and goats found their way back unaided, the
gaoler’s only way out of the difficulty was to present a favourable
report of the conduct of the escaped prisoner, in the hope that his
release would be ordered by the Khaleefa. To acknowledge that he had
escaped while employed in tending his sheep and goats would be to place
the gaoler’s head or liberty in danger, and the eloping couple well
knew this. No sooner was the release ordered, than the happy couple
would present themselves before the Kadi, to be married right off—the
Soudanese damsel in the possession of a husband, with no other wives
or concubines to worry her in the house, and her husband free of his
chains. True, he might divorce his wife the same day if he so chose,
but then his and her object had been gained—they were both clear of the
gaoler, whom they knew dare not trump up any case against them in the
hope of one or the other being again committed to prison, for, once
released by the Khaleefa’s orders, a prisoner might only be recommitted
on them. Moreover, if one of the two should relate what had actually
occurred, the gaoler himself, having deceived the Khaleefa with his
report of good conduct and “education,” would certainly be sent to
prison or to the gallows.

I was too important a prisoner to make my escape at all possible by
such happy means as those above described. My only hope lay in trusty
natives and swift camels which would outstrip my pursuers. I often
envied my fellow-prisoners who exchanged the |124| bonds of slavery
for those of matrimony, for numbers of them came to see me after their
“release,” but I shudder to think what might have happened had I been
released by the Khaleefa’s orders, for, following the old adage that
a drowning man clutches at a straw, I must have promised marriage to
dozens of Soudan beauties (?) in the event of their doing anything
towards wheedling their masters or the Khaleefa into releasing me,
and it is quite certain that, on my release, I should have met at the
prison-gates a clamouring crowd all claiming the honour.

But I should explain how it was that I came into direct contact with
the hareems of the gaolers. Having studied physiology and medicine at
Königsberg and Leipzig, I was often called upon by the natives in Upper
Egypt, before the place was so well known to the travelling public
as it is now, and in the absence of doctors, to attend them in cases
of sickness or accident. My practice, being gratuitous, was a large
one, and I soon became the “Hakeem Pasha” (principal medical officer).
My reputation, if it did not precede me, at least accompanied me to
Omdurman when I was captured, so that I was in constant requisition at
the gaolers’ hareems, paying “professional” visits ranging from cases
in which the Khaleefa was soon to be presented with another subject,
to the most trivial and sometimes imaginary complaints. So long as
the women kept ailing, my life was rendered endurable, for I was able
to sit down and chat with them for hours, waiting to see the result
of concoctions made from, to me, unknown |125| herbs and roots, of
the properties of which I was ignorant; but the results were always
satisfactory. The only medicine or chemical I came across of any value
in the stores of the Beit-el-Mal was permanganate of potash, and I soon
discovered that a Soudan constitution necessitated the application
of this in crystals and not in liquid form. The effects, as may be
imagined, were rapid, and, though my medical readers might be inclined
to doubt the statement, the results were eminently satisfactory both to
the patients and myself.

Occasionally I would be sent for to attend some one in the women’s
prison, which was situated a short distance from the Saier of Idris.
The women’s prison consisted of the common cell and a light zareeba,
through which the curious might gaze on the women as they lay stretched
on the ground during the day in the sun, undergoing their first period
of imprisonment. The majority of the women prisoners were slaves locked
up on some pretence or other to prevent their escaping. It might be
that their master was arranging for some trading trip which would
occupy him for weeks and, maybe, months. The simplest way of preventing
his property from running away during his absence was to trump up
some charge against her, and have her locked up, knowing that her
release might not be obtained until he returned and requested it. As
in the mean time she would have to be fed at his expense, and gave her
services free to the household of one of the gaolers, he was equally
sure that the gaoler would not be too anxious to secure her release.
|126|

Married women were sent to prison on all sorts of charges, ranging from
suspected conjugal infidelity to the delivery of a curtain lecture. The
women prisoners wore light chains connecting their anklets, but their
lot was little better than that of the men. A charge of infidelity “not
proven,” as the Scotch have it, was followed by imprisonment and the
application of three hundred stripes with the courbag, and when the
woman had recovered from these, she would be sent into the house of
one of the gaolers to be the maid-of-all-work for every one there; she
would have to grind corn, attend to the children, carry water, and be
driven as a slave night and day for weeks. A Mrs. Caudle or a termagant
received from fifty to eighty lashes, and she too on recovery would be
sent into one of the gaolers’ hareems to work as hard as her possibly
innocent and more severely punished companion in misery. A few weeks of
such treatment sent the women back home completely cured of the faults
for which they were sent to prison to be corrected, besides which
the relation of their experiences acted as an effective deterrent on
budding Mrs. Caudles and others.

The unloading of boats was the hardest work we were set to, and we were
kept up to the mark by the ever-present lash; we might only be tired
and ill when we could afford the luxury of paying for the complaint,
for this labour was the most lucrative task our gaolers could set us
to; we had either to work, or pay many times the equivalent of our
labour. It was in connection with the unloading of boats, and this,
|127| too, when I was slowly recovering from my attack of typhus fever
after the death of Ahmed Nur ed Din, that I received my first flogging.
A young gaoler had pestered me for money, and as I had none to give
him, he ordered me to slave at the unloading of the boats. The only way
of exhibiting a real refusal was to sit down upon the ground, which I
did, upon which the gaoler commenced to drag me towards the gateway of
the Saier. On this I got upon my feet and knocked the gaoler off his.
He ran to Idris es Saier, told his own tale, and Idris, approaching
me, ordered me to get up—for I had again sat down—and assist in the
unloading of the boats. I refused, and accused the gaoler of trying to
extort monies from me. Upon this Idris struck me with his “safarog” (an
instrument almost the exact counterpart of the Australian boomerang,
and used by the Soudan tribes for precisely similar purposes); the
blow he gave smashed the safarog and stunned me, and while only partly
conscious I was turned over and condemned to receive there and then
five hundred lashes.

Only sixty or seventy, I was told, were inflicted; the remainder were
not given, as Idris, seeing that I was unconscious, believed that I
was dead, and in consequence received a terrible fright. I was carried
to my place in the cell, while Idris set about clearing himself with
the other prisoners, and explaining that it was all the work of the
young gaoler. Idris knew what it meant to him had I been flogged to
death, and, believing that I would not recover, he, when I did recover,
evidently made up his mind to pay out the gaoler who was |128|
responsible for his fright in the first place, and for his servility
to the other prisoners at the moment when he thought there were good
grounds for it.

[Illustration: A FLOGGING BY ORDER OF THE KHALEEFA.]

His opportunity came some little time later on, when the same gaoler
invented another excuse for flogging me. I had bought from one of the
gaolers a small mud hut, a few feet square, in the prison enclosure,
and received permission from Idris es Saier to sleep in this at night
instead of in the Umm Hagar. This young gaoler—and other gaolers as
well—accepted baksheesh from prisoners to allow them to sleep in the
open; and Idris, finding the contributions to his “starving children”
falling off, suspected the reason, and lay in wait. Upon a night when
a larger number than usual had been allowed to sleep outside the Umm
Hagar, he suddenly made his appearance in the prison enclosure. There
was nothing for our guardians to do but to pretend that the prisoners
had been insubordinate, had refused to enter the Umm Hagar, and to
lay about them with their whips. The young gaoler, not aware that
I had paid the regulation baksheesh to Idris, made straight for my
hut, dragged me out, and flogged me to the door of the common cell, a
distance, maybe, of forty or fifty yards, but my thick jibbeh prevented
the blows from telling with much effect as far as regards abrasion of
the skin; nevertheless, their weight told on my diminished strength,
and I again fell ill. The circumstance came to the ears of the Khaleefa
through Idris, or the Nebbi Khiddr, and I had the huge satisfaction
of seeing my tormentor dismissed from his lucrative post, |129|
subjected to the two hundred lashes he was sentenced to receive, and
then sent as a prisoner in chains to work at the very same boats, which
he had had me flogged for refusing to assist in unloading. This, at the
present moment, is the only bit of real justice I can remember during
my twelve years’ captivity.

I have in a former chapter given a slight description of flogging as I
saw it practised when first captured by the dervishes; but the flogging
in the Saier was a very different matter. The maximum number of stripes
ever ordered was a thousand, and this number was often actually given,
but in every case the stripes were given over the clothing. The rules
of flogging were generally as follows: the first two hundred on the
back below the region of the lumbar vertebræ, the third and fourth
hundred on the shoulders, and the fifth hundred on the breast. When the
maximum number of one thousand lashes was ordered, they were always
given on the same parts as those of the first two hundred, and this
punishment was resorted to for the purpose of extorting confessions.
After eighty or one hundred blows, the jibbeh was cut into shreds,
and soon became saturated with the blood of the victim; and while the
effect of the individual blows may not have been as great as those
from the cat-o’-nine-tails, the number given made up in quantity for
what might have been lacking in quality, as is evidenced by the large
numbers who died under the castigation or as a result of it later.

On one occasion an old black soldier of the Egyptian |130| Army, named
Mohammad Ajjami, who was employed as a runner (a foot-galloper—if I may
invent the expression—of the Khaleefa on field days), was sent to me
while in the prison to be cured of the effects of a flogging. He had by
some means incurred the displeasure of Sheikh ed Din, the son of the
Khaleefa, and by him had been sentenced to receive a public flogging,
after which he was to be sent to the Saier to be “educated.” He was
carried into the prison to me after his flogging. The fleshy part of
his back was cut into ribbons, and the hip-bones were exposed. For six
or eight weeks I was constantly employed bathing this man’s wounds with
a dilute solution of carbolic acid, the carbolic crystals being sent
to me by Sheikh ed Din himself for the purpose, for his father, the
Khaleefa, jealous of his authority, had censured his son, telling him,
as he constantly told others, that “In Usbaiee shareeknee fee mulkee,
anna ikktahoo.”[7] Ajjami recovered, and often came to see me in prison
to express his gratitude. Sheikh ed Din himself was so pleased at the
man’s recovery that he begged his father to release me, so that I might
practise the healing art amongst his Ansar, and teach it to others;
but the Khaleefa was obdurate, and refused, his reasons for refusing
to release me being better left to be related later by some of my
fellow-captives.

    [7] This expression was always used by the Khaleefa in any
    discussion. Holding up his forefinger, he said (translation of
    phrase): “Rather than this finger should be a partner in the
    governing of my realm, I should cut it off.”

My third flogging was received under the following circumstances.
Having from Idris es Saier received permission to remain in my mud
hovel, instead of |131| spending the nights in the Umm Hagar, and
feeling secure in my comparative freedom and safe from the exactions of
the other gaolers, as I had baksheeshed Idris well, I firmly refused to
be bled any further. My particular guardian, not daring, after what had
occurred to my former guardian, to order me into the Umm Hagar, went a
step further, and refused to allow me to leave my mud hut at all for
any purpose whatever. I insisted upon being allowed to go to the place
of ablution—about one hundred yards distant—and being refused, set off,
receiving at every step a blow from the courbag. Being heavily chained,
I was helpless, and could not reach my tormentor, as he could skip away
from my reach, which was limited to the length of the bars connecting
my feet, which bars were fifteen inches in length. It was on this
occasion, night-time too, that Idris es Saier paid another surprise
visit to the prison enclosure to see what number of “unauthorized”
prisoners were sleeping outside the Umm Hagar, and, furious at the
number he discovered, he ordered all outside, without exception, to be
flogged.

I and fifteen to twenty others received a hundred and fifty lashes
each—at least, I received this number; others repented by crying out
after twenty or thirty blows. I alternately clenched my teeth and bit
my lips to prevent a sound of pain escaping, often as I was asked,
“Will you not cry out? Is your head and heart still like black iron?”
and the more they reminded me of the courage I was exhibiting, the more
reason I had for not giving way or breaking down. But the mental ordeal
was far, far more terrible than |132| the corporal punishment. There
was I, a European, a Prussian, a man who had fought with the British
troops in what transpired to be the “too late” expedition for the
rescue of Gordon, now in the clutches of the tyrant and his myrmidons,
whom we had hoped to rescue Gordon from; a white and a Christian—and
the only professing Christian—chained and helpless, being flogged by a
black, as much a captive and a slave as I was, and yet my superior and
master. It is impossible for any one not having undergone a similar
experience to appreciate the mental agonies I endured.

I may have been self-willed and strong-headed; I may, if you wish,
have acted like a fool in my constant defiance of the Khaleefa and the
tenets of the Mahdi; but now, looking back on those terrible times, I
feel convinced that had poor Gordon lived, my actions would at least
have met with his approbation, for the outward ceremony or observance
of adherence to the Mohammedan faith was carried out on me under force,
after the escape of Rossignoli. Death, in whatever form it came,
would have come as a welcome visitor to me; but while doing all in my
power to exasperate my captors to kill me, something—hope, courage, a
clinging to life, pride in my race, or personal vanity in defying them
to the end—restrained me from taking my own life, though Heaven knows
that, if ever man had a good excuse for doing so, I had. But my conduct
so impressed the Khaleefa that he told Wad Nejoumi, who asked for my
release so that I might accompany him to Dongola to “open up trade,”
and told many others later, “Neufeld I will |133| not release, but I
will not kill him.” Invariably, in speaking of me to others, as I was
still unconverted, the Khaleefa omitted the name “Abdalla” which I had
been given, and spoke of me as “Nofal”—the Arabic pronunciation of
Neufeld.



|134|

CHAPTER XI

A SERIOUS DILEMMA


As I write, there lie before me three successive paragraphs culled from
a recent edition of a London paper. These paragraphs were intended to
be, and doubtless were, amusing to their readers, but they contain
inaccuracies. I have ascertained that one misstatement owes its origin
to a report drawn up in connection with the guide’s account of the
successful escape of Father Rossignoli. The facts connected with that
flight, and my reported refusal to escape when the opportunity (?)
offered, find their place later in my narrative. For the moment I shall
content myself with but one of the paragraphs, and fill in the details
which, while not detracting from the humorous element introduced, will
show that the episode referred to had somewhat of a pathetic, if not
tragic, vein in it. This may have been lost sight of owing to the tale
being recorded in an office about two thousand miles away from the
scene of action, and the inaccuracies may be accounted for by the fact
that the tale was told by one of that large class in the East whose
greatest glory it is, when one of them has by constant |135| practice
attained a certain standard of inventive faculty and plausibility, to
prove to the world that the race of Haroun-el-Rashid’s story-tellers
is not yet extinct. There can be little doubt that the guide and Wakih
Idris, and maybe others, would be much entertained, if not a little
surprised, if told that the whole of their tales had apparently been
believed in.

On my servant Hasseena being sent into the Khaleefa’s hareem in May,
1887, she obtained her release, or dismissal, by declaring that she was
with child; she was not. In November, 1888, she certainly was, and the
fact could not be concealed. Hasseena, having been a slave, could not
well be legally married, so that when dismissed from the Khaleefa’s
hareem, she was sent as my property to the hareem of Idris es Saier,
where she had, in addition to buying and preparing my food, to perform
the housework and run messages for the women of Idris’s household.

Idris I knew had long coveted Hasseena, and her being with child
appeared to him a favourable opportunity of securing her for himself,
for under ordinary circumstances, the woman being a slave and the child
being born in his hareem, he could lay claim to the paternity, when
mother and child would become free, the mother ranking now as a wife.
He talked the matter over with Hasseena, and then sent her to interview
me. I submitted the case to my friends in prison, and they showed that
Idris had misread, or misunderstood, Surah IV. of the Quoran, which
only justified his position towards Hasseena in the event |136| of my
being a prisoner of war, and he having captured Hasseena on the field.
Things became still more complicated by Hasseena admitting to me that
there were doubts in her own mind as to the child’s paternity. Hasseena
was of a light copper colour; Idris was as black as the ace of spades.
It would only be reasonable to expect that the child when born would
exhibit in the colour of its skin an evidence of its paternity, and
it was precisely on this account that Hasseena wished to defer making
any declaration until the event came off. If she elected to declare
Idris the father, and the child at birth gave the lie to her statement,
her life would be in danger; but before continuing the narrative,
and detailing the complications which Hasseena’s condition and her
uncertainty on a vital point gave rise to—it might be well to refer
briefly to one of the moral code of laws instituted by the Mahdi, as
this will help the reader to a better understanding of the quandary we
were placed in.

While a man, having already the regulation quota of four legal wives,
might crowd his hareem with as many female slaves and concubines as
he could support or keep in order, a woman was restricted to the one
husband or master. All breakings of our seventh commandment were, if
proved, followed by flogging in the case of unmarried women and slaves,
and by the stoning to death of married women; but, in the latter case,
_the sentence could not be given, nor the punishment inflicted, unless
the woman confessed_. Very few stonings to death took place, and these
were in the earlier days of Mahdieh, when religious fanaticism held
sway. |137|

The flogging has already been described. When a stoning to death was to
take place, a hole was dug in the ground, and the woman buried to her
neck in it. The crowd stood facing the victim, about fifteen to twenty
yards distant, and on a given signal the stoning commenced; but it is
only right to say that the Soudanese themselves hated and feared taking
part in such an execution. None of the stones thrown had, singly, the
force or weight to cause stunning or death, and the horrid spectacle
was presented of what appeared to be a trunkless head, slightly jerking
backwards and forwards and from side to side to avoid the stones being
hurled at it, and this ordeal continued for an hour or more. Sometimes
a relative or friend, under pretence of losing his temper in upbraiding
or cursing the woman, smashed in her head with one of the small axes
usually carried by the Soudanese, thus putting her at once out of her
torture and misery. Shortly before sunset, the relatives and friends
would come out to take away the body and give it decent burial, for the
soul had fled, purified with the woman’s blood, to the next world.

Knowing what would be the result of a confession, it will be wondered
that any woman ever did confess; the number who did so is, admittedly,
small. In one of the three cases of stoning to death I know of, the
confession was extorted by torture, and the poor woman preferred the
horrible but certain death by the time the sun set, to the lingering
death she was enduring from day to day. Thousands of women were charged
with the breaking of this particular rule |138| or commandment of the
Mahdi, but almost all the charges were made by other women—and this,
too, out of sheer jealousy, not from any feeling of outraged morality.

I may now proceed with the narration of the quandary Hasseena had
placed us in, herself included. I had been kept chained and closely
confined for nineteen months, and was under Idris es Saier’s particular
supervision; Hasseena, during the same period, had been a servant in
his hareem, and also in his entire charge. If I claimed the paternity
of the child, the probabilities were that Idris would get into trouble
with the Khaleefa; if Idris claimed it, his head might be in danger,
for decapitation or hanging was the punishment ordered for the male
offender, and in all cases Hasseena was liable to flogging or stoning
to death. Again, if I claimed the paternity of the child, and there
were reasonable grounds after its birth to believe that the paternity
should be looked for in some other direction, and I knew that it should
be; then, while Idris would clear himself to the Khaleefa, I should
have been punished for lying to him, and Hasseena would be in the same
predicament as before.

I had inquiries made outside as to Hasseena’s movements when marketing,
and as to those whom she associated with, or went to see; being
satisfied, as a result of the inquiries, that the expected arrival
would be a shade lighter in colour than its mother, I, acting on the
advice of my prison friends, claimed the child as mine, thus leaving
Idris to get out of the thing as best he could. There was, as above
indicated, |139| a risk in my claiming the paternity, but it was
worth while running it. The Khaleefa, so my friends told me, would
now certainly release me from prison, as my wife and child would be
a guarantee for my good behaviour if released, and also guarantee me
against any escape, for to try and escape with a woman and baby made
success very problematical, while the woman would certainly hinder me
in any attempt to escape, when it could only result in the death of
herself and child. It was for this reason—to hinder escape—that the
Khaleefa kept his captives well supplied with wives, and showed his
displeasure very plainly if the expected results did not follow. But my
claiming the paternity did not please Idris, as it deprived him of all
chance of securing Hasseena for himself, and also left him at the mercy
of the Khaleefa for his neglect of duty in allowing Hasseena to come
near me, so he empanelled a jury of Soudanese matrons to inquire into
the affair.

At the time when Hasseena startled our little world with her
interesting condition, Omdurman was, and had been for some months,
almost depleted of its male population; the rumours of an expedition
(Stanley’s, to rescue Emin) had resulted in a considerable force being
sent to Equatoria. The army to attack Abyssinia had been in the field
for months, so also had the army which Wad Nejoumi was to lead a few
months later to its destruction at Toski.

A number of the ladies empanelled for the jury ought not, unless they
belonged to the Gawaamah tribe, to have been eligible for election, and
others, |140| under the circumstances, should have avoided publicity;
but here was an opportunity for them, and they were not going to miss
it. They came together to save themselves—not Hasseena or Idris—hence
the extraordinary verdict they gave: to the effect that it was not
only possible for a woman to be with child nineteen months—as Hasseena
presumably was, but for twenty-four months, while some hotly contested
for an extension of the time to years!

Idris had still another card to play; he averred that it was impossible
for the child to be mine, and he now swore it was not his. Then
Hasseena ought to be flogged and sent to prison; but as Idris would be
entrusted with the flogging himself, it was to be understood that he
was not going to damage his prospective property. It was now the turn
of those whom I remarked ought not to have been eligible for election
to the jury; the tales they told to account for their own interesting
condition are worthy of the best traditions of the “Thousand and One
Nights;” but, even if written, they would be less fit for translation
and publication than the originals of the famous tales. Idris now
appealed to the Kadi, who, after interviewing the jury, supported
their contentions, and related the whole story to the Khaleefa, much
to his amusement and the discomfiture of Idris; for, while graciously
sending me his congratulations on the coming event, he ordered the
unconditional release of Hasseena, who went to live in what might be
called the “Christian” quarter of the town.

In January the girl-child was born, and named |141| “Makkieh”
(shackles), a name which appealed to the humorous side of the Khaleefa,
who, being tickled at the idea of the name, in a fit of good-humour,
sent word to me to ask if I would undertake the manufacture of
gunpowder if he released me. I unfortunately replied that I did not
understand the manufacturing of it, and this aroused his suspicions,
which did not abate one jot when, shortly afterwards, a Bohemian
baker, who had strayed from Halfa, was taken prisoner, and sent on
to Omdurman as a captured spy. This man, whom I knew only by the
name of Joseppi—though he had a string of other names, which I have
forgotten—was a Bohemian by birth and a baker by trade. He was not of
strong intellect, and what intellect he had, had maybe been impaired by
a “music madness.” From the rambling statements he made to me during
his year’s imprisonment, I gather that he had tramped Europe as a
wandering musician, landing finally in Egypt, where he tramped from
the Mediterranean to the frontier. It is quite evident that instead
of coppers he received drinks in exchange for his strains, and this
further added to his mental troubles, though the drunkenness he has
been charged with was, in my opinion, more the result of circumstances
and misfortune than a natural craving for ardent liquors.

On leaving Wadi Halfa, he had expected to find, as he had found in
Europe and the part of Egypt he had tramped through, villages or towns
within the day’s tramp. He had not the slightest idea of what the
desert was until he found himself in it. After some days of wandering,
during which he eat pieces of his |142| worn-out boots in lieu of
other food, he struck the Nile, and, wandering along, ignorant of
the direction he was taking, he came upon a party of dervishes, whom
he tried to communicate with, and after, by gesticulations, showing
them that he wanted bread or food, he commenced to “soothe the savage
breast” with strains from his violin. They took him prisoner, destroyed
his instrument, and sent him on to Omdurman as a spy. On arrival there,
he was ushered into the presence of the Khaleefa, who was undecided as
to whether he had a madman or an actor to deal with, for on dates being
brought for Joseppi to eat, he threw them about, and then lay flat on
his face. He was sent to prison and heavily chained; in the process of
having his chains and bars fitted, he fainted away.

[Illustration: Gaoler. Neufeld. Gaoler. Son of Fauzi Pasha. Fauzi Pasha.

MEAL-TIME IN THE SAIER.]

Joseppi was in my charge for about one year, and while being as
harmless as a child, he caused me endless trouble. During the day he
would remain perfectly quiet, but at night-time he would insist upon
singing or humming. As his tunes had neither beginning nor end, and
were composed of notes snatched from here and there, we soon tired
of it, and Joseppi received a light flogging on one occasion for not
“shutting his mouth” when requested to do so. I remonstrated with him
after he had been flogged, and told him that he should not continue to
hum after other prisoners had asked him to keep quiet. He ruminated
over this, and thinking, maybe, at the moment that I was taking the
part of the others against him, he went off to the Saier, and told
him |143| confidentially that I was a great and well-known general
in Europe, and a few other things. Joseppi had an enormous appetite,
and was always hungry; he caused me a great deal of trouble during the
worst days of the famine, when food was so scarce, for after sharing
my scanty meal, he would wander off and pester every group for a scrap
of food. Eventually, we had to provide three bowls for him; just when
our food came in, we handed him his bowls, and thus were allowed a few
moments’ peace. We had finished our meal before he had finished his
food, so that our group, at least, was free of his importunities. He
came to grief through eating pieces of camel-skin, which the gaolers
used to sell to the poorer prisoners during the famine.

Fearing that he would die in the prison, I sent word to the “Christian”
quarter, asking that the Khaleefa should be prayed to release Joseppi,
which was done, and he found congenial employment for a time in the
bakery of Youssef Sawar. Soon afterwards, he borrowed a few dollars
here and there for the purpose of buying grain at El Fun; he started
off dressed in a new jibbeh, carrying his dollars, and a well-stocked
basket of provisions for his two days’ journey. At the very moment when
Wad Adlan was pleading with the Khaleefa to release me from prison, so
that I could assist him in the work of the Beit-el-Mal, a deputation
of the captives arrived at the door of the house to tell the Khaleefa
that Joseppi must have escaped, as he should have been back in Omdurman
some days ago. Turning to Wad Adlan, |144| the Khaleefa said, “El
boomi mahhgaad—Abdulla Neufeld ogud? Khallee ossbur.” (“The fool did
not stop—when he had the chance to escape. Will Neufeld? Let him wait a
bit.”) This was the second time the poor fellow had cost me my liberty.
There is no doubt that the man was murdered for the sake of his food or
money, for his remains were found later, on the road between Khartoum
and El Fun.



|145|

CHAPTER XII

IBRAHIM WAD ADLAN


A favourable opportunity here presents itself for referring to that
little-written-about, and, therefore, little-known strange character in
Mahdieh—Ibrahim Wad Adlan, the Amin Beit-el-Mal. Maybe in no one else
did he confide as he confided in me while we were fellow-prisoners,
and maybe he did so only because he knew that I was an avowed enemy
of Mahdieh, that I was at the time defying the Khaleefa to do his
worst against me, and that my interests lay elsewhere than in the
Soudan. There was also a lurking suspicion that I had been sent up as
a Government emissary, and that the letter of General Stephenson was
purposely couched in the language it was, so that, if it fell into the
hands of the Khaleefa, he would be led to believe that I had started
upon a trading expedition pure and simple. The friendship formed during
the two or three months, which Adlan and I spent as fellow-prisoners,
was to end in the not least interesting of my experiences, but it also
ended in a tragedy.

Wad Adlan, prior to the Mahdist revolt, had been |146| one of the
principal and richest merchants in Kordofan. His business connections
had taken him a number of times to Cairo and other parts of Egypt.
For intelligence, and as a man of the world, he was far and away
superior to all the “great” people who from time to time became my
fellow-prisoners; I should be inclined to place him on a higher level
than the best of the old Government officials; he read and wrote well,
and, as will be seen later, he was not deficient in certain qualities
which go far towards making a successful Oriental diplomatist. To
the end he was loyal to the core to the old Government, but he was
compelled to act a part—and well he acted it. Had there been one more
Adlan in the Soudan—and many had the opportunity of being such—the
rule of Abdullahi would have ended with the insurrection of Khaleefa
Shereef. That insurrection just missed being successful, but it was
through no fault of Adlan. Carefully and secretly he had paved the way
to it, but his task ended when he had paved the way; it was for others
to take the goal.

Adlan was the one man in the Soudan who had the courage of his
opinions, and expressed them to Abdullahi; he was a man himself,
acted as one, and despised heartily those who, in his opinion, were
carrying their obedience to the confines of servility. Failing to
induce Abdullahi to rule with some little semblance of justice and
equity, as laid down in the Quoran, he set about to undermine his
influence and power, but he had to carry out his work by subterfuge,
and single-handed. There were, he told me, a number |147| of people he
would have wished to take into his confidence, but some he was afraid
might betray him, and the others he could not trust with the little
discretion they could boast of. He feared they might unwittingly let
slip a few words prematurely, and then his and their tongues would be
silenced for ever.

As the director of the Beit-el-Mal, his first care was to keep the
treasury and granaries full to repletion. During the famine this was
an impossibility, but some grain and money had to be procured from
somewhere. The poor, and those who had come by their little stores
honestly, Adlan never made a call upon; indeed, he was the protector
of the poor and the Muslimanieh (captive Christians). It was Adlan’s
policy to create enemies of Abdullahi, so that was another reason for
his protecting the poor, who were already bitter enemies of their
savage ruler. On reporting to Abdullahi the depleted condition of the
treasury and granaries—and Abdullahi was aware that the doors of the
Beit-el-Mal and Adlan’s house were besieged night and day by thousands
of starving wretches—Adlan would be given a verbal order to search
for grain and bring it into the Beit-el-Mal. This order he would put
into immediate execution against Abdullahi’s particular friends and
adherents, for the whole of their stores were the proceeds of robbery,
and the plundering and murdering of weaker tribes and people. To all
remonstrances Adlan would reply that he was carrying out Abdullahi’s
orders, and every one knew that disobedience to these, or any attempt
to evade them, meant summary execution. Occasionally some |148|
“strong” man would enter a mild protest to the Khaleefa himself, who
would feign ignorance of having given any general orders to Adlan.
Adlan would be summoned, but, questioned as to his actions in the
presence of the complainant, he dare not reply that he had but obeyed
the general orders given him; he would be obliged to answer in such a
way that the “strong” man would believe that he had acted upon his own
initiative. After the audience, the “strong” man would follow Adlan to
the Beit-el-Mal, and demand the return of his grain and dollars; but
Adlan had distributed all on the Khaleefa’s orders—which the registers
proved, as nothing might leave the Beit-el-Mal without his sanction.
The “strong” man now was undecided as to whether Abdullahi was playing
with him or not, but his safest plan was to intrigue against Adlan. In
this he would be helped might and main by Yacoub, Abdullahi’s brother,
and the bitterest enemy of Adlan, for Yacoub, as the Emir of Emirs
(prince of princes), was insane with jealousy at the hold which Adlan
had on the masses. The respect and veneration paid to Adlan Yacoub
considered himself entitled to by virtue of his position and rank.

It may, or may not, be the case that Abdullahi himself was growing
jealous of Adlan. As Khaleefa, his power was so absolute that he could
remove any dangerous person by a suggestive motion of the hand, so
that when he sent Adlan into prison for a time, it was, in Adlan’s
opinion, only to appease his enemies, to prevent any wavering in
their allegiance, and to |149| stem the rapidly approaching tide of
discontent. But Adlan’s committal to the Saier left a clear field for
his enemies to intrigue against him, and being kept informed of every
charge made, and the Khaleefa’s varying moods towards him, Adlan saw
serious danger ahead.

Reports reached us that the Beit-el-Mal was in sore straits, and that
the Khaleefa had already expressed his intention of reinstating Adlan
if matters did not improve. Then it was that Adlan unbosomed himself
to me practically unreservedly. Gradually, but surely, he gave me to
understand that if ever he was reinstated he would do all in his power
to secure my release, and he so often told me _not_ to attempt flight,
if I was released, that I saw clearly he meant to assist me in doing
so. As the Beit-el-Mal went from bad to worse, Adlan’s spirits rose,
and he appealed to me to advise him what to do in the event of his
being reinstated. He saw that for a time, at least, he should have to
abandon his old policy, and he did not know in what direction he might
turn to revive the fallen fortunes of the treasury and granary.

Trading had been permitted to a certain extent, so I suggested its
extension, but Adlan at first would not hear of this. Abdullahi’s
purpose was to keep the Soudan as much a _terra incognita_ as possible,
and the further opening up of trade routes would defeat this object. My
next suggestion was that the Beit-el-Mal should hand over to merchants
gum, ivory, feathers, etc., at a fixed rate, to be bartered against
specified articles required at Omdurman, which, being received |150|
into the Beit-el-Mal to be distributed from there, would allow of it
making double profits on the transactions. At first he scouted the
idea, for there was not a single man he could trust, and if he gave
merchants any goods and they did not return with the proceeds of their
barter, Adlan would be held responsible. It was then I suggested that
he should only advance goods to people who had families in Omdurman,
which would ensure their returning; but he foresaw that the Khaleefa
would raise objections, as these people might give information to the
Government. As a matter of fact, they did do so eventually, returning
to Omdurman and giving to Abdullahi as incorrect information of the
Government as they had given the Government concerning him and affairs
in the Soudan.

In the end, I drove home my point by falling into figurative language,
a means of argument as general and effective in the East now as it was
in ancient days. “Adlan,” I said, “you have been feeding Abdullahi on
his own flesh; he is sick, but he is hungry; you have cut all the flesh
from his bones; if you try to feed him on his bones, he will kill you,
for he wants flesh to eat; you must cut flesh from some one else to
feed him, and cover his bones again.” Adlan then jumped at the idea of
trading, and said that as soon as his release came—for he felt sure
he would be released—he would ask the Khaleefa to release me so that
I might assist him in the work. The first essential, though, he told
me, was to abandon my present attitude towards Mahdieh, and offer to
become a Muslim. |151| I agreed to do so, and Adlan reported to the
Saier, who in turn reported to the Kadi, that I was willing to embrace
the faith. “What,” said the Kadi, “Abdalla Nufell a Muslim? No, his
heart is the old black one; he is not with us; he is deceiving; his
brain (head) is still strong; he is a deceiver; tell him so from me.”
The Kadi had not forgotten my old discussions with him in the presence
of others, where he perhaps had the worst of it, and would not forgive
me. Failing my “conversion,” he knew that I should have to suffer the
tortures of the Saier, and he intended that I should suffer them. Soon
after this, Adlan was released and reinstated in his old post; but he
sent word that I must be patient, as he could not speak to the Khaleefa
about me until he had got back fully into favour.

I should have mentioned before, that on the Khaleefa asking for designs
for the proposed tomb of the Mahdi, Kadi Hanafi and others suggested
that I should prepare designs in the hope they would be accepted, when
I should have to be released to see to their execution. Remembering the
old tombs of the Khaliffs at Cairo, I had little difficulty in drawing
a rough sketch of one, which I had submitted to Abdullah, as being an
entirely original design. I was told by the Saier to make a clay model,
and spent some three weeks in making one about two feet high. Hundreds
came to see it, until it was knocked to pieces by a presumed fanatic,
who objected to a dog of an unbeliever designing the tomb of the holy
man; but from what I learned later, it was only kicked to |152| pieces
after it had been copied. Adlan, knowing of this incident, sent me
word to prepare designs for the mural decorations of the interior,
and I spent some weeks over these; when they were finished, I sent
them direct to the Khaleefa, who sent for Adlan, and told him to make
inquiries as to how long the transfer of the designs to the walls would
take, and how much the work would cost. I gave an estimate of sixty
days for the completion of the work. Adlan said the cost would be nil,
as he had the paint.

While these designs were being sketched out, I made preparations for
flight as soon after my expected release as possible, and having paper
and ink in comparative abundance, I was enabled to write letters
surreptitiously. On October 12, 1888, I sent my servant to a Greek
captive, asking him to write me a letter in Greek to my old friend,
Mankarious Effendi, station-master at Assouan. The original letter is
before me, and the following is a literal translation:―

 “Mr. Neufeld has asked me to write this letter because he could not
 write it himself; you cannot know what a difficult position he is in;
 since he came here he was taken twice to the gallows, but was not
 hanged, and is still in chains, and subject to their mercy. He wants
 you to take over his business, and to act forthwith as his agent. He
 borrowed from the bearer a hundred medjedie (dollars), which refund
 to him, and give him something for his trouble, and try and send him
 back with two hundred pounds which he might buy his liberty for. This
 letter is to be kept secret, as there are people who carry all news
 here, so if the authorities got to know anything about it Mr. Neufeld
 will grow from bad to worse.

 (Signed) “NIROGHOPOLO.”

On November 10, 1888, hearing that another old |153| acquaintance
was in Omdurman, I got another Greek captive to write another letter
to Mankarious Effendi. This letter also was delivered, and Mankarious
Effendi hands it to me along with a number of other documents which he
has carefully preserved. I again translate literally―

 “MR. MANKARIOUS BEY,―

 “I wish you will be kind, and have all my things made over to you by
 Mr. Möller (my manager), and I pray you to act as my wakeel (agent);
 also please try and send me some money which I may help myself with,
 say two hundred or three hundred pounds; this money will be for my own
 use. As I was in need, I have taken from the bearer a sum of a hundred
 medjedie, which you will refund him and something as well, because he
 has done me a favour, and his name is Akkar (the real name—Karrar,
 was doubtless purposely changed). The money you can give the bearer
 of this, please take a receipt for and keep it with you; write me a
 letter, and send it to Ahmad Abou Idris, or his brother Kabbassi, and
 mention the sum you have sent me; also give bearer any assistance he
 may want.

 (Signed) “PROTHOMOS” (I am ready).

I had heard from people who had come to Omdurman of strange doings
in connection with my business, and in order that my manager should
understand that the letter was authentic, I also signed the letter, and
used our cypher for payment of £200—“u.r.r.”

While in a fever of excitement and anxiety over the despatch of these
messengers, Adlan sent me a secret messenger to say that Sulieman
Haroun, of the Ababdeh tribe, then living at Omdurman, was sending his
son Mohammad Ali to Cairo. Divining that Adlan wished me to communicate
with Sulieman, I sent out word that I wished to see him. In a few
|154| days’ time he gained admittance to the prison to see me, and
I at once set to business, and asked him if he would undertake the
arrangements for my escape. This he agreed to do, but only on condition
that I succeeded in getting outside the prison walls. So that he should
have some confidence that I would assist also, I asked him to call
and see Adlan, and I believe it was Adlan who advanced to Sulieman
the two hundred dollars he brought me, and for which I gave a receipt
for £100. I gave him a letter for his son to deliver to my manager at
Assouan, enclosing a receipt for £100, and an order for payment of a
further £200. On receiving the money, he was to buy goods, arrange for
relays of camels on his return journey, and bring the goods to the
Beit-el-Mal, where Adlan assured him he would find me. Mohammad Ali was
to leave immediately, and return to Omdurman at the earliest possible
moment.

[Illustration: MOUSSA DAOUD EL KANAGA.]

Within a few days of the despatch of this messenger, Moussa
Daoud-el-Kanaga, also of the Ababdeh tribe, and an old acquaintance
of mine, came to see me, and I enlisted his services. I told him of
the other arrangements I had made, and asked if he would go partners
with Mohammad Ali in effecting my escape. To Kanaga I gave a letter
telling my manager that I had drawn against him a draft for £200, and
instructing him to honour it; but, in case of accidents, I instructed
Kanaga to see Mankarious Effendi at Assouan, and, failing to find him,
to make his way to Cairo, and hand the letter to the German Consul.
Kanaga left Omdurman about December 30, 1888. |155|

After my remarks anent the _reliable unreliability_ of every one in
the Soudan, the deceptions practised one against the other, and the
absolute necessity for secrecy, it will naturally be wondered that I
entrusted my secret to so many, if secret it could be called when so
many knew of it. The explanation is simple. I _knew_ the people I had
to deal with, and have you noticed the seemingly insignificant fact
that I _borrowed money from each of the people I employed_? Later in my
narrative I will explain these peculiar transactions.

While these different messengers are on their journeys, being “held
up” at one place or the other, and at others pretending that they were
gradually working their way to Berber or Dongola for trade, I relate
what is happening in Omdurman.

News filtered through that the “faithful” had won a great victory over
the English at Suakin; but as the Saier filled with prisoners who
were present at the fight, and who gave different versions to that
ordained by Abdullahi—hence their imprisonment—we learned the truth.
The “faithful” had received a severe defeat. Soon after this, the army
sent against Abyssinia won its great victory over the forces led by
King John, and the fortunes of the Beit-el-Mal took a turn for the
better from the proceeds of the sale of slaves and the loot brought
in. Adlan was coming into favour again, but Abdullahi was too much
occupied in goading on Nejoumi to attack Egypt to give any attention
to the decoration of the Mahdi’s tomb or the extension of trade. He
was still less inclined to give |156| any attention to such matters,
when the news arrived—and it arrived very soon,—that Nejoumi’s army had
been almost annihilated at Toski. My evil star was certainly in the
ascendant, and was mounting higher and higher, for it was at this time
that Joseppi received a flogging for his vocal exercises, and having
a severe fit of mental aberration in consequence, he went off to the
Saier, and told him that he knew I was a great military general, and
that I was maturing plans for the overthrow of Abdullahi. I do not for
a moment believe the poor fellow knew what he was saying, for he came
back to share my scanty meal as usual.

Kanaga and Mohammad Ali we had calculated would reach Omdurman some
time in December or the early days of January, and as the time for
their return approached, Adlan evidently became more earnest in his
entreaties for the work of decorating the Mahdi’s tomb to be put in
hand. My flight would have to take place as soon as possible after the
return of my messengers, otherwise the desert relays would disperse,
believing that the scheme had fallen through; so it was necessary that
I should have been at work for some time before their arrival, that is
to say, long enough for my guards to grow lax in watching my movements.

Day after day Adlan sent in to inquire, “Have you any news from the
Khaleefa?” and each day the messenger took back my reply, “No; have
you?” but my inquiry referred to news of the messengers. At last the
joyful news came; the work was to be done, and two guards came to the
Saier, |157| and conducted me to the Mahdi’s tomb. There I discovered
that my clay model had been faithfully copied, with the exception that
the builders had shaped the dome conically. Adlan came to me there,
and congratulated me on this being my last day in makkiehs (chains).
Telling me to remain at the tomb until his return, he went off to the
Khaleefa to receive his order for my transfer to the Beit-el-Mal,
and at the very moment he was receiving it, the deputation of the
Muslimanieh put in its appearance to report the disappearance of
Joseppi. I was hurried back to prison, and an extra makkieh fitted to
me. How I cursed Joseppi, but I did not know then that the poor fellow
had been murdered. It was not long after this when I saw Adlan brought
into the prison, heavily weighted with chains, and taken to a hut some
distance from all the others, the prisoners being forbidden to approach
or speak to him.

During the night, on pretence of going to the place of ablution, I
shuffled towards his hut, and when a few yards distant, lay on the
ground and wriggled close up, stretching my chains to prevent their
rattling and attracting the notice of the guards. Asking in a whisper,
“What has happened?” he replied in a startled voice, “Imshee, imshee
(go away, go away), do not speak to me; a big dog has me by the leg
this time; go away, or he will get your leg.” I tried again to learn
what was the matter, but Adlan’s entreaties for me to go away were
so earnest that I wriggled off, and gained my hut without being
discovered. Soon afterwards Adlan’s slave boy, when |158| walking past
my hut, said, “Do not speak to my master; if you do, you will hear
the ombeyeh.” The whole night through the boy passed backwards and
forwards between Adlan’s hut and his house outside. Asked as to what he
was doing, he gave the same reply each time I put a question to him,
“Burning papers; do not speak to my master.” I had learned from Adlan
that he had been in communication with “friends,” and understanding
from him that, in the event of my ever returning to Egypt, I was to
be his “friend at court” with the Government, I suspected that he
was destroying all evidences which might be used against himself
and others. That the Khaleefa himself had received word of some
correspondence is evident from the rage he exhibited when Adlan’s house
was searched, and no incriminating documents found. Idris es Saier
nearly lost his head over the matter, for the Khaleefa accused him of
having assisted Adlan in disposing of the papers in some way.

On the morning of the third or fourth day of Adlan’s imprisonment, we
saw him led out of his hut bound, and taken to the anvil to have his
chains struck off. We all knew what this meant—an execution, but most
of us believed that the Khaleefa was only doing this to frighten Adlan,
and impress him with this evidence of his power. We were not allowed to
approach him, but Adlan called out, “This is my day; have no fear, any
of you. I am a man. I shall say and do nothing a man need be ashamed
of. Farewell.” While extra chains were being fitted to |159| my
ankles, the ombeyehs were announcing the death of Adlan. The mourning
for his death was general, but few if any knew the reasons which
actuated the Khaleefa in ordering his execution. Maybe the fugitive
Khaleefa himself only knows, but it is possible I can throw a little
light on the matter. To coin a word, Adlan had been “Gordonized;” about
the time of the anniversary of Gordon’s death, Adlan met with his, and
while waiting for that help which, as will be seen, started “too late.”



|160|

CHAPTER XIII

THE TRUE HISTORY OF MY ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE


If I am wearying my readers with this long-drawn-out episode, which
never seems to draw to a close, I may ask their forgiveness on the
ground that weeks have been spent in collecting the links which were
scattered between Europe and Omdurman, and without the links complete
the tale might, and very reasonably so, have been disbelieved.

The messengers I despatched with the first letters quoted, arrived
in Assouan some time in January or February, 1889, and delivered the
letters to Mankarious Effendi, who at once wrote to my manager, as he
had sold up my business, and left for Alexandria. Receiving no reply,
Mankarious Effendi wrote to the German Consulate at Alexandria, who, on
March 4, replied as follows:―

 “Alexandria, March 4, 1889.

 “MANKARIOUS EFFENDI RIZK, Assouan,―

 “In reply to your letter of February 18 last, I am very sorry to
 inform you that the agent of Mr. Charles Neufeld, the Mahdi’s captive
 in the Soudan, Mr. Möller has shown that he cannot help Mr. Neufeld
 in any way. It is rumoured here that the house established by Mr.
 Möller for Mr. Neufeld has refused payments for |161| some months
 back, therefore Mr. Möller finds it quite impossible to send to Mr.
 Neufeld any sum unless he refuses many payments to numerous creditors
 who claim any amounts from Mr. Neufeld’s house. Mr. Möller was called
 to this Consulate, and directed to give a full statement as to his
 proceedings in the said house, and how the latter stands, and on doing
 so, it was found that Mr. Möller has done nothing wrong, and we have
 therefore nothing to say against Mr. Möller.

 “But as regards the £500 deposited in the Credit Lyonnais by Mr.
 Neufeld before his departure to the Soudan, Mr. Möller has shown
 receipts for over £400 paid to creditors, and the rest was spent
 as travelling expenses between here and Assouan, and for the
 establishment of the new house in Alexandria. Still Mr. Möller has
 asked Abd-el-Kader Bey, who came recently back from the Soudan, to
 advise him as to the way in which he could send him a sum of money.
 Abd-el-Kader Bey’s advice, however, was that no money should be sent
 to Mr. Neufeld, because the latter cannot make use of money there.
 Abd-el-Kader Bey stated, further, that Mr. Neufeld was then in chains,
 and was only induced by his guards to ask for money. He was then very
 much threatened and ill-treated by them. This is all about the case
 now which I lay before your notice.

 “(Signed) The German Consul,

 “HELWIG.”

At the same time, my manager, on my own letter-paper, sent the
following:―

 “Alexandria (undated).

 “After salaams, etc., yours to hand and details notified. In reply, I
 inform you that I presented myself at the German Consulate, and found
 a letter from you addressed to the Consulate, stating therein that Mr.
 Neufeld had written to you to the effect that he claims £500 from me,
 although I had paid this sum to creditors who claimed sums from Mr.
 Neufeld. I have sent goods to Halfa and Assouan, the value of which I
 have not yet received. I inform you further that Nicola Lutfalla has
 sold the dahabieh, the horse, and the donkeys, and did not send me the
 price of same, |162| though he sold these without any permission from
 me. Consequently I wrote to him to send me the account or the money,
 yet nothing of the kind was received from him.

 “Will you kindly arrange to sell all the goods in charge of Nicola,
 because he wrote me saying that he was ill, and can neither buy nor
 sell; so kindly sell the things and forward the money in order to
 cover the claims (_i.e._ the sums advanced to me by my guides, and the
 money I had asked for).

 “Please also have a complete list made by Nicola, showing all the
 things he sold, and let me have this list, making thereby the thing
 clear, otherwise I shall have to take measures through the Government.

 “Regarding our two houses in Assouan, will you kindly let them for any
 rent, from which you will pay the taxes. Should they be vacant now,
 please look after them, and send people each week to keep them clean.
 They should always be kept locked. Should anything remain what cannot
 be sold, keep it for Mr. Neufeld, and any letter you write me, please
 address to Mr. Möller, Mr. Neufeld’s agent in Alexandria, and oblige.

 (Signed) “MÖLLER.

 “N.B.—Ask Nicola for account as well.”

While this correspondence was being conducted, another of my messengers
arrived, and again Mankarious Effendi wrote to the Consulate, receiving
the following in reply:―

 “Alexandria, March 12, 1889.

 “A previous letter, dated March 4, was sent you. On the same date a
 letter was received from you. You may be sure that what Mr. Wilhelm
 Möller says is quite true, that is that Mr. Neufeld is no longer a
 German subject nor _protégé_, because during his stay in Egypt Mr.
 Neufeld has never claimed the protection of Germany, where he was
 born. Thus he has lost his nationality. This is according to what
 we learn from the parties interested in Germany. Upon this, this
 Consulate can in no way look into the affairs of Mr. Neufeld nor
 protect his rights, except to punish Mr. Möller should he have done
 anything to be punished for, as we |163| stated to you in our letter
 of March 4th. But the investigations made in our Consulate show
 clearly that Mr. Möller has done nothing wrong for which he ought to
 be punished.

 “Should you, however, think it necessary, with reference to Mr.
 Neufeld’s two letters, which are returned herewith, to have his
 business made over to you, this step should be taken before the Mixed
 Tribunals, if Mr. Möller refuses to make over to you Mr. Neufeld’s
 business willingly.

 “As regarding the testament made by Mr. Neufeld, which you sent to
 this consulate on October 23, 1887, this was first kept in this
 consulate, and then, when Mr. Neufeld’s wife came here in September,
 1888, she asked for it, as it had been reported that Mr. Neufeld was
 dead. This testament was then sent to the Governor of Alexandria as
 the one concerned, to which Mrs. Neufeld had to refer as a local
 subject. So the Governor opened the testament, and handed it to Mrs.
 Neufeld, who is still in possession of it. Mr. Möller has now removed
 his business to Cairo, where he intends to get married. Salaams.

 (Signed) “The German Consul,

 “HELWIG.”

Mankarious would have entered an action to secure my property, but
the argument had been used that the letters were not written by
me, and that perhaps I did not know their real contents. He did
not know, nor did the Consulate in a later incident know, that the
small Latin characters written by me on these letters proved their
genuineness, as they were the “cash code” I had used with my manager
in business telegrams. Mankarious sent Mohammad Ali back to Omdurman
with my discredited bill, and with verbal messages that he would do
all in his power to raise monies for my escape. While he was making
arrangements, Moussa Daoud-el-Kanaga, who had spent some time on the
road ingratiating himself with |164| the people whose assistance we
should require in our flight, put in his appearance, and learning how
matters stood, without confiding in Mankarious or Mohammad Ali, came
on to Cairo, in the hope that he would be able to get the money on the
strength of the letter that I had given him, for, as he admits, he
wanted all the glory and all the profit for himself.

I continue the history from the sworn statement of Kanaga, taken
before a lawyer and in the presence of witnesses who could vouch for
the greater part of it. I admit I was myself a little incredulous, but
Kanaga has since backed up his statement by producing two documents,
the authenticity of which cannot for a moment be called into question,
while two are actually recorded _in extenso_ in the registers of the
German Consulate. Kanaga, according to his statement, on arrival at
Cairo, presented the letter addressed to my manager, at the German
Consulate, delivering at the same time my verbal messages. By the
German Consulate he was taken to the Austrian Consulate-General, who,
after hearing his news, sent a consular official with him to the War
Office, where he related his story.

[Illustration: MANKARIOUS EFFENDI WITH GUIDES.]

It is quite evident that Count Wass, the Austrian Consul-General,
believed that Kanaga would be assisted to start back immediately on
the proposed expedition, for he entrusted him with an autograph letter
dated Sunday, October 27, 1889, addressed to Slatin, asking Slatin to
request the Khaleefa to reply to the message sent him by the Emperor of
Austria concerning the Austrian Mission captives. Kanaga |165| was
put off time after time on the grounds that no reply had been received
to the letter he had delivered. Losing patience, he returned to Assouan
and made up a caravan on his own account, and, when all was ready,
returned to Cairo to report that all arrangements were complete. He was
again passed from one to the other, and on April 26, 1890, he presented
himself for the last time at the German Consulate, and being told that
there was “no reply,” he demanded a certificate to the effect that he
had delivered my letter, but had not received any monies in connection
with it, when a signed and sealed certificate was given him.[8]

    [8] “Attestation. At the special request of Moussa
    Daoud-el-Abadi (Ababdeh), this is to certify that the above on
    October 22, 1889, brought to the Imperial Consulate a letter
    addressed to William Möller Assouan, and said to be from
    Charles Neufeld. This is to certify also that the said letter
    to Mr. Möller was sent to Mr. Neufeld’s father, but up to the
    present no monies have been received in respect of it. Signed,
    Becker.”

    The letter itself was copied into the Consular registers G. 48,
    p. 385, and the following is a translation of the contents:―

    “William Möller Assouan. Three days ago I sent to you
    Mohammad Ali with a letter and receipt for £100. Do not make
    any difficulties about payment, and give him as much money as
    possible according to the letter I have sent you. He is a sure
    man, and I hope he will be the go-between between me and you
    after this, and there shall be reward for it. I have agreed
    with him that he shall receive 25 per cent. of the amount you
    give him for his services. With the other man mentioned in
    his letter and mentioned here, you might act as you like, but
    do not make any difficulties to him. I hope I shall be able
    to buy my liberty after his return, and then all expenses
    shall be rewarded. I have sent to you up to now.” . . . The
    Consulate omitted to register the names of the guides sent,
    and left the space blank. The certified copy of this letter
    also states that the letter contained certain Latin characters
    which were undecipherable; these, again, were my ‘cash code’
    to my manager, proving the authenticity of the letters and
    guaranteeing the contents. On the back of the letter was
    written, ‘Pay to Moussa Daoud-el-Kanaga the sum of £30
    received. Dated December 5, 1888.’”

Kanaga concealed the Consular certificate and the letter for Slatin
in his jibbeh, and set off for Omdurman. On nearing Berber he was met
by a dervish patrol, taken prisoner, and hurried before the Mahdist
Governor of the town. There he was confronted by two men who swore to
having seen him conversing with myself and Wad Adlan. This Kanaga did
not deny, but said that he had only spoken about trade, and that he
had permission to trade. The Governor told him it would be better to
tell the truth, for he had |166| received the news from Omdurman of Wad
Adlan having assisted him in arranging my escape, and had also received
news from Cairo of his visits to the War Office and the Consulates, and
knew that the goods he had with him were a blind to his real object in
going to Omdurman. But, continued the Governor, Adlan has been killed,
and Neufeld has more chains on him. No confession could be dragged
out of Kanaga, so he was flogged and thrown into prison, the Governor
confiscating his camels and property. After a short spell in prison,
Kanaga was set free and told to return to his own people. To have sent
him as a prisoner to Omdurman would have necessitated the Governor
sending at the same time the confiscated camels and goods, and as the
Governor wished to keep these for himself, the only way he could keep
them was by “forgiving” Kanaga, and releasing him. Kanaga lost no time
in making his way back to his people, but after this narrow escape, he
made no further efforts to penetrate into the Soudan, and the relation
of his experiences deterred every one else from attempting my escape.

In giving my narrative to the world—owing to the very evident attempts
made in certain quarters to discredit me—I have felt it incumbent upon
me not for my own sake, but for the sake of my mother, wife and child,
and relatives, to produce as far as lies in my power reliable evidence
that the slanders persistently circulated in the Press before and since
my release are only what I have characterized them to be. Therefore
none may cavil at the means I adopt for |167| the attainment of this
object provided those means are honest, however disagreeable the
process may eventually turn out to be for others.

In reply to the charges of refusing to escape from the Soudan, I
have, I venture to believe, brought together the links of the chain
of evidence in my favour up to the present period of my narrative.
Other evidences will be forthcoming in connection with incidents to
be treated of later. The letters I have quoted are ample proof that
from October, 1888, until April, 1890, my guides and myself were doing
all in our power to effect my escape. Meanwhile, the Intelligence
Department on March 10, 1890, are writing to my wife as follows:―

 “Mohammad Effendi Rafai, late Sub-Lieutenant, 4th Battalion, 5th
 Regiment, who left Khartoum three months ago, states he knew Neufeld
 very well, and saw him at Omdurman only a few days before he left.
 Neufeld had been under surveillance until about five months prior to
 this, but was now free. His release was owing to one of the Emirs
 representing to Abdullah Khalifa the great service Neufeld had been
 in enabling arms and ammunition to be taken from the Kabbabish at the
 time Neufeld was captured. He now was employed as one of the Khalifa’s
 mulazimeen, and received a small salary; the Khalifa gave him two
 wives, and treats him well. Neufeld has very little to complain of
 except want of funds, which renders living difficult, good food being
 very dear. He is frequently staying with Ibrahim Bey Fauzi, who
 has opened a small coffee-shop. It is untrue that the Khalifa ever
 threatened Neufeld’s life; he was only threatened with imprisonment
 unless he turned Mussulman. Does not think it possible that Neufeld
 can receive any letters, etc., from outside. Neufeld does not occupy
 himself in business in any way. Has never heard Neufeld express any
 wish to go away, but does not think he would be able to do so even if
 he wished it, as every one knows him.” |168|

In September, 1888, it had been reported to my wife that, having
made an attempt to escape, I had been recaptured, and taken back to
Omdurman and executed. It was therefore very kind and considerate of
the Intelligence Department to see the error rectified, but I venture
to think that the sweets of the good news need not have been converted
into gall and wormwood by telling her that I owed my release to my
“assistance” in betraying the caravan of the loyal Sheikh Saleh into
the hands of the dervishes. Even had there been any truth in such a
statement, I think that an English lady might have been spared this
unnecessary heart-pang. I thank God nightly—ay, hourly, that He has
brought me alive from the hell I lived in, to rescue my wife from the
hell she was thrown into with such reports as these.

It must not be imagined, from the foregoing, that there is the
slightest intention on my part to cast aspersions on the War Office
or the Consulates. I place plain simple facts before you, and these
because at the time when I was anxiously awaiting the return of my
messengers, picturing to myself the efforts my friends were making to
ensure success—though, as has been seen, they were very differently
occupied—reports were being circulated that I refused to escape, and
my wife in consequence was the recipient of numberless letters of
sympathy, in which some were “praying to the Almighty to turn the heart
of your erring husband,” while others were expressing the hope that
the ties which bound her to me would soon be severed by my meeting my
deserts at the hands of the Khaleefa’s |169| executioner! Those who
prayed for me I thank; One who knew the truth, heard those prayers:
those who condemned me I do not blame, and feel no resentment against;
they merely believed what was communicated to the Press.



|170|

CHAPTER XIV

A PRISONER AT LARGE


The disappearance of Joseppi, followed by the death of Adlan, threw me
into a state of almost abject despair; there appeared to be no hopes
of my ever being released from the Saier, and after the replies given
by Abdullahi to Wad Adlan and the Muslimanieh when they interceded for
me, my friends outside evidently abandoned all hope also. But I was
to have an interesting fellow-prisoner whose deceptions on Abdullahi
and others were indirectly to lead to my release. It will take many
generations of Gordon College teachers to uproot the firm belief of
the Soudanese in “jinns” (spirits, sprites, and fairies) and in the
supernatural powers claimed to be possessed by certain communities
and individuals. Centuries of most transparent deceptions have not
shaken their belief, so that it was no wonder the Mahdi found many
imitators in the miracle-working line, and that these people found
thousands of believers. The more these charlatans failed in their
endeavours to produce powder from sand, lead from dust, and precious
metals from the baser ones, the more credence was given to the next
professing alchemist who came |171| along. A man named Shwybo of the
Fellati country (near Lake Chad), had driven a good trade in Omdurman
by inducing people to give him large copper coins to be converted into
silver dollars; he had offered his services to Wad Adlan, but as the
Beit-el-Mal had been mulcted in some thousands of dollars already by
people like him, Adlan refused to entertain any of his propositions.

On the death of Adlan, Shwybo offered his services to the Khaleefa,
and the Beit-el-Mal. The Kadi was instructed to inquire into his
pretensions; Shwybo professed to have power over the jinns who
converted copper into silver; a number of his dupes presented
themselves to the Kadi, and complained that Shwybo’s jinns had not only
not converted the coins given them to work upon, but had stolen the
coins into the bargain. Shwybo pleaded that the action of the jinns was
in consequence of the want of faith of the complainants, and to their
curiosity in trying to see the jinns at work; the jinns would never
work in the presence of strangers; no one but himself might be in the
place where the converting of the metals was in progress. Shwybo was
given about a hundred dollars’ worth of copper coins, and incense,
drugs, spices, etc., to a further value of nearly two hundred dollars,
which were taken from the Beit-el-Mal, and charged to the account of
the Kadi. The incense, drugs, and spices were to propitiate the angry
jinns; but to ensure their not being disturbed at work, the Kadi said
Shwybo had better carry out his experiments in the Saier where Idris
would see he was not interfered with. |172|

He was given a hut apart from the rest, where he set to at once
with his incantations and incense burning. Idris and a number of
the prisoners were invited to go and see the coins buried in the
ground—the jinns having been propitiated. A quarter of an hour’s
incantation was given, Shwybo speaking a language which must have been
as unintelligible to himself and his jinns as it was to us. A similar
incantation had to be given each day until noon on the following
Friday, as it was at this hour each week that the jinns finished off
any work they had in hand. On the Friday, at noon, we were asked to
go to Shwybo’s hut, and on the earth being removed, sure enough the
copper coins had disappeared, and silver dollars had replaced them!
The next Friday only part of the coins had been converted, when Shwybo
remembered that the jinns had not been fed, and must be hungry. They
had delicate tastes; asseeda they would not eat, so they were liberally
supplied with roast chickens, pigeons, white bread, milk, eggs, etc.
We were not permitted to see them eat, but we were allowed to see the
clean-picked bones and empty egg-shells! Something went wrong again,
for on the following Friday it was discovered that none of the coins
had been converted; evidently Shwybo had run through his stock of
dollars.

Idris, at the request of the Kadi, asked me my opinion of the whole
thing, as Shwybo wished to have another try. I replied that little
children in my country would not be deceived by such trickery, and
that if the Kadi wanted to spend his money on food, he had better buy
food for the starving women and children, and not |173| waste it on
supposed jinns. Whether my reply, or the conviction that he had been
duped angered him, I cannot say, but Shwybo received a severe flogging.
Not a cry escaped his lips; he laughed at the Saier, telling him to
strike harder. The flogging over, he told Idris that although his
silver-working jinns had flown off, and through no fault of his, his
gold-working jinns had come to his succour, and had interposed their
bodies between his and the lash. Idris, as I have already pointed
out, was the incarnation of superstition and credulity, and it was
only necessary for Shwybo to tell him that his faithful gold jinns
could convert lead into gold, to set Idris collecting dollars from the
prisoners on the Nebbi Khiddr account. With these he set up a special
laboratory for Shwybo in the house of Wad Farag, one of the gaolers—and
a reputed son of Idris. Shwybo was provided with a number of small
crucibles, two sets of Soudanese bellows, with a couple of slave boys
to work them, a quantity of lead and a number of packets of drugs and
powders from the Beit-el-Mal pharmacy. Farag was told to keep an eye on
him, and see that he did not purloin any of the gold when it appeared.

When the first lot of lead was melted, Shwybo drew Farag’s attention
to its reddish colour, proving that the conversion was taking place;
then Farag retired while Shwybo uttered another incantation; on being
called in again, and the cover being removed from the crucible, a
bright yellow mass was seen, from which strong fumes arose. Farag was
told to cover up the crucible quickly, which he did, and left the room
with |174| Shwybo to allow of the jinns completing their work and
cooling the metal. Farag went off to Idris and the Kadi, telling them
that the conversion of the lead to gold had actually taken place; that
he had seen the gold for himself. The Kadi was dubious, but as Idris
only was employing Shwybo on this work, he declined to come into the
prison to see the gold turned out. When it was believed that the work
was complete, Idris, Farag, and Shwybo proceeded to the laboratory, and
lo! the crucibles were found empty. Shwybo thereupon accused Farag of
having stolen the block of gold, and a pretty row ensued; the prison
and the prisoners were searched, and the gold not being found, Farag
was flogged to make him disclose its hiding-place. Shwybo essayed a
second attempt, but as Idris insisted upon remaining in the laboratory
from beginning to end, the jinns refused to work, and then Shwybo was
flogged. One would have thought that, after this, people would see
that Shwybo was duping them, but he continued to collect money for
conversion from the prisoners, and now and again was able to give to
an earlier dupe one or two dollars he had received from a later one.
Complaints were made against him though, and he received repeated
floggings to make him discontinue his frauds, dying in the prison as a
result.

It was while Shwybo was working away at his alchemistic frauds that
Hassan Zecki, an old Egyptian doctor, and then in charge of the medical
stores of the Beit-el-Mal, came into the Saier in connection with
the drugs being purchased on Shwybo’s account; Zecki had known me
by name for some time, for I had |175| in my practice as “medicine
man” frequently sent him notes for the medicines I required, and not
knowing the Arabic terms, I used the Latin names for such drugs as I
was acquainted with. From this, Zecki must have come to the conclusion
that I was a qualified chemist, and as at that time his assistant,
Said Abdel Wohatt was, and had been for some time, trying to extract
saltpetre in Khartoum and the neighbourhood, Zecki questioned me as to
its production in Europe, but I had to admit that I had only seen the
crystals obtained in the laboratory when at the University, and had no
experience of their production on a commercial scale. I told Zecki what
little I knew of testing the crystals, and you may imagine my surprise
when three days later I was summoned before Yacoub to explain the
manufacture of saltpetre.

The new Amin Beit-el-Mal—El Nur El Garfawi—came to the Saier after
sunset, and conducted me to Yacoub’s house. One thinks rapidly under
such circumstances, and by the time we reached Yacoub’s house I had
my tale thought out. I saw that if I declared that I could not do the
work I should not be believed, and would be flogged and have extra
irons placed on me for contumacy. To lead them on to believe that I
could manufacture saltpetre meant my release from prison. After a
long discussion with Yacoub, it was arranged that I was to construct
three large tanks, about six feet long and four feet high, in which
impregnated earth was to be mixed with water, and the solution drawn
off and allowed to |176| evaporate. Believing that I should be set to
make these tanks or reservoirs, I suggested them, as their construction
would necessitate the removal of my chains. The following morning I was
called to the anvil, the rings holding the heavy iron bar were cut and
forced open, and the heavy ankle-chain I was wearing was replaced by a
piece of light awning chain taken from one of Gordon’s steamers. I was
thankful even for this relief, as it removed a dead weight of fifteen
to twenty pounds of iron from my feet. Under an armed escort I was
taken to the Nile, where I found awaiting me the Emirs Yacoub, Ahmed
Fedeel—who is now causing trouble on the Blue Nile—Mohammad Hamad'na
Allah—Zobheir Pasha’s old Wakeel—and a party of thirty to forty workmen
with materials for the tanks. Whenever Abdullahi gave an order,
immediate execution of it followed.

I had existed in the vile-smelling Saier for nearly four years, and you
can imagine how I enjoyed the two hours on the river reaching Halfeyeh.
On arrival at this place, we were met by El Fiki Amin, a Fellati then
in charge of the works. He did not disguise his displeasure at my being
taken there, as he evidently considered it a slight upon himself.
He was extracting the saltpetre from mounds, mixing the earth and
water in pierced jars lined with fine matting, allowing the solution
to filter through, and then boiling it down to obtain the crystals;
his appliances were very primitive, but he was producing a very good
quality of saltpetre in “needles.” Yacoub ordered me to search the
ground for any deposits, and, coming |177| to a dark damp patch, I
tasted the earth, and, believing saltpetre to be present, I mixed
some of the earth with water, pouring off the solution into a small
coffeepot, and setting it to boil. More solution was added as the water
boiled away, and at the end of two hours I had a small deposit of a
thin syrupy consistence; pouring this upon a burnt brick, the moisture
was absorbed, leaving the crystals behind, and these on being placed
on hot charcoal burned away. I next took some of the earth, dried it,
and rubbing it fine, allowed it to fall in a thin stream on to the
fire; the “sissing” and occasional coloured sparks convinced them that
a valuable deposit had been discovered, and Hamad'na Allah was sent to
Omdurman to inform the Khaleefa.

During his absence, the Fellati told Yacoub that the burning of the
crystals was no proof that they were saltpetre; I was therefore told to
produce a quantity to be submitted to Zecki and the Greek Perdikaki,
the Khaleefa’s gunpowder manufacturer. Hassan Zecki came to Halfeyeh
to examine the crystals and declared them good; Perdikaki sent a Greek
employed with him, but he not being able to give an opinion, took the
crystals to Perdikaki, who sent me a message to the effect that they
were useless, but that rather than I should be sent back to prison
he would say they were good on condition I tried to produce further
quantities in “needles,” and not in grains. On Hassan Zecki presenting
his report to the Khaleefa, and telling him that I should have some
large pans sent out to me, he sent off |178| a number of large copper
boilers, and an officer’s camp bath. The latter must have been taken
from Khartoum or Hicks Pasha’s army. The Fellati grew very sullen,
and Yacoub, knowing that the Khaleefa was entirely dependent upon the
Fellatis—the only people who seemed to understand the extraction of the
saltpetre—rather than offend the man, asked me if I thought I could
not find deposits elsewhere. I suggested looking further north, but
this would not do. He wanted a place close to Omdurman—where I could
be watched. I then suggested Khartoum, but the Khaleefa would not at
first hear of my transfer there. What probably decided him was, that
when I had been two weeks at Halfeyeh, Hasseena came to tell me Makkieh
was dead, and the Khaleefa, hearing of the loss, and believing that
there was now nothing to hold me in the Soudan, agreed to the transfer
to Khartoum, as there a better watch could be kept upon me. I was not
sorry to leave Halfeyeh, for although the place offered every facility
for my escape, I saw that I had a jealous and bitter enemy in the
Fellati, who was then spying on my every movement. It was certain that
he would frustrate any plans I might make for flight, and suspicion
would have been aroused immediately if any of the guides came to me
there.

Hamad'na Allah was made director of the Khartoum saltpetre works!
Abdel Wohatt was his second, and I was to work under the orders of
Wohatt. On arrival at Khartoum, January, 1891, I was also placed in
charge of Khaleel Hassanein, the director of the arsenal, and all
three had to answer for me with |179| their lives. Wohatt was given
the chapel of the Mission as a house to live in; I was given one of
the priest’s rooms opposite the arches. Windows, doors, every scrap of
wood, metal, and ornaments had been taken from the place; it was almost
a complete ruin, but the garden had been kept in excellent condition,
its produce—dates, figs, oranges, limes, and vegetables—being sold
on account of the Beit-el-Mal. Wohatt, when arranging his sleeping
quarters, found the altar in his way, and made two or three ineffectual
attempts to pull it down; failing, he utilized it as a resting-place
for household rubbish, and here cocks crowed and hens hatched out their
broods.

When we came to construct saturation tanks, it was proposed to take the
material from the walls of the Mission, but I told Hamad'na Allah and
Wohatt that as we had to live in the place, it would be far better to
repair than further demolish; so the necessary materials were brought
from outside by the fifty to sixty slaves sent over to assist us in
making the tanks and carrying the earth from the mounds. While the
construction of the tanks proceeded, we had to extract saltpetre in
the boilers, etc., sent to us at Halfeyeh, and which had been brought
with us; we produced maybe four to five pounds per diem on an average
during a period of six months—the time we were occupied in building
the tanks. Perdikaki made some gunpowder with our first consignment;
it was a failure. The good fellow, though, mixed it with some powder
from the old Government stock, and sent us another warning. My chief,
Abdel Wohatt, was the |180| son-in-law of Ali Khaater, the director
of the Omdurman arsenal, to whom our saltpetre went in the first
instance; Perdikaki telling him of the bad quality, Khaater, fearing
for his son-in-law, mixed our next consignment with an equal quantity
of saltpetre from the old Government stock in his stores, and thus it
passed muster, although Perdikaki complained again that it was only
half purified. However, the powder made with it would explode, though
it did leave about 25 per cent. of ash. The Fellati, hearing of the
success, came to Khartoum to examine our product, for the secret of
producing pure crystals was believed to be in the hands of the Fellati
only, and, as a matter of fact, in the Soudan, it is. Again he declared
the crystals were useless for the purposes they were intended for; but
as Abdel Wohatt had been a dispenser in the Egyptian Army, and as such
was supposed to be a chemist, and I, as a medicine man, being similarly
credited, we won the day. Fellati appealed to Perdikaki, but got no
satisfaction in that quarter. But Perdikaki was not long to be troubled
with the rival saltpetre makers; on the sixth anniversary of Gordon’s
death, some tins of powder in his factory exploded, killing him and
those working with him.

Some time about June or July, 1891, our tanks were finished; in about
two months’ time we produced between five or six cwts. of crystals, and
then stopped work on account of the rains. These crystals were mixed
with an equal quantity of good crystals from the stores, and were sent
to the powder factory. It must not be imagined that at this time the
Khaleefa |181| was actually short of powder or ingredients for its
manufacture; there were, unknown to others in the town, very large
stocks indeed, which Abdullah was keeping as a reserve, but he wished
to add to that reserve as much as possible, and to expend only such
powder and ammunition as was then and there produced.

On the death of Perdikaki, Hassan Hosna—a Circassian, and, I believe,
formerly an officer in the old army—and Abdes Semmeer, formerly in the
ordnance section of the old army at Kassala, were placed in charge of
the powder factory. When our mixed product was used for the manufacture
of gunpowder, strange things happened. After a few cartridges made from
such powder had been fired, the barrel of the rifle was found coated
with a thick white fouling; then an inquiry was held. The rifles were
brought to us at Khartoum, and, pointing to the cleaning rods, I asked
what these were intended for; on being told for cleaning the barrel,
I asked whether it was not better to have a powder which left a white
ash which might be seen to a powder which left a black ash which could
not be seen. But, for once, my argument was of no use. Wohatt replied
that perhaps we were working on bad beds, and suggested our being
transferred somewhere else. Nothing was done at the time, and we worked
on for some more months; but as large quantities of saltpetre came in
from Darfur, and later, considerable quantities of good powder came
from Upper Egypt and by the Suakin route, Khaater was able to store
away our saltpetre, and supply |182| the factory with powder and
saltpetre from these sources.

The Upper Egypt and Suakin supplies were supposed to have been put
to the reserve, so that when cartridges exploded in the breeches of
the rifles, and destroyed the eyesight of a number of soldiers, our
saltpetre came in for the blame again. Another inquiry was held, when
we were told that the bullet did not leave the rifle, and that the
breech-blocks blew open. This, we argued, could not be the fault of
the powder, but of the rifle. Whatever the Khaleefa’s opinion might
have been, he sent off Wohatt to Alti on the Blue Nile, where, with a
number of Fellatis working under him, he was able to send considerable
quantities of “needle” saltpetre to Omdurman, while I continued at
the Khartoum works to turn out as poor a quality of saltpetre as
before. Abdel Wohatt is in Cairo now, and tells me that our precious
production—about two tons of saltpetre—is still lying unused in the
stores at Omdurman. Khaleel Hassanein and Ali Khaater are still alive,
and would doubtless smile at the legend that I “manufactured powder
for the Khaleefa to shoot English soldiers with,” particularly when I
forbade the use of wood ash in the saturation tanks, and this addition,
they knew later, was the Fellati secret for the purification of the
saltpetre.

While employed at the Mission-house in Khartoum, Father Ohrwalder
came on three or four occasions to see me, the last occasion being, I
believe, about a month before his escape. We would sit together talking
of old times, commiserate each other on our |183| hard lot, and
guardedly, very guardedly, breathe a hope that, in some way and by some
means, our release would come, but I have no recollection that we ever
confided to each other any plans for escape. Father Ohrwalder knew that
I had had letters written by some Greeks, but I do not think he knew of
any of my plans. That we did not openly discuss such plans now appears
to me strange—and yet it is not strange. Where all led for years a life
of falsehood, in which deception of self had a no less part than that
of others, suspicious of every one around us, trusting no one, what
wonder that deceit became a second nature, and that truth, honour, and
morality—that is to say, morality as preached in Europe—should have
retired to vanishing point!

When I heard of Father Ohrwalder’s escape, the conclusion I at once
jumped to was that my guides, seeing the impossibility of effecting
my escape from Khartoum, had come to some arrangement with him. How
fervently I cursed them all, but I did not pray for their recapture.
Even had I done so, it would have been useless. There was nothing,
provided you had money with which to purchase camels and arrange a
couple of relays in the desert, to prevent every one who wished to,
escaping from Omdurman. Your guides had only to lead you away from any
settlements; no pursuers could overtake you once you reached your first
relay, fast as their camels might go, and you would travel at twice the
speed the news of your flight could, besides having some hours’ start
of it. In the event of your coming |184| across any straggler on the
desert, a few dollars would silence his tongue, for the dollar is not
more “almighty” in America than it was in the Soudan. Supposing the
dollars did not appeal to him, and your bullet missed its mark, the
chances were a thousand to one against his picking up your pursuers on
the route you had come, for they would make to the settlements near
the river, and waste their time in useless inquiries, while you were
lengthening the distance between you.



|185|

CHAPTER XV

DIVORCED AND MARRIED


As if my troubles were not all-sufficient in themselves, Hasseena,
in addition to the begging and other undesirable proclivities she
had developed since the death of Makkieh, added that of thieving.
She naturally devoted her talents in this direction to my friends,
knowing that they would not, on my account, prosecute her. Numberless
complaints came to me, and many a recommendation was made to get rid of
her; but as she had been sent to me by the Khaleefa, I could not send
her off without his sanction. The question also arose as to what excuse
I might offer for divorcing her; to give the real reasons might end in
her being stoned, mutilated, or imprisoned, and this I shrank from. I
must admit, too, that, bad as she was then, I did not like the idea of
throwing her over. Being in receipt of ten dollars a month, I sent word
to my friends that I would save what I could to repay their losses,
and do my best to break Hasseena of her bad habits. My friends warned
me that if I was not careful I should find myself before the Kadi as
Hasseena’s partner in crime; and the Kadi, being |186| no friend of
mine, would certainly order me into prison again, which would put an
end to all chances of escape.

In the end Hasseena had to go. Nahoum Abbajee, my greatest friend,
gave a feast at his house to celebrate the marriage of his son Yousef.
Hasseena was one of the invited guests. She stole all the spoons and
cutlery before the feast commenced, and also a number of articles
of dress belonging to other guests, all of which she sold in the
bazaar. Nahoum could overlook her stealing his property, but to steal
the property of guests under his roof was carrying matters too far.
He sent word to me that I must get rid of her, and at once. Calling
Hasseena to Khartoum, I was compelled to quarrel with her in such a
way as to attract the attention of Hamad'na Allah, and on his asking
me the reason for our constant squabbles, I told him that Hasseena
was not acting as she should by me, and begged his intervention in
obtaining through the Emir Yacoub the Khaleefa’s permission to divorce
her. Abdullahi was “gracious,” permitted the divorce, and sent word
that he would select another wife for me. This was just what I did not
want. Always expecting the return of my guides, my not having a woman
in the place lent probability to my having a whole night’s start upon
my pursuers, for my absence might not be discovered until sunrise the
following morning, at which time we went to work, and some hours more
would be lost—and gained—by Hamad'na Allah and others making a thorough
search for me before daring to tell the Khaleefa that I was missing.
|187|

Returning my thanks to Abdullahi, I asked to be left in single
blessedness for a time; but to this he replied that “his heart was
heavy at the loss of my child; that no man might be happy without
children, and he wished me to be happy; he also wished me to have all
the comforts of life, which did not exist where woman was not; that if
I did not take another wife, he would believe I was not content with my
life in the Soudan under his protection.” It was a long rigmarole of a
message he sent, and it wound up by saying that as I had been ill for
two months, he must send a wife to attend to me, and had selected for
the purpose a daughter of Abd-el-Latif Terran.

This was making matters worse than ever, for this girl, although
brought up in the Soudan, and speaking only Arabic, was a French
subject, being the granddaughter of Dr. Terran, an old employé of
the Government. She was only nominally Mohammedan, and lived in the
“Christian quarter.” When marriages took place in this quarter, the
Mohammedan form of marriage was gone through, and then Father Ohrwalder
performed the Christian religious ceremony surreptitiously later in the
day. I spoke to him about the Khaleefa’s intention, and as he knew I
was already married, he advised me to try and get out of the proposed
marriage by some means or another, as it would be considered binding.
After casting about for excuses which I thought might appeal to the
Khaleefa, I asked Hamad'na Allah to inform him that I thanked him for
his selection of a wife, but as she was of European descent, had been
brought up in a rich family where |188| the ladies are waited upon and
never do any work, she would be no use to me, as I required some one
to nurse me, do the cooking and house work, and go to the bazaar to
buy food, all of which she had had servants to do for her; I therefore
begged to be allowed to select a wife of the country.

The latter part of my message evidently pleased the Khaleefa; it
appeared to him as an earnest that I was “content,” but again he
undertook the selection of the woman. When Abdullahi told any woman
she was to be the wife of any one, she dare no more refuse to accept
than the one she was sent to dare refuse to receive her. Fearing that
he might send me some one from his hareem, I asked Nahoum and other
friends to find me a wife—sharp. My object was to get her into the
place before Abdullahi sent his “present,” whom, on arrival, I might
send back on the plea that I was already married, and could not support
two wives. Nahoum found me a wife, and sent me the following history of
her.

[Illustration: UMM ES SHOLE AND TWO CHILDREN.]

Umm es Shole (the mother of Shole—Shole being the name she had given
her first child) was an Abyssinian brought up from childhood in a Greek
family settled in Khartoum. On reaching womanhood, she was married to
one of the sons of the family. On the fall of Khartoum, her husband,
with seven male relatives, was butchered in the house in which they
had taken refuge; Umm es Shole, with her three children, was taken as
“property” to the Beit-el-Mal, where she was handed over as a concubine
to the Emir of the Gawaamah tribe. Refusing this |189| man’s
embraces, he in revenge tortured her children to death, upon which
Umm es Shole escaped to Omdurman. Through Abd-el-Kader, the uncle of
the Mahdi, she had her case brought before Mohammad Ahmed, who, after
listening to the details, gave her a written document declaring that,
as she had been married to and borne children to a free man, she was a
free woman, but to make certain that she might never be claimed as a
slave, the document also declared that she was “ateekh” (freed) by him.

When Abdullahi succeeded the Mahdi, he ordered every woman without a
husband, and every girl of a marriageable age, to be married at once.
He was most particular that every one in the “Christian quarter” should
be married. Umm es Shole married an old and decrepit Jew, whom she
nursed until he died two years later. Returning to a woman relative
of her husband’s, she supported the old woman and herself by cooking,
preparing food for feasts, sewing, and general housework.

This was the wife my friends had selected for me, and I accepted her
thankfully; but when she was approached on the subject, she positively
declined to be married again, and it was only upon her being told
that I was ill, and might die, that she consented to the marriage. I
had to appoint a “wakeel” (proxy, in this instance) to represent me
at the marriage and the festivities; Nahoum prepared the feast at his
house, the bride preparing the food and attending to the guests. At the
conclusion of the few days’ ceremonies and feastings, Umm es Shole was
escorted |190| to Khartoum—a married woman, and introduced for the
first time to her husband. She set to at once with her household duties
and attendance upon me, and during a long and weary five months nursed
me back to life.

As can well be believed, Hasseena resented no less bitterly my
projected marriage with Umm es Shole, or any one else, than she
resented her divorce, and this she resented very bitterly indeed, for
passing as the wife of a European and a presumed “General” to boot,
gave her a certain social status in Omdurman, which she took advantage
of when visiting in the various ways pointed out. On my saying to her,
“You are divorced,” which is the only formula necessary in Mohammedan
countries in such a momentous domestic affair, she promptly replied
that she was again pregnant. A few words on the subject of divorce in
the Soudan—and the rules are practically identical with those laid down
in the Quoranic law—will assist towards an appreciation of the fix this
declaration of Hasseena placed me in.

If a woman, on being told “you are divorced,” declared herself with
child, the husband was compelled to keep her until its birth; if it was
a son, the divorce was null and void; if a daughter, the husband had to
support the wife during two years of nursing, and provide for the child
until her seventh year, when he might, if he chose to do so, claim her
as his daughter.

When a woman was divorced for the first time, she was not allowed to
marry again without the consent of the husband; this was giving him
a “first call” if he wanted her back, for divorce might be declared
for |191| less trivial things than incompatibility of temper. If the
husband took her back, and divorced her a second time, the woman was
free to marry, but if the husband again wanted her, he had to pay her a
marriage dowry as at her first marriage. Should he divorce her a third
time, and again want her back, he would have to arrange for her to be
married to—and divorced from—some one else first, when she was free to
return to him. All this may sound very immoral to people in Europe,
but one cannot help but admire the simplicity of the proceedings;
and consider the amount of domestic infelicity it prevented. There
is no public examination of the parties concerned; no publication of
interesting details in newspapers; some little thought is given to
the woman who may have been the mother of your children, and should
she have slipped in the path of virtue, you do not shout it from the
housetops; the marriage was a private arrangement between you, so is
the divorce, and the reasons for the latter are your affair and no one
else’s.

I have touched upon divorce in some detail, as many re-marriages under
all the conditions given above occurred, and some family records became
a hopeless tangle to all but those immediately concerned. When the new
Soudan Government comes to settle up claims to properties, they will
be confronted with a collection of “succession” puzzles to solve, for
one woman might be the proud mother of the legitimate heirs of three
or four different people, and being, as the widow and mother of the
heritor, entitled to a fixed proportion of the properties, you |192|
may be quite sure that she will fight to the death for her sons’
interests.

Hasseena ought not to have been in the interesting state she declared
she was, for we had been separated for a much longer period than that
ordained by law. I was obliged to tell her that if she empanelled a
jury, after the example of Idris es Saier, all the explanations they
might offer would not convince me that I held any more relationship
to the child than I did to Makkieh, and there was nothing now to
induce me to claim the paternity,—indeed just the reverse. However, if
Hasseena was with child, I should be bound to keep her for at least
two years, and if the Khaleefa sent on his present, I should have two
households to support on ten dollars a month. When making my plans
for escape, Hasseena was included; she was to have got away on the
same dromedary as myself. When my guides returned, they would find me
with two wives, and having made arrangements for one only, they might
demur at taking the two. The probabilities were they would abandon the
thing altogether, fearing that one or the other might betray them,
which meant instant execution for them and imprisonment for me. If
I kept Hasseena, she might steal from some stranger, as the houses
of my friends were now closed to her, and then I should be sent back
to the Saier; if I sent her away, she, knowing my guides and all my
arrangements, would be the first to meet them on arrival in Omdurman,
and would insist upon coming away with me under threats of disclosing
the plot. It was a most awkward fix for me |193| to be placed in;
but after considering the whole matter most carefully, I decided upon
sending Hasseena off, and trusting to luck for the rest. I had hoped
she might get married to some one in Omdurman, and then I should not
have been afraid of her. But Hasseena returned in February, 1892, some
months after my marriage with Umm es Shole, carrying a little bundle
of male humanity, who had only been three or four months less tardy in
arrival than Makkieh.

Hasseena, doubtless, had for me the Soudan equivalent for what we
understand as affection; she had saved my life when we were first
captured; she had nursed me, as only a woman can nurse one, through
my first attack of typhus fever, and had kept me from starvation
during the famine. But while I could not forget all this, I could not
forget also that she had become a source of great danger to me, and
although my treatment of her in sending her away when I did, might to
some appear harsh in the face of what she had done for me, it must
not be forgotten that self-preservation is no less a law of nature in
the Soudan than it is elsewhere. I supported Hasseena for nearly two
years, when her child died. She then left Khartoum, where I was still a
chained prisoner at large, and went utterly to the bad. I heard of her
from time to time, and, on my release in September last, hearing that
she was at Berber, I delayed there until I had hunted her out of the
den of vice in which she was living, and provided for her elsewhere,
only to receive a telegram a few weeks later to say that, |194|
hankering for the life which she had led for a few years back, she had
run off to return to it.

It was this action of mine, which probably gave rise to the legend that
I had brought her to Cairo with me, where my wife arrived, “only to
be confronted with a black wife after all her years of mental anxiety
and sufferings.” Why facts should be so persistently misconstrued, I
cannot understand. In making that last—and I do not say final—effort,
to do something for the woman to whom, at one time, I owed so much, I
feel I have nothing to be ashamed of. Those who think differently must
remember that it takes one some little time to fall again into European
ideas and thoughts after twelve years of chains and slavery amongst the
people whom I was compelled to associate with; and no one in the Soudan
was more out of the world than I was.



|195|

CHAPTER XVI

HOPE AND DESPAIR


While still a prisoner in the Saier, Mankarious Effendi, with Mohammad
Fargoun and Selim Aly, engaged a man of the Ababdeh, Mohammad Ajjab,
to make his way to Omdurman with a threefold object: he was to inquire
if I was still alive; if so, to pay me a hundred dollars, and then to
try and make arrangements for my escape. On arrival in Omdurman, Ajjab
met two of his own people—Mohammad and Karrar Beshir—who recommended
him, when he inquired about me, never to mention my name if he wished
to keep his head on his shoulders. They could only tell him that I
was still in prison, chained, and under sentence of death. Similar
information and the same recommendation were given to him by people
in the Muslimanieh quarter; but a Greek whom Ajjab knew only by his
Mahdieh name of Abdallah, said that he would arrange for a meeting
between him and my servant. Through Hasseena, Ajjab sent me word of
the object of his coming to Omdurman. As the Greek offered to become
my trustee, Ajjab handed him the hundred dollars, taking from him a
receipt, and sending |196| the receipt to me concealed in a piece of
bread, to be countersigned. Ajjab was to return to Assouan, let my
friends know how matters stood, and tell them that I would try and
communicate with them, if I ever got released from prison, as escape
from the prison was an impossibility. Ajjab returned to Assouan, and
handed over the receipt; but the tale he had to tell put an end, for
the time being, to any attempts to assist me further.

When Father Ohrwalder escaped, bringing with him the two sisters
and negress, Mankarious set about immediately to find some reliable
messenger willing to undertake the journey to Omdurman with a view
of ascertaining if my escape was at all possible. He argued that if
Father Ohrwalder could escape with three women as an encumbrance to
his flight, there was nothing, provided I was at liberty, to prevent
my escaping; but those who knew the Soudan—and it was only such he
might employ—argued that if the remainder of the captives were not
already killed, they would be found chained in the prison awaiting
their execution. Months slipped away before he could find any one to
undertake the journey, and then an old but wiry desert Arab, El Haj
Ahmad Abou Hawanein, came to terms with him. Hawanein was given two
camels, some money, and a quantity of goods to sell and barter on his
way up.

Some time in June or July, 1894, Abou Kees, a man employed in the
Mission gardens, came to me while I was working at the mounds of
Khartoum, and whispered that a man who had news for me was |197|
hiding in the gardens, and that I was to try and effect a meeting
with him. The man was Hawanein. Always suspicious of traps laid for me
by the Khaleefa, I asked the man what he wanted. He replied that he
had come from friends to help me. He had brought no letters, but by
questioning him my suspicions disappeared, and I was soon deep in the
discussion of plans for my escape. The camels he had brought with him
were, he said, not up to the work of a rapid flight, and he suggested
that he should return to Assouan, procure two good trotting camels, and
also the couple of revolvers I asked for, as it was more than likely I
should have to use them in getting clear of Khartoum.

Soon after Hawanein’s departure, the guide Abdallah, who brought away
Rossignoli, put in his appearance. Ahmed Wad-el-Feki, employed in
Marquet’s old garden, asked that I might be allowed to call and see
a sick man at his house. On reaching the place, Feki introduced me
to a young man, Abdallah, who, after a few words, asked me to meet
him the following day, when he would bring me a letter. I met my
“patient” again, when he handed me a bit of paper on which faint marks
were discernible; these, he said, would come out clear upon heating
the paper, and, as cauterization is one of the favourite remedies
in the Soudan, some live charcoal was procured without exciting any
suspicion. The words, which appeared, proved that the man was no spy,
but had really come from the Egyptian War Office; however, before we
had time to drop into a discussion of plans, some men employed in the
place |198| came near, and we had to adjourn to the following day,
when I was again to meet my “patient.” On this occasion we were left
undisturbed, and fully discussed and settled upon our plans.

To escape along the western bank of the Nile was not to be thought
of; this would necessitate our passing Omdurman, and to pass the town
unobserved was very improbable. Abdallah, having left his camels and
rifle at Berber, was to return there for them, and come up the eastern
bank of the Nile, along which we were to travel when I escaped. During
his absence I was to send Umm es Shole on weekly visits to her friends
at Halfeyeh; as she was to escape with us, this arrangement was made
for a twofold purpose. First, her visits would not excite suspicion at
the critical moment, as the people both at Halfeyeh and Khartoum would
have become accustomed to them; she was also to bring me the promised
revolver concealed in her clothes, and then return to Halfeyeh for
another visit. She and Abdallah would keep a watch on the banks of the
Blue Nile for me and assist me in landing. My escape would have to be
effected in my chains, and these, of course, would prevent my using my
legs in swimming. I was to trust for support to the pieces of light
wood on the banks, used by children and men when disporting themselves
in the Nile, and to the current and whatever help I might get with my
hands for landing on the opposite shore.

Abdallah went off, but never came back. I kept to our agreement for
months, for the plan formed with |199| Abdallah was similar to that
arranged with Hawanein. Besides this, Abdallah, in the event of not
being able to find revolvers at Berber, was to continue his journey to
the first military post, obtain them there, and exchange his camels for
fast-trotting ones, as those he had left at Berber were of a poor race.
In order to prove to any officer he met that he was really employed to
effect my escape, I gave him two letters couched in such words that,
should they fall into the hands of the Khaleefa or any of the Emirs,
their contents would be a sort of puzzle to them. Each day during those
months I looked forward eagerly to a sign from any one of the people
entrusted with my escape.

For various reasons I considered it advisable to interview Abdallah
after my release, and did so; but to make certain of his explanations,
I also arranged that others should question him on the subject of
Rossignoli’s flight and his reasons for not keeping his engagement with
me, and this is what he says.

On leaving Cairo, he was given a sort of double mission; he was
promised three hundred pounds if he brought me away safely, and a
hundred pounds if he brought away any of the other captives. Seeing the
difficulties to be encountered in effecting my escape, and appreciating
the risks, unless we had revolvers and swift camels, he decided upon
“working out the other plan,” as he expresses it, viz. the escape of
Rossignoli, as “he was at liberty and could go anywhere he pleased,”
whilst I was shackled and constantly under the eyes of my guards.
Instead of returning |200| for the camels, Abdallah arranged for
Rossignoli to escape on a donkey as far as Berber. When some distance
from Omdurman, Rossignoli got off his donkey, squatted on the ground,
and refused to budge, saying he was tired. Abdallah tried to persuade
him to continue the journey, but Rossignoli refused, said Abdallah
was only leading him to his death, and demanded to be taken back to
Omdurman. For a few moments Abdallah admits that he was startled and
frightened. To go back to Omdurman was madness and suicide for him; to
leave Rossignoli squatting in the desert made Cairo almost as dangerous
for him as Omdurman, for who would believe his tale there? He felt sure
he would be accused of having deserted the man, and there was also the
chance of Rossignoli being discovered by pursuers, when a hue and cry
would be set up for Abdallah.

One cannot help but admire Abdallah’s solution of the difficulty.
There was a tree growing close by; he selected from it a good thick
branch, and with this flogged Rossignoli either into his right senses
or into obedience to orders; then placing him on the camel behind him,
he made his way to Berber. Here Rossignoli, instead of keeping in
hiding, wandered into the town, was recognized by some people, and,
when spoken to, told them that Abdallah was leading him to Egypt, but
that he preferred to return to Omdurman. Fortunately native cupidity
saved Abdallah; he baksheeshed the people into a few hours of silence,
with great difficulty got his charge clear of the town, and with
still greater difficulty |201| hammered and “bullydamned” him into
Egypt and safety. This is Abdallah’s own tale. He assures me, and I
believe him, that it was his intention, as soon as he had handed over
Rossignoli safe, to have asked for the revolvers and started back to
try and effect my escape, risky as he knew it to be; but as Rossignoli
had betrayed his name in Berber, he knew well that the Khaleefa would
have men waiting for him from Omdurman to the frontier, and he showed
no better sense in flogging Rossignoli, than he showed in settling down
with his well-earned hundred pounds rather than attempting to make it
into four hundred by passing the frontier.

Rossignoli’s absence was not noticed for a little time, and
fortunately, for a donkey leaves better tracks to follow than a camel.
The Khaleefa was not particularly angry about the affair, although he
imprisoned for a day Mr. Cocorombo, the husband of Sister Grigolini,
the former superioress of Father Ohrwalder’s Mission, and Rossignoli’s
lay companion, Beppo; but the latter, after Slatin’s escape, became my
fellow-prisoner in the Saier.

One would be inclined to believe that either myself or some dramatist
had purposely invented the series of accidents, which cropped up to
frustrate every one of my plans for escape. On February 28, 1895,
without a word of warning, I was so heavily loaded with chains that
I was unable to move, and I was placed under a double guard in the
house of Shereef Hamadan, the Mahdist Governor of Khartoum. At first I
surmised that either Abdallah or Hawanein |202| had been suspected and
imprisoned, or had confessed, or that our plots had been divulged in
some way, so that it was with no little surprise I heard the questions
put to me concerning the escape of Slatin. I denied all knowledge of
the escape, or any arrangement connected with it. I pointed out that I
had not seen, spoken to, or heard of Slatin directly for eight years,
as my gaolers and guards could prove. It was from no sense of justice
to me, but to prove that he had not neglected his duty in keeping a
strict watch upon me, that Hamadan took my part in the inquiry. I might
have been again released, had Hawanein not put in his appearance a few
days after the escape of Slatin was discovered.

Slatin’s absence from his usual post had not been reported to the
Khaleefa until three days after his escape; he was supposed to be ill.
On the third day, Hajji Zobheir, the head of the Khaleefa’s bodyguard,
sent to his house to inquire about him. Not being satisfied with the
reply he received, he informed the Khaleefa, who ordered an immediate
search. A letter from Slatin to the Khaleefa was found sticking in the
muzzle of a rifle, and was taken to Abdullahi. After the usual string
of compliments and blessings, the letter continues―

 “For ten years I have sat at your gate; your goodness and grace has
 been great to me, but all men have a love of family and country; I
 have gone to see them; but in going I still hold to the true religion.
 I shall never betray your bread and salt, even should I die; I was
 wrong to leave without your permission; every one, myself included,
 acknowledges your great power and influence; forgive me; your desires
 are mine; I shall never betray you, |203| whether I reach my
 destination or die upon the road; forgive me; I am your kinsman and of
 your religion; extend to me your clemency.[9]

[Illustration: SAID BEY GUMAA.]

    [9] This letter was found on the fall of Omdurman, and came
    into the hands of people who, probably on the ground of its
    contents differing from those given by Slatin after his escape,
    published it in such a manner as to lead people to believe
    that the protestations of loyalty it contained were sincere.
    In my opinion the letter should be looked upon as a clever
    composition to humbug Abdullahi, so that, in the event of
    Slatin being retaken, the protestation of loyalty would at
    least save him from the hands of the Khaleefa’s mutilator or
    executioner.

Abdullahi, on first realizing that Slatin had actually escaped, and had
had about three days’ start of any pursuers he might send after him,
was furious; losing his temper, he anathematized him in the presence
of the assembled Emirs, Kadis, and bodyguard. He reminded them that
when Slatin first tendered his submission, he had been received with
honours because he had openly professed the Mohammedan faith and had
been circumcised while still the “Turk” Governor-General of Darfur;
he reminded them also how Slatin had been allowed to bring into the
camp his household, bodyguard, and servants, and had been attached to
the Mahdi’s personal suite, of which he, Abdullahi, was chief; how,
with Zoghal, his former subordinate, he had been entrusted with the
subjugation of Said Gumaa, who had refused to surrender El Fasher
when ordered by him to do so; how he himself had treated him as his
son and his confidant, never taking any step without his advice and
guidance; but, suddenly pulling himself up, seeing the mistake he had
made in showing how much he had been dependent on him, he broke off
short to say what he would do to Slatin if he ever laid hands on him,
and promised a similar punishment to any one else who returned him
ingratitude for his favours. Reading |204| out aloud Slatin’s letter
to him, he calmed down on reaching the protestations of loyalty, and
ordered the letter to be read in the mosque and the different quarters
of Omdurman. Abdullahi has been considered as an ignorant brutal
savage, devoid of all mental acumen, and but little removed from the
brute creation. As I may be able to show later, such an expression of
opinion either carries a denial with it, or it is paying a very poor
compliment to those who, once governors of towns and provinces, or high
officials, should have bowed down, kissed hands, and so far prostrated
themselves as to kiss the feet of the representatives of this “ignorant
brute,” by whom for years they had been dominated. Since Abdullahi
respected me, as a man, by keeping me constantly in chains, I respect
him for the intellectual powers he displayed, and which apparently
paralyzed those of others who submitted to him.

Slatin, having given a good account of himself in his many fights,
was, after his submission, looked up to as the military genius of the
Mahdist army; he could not, as I did, play any pranks with the work
he was entrusted with; the map he had drawn of Egypt, showing the
principal towns and routes, and upon which the former telegraph-clerk,
Mohammad Sirri, had been instructed to write the Arabic names, had
given some the idea that no expedition might be planned without
the aid of Slatin and this map. Abdullahi’s object in having the
letter publicly read will be divined; first, it would assure the
dervishes themselves that there was no fear of |205| Slatin, after
his protestations of loyalty, returning at the head of the Government
troops to overthrow the rule of the Mahdi, and without help from the
exterior the wavering Mahdists could not hope to throw off the yoke
of Abdullahi. Moreover, the reading of the letter to the Christian
captives would confirm the opinion formed by many, that Slatin was at
heart with the present Soudan dynasty, and that they could not expect
any help as a result of his escape.

There is another incident, which must be here mentioned, to show
how acute Abdullahi really was. Slatin had publicly proclaimed his
conversion to Mahommedanism before his submission to the Mahdi, so
that, when he did submit, he was accepted as one of the faithful, and
treated as one of themselves. The remainder of the captives—those
taken before and after the fall of Khartoum—had not, up to the time
of the escape of Rossignoli, been actually accepted as Muslims. At
the suggestion of Youssef Mansour, on January 25, 1895, the Khaleefa
was gracious enough to take all into his fold as real converts to the
faith, and, on the anniversary of Gordon’s death, all the Muslimanieh
(Christians) were ordered to be circumcised, the only two people not
being operated upon being, I believe, Beppo, who was overlooked while
in prison, and an old Italian mason, who pleaded old age as an excuse
for not undergoing the operation. The Christian quarter was, therefore,
at the time of Slatin’s escape, considered as a Muslim community,
and the practical immunity they had |206| enjoyed from a rigorous
application of the Mahdieh laws was thereby put an end to.

Consequently, when Slatin escaped, leaving behind him such
protestations of loyalty, the safest card the Khaleefa could play
was to read to them his letter. The reading of it caused some little
consternation and comment, no doubt, but I have already expressed my
opinion as to the light in which this letter should be considered.
It was a clever move of Abdullahi; the public reading of the letter
blasted all hopes on the part of the discontented Soudanese of any
assistance from Slatin in crumbling to dust the kingdom of the
Khaleefa, and put an end to all hopes on the part of the former
Muslimanieh captives of release, for the small proportion of old
Government employés who had, up to then, firmly believed that Slatin
was acting, as they express it, “politeeka” in all his dealings, now
joined the ranks of those who believed differently. But in this they
were, of course, mistaken.

After the public reading of the letter, the Khaleefa sent for the
officials of the Beit-el-Mal and ordered them to take possession of
Slatin’s house, wives, servants, slaves, land, and cattle, at the same
time giving them strict instructions, in the presence of all, that
the household were to be treated gently, as being the property of a
true Muslim. His Darfurian wife, Hassanieh, whom he had married when
Governor-General of Darfur, was claimed from the Beit-el-Mal by Dood
(Sultan) Benga as of a royal family, and was by him married to another
of the Darfurian royal |207| family. Desta, his Abyssinian wife, was
within a few days of her confinement, and either, as a result of fright
at the ransacking of the house and her reduction to the position of
a common slave, or as a result of what would be to her, in her then
delicate condition, rough handling, gave birth to a baby boy, who
survived but a few weeks.

It was while the Khaleefa was awaiting the return of the scouts
sent out to recapture Slatin that Hawanein put in his appearance at
Omdurman. He was at once seized, accused of assisting in the escape of
Slatin, and also of having returned to effect mine. Pleading ignorance
of myself and Slatin, he was not believed; he was first sent into
the Saier, and then, as he refused to confess, he was taken out and
publicly flogged. Even this did not extort a confession; the Khaleefa,
not being satisfied, ordered another flogging, but the Bisharas
interceded for Hawanein, and succeeded in obtaining his release. As my
would-be deliverer passed through the portals of the Saier, I passed in
(March 26, 1895). Hawanein lost no time in returning to Assouan, where
the relation of his experiences, with his torn back and unhealed wounds
to bear him out, put an end finally to all attempts in that quarter to
assist me in any way whatever.

It might be as well that I should not attempt to describe my mental
condition on finding myself again in the Saier. I have a faint idea
of what my state must have been; despair cannot describe it; insanity
at blasted hopes might. Yes, I must have been insane; but I was
mentally sound, if such a contradiction |208| of terms is permissible.
I remember that for days I shuffled about, refusing to look at or
speak to any one. Perhaps what brought me round was that, in my
perambulations, I came near the Saier anvil and heard a man crying.
It was Ibrahim Pasha Fauzi, Gordon’s old favourite, who was being
shackled. My expostulations on his acting as a child and bullying him
into a sense of manhood, again prevented that slender thread between
reason and insanity snapping. It must, in some way, have calmed and
comforted me to be brought to the knowledge that others were suffering
as much as I was; and just as a child, which requires care and
attention itself, gives all its affection and sympathy to a limbless
doll, so must I have given my sympathy to Fauzi, and in so doing
taken a step back from the abyss of insanity, which I was certainly
approaching.



|209|

CHAPTER XVII

A NEW OCCUPATION


When Said Abdel Wohatt was transferred from the Khartoum to the Alti
saltpetre works, his father-in-law, Ali Khaater, the storekeeper of the
Omdurman arsenal, considered that he was no longer under the obligation
of risking his neck by mixing the Khartoum product with the Fellati’s,
or substituting it with good saltpetre in stock. A consignment of mine
was consequently sent direct to the powder factory, and was used in
making what Abd es Semmieh and Hosny, the directors, believed would
be a good explosive. The result, while being eminently satisfactory
to myself, was just the reverse for the people responsible for making
the powder. Not being certain where the fault actually lay, they
mixed this powder with a quantity of really good powder made from the
Fellati’s product, only to succeed in spoiling the whole bulk. When
my next consignment was sent in they carried out some experiments,
and, discovering where the fault lay, sent me an intimation that if
our works did not turn out saltpetre equal in quality to that formerly
supplied by us, I should be reported to the Khaleefa. Nahoum Abbajee,
hearing of the affair, came to me in |210| a state of excitement, and
pointed out the danger I was running into, and as he was then trying to
think out an invention for coining money, he suggested that he should
apply to the Khaleefa for my services in assisting him. This request
Abdullahi was only too glad at the time to accede to; saltpetre was
coming in in large quantities, and he was in great trouble about his
monetary system.

As Khaleefa, he was entitled to one-fifth of all loot, property, taxes,
and goods coming to the Beit-el-Mal; and as all property of whatever
description was considered to belong primarily to this administration,
it followed that Abdullahi was entitled to one-fifth of the property in
the Soudan; but as he had not much use for hides, skins, gum, ivory,
and such-like, he took his proportion in coin—after putting his own
valuation upon his share. As the money he took from the Beit-el-Mal was
hoarded and never came into circulation again, a sort of specie famine
set in. Attempts had been made in the early days of Abdullahi’s rule
to produce a dollar with a fair modicum of silver; but Nur-el-Garfawi,
Adlan’s successor at the Beit-el-Mal, came to the conclusion,
evidently, that a coin was but a token, and that it was immaterial
what it was made of, provided it carried some impression upon it. The
quantity of silver in his dollars grew less and less, and then was only
represented by a light plating which wore off in a few weeks’ time.
When people grumbled, he unblushingly issued copper dollars pure and
simple. All the dollars were issued from the Beit-el-Mal as being of
equivalent value to |211| the silver dollar, and when these coins
were refused, the Khaleefa decreed that all future offenders should be
punished by the confiscation of their property and the loss of a hand
and foot. The merchants, though, were equal to the occasion; when an
intending purchaser inquired about the price of an article, the vendor
asked him in what coinage he intended to pay; the merchant then knew
what price to ask.

As the silver dollars gradually disappeared, the few remaining went
up enormously in value, until in the end they were valued at fifty
to sixty of the Beit-el-Mal coins, so that an article which could
be bought for a silver dollar could not be purchased under fifty to
sixty copper dollars. Although a rate of exchange was forbidden,
the Beit-el-Mal took advantage of the state of affairs by buying in
the copper dollars, melting them up, recasting, and striking from
a different die. These coins would be again issued at the value of
a silver dollar, and the remaining copper dollars in the town were
put out of circulation by the Beit-el-Mal’s refusal to receive them.
To make matters worse, the die cutters cut dies for themselves and
their friends, and it was worth the while of the false (?) coiners to
make a dollar of better metal than the Beit-el-Mal did, and these we
re-accepted at a premium. The false coinage business flourished until
Elias el Kurdi, one of the best of the die cutters, was permanently
incapacitated by losing his right hand and left foot; and this
punishment, for a time at least, acted as a deterrent upon others,
leaving the Beit-el-Mal the entire monopoly of coinage. |212|

Sovereigns might at any time be bought for a dollar, for their
possessors were glad to get rid of them. Being in possession of a gold
coin denoted wealth, and many people who attempted to change a gold
coin returned only to find their hut in the hands of the Beit-el-Mal
officials, searching for the remainder of the presumed gold hoard.
Failing to find it, they confiscated the goods and chattels. The trade
with the Egyptian frontier, Suakin and Abyssinia, was carried on
through the medium of barter and the Austrian (Maria Theresa) trade
dollar.

It was while the currency question was at its height that Abbajee
came forward with his scheme for a coining press; and, in order that
I might assist him, I was transferred to the Khartoum arsenal. I was
obliged to give up my quarters in the Mission buildings, and live
with the bodyguard of thirty Baggaras in the house of Hamadan, the
Mahdist governor of Khartoum. The arsenal was presided over by Khaleel
Hassanein, at one time a clerk under Roversi, in the department for
the repression of the slave trade. Although ten years had elapsed
since the fall of Khartoum, the arsenal must have been in as perfect
working order as when Gordon made it into a model Woolwich workshop.
Power was obtained from a traction-engine, which drove lathes, a
rolling-mill, drills, etc., while punches, iron scissors, and smaller
machinery were worked by hand. In the shops proper were three engines
and boilers complete, ready to be fitted into Nile steamers, and
duplicates and triplicates of all parts of the machinery then in use
were ready |213| in case of accidents. Smelting, casting, moulding,
and modelling were all carried on in the place. The storeroom was
filled with every imaginable tool and article required for the smithy,
carpenters’ shops, and the boats. All the metal of the Soudan had
been collected here. There were parts of cotton presses; sugar-mills;
bars of steel and iron; ingots of brass and copper; iron, copper, and
brass plates; the heavier class of tools and implements; and I was
assured by Osta Abdallah, a rivetter in the shops in Gordon’s time,
that there was material in the place to build three more boats and keep
the whole fleet going for many years. He did not exaggerate either.
All other administrations were supplied by the Khartoum arsenal with
whatever they required in the way of tools, furniture, iron and other
metal work, cartridge presses and steel blocks for coinage; and very
efficiently indeed was the work turned out.

The little time I spent in the arsenal was of course fully occupied
with the coinage question. Two men were kept constantly engaged casting
square steel blocks for the Omdurman mint; these blocks were polished
and cut in Omdurman, and twenty-five sets were generally in use at the
same time. Possibly two hundred men were employed in the melting of
the copper and casting it into moulds the size and thickness of the
dollars. The discs were next passed on to the people who gave them the
impression; this was obtained by placing the disc on the lower block,
and then hammering the upper block upon it. The impressions produced
were in the main very poor; the |214| coins spread and split, and the
dies were constantly splitting and breaking. After we had studied the
process, and Abbajee had explained his ideas of a press, I suggested
that we should commence operations with the punching-machine. We
experimented until we had succeeded in smashing dies, spoiling sheets
of copper, and in the end smashing the machine itself; then Abbajee, as
the chief of the operations, was roundly abused. Being of an excitable
temperament, he wanted me to take part of the blame, but I only laughed
at him. Then it was I learned that he had just reason to be angry;
he had gone surety for me with the Khaleefa, and, as I was expecting
Hawanein and Abdallah every day, I kept the quarrel going until Abbajee
left the work in disgust, for I wished him to be out of the way when I
escaped. His return to Omdurman, leaving me in complete charge of the
invention, put an end to his surety for me. I might have saved myself
this trouble, and the temporary misunderstanding with my old friend,
for, before I had time to settle upon an idea for a coining press,
Slatin escaped, and I was taken back to the Saier.

I have been frequently asked what estimate should be put upon the
Khaleefa’s buried treasure. It is next to impossible to say; one thing
only is certain: all good gold and silver jewellery and coins have
disappeared during the last fifteen years. Thousands of individuals
may have their hoards here and there. Some idea of what the Khaleefa’s
treasure may amount to might be gleaned from an examination of the
Beit-el-Mal books, for these were well kept. The real |215| question
is, Where is it? But this is a matter people need not trouble
themselves about. It was generally believed in Omdurman that those who
actually buried the money were soon afterwards buried themselves. “Dead
men tell no tales.” I doubt myself if the Khaleefa’s hoards will ever
be found—officially. The fortunate discoverers are hardly likely to
exhibit any particular anxiety to ask their friends or the Government
to share in their good fortune. Perhaps a small amount might be found,
but it will be a very small one. The few millions he has buried in
various places will, no doubt, be discovered some day, and we shall
hear about it—a long time after the fact.



|216|

CHAPTER XVIII

MY SECOND IMPRISONMENT


It was some days after my return to the Saier before I learned that I
had been incarcerated against the wish of the Khaleefa and Yacoub; but
Hamadan and Khaleel-Hassanein, fearing that I might escape, declined
to be responsible for me any longer, arguing that Slatin’s escape had
been effected through Government agents, and that mine would certainly
follow. In deference to the wishes of Hassanein more than those of
Hamadan, the Khaleefa ordered my return to the Saier, but it is very
probable that he sent Idris es Saier instructions how to treat me; so
that, taking it all in all, my life was not rendered so unendurable as
it had been on my first entry into the prison. Added to Abdullahi’s
kindly interest (?) in me, Idris himself had become a sort of reformed
character; he had tasted the sweets of imprisonment and the lash which
he had been so generous with, and had also experienced himself what
it was to be robbed on the Nebbi Khiddr account. The tables had been
completely turned on him, and he had learned a lesson.

When Adlan was executed and his house searched |217| for incriminating
papers without result, Idris es Saier was accused by the Khaleefa of
having assisted Adlan in disposing of the documents which he was in
search of. Idris was imprisoned in his own house and flogged into the
bargain; he was in disfavour for some time, and this gave released
Baggara prisoners an opportunity of getting even with him. They
explained the Nebbi Khiddr affair to Abdullahi, who ordered Idris to
repay all the moneys he had collected on this account; he was deprived
of all he had, but right up to the end, any former Baggara prisoner in
want of a dollar knew where to find one. He presented himself to Idris,
and asked for a further contribution towards a settlement of his claim.

These importunities drove Idris into begging from the prisoners,
since the Nebbi Khiddr tale would only work with prisoners coming
in from outlying districts, and they were few. As Idris never knew
when the next call would be made upon him, he found it politic to be
as kind and considerate to the prisoners as possible, and to relax
discipline to the utmost. This state of affairs, added to the presumed
instructions of the Khaleefa regarding myself, must have accounted for
Idris’ assembling the gaolers, and telling them in my presence that I
was only brought into the Saier to prevent any Government people from
carrying me off to Egypt; that if any one of them begged money from
me or ill-treated me in any way, he would be imprisoned, flogged, and
deprived of his post; Umm es Shole and her child were to be allowed
to come into the prison at any hour they chose—but, |218| and this
spoiled all, I was never to be allowed to sleep out in the open, and
must pass my nights in the Umm Hagar.

[Illustration: FAUZI PASHA IN DERVISH DRESS.]

I have already described a night in this “Black Hole of Calcutta,”
but it might not be out of place to try and give a slight description
of the first night Ibrahim Pasha Fauzi—one of Gordon’s favourite
officers—spent in that inferno, especially as he wishes me to do so.
When taken to the anvil, as I have already remarked, Fauzi broke down
completely, was carried off in a swoon to the Umm Hagar, placed sitting
with his back in the angle of the wall furthest from the door, and
there left—as I was, to “come round.” When the first batch of prisoners
was driven in at sunset, there was room for all to lie down on the foul
and saturated ground. When the second batch was driven in about an hour
and a half later, those lying down had to sit up with the new-comers,
and Fauzi’s outstretched legs gave a dry and comfortable seat to four
big Soudanese. I was driven in with the third batch after the night
prayers, and then all in the Umm Hagar had to stand up or be trampled
on. Fauzi, still suffering from the effects of the shell wound he
received in one of the sorties from Khartoum, with four people sitting
or standing on him, and being heavily chained as well, was unable to
rise to his feet. I could hear him from my place near the door feebly
expostulating with the people who were standing upon him; I thought
that maybe he was being trampled to death, and in my then frenzied
state commenced to fight my way towards him, striking friend and foe
|219| indiscriminately, and striking harder as I received blows
in return. A general fight was soon in progress over the few yards I
had to travel, as none were certain in the darkness who struck the
blow they had received, and struck out at random in retaliation. My
friends told me afterwards that I was a “shaitan” (devil), a mad fool,
and showered other dubious compliments upon me; but I reached Fauzi.
The warders, hearing the uproar, had opened the doors, and, as usual,
commenced to belabour the heads of all they could reach with their
sticks and whips. While the uproar was at its height, and the prisoners
swaying from side to side, I recognized the voices of one or two near
Fauzi who were under obligations to me for occasional little kindnesses
in the way of food; and, enlisting their services on most extravagant
promises, we tackled the people standing on Fauzi’s legs, pushed
them away, and made a sort of barricade round him with our bodies.
In clearing the space, we must have struck each other as often as we
struck those whom we wished to get out of the way, and Fauzi could not
tell whether an attempt was being made to murder or to rescue him. When
we did at last get him clear, we had to use a bit of old rag as a sort
of punka in order to bring him round; then he babbled.

At midnight, the doors of the cell were thrown open again, and about
twenty men, each wearing a shayba, were thrust into the place;
practically there was no room for them, but they had to be driven in
by some means. To make space for them, the gaolers resorted to their
favourite device of throwing into the cell handfuls of |220| blazing
straw and grass, and at the same time laying about the bare heads
and shoulders of the prisoners with their whips. The scene must be
imagined. Fauzi, seeing the fire falling on the heads of the prisoners,
believed that he had really been sent to hell—but communed with himself
in a dazed sort of way as to whether he was in hell or not. He appeared
to call to memory all that he had ever read of the place of torment,
and tried to compare the picture his brain had formed of it from the
descriptions, with what he was experiencing, coming to the conclusion
that he could not be in hell, as hell could not be so bad. At this
stage I was able to get him to take notice of me, and we discussed
hell and its torments until sunrise; but nothing could even now shake
Fauzi’s opinion that hell could not be as bad as such a night in the
Umm Hagar, and the worst he can wish any one is to pass such a night.
To Youssef Mansour he wishes an eternity of them.[10]

    [10] This Mansour was formerly an officer in the Egyptian
    Army, who had surrendered with the garrison at El Obeid.
    After this surrender, the governor of the town—Mohammad Said
    Pasha—arranged with his old officers and black regiments to
    seize their arms, on a given signal, and to turn against the
    Mahdists. Mansour, who, as one of Said’s former subordinates,
    was in the plot, is thought to have betrayed it to the Mahdi.
    Said and his principal adherents were sent out of camp by
    Mohammad Ahmed, and quietly done away with; but Mansour became
    the favourite of the Mahdi, and commanded his artillery at the
    battle of Omdurman. It is also said that the Christian captives
    were circumcised on his representations, and that he suggested
    the imprisonment of Fauzi, lest, when the Government troops
    advanced, Fauzi should seize an opportunity of joining them.
    Yet Mansour is reputed to be coming to Cairo to claim his back
    pay and pension from the Egyptian Government.

Among others who spent that memorable night in the Saier, were Ahmed
and Bakheit Egail, Sadik Osman, Abou-el-Besher and others from Berber,
arrested for assisting in the escape of Slatin; they were later
transported to the convict station at Gebel Ragaf on the evidence of
the guide Zecki, who |221| conducted Slatin from Omdurman to Berber.
Zecki had been arrested with them on suspicion of complicity in the
escape, and confessed that he had been engaged by Egail and others to
bring away from Omdurman a man with “cat’s eyes,” but that he did not
know who the man was.

Close to the common cell was an offshoot of it—a smaller one named
“Bint Umm Hagar” (the daughter of Umm Hagar), which took the place of
the condemned cell in Europe. On my return to prison, I learned that
my old enemy, Kadi Ahmed, had been confined there for a year. The
ostensible reason for his imprisonment was that he had been in league
with the false coiners, and had made large amounts of money; but the
real reason was that the Khaleefa was angry with him on account of the
death of Zecki Tummal, who had conducted the Abyssinian campaign when
King John was killed. Kadi Ahmed had been induced by Yacoub to sentence
Zecki to imprisonment and starvation; so when Ahmed’s turn came, the
Khaleefa said, “Let him receive the same punishment as Zecki.” He was
placed in the Bint Umm Hagar, and after about ten months the doorway
was built up; there Ahmed was left, with his ablution bottle of water
only, for forty-three days according to one tale, and fifty days
according to another. When, for days, no sounds had been heard from
his living tomb, he was presumed to be dead; but on the doorway being
opened up, to the astonishment, not to say superstitious fear, of all,
he was still alive, but unconscious, though the once big fat Kadi had
wasted to a skeleton. |222| Abdullahi must have received a fright
too, for he ordered Ahmed to be tenderly nursed and given small doses
of nourishing food every twenty-four hours, until the stomach was able
to retain food given oftener; but in spite of all care and attention,
the Kadi died on or about May 3, 1895. He was regretted by no one but
the Khaleefa, in whose hands he had been a willing tool, dispensing
justice(?) as his master dictated it, only to die the lingering death
in the end to which he had condemned so many at his master’s nod.

Kadi Ahmed’s place in the “Bint” was soon taken by his successor—Kadi
Hussein Wad Zarah. His offence was that of refusing to sentence people
unjustly, when ordered by the Khaleefa and Yacoub to do so. When first
walled up in his tomb, he was given, through a small aperture left
for the purpose, a little food and water every four or five days, but
towards the end of July, 1895, the doorway was built up entirely,
and Zarah, not being a big stout man like Ahmed, starved, or rather
parched, to death in about twenty-two or twenty-three days. It is hot
in the Soudan in July.

[Illustration: NEUFELD’S HUT IN THE SAIER, SHOWING THE FAMOUS ANVIL.]

During the first weeks of my imprisonment, Umm es Shole had little
difficulty in begging a small quantity of grain, and borrowing an
occasional dollar to keep us in food. But soon people became afraid of
assisting us any further, and we were bordering upon semi-starvation,
when, in the month of September, an Abyssinian woman came into the
prison to see me under pretence of requiring medical treatment. She
handed me a small packet, which she said contained letters from my
friends, and which had been given to |223| her by a man outside, who
had said he also had money for me, and wished to know who he should pay
it to. Three days elapsed before I found an opportunity of opening the
packet unobserved, for with all letters received and written then, I
had to wait until I found myself alone in the pestilential atmosphere
of an annexe to the place of ablution. The packet contained a letter
from my sister posted in 1891, another from Father Ohrwalder, and a
note from Major Wingate. They were all to the same import—to keep up
hope, as attempts were to be made to assist me.

Nearly two months must have slipped away before I succeeded in getting
my replies written. I sent these to the guide, Onoor Issa, who promised
that he would return for me in a few months’ time. Father Ohrwalder
has handed me the letter I sent to him. The following is in brief its
contents:―

 “I have received your letter enclosing that of my sister written
 four years ago, and the note from Wingate. Before everything else,
 let me thank you for the endeavours you are to make to assist me.
 Your letter was delayed in reaching me owing to the imprisonment of
 the guide, followed by the watch kept upon us after Slatin’s escape,
 and my transfer to the Saier, from which I hope to be released soon.
 There is great need of coins here; up to the present, no one has been
 able to produce a silver-resembling dollar. If I could produce such a
 coin, it would lead to my release from prison, and lend probability to
 my chances of escape. Could you send me instructions for the simple
 mixing of any soft metals to produce a silvery appearance, and send
 me some ingredients? I should like also an instrument to imitate
 the milling of coins; the dies can be cut here. I should be glad of
 any tools or instruments which you think cannot be had here. If I
 am not released by the time these arrive, I feel sure that I shall
 be released through their agency. Please send the enclosed notes to
 their respective destinations, and when the answers arrive, send them
 |224| on with the things I ask for. Can you give me any news as to
 how my business is progressing at Assouan, and the transactions of
 my manager? Our common friends here are in a sad way. Slatin will
 have told you all about the forced circumcisions; and now all the
 Christians have been ordered to marry three or four wives, and are
 engaged with marriage ceremonies. Beppo and I are in prison together
 in chains; other prisoners are Ibrahim Fauzi, Ibrahim Hamza, of
 Berber, who was arrested after Slatin’s escape; Ahmed and Bekheit
 Egail; Sadik and Besher have been transported to Equatoria, with two
 of their relations. Your messenger brought with him seventy dollars,
 which have been given to Beppo, and I enclose his receipt for them.
 Kindly translate the letter I enclose for Wingate; I have written it
 in German, as no one here but me understands the language. Please keep
 these letters secret. For God’s sake, do not let the newspaper people
 get hold of them, as you know, if they did, it would cost me my head.
 Perhaps, if you could get them to give as news something like this,
 it would help me: ‘We hear that, after the escape of Slatin, Neufeld
 was secured against escape; he has rendered great services to Mahdieh
 with the saltpetre; he would be able to replace Osta Abdallah, who is
 now old and feeble; Neufeld is in the greatest distress, and in prison
 with his certain death close at hand; the people in the Soudan believe
 he is a relation of Slatin.’”

Onoor Issa went off with my replies, undertaking to return in a few
months, after having made arrangements between Berber and Cairo for
my escape; and during his absence I was to scheme for any excuse to
get out of prison; escape from there was impossible. Onoor—or the
translators of his accounts—are mistaken in saying that he actually
met me in prison; all negotiations were carried on through the
Abyssinian woman whom he employed to come into the prison for “medical
attendance,” or Umm es Shole, and days and days elapsed between the
visits sometimes, in all amounting to maybe two months. There were
times |225| of mental tension in the Saier of Omdurman. To me ill luck
and good luck appeared to be ever striving for the ascendency during my
long captivity. Good luck gained in the end—the same good luck which
had accompanied the Sirdar throughout his daring campaign to conquer,
not only Abdullah, but the Soudan, and which, God grant, may ever
accompany him in future campaigns; but the cup-and-ball-catch-and-miss
strain was to me terrible. My one prayer was that an end might come.
Liberty, of course, I hoped for to the end; but I often discovered
myself speculating as to whether it was true or not that those suddenly
decapitated by a single blow experienced some seconds of really
intellectual consciousness, and wondering to myself whether, when my
head was rolled into the dust by the Khaleefa’s executioner, there
would be time to give one last look of defiance.

Yet when I come to think of it, there was nothing very strange in such
contemplations. What soldier or sailor has not often in his quiet
moments tried to picture his own death, defiant to the last as he
goes down before a more powerful enemy? And, after all, thousands and
thousands of men and women in civilized countries are enduring a worse
captivity and imprisonment than many did in the Soudan; but they are
unfortunate in this—that no one has thrown a halo of romance over their
sufferings. My lot was a hard, very hard one, I must admit; but the lot
of some other captives was such that thousands in Europe would have
been pleased to exchange theirs for it, and would have gained in the
exchange.



|226|

CHAPTER XIX

RUMOURS OF RELIEF


[Illustration: ONOOR ISSA.]

Soon after the departure of Onoor Issa I was saved any further
trouble in the way of scheming for excuses to get out of the Saier.
Awwad-el-Mardi, the successor of Nur-el-Gerafawi as the Amin
Beit-el-Mal on the appointment of the latter as director of the
Khaleefa’s ordnance stores, had been approached by Nahoum Abbajee and
others on the subject of the extraction of gold and silver from certain
stones which had been discovered in the neighbourhood. Awwad sent
Nahoum to see me about the erection of a crushing-mill or furnaces. My
interview with Nahoum was a stormy one. It commenced by his upbraiding
me for the pranks I had played in smashing the arsenal punching-machine
when we were associated in the establishment of a mint. The more I
laughed the angrier Nahoum became; he is deaf, and like most deaf
people, invariably speaks in an undertone, which is as distressing to
the hearer as is the necessity he is under of bawling back his replies.
It is next to impossible to hold a conversation with a deaf person
without the natural result of raising the voice exhibiting itself in
the features; the annoyance is there plain |227| enough, but when
the face flushes with the unwonted exertion, your deaf friend thinks
you are getting angry, and follows suit. This is precisely what Abbajee
did. He showed me his specimens, and I bawled into his ear, “Mica—not
gold, not silver—mica;” and he yelled back, “Gold, silver, gold.” The
noisy discussion, accompanied as it was with gesticulations, attracted
other prisoners around us, and Nahoum went off in high dudgeon.

When he had gone, a few of my friends asked why I did not offer to
assist him, and even if the thing was a failure, they thought I
was clever enough to find something else to do; but, as they said,
“promise anything provided it gets you out of the Saier.” There were
excellent reasons, but which I might not confide to them, why any work
I undertook to do should occupy months, and, if necessary, years in
completion. To offer to assist Nahoum in extracting gold and silver
from such stones meant that two or three weeks at the outside would
evidence our failure to do so, and then it was Saier again for me.
Whether any work I undertook to do for the Khaleefa was to end in
success or failure was immaterial to me; but it was very material
that the result, whatever it was to be, should not be attained for
months, as by the time my guides returned, the conditions surrounding
my escape might have so changed as to necessitate an entire change in
plans and programme. They might even entail the guides’ return to Cairo
or the frontier, and this occupied months. But the advice to accept
Nahoum’s proposals and trust |228| to luck for discovering some other
excuse for remaining out of the Saier when failure could no longer be
concealed, appealed to me, and, in reply to my offer of assistance, a
messenger came from the Khaleefa ordering the Saier to hand me over to
the director of the Beit-el-Mal. His other instructions were that the
bars and heavy chains were to be taken off my feet and legs, and that
I was to be secured by a single pair of anklets connected with a light
chain. While this change was being made I received the congratulations
of the gaolers and prisoners, and (February, 1896) was escorted out
of the prison by two guards to enter upon a new industry which had in
it as much of the elements of success as would accompany an attempt
to squeeze blood out of a cobbler’s lap-stone. I had not forgotten
Shwybo’s fate.

When I reached Khartoum, Awwad-el-Mardi had not yet arrived. It was the
month of Ramadan, and as all transactions were in abeyance until after
sunset, I was not allowed to land until Awwad arrived to hand me over
officially. I was left alone on one of Gordon’s old steamers, moored
at the spot where Gordon fell, and where the victorious Sirdar and his
troops landed to conduct the burial service. During the hours I had
to wait gazing at the ruined town and the dismantled palace which saw
the martyrdom of as good a man and soldier as ever trod this earth, I
ruminated over his blasted hopes and my own. I shall not pretend to
call to mind all the thoughts which surged through my brain as I paced
alone over the shell-and bullet-splintered deck; but you can imagine
what they |229| were when I reflected that I was the only European
in the Soudan who had fired a shot for Gordon, and that I was now a
captive in the hands of the successor of the Mahdi, gazing at the
ruined town from which, just eleven years ago, we had hoped to rescue
its noble defender. I should be ashamed to say that when Awwad did at
last come I was not in tears.

I felt more acutely than I did when first taken to Khartoum to be
“impressed,” and still more acutely than when I was hurriedly bundled
into the old Mission to start the saltpetre works. For the first time
since my captivity I had been left absolutely alone. I was sitting
on one of that fleet of “penny steamers” which, had Gordon not sent
down the Nile to bring up his rescuers, might have saved him and the
Soudan in spite of the wicked delay resulting from the attempt to make
a theatrically impressive show of an expedition intended to be one of
flying succour to the beleaguered garrison and its brave commander,
praying for months for the sight of one single red coat. Gordon, I had
been told, towards the end, called the Europeans together in Khartoum,
and telling them that, in his opinion, the Government intended to
sacrifice him, recommended them to make their escape. A deliberate
attempt to sacrifice him could not have succeeded better. What wonder,
when such thoughts as these and many others had been affecting me for
hours, that when Awwad came, as darkness was setting in, the darkness
of night had settled too upon my mind. He, believing that my chains
were the real cause of |230| my depression, ordered that they should
be exchanged immediately for lighter and smoother ones, for the anklets
and chains given me by Idris were rough in the extreme.

After being officially handed over to the Governor of Khartoum, the
question arose as to my quarters. I was offered quarters in his house,
but I had already experienced life amongst his Baggara bodyguard,
and begged hard to be allowed to live in the same place with Nahoum
Abbajee and Sirri—the former telegraph-clerk at Berber, with whom I was
to work. We were given the house of Ghattas, an old slave-dealer, to
live in. It was one of the best houses left standing in Khartoum, and
boasted an upper floor, which was taken possession of by Nahoum Abbajee
as head of what I might call the gold syndicate, while Sirri and I
shared the ground floor. In the East the West is reversed; you climb to
the garret with your rising fortunes, and descend with them, as they
fall, to the lower floors. Instead of having Saier or Baggara guards to
watch me, Awwad gave me some slaves from the Beit-el-Mal as guardians,
and they had, in addition to watching me, to perform the household
duties; in fact, they were my servants.

After the evening prayers, Awwad called together the employés of the
arsenal and my guards, and explained to them that I was no longer
a Saier prisoner; that my chains were left on only to prevent the
Government people taking me; that I was “beloved” of the Khaleefa,
and was to be treated as his friend, and that if any one treated me
differently, he would be sent to |231| take my place in the Saier.
Awwad then taking me aside under the pretence of giving me instructions
from the Khaleefa, said, “I am your friend; do not be afraid; if you
cannot find gold and silver, tell me of anything else you can do,
and I will see that the work is given to you, so that you may not be
sent back to the Saier.” As Awwad was then a perfect stranger to me,
I at first had suspicions in my mind as to the genuineness of his
friendship; but he was a Jaalin, and I trusted him.

We were told to get to work at once with the extraction of the
precious metals. As the engineer, I had to design and superintend
the construction of the furnaces to be made by Hassan Fahraani (the
potter), who also supplied the crucibles. Our first furnace crumbled to
pieces after being started, and a stronger one had to be made. Then the
crucibles gave out. We did all we could to coax gold and silver out of
those stones, and obtained some extraordinary results. We added earth,
common salt, saltpetre, oxide of lead—anything and everything to the
split stones in the crucibles. Sometimes we found the crucible and its
contents fused together. The only thing we actually found which gave an
idea that we were working for metals was a small shiny black ball, very
much resembling a black pearl, and this Hamadan at once took possession
of and carried off to Abdullahi, telling him that it only required time
for us to succeed. Hamadan, being our chief, was much interested in the
work, and he was doubtless looking forward to the day when part of the
contents of the crucibles would find its way to him. |232|

But our experiments were destined never to be finished. About April,
1896, rumours first, and then precise news, reached Omdurman that the
Government troops were again advancing. Then came the startling news
that Dongola had been taken, only to be followed by the news of the
capture of Abou Hamad. The fulminate factory presided over by Hassan
Zecki had run short of ingredients, and as the stock of chlorate of
potash ordered from Egypt had not arrived, it was believed that now the
troops held all the country between Dongola and Abou Hamad, it would
have no chance of getting through. Abdalla Rouchdi, the chemist of the
Beit-el-Mal, had, with Hassan Zecki, failed to produce chlorine, as had
also others, therefore we were ordered to experiment at once. Nahoum
was sent over to the Beit-el-Mal to collect all appliances, chemicals,
and anything else he chose to lay his hands upon. Our establishment was
growing, and Hamadan was delighted at having under his charge people
who were to do so much for Mahdieh. But the chlorine required for the
production of the chlorate of potash refused to appear. Our laboratory
was a dangerous place to visit, for we had jar upon jar containing
mixed acids, and explosions were the order of the day. Nahoum had a
lively time, deaf as he was. Once, and once only, Hamadan made pretence
of understanding our experiments; he took a good inhalation from a
vessel which had in it a mixture of various acids with permanganate of
potash. He was almost suffocated, but he was much impressed, and told
the Khaleefa what devoted |233| adherents he had when we would work in
such a poison-laden atmosphere.

There was good reason why I should do all in my power to keep Hamadan
interested and hopeful of grand results. Onoor Issa had sent me word by
a messenger from Berber that he was at that town with letters and money
for me, but that he had been detained by the Emir; he hoped, however,
to be able to get away very soon and arrange my escape. Then the
consignment of chlorate of potash put in its appearance—about twelve
hundredweight, I was told—and Sirri getting hold of a small sample of
it, we showed it to Hamadan to prove that we were just succeeding with
our experiments. He was satisfied, as was also Abdullahi, and we were
told to continue our work.

However, the tales which were coming in every few days were causing no
little anxiety to the Khaleefa. None of us believed that the troops
were coming across the desert in “iron devils,” and it was some
time before we understood that a railway was being built. Indeed we
could hardly believe it. Whatever the “iron devil” was, it behoved
the Khaleefa to look well to his arms and ammunition. Sheikh ed Din
was sent on a round of inspection of stores and arsenals,[11] and
discovered that a large quantity of the |234| powder had caked with
the absorption of moisture, that other large quantities were of very
poor quality, and that the powder-stores in general were not as he
thought they were. The Khaleefa threatened to cut a hand and foot off
both Abd es Semmieh and Hassan Hosny, the directors of the factory, if
they did not work the powder up again into a good explosive. Awwad,
as the head of the Beit-el-Mal, came and asked if it was not possible
to make some sort of machine for pulverizing the ingredients for the
powder; the work was then being done by hand. I tried to interest
Nahoum Abbajee in the work, as it was about time we got clear of
our alchemists’ establishment on some excuse or another, otherwise
I foresaw trouble if Sheikh ed Din should inquire too closely into
our work. But Abbajee thought that he had had quite enough of me in
connection with experiments and machinery, and decided to be out of
the affair altogether; he thought his life had been in enough jeopardy
already. Sirri elected to remain.

    [11] A few errors have crept into the report submitted to the
    Earl of Kimberley in April, 1895, after the escape of Slatin.

    On page 4 it is stated that the church of the Austrian Mission
    in Khartoum was utilized as the repairing shops of the arsenal.
    The church was never put to such a purpose. The account I have
    given of the purpose to which it was put is the correct one.

    On page 7 it is stated “Neufeld started the first saltpetre
    refinery in Khartoum.” This may or may not be correct, but
    it is very misleading. The refining of saltpetre for the
    Khaleefa was a big industry in Darfour and the environs of
    Omdurman and Khartoum long before I had anything to do with
    it. The account I have given as to how I came to be connected
    with this industry may be relied upon as being correct, while
    there are many living witnesses, irrespective of the stock
    of my saltpetre still existing, to prove that I deliberately
    prevented “the refining of saltpetre” so far as it lay in my
    power to do so.

    In the following paragraph to that quoted, it is stated that
    the powder-factory was at Halfeyeh. It never was. It was first
    in Omdurman, and, after the explosion, was gradually removed to
    Tuti Island. The transfer was not complete when I left Khartoum
    for the Saier in November, 1897.

    On page 10, when speaking of the coins in circulation, it is
    said, “This decrease in the intrinsic value of money is an
    interesting indication of the decline of dervish power and
    government.” The inference to be drawn from my account of its
    depreciation is just the reverse, but is the correct inference
    to be drawn.

I invented a powder machine on the principle of the old German “dolly”
toy. We spent a few weeks, assisted by Hamaida, the head of the
carpenters, in making a model, which worked beautifully; and when it
was shown to the Khaleefa, he was so delighted that he ordered my
chains to be removed. The mortars were put in hand at once, also the
beam which |235| was to lift and let fall the pulverizers, and then
it was discovered that the machine could not be made to my dimensions.
I knew this when I designed it, but I had hoped that some one would
have been sent south to try and find trees large enough to provide
the beams, and so delay would be assured. Osta Abdallah and Khaleel
Hassanein, jealous maybe of me, and fearing that their positions were
in danger of being taken by myself, went to the Khaleefa, and told
him that, in their opinion, I was only “fooling” with him. They also
suggested that Awwad-el-Mardi was a friend of the Government, and was
helping me on this account; but Yacoub, who was present, supported me.
In the course of the interview, the Khaleefa said he had heard that in
my country women and children made cartridges with machines, and as
I must know all about it, I was to make him such a machine while the
powder-mill was being constructed.

For ten years I had been so chained and weighted with iron that it
was only with effort I was able to raise my feet from the ground in
order to shuffle from place to place; the bars of iron connected with
the anklets had limited the stride or shuffle to about ten or twelve
inches. When freed from all this, I ran and jumped about the whole
day long like one possessed; but the sudden call upon muscles so long
unused resulted in a swelling of the legs from hips to ankles, and
this was accompanied with most excruciating pains. I had just got the
drawings ready for the cartridge-machine when I was compelled to lie
up. This gave Osta Abdallah and Hassanein another |236| chance to
approach the Khaleefa, and again they suggested that I was “fooling.”

Awwad was sent for, and in reply to the Khaleefa, said that he believed
I was doing my best, and would certainly succeed; that had he not
believed in me himself, he would never have recommended him to employ
me on such important works. Yacoub again took my part, and said that
whoever did not assist me, or whoever hindered me, would be considered
an enemy of Mahdieh. Although, as he admitted, he did not understand
the machines, yet in his opinion “there must be something in the head
of the man who invented them, and he was better employed in the arsenal
than idling his time in the Saier.” Awwad also said that if Osta
Abdallah and Hassanein had not and could not find the materials for the
construction of the machines, he believed that I could make another one
with such materials as they had. This decided the matter—both machines
were to be proceeded with; but the Khaleefa agreed to my being put
into chains to prevent my escaping, and on the thirteenth day of my
freedom the chains were replaced. Being unable to move from my house,
the joiners, with a lathe, their tools and material, were sent to
me, as the Khaleefa wished the machine to be completed as rapidly as
possible. Abdallah Sulieman, the chief of the cartridge-factory, was
then employing upwards of fifteen hundred men, and the Khaleefa wished
to release them for fighting purposes.

[Illustration: POWDER-MACHINES.]

My efforts to obtain either the original models or photographs of
them not having so far been successful, |237| I have had models of
the machines made here. Those interested in mechanics will discover
for themselves the mechanical defects and unnecessary complications
introduced into them. I was working under the supervision of fairly
good mechanical engineers, so that defects might not be made too
glaring. Some were detected and rectified, but the main defects were
not seen, being beyond the powers of calculation of Abdallah; and
Hamaida, who could and did see them, was enjoying the pranks which
were played. The various ideas I had picked up while associated with
Gordon’s old corps were now standing me in good stead. When the model
of the cartridge-machine was taken over to Abdullahi, instead of being
pleased with it he was furious: Berber had been taken! He said, “I want
cartridges, not models;” and gave orders that I should be taken from my
house, kept at work all day in the arsenal, and locked up at night in
the arsenal prison with the convicts employed there as labourers.

To gain more time, I insisted upon a full-sized wooden model of the
cartridge-machine being first made for the metal workers to work from.
Yacoub had given orders that all the material and labour of the arsenal
was to be put at my disposition. While the wooden model was being made,
I occupied myself in selecting the metal required, and in doing this
I laid hands upon everything Osta Abdallah required for the ordinary
works in hand. I appropriated the paddle axle of one of the steamers,
as I said I required this to be cut with eccentric |238| discs, and
did my best to smash the best lathe with it, to give me still more
time; but the lathe stood the strain, and four or five discs were
actually cut in the axle.

It would have taken them another year to cut the remainder at the
rate the work was progressing, and probably four years to make the
machine; then when it was finished there would have been an accident,
and some people would have been killed or maimed, for that paddle axle
would have come tearing through the machine with the first revolution.
I was taking a fiendish delight in destroying every good piece of
metal I could lay my hands on under pretence of its being required
for the machine; the copper and brass which I appropriated interfered
considerably with the production of the cartridges, and the skilled
workmen whom I kept employed delayed for months the finishing touches
to the new powder-factory on Tuti Island. But there could be no going
back now. Abdallah was my sworn enemy; but I knew that the more I
destroyed under his own eyes, the less risk there was of his going to
the Khaleefa again to induce him to believe that the whole of my work
was, as he called it, “shoogal khabbass”—all lies, for Abdallah himself
would get into trouble for not having discovered it before all the
damage had been done.

While still engaged on collecting material for the machine (for no
sooner was one lot cut up when it was discovered that some mistake had
been made in either length or thickness, so that another raid had to
be made on the stores), the steamer _Safia_ |239| was brought up and
beached opposite Mokran fort for repairs. Instead of being allowed
to settle on a cradle running the whole length of her keel, she was
supported only amidships, and her bow and stern tore away. All the
boats were at this time in the charge of the Beit-el-Mal, and when
Osta Abdallah condemned the _Safia_, and said it was impossible to
repair her, Awwad-el-Mardi, fearing the Khaleefa’s displeasure at such
a time, asked me if it was not possible to repair her. Taking with us
a number of men discontented with Osta Abdallah, we examined the boat,
and declared that she could be repaired. Awwad was pleased, and I was
appointed superintendent of this work too. My superintendence consisted
in hiding below and smoking surreptitiously.

Sometime in August, 1897, Onoor returned to Omdurman, and sent messages
to me through Umm es Shole. The import of them will be seen from the
following letter, which I was able to write and smuggle over to him;
the letter was to be delivered to the first officer he came across:―

 “In accordance with my arrangement with the bearer Onoor, I succeeded
 in getting liberated from the Saier, and moved over to Khartoum,
 where I have spent two years in the arsenal under surveillance.
 Onoor has been unable to meet me personally to consult over plans
 for escape, which offers little difficulty provided I had funds. In
 May, 1896, Onoor sent me, through his agent, your letter, and gave
 me to understand that the money mentioned in this letter was in his
 possession, and that he was awaiting an opportunity to bring it to
 Khartoum. Now (July-August, 1897) he has come to Omdurman only to find
 me in a difficult position, owing to the progress of the war. He tells
 me he was ordered to Suakin, where he was put in prison, and the money
 he had for me taken from him, |240| as he had no reply from me to the
 letter sent, or any evidence to show that the letter had been sent.
 He has borrowed some money here, for which I have gone bail for fifty
 pounds, and Onoor promises to be back in three months’ time with news
 from you and the money required for my support and escape. The course
 of the war will soon deliver us alive or dead from the hands of this
 savage rabble.

 “The greater part of the arsenal has been moved over to the
 Beit-el-Mal at Omdurman owing to the war, and the remaining material
 will follow very shortly, and I will go over with it, when I may
 have an opportunity of meeting Onoor if nothing occurs to disturb
 the extremely good relations existing between myself and my present
 masters. Please give Onoor (here follows a list of medicines);
 practising medicine facilitates my communication with the outer world.
 I hope Onoor will find with you a letter from my family; I am in good
 health, as is also my daughter Bakhita, and her mother Umm es Shole.
 We send you greetings.”

News was coming each day of the most alarming description for the
Khaleefa; tales of big gunboats coming to reconnoitre Khartoum, and the
“iron devil” (the railway) creeping forward, decided him on collecting
everything under his eyes. All stores were hurried over to Omdurman;
a hundred and fifty to two hundred men were sent over to destroy
the mission house, mosque, and other buildings in Khartoum, as the
Khaleefa was determined to leave no place of shelter for any troops
who succeeded in landing there. I was looked upon with the greatest
suspicion, as there was no concealing, try as I might, my anxiety to
glean every bit of news possible about the expedition, and I was also
in a fever of excitement expecting the return of Onoor. Each day was
bristling with opportunities for escape, provided there was a man with
a camel ready for me on the opposite |241| shore. With the dozens
of boats and hundreds of men employed in transferring the arsenal to
the other side of the river, a successful escape was assured; but
Onoor never came. Towards the end of November, 1897, I was taken over
with the last of the arsenal material to Omdurman, and put into the
Saier prison, only until, as I was told, a house could be got ready
for me in the Beit-el-Mal, where we were to complete the powder-and
cartridge-machines.



|242|

CHAPTER XX

PREPARING TO RECEIVE THE GUNBOATS


When I returned to the Saier in November, 1897, it was as a visitor—a
distinguished one at that. I was told that I was only to remain there
until my quarters in the Beit-el-Mal were ready for occupation,
when I was to leave the prison and continue the construction of the
powder-and cartridge-machines, to the completion of which the Khaleefa
and Yacoub were looking forward with no little interest and anxiety.
But once inside the gates of the Saier, Osta Abdallah and Khaleel
Hassanein determined to keep me there, and succeeded in doing so. When
Awwad-el-Mardi again interested himself on my behalf, these worthies
succeeded in persuading Yacoub that Awwad’s interest in me was sure
evidence of his sympathies with the Government, and their schemes ended
by Awwad also being sent into the prison with threats of what would
happen to him if he attempted to hold any intercourse with me.

[Illustration: A GROUP—FROM PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN AT THE FEAST OF BEIRAM,
1899.

1. Mohammed Sirri, formerly telegraph clerk at Berber. He, with Hassan
Bey Hassanein, cut the Khaleefa’s communications.

2. Morgan Torjin. Imprisoned for two years for telling the Khaleefa
that he insisted on being allowed to smoke tobacco and drink Marissa.

3. Khaleel Agha Orphali.

4. Said Bey Gumaa.

5. Osman Bey Daali, commandant of Irregular troops in Sennaar.

6. Hassan Bey Hassanein.

7. Sheikh Ali Toulba, formerly of the Khartoum Medrassa (college).

8. Ahmed Riad, formerly head clerk of Slatin at Dara. He it was who
wrote the letters calling upon Said Gumaa to submit to the Mahdi, and
who accompanied Slatin to Zoghal when Dara was surrendered.

9. Mohammad Farag, former officer of Dara troops.

10. Rhubrian Baalbal, clerk to Lupton.

11. Sheikh Taher Farrag, Kassala Medrassa (college).

12. Ahmed Yusef Kandeel, clerk to Wad Nejoumi.

13. Hassan Bey Abdel Minain, president of the Court of Appeal at
Khartoum.]

It was possibly a week after entering the prison that Umm es Shole
came in to say that she had seen and spoken to Onoor Issa, who had not
left |243| Omdurman—the same Onoor whose return I had looked for so
anxiously during the time of the transfer of the arsenal from Khartoum,
when each day bristled with opportunities for successful flight!
Fearing that he might play me false, and hand the notes I had given
him to the Khaleefa as an earnest of his loyalty to him, I sent off
Umm es Shole, and told her to say that I had a few notes to add to the
letters which I had given him. Onoor at once suspected my reasons for
sending for them, and replied that he was not pleased with my want of
confidence in him, that he had a permit to proceed to Suakin for trade,
but, having fallen under suspicion, he had so far been prevented from
leaving, though he hoped to be able to leave any day. Upon this I again
trusted him, and added the following to my notes, sending them out to
him as soon as it was written:―

 “News from here (the Saier); Slatin knows Omdurman prison. From the
 Beit-el-Mal to Morrada along the river are six semicircular forts with
 flanks; each fort has three guns, but the flanks are loopholed for
 musketry only. The parapets are of Nile mud, and appear to be three
 metres thick. Most of the forts are situated close under the high
 wall. There is a similar fort at the north end of Tuti Island, two
 more at Halfeyeh, and the same number at Hugra, north of Omdurman.
 Two batteries near Mukran sweep the White Nile and the arm which
 skirts Tuti Island, and I have just heard that some one has offered
 to lay torpedoes in the Nile to blow up the steamers. Slatin knows
 more about the army than I do; Wad Bessir has come in from Ghizera
 with about two thousand men. Osman Digna, with a force I have not
 learned the strength of, is at Halfeyeh. Onoor will tell you all
 about these troops. Ahmed Fedeel is at Sabalooka (Shabluka), and his
 strength is better known to you than me. The whole population left
 here is in the greatest dread of this savage rabble and their rulers,
 and pray God to deliver them out of their |244| hands, and that you
 may save them from the fate of the Jaalin. I pray you to keep this
 letter an absolute secret. There are traitors among your spies” (this
 remark was confirmed a few weeks later); “if the least inkling of my
 communications with you reach the Khaleefa’s ears, it will be all over
 with me. Answer me in German, as no one else here understands the
 language. It is a mistake to trust any Arab—civilized or uncivilized.
 Onoor is the only one who has brought me any news. He is the best
 man to go between us. In expectation of an early reply from you, I
 subscribe myself yours devotedly, and pray God he may enable me to
 join you soon. I have been moved from Khartoum to the Omdurman prison
 only until my house is ready in the Beit-el-Mal.

 The Khaleefa has received news that steamers are coming to reconnoitre
 Khartoum.”

It was not until the end of December that Onoor succeeded in obtaining
permission to leave Omdurman; and then hurrying to Suakin, he handed
in my notes to the commandant there, returning six months later with
his thanks for the information given and money to keep me going. It is
passing strange that my trouble in collecting information about the
forts, writing to the advancing army, and giving what details I could,
should have given those on the way to Omdurman the impression that it
was “Neufeld’s forts” which were being knocked to pieces. Even my good
friend—that King of War Correspondents—Mr. Bennet Burleigh, was good
enough to tell me that he believed I had designed and constructed them.
They were all the work, from beginning to end, of Youssef Mansour.

At the time I am speaking of, the prison was filled with suspected
sympathizers with the Government; the presence of Ibrahim Pasha Fauzi
and |245| Awwad-el-Mardi has already been alluded to. Hogal, who
should have accompanied me on the expedition to Kordofan, was also
a prisoner; but it was three months before I was able to steal an
interview with him—about the time of the anniversary of my capture—and
then I learned, at almost the hour of my release, the real history of
my capture. Our circle of “Government people” was added to daily; one
of the most interesting additions being a party of sixteen or seventeen
spies, amongst whom was Worrak from Dongola, Abdalla Mahassi from
Derawi, Ajjail from Kassala, and others from Suakin. They had been
betrayed by other spies; I have forgotten the names of the traitors,
but it is of little moment now, as doubtless the betrayed settled up
their accounts on the taking of Omdurman. The betrayer or betrayers
were Dongolawi—perhaps the only coterie of thieves on earth who have no
honour among themselves.

Whatever may have been the excitement and anxiety in other parts of
the world concerning the Sirdar’s advance, we had our share of both in
Omdurman. Strange tales had reached us of offers of assistance sent to
the Khaleefa to resist the advance of the troops. Shortly before I left
Khartoum, a field-gun had arrived from the south as a present for the
Khaleefa; it was accompanied by a limited supply of ammunition—brass
cartridges carrying a shell in the same way as the rifle carries its
bullet. One of the cartridges was sent to the Khartoum arsenal, to see
if others could be made like it. Various tales were told concerning its
origin; but as the gun must have been taken at the |246| capture of
Omdurman, its real history has no doubt been traced.

It was only when I met in prison Ibrahim Wad Hamza of Berber, and
Hamed Wad-el-Malek, that I learned from them what had transpired
when the King of Abyssinia sent an envoy to the Khaleefa asking his
assistance against the Italians. The envoy had been brought to the
Khartoum arsenal to inspect it, but I was not allowed to speak to him.
An arrangement had been come to by which the Abyssinians were to open
up trade routes from Gallabat, and send in so much coffee and other
articles of food monthly, in return for the promised assistance of the
Khaleefa in attacking the Italians; but the contributions or tribute
was paid for a few months only, as another envoy came with offers of
assistance against the advancing armies. He was the bearer of a flag
which he asked the Khaleefa to fly, as the troops might not fire at
it; the conferences, like all conferences between the Khaleefa and
strangers, were held privately, but at the end of the last conference,
the Khaleefa gave his reply in the presence of the Emirs and others.
Handing back the flag, he said, “My mission is a holy and religious
one; I trust to God for help and success; I do not want the help of
Christians. If ever I required the help of man, the Mohammedan boy
Abbas is nearer and better to me,” and with this he waved the envoy
and his companions off. The only construction we could place on
the concluding sentence, was that the Khaleefa wished every one to
understand that, sooner than accept the help of a Christian power, he
would |247| surrender to the Khedive, and this meant never, for he was
looking forward to the day when he would erect his scaffolds in the
Cairo citadel, and haul up the Khedive and “Burrin” (Lord Cromer) as
his first victims. To the Soudanese, Lord Cromer, or “Burrin,” as they
mispronounced Baring, held the same relation to the Khedive as Yacoub
did to the Khaleefa.

From the day Mahmoud started until the arrival of the victorious army
in Omdurman, I was pestered with questions day and night; the Mahdists
wished to know whether the advancing troops belonged to the sheikh who
sent the troops for Gordon in 1884; those against Mahdieh wished to
know if they belonged to the other sheikh. From the Arabic papers which
found their way to Omdurman, the Soudanese had learned that there were
two tribes in England, each led by powerful sheikhs; one, the sheikh of
1884, and the other the sheikh who had said that when he started there
would be no coming back until he had “broken up” (smashed) Mahdieh. To
the Mahdists, it was the troops who “ran away” who were coming again;
to the “Government” people it was immaterial which sheikh was in power;
British troops were advancing, and that was enough. At night our circle
would sift and discuss all the tales we had heard during the day, and
although we were filled with hope, anxiety and fear got the better of
us on most occasions.

When Mahmoud was sent off, his instructions were to wait at Metemmeh,
and do all in his power to harass the troops as they crossed the river;
if strong enough |248| to attack them, he was to do so, but if they
were stronger, he was to retire gradually to Kerreri, where an old
prophecy had foretold that the great battle was to take place. Mahmoud
disobeyed these instructions, and crossed to the east bank, upon which
the Khaleefa sent him orders not to remain in a zareeba or trenches,
but to attack the infidels in the open. Hardly had the excitement
caused by Mahmoud’s defiance of the Khaleefa’s orders died down, when
the news came that he had attacked and annihilated the English army.
But other news than this followed on its heels; we learned the truth
from a band of about thirty-eight blacks wearing the Egyptian uniform.
They were dervishes taken at Dongola and Abou Hamad, and drafted into
the army. At the Atbara they deserted to the dervishes, but suspected
of being spies, they were sent to the Saier. The whole truth came out
when Osman Digna came back to Omdurman to report to the Khaleefa.

“What news have you brought me, and how fare the faithful?” inquired
Abdullahi. “Master,” replied Osman, “I led them to Paradise.” Now,
Osman had been doing this at every battle for years, and the Khaleefa’s
patience was exhausted; he wanted victories, and not pilgrimages of his
best troops to the next world. “Then why did you not go with them?”
retorted Abdullahi. “God,” replied Osman, “had not ordained it so;
He must have more work for me to do; when that work is finished, He
will call me.” It was well known to the Khaleefa, and every one else
in the Soudan, that Osman had an excellent eye for a |249| field of
battle, and knew an hour before any one else did, when to make a bolt
for it on a losing day. Osman’s appearance was quite sufficient to let
people understand that all the tales of victory on the side of the
dervishes were false, and it was useless for the Khaleefa to try any
longer to conceal the truth, but some explanation had to be given for
the terrible rout of his army. It was all the doing of an outraged
Deity. Mahmoud had disobeyed the orders transmitted through Abdullahi
by the Prophet, and this was the result! As other stragglers came
in, extraordinary tales were told of enormous steamers with enormous
guns which fired “devils” and “lightning”; this description probably
referred to the rockets, which, I gathered, had ricochetted all over
Mahmoud’s camp, playing terrible havoc.

On the fall of Dongola, a Mograbin (from Tunis, or Algiers), named
Nowraani, had offered his services to Yacoub, as a maker of torpedoes,
and with these he said he could blow up every boat on the Nile. His
offer at the time was refused, as the Khaleefa said that it was his
intention to capture all these boats for himself; he did not wish
them to be destroyed. But the tales which came in about them after
the Atbara fight, showed that something must be done to secure them.
Abdallah and Hassanein undertook to make a “boom” of chains across the
Sabalooka (Shabluka) pass, and for this purpose almost every scrap
of chain in Omdurman was collected. Their plan, as described to me,
was as follows: the chains were to be laid across the stream, their
ends made fast to posts on the opposite |250| banks of the Nile. To
prevent them from sinking to the bed of the stream, a series of large
wooden buoys had been made, and these were to be fixed at intervals
along the boom. It had been calculated that the buoys would, with the
weight of the chains, be sunk just below the surface of the water, and
also keep the chains in a series of loops; these loops were intended
to entangle the paddles and propellers of the gunboats, and, while so
entangled, Mansour’s picked men were to shoot every one on board, and
then, releasing the boats, bring them on to Omdurman. That was the
arrangement.

Employed in the arsenal at the time was a man named Mohammad Burrai—a
Government sympathizer, and a bitter enemy of Mansour and the others;
he was entrusted with the attaching of the buoys at the fixed points
in the boom. A few days after the boom was sent down the river, and,
while I was “practising” the healing art at the gates of the prison,
I received an interesting patient; it was Burrai, his head so wrapped
up in cloths as to make him unrecognizable. He told me first of the
arrangements made for the boom, and how he had succeeded in destroying
it. The chains had been laid over the sterns of boats anchored in the
Nile from bank to bank, and Burrai had fixed the buoys to them, but
instead of making the buoys _fast_ at these points, he merely slipped
the rings round the boom so that the buoys could run from one end to
the other. The word was given to slip the boom off the boats. The
buoys with the force of the current were carried to the centre |251|
of the boom, and, with the resistance offered by them to the stream,
the cables snapped and were lost. Burrai’s object in coming to me will
be divined; having been employed on the construction of the boom, he
might, when the English arrived, be shot as a Mahdist, and he wished to
tell me, as a “Government man,” what he had done, so that I could speak
up for him. This I promised to do.

There were no more chains left with which to make another boom, but
those terrible boats must be stopped from coming to Omdurman, and
Nowraani was sent for to explain his project again. He proposed to
take two large tubular boilers, then lying at Khartoum, cut them in
two, fill them with powder, seal up the open ends, and fire them
by electricity as the boats passed over them. Sirri, the former
telegraph-clerk at Berber, was asked to design the electrical
apparatus, but he pleaded ignorance of such things. I was next sent
to, to give my opinion as to the feasibility of Nowraani’s plan. It
was explained to me that each half of the boilers would contain thirty
cantars (a ton and a half) of gunpowder; then it was mines, and not
torpedoes, the man wished to make; however, the name “torpedo” was
always used. I replied that I had heard, as Nowraani said, of torpedoes
being used in the sea for the destruction of great ships, but had never
heard of them being used in rivers, and I doubted his ability to make
them. The Khaleefa was not satisfied with my answer, and sent word
that he believed I could assist in the making of them, but would not.
To this, again, I said I should be only too |252| pleased to help
Nowraani in his work, but what he proposed to do was very dangerous and
risky. I said I felt sure that the only result would be an explosion
while the torpedoes were being made, and that, while I did not mind
being killed myself, I would not like to meet Allah responsible for the
lives of others. Perhaps I made a mistake in putting forward religious
scruples, for the Khaleefa never believed in my conversion; he took it
for granted that I refused to help, and told the Saier to load me with
an extra chain and bar.

Nowraani insisted that his plans were feasible, and a small
experimental “torpedo” was ordered to be made; Mansour, Hassanein,
and Abdallah superintended the work, which was carried out in almost
absolute secrecy. When finished, the mine was taken over to the Blue
Nile, made fast under a boat, and exploded. The result was most
satisfactory—the boat being blown to matchwood, and a large column
of mud and water thrown into the air, which was more impressive,
evidently, than the destruction of the boat.

[Illustration: NEUFELD DOUBLY FETTERED.]

The “torpedoes” were ordered immediately, and men were kept working
night and day for their completion; the boilers were cut in two, plates
fitted to the open ends, wires and “strings,” as it was described to
me, fitted to mechanism in the interior, and in maybe a fortnight’s
time I learned that four big and one small torpedo were fastened to
gyassas ready to be lowered into the stream, while others were being
made. Again I received a visit from Burrai; he had |253| to assist
in the laying of the mines, and wanted to know from me how they might
be rendered useless. From his description of the wires and lines
running in pairs, I came to the conclusion that electricity was to be
the medium for their explosion, especially as Burrai’s instructions
were to take charge of these lines, pay them out as the torpedoes sank,
and make the free ends of the line fast to posts, which had been fixed
on the land just south of Khor Shamba. I told him that if either wire
or string of the pairs of lines was broken, the torpedoes could not be
fired, and suggested his giving a hard tug to one of the lines as soon
as the “barrel” as he called the mines, was lowered to the bed of the
stream.

What happened we know; how it happened we never shall. Burrai was
seen on the _Ismailia_, which towed down the stone-laden gyassas with
the torpedoes; the gyassas were to have a hole knocked in them, and
the boat and torpedoes allowed to sink gradually. One torpedo had
been lowered, and an explosion immediately followed. The boats with
Nowraani and between thirty and forty men were blown to atoms; the
_Ismailia_ was blown in two—the stern floating a few yards down stream
and sinking. Burrai was picked out of the water with the whole of the
flesh of the calf of his left leg blown clear away, and also the flesh
from his ribs on the left side. He lingered for seven days, asking
repeatedly for me; but all that I was allowed to do was to send him
carbolic acid for his wounds—I was not allowed to go and see him. To
all inquiries as to how the accident |254| happened he could, or
would, only say that all he did was to pull in the slack of the lines,
to prevent their becoming entangled.

Sorry as I am for poor Burrai’s death, I cannot consider that I am in
any way to blame for it; I can only think that some system of fuse, or
detonator, had been fixed to the “torpedoes,” and that the very action
which I had suggested to render them useless had exploded them. About
the time that the mines exploded, Onoor returned, or, at least, I
received the news of his return, by receiving the letter and money he
had brought from Suakin. Every one with leanings towards the Government
was now coming to me in prison under one pretext or another, to give
me information as to all that was going on; it was to their interest
to do so, as to the end I was looked upon as an official. Owing to
this, I was able to send out to Onoor slips of paper giving as nearly
correct details as possible of the number of various arms possessed
by the dervishes, the stock of ammunition, and the Khaleefa’s plans
as far as they were known. In one of my notes I informed the army
of the explosion of the “torpedoes,” and the existence of two other
mines ready to be sent off, with details concerning the forts. I asked
Onoor to get away with these as quickly as possible, and he promised
to do so. I do not know who he handed these notes to, or whether he
handed them over himself; he replies to my inquiries by writing me
from Omdurman saying that he was arrested on the Nile by Osman Digna,
but whether coming or going from the army it is impossible to say.
My own opinion is that Onoor, |255| not knowing how the day would
go, remained in Omdurman the whole time. If the English won, his life
was safe as a well-known spy; if the dervishes won, he was among his
own people, and could take credit for having contributed towards the
victory. He was not the only one in the Soudan who debated chances and
probabilities as did Hassib Gabou, and Hogal when Gabou talked him over
on April 1, 1887.

No sooner had my “latest intelligence” been sent off by Onoor, than an
arsenal carpenter, Mohammad Ragheb, came to me on the subject of the
remaining torpedoes. He had been ordered to assist in the laying of
them, and was particularly anxious to learn from me how he might render
them useless, and no less anxious that I should make a mental note
of the fact so that I could say a “good word” for him if ever he was
accused of trying to impede the advance of the “Government.” Associated
with him was a no particular friend of mine—Ali Baati, and others;
but there was no mistaking their earnest desire and real anxiety to
circumvent all the schemes of Mansour, Hassanein, and Abdallah in
favour of the Government troops.

Ragheb could give me no more information as to the firing medium of the
mines than could Burrai; all he could tell me was that the “barrels”
had the wires wrapped two or three times round them to prevent their
being pulled or dragged in removal. I suggested first that he should
chip away any cement which he thought filled any hole or crevice;
this would allow of the water penetrating. Next I suggested that he
should, as the boats carrying the mines went down |256| the river,
try and “snip” any or all of the wires running round the “barrel,” but
cutting the wires in different places, so that the trick would not
be discovered. Ragheb must have succeeded, for neither of the mines
exploded, although Mansour had appointed people to fire them as the
gunboats passed.

It is impossible for me, away from the spot where association would
bring to memory the incidents of those stirring times, to remember the
names of all who came to me asking what they might do to evidence,
before the arrival of the troops, their loyalty to the Government,
and it must not be forgotten that they were running risks in fighting
Mahdieh. It is but right that I should record the one or two striking
examples which occur to me, especially in the face of my oft-expressed
opinion that there are one or two released captives, who should not
even be allowed the formality of a drum-head court-martial.



|257|

CHAPTER XXI

NEARING THE END


Events were now following each other in rapid succession. In the
universal excitement prevailing, sleep was almost unknown, drums were
beaten and ombeyehs blown continuously day and night, days and dates
were lost count of; even Friday, that one day in the week in Mahdieh,
was lost sight of by most, and the prayers were left unsaid.

Councils of war were the order of the day—and night; and what tales we
heard! The Emir Abd-el-Baagi had been entrusted by the Khaleefa and
Yacoub with keeping in touch with the advancing armies, and sending
to Omdurman information of every movement. Never was a general better
served with “intelligence” than was Abdullahi by Abd-el-Baagi; his
messengers were arriving every few hours in the early days, and hourly
towards the end. It was with no little astonishment that we heard
Sabalooka was to be abandoned. The boom of chains which was to entangle
the paddles of the gunboats had snapped, therefore it was the will of
Allah that the boats were to come on. Then the mines exploded. Again it
was Allah, who in this showed that |258| he would not have His designs
interfered with. The real truth of the matter was, that the troops at
Sabalooka, hearing that the gunboats had guns which could send one of
the “devils” (shells) half a day’s journey, and over hills too, took
upon themselves to retire out of range.

There was an old prophecy to the effect that the great fight would
take place on the plains of Kerreri. Here the infidels were to be
exterminated, and all the waverers on the side of the faithful were
to be killed, the remnant collecting afterwards and then starting
off, a purified army, on the conquest of the whole world. Again, it
was decided that the faithful were to collect in Omdurman, and allow
the infidels to come on. While attacks were being made against them
on the western flank and rear, a great sortie was to be made from
the town, when the infidels, pressed back to Kerreri plains, would
be caught between three fires, and exterminated. The gunboats, with
their “devils,” would be afraid to shoot, as they would kill their own
people. But no sooner had this been decided upon when objections were
raised. Those gunboats could anchor half a day’s journey off, knock
Omdurman to pieces, and bury the faithful under the ruins.

Again the prophecy was alluded to, and a move out to meet the armies
finally decided upon. Every man was to be taken out of Omdurman, so
that, if the infidels should succeed in reaching the town, they would
find only women and children, and instead of their being the besiegers,
they would become the besieged. |259|

Omdurman was overrun by Abdullahi’s spies, who, professing to be
friendly towards the “Government,” tried to wheedle out of known
friends of the Government expressions of opinion as to the chances of
success to the Mahdists’ arms, and at the same time to ascertain the
general feeling of the populace. Their favourite hunting-ground was of
course the Saier, where the more influential people were incarcerated.
From the persistence with which these spies pressed their inquiries as
to the chances of success which might attend large bodies deserting
to the Ingleezee under cover of darkness—their anxiety to learn how
they might approach the camp without being fired upon before they had
been given an opportunity of evidencing their peaceable intentions—we
came to the conclusion that Abdullahi had been advised to make a
night attack. Few knew better than we did what might be the result of
such a tactic. At close quarters the dervish horde was more than a
match for the best-drilled army in Europe. Swift and silent in their
movements, covering the ground at four or five times the speed of
trained troops, every man, when the moment of attack came, accustomed
to fight independently of orders, lithe and supple, nimble as cats and
as bloodthirsty as starving man-eating tigers, utterly regardless of
their own lives, and capable of continuing stabbing and jabbing with
spear and sword while carrying half a dozen wounds, any one of which
would have put a European _hors de combat_—such were the 75,000 to
80,000 warriors which the Khaleefa had ready to attack the Sirdar’s
little army. Artillery, |260| rifles, and bayonets would have been but
of little avail against a horde like this rushing a camp by night.

We had heard from the prisoner deserters how, at the Atbara, the
armies had advanced by night and delivered their attack at dawn, first
shelling the zareeba with their “devils,” which “came from such a great
distance.” With Fauzi, Hamza the Jaalin, and others, I came to the
conclusion that the same tactics would be employed for the attack at
Kerreri; therefore, to the spies we swore that the English never did
things twice in the same way; that they would on this occasion march
during the day and attack at night, since the Sirdar would be afraid
to let his soldiers see the Khaleefa’s great army, as they would all
run away if they did. Our advice was that the faithful should remain in
their camp, and await the attack. It would have been very awkward for
me had the Sirdar planned a night attack, for he would have found the
dervishes on the _qui vive_ awaiting him, and then I might have been
blamed for the advice I had given. However, I believed that a night
attack would be the very last thing he would resort to, and any tale
from our side was good enough, provided doubts were raised in the minds
of the Khaleefa and his advisers as to the chances of success which
would attend his attacking by night.

The population at this period may be said to have divided itself into
three camps; the one praying—and sincerely, for the victory to Mahdieh;
the second praying openly to the same end, but breathing prayers to
Heaven for just the reverse; the third camp—and |261| this the bigger
of the three, consisting of those waiting to see which side would
probably win in order to throw in its lot with it. Dozens of people,
who really were friends of the Government, came to me in prison asking
advice as to what they might do before the troops actually arrived to
evidence their loyalty, and it must not be forgotten that they were
risking death at the hour of deliverance. To most I was still the
“brother of Stephenson el Ingleezee,” and there were “brothers” of mine
coming up with the Government troops.

I was able, through these people, to collect the information I was
sending off daily by spies. Abdallah-el-Mahassi, who had received some
message from Major Fitton, asking about me, and also asking for all
information procurable concerning the arms and ammunition possessed by
the dervishes, sent to me the spy Worrak, who had been released from
prison, for any information I could give. Worrak, doubtless looking
forward to a reward, decided upon delivering my messages himself. He
was to be accompanied by two others; so, besides giving him notes
with the numbers of rifles, etc., issued to the troops, and a last
warning about the mines near Halfeyeh, I gave the information verbally
to the three, so that, in the event of it being found necessary to
destroy the papers, the verbal messages would get through. Worrak and
his companions left, but were intercepted by Abd-el-Baagi’s scouts.
Inflating their water-skins, they took to the river under a shower of
bullets. Worrak must have been killed or drowned, |262| as he was not
seen again; but the two others reached the British lines, delivered the
messages, and said that they would be confirmed by Worrak, who they
then thought must have been carried by the current to the east bank of
the Nile. These were the last messengers I actually sent off.

One of the Saier gaolers had worked himself into a state of frenzied
excitement in describing, for the edification of the prisoners—and mine
in particular, the coming destruction of the infidels. He gloated over
the time when the principal officers—their eyes gouged out to prevent
their looking upon the benign face of his master, would be brought into
the Saier, and there baited for the amusement of the populace. How
little the Sirdar thought, on that September evening, that one of the
gaolers grovelling at his feet had, but a few days previously, looked
forward to the time when he, blinded and shackled, would be lashed
round the place, and, with the rest of my “brothers,” spend the nights
in the “Umm Hagar.” This gaoler, in his mad enthusiasm, rushed at me,
and nearly succeeded in gouging out my left eye. There was a struggle,
and getting up almost breathless, and certainly driven to desperation,
I turned stupidly round, and prophesied, for his edification this
time, that the destruction he had predicted for my “brothers” was the
destruction which was to fall upon Mahdieh.

[Illustration: SHEREEF, THE “FALSE FOURTH KHALEEFA.”]

It was fortunate for me that, for a few days previous, Idris es Saier
had been sending for me, under one pretext and another, and asking what
action he should |263| take in case the English won the battle.
I promised that if he treated me well, I would say “good words” for
him; but perhaps Fauzi’s tale made the greatest impression upon him.
Fauzi related that when the English took Egypt there was one gaoler
at Alexandria and another at Cairo. The gaoler at Cairo treated
his prisoners well, and so the English promoted him; the gaoler at
Alexandria killed his prisoners, and ran away to another country across
the seas, but the English brought him back, and hanged him in his old
prison. Knowing that the troops were close, Idris took me under his
especial care, for he knew I had sent messages to my “brothers” telling
them I was alive, and he feared that if they came and found me dead,
they would hang him on the same scaffold with my corpse. Although he
warned the gaolers and spies to say that I was mad, and did not know
what I had been saying, my little speech by some means got to Yacoub’s
ears. I was carefully watched, and no one from outside was allowed to
speak to me. I should have been taken out of prison to see the great
fight, but I believe that I was the only Christian not called out to
the field of battle. I had asked Idris not to remove my chains if I was
sent for. I had no wish to be found alive or dead on the field as a
practically free man, and, dressed as a dervish, any attempt on my part
to escape to the British lines during the fight could only end in my
being shot down.

The Khaleefa had been sitting for eight days in the mosque in communion
with the Prophet and the Mahdi, and it was either on the Tuesday night
or |264| Wednesday morning immediately preceding the battle that
the decision to move out of town was arrived at. On the Wednesday
afternoon a grand parade of all the troops was held on the new parade
ground, and, while it was being held, alarming news was brought
by Abd-el-Baagi’s messengers. Instead of returning to the town as
intended, the Khaleefa set off with the whole army in a north-westerly
direction. It was this hurried movement which accounted for the
greater part of the arms and ammunition he required being left in the
Beit-el-Amana, for Abdullahi had intended distributing the remainder of
the rifles only at the last moment, when his troops would have to use
them against the infidels in self-defence; he could trust none but his
Baggara and Taaishi. Sheikh ed Din, with Yunis, Osman Digna, Khaleefa
Shereef, and Ali Wad Helu, moved off first in command of the attacking
army of 35,000 rifles and horsemen. Yacoub followed in command of a
similar number of spear and swordsmen; in all, the army assembled
must have numbered between 75,000 and 80,000 men. As every male had
been taken from Omdurman, the Khaleefa issued a hundred rifles to the
gaolers with which to shoot down the prisoners in case of trouble.

That night the rain came down in torrents, and the following day the
army arose uncomfortable, and maybe a little dispirited, but Abdullahi
restored their good spirits by the relation of a vision. During the
night the Prophet and the Mahdi had come to him, and let him see
beforehand the result of the battle; the souls of the faithful killed
were all rising |265| to Paradise, while the legions of hell were seen
tearing into shreds the spirits of the infidels. While this tale was
going its rounds, the gunboats were creeping up, and a further move to
the north was ordered, for it had been reported that the English were
landing the big guns on Tuti Island, to shell the camp.

We, too, in prison heard that the gunboats were approaching, and then
we heard the distant boom, boom of the guns gradually nearing and
growing louder. Before we had time to speculate as to whether the great
fight had commenced or not, a boy whom I had stationed on the roof of a
gaoler’s house, came running down to say that the “devils” were passing
Halfeyeh. At the same moment we were smothered in dust and stones;
a shell had struck the top of the prison wall, ricochetted to the
opposite wall, and fallen without exploding in the prison of the women.
All we prisoners hurried off and squatted at the base of the north
wall, believing this to be the safest place. The air was now filled
with what to us chained wretches appeared to be the yells and screeches
of legions of the damned let loose. We shuddered and looked helplessly
from one to the other. Then I noticed that the shells were all flying
high over us. Getting to my feet, I rushed—as far as my shackles
allowed—stumbling to the middle of the open space, tried to dance and
jump, called on all to come and join me. I shouted that my “brothers”
had got my messages; that only one place in Omdurman would be left—the
Saier; my brothers would spare all their lives for me. Yes, I had gone
mad; reason had left |266| me, and I was raving, laughing, crying,
singing, kissing my hands in welcome to those terrible messengers of
death screeching and yelling overhead; throwing open my arms, and
leaping up to embrace the shell which a second later was to gather in
death seventy-two then praying in the mosque.[12]

    [12] The flight of the shells overhead had a most extraordinary
    effect; they appeared to compress the atmosphere and press it
    down to the earth; we could actually feel the pressure on our
    bodies, and with some it brought on nausea.

I was only saved from death at the hands of the infuriated Baggara
prisoners by Idris es Saier locking them all up in the Umm Hagar, and
leaving myself, Fauzi, the Jaalin, and other Government sympathizers in
the open. Then the tales of the fight came to us; two of the gunboats
had been sunk, and the remainder had run away again! Fauzi and I sat
there distracted, heartbroken. The attack on Khartoum, in 1885, had
been enacted over again. I sat in a daze; the reaction from the madness
of joy to that of despair was more than the strongest man could stand,
after nearly twelve years’ captivity, but fortunately I broke down and
sobbed like a child.

During the night we could hear the pat, pat, pat of at first a few
dozen feet, until eventually we could tell that thousands were running
into the town. It is no use relating the tales then told us, I will
relate what actually occurred. After the bombardment of the forts,
the Khaleefa sent messengers to bring in all news from Omdurman. When
told that all the forts had been destroyed, he ordered a salute to be
fired in token of his having gained a victory, and called out, “Ed
deen mansour”—the Faith is Triumphant! But |267| other messengers were
hurrying in, and as they came with grave faces and asked to see Yacoub
before delivering their news to the Khaleefa, it was soon noised abroad
that the volley from the rifles was only to try and hide something
serious which had occurred. First, it was learned that, instead of
the gunboats having been destroyed, it was the forts which had been
battered to pieces. Then the more superstitious lost heart when it was
related that one of the “devils” had entered the sacred tomb of the
Mahdi, and numbers deserted desertwards, afterwards striking back to
town. Later on, it became known that not only had one of the shells
destroyed the Mimbar (pulpit), but had also destroyed the Mihrab—that
sacred niche in the wall of the mosque giving the direction of Mecca.
What rallying-place was there now for Mahdieh? And so more deserted.

Between ten and eleven at night a riderless horse from the British or
Egyptian cavalry came slowly moving, head down, towards the dervish
lines. The Khaleefa had related how, in one of his visions, he had seen
the Prophet mounted on his mare riding at the head of the avenging
angels destroying the infidels. This apparition of the riderless horse
was too much; at least one-third of the Khaleefa’s huge army deserted
terrified. When Yacoub told him of the desertions, Abdullahi merely
raised his head to say, “The prophecy will be fulfilled, if only five
people stay near me,” His Baggara and Taaishi stood by him, but they
too were losing heart, for the Khaleefa, on his knees, with head bowed
to the ground, was groaning, |268| instead of, as customary, repeating
the name of the Deity. However, he pulled round a little as the night
progressed, and invented visions enough to put spirits into the
remaining but slightly despondent troops.



|269|

CHAPTER XXII

AT LAST


It will, I believe, surprise but few when I admit that it is next to
impossible for me to remember and relate the incidents which occurred
during my last night and day in the Saier. Added to the general
excitement shared by every one, I had also to contend against the
mental excitement which, earlier in the day, had almost deprived me of
reason. From where I lay chained to a gang of about forty prisoners, I
could hear the infuriated Baggara in the Umm Hagar heaping their curses
on the head of that “son of a dog—Abdallah Nufell,” and promising what
would happen when they laid hands upon me. These were no idle promises
that they made. Apart from the threats which may not be spoken of,
those of “drinking my blood” at the moment my brothers reached Omdurman
almost froze that blood in my veins.

The whole night through we could hear the soft pat, pat, pat of naked
feet, and sometimes the hard breathing of men running a race. Not
having heard any firing, we made all sorts of conjectures. At one
moment it was thought that the troops had rushed one of the zareebas
|270| under cover of darkness, and that these were the fugitives
coming into town; at another moment it was believed that the Khaleefa
had altered his plans, and had decided to stand a siege in Omdurman.
Next it was thought that the dervishes had rushed the camp of the
troops; but this idea was soon discarded, for the people running back
to town would have still had breath to yell out the news of victory. I
have already given the reasons for these people returning, but I only
learned them later; to us prisoners, the night passed in anxiety, and
amidst alternate hopes and fears.

Daylight was only creeping through the skies when we heard a low boom,
followed by an ever-increasing volume of yells and screechings as of
Pandemonium let loose, and then a terrific explosion which positively
shook Omdurman. The town could not stand this sort of thing for ten
minutes; we gave ourselves up for lost, but the bombardment ceased as
suddenly as it began. I asked one of the gaoler’s boys to climb to the
roof of the Umm Hagar to see what the gunboats were doing, as it was
believed that the shells had been fired by them. He called back that
they were “standing still” near Halfeyeh, and not firing at all. As we
could hear the distant booming still going on, we knew then that the
English were holding their own if nothing more, and hope returned.

It did not need the boy to call out when the gunboats moved down
stream that they, too, were opening fire on the dervish camps; we
could almost follow the tide of battle in that furious artillery duel
from the |271| alternate roars and silence as of waves breaking on a
rock-bound coast. There was no doubt in our minds now that the tactics
of the Atbara had been repeated, and that the zareebas were being
shelled preparatory to being stormed; the conjecture was wrong, as we
learned later. Then the rattle of musketry was borne down on the wind;
it was not the rattle of dervish rifles either; we knew the sound of
these when fired. Then followed a long silence, only to be succeeded by
another terrific fusillade; to us prisoners, it was the reserve zareeba
which was now being carried. But the tale of the battle is old, and
who has not heard of that second fight on the day of Omdurman, when
MacDonald’s brigade withstood the combined attack of the armies of
Sheikh ed Din and Yacoub?

One must go amongst the survivors of that attack to learn the details
of the fight. Those having glasses in the British lines must have
noticed Yacoub prancing about on horseback in front of his lines; this
was in imitation of the man he could see on horseback in front of the
brigade which was mowing down his men by hundreds at each volley. They
have learned since who the man was, and “MacDonald” with “Es-Sirdar”
is now a name to conjure with in the Soudan. It was not the first time
MacDonald had so terribly punished the dervishes, while commanding
troops which they had expected would throw down their arms and bolt, as
in olden days.

While all this was occurring on the field of battle, I in prison,
to hide my excitement—and really to calm my overstrung nerves,—took
the Ratib of Ibrahim |272| Wad-el-Fahel, and occupied myself with
“illuminating” its pages with red-and black-ink designs; this was an
occupation I had often earned a few dollars at, but Fahel still owes
me for my last exploit in “illumination.” I left the work unfinished
about noon to attend to two young men attached to the prison, who had
come in from the fight, one with a bullet over the left temple, and the
other with a bullet in the muscle of the left arm. Provided only with
a penknife, I made a cross cut over the spot where I could in one case
see, and the other feel the bullet imbedded, and pressed them out; both
bullets had kept their shape, and must have been encountered at extreme
range, or rather beyond it.

Maybe, with a European, chloroform might have been necessary for the
extraction of the bullet in the arm, but with a Soudanese—have I not
already said that a dervish can continue leaping and stabbing with half
a dozen severe wounds in his body? A dervish can and will kill at the
moment when the ventricles of his heart make their last contraction.
Bodily pain, as we understand it, is unknown to them. Many a time
have I applied, and seen applied, red-hot charcoal to sores, with the
patients calmly looking on. With my present patients, after dabbing
a little carbolic acid over the wounds, I asked what news they had
brought. Yacoub, they said, was killed; almost all the faithful were
killed or wounded; the Khaleefa himself was running back to town,
but they had outstripped him. While still questioning them, Idris es
Saier told me that the Muslimanieh who had been |273| taken out to
fight had made their way back to town, and were rummaging for European
clothes in which to array themselves to receive the troops when they
arrived.

[Illustration: THE FLAG OF KHALEEFA SHEREEF.

Line 1. “In the Name of God, the most Compassionate and Merciful.” Line
2. “Thou Living, Thou Existing and most Glorious Source of generosity.”
Line 3. “There is no God but God. Mohammad is the messenger of God.”
Line 4. “Mohammad El Mahdi is the Khaleefa of the messenger of God.”]

I should here take up the tales of those who were fighting in the
dervish lines in order to present a complete narrative. At sunrise on
September 2, Sheikh ed Din determined on attacking with his army of
riflemen and cavalry, leaving Yacoub, with whom was his father, the
Khaleefa, as a reserve. The shells which fell amongst his men did not
knock them over or mow them down in lanes, they “blew a hundred men and
horses high into the air”; then, when the rifle fire struck them, it
“rolled them about like little stones.” The carnage was so frightful
that Sheikh ed Din himself led the way to the shelter in a khor to the
west of Surgham hill.

And now, to understand clearly what followed next, and in a measure
to explain the post of honour being given to Sheikh ed Din, I must
refer to an incident occurring at the last moment before the army left
Omdurman. Khaleefa Shereef, since his insurrection against Abdullahi,
had not been allowed to exhibit the white flag made specially for
the family of the Mahdi. It was believed that Abdullahi intended to
nominate his son to succeed him, but this was against the expressed
order of the Mahdi that Wad Helu and then Shereef should do so. While
Sheikh ed Din was given the principal command, Shereef was not allowed
any command at all, nor was the white flag of Mahdieh brought out of
the Beit-el-Amana. Discontent was |274| openly expressed at this, and
some of the more religious or fanatic of the Mahdists demanded to know
whether it was Abdullahi or Mahdieh they were to fight for. Abdullahi
was advised to bring out the white flag, and it was carried at the
extreme left of his army, but Sheikh ed Din Abdullahi had hoped would
return as the victor of Kerreri, and thus his succession could be
assured with the aid of a vision.

Seeing the repulse of Sheikh ed Din, the Khaleefa ordered the advance
of Yacoub’s army, and, as they were advancing, Sheikh ed Din collected
his men and joined it. Then it was that the determined attack was made
on MacDonald’s brigade. The Khaleefa had dismounted, and, sitting
on his prayer-skin, surrounded by his Mulazameen six deep, he held
communion again with the Prophet and the Mahdi, while his army was
being thinned by the thousands. Yacoub, with his Emirs and bodyguard of
horsemen, rode in front of the troops and did his best to incite them
to a final rush on the brigade. The white flag of Mahdieh was pushed
close to where the 2nd Egyptian battalion, under Colonel Pink, was
posted, and five standard-bearers in succession were shot down; others
ran to raise it only to be shot down in turn, until the flag was buried
under the slain.

Almost at this moment a well-aimed shell blew Yacoub and his bodyguard
“high in the air,” and before the Khaleefa’s eyes; the black flag was
planted, but the dervishes had had a lesson. Yunis, breaking through
Abdullahi’s bodyguard, ran to him, saying, “Why do you sit here?
Escape; every one is |275| being killed;” but Abdullahi sat still,
dazed and stupefied with what he had seen. With the help of others,
Yunis raised him to his feet, and actually pushed and bundled him
along. Then Abdullahi started running on foot. He refused to mount
a horse or camel; after stumbling and falling three times, Yunis
persuaded him to mount a donkey. His army was now in full retreat, and
“Where, oh, Abdullahi—where is the victory you promised?” assailed his
ears. Calling his camel syce, Abou Gekka, he told him to hurry on a
fast camel to Omdurman, collect his wives, children, and treasures,
and conduct them to the Zareeba-el-Arrda (parade-ground) to the west
of Omdurman, where he would meet them, and then all were to fly
together. On reaching the zareeba, his household were not visible, and
hearing that there were still thousands of his troops in Omdurman,
he was persuaded to enter the town, and make a last stand at the
praying-ground. When nearing the mosque, Abdullahi saw Yacoub’s eunuch
waiting there. Telling him to collect Yacoub’s wives, children, etc.,
and take them to the zareeba, the eunuch asked, “Where is my master?”
Abdullahi then probably for the last time exercised his power of life
and death. Turning to one of those near him, he said, “Who is this
slave, to question my orders?” and the eunuch fell dead at Abdullahi’s
feet with a bullet through his head.

Reaching the large praying enclosure, Abdullahi ordered the drums and
ombeyehs to be sounded, but few or none obeyed the summons; some came,
looked |276| at him sitting there mute, and slunk off; some, I have
heard, jibed at him by asking if he was “sitting on his farwah.” The
farwah, or prayer-skin, is what the leaders formerly stood upon when
the day was lost, and awaited their death. Finding himself deserted by
all, he called for his secretary, Abou-el-Gassim, and asked what could
be done. Gassim, whether in a sarcastic vein or not, recommended that
he should continue praying where he was, and, maybe, his prayers would
still bring victory; but there being none to join in the prayers, he
asked Gassim to collect his household, and bring them to him. Gassim
went off, and did not return.

At this time the Taaishi, Baggara, Berti Habbanieh, Rhizaghat, Digheem
and other tribes, whom he formerly depended upon for support, were
streaming off to the number of probably fifteen thousand, from the
south of the town. Calling two men, he asked them to go outside
the town, and see how far the Government troops were distant. The
messengers, on reaching the Tombs of the Martyrs, about twelve hundred
yards from where Abdullahi was sitting, suddenly came across the Sirdar
and his staff standing at the angle of the great wall; they watched the
staff move off towards the Beit-el-Mal, and returned and reported this
to Abdullahi. Slipping through the door communicating with his house,
he changed his clothes, collected the remainder of his household, and
quietly slipped off while the Sirdar was making the complete circuit
of Omdurman with the exception of those twelve hundred yards. It is a
thousand pities, as things |277| actually were, that the staff did not
continue in the direction they were then taking, for a few minutes’
trot along the deserted street leading to the prayer-ground would have
allowed the Sirdar to lay his hands upon Abdullahi, as he sat there
absolutely alone, on the spot where he had hoped that his faithful
would make their last stand.

The sun was falling, and still we in prison did not know exactly how
the day had gone. We had heard the drums and ombeyehs, which told
us that Abdullahi was calling upon the faithful to assemble at the
prayer-ground; a cloud of dust on the desert and the gunboats slowly
steaming up, meant that the troops were advancing on the town. Idris
es Saier came and asked me what he was to do—to go to his master or
wait for the English. I advised him to close the gates of the prison,
use his rifles upon any of the Baggara trying to force an entrance,
and wait and see who would ask for the keys—the expected Sirdar or the
Khaleefa. In all cases, I told him, it was his duty to protect the
prisoners in his charge, and reminded him of Fauzi’s tale of the two
gaolers. When we heard the shrill cries of the women, we knew that some
one was being welcomed, and guessed correctly that it was the English
at last. Idris, in his anxiety to secure his prisoners, had us all
chained in gangs earlier than usual, and this linking of my gang to the
common chain had only just been completed when Idris came, frightened
out of his life, as one could tell by his voice, to tell me that the
“place was filled with my English brothers,” that a big, tall man, who,
he was told, was |278| the dreaded Sirdar, had asked for me, and that
I was to come at once.

It seemed an age while the chain was being slipped from my shackles,
and then, led by Idris, I made my way to the gate of the Saier. I was
crying dry eyed; I could see a blurred group, and then I was startled
out of my senses by hearing English spoken—the only words of a European
language I had heard for seven long years. From that blurred group,
and through the gloom, came a voice, “Are you Neufeld? are you well?”
And then a tall figure stepped towards me, and gave my hand a hearty
shake. It was the Sirdar. I believe I babbled something as I received a
handshake from one, and a slap on the shoulder from another, but I do
not know what I said. Looking down at my shackles, the Sirdar asked,
“Can these be taken off now?—I am going on.” I believe a second’s
discussion went on with Idris, and then I heard the last order I was
to receive and obey in the Saier, “Neufeld, _out you go_!” It was the
Sirdar’s order, and, half carried by the friendly and strong arms
supporting me, I obeyed. The next thing I remembered was a British
officer slipping off his horse, lifting me into the saddle, and
trudging along at my side after the terribly trying and arduous day he
must have had.

I was taken to the “head-quarters’ mess” at the camp; the Sirdar
had, I believe, allowed himself the luxury of a broken angareeb on
which to rest; the staff were lying in all positions on the sand,
fagged out, but hard at work with despatches and orders by the light
of |279| guttering candles. It was a hungry, thirsty, and deadbeat
head-quarters’ mess I had been invited to on the night of the memorable
2nd of September. While the comfort of the troops had been looked to,
the Sirdar and his staff had evidently neglected themselves. Their
canteen and mess were miles away on slow-travelling camels; one of the
most brilliant victories of the nineteenth century was being celebrated
by a supper of a few biscuits, poor water, some of my prison bread,
which I shared with others around me, and Cairo cigarettes, with the
sand of the desert for seats, and the canopy of heaven as the roof over
our heads.

Soon after reaching the “mess,” I heard a voice calling, “Where’s
Neufeld?” and the inquirer introduced himself to me; it was Mr. Bennet
Burleigh, of the _Daily Telegraph_. I had heard, and yet had not heard,
much English spoken to me, but the flood of language he poured out
when he found me still in chains came as a revelation to me; it was as
picturesque as his description of the battle which I have since read.
Rushing off, he was back in a few moments with some farriers with
their shoeing implements to try and remove my chains; off again, he
came with some engineers, and amidst a running torrent of abuse, anent
cold chisels and other implements which he required and which were not
forthcoming, he questioned me. Every one had a try at those chains;
some one I heard use language concerning the Khaleefa when he found his
thumb between the hammer and the links, but with a great deal of strong
language, and equally as strong blows, the links connecting with the
anklets |280| were cut through, but the anklets themselves were only
removed, owing to want of appliances, on board Colonel Gordon’s steamer
a few minutes before he led the way to the troops who were to take part
in the funeral-service at the spot where his hero uncle fell.

While Slatin’s countryman, Joseppi, was imprisoned with me, I was able
to exercise my mother tongue, and correct his broken German, which
gave me, at all events, some little amusement; but after his murder,
and the escape of Father Ohrwalder, I never had another opportunity of
speaking a European language except in my dreams, and when I discovered
myself talking to myself. For seven long years, with the exception of
the word “torpedo,” by which name the Algerian called his mines, I had
not heard a syllable of a European tongue. The last Europeans I had
spoken to before leaving Egypt were English; the first language I was
to hear on my release was English, and then a strange thing happened.
As far as language was concerned, my brain became a blank from the
moment I left Wadi Halfa, to the moment when the Sirdar called out,
“Are you Neufeld?” so that when the German Military Attaché spoke to
me in German, while hearing, and in the main understanding what he
said, I could not, much to his very evident annoyance, find words in my
mother tongue to reply. It was weeks after my return to Egypt before I
was able to express myself properly in the German language. While to
myself this was not to be greatly wondered at, yet the fact might be
of interest to some scientist, who has made cerebral affections his
particular study.



|281|

CHAPTER XXIII

THE SIRDAR AND SAVAGE WARFARE


On the morning following the battle of Omdurman, a number of the
townspeople came out to the camp, complaining of the rough usage which
they had been subjected to at the hands of the Soudanese troops left in
charge of the town, and of the looting of their houses. The majority,
not knowing that the Sirdar and his staff were fluent Arabic scholars,
brought their complaints to me, and asked me to interpret for them.
In my then excited and half-dazed state, I rushed off to report the
matters. Colonel Maxwell at once called up a hundred men, and with an
officer and sergeant, instructed me to proceed to the town and see the
men posted to the houses of the complainants. The real truth of the
matter, of course, only came out later, and as I do not know of any one
else who is in as good a position as I am to relate it, I submit the
following.

Long before the troops reached the town, the inhabitants were busily
engaged in looting the Mahdieh institutions and the deserted houses
of the fleeing Baggara and others. Their local knowledge obviated the
necessity of _searching_ for loot; they knew where |282| there was
anything at all worth taking and took it, anticipating the troops by
half a day. Into every occupied house loot was being carried, if not
by the head of the household, then by the servants and others attached
to the establishment, while the head mounted guard. True, the soldiers
did loot towards midnight; but what? angareebs (the native seats and
bedsteads combined), on which to rest themselves instead of lying
down on the filth-sodden ground of Omdurman. Heaven knows they richly
deserved the temporary loan of these angareebs. Wherever residents
were looted, it was their own fault. The victorious and therefore
happy and grinning Blacks kept an eye on their hereditary enemies—the
lighter coloured population, as they passed backwards and forwards,
always entering their huts loaded and emerging empty-handed. In their
eagerness to collect all they could, they threw down their loot, and
hurried off for more, and during their absence the Black “Tommy”
annexed whatever he thought might be useful to him.

[Illustration: TROPHIES TAKEN AT OMDURMAN.]

The Sirdar himself could not have made a better arrangement than that
which came of itself. The troops were enabled to keep at their posts
with an eye open for any lurking Baggara; the looting was being done
for them by the residents, who knew exactly where to lay their hands
upon anything worth taking, instead of time being wasted by searching
empty houses, while the soldiers were kept in good spirits by having
the fun of the looting without running the risk of being suddenly |283|
confronted with half a dozen Baggara concealed in some hut or room.
When some one came staggering along under a particularly heavy load, a
Black would assist him with his burden; some of his comrades would join
in, and when the looter protested that he did not require any help,
a little Soudan horseplay was indulged in, and later on these little
pleasantries came up as grave charges of assault.

The only people in Omdurman who had anything worth looting were the
real Mahdists themselves—and they deserved to be looted of their
ill-gotten gains. In dealing with any claims for compensation for
having been looted, three things should be kept in mind—the complainant
should prove that he was not a real Mahdist; that what he was looted of
on the evening of the 2nd of September was not the proceeds of his own
looting during the day; and, having got so far, should reconcile the
fact of his having been looted of property and valuables with his tales
of abject misery, poverty, and semi-starvation.

It did not take me long to grasp the situation, for after seeing the
soldiers posted to the houses of the “Government” people, I started
on a voyage of discovery after the houses of the principal Baggara
and others, and having had them pointed out to me, I recommended the
soldiers to take their cleaning rods and bayonets, and probe the walls
of the hareem rooms for hidden valuables. I am pleased to say that the
suggested operations were not entirely without some gratifying results;
but a very small find indeed gratifies the native troops. Whoever
possessed property |284| in Omdurman was either a thief or murderer.
Most had bolted with the Khaleefa, and it was through no fault of
theirs that they left a few dollars behind for people who could make
good use of them. I regret now that I did not organize a looting party,
and place myself at the head of it.

I have heard of, but I have not read, the article or articles written
by one of the correspondents who accompanied the Khartoum Expedition,
consisting of a series of wholesale charges brought against the Sirdar
and the troops in connection with “Khartoum Day.” I gauge what the
articles must have been from some of the letters written in reply. As
every one appears to have criticized and shown how much better than the
Sirdar they could have carried out the reconquest of the Soudan, as the
“oldest resident” I think I am entitled to express an opinion, and to
criticize also.

The Sirdar, in my opinion, made one grave error—he gave quarter; and I
have no doubt that, in doing so, he knew that he was doing a positive
injustice to his Black troops in order to pander to an ignorant public
opinion which he knew existed elsewhere. I know that some people,
profoundly ignorant of the Soudan and its tribes, and their history,
religion, laws, customs, and legal rights, will hold up their hands
in holy horror, and jump to the conclusion that my long captivity has
engendered a spirit of vindictiveness against my captors which has
deadened in me every sense of humanity—and in this they will be wrong.
Lord Kitchener of Khartoum made a grave error in |285| extending to
a horde of murderers the advantages of civilized warfare, _and the
clemency he felt called upon to extend to them will cost England the
loss of many a gallant life yet_.

There was not a man in the Black Battalions who had not, by the old
Law of Moses, the laws of his country in which he was then fighting,
the law of the Prophet, and the religious law, irrespective of the law
handed down from the remotest ages, more right to take a life on that
day than any judge in a civilized country has to sentence to death a
man who has personally done him no wrong. Every man there was entitled
to a life in retaliation for the murder of a father, the rape of a
mother, wife, daughter, or sister, the mutilation of a brother or son,
and his own bondage. To prevent, as the Sirdar did prevent, these
soldiers from exercising their rights, was doing them an injustice,
and running a risk as well, when it is remembered how they had slaved
for this “Day of Retaliation.” There may have been, doubtless were,
many cases of the killing outright of wounded dervishes; this was no
more murder than a judicial hanging; and looking at the matter from
a humanitarian point of view, would it not have been better to send
those Blacks over the field to put the wounded out of their misery,
and thus kill two birds with one stone? For let it be remembered, that
when a dervish sits and lies wounded, he is wounded to death, and only
by force of will keeps himself alive until he dies happy at the moment
when he sends his spear through the heart of his would-be saviour. I
repeat, the Sirdar |286| committed a grave error in extending to the
dervishes the advantages of civilized warfare. I who have lived amongst
the people, who have discussed with their greatest exponents of the
religious law, and made comparisons between the administration of their
and our laws, consider that I am well qualified to express an opinion,
and better qualified than those who, with a command of language, can
so present their views to the public that the cant, ignorance, and
humbug—not to say hankering for notoriety which underlies it all—is
hidden.

You who have held up your hands in holy horror at the foregoing,
prepare to hold them up again.

The day after the battle of Kirbekan an outpost was being sent forward.
Moving to its position, it espied a wounded dervish making signs for
water. One of the soldiers slipped off his camel to give him some, and
his comrades moved on. As time went on, and their chum did not catch
them up, they came back to see what had happened. There he was, still
attending to the wounded dervish, his hand resting on his shoulder,
but there was no movement from either. Approaching—this was the tale
plainly written. The lines on the ground showed that “Tommy” had taken
the wounded man in his arms, and half supporting and half dragging
him, had placed him in a sitting posture in the shade, with his back
against a rock; then, taking his water-bottle, he began to pour the
life-giving drops down the throat of the dervish, for he still grasped
the empty water-bottle. With returning life came, of course, returning
strength—sufficient |287| strength for the dervish to slip off his
knife, poise his hand for a second of time behind “Tommy’s” back,
while he was occupied with his mission of mercy, and then, plunging
it in with sufficient force to divide the spinal column, the dervish
died happy as “Tommy” fell dead across his shoulder. That dervish was
glorified in the Soudan, and thousands of others were awaiting the
opportunity of dying as gloriously. Do you like the picture now? These
are the sort of people you howl for the protection of. If you wish the
wounded dervishes to be attended to against their will, then institute
some special decoration for those who return alive from their mission
of mercy, and when you have discovered that for each decoration given,
a few hundred valuable lives have been sacrificed, perhaps you will
agree to the issue of orders which I, knowing what I do know, should
issue now.

If I had my say in the matter, when next the Government troops come
face to face with the tribes, whom Lord Kitchener in his clemency
spared to gather again around the Khaleefa, I should make it a
drum-head court-martialling business for any doctor who risked the
lives of his wounded in hospital by attempting to throw away his own
in attending to a wounded dervish who does not want to live. He is
wounded to death or would not be lying or sitting there, and he wants
to die—but to die killing; he wants your life’s blood, not your aid
and succour. As he wants to die—as he _must_ die—then shoot him at
once and put him out of his misery. In doing this, you are but acting
humanely to a dying but still ferocious |288| animal in the guise of
a man. You are not taking a life needlessly, but in all probability
saving a better one; and as the troops pick their way over the field
of battle, another bullet should be put into the “dead” and “wounded”
from a distance a yard beyond the point to which a dervish can throw
a spear, to prevent any more accidents. The number of soldiers killed
by “dead” and “wounded” dervishes is great enough already, and it
would be criminal to add to it. Have you no thought for some English
mother mourning the loss of her brave lad, who threw away his life in
attending to a wounded dervish, when she had been looking forward to
his return as the hero of the village? How many cottages in England
have been made desolate by the hands of “dead” and “wounded” dervishes?

If none of the foregoing suggestions are acceptable, then let each
correspondent accompanying an expedition into the heart of Africa
declare whether he votes for first aid to the wounded dervishes or not.
If he does not, then let him hold his peace if he sees things which
he would not expect to come across, were he witnessing the sequel to
a fight between civilized peoples. If he declares for first aid, then
give him a packet of bandages and a water-bottle, and let him put his
principles into practice, while his more enlightened brother knights of
the pen tag on to their despatches his obituary notice.



|289|

CHAPTER XXIV

BACK TO CIVILIZATION


I must leave it to my readers to try and imagine what my sensations
were as I sailed away from Omdurman on the first stage of my journey to
civilization and liberty. Remembering the reason which I gave my wife,
manager, and friends, when I was begged to abandon my projected journey
into Kordofan, knowing that others knew how I had comported myself
before my captors and Abdullahi, I was conscious that I had nothing
to be ashamed of in the production of a worse than useless saltpetre,
which I could easily have refined—but the real refinement of which I
prevented. Nor was I ashamed of having designed impossible machines for
the manufacture of powder and cartridges, in order to keep out of that
terrible Saier; nor of the wilful destruction of so much good material
for their construction, especially as there were living witnesses to
bear me out. Thinking, therefore, that the small, very small, risk I
ran in the collecting of information to send to the advancing armies
might have been appreciated, I built up on my journey what proved to
be a house of cards to be blown down by |290| a breath as soon as I
reached Cairo. I was much disappointed in the reception awaiting me; so
also was every other released captive, and not a few Mahdists. Perhaps
I am to blame for delaying at Berber for the purpose I have “admitted”
in my chapter “Divorced and Married,” when my arrival had been
announced by a certain train; but I have been punished for this, though
even now I am too uncivilized to feel ashamed of the action, or to
appreciate the justice of the strictures passed upon me in consequence.

When at last I did reach Cairo, it was but to learn that although I had
taken as “jokes” the compliments which I received on my way down, on
the “manufacture of gunpowder with which to kill English soldiers”—on
the “‘damned clever’ design and construction of the forts to oppose the
advance of the gunboats,” on my “smartness in galloping away from the
field when I saw it was all over for Mahdieh, and reaching the prison
just in time to get on my chains again before the Sirdar put in his
appearance”—yet these, and a great many other tales, were implicitly
believed in. Moreover, they had lost nothing in being translated into
the many languages spoken in Cairo, which include every language of
Europe, with a few of the East.

It was heartrending to me, after what I had gone through, to return to
my own flesh and blood to be spurned and shunned as the incarnation
of everything despicable in a man. I, who had defied my captors and
had looked for death, wished for it more now that I was amongst my own
people; but fortunately the persecution I was subjected to, added to my
change of |291| life, caused me to break down completely, and when I
recovered from my delirium it was to find myself in the hands of a few
friends. Do not think that I had worried myself over what was mere idle
gossip; all the charges were made in sincerity, and this owing to the
influential quarters whence they were emanating.

A few days after receiving the generous offer of my publishers, I
was told that I was a prisoner of war, and as such was debarred from
entering into any engagements; moreover, my experiences were said
to be the property of the War Office. Later on, I was told that, in
consideration of the subscriptions raised by a newspaper group in
England for the purpose of effecting my escape some years ago, I was to
write my experiences for the benefit of the subscribers. Then, after
keeping me waiting weeks for a reply, they offered me £100—a sum not
sufficient to pay the guides already in Cairo—and asked me to repay
them the moneys they had lent me while in prison. When in reply to this
offer I pointed out the ruined condition I am in, and offered to repay
the subscribers the monies spent from the money I am to receive for my
book, I was first threatened with an injunction upon the book, and then
with the publication of “interesting” disclosures (?) concerning me.

When H.R.H. Duke Johann Albrecht, the Regent of Mecklenburg,
graciously writes to me himself, instructing me to call at the German
Consul-General’s, in Cairo, for some money sent there to “give me a new
start in life,” I am met, when I do present myself, with accusations of
ingratitude and broken |292| engagements towards people whose names
I had never heard of. However, these people wrote disclaimers to the
_Times_, saying that they knew nothing of the claims made against me in
their names; yet, in spite of the disclaimers, the money was impounded
for about five months in all, and then some claims paid from it, but on
whose account I am still ignorant.

While all these charges are being levelled at me, I am warned that
if I dare contradict anything published formerly concerning myself
or Soudan affairs, certain correspondence will be communicated to
the London Press; yet what am I to do but contradict them wherever I
can find a scrap of evidence to support my contradiction? Surely I
cannot be expected to confirm such reports in the face of the threats
made verbally and in the columns of a newspaper, especially as I and
mine must remain the social outcasts we have been since my release,
until my narrative appears. I am writing more in grief than in anger;
these are all subjects I should have preferred not to mention in my
narrative, and I am touching on them as lightly as is possible, but
as others have chosen to publish them, by keeping silence I should be
doing myself an injustice. My hand or tongue has been forced, therefore
those who have taken the initial action against me must be responsible
for the inevitable result which will follow when, questioned as to the
foregoing by those entitled to ask for the evidence, I hand over for
publication the whole of the correspondence. For the public, having
been led to form opinions about me on the strength of the reports
and explanations printed, have the right to |293| know the whole
truth before pronouncing a second judgment; but my narrative ought
not to be burdened with such a voluminous correspondence. Surely a
kind Providence kept watch over the few documents which I have been
fortunate enough to find after all these years, and which are of such
value to me in substantiating my story.

Amongst the many articles published concerning me, one printed in
the London and Provincial papers on the 5th and 6th of September
last caused me considerable injury in England and Egypt, and, maybe,
irreparable injury in my native country, to which I have appealed
for the rights of citizenship which my capture and long captivity
precluded my returning to claim during 1887. To this appeal I have as
yet received no answer—and little wonder. On the appearance of this
article, some of my countrymen attacked me in no measured terms, and I
was shunned by them as they would shun a pestilence. The communication
made was on the presumable authority of General Hunter, as his
name is mentioned; but so sure am I that he was no more capable of
communicating such a report for publication than he is of turning his
back in the face of an enemy, that I have not so much as written to him
asking his denial. I was advised to allow these reports to accumulate
and circulate, and reply to them _en bloc_ in my narrative, leaving a
deceived public to take up the matter. The article I refer to reads as
follows:―

 “Twice had every preparation been made. The relays of camels to take
 the exile across the desert were ready. Nothing remained |294| but
 for Neufeld to pluck up courage and quit Omdurman. Each time he backed
 out at the last moment. At length he confessed the truth, namely, that
 he did not care to come away. He had married a black wife. His friends
 in Germany were dead or had forgotten him. He would stay where he was.”

Is it not possible to find some one to swear that _more_ than two
attempts were made during those long twelve years to extricate me? I
have in my narrative said all that I know of the visits of any guides
to Omdurman. Having been promised the publication of interesting
documents concerning me, perhaps the proofs of the above will be
forthcoming; let it be proved that on even _one_ occasion relays of
camels were posted to effect my escape, and at the same time let it be
proved that the guide who posted those relays ever came to me.

It is quite possible that there are a sheaf of letters waiting to
be published bearing my signature; and maybe when they are, I shall
learn their contents for the first time. I had to sign many letters
the contents of which I was ignorant of, as is evidenced by the letter
to my manager, and the letter to General Stephenson, in reply to the
one he entrusted me with when I went on my expedition. This letter
was photographed, and a translation is given on p. 338. The reply was
dictated by Abdullahi to his secretary, and handed me to sign. Let the
note, letter, or report, on which my refusal to escape is founded, be
produced, and then see if the date of it does not correspond with the
date of the maturing of one of my many plans for escape. But do not
press me too closely for my reason |295| for writing or giving such a
message. If I gave it I should be committing as great an injustice as
did poor Lupton, when sending back part of the monies sent him by his
friends at Suakin, who were trying to effect his escape, wrote. . . .
Those friends are still living, and as they have not chosen to tell the
world what they did for their countrymen, and how it was that their
schemes fell through, I may not do so—at least, not yet.

If I lied, as I have been told to my face that I did, when I denied
some of the charges made against me, why should more credence be given
me for sincerity in notes refusing to escape than was given to Slatin’s
protestations of loyalty in his letter to the Khaleefa when he escaped?
If during my capture and my long captivity my behaviour was unmanly, or
such as I, a European, ought to be ashamed of, then let the proofs be
at once forthcoming. Do not weary me out and keep the world against me
with threats of coming disclosures; moreover, have I not good reason
to complain of the communication of everything damaging to me while
everything in my favour is suppressed?

The sources of information, reference, and assistance thrown open to
Ohrwalder and Slatin when compiling their experiences have been closed
to me. When Slatin arrived in Cairo, he was handed the statements of
guides reporting his “persistent refusals to escape,” and allowed to
be the first to inform the world of their existence. When I arrive
in Cairo, I find that similar reports concerning me have been given
wide publicity and believed in. Why, I ask, |296| should it have been
believed that the guides’ reports were false in Slatin’s case and
true in mine? and why should I not have been given the opportunity of
first announcing their existence to the world? Perhaps, before I have
completed my narrative, people will come to the conclusion that some
of those privileged to look at all my papers have, for some reason or
another, felt that it was necessary thoroughly to discredit me, so
that, when my story appeared, I should not be believed in; but then,
who could have foreseen that I should ever be so fortunate as to
collect any evidence in support of it?

It has been suggested that maybe I have taken too much to heart the
“tales being told about” me; that they were but gossip. It was no idle
gossip for me. I was persuaded, much against my wish, to attend a hotel
garden-party, my first and last appearance in public in Cairo, for this
was the sequel: One of my few friends connected with the Press there
handed me some cuttings containing the usual inaccuracies and slanders,
and while sitting down in a corridor, my amanuensis at my side taking
notes as I read them over, I heard, “Hello, how is that book of
Neufeld’s getting on?” The speaker, when asked if he knew Neufeld,
blurted out, “Know him—no, nor do I want to know him, considering the
number of English soldiers he has sent to eternity with his gunpowder.
I would not even look at the fellow’s face.” And as my companion
whispered, “This is Neufeld,” I raised my head just in time to see the
representative of a great news agency hurrying through the doorway.
|297| Maybe, on the appearance of this, Reuter’s Cairo Agent may not
be averse to telling me on what or whose authority he made this charge
in my own hearing. The incident for the moment is closed, but if it is
re-opened, it must be re-opened somewhere where highly placed officials
may not be successfully appealed to to go around asking lawyers not to
take up my case. Memo. for that News-Agency representative—“Walls have
ears,” and “Don’t shout till you are out of the wood.”

I trust that when I send up my card to the London correspondent of
the newspaper from whose article I have quoted, he will, instead of
imitating his brother knight of the pen in Cairo, at least receive me,
and examine the originals of the documents inserted in my narrative,
disproving the charges which he was the medium of circulating in
England and on the Continent. Then, if satisfied with their genuineness
in the first place, and in the second place convinced that during my
long captivity I was striving more than any other captive to effect my
escape, he will at least, when next writing to his readers, try to do
what little he can towards repairing the great injury which he did me
in England, though it was without malice, I admit, and then try to have
his error corrected in the German papers. I ask nothing more than this.
Is it too much to ask?

But from the sea of slander and uncharitableness in which I was
struggling, there rose some kindly hands to help me. When pressed by
the War Office to repay the £20 I had borrowed from it on the way |298|
down—with my old guides in Cairo asking me to redeem the receipts they
had for monies lent me while in prison—with the monies kindly sent me
from Berlin to give me a “new start in life” impounded—with the hand
of every one against me, after calling at one bank and being refused,
I went to Mr. Hewett Moxley, an old friend of the Bleichröders, of
Berlin, and now the Director of the Imperial Ottoman Bank in Cairo.
Handing him my file of letters and telegrams, I asked if he thought
that they contained sufficient guarantees for my being able eventually
to repay the money which I wished him to advance to me. He left me for
a few moments, and then returned, and as he went over one letter after
the other, my hopes fell, for he remarked that my “guarantees were not
of the very highest order,” and that my “credentials were not of a very
satisfactory nature.” But I knew a few moments later that these were
pithy, maybe sarcastic, remarks upon the letters which he was glancing
through, for while engaged upon these running comments, his clerk was
counting out £150 in gold for my immediate needs, and opening a credit
for a further £250. I thoroughly enjoyed his joke, so different from
those I had so far encountered, for his action was the first kindly one
which I received in civilization.

It was late on a Saturday night when, for the first time, I rose
from my bed of sickness to meet the proprietor of one of those great
English papers, which I had been promised were to hound me. In spite
of the assurances given me, it was with no little nervousness that I
approached him; but instead of |299| the ogre whom I had expected
to meet, I found myself being supported by a kindly spoken English
gentleman, assisted to an easy-chair, and tucked up in rugs. A few
waiters were in attendance, and the “ogre” was blaming himself for
having asked me to call and see him, and begging my forgiveness, as he
did not know that I was so ill. The “ogre” was Sir George Newnes. He
listened patiently to all I had to say, went through my correspondence,
ventured the opinion that certain actions directed against me were
“monstrous,” told me not to believe that the English Press would attack
me without reason, and recommended me, as soon as I was well, to go
ahead with my book and collect every scrap of evidence which I could in
support of my own story. I have followed his advice, but the collecting
of the little evidence which I have got has been no light task, groping
as I was in the darkness of a twelve years’ oblivion.

I must not forget either to acknowledge the handsome treatment which I
have received at the hands of my publishers, who have kept me in funds,
and with extraordinary patience awaited the completion of my narrative;
but the absolute necessity of collecting proofs for what I state, in
face of the threats dangling over my head, accounts for the long delay.



|300|

CHAPTER XXV

HOW GORDON DIED


When the news of the Sirdar’s splendid victory reached England, the
British nation may be said to have breathed again, and when the great
rush was made for the cheap edition of “Ten Years’ Captivity,” which
was extensively advertised with my portrait to catch attention, the few
known details of Gordon’s death became as fresh again in people’s minds
as they had been years before. I was constantly asked to relate all I
had heard concerning Gordon. When I had done so I was invariably met
with quotations and readings from “Mahdism,” “Ten Years’ Captivity,”
“Fire and Sword,” and other works; for what I had been told of Gordon’s
death by eye-witnesses was an entirely different history to those
published.

The first to relate the story of Gordon’s death was a man whose tongue
Gordon had threatened to cut out as the only cure for his inveterate
lying, and when he escaped and reached Cairo, in telling his tale
he sustained his reputation. All accounts of Gordon’s death have
apparently been based upon this first one received. Gordon, the world
has been |301| made to believe, died as a coward, for what other
construction may be placed on the assertion that he turned his back
upon his assailants, and in his back received his mortal wound? It is
an infamous lie; but, then, what was to be expected from a man whom
Gordon knew so well, and who, maybe, had good reason to invent the tale
he did? I quote, side by side, what may be called the three official
accounts of Gordon’s death:―

 MAHDISM.

 “He (Gordon) made a gesture of scorn with his right hand, and turned
 his back, where he received another spear wound which caused him to
 fall forward and was most likely his mortal wound. . . . He made no
 resistance, and did not fire a shot from his revolver.”

 “. . . One of them rushing up, stabbed him with his spear, and others
 then followed, and soon he was killed. . . . He (Nejoumi) ordered the
 body to be dragged downstairs into the garden, where his head was cut
 off.”

 OHRWALDER.

 “_The first_ Arab _plunged his huge spear into his body_. _He fell
 forward on his face_, was _dragged down_ the stairs, many stabbed him
 with their spears, and _his head was cut off and sent to the Mahdi_.”

 SLATIN.

 “_The first_ man up the steps _plunged his huge spear into his body;
 he fell forward on his face_ without uttering a word. His murderers
 _dragged_ him _down_ the steps to the palace entrance, and here _his
 head was cut off and_ at once _sent_ over _to the Mahdi_.” |302|

It will be noticed that Father Ohrwalder’s account appears to be a
condensation of the first given, while it is hard to believe that a
coincidence only accounts for Slatin giving the history in almost the
identical words used by Ohrwalder. It is still more extraordinary that
the first account should ever have been believed and published, and
still _more_ extraordinary that it was not corrected by Ohrwalder and
Slatin, for when I arrived in Omdurman, in 1887, the real details of
the death of Gordon were the theme of conversation whenever his name
was mentioned, and there are many eye-witnesses to his death—or were
until the battle of Omdurman, who could tell a very different tale.

[Illustration: KHALEEL AGHA ORPHALI.]

Those who knew Charles George Gordon, will believe me when I aver that
he died, as they must all have believed that he died—in spite of the
official and semi-official accounts to the contrary—as the soldier and
lion-hearted man he was. Gordon did not rest his hand on the hilt of
his sword and turn his back to his enemies to receive his mortal wound.
Gordon drew his sword, and used it. When Gordon fell, his sword was
dripping with the blood of his assailants, for no less than sixteen or
seventeen did he cut down with it. When Gordon fell, his left hand was
blackened with the unburned powder from his at least thrice-emptied
revolver. When Gordon fell, his life’s blood was pouring from a spear
and pistol-shot wound in his right breast. When Gordon fell, his boots
were slippery with the blood of the crowd of dervishes he shot and
hacked his way through, in his heroic attempt |303| to cut his way
out and place himself at the head of his troops. Gordon died as only
Gordon could die. Let the world be misinformed and deceived about
Soudan affairs with the tales of so-called guides and spies, but let it
be told the truth of Gordon’s death.

A week before the fall of Khartoum, Gordon had given up hopes. Calling
Ibrahim Pasha Fauzi, he ordered him to provision one of the steamers,
get all the Europeans on board, and set off for the north. To their
credit be it said, they refused to leave unless Gordon saved his own
life with theirs. Finding him obdurate, a plot was made to seize him
while asleep, carry him off, and save him in spite of himself; but he
somehow heard of the plot, smiled, and said it was his duty to save
their lives if he could, but it was also his duty to “stick to his
post.” As the troops must be near, then sail north, he told them, and
tell them to hurry up.

Each day at dawn, when he retired to rest, he bolted his door from the
inside, and placed his faithful body-servant—Khaleel Agha Orphali—on
guard outside it. On the fatal night, Gordon had as usual kept his
vigil on the roof of the palace, sending and receiving telegraphic
messages from the lines every few minutes, and as dawn crept into
the skies, thinking that the long-threatened attack was not yet to
be delivered, he lay down wearied out. The little firing heard a few
minutes later attracted no more attention than the usual firing which
had been going on continuously night and day for months, but when the
palace guards were heard firing it was known that something serious
|304| was happening. By the time Gordon had slipped into his old serge
or dark tweed suit, and taken his sword and revolver, the advanced
dervishes were already surrounding the palace. Overcoming the guards,
a rush was made up the stairs, and Gordon was met leaving his room. A
small spear was thrown which wounded him, but very slightly, on the
left shoulder. Almost before the dervishes knew what was happening,
three of them lay dead, and one wounded, at Gordon’s feet—the remainder
fled. Quickly reloading his revolver, Gordon made for the head of the
stairs, and again drove the reassembling dervishes off. Darting back to
reload, he received a stab in his left shoulder-blade from a dervish
concealed behind the corridor door, and on reaching the steps the third
time, he received a pistol-shot and spear-wound in his right breast,
and then, great soldier as he was, he rose almost above himself. With
his life’s blood pouring from his breast—not his back, remember—he
fought his way step by step, kicking from his path the wounded and
dead dervishes—for Orphali too had not been idle—and as he was passing
through the doorway leading into the courtyard, another concealed
dervish almost severed his right leg with a single blow. Then Gordon
fell. The steps he had _fought_ his way—not been dragged—down, were
encumbered with the bodies of dead and dying dervishes. No dervish
spear pierced the live and quivering flesh of a prostrate but still
conscious Gordon, for he breathed his last as he turned to face his
last assailant, half raised his sword to strike, and fell dead with his
face to heaven. |305|

Even had I not been specially requested, as the last of the Soudan
captives, to relate in my narrative all that I had heard and learned
concerning Gordon, I should have done so to a certain extent at all
events, for he was no more the hero of the British people than he was
mine, and the belief that he was still alive had no little to do with
my ill-starred journey in 1887. The truth about his death, which is now
published for the first time, is ample justification for what follows
concerning him while still alive. It is true, as I have been told, that
all I can have to say will be from “hearsay;” but then all the reports
published concerning Gordon’s last days are from hearsay. I have
the advantage over all others in this—that I was maybe the one man,
captive or not, in Omdurman whom Mahdist and “Government” man alike
could trust implicitly and confide in, for there was no questioning
what my attitude was towards Abdullahi and Mahdieh. The consequence
was that old “Government” people and the powerful men who from time
to time became my fellow-prisoners, and, as a consequence, enemies of
Abdullahi, gave me confidences which, if given in other quarters, might
have resulted in the loss of a head.

Again, almost all the tales told about the Soudan may be classed in
one of two categories; the first, tales like mine, related by people
interested in putting their own version upon events and incidents with
which they were personally connected, and the second, tales told by
people with versions for which they believed their questioners were
hankering, so that what |306| was white to “A” became black to “B,”
if it was considered that this colour pleased “B” best. The system
scarcely puts a premium on accuracy.

But before proceeding to my comments on the criticisms, a few
introductory remarks are called for to prevent misconceptions and
misunderstandings arising in the minds of my readers. As an evidence
that the following is not intended—far from it—to lacerate the feelings
of any of those who suffered with me, I might mention that I have read
over the notes of this chapter to many of my fellow-captives, and
have, at their suggestion, cut out a series of incidents well known
to Gordon, which influenced him in the stand he took towards certain
people, and other incidents which prove how clear and long-sighted he
was, and how events justified his taking up the stand which he did. One
incident ought to be written, to punish on this earth, if possible,
the man whose escape has not been recorded, and whose deserted and
broken-hearted wife lies by the side of their unshriven baby-boy in the
sands of the Soudan. However, maybe Gordon, had he come back alive to
meet all the calumnies directed against him, would have hesitated to
help his “clearance” by stabbing the living with a dead hand, and out
of respect to his memory this incident, with a number of others, has
been expunged.

I have already told Father Ohrwalder that, in commenting upon what he
says in “Ten Years’ Captivity,” when speaking of Gordon’s actions,
the remarks I may feel called upon to make are not intended for him
personally, and although I foresee |307| that I must in the main
have to speak as to the second person, I think Father Ohrwalder quite
understands that the second person in this instance is his book, not
himself. I do not, as I have told him, consider that he is directly
responsible for the opinions he is credited with in “Ten Years’
Captivity,” and this notwithstanding the remark, “The reader is
reminded that all opinions expressed are those of Father Ohrwalder.”
Considering that Father Ohrwalder is a priest and missionary, and has
ventured upon thin ice in attacking Gordon’s memory, such a statement
is hardly fair to him, as in the preface to the book it is stated,
that “Father Ohrwalder’s manuscript, which was in the first instance
written in German, was roughly translated into English by Yusef Effendi
Cudzi, a Syrian; this I entirely rewrote in narrative form; the work
therefore does not profess to be a literal translation of the original
manuscript. . . .”

I should have thought that when Gordon was being attacked the original
manuscript might have been treated a little differently. Of course
it is easily understandable that when a Syrian, with Arabic for his
mother tongue, translates from one difficult language which he has
picked up into another equally difficult, and translates roughly
too, when moreover this rough translation is handled in the manner
admitted, errors may have crept in or been passed unnoticed, whilst
salient points were lost sight of. It is also quite possible that the
peculiar idioms of the Arabic, German, and English languages |308|
got into a hopeless tangle, and were left so. Whatever the cause,
there is no gainsaying the fact that Father Ohrwalder is credited
with the expression of opinions which he, as a priest and missionary,
ought to be one of the last on this earth to give utterance to. That
he did not appreciate to the full the real import of the opinions he
is credited with, I feel certain of after my long interview with him,
when, with the Bible in one hand and a copy of “Ten Years’ Captivity”
in the other, we compared the opinions expressed in the latter with the
teachings of Christ in the former.

Father Ohrwalder may or may not have been ill-advised in omitting or
suppressing the relation of well-known incidents, which accounted for
Gordon’s attitude in certain cases. It was only by omitting to mention
these incidents that the criticisms on Gordon were rendered possible,
or I should say that, had those incidents been included, the criticisms
would not have lived a day. It would have been far better to tell
everything to the generous and sympathetic world which he and Slatin
met when they escaped, and to leave it to condone, if any condoning
was called for, and to sympathize with them in the parts force of
circumstances compelled them to act, which must have been so repugnant
to them; for to omit, when criticizing Gordon, the relation of the very
acts which compelled him also by force of circumstances to act as he
did, was, to say the least of it, very unwise.

In “Ten Years’ Captivity” the reader is led into a maze of opinions,
and left there. Once inside, you |309| discover that you can neither
gain the centre of the maze or return to the starting-point; you must
either wander round for an eternity, or do as I shall do, cut your way
through the hedges planted to bewilder you, and thank Heaven when on
the outside that you are clear of the tortuous passages. Compare, for
instance―

 “He (Cudzi) added that Gordon should have no anxiety about Berber as
 long as Hussein Pasha Khaleefa was Mudir,”

with,

 “Gordon himself committed a mistake by which he gave a deathblow to
 himself and his mission. On his way to Khartoum, he stopped at Berber,
 and interviewed the Mudir Hussein Pasha Khaleefa; he _imprudently_
 told him that he had come up to remove the Egyptian garrisons, as
 Egypt had abandoned the Soudan.”

Gordon cannot be blamed for confirming, as Governor-General of the
Soudan, the news telegraphed to his subordinate, the Mudir of Berber,
_through whose hands the retiring garrisons must pass_, nor can he be
blamed if, when his suspicions were aroused, he deferred to the opinion
of the man who was acting British Consul, Government representative,
and his own agent, when he wrote and telegraphed as he did, “Trust in
Hussein Pasha.”

 “The catastrophe which had overtaken Hicks filled the inhabitants of
 Khartoum with indescribable dismay. Several of them returned to Egypt,
 and the members of the Austrian Mission, with their blacks, quitted
 Khartoum on the 11th December, 1883.”

I therefore take it for granted that Father Ohrwalder’s fellow-workers
saw that all was hopeless |310| _two months before Gordon’s name had
been suggested to the Egyptian Government_, yet, in the face of this,
we are first asked―

 “What could Gordon do alone against the now universally worshipped
 Mahdi?”

and then told―

 “General Gordon’s arrival in Khartoum gave fresh life and hope to the
 inhabitants.”

Then,

 “As it appeared to us in Kordofan, and to the Mahdi himself, Gordon’s
 undertaking was very strange; it was just as if a man were attempting
 to put out an enormous fire with a drop of water,”

and,

 “I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that had the Egyptian
 Government not sent Gordon, then undoubtedly the evacuation originally
 ordered could have been carried out without difficulty.”

One is simply staggered by such an assertion. When Gordon arrived in
Khartoum, the whole of the western Soudan had fallen. The town was
overrun with the mourning women and children—the widows and orphans, I
should say—of the troops who, under Hicks Pasha, had been annihilated
a few months before on their way to extricate the garrisons. Slatin
had surrendered Dara to Zoghal. Said Bey Gumaa, the last man to fight
for the Government in the western Soudan, was compelled to capitulate
very shortly before Gordon’s arrival, and this only after a second
siege when his men were dying with thirst. |311| Bahr-el-Ghazal fell
before Gordon had had time to turn round, and, for all that he or the
Mahdi knew, the Equatorial province had fallen also. The town was
hemmed in by the Mahdists, and the commanders of the garrisons which
Gordon was expected to extricate were holding various commands in the
dervish army, while Slatin had taken part already as a Mahdist in
the subjugation of his subordinate, Said Bey Gumaa of El Fasher, who
had refused to surrender. Am I not justified in saying that only the
suppression of such facts made possible such attacks upon Gordon?

We are next told―

 “Those who escaped massacre in Khartoum have often told me that they
 were perfectly ready to leave, and it was only Gordon’s arrival
 that kept them back, but Gordon’s arrival without troops had rather
 disappointed them. Had he been accompanied by five hundred British
 bayonets, his reputation in the Soudan might have been maintained, and
 probably the Mahdi would never have left Kordofan.”

Why did not those perfectly ready to leave leave with the members of
the Austrian mission, or leave between the date of their departure,
December 11, and the early days of February, when the news of
Gordon’s mission first reached Khartoum? Who prevented their leaving
during that interval of at least two months from the moment when
they were all thrown into “indescribable dismay” until they heard
of Gordon’s appointment? And if, when he did arrive, they were so
bitterly disappointed at his not being accompanied with five hundred
British |312| bayonets—much good these would have been against the
“universally worshipped Mahdi” in extricating those who had surrendered
to him—why did they stay on? Did not Gordon beg them to leave? did
he not try and compel them to do so? did he not put boats at their
disposal to sail north or south as best suited them? And has not Gordon
himself given the real reason for their staying on?—though to this
should be added their unbounded faith and confidence in Gordon.

Gordon, I venture to believe, sustained his reputation in the Soudan
up to the end—up to the moment when, with the hand of Death on him,
he fell facing his last assailant. True, he lost his reputation for
telling the truth, but there are few men in this world whose telling
of an untruth would startle and astonish a community. The people of
Khartoum, their eyes dry and wearied with looking for a sign of the
returning steamers which Gordon had sent off three months before to
bring up the troops expected to arrive at the beginning of November,
turned to each other, and, in an amazed whisper, said, “Gordon has told
a lie,” and were startled and afraid at their own words.

Having dealt as tersely as possible with this curious collection of
contradictions, I proceed to the quotation of and replies to the
criticisms passed upon Gordon in the book I have already quoted from.

 1. “Looking back on the events of the siege of Khartoum, I cannot
 refrain from saying I consider Gordon carried his humanitarian views
 too far, and this excessive forbearance on his part added to his
 difficulties.”

 2. “It was Gordon’s first and paramount duty to rescue the |313|
 Europeans, Christians, and Egyptians, from the fanatical fury of the
 Mahdi, which was especially directed against them. This was Gordon’s
 clear duty, but unfortunately he allowed his kindness of heart to be
 made use of to his enemy’s advantage.”

 3. “Thus, in his kindness of heart, did Gordon feed and support the
 families of his enemies. It was quite sufficient for a number of women
 to appeal to Gordon, with tears in their eyes, that they were starving
 for him to order that rations of corn should be at once issued to
 them, and thus it was that the supplies in the hands of the Government
 were enormously reduced.”

 4. “Gordon should have recognized that the laws of humanity differ in
 war from peace time, more especially when the war he was waging was
 especially directed against wild fanatical savages, who were enemies
 to all peace.”

 5. “He was entirely deceived if he believed that by the exercise of
 kindness and humanity he was likely to win over these people to his
 side; on the contrary, they ridiculed his generosity, and only thought
 it a sign of weakness. The Soudanese respect and regard only those
 whom they fear, and surely those cruel and hypocritical Mahdists
 should have received very different treatment to civilized Europeans.”

 6. “I also think that Gordon brought harm on himself and his cause
 by another action, which I am convinced led to a great extent to his
 final overthrow. Such men as Slatin, Lupton, Wad-el-Mek, and others,
 had offered, at the risk of their lives, to come and serve him. . . .
 Gordon would not, however, vouchsafe an answer to the letters of
 appeal these men wrote to him.”

In the first five extracts, Father Ohrwalder, from an initial mistake
in forgetting or being unaware of the presence in Khartoum of the
thousands of widows and orphans of the soldiers of Hicks’ army,
flounders on until, as I have said, he is credited with opinions which
he should be the last to give utterance to. It is passing strange
that any missionary should place limits to the humanitarian views and
forbearance of a military commander in time of war, who may invariably
be |314| depended upon to err on the wrong side from the biblical
point of view. Gordon, in keeping in mind the Sermon on the Mount, and
acting up to its precepts as far as the exigencies of a state of war
permitted, performed no act derogatory to him as a military commander.
Gordon was no worse a Christian than he was a soldier—and the world
never saw a better soldier. And whatever Gordon’s paramount duty may
have been, it certainly was _not_ his paramount duty to weaken his
little garrison by sending an expedition into Kordofan to rescue, say,
a dozen people who, as far as Gordon and every one else in Khartoum
knew, had disavowed the Christian religion and adopted that of the
Mahdi.

There is another aspect to the case. Gordon’s troops were Muslims. The
“Christians” had adopted the “true faith” and become Muslims also.
Why, then, should Muslim lives be sacrificed to “rescue” them from
Islam and bring them back to Christianity? And it must not be forgotten
that Slatin, so far from denying his conversion, excused himself on
the ground that his religious education had been neglected at home.
Gordon is not to be blamed for having believed that the “Christians”
had sincerely adopted Islam, for apart from the mere adoption of
the religion, people sworn to celibacy and chastity had entered the
matrimonial state, which was considered a further evidence of their
conversion. While the gardener of the Khartoum Mission was bewailing
the money he had sent to the “apostates,” Consul Hansal wrote, asking
that the matter be kept secret, to the Austrian |315| Consul-General
in Cairo, informing him of what had occurred. Had there been any
“Christians” to rescue from the Mahdi, doubtless Gordon’s paramount
duty would have exhibited itself in some action. Nor is there any
evidence that the Mahdi’s “fanatical fury” was in any single instance
especially directed against the “Christians,” but there is a great deal
of evidence to the contrary. With the exception of putting Slatin in
chains, when he believed that he was playing him false, I know of no
case of wanton cruelty practised by the Mahdi towards the “Christians,”
and I am not sure whether “clemency” would not be the proper word to
use in Slatin’s case, when it is remembered what happens to prisoners
of war who break their parole, for Slatin and the others had sworn the
oath of allegiance.

Extract No. 3, apart from the extraordinary censure on Gordon for
feeding the families of his enemies, and being moved to pity at the
sight of the tears of starving women, calls for a more detailed reply
to the criticism. Gordon, according to “Ten Years’ Captivity,” ought
to have turned these women out of the town to be at the tender mercies
of the “wild fanatical savages” and been responsible for the rehearsal
under his own eyes of the hunt for lust which followed on the fall of
Khartoum. Father Ohrwalder can never have heard of England’s proud roll
of heroes who on land and sea have given their lives to save those of
helpless women and children. In feeding these women—even had all been
the wives of his enemies, which they were not—Gordon committed |316|
no graver military crime than did the commander of the troops on board
the _Birkenhead_, when, instead of seeing first to the safety of the
soldiers for whose lives he was responsible, he placed the women and
children in the boats which could have saved the troops, and called
upon his men to present arms as the boats left the side of the ship—and
to stand to attention as the vessel sank under them. So much for
British principle, apart from Christ’s teachings, in peace and war; now
for the facts in Gordon’s case.

When Gordon arrived in Khartoum, he found wandering—hungry and
helpless—the thousands of widows and orphans of the soldiers who a
few months before constituted Hicks Pasha’s army. Throughout his
journals you will discover constant reference to the food question,
with accounts of his successful search for the _stolen_ biscuits, which
had “enormously reduced” the supplies in the hands of the Government.
Gordon had calculated that the relieving army would reach him at the
beginning of November, so that we find him writing on the 2nd of that
month that he has six weeks’ food supplies. In making this estimate he
was allowing for full rations to the troops (who were also in receipt
of the money with which to buy those rations), and the wants of the
poor. On the 11th of that month he discovers nearly a million pounds of
stolen biscuits. On the 21st he writes, “I do not believe one person
has died of hunger during the months we have been shut up.” On December
14—that is a month after the latest date he had estimated for the
arrival of the relief expedition, he |317| says that unless the troops
come in ten days the town may fall, and this because he had on November
12 written, “Omdurman fort has one and a half months’ supply of food
and water.” With the fall of this fort, he knew that the end would soon
come.

But up to this date the soldiers, who were not entitled to rations
since they received money for their purchase, were given full rations,
and there is every reason to believe that the pinch only came when
Omdurman fort fell on January 14 or 15, and the town was completely
hemmed in. Food was short, no doubt, but, eight days before the fall
of the town, Gordon could spare from the stores fifteen hundred pounds
of biscuits to provision a boat for the Europeans. One should only be
filled with amazement that Gordon held out so long after the date when
he had expected relief, and it is not only ridiculous but monstrous to
attack him, because he did not calculate that the expedition would only
arrive _seventy-eight_ instead of seventy-six days late, when we know
for certain that his troops were receiving full rations which they were
not entitled to for at least a month after the date of the expected
arrival of the expedition.

It is true that Gordon, seeing the food supplies giving out,
recommended people to leave him and join the Mahdi, but this was only
after more days had slipped away after the “ten days from December
14.” He had then abandoned all hope, and saw that his prophecy was to
come true—the expedition would arrive just “too late.” In comparison
with the number of widows whom Gordon had had to support |318| for
ten months, without the slightest assistance or aid from outside,
the number of wives of his “enemies” in the Mahdi’s camp was so
insignificant as to be unworthy of notice. But even supposing that all
the starving women who went to Gordon crying for the bread which Father
Ohrwalder suggests should have been represented by a stone, were the
wives of his enemies, his own writing justifies Gordon’s feeding of
them, for he says, “These crafty people thus assured themselves that,
should the Mahdi be victorious, their loyalty to him would ensure the
safety of their families and property in Khartoum, while, on the other
hand, should Gordon be victorious, then their wives and families would
be able to mediate for them with the conquerors.”

It is quite evident, then, that these people who went over to the
Mahdi’s camp did so, not from conviction of his divine mission, but to
save the lives of their wives and families, whom by preference they
entrusted to Gordon even at the last hour, and nearly a year after the
date when his arrival without five hundred British bayonets is supposed
to have ruined his reputation in the Soudan. I am inclined to think
that the “craftiness” displayed by some in trying to secure their wives
and daughters against violation and death, was no less justifiable than
the “craftiness” displayed by others for an entirely different purpose.
What a tribute these “crafty” people paid to Gordon! I mean the crafty
people who left Khartoum in January, 1885, and trusted Gordon with
the lives of their wives and children. |319| In discussing this food
question with Khartoum survivors, I laid particular stress upon the
feeding of the women and children, and I can do no better than give
the summing-up of it in the words of a native survivor, after I had
translated to him the criticisms I am replying to—“What! Would Gordon
Pasha send away the hungry women and children of soldiers who had been
killed fighting for the Government?”

I pass over extract No. 5 for the moment to refer to No. 6. The use
of my portrait in advertising the book I am quoting from led most to
believe that I approved of the criticisms it contained, and I have
taken this opportunity of showing how thoroughly I disagree with them.
To say that Slatin and others had offered, at the risk of their lives,
to join Gordon is hardly correct, and if Gordon did not vouchsafe a
written answer to the letters he received, he probably had good reason
for not doing so, especially as it appears likely that some of Said
Bey Gumaa’s letters addressed to the Governor-General before Gordon’s
appointment had succeeded in getting through to Khartoum, and from
these and deserters from the Mahdi, Gordon must have learned all.

Under pretence of intending to submit, Gumaa gained time, and tried
to hurry up reinforcements, but this having been suspected, Zoghal
ordered Slatin, Tandal, the President of the Civil Court, Aly Bey
Ibrahim-el-Khabir, Slatin’s head-clerk Ahmad Riad, and a few others,
to send in an ultimatum to Gumaa, |320| and await his reply. The
reply travelled quickly; as soon as he read the letter, Gumaa opened
fire upon the spot where Slatin and his companions were awaiting him.
During the first siege of El Fasher, Gumaa must have accounted for at
least fifteen thousand dervishes, and utterly defeated the army which
retired to Walad Birra, from whence a party was sent off to Dara to
bring up the ammunition which, as appears from Gordon’s Journal, was
handed over to the Mahdists by Slatin when he surrendered the province.
This occupied eleven days, and then the second siege was laid. The
wells were filled up, thus depriving the garrison of water; but for
seven or eight days they held out, dying of thirst, while the town was
constantly bombarded with Government ammunition. Said Bey Gumaa has
always protested that had it not been for the ammunition handed over by
Slatin to the Mahdists he could have held out—and more.

The knowledge of these things must have influenced Gordon, especially
when Slatin writes to him, through Consul Hansal, offering to place
his services at his disposal, but only on condition that Gordon
should guarantee never to surrender, for, if he did, Slatin would
be maltreated by the Mahdists when they laid hands upon him. Gordon
was the best judge as to the value of services offered under such
conditions. For “moral and political reasons,” Gordon considered
it unadvisable to have anything whatever to do with what he called
“apostate” Europeans in the Mahdi’s camp, but appreciating the
enormous responsibility |321| thrown upon his shoulders, he appealed
to the Ulema for their advice, as these apostates were now their
co-religionists, and they decided to have nothing whatever to do with
their “proposals of treachery,” as no good could come of it. Matters
were made still worse by Slatin writing to Gordon asking him to be a
party to proceedings very foreign indeed to Gordon’s nature at all
events. Slatin’s request to Gordon was to write to him personally one
letter in French, and another letter in Arabic, “asking him to obtain
permission from his Master to come to Omdurman and discuss with him the
conditions of his (Gordon’s) surrender,” which letter he could use in
order to obtain permission to come to Omdurman. If Gordon had written
that Arabic letter. . . .

If all these facts were not known to Father Ohrwalder before 1892, six
years is quite long enough time to have learned them, and now I have
no hesitation in saying that to assert that Gordon brought about his
downfall by refusing the services of people willing to risk their lives
in reaching him is, to put it charitably, pure fiction.

Irrespective of the opinions expressed in the first four extracts
given, extract No. 5 makes out a very good case for the Sirdar to write
in large letters at the Soudan Frontier, “No Missionaries Admitted,”
for Father Ohrwalder proves conclusively that they can do no good.
Honestly I believe that for many years to come the only religious
teachers allowed to penetrate into the Soudan should be enlightened
exponents of the Quoran. Consider that for sixteen years the |322|
Soudan has been in the throes—is still in the throes of one of the
greatest religious upheavals known. While this revival of Islam has
been in progress in the Soudan proper, the converts at Uganda and
elsewhere have been snicking each other’s throats to evidence their
zeal for the rival Christian creeds. In the Soudan, missionaries have
openly avowed to thousands their acceptance of the “true faith”—Islam,
the very religion from which they had gone out to convert the Blacks.
I have not the slightest hesitation in saying myself that for some
time to come religious revivalism in the Soudan will, if permitted to
take place, very soon spell REBELLION. Time must be given for the bad
(?) effect produced on the native mind by the conversion of the Soudan
missionaries to die out, and goodness knows the poor country requires
a rest. If missionaries must be sent, then let them be honest traders,
the best missionaries for savage countries. When the Soudan has again
been opened up, and the natives have become a little more civilized
through their contact with trade, and so Europeanized that their simple
faith, “There is one God, and He is God,” is not sufficient for them,
but they must needs snarl and fight over creeds, then and only then
remove the “No Admittance” signboard.

I trust that no religious body or society of earnest Christians will
think from the foregoing that I am either sneering or scoffing at
religion, or that their disinterested efforts to spread the gospel of
peace to the remotest ends of the earth have not my sincerest sympathy.
I have spoken plainly and to the point, |323| for I consider that the
occasion calls for it. The missionaries required in the Soudan now are
clean-minded, honest traders, who will do more for you by a few years’
preparing the ground for “talking” missionaries than the missionaries
can do in a score of years of preaching. It is men like Gordon who,
though not preaching religion, yet practise it in their every act, whom
the Soudan requires. Ask any one in the Soudan what is his opinion
about Gordon, and he will reply, “Gordon was not a Christian; he was a
true Muslim; no Christian could be so good and just as he was,” and I
believe that this saying, or estimate of him, emanated from the Mahdi
himself. I draw your particular attention to the word “just,” which
proves that, in the eyes of the Mahdists and Soudanese alike, his
justice ranked with his goodness. If any Soudanese or Mahdist ridiculed
to Father Ohrwalder Gordon’s generosity, and considered it a sign of
weakness, it must have been done for a purpose. During my twelve years
amongst all shades of people of the Soudan, I never heard a single word
against Gordon, nor did I hear one until I came amongst his own flesh
and blood. I cannot do better than relate another example of the esteem
he was held in, and this example is from a Christian source.

My friend Nahoum Abbajee, when he reached Cairo, prepared a petition
which he had intended forwarding to her Majesty the Queen, asking that
the British Government should restore part of the fortune accumulated
by him during his twenty-three years’ residence in the Soudan. His
argument was that, trusting to |324| Gordon, he had delayed in
Khartoum until Stewart’s departure was arranged for, when, acting on
the advice of Gordon, he sold off his goods, realizing but half their
value, accepted Gordon Bonds in payment, bought a boat, as no one then
would hire one out, set off with Stewart, and was captured by the
dervishes. This would not have happened, had not the commander of the
gunboat disobeyed Gordon’s orders by steaming off to Khartoum, instead
of bombarding Berber for three days, and Gordon was consequently
responsible for the delinquencies of his subordinate.

On being asked what his personal impressions of Gordon were, he said
that his thoughtfulness for every one, his goodness, justice, and
innumerable virtues would take years to relate; and then when he was
told that his claim could only be sustained on his proving that Gordon
was to blame for the loss of Stewart’s party, ill as he was, he rose
from his couch, tore up the petition, and, with his hand raised, prayed
Heaven that if the bit of bread to save him from starvation should be
purchased with money obtained through laying a fault upon Gordon, it
might choke him. One had to witness the scene really to appreciate it.
Ruined, broken down in health, too old to make a new start in life, his
eyes lost their dulness and glistened as he breathed his prayer and
fell back on his couch exhausted with the effort. Nahoum, I am afraid,
will have joined Gordon by the time this appears in print.

[Illustration: HASSAN BEY HASSANEIN.]



|325|

APPENDICES


APPENDIX I

HASSAN BEY HASSANEIN

When Gordon heard of the murder of Colonel Stewart and his companions,
he held a sort of court-martial on himself, and, after reviewing all
the arrangements which he had made for their safety, he came to the
conclusion that Stewart must have been invited on shore and murdered.
Then, as if endowed with second sight, he almost exactly described
what actually happened. The _Abbas_, drawing less than two feet of
water, ought not to have stranded, as it was High Nile. Treachery on
the part of the crew he had guarded against by sending a bodyguard
of highly paid Greeks. The cutting adrift of their boats just after
passing Berber contributed to the catastrophe, for had they been with
the steamer at the time she struck, it is hardly likely that the
inhabitants of the village would have planned the treachery they did.
As interpreter to the party, Gordon gave them the man he could least
spare, and one in whom he had every confidence—Hassan Bey Hassanein.
Gordon himself writes, “thus the question of treachery was duly weighed
by me and guarded against,” yet, in “Ten Years’ Captivity,” we find the
contrary stated. “It is said that the interpreter, Hassan, arranged
the betrayal.” Moreover, to clinch the matter, and to show that
Gordon had selected a traitor in the very man whom the |326| lives
of the party might depend upon, it is added, “And I was afterwards
told that, when he got into difficulties later, he sent a petition to
Mohammad-el-Kheir, in which he said that he was entitled to reward for
having secured Colonel Stewart’s death. He is still living in Omdurman.”

Hassan Bey Hassanein has lived to come back to Egypt and bear witness
to the goodness and virtues of the heroic defender of Khartoum.
The only bit of treachery Hassan Bey acknowledges is that—with his
fellow-clerk, Sirri—he cut the Khaleefa’s telegraph and telephone
communications as the troops were advancing, to prevent communication
between Omdurman and Khartoum and the outpost at Khor Shambat. It was
Hassan Bey who ran out of the telegraph-hut as the gunboats advanced
and attempted to get on board in order to warn them of the mines. He
succeeded in attracting attention, and barely got off with his life,
for his shouts in English were drowned by the report of the rifles as
the men “potted” at his dervish dress.

Hassan Bey Hassanein, speaking English, French, and Arabic, was sent
to Khartoum in July, 1883, for telegraphic work. When Gordon arrived,
in 1884, he wrote an official letter detailing him for his special
service. Orders were given that he was to have access to him at all
hours of the day and night. It was Hassan Bey who used to mark the
words Gordon required to use at a forthcoming interview, in his Arabic
dictionary. Before giving his version of the murder of Stewart’s
party, a few words concerning him and his relations with Gordon will
prove that, in selecting him as interpreter to the party, Gordon
“well-guarded against treachery.”

One of Hassan Bey’s first missions after the arrival of Gordon was to
seek out the widow of Bussati Bey; for, on arrival at Berber, he had
telegraphed to Bussati Bey, not knowing that he had been killed with
Hicks. Having found the widow and her children in dire straits, he
returned with one of the children to Gordon, and then took the child
back carrying a handkerchief containing a hundred pounds. “Bis |327|
dat qui cito dat” was certainly Gordon’s motto in Khartoum, from the
hundreds of tales which I have heard. On handing the money to the
widow, she brought out her husband’s uniform and sword, and, handing
them to Hassan Bey, said, “As you take the place of my husband at
Gordon’s side, then take his sword and uniform.” Hassan Bey took it
to Gordon, who asked what it was worth, and being told “perhaps ten
pounds,” sent twenty pounds to the widow to make sure, and told Hassan
Bey to keep the uniform, as it might yet come in useful.

Later on, when Hassan Bey, who was then but “effendi,” had had a
particularly hard spell of night and day work, Gordon asked him which
he would prefer—an increase of pay or a rank. Hassan Bey left the
matter to Gordon, and he gave him both, writing the “firman” himself.
On the Friday following, Hassan Bey presented himself to Gordon in
Bussati’s uniform—for uniform was worn on Fridays and feast days.
Gordon was evidently much amused at his interpreter and telegraph-clerk
appearing in the uniform of a lieut.-colonel, although the rank he
had bestowed upon him was nothing more nor less. Telling Hassan Bey
that such a uniform did not look well without a decoration, he pinned
on to his right breast one of the decorations he had had struck to
commemorate the siege of Khartoum, and Hassanein walked off a proud
man to delight the eyes of his wife, then nearing her confinement.
Fifteen days before the departure of the _Abbas_, he presented himself
to Gordon, and told him that he was the father of a boy. “No, I am
the father,” replied Gordon, and, knowing Hassan Bey’s house, he
hurried off at a quick walk, which Hassan Bey had to run to keep up
with. Pushing his way through the women assembled in the outer room,
he tapped gently on the door where mother and child were lying, and
asked, “Mary, tyeeb-tyeeb?” (“Is all well?”) and then, as the child’s
“father,” he insisted upon entering, took the child in his arms,
crooned to it, kissed it, and then hurried off and wrote a note to the
Finance Office to pay a hundred pounds _from his salary_ “to his boy.”
Mother and child were to meet with a tragic death. |328|

Two days before the departure of the _Abbas_, Gordon told Hassan Bey
that he had selected him to accompany Colonel Stewart as interpreter.
He was to accompany the party as far as Dongola, at all events, but
there was the possibility of Stewart requiring him as far as Cairo,
therefore his wife collected a number of presents for her relatives
in Cairo, which Hassan Bey was to present in uniform and decorations,
so that all should understand how highly she had married. I must now,
having given an idea of the relations existing between Gordon and
the man who “betrayed” Colonel Stewart, and who had left with Gordon
his wife and fifteen-day-old boy, give his account of what actually
occurred. I purposely leave out all the incidents of the voyage until
the boats reach the island opposite the village of El Salamanieh.

A discussion arose between the two Reises (pilots) as the island was
neared, as to what course to take; the river was running strong,
and between the island and mainland resembled a mill race. One reis
contended for the left bank and the other for the right. Stewart, who
spoke Turkish and Arabic, asked what was the matter, and decided that
judgment was to rest with the oldest of the reises, and he selected
the right bank. Instead of coming through the race stern first, it
was decided to put on full steam and “shoot” what might be called the
rapids. While the decision was being given, the steamer had come end on
with the island, and when full steam ahead was signalled, she steamed
ahead at an angle of about seventy-five degrees to the southern spit,
and before reaching the race proper, struck—swung round, and struck
again. Colonel Stewart took down his revolver, and threatened to shoot
both reises, upon which they dived overboard and swam to the right bank
of the Nile, but thirty or forty yards distant. Colonel Stewart did
not fire at them as they swam off. This occurred about an hour before
mid-day.

About an hour later, the two reises—Mohammad el Dongolawi and Ali el
Bishtili—returned to the vessel, said they had spoken to the people
of the village, who had declared they acknowledged the authority of
Mustapha Pasha Yawer, the |329| Mudir of Dongola; they at the same
time begged that Stewart would not molest them in any way, and they
would provide camels to take the whole party to Dongola. Colonel
Stewart spiked the cannon, and threw it overboard along with the
ammunition. He then ordered Hassan Bey, with one of Gordon’s cavasses,
and the clerk Mahmoud Ghorab, to go on shore and interview the people.
At first they demurred, as, being Egyptians, they felt sure they would
be murdered, and asked that the small boat should be sent as far as a
village near Derawi, where it was certain “friends” would be met with.
Colonel Stewart, after first threatening to throw them into the river,
took his revolver again and threatened to shoot all three if they did
not obey instantly. They obeyed, and went on shore to meet the men
awaiting them—a blind man named Osman, and two men of the Wadi Kamr
tribe. On reaching the reception-room of the Sheikh-el-Belad (headman
of the village), a copy of the Quoran was produced, and upon this Osman
and his companions swore loyalty to the Government. Osman remained
behind while the other two accompanied Hassan Bey and the others to the
island where Stewart’s party had then landed. Here again the oath of
allegiance to the Government was taken, and the men left, promising to
send for camels to be ready on the following morning.

At about ten o’clock the next day they returned, and suggested that all
should come to the right bank and pack up their effects, to be ready
for the camels when they arrived. About two hours after mid-day, while
all were either seated on the bank or fastening up their effects, a
man came, said that the Sheikh-el-Belad had arrived, and invited the
“Pasha” and the Consuls to his house. Colonel Stewart ordered Hassan
Bey to accompany him as interpreter. On reaching the reception-room,
they found about forty or fifty people assembled to receive them. The
Sheikh-el-Belad was seated in the centre of the room on the left. Two
angareebs were placed at each side of the doorway: Stewart and Power
seated themselves on the |330| angareeb on the right, and Hassan Bey
and Herbin on the angareeb to the left. Some minutes were taken up in
the usual salutations, and before they had time to speak about the
journey, the natives rose, and, saying the camels were approaching,
left the room, only to rush back a few minutes later shouting,
“Salaamoo tisslaamoo ya kaffarah” (“Become Muslims, you infidels,
and you will be spared”); but at the same moment Herbin had his head
smashed in with an axe, and Hassan Bey was stabbed in the right arm
with a crease knife, and, as he was falling, received a large spear
wound in the left leg. He fell unconscious, and did not see how Stewart
and Power were killed. While the bodies were being dragged out of the
room, some time after sunset, Hassan Bey was found to be still alive;
it was proposed to kill him, but the brother of the Sheikh-el-Belad, he
heard afterwards, pleaded for him, as his “stomach felt sick.”

After the murder of Stewart and the others, the party made their way
to the river, and a long fight ensued between them and the crew of
the vessel, the latter being killed to a man. Hassan Bey was given
some engine-oil from the steamer with which to dress his wounds, and,
when he recovered, was sent to attend the flocks of the tribe. About
fifty to sixty days later, he was sent to Berber on the orders of
Mohammad-el-Kheir, and there imprisoned for four months, and, on the
death of the Mahdi, was, with other prisoners, sent to Omdurman, to
take the oath of allegiance to Khaleefa Abdullahi.

In 1889–90 he was sent to Kassala, and, on the breaking out of the
famine, he, with his wife and child, and many others, made up a party
to return to Omdurman. Hassan Bey’s group consisted of his family, a
man named Ismail, with his wife and daughter, and a man with two women.
They ran short of water, and, leaving the others, who were worn out,
to rest under some shrubs, Hassan Bey and Ismail set off in search
of water. In about four hours’ time they reached some pools near the
Atbara, and filling their water-skins, set off to rejoin |331| their
families. On reaching the spot, they found that they had been devoured
by lions; the heads of Hassan’s wife and boy—then between six and
seven years of age—and the heads of Ismail’s wife and daughter were
all that remained. No trace was left of the heads of the man and the
other two women, and it is surmised that they must have escaped, for
the lion never eats the head of its victim. Half mad, the two wandered
on, living on roots and leaves, until, on reaching the village of
El-Mughetta, on the banks of the Atbara, they were taken prisoners and
made slaves. Ismail had to work at the ferry, but Hassan Bey, being
weak and ill, was allowed to wander about until, meeting with a caravan
bound for Geddaref, he joined it, and then made his way to Omdurman,
being employed, first, as clerk under Abdallah Sulieman, the head of
the cartridge-factory, and then transferred to the telegraph service.


|332|

APPENDIX II

ORPHALI

The account which I have given of how Gordon died differs so very
little in essentials from the account which I have since received from
Khaleel Agha Orphali, and which has been read to Khartoum survivors
with the idea of comparing the statements made with what was related
at the time, that I think it advisable to allow my account to stand,
and to append that of Orphali, giving a few details concerning Orphali
himself. I might mention that Gordon was credited with having killed
a much greater number of dervishes than I have given, but the error
arose from his being credited with the killing of the dervishes on the
“Gouvernorat” (E) staircase; but these were killed by the guards. The
fact of his having killed so many as he did, is to be accounted for
in two ways; first, the people who first assailed him on the private
staircase were unaccustomed to the use of the small spears they
carried—indeed, it is safe to say that they had only been dervishes
outwardly for half an hour or so; and, secondly, as they were packed on
a narrow staircase, every shot told on the mass. To assist the reader
in following Orphali’s narrative, I have drawn from memory a rough plan
of the palace as I remembered it while it stood intact, and, with the
assistance of Fauzi Pasha and others, have been able to name each of
the rooms.

Khaleel Agha Orphali joined the army for service in the Soudan in
the Coptic year 1591 (1873–74). After taking part in a number of
engagements, he was promoted to the rank of Bulok Bashi (commander of
twenty-five men), and when |333| Gordon reached Kulkul, in 1878–79,
Orphali and his men had been without pay for months. They presented
themselves to Gordon and clamoured for their pay; he recommended them
to go to Khartoum for it, upon which they became abusive, and Gordon
drew his revolver. Orphali followed suit, but neither fired. Gordon
quietly ordered the cavasses to remove their chief in custody, which
they did. Shortly afterwards, Gordon sent for Orphali, told him he
was a “man,” gave him a present of money, and offered him the post of
cavass to himself, which Orphali at once accepted, accompanying Gordon
to Khartoum, and remaining with him until he left.

On Gordon’s return, in 1884, he found Orphali then in Khartoum, and
made him his chief cavass. Orphali is one of those men who know but
one master, and believe that master to be the ruler of the universe.
He, therefore, was no great favourite with some in the administration,
as, during the siege, he was never away from Gordon’s side, and his
cavasses were allowed to do nothing but keep their arms clean, and
be ready to surround Gordon in case of trouble. They were strictly
forbidden to leave their posts to carry coffee, bread, run messages, or
perform all the other little services which they had been accustomed
to perform for the katibs (clerks). Orphali’s ideas as to the duty of
his cavasses were the cause of constant bickerings, which came to a
climax about twenty days before the fall of Khartoum, when he espied
one of them carrying an ink-bottle behind Geriagis Bey—the head-clerk,
who succeeded Rouchdi Bey. This was too much for Orphali. Grasping the
brass inkstand, he drove it with all his force against Geriagis’ chest,
and this assault Gordon could not pass over. Orphali was in disgrace
for eight days, and “confined to barracks,” that is to say, the palace
precincts, but he slept at Gordon’s door as usual. Twelve days before
the fall, he was re-instated in favour, and never again left Gordon’s
side for a moment.

Orphali—as Gordon is not alive to speak for him, and as so many knew
from Gordon himself of his threat to shoot him many years before—has
been afraid, since his return, to talk |334| about his relations with
Gordon, and was not a little surprised when I assured him that, if he
appeared in “Londra,” he need have nothing to be afraid of from the
English people. Having introduced the man, I now give his description
of the night of the 25th January, keeping as much as possible to
his own words, and only, to give a complete account, mentioning the
incidents occurring in other parts of the palace while Gordon and he
fought the upper floor:―

[Illustration: PLANS OF PALACE AT KHARTOUM ILLUSTRATING THE DEATH OF
GORDON.]

His excellency was not an early sleeper, and on the night the dervishes
entered Khartoum he was in his room. At eight o’clock, Consul Hansall,
Consul Leontides and the Doctor, Abou Naddara (he of the spectacles),
came to see him, and remained until midnight. After their departure,
he did not go to sleep, but sat reading and writing letters, and
sometimes pacing the room. At one o’clock in the morning, he sent me
to the telegraph-office to inquire about the enemy’s movements, as he
had received confirmed news of the intended attack, and his excellency
had issued general orders to the soldiers and employés to be on guard
to attack and withstand the dervishes. Ali Effendi Riza, Mohammad
Effendi Fauzi, and Youssef Effendi Esmatt were on duty, also the
messenger Mohammad Omar. They reported all was quiet, and this news I
gave his excellency. Half an hour later, perhaps, firing was heard from
the land side (_i.e._ to the south); I was sent to seek information.
Bakhit Bey, from Buri, telegraphed that a few dervishes had attacked,
but had been driven off, and when I told his excellency, he prepared
to sleep, and gave me the customary order to bolt his door, and this
I did. Then I closed the door of the terrace (I, plan), then the door
of the Gouvernorat (H), near Rouchdi Bey’s room, and returning along
the corridor leading to the private apartments, closed the door in
the middle (B), and then went down the private staircase (D), gave
the usual orders to the guards, and returned to my sleeping place
opposite the pasha’s room (K), after I had told the telegraph-clerks
to bring information as soon as any news came from the lines. About
three o’clock, Mohammad Omar, the messenger, with Cavass Ali |335|
Agha Gadri, roused me and said that an attack was being made at
Kabakat (boats) on the White Nile. I informed the Pasha, who told me to
run to the telegraph-office for more news, and there I met Hassan Bey
Bahnassawi, who was on duty, and we heard that an attack had been made,
but had been repulsed.[13] On informing the Pasha, he told me to close
the door of his room again, which I did, and sat down to make coffee.
Then we heard more firing from the White Nile, and the cavasses,
having run to the terrace, called to me that the dervishes were coming
into the town. I ran down to Buluk Bashi Ibrahim El Nahass, who had
twenty-four men; fifteen we placed at the windows (rooms on right
ground-plan), and nine on the terrace overlooking the garden (G). There
were also twenty-four cavasses and ferrashes; thirteen were placed at
the windows (left of ground-plan) under my second, Niman Agha, eight
on the terrace (F), and three at the door of the palace (B). Each man
had ten dozen cartridges, besides which, each party had a spare case
of ammunition. All these arrangements did not take five minutes, as
each knew his place. I then ran up to the Governor-General’s room,
and informed him of the arrangements. The day had now come (dawned).
The dervishes who ran to the front of the palace were killed by the
fire from the steamer. About seventy were killed in the garden by the
soldiers firing on them from the terrace, and then we saw the dervishes
coming over the rukooba (vine-trellis A), and they were met with the
fire from the windows and terraces. They came in great numbers very
quickly. Some ran to the entrance (B), killed the guards and opened
the door; then they all ran to the Gouvernorat door and killed the
telegraph-clerks, all except Esmatt, who hid among the sacks in the
storeroom; they then went to the terrace (G) and killed the soldiers,
and Nahass, seeing the massacre, jumped from the window. Four men were
on guard at the private stairs, but when the |336| dervishes came
back from the Gouvernorat door (E) they were soon killed, and some of
the dervishes ran to the terrace (F), and killed the soldiers there;
others came up the steps to the private apartment, and broke the door;
Gordon Pasha met them with his sword in his right hand and his pistol
(revolver) in his left, and killed of them two who fell at the door,
and one who fell down the stairs,[14] and the others ran away. Then
we heard the dervishes breaking the private door (B), while the Pasha
was loading his revolver. I went forward and received a little wound
in the face, and when the Pasha came, he received a wound in the left
shoulder; the man who wounded him was a half-blood slave. We followed
them to Rouchdi Bey’s room, killing three and wounding many, and the
others ran away and fell down the stairs. We went back to the Pasha’s
room and reloaded, but the dervishes came back, and I received a slight
wound in my right leg from a sword, but I warded the blow, and the
cut was nothing. We attacked the dervishes on the private stairs (D),
and while we were passing the door a native of Khartoum, dressed as a
dervish, stabbed the Pasha with a spear on the left shoulder; seeing
this man’s hand coming from behind the door, I cut at it, and he ran
and fell on a spear held by one of his companions on the steps, and
was killed. At this time more dervishes were coming along the corridor
(from H), and we returned to meet them; I received a thrust in the
left hand, but the Pasha cut the man down with his sword, and kicked
him on the head and he died; then the dervishes ran into the clerks’
offices (5, 6, 7, upper-floor plan), and while we were standing in the
corridor, a tall negro fired a shot from the door (H) near Rouchdi
Bey’s room, and the bullet struck the Pasha in the right breast, and
the Pasha ran up and shot the man dead. The dervishes then came out of
the offices, and we turned, and they ran to the private stairs, and we
fired into them, but the Pasha was getting weak from loss of blood. We
fought these dervishes down the stairs till we reached the last one,
and a native of |337| Katimeh speared the Pasha in the right hip, but
I shot him, and the Pasha fell down on the cavasses’ mat at the door,
and he was dead, and as I turned to seek refuge in the finance-office
(F plan), I was struck down and lost my senses, and I was lying down
with the dead. In the afternoon, a man of El Katimeh—Abd-el-Rahman,
whom I knew, helped me to go to the river for water, and I saw the body
of the Pasha at the door (D), but the head was not there. I was helped
to my house, and found my wife and children and property all missing.
. . . I was taken by a friend and Abd-el-Rahman to El Dem-el-Darawish,
and left on the plain all night, and in the morning I was taken before
Wad en Nejoumi . . . and I was stripped to see if I had any money and
papers, but I had not; and when I said that I was ignorant of any
treasure, I was heavily beaten, though much wounded, and was very ill
for seventeen days, and my wife found me.

    [13] This is a literal translation. What Orphali intends to
    convey is, that on telegraphing to the lines, Bahnassawi Bey,
    who was on duty, was at his post, and replied to the inquiries
    sent by telegraph. The distance between the palace and
    Bahnassawi’s post was about two and a half miles.

    [14] That is to say, fell dead or wounded.

       *       *       *       *       *

All who were taken to see the steps where Gordon fell remarked upon the
number and extent of the blood stains, for they could not believe that
all had come from one body. These stains were shown to me in 1887. It
has been stated on good authority that “Stains of blood marked the spot
where this atrocity took place, and the steps from top to bottom for
weeks bore the same sad traces.” Here is what I choose to consider not
only a confirmation of Gordon having died fighting, but a confirmation
of Orphali’s narrative, for there were only two people on the upper
floor—Gordon and Orphali, and all the fighting must have been done by
them. It is quite impossible that the steps “from top to bottom”—four
flights-could have been stained as they were stained with large patches
of blood left by a body which had been dragged downstairs some time
after death. The steps _were_ stained with the blood of the dervishes
through whom I have said Gordon shot and hacked his way in his heroic
attempt to reach his troops.


|338|

APPENDIX III

Translation of the letter which the Khaleefa dictated in reply to the
letter given me by General Stephenson, in Cairo, before leaving for
Kordofan.

 “In the name of God the Most Merciful, and thanks to God the
 Omnipotent and Generous, with prayers on Mohammad our Lord and his
 descendants; Greeting.

 “From the servant of his Lord Abdallah-el-Muslimani-el-Brussi (the
 Prussian), formerly named Karl Neufeld, to Stephenson the Englishman,
 at Cairo.

 “We have to inform you that, in conformity with your letter, dated
 March 1, 1887, addressed to us, and recommending us to Sheikh Saleh
 Fadlallah-el-Kabashi with regard to your projects,

 “We started from Halfa, with his men bearing the arms and ammunition
 and other things sent him by the Government.

 “We proceeded on our course, and were constantly on guard on ourselves
 and our property, until we arrived at a well called Selima, from where
 we took the water supply, and continued our way to our destination.

 “It was our fate to be met in the desert by six fakirs, followers of
 the Mahdi, who attacked us, so that we and Saleh’s men had to defend
 ourselves, our number being fifty-five men.

 “The six fakirs were later reinforced by others, all of them being
 men of Abd-el-Rahman en Nejoumi. Thus there remained for us no way of
 escape, and in the space of half an hour we were defeated, many being
 killed, and the rest taken prisoners. The rifles, ammunition, and
 things destined for Saleh were seized, and I, my servant Elias, and
 my slave-girl, Hasseena, were among the prisoners, and |339| we were
 thus conducted to Abd-el-Rahman en Nejoumi, to Ordeh or Dongola.

 “From this place we were sent to the Khaleefa of the Mahdi, on whom be
 peace, at Omdurman, to whom we were presented. We were certain that we
 were to be killed, taking into consideration our great crime against
 him.

 “The Khaleefa of the Mahdi, on whom be peace, however, pitied our
 condition, and proposed to us to avow the Mohammedan faith. We
 accepted, and became Muslims by pronouncing the two declarations in
 his presence, and by publicly professing that there is no God but
 God, and that Mohammad is the Prophet of God, and I then added that
 I believed in God and his Prophet Mohammad, and in the Khaleefa of
 the Mahdi. We then asked him for his clemency and pardon, which was
 granted. He thereupon embraced me, and named me Abdallah. I was then
 accepted of the Mohammedan religion.

 “It was on these conditions that the Khaleefa of the Mahdi, on whom be
 peace, pardoned me and spared my life, which was already forfeited.

 “This was done to the honour and glory of the Mohammedan religion.

 “We further inform you that although Dufa'Allah Hogal deceived us,
 notwithstanding his perfidy, we cannot sufficiently thank and reward
 him, as his treachery turned to our great benefit, and he has allowed
 us to enjoy great prosperity.

 “Finally, we inform you confidentially that Saleh Fadlallah Salem has
 lost all his power and influence, and has taken refuge in the desert.
 This is the truth. I write this for your advice.

 “The 17th Shaaban, 1304.”


|340|

APPENDIX IV

IBRAHIM PASHA FAUZI-GORDON’S FAVOURITE OFFICER

When Gordon arrived in Khartoum, in 1874, Ibrahim Pasha Fauzi was then
a second-lieutenant. Gordon had applied to the then Governor-General
of the Soudan, Ismail Pasha Ayoub, for four companies of soldiers to
accompany him to the Equatorial Provinces. Ayoub was not at all pleased
at Gordon’s mission, as he took it as a slight upon his administration,
so that when Gordon’s application for troops was received, Ayoub
selected for the purpose his most worthless men, with the double object
of getting rid of them, and making Gordon’s mission a failure. Fauzi,
anxious to see some service, had volunteered to accompany Gordon, and,
for doing so, Ayoub placed him under arrest. Gordon, hearing of the
matter, sent to Ayoub demanding that the officer who had volunteered
his services should be sent to him immediately. Fauzi was sent to
Gordon’s head-quarters, when Gordon first asked him, “Are you the
officer who volunteered your services?” following up the question,
when Fauzi in reply said, “Yes, sir,” the only two words he then knew
of English, by asking why he had done so. On learning that Fauzi
wished to see service, he promised that his wish should be gratified.
“But,” added Gordon, “I wish you to answer me as an officer—why did
the Governor place you under arrest?” Fauzi gave the reason—Ayoub was
afraid that |341| Gordon would discover, before departure, that he
had been sent the worst troops. Sending back the four companies, he
requisitioned four companies indicated by Fauzi, and, Fauzi being too
young for a command, he appointed him commandant of his body-guard, and
a sort of adjutant-major to the little force.

[Illustration: FAUZI PASHA IN UNIFORM.]

Fauzi accompanied Gordon to the Albert Nyanza, returned with him to
Khartoum, was gazetted major in consideration of his services, and
appointed Mudir (Governor) of Bohr, but given two months’ leave of
absence before taking up his post. Gordon left for England, and Fauzi
came to Cairo for his leave, on the expiration of which he set out for
the Soudan, but, on reaching Berber, he found a telegram awaiting him
from Gordon telling him not to go further than Khartoum, as he (Gordon)
was returning as Governor-General. When Gordon reached Khartoum, it
was to hear that Darfur was in revolt, and that the Bahr-el-Ghazal
province was joining the rebels. A council of war was held, when Gordon
asked the officers present to select one of themselves to head an
expedition to the Bahr-el-Ghazal province, while he took another into
Darfur; he had expected all of them to volunteer for the command, but
they believed that such an expedition had more the elements of defeat
and death in it than of glory and distinction. Told that they must
name an officer, they named Fauzi, who was not present, and Gordon at
once accepted him, sending him off with 4000 troops and the clerks
for the civil administration. Fauzi succeeded in setting the province
to rights without fighting, and while travelling about setting the
administration right in the districts, he often met, and assisted with
food and money, a holy man then living as a sort of hermit at Abba and
the neighbourhood. The man’s name was Mohammed Ahmed—whom the world was
to hear of six years later as the Mahdi.

Breaking down in health, Gordon ordered Fauzi to Khartoum, for rest,
promoted him to the rank of full colonel, and named him Governor
of Equatoria, in which province he spent about a year carrying out
Gordon’s instructions to the |342| letter, and making a host of
enemies amongst the officials whose peculations and interest in the
slave-trade he put a stop to. He accompanied Gordon to Cairo in 1879,
and when Gordon decided upon resigning, he asked Fauzi whether he would
prefer to remain in Cairo or return to the Soudan. Fauzi saw that,
without Gordon to back him up, his tenure of office would be but of
short duration, unless he engaged himself in the maladministration
of the provinces; he elected to remain in Cairo, where, at Gordon’s
request, he was gazetted Colonel commanding the 1st Regiment of the 3rd
Brigade. Gordon made it a point to be present at Fauzi’s first parade,
congratulated him on the handling of his men, and bidding him farewell,
gave him three hundred pounds as a souvenir of their days together in
the Soudan. At the outbreak of the Arabist rebellion, Fauzi’s regiment,
with others under the command of Kourschid Pasha, was ordered to
Rosetta, and after the defeat of Arabi, at Tel-el-Kebir, he was, with
other colonels, ordered to surrender to Sir Evelyn Wood at Kafr Dawar.
Sent to Alexandria, he was tried, degraded, and then dismissed in
disgrace.

Some days before the arrival of Gordon, in 1884, H. E. Nubar Pasha and
Sir Evelyn Wood sent for Fauzi, and told him to be in readiness to
proceed to the Soudan, as Gordon had asked for his services. When Fauzi
said that he had been dismissed, and was no longer on the army-list,
Nubar Pasha replied, “General Gordon will see to the matter.” It had
not been Gordon’s intention to call at Cairo, and Fauzi was to have
gone to Suez or viâ the Nile, as Gordon might decide. However, Gordon
was stopped at Port Said, and asked to come through Cairo; Fauzi went
to the station to meet him, and Gordon, on alighting, went up to
his old Soudan lieutenant, and asked how it was that he was not in
uniform. Fauzi detailed his dismissal, upon which Gordon turned to Sir
Evelyn Wood, and asked him how it was. It appears that when Gordon saw
Fauzi’s name amongst the names of the colonels to be tried, he wired,
or wrote—or both—to Sir Evelyn Wood, asking him to look after Colonel
|343| Ibrahim Fauzi. General Wood did do so, but there was another
Colonel Ibrahim Fauzi; and while Gordon’s Fauzi was dismissed in
disgrace, the other Fauzi retired in glory and with a pension.

Gordon had some difficulty in seeing Fauzi reinstated, for his enemies
were powerful; but, not to be thwarted, he took Fauzi direct to His
Highness the Khedive, and carried his point. Two days later, Fauzi
took his seat in the carriage with Gordon and Stewart, and left Bulac
Dacroor station on that journey from which he only was to return alive,
and that fourteen years later.

On the way to Khartoum, Gordon named Stewart sub-Governor-General
of the Soudan, and Fauzi Director of Military and Marine, and, in
communicating these appointments to Cairo, he wrote of Fauzi, “I
especially recognize in Fauzi Bey the desired activity which he has
displayed with me while previously in the Soudan; he has already given
proof of his abilities, and I am more than ever satisfied with him.”

Soon after his arrival at Khartoum, Fauzi was entrusted with the
clearing out of the rebels from Khor Shambat and Halfeyeh, and the
restoring of the telegraphic communications which they had cut. Fauzi
won his dual victory, and restored the line, but, in leading his men,
he was hit in the right leg with a bullet fired from an elephant-gun,
which split and shattered the bone. Owing to want of skill on the
part of the Greek doctor, the broken bone was allowed to overlap,
and a suppurating wound set in from the unextracted fragments, which
kept Fauzi confined to his official residence for about six months,
although he was able to transact the executive part of his duties. On
the departure of Stewart, Gordon named Fauzi Governor of Khartoum and
Commandant of Troops, calling a special parade for the occasion. Fauzi
Pasha must be left to relate, at some future date, the incidents of the
siege of Khartoum; I pass on to January 25, 1885.

About three o’clock in the afternoon, Gordon called Fauzi to the roof
of the palace, to see the activity taking place in |344| the dervish
camp. He had a large tripod telescope fixed on the roof immediately
over his room.[15]

    [15] It has been repeatedly stated that Gordon had a gun on the
    roof of the palace, with which he used to shell the dervish
    camp. In one account of the fall of Khartoum, it is averred
    that Gordon, in his sleeping suit, served this gun for an hour
    until it was rendered useless, as it could not be depressed
    sufficiently to bear upon the dervishes surrounding the palace.
    There never was a gun on the roof of the palace, for the roof
    would not have supported its dead weight, much less the shock
    of its recoil.

About 3.30, Fauzi, riding a donkey, accompanied Gordon on what proved
to be his last visit to the lines. Most of the troops were lying down
exhausted and hungry; as they saw Gordon approach, they wished to
present arms, but he kept calling out to them, “Rest, rest; but keep
your eyes open.” At sunset they regained the palace, and walked up
and down for some time discussing the situation. As the dinner-hour
approached, Gordon told Fauzi that he was sorry he could not invite him
to dinner, as he had nothing to eat. Fauzi said he had, for himself
and guards, the hearts of four date trees, and would send one to the
palace, upon which Gordon ran in and brought out his dinner—also the
heart of a date tree. This was the last Fauzi was to see of Gordon.

At midnight, Fauzi Pasha, as usual, went his rounds of the posts in
the town, reaching his guards at about 2 a.m. While giving orders in
the courtyard of his official residence, a sound as of shouts in the
distance was heard. This was towards dawn. Fauzi went to the roof, and,
through his binoculars, could faintly make out hand-to-hand fighting
going on in the lines. Hurrying down, he drew up his men, and set off
for the palace, being joined by ten Greeks who had been on duty. On
coming in sight of the palace, they were met by two bands of dervishes,
but succeeded in cutting their way through one, only to be met by a
troop of dervish horse. The little party was forced back, fighting
every step, and when close to his house all rushed inside, closed the
doors, and commenced to fight through the windows, but for every shot
they fired, a score came back in reply. The little garrison assembled
in the courtyard for a last stand as the dervishes were then beating
down the doors. Fortunately, the sight of other dervishes rushing
past with loot drew the |345| besiegers off on a similar errand, and
the party was able to hold its own against successive parties until
the Mahdi sent word to stop the massacre. When Fauzi was taken before
the Mahdi, he was asked, “Why is it that you, a good Muslim, have
never written to me when every one else has done so, expressing their
loyalty? Have you forgotten the days at Abba, and the instruction I
gave you? If you have, I have not;” and, kissing him, the Mahdi told
him to “go in peace.” The Mahdi was very wroth at the death of Gordon,
for he really admired and respected him, and he had given strict orders
that he was not to be harmed in any way.

As, during his captivity, Fauzi used to receive moneys from Cairo, he
had, to explain his being able to live, to engage in some occupation,
and took to lime-burning, a business which cost him more than he ever
got out of it. As an Egyptian, he was under the surveillance of Youssef
Mansour, who, after the escape of Slatin, refused to be responsible for
Fauzi any longer. Failing to get him executed for having assisted in
Slatin’s escape, he succeeded in getting him committed to the Saier,
where he remained as a prisoner for four years, until released by the
Sirdar.


|346|

APPENDIX V

AHMED YOUSSEF KANDEEL

Ahmed Youssef Kandeel, though actually a civilian employé, held the
rank in Khartoum, where he was born, of Lieutenant in the 3rd Soudan
Artillery. He took part in many of the attacks on the dervishes during
the siege, and fought with Bakhit Bey on the night the town was taken.
He managed to fight his way to his house, and held out until the
Mahdi’s orders came to stop the massacre of the inhabitants, when he
gave himself up. His father, uncle, and brother had already been killed
fighting. For some time he supported himself at Omdurman by cutting
firewood, living in a state of semi-starvation. Being a good clerk, he
offered his services to Wad Nejoumi, who, it appears, would employ no
one but old Egyptian employés as “katibs” (clerks). He was with Wad
Nejoumi when I was taken prisoner to Dongola, and throws an interesting
light upon Nejoumi’s attitude towards Mahdieh, which more than confirms
the impressions I had formed, and which I have given expression to in
Chapter VI.: “Dongola to Omdurman.”

[Illustration: AHMED YOUSSEF KANDEEL.]

Kandeel tells me that, on the arrival of our party at Dongola,
Nejoumi called a meeting of emirs, and asked what should be done
with us. All voted for instant execution, but this Nejoumi would
not sanction. Among the emirs was a Taaishi wakil (spy or agent of
Abdullahi)—a similar wakil being appointed to each army not actually
led by one of the Khaleefa’s relatives. This wakil’s name was Messaad
Geydoom-el-Taaishi. When Nejoumi insisted upon saving |347| my
life, and, as an alternative, sending me to the Khaleefa, leaving him
to decide what should be done with me, he instructed Kandeel to write
a letter saying that, as I was a “hakeem” (doctor), I might be useful
to him (Nejoumi) and also to the army. Geydoom, having his suspicions
about Nejoumi’s loyalty to Mahdieh, used his sparing of my life as a
proof of his sympathies with the Government, and Nejoumi was ordered to
Omdurman, and kept a prisoner in his house for some months.

Geydoom’s treatment of the army during Nejoumi’s absence caused so much
discontent that Abdullahi determined to send Nejoumi back to Dongola,
but with strict instructions to at once commence the march for the
conquest of Egypt. He was given a hundred and twenty rifles only, and
very little ammunition.

When General Grenfell sent the letter to Nejoumi, calling upon him
to surrender, Nejoumi called a council of emirs, said that the army
could not possibly fight, as they were tired, hungry, and thirsty, and
suggested surrender, for they must either be killed upon the field or
die in the desert on the way back. The emirs, being of the Taaishi
family, first accused Nejoumi of cowardice and then of treachery. They
threatened to report him to the Khaleefa when the fight was _won_, and
to ask that one of themselves should be given the command when the
further advance into Egypt was ordered. There appears to be but little
doubt that, had it not been for the Taaishi emirs, the army would have
followed Nejoumi unarmed to the lines of the Government troops. The
emirs dictated the reply which Nejoumi was to send to General Grenfell,
and when Nejoumi dashed down into the plain as the dervish army was in
retreat, it was doubtless with the object of reaching the Government
lines, but under pretence of rallying the few remaining troops, so
that they should not shoot him down if they thought he was deserting
them—or follow him if they thought he was charging, for this would have
drawn the fire of the brigades upon them. After the death of Nejoumi,
spies reported to the Khaleefa that he had |348| attempted to open up
negotiations with the Government troops, and Kandeel, being suspected
as Nejoumi’s “katib,” was loaded with chains and sent to Omdurman,
where he was imprisoned for fourteen months, and then released to
become the clerk of Yacoub, the brother of Abdullahi.


|349|

APPENDIX VI

THE SOUDAN: ITS PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

To the present generation the history of the Soudan may be said to
commence with the date of its partial conquest by Mohammad Ali Pasha,
the Viceroy of Egypt. To go further back than this is to compile from
various sources, all more or less inaccurate, a mass of information
which, where not misleading, would be next to useless to the would-be
correct historian. Even the recent history of the benighted country has
from force of circumstances been compiled from sources not the most
reliable, and it is extremely difficult for the moment to sift the
facts from the legends. The Soudan is still an unknown and unconquered
land. Small tribes have been magnified into nations, and petty chiefs
and sheikhs into kings and sultans who evidenced their exalted position
in the possession of a few more sheep, goats, donkeys, and slaves, than
their neighbours. No single tribe or sheikh ever held general supremacy
over the others; Zubeir was within an ace of making himself the Sultan
of the Soudan, when he accepted an invitation to visit Cairo; that was
twenty-five years ago, and he is still here. The Soudan was nothing
more nor less than a collection of little commonwealths; occasionally
a number of these would acknowledge allegiance to one particular
headman, and, in such instances, the “nation” might have boasted almost
as great a population as some small and obscure provincial town. But
that such instances were rare |350| is proved by the facility with
which Mohammad Ahmed and Abdullahi set the various sections of tribes
fighting among themselves.

When Mohammad Ali established his government, and when later Ismail
Pasha attempted to extend his empire, they each took advantage of the
chronic anarchy reigning in the Soudan to further their schemes, but
the tribes soon found that they had but stepped from the frying-pan
into the fire, and waited patiently for the strong man who was to
rid them of the thraldom of the now hated and detested Turks, from
whom they had hoped so much. From the time when, what the Soudanese
call the “Turk” rule, was established, until the rebellion of 1882,
nothing whatever was done to develop the natural resources of the
country—indeed, the reverse. The only trade the officials fostered
was that of slaves, and these were invariably drawn from peaceful and
agricultural districts; the adult male population of whole districts
was swept away in those raids organized to supply the hareems of
Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, and Turkey, with eunuchs and concubines. The
mineral wealth of Sennar, Darfur and Kordofan was neglected, as when
the soldiers reached the gold, silver and copper mines, they discovered
that the precious metals did not exist in the pure blocks they had
expected to find, and that to extract the metals meant work.

The population of the half-conquered provinces was robbed in every
conceivable manner by tax-collectors, who were seldom or never paid
their salaries of from twenty-five to thirty shillings a month, and
they were assisted in the duties of tax collecting by companies of
irregular soldiers whose salaries also were never paid. Where money
was not forthcoming, the taxes were collected in kind, and it may be
imagined what the result of tax collecting was. The people were driven
farther and farther away from the cultivated lands and watercourses.
The “Sudd,” that rank growth of weeds which obstruct the navigation of
the Nile and its tributaries, was left to accumulate year after year,
the little clearances which the inhabitants themselves made formerly,
|351| being abandoned as they but aided the passage of boats conveying
soldiers on tax collecting or conquest of territory expeditions.

Admitting, for the sake of argument, that some of the Soudan tribes may
have risen to the dignity of independent kingdoms, their history may
be written with one word—“anarchy,” and when the “Turk” government was
established, general rebellion was rife from the beginning until it
culminated in the rising of Mohammad Ahmed.

The population of the Soudan was, and still is, divided into three
great classes, (1) the pure Arab to whom manual labour has been unknown
since the day his ancestor Ishmael mixed the mortar with which to
cement the stones of the Kaaba or House of God, which Abraham built at
Mecca; (2) the Negroid, who will perform a few light duties, but who
has absorbed all the worst to the exclusion of the few better qualities
of his progenitors,—and, (3) the Black—naturally indolent and too lazy
to work,—without ambition, and whose presumed avarice only extends to
the possession of a little more than he can eat. For centuries the
Black has been the slave of the Arab, and performed all the manual
labour, such as the collection of gum and senna leaves, indiarubber,
ivory, the cultivation of cereals, and the navigation of the rivers;
but taking it all in all, the lot of the black slave might be envied by
millions of workers in other parts of the world. With the introduction
of the “Turk” government, all three classes were considered as “prey”;
the slave proper had to work harder so that his master might be able to
satisfy the rapacity of _his_ master—the official, and the slave knew
this; the negroid, who believed in cultivating only so much dourra as
was requisite for his needs, found that he had to cultivate enough to
feed the soldiers quartered in his province, and to pay taxes not only
on what he grew for himself, but on what he grew for nothing for the
soldiers. It is no wonder, then, that the three waited the coming of
some strong man to rid them of the common enemy.

Although a religious element was introduced into |352| Mohammad
Ahmed’s movement, many fail to grasp the fact that religion here takes
the place of politics in Europe, and when the Arabs rise against the
powers that be, they are backed up by some “religious” question, for
their laws are based entirely upon the Quoran. Mohammad Ahmed had for
years been preaching against the extortions of the Turk officials, and
had it not been suggested to him, it is unlikely that he would ever
have assumed the _rôle_ of Mahdi, though as a holy man only, it is
almost certain that his crusade would have succeeded equally as well
as it did. The country was ripe for rebellion, and when the followers
of Mohammad Ahmed overcame the first “Turk” sent against him, and
against whom he had been preaching for years, success was assured, and
thousands flocked to him. His crusade, therefore, in the beginning,
was not a religious movement pure and simple as we understand such; it
was the rising of an oppressed people against a government that had
but lately tried to establish its authority over them. It is true that
once having had the _rôle_ of Mahdi forced upon him, Mohammad Ahmed
did his best to act up to it; his miracles—in the way of annihilating
successive armies sent against him were very real indeed, and if
thousands flocked to his banner in consequence of them, they should not
be too severely criticized and charged with fanaticism and unreasoning
superstition, for while they flocked to see the worker of these very
real miracles, just as many thousands of people in more enlightened
climes were making pilgrimages to caves, grottoes and shrines in the
belief that the miracles they were praying for would be performed.
Nor, considering that the faith in dreams and visions is almost as
strong in the east as it was when Pharaoh had his dreams interpreted by
Joseph, should Mohammad Ahmed and his successor be blamed for taking
advantage of the credulity of the most credulous people on earth in the
relating of visions, when but a little time since thousands of people
in a highly civilized country were flocking to the doors of one who
pretended to be the mouthpiece on earth of the angel Gabriel—a much
more mythical being than either the prophet Mohammad or the Mahdi.
|353|

Had Mohammad Ahmed lived, there is no doubt but that he would have
succeeded in establishing some form of government which, if not better,
would certainly have been no worse than the one he had overturned. With
the Mahdi’s death, Abdullahi found himself with a trust which, as he
saw immediately, only a powerful military despotism could enable him
to keep. Threatened with attack from all points of the compass, he
had also internal dissensions to combat, and met them unflinchingly.
While his atrocities have been made much of, he invariably went
through the farce of trying people for disobedience during his reign
of martial law before carrying out the capital sentence; perhaps, if
Abdullahi’s atrocities were placed side by side with those associated
with revolutions in other countries, his list would be found not the
longest. Oppression doubtless was great, but it was concentrated in
one place, and being more seen, was as a consequence more felt. Still
opinions may be said to be equally divided as to whether oppression
was any greater during the worst days of the reign of Abdullahi than
it had been under the old government. The foregoing is not written in
defence of Mohammad Ahmed or Abdullahi—and I have little reason to
say a single good word for the latter, but it is time that the Soudan
should be seen through clear glasses. Jealousy of power was Abdullahi’s
besetting sin, and to this must be attributed the swift punishment
meted out to those who in the slightest degree exhibited disobedience
of orders. To this jealousy must be added vanity of his power also. I
have heard since my release, from people of the Muslimanieh quarter,
some of the reasons for Abdullahi’s sparing of my life. I had forgotten
the incident, but am reminded that when on my arrival at Omdurman I
was taken to the gallows in chains to be hanged, I turned to the Emirs
and shouted “Has your Mahdi (I used this name at the time) no other
way of exhibiting his power but by hanging a bound man before all his
soldiers? Take off my chains, and I will fight you, or else get on with
your work.” Abdullahi was told this while I was still being played
with, and said, “A man who will |354| talk like that when he is going
to be hanged is a man! He is a big man; I will not hang him; a man who
is not afraid of me is not to be hanged; I will keep him.” This was
said to the Muslimanieh and others. Abdullahi had not made up his mind
whether I was a merchant, spy, medicine man or general. Then, again, he
kept me alive in order to prove that he was more powerful than my Malek
(the Emperor of Germany). I am told that he very often said to people,
“You have heard of Abdalla Nufell; he is not afraid of me; his Malek
has millions of soldiers like him, but he dare not bring his armies to
release him; he is afraid to meet my ansar.”

There are other stories of Abdullahi’s many references to me, but, as
they are of a complimentary nature, I must leave others to relate them;
the above are only given for the purpose of affording a slight insight
into the man’s complex character, and to give an idea of the small
actions which could influence him.

The Past of the Soudan may be said to close with the battle of
Omdurman; the Present may be given in one word—Transition. Its Future
is still in the future; but from what I have written, those intending
to make a rush to the Soudan as soon as it is declared open for trade,
will understand that a settled government has yet to be established.
The Soudan has had but one government, and I have given an idea of
what that government was to the inhabitants; the next government
established will, as a matter of course, be looked askance at. Although
the Khaleefa’s army was smashed up at Omdurman, his influence still
remains with great numbers, and time must be given for the Soudanese
to learn that there are governments _and_ governments. All they are
conscious of now is, that the Government they turned out has come back
again, and they expect from it no better treatment than they received
formerly, if they do not expect worse as a punishment for their
rebellion. The possession of slaves will be forbidden, and this will
give umbrage to the Arabs, while the slaves will no more appreciate or
enjoy their freedom than would so many cage-bred birds theirs. There
is a |355| considerable amount of ignorance in Europe on the subject
of slavery in Mohammedan countries, but I must confine myself to the
Soudan on this question. Slave raiding should of course be put down
with a strong hand, and there should be, when a raider is captured, no
other formality than that of loading the rifles or affixing the rope;
the trial might take place at some future date, so that the fact of his
execution might be recorded. I wish to speak now only of those who are
already _called_ “slaves,” for, in the majority of cases, it is but a
name.

I have remarked that the Black is naturally lazy, and will do no more
work than he is compelled to; if liberated unconditionally, he will,
unless drafted into regiments, loaf about, and occasionally do a little
work for the sake of a meal; but he will refuse to keep to any work
long unless some sort of pressure is brought to bear, and he will be
only too glad if it is. As a slave, his master must keep him in food
and clothes, and also support his wife and children in return for his
services, and, being “property,” he is well looked after; he is, as
I have said, a slave but in name, but the name has an ugly sound to
Europeans. The new Government might open a slave register, have a few
inspectors to go round and “ask for complaints,” and either give an
age, or name a date, when all holding of slaves would be a breach of
a law yet to be made. Treaties are all very well when dealing with
countries boasting a civilized Government, but it is not an easy matter
to compel petty chieftains in the heart of Africa to agree to laws
which upset the whole political economy of their domains—and this only
to please people who know nothing of the existing conditions. However
the whole question bristles with difficulties and with arguments for
and against leaving matters as they are—only suppressing raiding as
I have said already—but as those difficulties do exist, it would be
well not to be rash, or to burden the still unconquered and unsettled
country with revolutionary laws. Far better to make haste slowly, for
laws are of little use unless a breach of them is quickly punished, and
the Soudan Arabs have yet to be taught to respect laws emanating from a
“Government.” |356|

These few remarks on the unsettled state of the country are intended
for those who may be going out as entire strangers to the Soudan.
They must be prepared to meet with difficulties great and small,
disappointments, much discomfort, and many annoyances big and little;
but it is to be hoped that they will endure these for a time, and
not pester the little and still half-formed new administration with
big complaints about petty quarrels or troubles. Any reprisals asked
for in case of small annoyances or unpleasantnesses, can but bring
in their train much bigger ones; you want but to earn the respect of
both Arab and Soudanese to earn his devotion, and you may have both
by at least treating him as a man and not as a beast. When speaking
of my having borrowed money from the guides whom I entrusted with the
arrangements I made for my escape, I drew attention to the strange
fact of my borrowing money from them. This was putting the principle I
have pointed out into practice; I required their aid. I went further,
and gave evidence that I was entirely in their hands—a weakling, but
they understood that if they helped me in my weakness, I would help
or protect them in my strength; above all, they valued my trust and
confidence. There are limits, I know, to both, but you must learn those
limits.

The great want of the Soudan at the present time is means of
communication; there are enormous tracts of land on which cereals can
be raised with the minimum of cost and labour, but without means of
transport they might as well not exist. Some talk has been made of a
line of rail connecting Khartoum with the Red Sea, and this, certainly,
would provide the means of transport and enable the Soudan to compete
with almost any other country in cereals, but it is a question whether
it would be worth while to construct a railway for the sake of the
grain trade, if the trucks which take it to the seaboard have to be
hauled back empty, and, maybe, left idle for the greater part of the
year. It is possible that during the last fifteen years Nature has to
a great extent repaired the enormous damage done to indiarubber and
gum trees, |357| when the plants and trees were destroyed in order
to obtain a big enough crop to satisfy the rapacity of the “Turk”
officials. The forests abound in ebony and other hard woods, but power
to saw them into beams or planks of suitable dimensions for transit
is requisite before this valuable industry can be developed. From
what prisoners from the south told me, in places an almost pure iron
is found on or near the surface; this the Shilluks and Dinkas smelt
in mud furnaces about six to eight feet high and three to four feet
in diameter. The spear heads of the Shilluks and Dinkas, beside their
shape being different from all others, are readily distinguishable
from their peculiarly deep black shade, while the spear heads made
from imported iron are many shades lighter, and in comparison, when
polished, have a tinny appearance. If coal is found, and I believe it
will be, if the description I was given of “black stones” which took
fire is correct, then one might say that there is no limit to the
development of the country. Should the Nile and its tributaries be
cleared of the “sudd,” considerable development would be immediately
possible, but the whole country must first be studied, and its present
condition with its existing means of transport thoroughly grasped,
before people will be justified in subscribing for big ventures, for
the failure of one means the failure of others, and a retarding, for
want of new capital, of present possibilities in the way of development.

It is quite impossible to compile any statistics of the former import
and export trade of the Soudan, that is to say reliable statistics, and
as the whole trade of the country was governed by the slave trade—now
abolished—a new condition of things has been introduced but not yet
established. Barter must, for some time to come, be the medium of
trade and exchange, and, here again, new conditions are certain to
be met with. Formerly the principal imports were cheap cotton goods,
earthenware, ironware, dried and preserved provisions, sugar, perfumes,
and such like, which generally came in the category of things which
are “cheap and nasty.” There are two great reasons why all this must
now be changed; with almost |358| 20,000 regularly paid troops in
the country, and troops, too, who have, in a measure, been living in
the lap of luxury, since 1882, their demands must be met. The sight
of well-fed, well-housed, and well-clothed troops, will excite the
admiration and cupidity of the Soudanese for similar luxuries, and a
demand for articles formerly unknown to them will at once be created.
I hesitate to specify some of the goods which I know there will be a
demand for, not that I am in any way interested in the subject for the
moment, but only to guard against numbers of people exporting large
quantities of merchandise of the same class far in excess of the actual
demand. I cannot too strongly advise manufacturers to study on the spot
the requirements of the people, and to comply with their requirements,
whatever the article might be. Disappointment and loss can only
ensue if articles they do not want, or which do not meet with their
requirements, are attempted to be forced upon them, for while engaged
upon this suicidal policy, some one else will certainly be studying the
question with the intention of meeting the wishes of his prospective
customers. I would strongly deprecate the formation of big syndicates
and companies for the exploitation of the Soudan; the country, granted
certain facilities for transport, has a great future, but it would be
very unwise to lock up large capitals, the greater part of which would
be lying unused. Small companies, with all the capital employed, will
pay best for the time being, and the pioneers of such companies might
be accompanied by a mineralogist, to examine the gold, silver, copper,
lead, and other mineral deposits. That gold exists is well known, but
the richness of the quartz I cannot speak of; one thing, though, is
certain, gold can be obtained with little or no difficulty and labour,
otherwise the small bags of gold I saw at Khartoum and Omdurman would
not have been brought in. Lead and copper will be found to the west and
south-west of Darfur—and possibly silver also, but whether it would pay
to work the mines can only be ascertained after an examination of the
districts. |359|

To sum up. The Soudan is a country which for nearly a century has
been fighting against the establishment of any foreign government;
its experience of a “benevolent” administration is of the very worst;
the inhabitants sank all or nearly all differences between them when
they rose to turn out the hated Turks; their experience of Christians
has evidently not been of the best, else why the saying concerning
Gordon? Large numbers are still loyal to the Khaleefa Abdullahi, and it
will require but a very little mistake to make the inhabitants flock
to his banner, or, what is worse, they will retire to the west and
leave the country denuded of the population it stands in so much need
of. Strangers are not wanted—they will be looked upon with suspicion
until they have given evidence of their honest intentions towards the
villagers; traders, before they may look for success, must overcome
the prejudice of the people against European traders, a prejudice
based upon experience of them formerly. And it is necessary for me
to say that, after recent experience, it will take some time before
the Muslim will believe that the Christian religion is anything but
what he believes it to be, and he will be convinced that the boasted
superiority of the European over the Arab does not hold good in the
Soudan at all events. If those going to the Soudan will bear these
points in mind, they will save themselves and others an infinity of
trouble, and all barriers will be surmounted, if they keep in mind
always the reputation Gordon made for himself for “Goodness and
Justice,” and make Goodness and Justice their motto.



|361|

INDEX


 A

 Abbas, 246

 _Abbas, The_, 325–328

 Abdalla Rouchdi, 232, 333–336

 Abdallah Sulieman, 236, 331

 Abd el Kader Bey, 161, 189

 Abd es Semmieh, 181, 209, 234

 Abou-el-Gassim, 276

 Abou Hamad, 232, 248

 Abyssinian embassy, 246

 Abyssinian expedition, 155, 221

 Adultery, punishment of, 136, 137

 Ahmed Abdel Maajid, 86, 121

 Ahmed Youssef Kandeel, 346–348

 Aid to wounded, 286–288

 Ajjab Abou Jinn, 84, 102, 121

 Ali Khaater, 180–182, 209

 Alti, 182

 Ansar, the, 42, 60, 97, 100–102, 130, 354

 Arab tribes―
   Ababdeh, 9, 153
   Alighat, 10, 23, 30, 31, 50, 60
   Baggara, 212, 217, 230, 264–269, 276, 277, 281–283
   Bedawi, 40, 55
   Dabaanieh, 83
   Danagli, 48
   Dar Hamad, 8, 13, 54, 55
   Digheem, 276
   Dinkas, 357
   Fellati, 171, 176, 209
   Gawaamah, 98, 139, 188
   Habbanieh, 276
   Hadendowas, 88, 89
   Hammadah, 84
   Jaalin, 37, 59, 231, 244, 260, 266
   Kabbabish, 2, 5, 8, 11, 22, 53, 54, 105, 167
   Rhizaghat, 276
   Shilluks, 357
   Shukrieh, 84
   Taaishi, 264, 267, 276, 346

 Ardagh, Colonel, 5

 Arsenal, 89, 178, 212, 226, 237–239

 Assouan, 4–8, 52, 65, 77, 160–162

 Atbara, battle of, 248, 249, 271

 Austrian Consulate-general, 164, 168, 314

 Austrian mission, 164, 233, 309

 Awad el Kerim, 84; his three sons, 85

 Awwad el Mardi, 226–239, 242, 244

 B

 Bakah Wells, 53

 Bakhita, 240

 Beit-el-Amana, 264, 273

 Beit-el-Mal (Treasury), 13, 33, 34, 36, 51, 85, 87, 100, 125, 155,
     157, 171, 174, 179, 206, 210, 214, 241, 276; Amin or Director
     of, 46, 49, 64, 145, 147, 175, 210, 226, 234

 Berber, 86, 155, 165, 193, 198, 237, 309

 Blackmail (_see_ Nebbi Khiddr)

 Black population of Soudan, 351, 355

 Burleigh, Bennet, 244, 279

 Bussati Bey, 326

 C

 Cairo, start from, 2–7; return to, 1, 290

 Caravan, constitution of, 4, 8, 11, 12; betrayal of, 2, 3, 21, 22,
     60, 61, 68, 106, 167, 168

 Catarina, 114, 116

 Coinage, 171, 210–215, 223

 Cromer, Lord, 247

 D

 Dara, 310

 Darfur, 181, 203, 350, 358

 Derawi, 7–10, 245, 329

 Dervishes, horsemanship of, 41, 44, 49; treachery of, 285, 288

 Desert routes, 12, 15–23

 Divorce laws, 123, 180, 190–192

 Dongola, 10, 39–43, 54, 59, 66, 67, 328, 329; capture of, 232, 248,
     249, 346

 E

 Earle, General, 3

 Egyptian War Office (Intelligence Department), 105, 167, 168, 197,
     291, 295, 298

 El Agia, 15, 16, 19–22

 El Etroun, 15, 23

 El Fasher, 203, 311

 El Fun, 143, 144

 El Kiyeh, 15, 22, 23

 El Obeid, 10, 220

 Elias, clerk to Neufeld, 8, 12, 14, 24–29, 35, 36, 43, 50, 66

 Elias Pasha, 4

 Emirs―
   Abd-el-Baagi, 257, 261, 264
   Ahmed Fedeel, 176, 243
   Ali Wad Saad, 91
   Makin en Nur, 37, 59
   Mohammed Hamad'na Allah, 176–179, 186
   Mohammed Hamza, 27, 37–40, 43, 44, 59
   Mohammed Taher, 88
   Nur Angara, 70, 76
   Wad Bessir, 59, 121
   Wad en Nejoumi, 27–34, 39, 46–59, 64–67, 78, 118, 132, 139, 155,
     337, 346–348
   Wad Eysawee, 59
   Wad Farag, 27–35, 44, 59–61, 173, 174
   Wad Umma, 59
   Yacoub, 148, 175, 176, 186, 216, 221, 235, 242, 249, 257, 263, 267,
     271, 273, 348

 F

 Famine, 112, 116–119, 147

 Fettering, method of, 72, 79, 80, 91, 93, 229, 235, 279

 Fitton, Major, 261

 Flogging, 41–43, 126, 127, 129–132

 Forts, 239, 243, 244, 254, 266

 G

 Gebel Ain, 8, 15

 Gebel Ragaf, 111, 220

 Gebel Roiyan, 68

 German Consulate, 154, 160, 162–165, 168, 291

 Germany, Emperor of, 354

 Gordon, 68, 89, 212, 218, 228, 300–324, 325–328, 332–337, 340–345;
     relief expedition, 3, 65, 132, 229, 247, 316–321

 “Gordonizing,” 159

 Grenfell, General, 347

 Guides―
   Abdallah, 197–201, 214
   Ali el Amin, 8, 12, 17–24, 31, 36, 49, 60, 67
   Darb es Safai, 21–29, 49, 50
   Hassan, 12–24, 30, 50, 60–62, 67
   Hassib el Gabou, 8–16, 22, 48, 52–58, 64, 106, 107, 255
   Hawanein, 196, 201, 207, 214
   Ismail, 11–26, 57, 61
   Mohammad Ali, 153, 154, 156, 163
   Moussa Daoud Kanaga, 54, 154, 156, 163–166
   Onoor Issa, 223, 226, 233, 239–244, 254
   Zecki, 220

 Gunboats, 240, 250–256, 257, 265, 270, 290, 326

 Gunpowder manufacture, 175–182, 209, 224, 232–241, 289, 296

 H

 Halfeyeh, 176–178, 198, 261, 265, 270

 Hamad Wad el Malek, 246

 Hamaida, 234, 237

 Hanafi, 110, 151

 Hassan Bey Hassanein, 325–331

 Hassan Hosny, 181, 209, 234

 Hassan Zecki, 174, 177, 232

 Hasseena, 4, 8–12, 25–29, 32–36, 40–46, 50–52, 68, 72, 81, 102, 103,
     108, 109, 118, 135, 185–194, 195

 Hassib Allah, 59, 60

 Hicks Pasha, 88, 101, 178, 309, 310, 313, 326

 Hogal Dufa'allah, 4–14, 54, 58, 62, 78, 245, 255

 Hunter, General, 293

 Hussein Pasha Khaleefa, 308, 309

 I

 Ibrahim Pasha Fauzi, 167, 208, 218, 224, 244, 260, 263, 266, 277,
     303, 332, 340–345

 Ibrahim Wad Adlan, 121, 143, 145–159, 165, 166, 170, 216

 Ibrahim Wad Hamza, 246, 260

 Ismail Pasha Ayoub, 340, 350

 J

 Jinns (spirits), 170–174

 Joseppi, 141, 156, 157, 179, 200

 K

 Kadis Hassein Wad Zarah, 222
   Ahmed 221

 Kassala, 181

 Kerreri, 248, 258, 260, 274

 Khaleefa, Abdullahi―
   His cruelty, 69, 73–75, 84, 85, 110, 353; his superstition, 99,
     103, 120, 249, 257, 263, 267; respect for Neufeld, 132, 143, 204,
     230, 353; objection to traders, 149, 155; encouragement of
     marriage, 123, 139, 186–189, 224; relations with Slatin, 204–208;
     his flight, 274–277; opposition to him among Mahdists, 66, 85,
     146–148, 245–247, 254–256, 305, 345, 346
   Ali Wad Helu, 44, 264, 273
   Shereef, 146, 264, 273

 Khaleel Agha Orphali, 303, 332–337

 Khaleel Hassanein, 89, 98, 178, 182, 212, 216, 235, 242, 249, 252

 Khartoum, 29, 47, 83, 89, 175, 178, 181, 212, 218, 228, 266, 284, 303,
     309, 310

 Khedive, 247

 Kirbekan, battle of, 3, 89, 286

 Kordofan, 2, 4, 7, 61, 146, 289, 310, 350

 Korosko, 65

 L

 Lupton, 295, 313

 M

 Macdonald, Colonel, 271, 274

 Mahdi, 3, 66, 69, 78, 86, 98, 103, 273, 309–318, 330, 341, 345,
     351–353

 Mahdieh, 70, 85, 88, 99, 101, 110, 145, 205, 257, 260, 262, 273

 Mahdi’s Ratib, 94, 271

 Mahdi’s Tomb, 44, 70, 151, 155–157, 267

 “Mahdism,” 300

 Makkieh, 141, 178, 185, 192

 Mankarious Effendi, 77, 152–154, 160, 195

 Marriage customs, 86, 121–123, 126, 135–138, 189

 Maxwell, Colonel, 281

 Mecklenburg, Duke of, 291

 Mehkemmeh, the, 105, 110, 163

 Metemmeh, 68, 247

 Mihrab, 267

 Mimbar, 267

 Mohammad Ali Pasha, 349, 350

 Mohammad Effendi Rafai, 167

 Möller, 68, 153, 154, 160

 Moxley, Hewett, 298

 N

 Nahoum Abbajee, 114, 186, 188–190, 209, 226–232, 323

 Nebbi Khiddr, 101–104, 112, 113, 120, 128, 173, 216

 Negroid population, 351

 Neufeld―
   Official accounts, 1–4, 53, 61, 68, 167; newspaper accounts, 1,
     79, 134, 166, 169, 291–299; as trader, 3, 9, 10, 46, 47, 76,
     105, 149, 168; as Government spy, 37, 46, 47, 53, 145, 156, 239;
     letters to his manager and Mankarious, 77, 152–154, 160–165, 199;
     letter to General Stephenson, 294, 338, 339; named Abdallah, 77,
     91, 102, 151, 269; interview with the Khaleefa, 76, 79, 90, 92;
     practises medicine, 106, 124, 130, 175, 197, 224, 240, 250, 272;
     plans to escape, 107, 143, 152–157, 160–169, 198–201, 227, 293;
     floggings, 127, 131; relations with Hasseena, 4, 10, 40, 108, 109,
     118, 135–139, 185–194, 290; conversion, 132, 150, 167, 205, 224;
     not a German subject, 162, 293; native wives, 139, 167, 186–189;
     English wife, 4, 163, 166–169, 194, 289; furnishes information
     to Government, 239, 243–245, 254, 261, 289; employed under the
     Khaleefa (_see_ Coinage, Arsenal, and Gunpowder Manufacture);
     offers from publishers, 291, 299; reception in Cairo, 290–299;
     relations with Gordon, 3, 132, 228, 305; views on missionaries,
     321–323; views on trade, 356–359

 Newnes, Sir George, 299

 Nubar Pasha, 342

 O

 Ohrwalder, 6, 114–116, 119, 182, 187, 223; his escape, 183, 280,
     295; his book, “Ten Years’ Captivity,” 300, 306–323; criticisms of
     Gordon, 306–323, 325

 Ombeyehs (war-trumpets), 72, 73, 76, 158, 257, 275, 277

 Omdurman, 1–3, 54, 62–65, 67, 69, 71; battle of, 44, 258, 265–277,
     281, 326, 354; looting of, 281

 Osman Digna, 243, 248, 254, 264

 Osta Abdallah, 224, 235–239, 242, 249, 252

 P

 Perdikaki, 177–181

 Pink, Colonel, 274

 Prison (Saier)―
   Horrors of, 2, 81, 93–96, 116–119, 218; Idris es Saier, 82, 91,
     98–105, 112, 121, 127, 130, 135, 138, 158, 171–174, 216, 262, 266,
     272, 277, 278; the Umm Hagar, 94, 95, 106, 113, 128, 218, 262, 266,
     269; the Bint Umm Hagar, 221; escape from, 96, 107, 120–123; food,
     112, 113, 116–119, 143; subordinate gaolers, 123, 127–129, 173,
     174, 262; women’s prison, 125, 126

 R

 Rossignoli, 132, 134, 197–201, 205

 S

 Sabalooka, 243, 249, 257

 Said Abdel Wohatt, 175, 178–182, 209

 Said Gumaa, 91, 203

 Selima Wells, 11–15, 19–23, 59, 78

 Sennar, 84, 350

 Shayba (yoke), 38, 219

 Sheiks―
   Ahmed Nur ed Din, 54, 105–109, 111, 127
   Ed Din, 130, 233, 264, 271, 273, 274
   Hamad El Nil, 85, 102, 103
   Mahmoud Wad Said, 83, 90, 118, 121, 247
   Saleh Bey Wad Salem, 2–6, 11–22, 28, 31, 46–49, 55–57, 61, 68, 77, 105

 Shereef Hamadan, 201, 216, 231–233

 Shwybo, 171–174, 228

 Sirdar, 225, 228, 262, 271, 276–279, 290, 321, 345; rumours
     concerning, 97, 155, 232, 233, 259; advance of, 240, 245, 247;
     charges against, 284, 286

 Sirri, 230, 233, 251, 326

 Slatin, 6, 70, 71, 76, 79, 91, 110, 280; his escape, 87, 201–207,
     214, 220, 223, 295, 315, 345; kindness to Neufeld, 119; Austrian
     Consul’s letter, 164; his letter to the Khaleefa, 202, 295;
     position with the Khaleefa, 204; conversion, 205; his wives, 206;
     reception at Cairo, 295, 308; his book, “Fire and Sword,” 300;
     relations with Said Bey Gumaa, 203, 310

 Slave Trade, 350, 354

 Soudan, future of, 322, 323, 349–359

 Spies―
   Government, 62, 106, 150, 158, 244, 250, 255, 256, 261, 305
   Mahdist, 62, 65, 66, 82, 97, 150, 244, 259, 305, 346

 Stanley, Emin, expedition of, 139

 Stephenson, General, 2–6, 47, 48, 56, 76, 145, 261, 294, 338

 Stewart, Colonel, 324, 325–330, 343

 Sulieman Haroun, 153

 Surghani hill, 273

 T

 Toki, battle of, 139, 156

 Torpedoes, 243, 249, 251–256, 280

 Tuti island, 228, 243, 265

 Typhus fever, 108

 U

 Umm es Shole, 188–190, 193, 198, 217, 222, 224, 239, 242

 W

 Wadi El Kab, 8, 15, 19, 22, 23, 33, 56–60, 67

 Wadi Halfa, 5–13, 30, 31, 42, 48–51, 57, 61, 65, 71, 77, 89, 141, 280

 Wakih Idris, 3, 135

 Wass, Count, 164

 Wilson, Sir Charles, 69

 Wingate, Major, 223

 Wood, Sir Evelyn, 342

 Worrak, 245, 261

 Y

 Youssef Jebaalee, 114, 116

 Youssef Mansour, 205, 220, 244, 250, 252, 256

 Yunis, 264, 274

 Z

 Zecki Tummal, 221

 Zobheir Pasha, 176, 202

 Zoghal, 203, 310

 Zubeir, 349


THE END


PRINTED BY

WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,

LONDON AND BECCLES.



TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE


This transcription is based on the first edition of this book,
page scans of which are available from archive.net; search for
_prisonerofkhalee00neuf_, for example. Original spelling and grammar
are generally retained, with a few exceptions noted below. Original
italics _looks like this_. The original page numbers are shown like
this: |97|. Illustrations have been moved from within paragraphs to
between. Blank pages, numbered or not, have been removed. Footnotes
have been renumbered 1–15, and moved from within paragraphs to between
paragraphs. Ditto marks have been removed, with associated text
rearranged as necessary to retain the same meaning.

Page 78. In “is his prophet; and then, ‘I believe”, a right single
quotation mark was added after _prophet_, to match the earlier left
mark.

Page 165 note. The double quotation marks do not seem to be balanced,
but have been retained as printed.

Page 294. The author refers to a translation of a letter appearing on
“p. 336”. This seems to be an error, and has been corrected to point to
page 338, Appendix III.

Page 352. In original “to the doors of one who pretented to be the
mouthpiece”, _pretented_ is changed to _pretended_.





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