CHAPTER V. EXPLORATION OF THE OLD WHITE NILE.

I had long since determined to explore the sudd, or obstructions of the main Nile, in the hope of discovering some new passage which the stream might have forced through the vegetation. A Shillook, named Abdullah, closely connected with Quat Kare, had promised to accompany me, and to supply the necessary guides. The river was full - thus I started on 11th August, 1870.

The engines of the No. 10 steamer had been thoroughly repaired during our stay at Tewfikeeyah. I had loaded her to the maximum with well-cut "Soont" (Acacia Arabicce), which is the best fuel; and knowing, by the experience of former years, that a scarcity of wood existed near the Bahr Gazal, I had loaded one of the largest vessels (about seventy tons) with a supply, to accompany us as a tender. I had also filled my diahbeeah with selected fuel.

We steamed thirteen hours from Tewfikeeyah, with the tender and diahbeeah in tow, and reached the old sudd about twelve miles beyond the Bahr Giraffe junction. The water below the sudd was quite clear from floating vegetation, as it had been filtered through this extraordinary obstruction.

I will not fatigue the reader by a description of this voyage. We were as usual in a chaos of marshes. We found a small channel, which took us to the Bahr Gazal. This swampy and stagnant lacustine river was much changed since I had last seen it in 1865. It was now a succession of lakes, through which we steamed for several hours, but without discovering any exit, except the main passage coming from the west, which is the actual Bahr Gazal.

This was the third time that I had visited this river. Upon the former occasions I had remarked the total absence of current; this was even still more remarkable at the present time, as the river was not only full, but the surface, formerly clogged and choked with dense rafts of vegetation, was now clear. I sounded the depth of the lakes and main channel, which gave a remarkable mean of seven feet throughout, showing that the bottom was remarkably flat, and had not been subjected to the action of any stream that would have caused inequalities in the surface of the ground.

When the vessels lay at anchor, the filth of the ships remained alongside, thus proving the total absence of stream. It has always appeared to me that some western outlet concealed by the marsh grass must exist, which carries away the water brought down by the Djour, and other streams, into the lacustrine regions of the Bahr Gazal. There is no doubt that the evaporation, and also the absorption of water by the immense area of spongy vegetation, is a great drain upon the volume subscribed by the affluents from the south-west; nevertheless, I should have expected some stream, however slight, at the junction with the Nile. My experience of the Bahr Gazal assures me that little or no water is given to the White Nile by the extraordinary series of lakes and swamps, which change the appearance of the surface from year to year, like the shifting phases of a dream.

Our lamented traveller, Livingstone, was completely in error when he conjectured that the large river Lualaba that he had discovered south-west of the Tanganyika lake was an affluent of the Bahr Gazal. The Lualaba is far to the west of the Nile Basin, and may possibly flow to the Congo. I have shown in former works, in describing the system of the Nile, that the great affluents of that river invariably flow from the south-east - vide, the Atbara, Blue Nile, Sobat; and the Asua, which is very inferior so the three great rivers named.

We have lastly the Victoria Nile of the Victoria N'yanza, following the same principle, and flowing from the south-east to the Albert N'yanza. This proves that the direct drainage of the Nile Basin is from the south-east to the north-west; it is therefore probable that, as the inclination of the country is towards the west, there may be some escape from the lake marshes of the Bahr Gazal in the same direction.

On 21st August, having been absent ten days, during which we had been very hard at work, exploring in the unhealthy marshes of the Bahr Gaza], we returned hopelessly to Tewfikeeyah.

The great river Nile was entirely lost, and had become a swamp, similar to the condition of the Bahr Giraffe. It was impossible to guess the extent of the obstruction; but I was confident that it would be simply a question of time and labour to clear the original channel by working from below the stream. The great power of the current would assist the work, and with proper management this formerly beautiful river might be restored to its original condition. It would be impossible to clear the Bahr Giraffe permanently, as there was not sufficient breadth of channel to permit the escape of huge rafts of vegetation occupying the surface of perhaps an acre; but the great width of the Nile, if once opened, together with the immense power of the stream, would, with a little annual inspection, assure the permanency of the work.

I came to the conclusion that a special expedition must be sent from Khartoum to take this important work in hand, as it would be quite useless to annex and attempt to civilize Central Africa, unless a free communication existed with the outer world by which a commercial channel could be opened. My exploration, in which I had been ably assisted by Lieutenant Baker and Mr. Higginbotham, had proved that for the present it was impossible to penetrate south by the main river, therefore I must make all preparations for an advance by the Bahr Giraffe, where I hoped that our past labour might have in some degree improved the channel.

The close of August showed a mean temperature of 73 6/10 degrees at 6 a.m., and 85 degrees Fahrenheit at noon, with seven days of heavy and seven of light rain. Although the station was admirably drained, the climate acted unfavourably upon the people. On 9th September it was necessary for the unfortunate Dr. Gedge, my chief medical officer, to return to Khartoum, as his state of health required immediate change.

Just as the diahbeeah was leaving the station, a vessel arrived from the Bahr Gazal, by which I received a letter from the German traveller, Dr. Schweinfurth. This gentleman, to whom I was quite unknown personally, had the extreme courtesy and generosity to intrust me with all the details of his geographical observations, collected in his journey in the Western Nile Basin.

It was necessary for me to return personally to Khartoum to assure myself that my arrangements should be carried out without delay. I had determined that the expedition should start for the south from Tewfikeeyah on 1st Dec., at which time the Nile would be full, and the wind strong from the north. As Tewfikeeyah was nearly half way in actual distance from Khartoum to Gondokoro, I trusted that we should have time to accomplish the work of cutting through the marshes, and be enabled to pass the shallows before the river should begin to fall. I therefore sent Mr. Higginbotham to Khartoum to engage vessels; I followed on 15th September, with the No. 10 steamer towing my diahbeeah - and ten empty vessels to bring up a supply of corn.

We reached Khartoum on the 21st Sept. at 9.30 a.m., to the astonishment of the governor and population, who could not understand why I had returned. I now met for the first time the Vicomte de Bizemont, who was to accompany the expedition. This gentleman had been intrusted by the Empress of the French with a very gracious token of her interest in the expedition, which he presented as a gift from her Majesty to my wife. I now heard for the first time the startling news of the war between France and Prussia. I found Dr. Gedge alive, but in a deplorable state of health. It was impossible for him to travel north, therefore he was carefully attended by the Greek physician to the forces, Dr. Georgis. I at once saw that there was no hope of recovery. Mr. Higginbotham had been exceedingly kind and attentive to his wants.

I was very well received by my old friend, Djiaffer Pacha, the governor-general, but as usual the work was all behind-hand, and Mr. Higginbotham had been in despair until my arrival. Only seven vessels were forthcoming. I had expected thirty! Thus, it would again be impossible to transport the camels that were indispensable for the transport of the steamers from Gondokoro. This was very heart-breaking. Instead of completing the expedition by a general direct move south with all material, transport animals, store, in travelling order, the operation would extend over some years, for the simple reason that the government had not the means of transport. Even now the steamers had not arrived from Cairo. The fifteen large sloops had failed to pass the cataract; thus, I was reduced to the miserable open vessels of Khartoum, and even these were of an inferior description and few in number. Fortunately I had brought ten empty vessels with me from Tewfikeeyah, otherwise we should not have had sufficient transport for the necessary supply of corn. However, now that I had arrived, things began to move a little faster. I find this entry in my journal, dated "1st October, 1870. Thermometer, 6 a.m., 80 degrees; noon, 94 degrees. Wind, north. The fact of my having captured the boats of Kutchuk Ali and Agad with slaves on board, has determined a passive, but stubborn, resistance in Khartoum to the expedition. This is shared by the officials.

"Although I wrote to Djiaffer Pacha months ago requesting him to send me thirty vessels, there is not one actually ready, neither are there more than seven to be obtained. Even these are not prepared for the journey. The object appears to be to cause such delay as shall throw me back until the river shall be too low for the passage of the Bahr Giraffe.

"October 2. - I wrote an official letter to Djiaffer Pacha, protesting against delay, and reminding him of the Khedive's instructions."

The only authority who, I believe, takes a real interest in the expedition is Ismail Bey, who is a highly intellectual and clever man. This Bey is the President of the Council, and I have known him during many years. He speaks excellent French, and is more European in his ideas than any of my acquaintances.[*]

[*Footnote: Since this was written Ismail Bey has become Pacha, and is governor of the Khartoum province.]

The action that I had taken against the proceedings of the governor of Fashoda was very distasteful to the Khartoum public. I much regretted the necessity, but I could not have acted otherwise. This complication placed my friend, Djiaffer Pacha, in a most unpleasant position, as the Koordi of Fashoda was his employee; it would therefore appear that no great vigilance had been exercised by the governor-general at Khartoum, and suspicions might be aroused that the character and acts of the Fashoda governor must have been previously known to the Khartoum authorities.

The curtain began to rise, and disclosed certain facts of which I ought to have been informed many months ago, when I first arrived at Khartoum. I heard from Mr. Higginbotham that the principal trader of the White Nile (Agad) had a contract with the government, which gave him the exclusive right of trading throughout certain distant countries. This area comprised about NINETY THOUSAND SQUARE MILES! Thus, at the same time that I was employed by the Khedive to suppress the slave trade, to establish commerce, and to annex the Nile Basin, the White Nile countries that were to be annexed had already been leased by the governor-general of the Soudan for several thousand pounds sterling per annum, together with the monopoly of the ivory trade.

A country that was in no way connected with Egypt, and over which Egypt had no more authority than England has over China, had actually been leased-out to adventurers of the class known as merchants at Khartoum, but thoroughly well known to the authorities as slave-hunters.

It was hardly credible that such dust should be thrown in the eyes of the Khedive, after the stringent orders he had given; but Egypt is celebrated for dust; the Soudan is little else but dust, therefore we must make some allowance for the blindness of the authorities. My eyes had evidently been filled with Khartoum dust, for it was only now upon my return from Tewfikeeyah that I discovered that which should have been made known to me upon my first arrival from Cairo to command the expedition. It was the trader and lessee, Achmet Sheik Agad, who had applied to Mr. Higginbotham as a mediator, and he stated clearly a case of great hardship. He had paid annually about 3000L for the sole right of trading. Thus, if he paid rent for a monopoly of the ivory, and the government then started as traders in ivory in the country leased to him, he would be in the same position as a man who rented a cow at a fixed sum per week, but the owner, nevertheless, insisted upon a right to her milk.

It would be a hard case upon the traders at any rate, even should they trade with equal rights to the government.

There was no actual bartering of merchandise for ivory, neither was any merchandise shipped from Khartoum, except that required as clothing for the people who belonged to the slave-hunters' companies. If an honest, legitimate trade were commenced by the government, and law and order thoroughly established, it would become impossible for the slave hunters to exist in the White Nile districts. Their so-called trade consisted in harrying one country to procure cattle and slaves, which they exchanged for ivory in other districts. If a government were established, such razzias must cease at once - and the Khartoum traders would be without an occupation.

I had originally proposed that the districts of the White Nile south of latitude 14 degrees N. should be placed under my command; this, for some unexplained reason, was reduced to latitude 5 degrees N., thus leaving the whole navigable river free from Gondokoro to Khartoum, unless I should assume the responsibility of liberating slaves and seizing the slavers wherever I might find them. This power I at once assumed and exercised, although I purposely avoided landing and visiting the slave-hunters' stations that were not within my jurisdiction. I regarded the river as we regard the high seas.

It was clearly contrary to all ideas of equity that the government should purchase ivory in countries that had been leased to the traders. I was therefore compelled to investigate the matter with the assistance of Djiaffer Pacha, who had made the contract in the name of the government. It was then explained that the entire White Nile was rented by the traders. The government had assumed the right and monopoly of the river, and in fact of any part of Africa that could be reached, south of Khartoum; thus no trader was permitted to establish himself, or even to start from Khartoum for the interior, until he should have obtained a lease from the government. If Central Africa had been already annexed, and the Egyptian government had been established throughout the country, I should not have complained; but I now found that my mission from the Khedive placed me within "a house divided against itself." I was to annex a country that was already leased out by the government.

My task was to suppress the slave trade, when the Khartoum authorities well knew that their tenants were slave-hunters; to establish legitimate commerce where the monopoly of trade had already been leased to traders; and to build up a government upon sound and just principles, that must of necessity ruin the slave-hunting and ivory-collecting parties of Khartoum.

It was easy to conceive that my mission was regarded as fatal to the interests of the Soudan. Although the actual wording of the contracts was pure, and the lessees bound themselves to abstain from slave-hunting, and to behave in a becoming manner, it was thoroughly understood that they were simply to pay a good round sum per annum punctually, and that no questions would be asked. There were no authorities of the government in those distant countries, neither consular agents to send home unpleasant reports; thus, when fairly away from all restraint, the traders could act as they pleased. It appears hardly credible that although the wording of the contracts was almost holy, no examination of the vessels was made before their departure from Khartoum. Had the Soudan government been sincere in a determination to lease out the White Nile for the purpose of benefiting the country by the establishment of legitimate commerce, surely the authorities would have convinced themselves that the traders' vessels contained cargoes of suitable merchandise, instead of being loaded with ammunition, and manned by bands of armed pirates.

If the owner of a pack of wolves were to send them on a commission to gather wool from a flock of sheep, with the simple protection of such parting advice as "Begone, good wolves, behave yourselves like lambs, and do not hurt the mutton!" the proprietor of the pack would be held responsible for the acts of his wolves. This was the situation in the Soudan. The entire country was leased out to piratical slave-hunters, under the name of traders, by the Khartoum government; and although the rent, in the shape of large sums of money, had been received for years into the treasury of the Soudan, my expedition was to explode like a shell among the traders, and would at once annihilate the trade. I now understood the reason for the alteration in my proposed territorial limit from the 14 degrees N. lat. to the 5 degrees. Khartoum is in lat. 15 degrees 35' N. Gondokoro is N. lat. 4 degrees 54', thus, if my jurisdiction should be reduced to the south of Gondokoro, the usual traffic of the White Nile might continue in the north during my absence in the south, and the original contracts would be undisturbed.

It is a duty that I owe to the Khedive of Egypt to explain these details. It would at first sight appear that the expedition to suppress the slave-trade was merely a theatrical announcement to court the sympathy of Europe, but which, in reality, had no solidity. I am perfectly convinced that the Khedive was thoroughly sincere in his declared purpose of suppressing the slave-trade, not only as a humanitarian, but as an enlightened man of the world, who knew, from the example of the great Powers of Europe, that the time had arrived when civilization demanded the extinction of such horrors as were the necessary adjuncts of slave-hunting. The Khedive had thus determined to annex the Nile Basin, and establish his government, which would afford protection, and open an immense country to the advantages of commerce. This reform must be the death-blow to the so-called traders of Khartoum, who were positively the tenants of the governor-general of the Soudan.

The expedition of the Khedive, launched with admirable determination on his part, was thus inimical to every local interest, and was in direct opposition to public opinion. It was therefore a natural consequence that pressure should be exerted by every interest against the governor-general of the Soudan. Djiaffer Pacha was an old friend of mine, for whom I had a great personal regard, and I regretted the false position in which both he and I were placed. My title and position as governor-general of Central Africa to a certain extent weakened his authority.

He had by the force of circumstances, and according to former usages, so far tolerated the acts of the White Nile traders as to acknowledge them as contracting parties with his own government. The most important lessee had no less than ten stations situated within the territory under my jurisdiction, for which he was paying a large annual rent. I knew, and the lessee, Achmet Sheik Agad, well knew, that his so-called trade was simply brigandage. My former travels, as described in "The Albert N'yanza," had led me behind the curtain, and the traders were well aware that I knew every secret of their atrocities; thus my reappearance upon the scene with rank of pacha and major-general, at the head of a small army, together with the possession of absolute and supreme power, threw the entire population into a state of consternation. The traders, as Mohammedans and subjects, trusted to the protection of their own governor-general. Already I had captured their vessels, imprisoned their agents, liberated their slaves, and confiscated the ivory, subject to the decision of the Khedive. Already I had caught the governor himself (Ali Bey of Fashoda) in the act of kidnapping helpless women and children, whom I had immediately insisted upon liberating, although I had no legal jurisdiction in his province. I simply depended upon the personal support of the Khedive, whose sincerity I never doubted; thus I acted as I firmly believed the Khedive would have desired me to act under the circumstances. The Khedive proved that my confidence in his sincerity was well founded. He at once dismissed from his service and disgraced the governor of Fashoda. These facts cast shadows of coming events. The Soudan authorities were compromised; my interference in the Shillook country was naturally distasteful to the governor-general. Both the government of the Soudan and the traders at Khartoum perceived that I should act in strict accordance with the instructions I had received from the Khedive. There was no hope left, except in delays, that might render an advance impossible with a heavily-laden fleet through the obstructions of the river.

It was necessary to modify the terms of the contract entered into between the governor-general and Sheik Achmet Agad. This trader represented his case to me as one of considerable injustice, which I was forced to acknowledge. As a mark of respect to Djiaffer Pacha, who had originally entered into the contract, I requested him to arrange the terms of the new agreement together with myself in the public divan. It was argued by Sheik Achmet Agad that the fact of the government being established in countries where he had been independent would cause a great loss to his trade, as it would upset the confidence of the natives, and they would cease to bring ivory for sale. In reality, this argument should be interpreted: "If the government is established, there will be an end to our razzias, and we shall have neither slaves nor cattle to offer in exchange for ivory."

He also justly argued that "it would be unfair should the government purchase ivory from countries already leased for trading purposes to the merchant."

I therefore arranged that, until the expiration of his original contract, no ivory should be purchased by the government.

Also, that instead of the money payment now annually made to the government, the rent should be paid in ivory, at the rate of two-fifths of the amount collected. The ivory was to be delivered and weighed in Gondokoro, at which place the rent was to be paid to the government in tusks.

The original contract would expire on April 9, 1872.

My hands were to a certain extent tied by these engagements, but I resolved that at the expiration of the term I should assume a monopoly of the ivory trade for the government, on the principle of the fur trade of the Hudson's Bay Company; as it would be impossible to permit the acts of the Khartoum traders, who, I was convinced, would never deal honestly with the natives.

The working representative of Achmet Sheik Agad was his son-in-law - a man named Abou Saood: I had seen this person when at Tewfikeeyah; he had arrived in charge of several vessels from Gondokoro during the rainy season, when the flooded river and strong south wind had allowed the passage of his boats. At that time he had no slaves on board, but I subsequently discovered that upon hearing that I had formed a station near the Soba, he had discharged a large cargo of slaves at the station of Kutchuk Ali on the Bahr Giraffe, so as to pass Tewfikeeyah in a state of innocence and purity, and thus save the confiscation of his ivory. This man was present at the divan when the final agreement was signed by myself and his principal. He vowed fidelity in so forcible a manner that I entertained serious doubts of his sincerity. An arrangement was entered into, that he was to supply the government troops with beef, mutton, butter, together with the native carriers for the transport of baggage, stores, at an established rate then agreed upon; the provisions were to be delivered from the resources at his command at his various stations. In the event of any native war, he was to furnish assistance when called upon by the government for irregular troops, of which he had about 1,800 in the districts included in my territory.

I did not admire the personal appearance of Abou Saood. A judge of physiognomy would have objected to the downcast look of humility, the un-certain squint of one eye, the furtive expression of countenance, added to the ultra-holiness of his ejaculations when called upon for an answer, and the pious cant of his protestation against all wrong-doings. At the same time that he was acting the part of saint, I knew him to be a bird of the same feather as the rest of the White Nile slave-hunters.

Some little diplomacy was necessary to smooth the troubled waters of Khartoum. I made every allowance for the passive obstructiveness of the authorities; it was perfectly natural under the circumstances of a sudden reform that affected materially the interests of the entire population, both high and low. At the same time, it was necessary to win the game. I was much attached to Djiaffer Pacha in his unofficial capacity, as I could never forget the kindness that I had received from him at Souakim when he welcomed my wife and myself on our return from a long and arduous expedition. He was a perfectly honest man in his dealings, and most generous to all around him. His great desire was to earn a good reputation, thus he was not sufficiently vigilant or severe with the sub-officials throughout the vast territory which he governed.

He had formerly been an admiral in the Egyptian navy, and he had visited England, where he had learnt to respect the English name of "gentleman." To be considered a "gentleman" (which he pronounced in English), was in his estimation a great honour.

I was delighted with the lasting impression that had been made by the manners of our country; and certainly, in courtesy and hospitality, Djiaffer Pacha thoroughly represented the qualities of the name he coveted. Whenever we differed in opinion upon official matters, we were always cordial in our private capacity.

On 6th October the post arrived from Cairo with the astounding news of the battle of Sedan; the capture of the Emperor Napoleon; the revolution in Paris; and the fall of the Napoleon dynasty! Never were so many grave events condensed in one despatch. I felt much for de Bizemont: he had become a general favourite, and I had received him con amore as one of our party. This was a blow too terrible even for his high spirit. He had received the greatest kindness from the emperor and empress, and his loyalty was shown by the deepest grief, and an immediate resolve to give up the expedition, and to return to share the trembling fortunes of his country. We had ourselves received much kindness from the empress. Only a few days before this grave news arrived, my wife had received a token from her Majesty, graciously bestowed when she was in power and prosperity; this was now more deeply prized since adversity had fallen so heavily upon her.

De Bizemont had vigorously commenced his work as a member of the expedition by accompanying the sections of the third steamer from Cairo to Berber. The desert journey was intrusted to the great sheik of the Arabs, Hussein Halifa, who had already so notably distinguished himself in the transport of the two steamers that had arrived with Mr. Higginbotham. I was very sorry to say good-bye, and I parted with de Bizemont and his companion, Le Blanc, with sincere regret.

I had now set everything in order; the vessels were loaded. On 10th October, 1870, I find this entry in my journal:-

"Started for Tewfikeeyah. Thankful to be free from that hateful spot, Khartoum. Nothing can exceed the misery of the place at this season. No drainage - mud - dense population, with exaggerated stench. These enemies to civilization have at length vanquished the European settlers.

"Djiaffer Pacha, accompanied by all the big people, came on board to take an official farewell: embracing - bands of music - salutes of cannon - steam up, and off, thank God! - I with a horrid cold and Julian with nasty fever."

We were short of hands for wood-cutting, thus we only arrived at Tewfikeeyah on 22d October. The river was now at its maximum, and had risen at this spot from the lowest level of the dry season, fourteen feet and one inch.

We were now busily employed, as I had arranged to start the first division of the fleet for Gondokoro on the 1st December.

On 25th October several vessels attempted to pass the station with slaves. All were captured and the slaves liberated.

"Many of the women slaves who were released from the slave vessels at the first capture seemed thoroughly to realize the principle of 'liberte, fraternite, egalite,' as they ran away during the night, not only with their new clothes recently given them by the government, but they also stole some of the soldiers' kit. It is very difficult to manage these people. The fact of their having been kidnapped by the slave-hunters destroys all confidence, and they cannot understand their true position. It is difficult to persuade them that the government has interfered in their behalf simply with a view to their welfare; they imagine that we have some ulterior object in their release; and many have a strong suspicion that they may at some future time be transported to some distant country and sold. They have been so often deceived that they cannot understand the truth; and having been accustomed to brutal treatment, they cannot comprehend the intention of kindness, which they attribute to a wish to deceive them. This is a dreadful state of moral degradation, which nothing but time and patience will overcome."

On the 23rd November the wind began steadily from the north. I was nearly ready. Every vessel had been thoroughly repaired, but many were so rotten that the caulking was considered by the English shipwrights as quite unreliable for a long voyage. I had dragged the iron diahbeeah out of the water, and had substituted new plates in many places where the metal was honeycombed with rust. The plate that had been pierced by the tusks of the hippopotamus was removed, as it proved to be very defective, and could be broken through with the blow of a heavy hammer, therefore it was not astonishing that it had been easily penetrated by the sharp ivory of so powerful an animal.

When the diahbeeah was re-launched, I had her thoroughly painted inside and out. In the mean time, I had formed a Robinson-Crusoe-like house, comprising two small rooms, open on the river-side, but secured at night and morning by simple Venetian blinds. The three sides were closed with planks. I had paved the floor with the cast-iron plates of the steamer's engine room, thus it was both level and proof against the white ants. The two rooms were separated by a partition with a doorway, but no door.

I had not resided in a house since I first occupied the diahbeeah, ten months ago, as the vessel was more convenient.

On the 29th November, at about four A.M., I was awakened by a noise in the adjoining room. My bedstead was exactly opposite the partition doorway; that of my wife was on the other side of the room. At first I thought the sound proceeded from rats scampering over the tin boxes; but upon listening attentively, I distinctly heard the lid of a metal box opened by some person, and again carefully closed.

After a few moments, I heard another box open, and a sound as though some one was searching among the contents.

Unfortunately my bedstead was the most horrible creaker, in which it was impossible to turn without producing a noise that would create an alarm, should a thief be on the alert.

I always slept with a pistol under my pillow, therefore, I gently grasped the revolver in my hand, and endeavoured quietly to get out of my noisy bed.

The wretched piece of furniture gave the most alarming creak; this was immediately succeeded by a sound in the next room of the sudden closing of a box, and the movement of some person. I could not be sure that it was not Lady Baker, who had perhaps required something from a box, and did not wish to disturb me. This was not likely, and I felt that no time must be lost, as my bedstead had given the alarm. I therefore sprang out of bed and rushed through the open doorway, just in time to see some person jump through the Venetian blinds on the river side of the house.

To cry out "Who's there?" and to fire a shot was the work of an instant, and jumping after him in pursuit I found myself in darkness, and no one visible outside my house. Where was the sentry? Nowhere!

At the cry of "Guard!" not a soul appeared; the sentry was not to be found. At length, after a search, he turned up in the wrong place, looking confused, and confessed that he had been asleep, but awakened by the sound of a shot. By this time a number of non-commissioned officers had arrived, who had been alarmed by the pistol-shot and the cry of "Guard!" The sentry was put under arrest. A search was made everywhere, but no trace of the thief could be found. On making an examination of the premises, we found a dirty shirt that the thief had in his hurry left behind him; this was evidently intended to receive the spoil in lieu of a bag. I could not find the trace of a bullet-mark either upon the planks or upon the Venetian blinds, therefore, I considered that the thief must have been hit, or if missed, the ball must have passed out as he pushed the blinds aside when in the act of springing through.

I suspected the sentry, who was an Egyptian belonging to the "Forty Thieves." He was stripped and examined, but there was no wound. All the shirts were alike, therefore the shirt in my possession was no clue. My wife had been startled, but she quickly recovered herself; the sentry was flogged, and there the matter ended; we had no London detectives.