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Africa

An interval of five years has elapsed since the termination of my engagement in the service of His Highness the Khedive of Egypt, "to suppress the slave-hunters of Central Africa, and to annex the countries constituting the Nile Basin, with the object of opening those savage regions to legitimate commerce and establishing a permanent government."

On 18th March, 1872, we were all in order for the march to the south, under the direction of our guide, Shooli.

Having taken leave of Major Abdullah, I left him a good supply of sheep and cattle for his detachment, and at 2 p.m. we started for the prairie march to Unyoro.

The descent from the table land of Fatiko was rapid for the first seven miles, at which point we reached a stream of clear running water, which is one of the channels of the Un-y-Ame river.

The country in the immediate neighbourhood of Latooka was parched, as there had been no rain for some time. The latitude was 4 degrees 35', longitude 32 degrees 55' E.; the rains had commenced in February on the mountains on the south side of the valley, about eighteen miles distant. Every day there was an appearance of a storm; the dark clouds gathered ominously around the peak of the Gebel Lafeet above the town, but they were invariably attracted by the higher range on the opposite and south side of the valley, where they daily expended themselves at about 3 P.M.

Ibrahim returned from Gondokoro, bringing with him a large supply of ammunition. A wounded man of Chenooda's people also arrived, the sole relic of the fight with the Latookas; he had been left for dead, but had recovered, and for days and nights he had wandered about the country, in thirst and hunger, hiding like a wild beast from the sight of human beings, his guilty conscience marking every Latooka as an enemy.

On the 30th May, about an hour before daybreak, I was awoke by a rattle of musketry, which continued some time in irregular volleys, and subsided into a well-sustained and steady fire in single shots. On leaving my hut, I found the camp of Koorshid's people almost empty, while my own men were climbing on the roofs of their huts to obtain a view towards the west. Nothing was in sight, although the firing still continued at a distance of about a mile, apparently on the other side of a belt of trees.

For months we dragged on a miserable existence at Obbo, wrecked by fever; the quinine exhausted; thus the disease worried me almost to death, returning at intervals of a few days. Fortunately my wife did not suffer so much as I did. I had nevertheless prepared for the journey south; and as travelling on foot would have been impossible in our weak state, I had purchased and trained three oxen in lieu of horses.

The day of starting at length arrived; the chief and guide appeared, and we were led to the Kafoor river, where canoes were in readiness to transport us to the south side. This was to our old quarters on the marsh. The direct course to the lake was west, and I fully expected some deception, as it was impossible to trust Kamrasi.

The sun had risen when I woke. I had slept, and, horrified as the idea flashed upon me that she must be dead, and that I had not been with her, I started up. She lay upon her bed, pale as marble, and with that calm serenity that the features assume when the cares of life no longer act upon the mind, and the body rests in death. The dreadful thought bowed me down; but as I gazed upon her in fear, her chest gently heaved, not with the convulsive throbs of fever, but naturally. She was asleep; and when at a sudden noise she opened her eyes, they were calm and clear. She was saved!

We were prisoners on the island of Patooan, as we could not procure porters at any price to remove our effects. We had lost all our riding oxen within a few days; they had succumbed to the flies, and the only animal alive was already half dead; this was the little bull that had always carried the boy Saat. It was the 8th April, and within a few days the boats upon which we depended for our return to civilization would assuredly quit Gondokoro. I offered the natives all the beads that I had (about 50 lbs.) and the whole of my baggage, if they would carry us to Shooa direct from this spot.

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