The amount of corn collected by the troops, now in the magazines, was only sufficient for two months' consumption at full rations.

There was a spirit of general disaffection among the officers and troops.

Although I had worked with them in every difficulty and led them invariably to success, there was a general dislike, not to me personally, but to the system of rigid discipline that I was determined at all hazards to enforce, and to the general object of the expedition.

Neither officers nor men could understand why, during open war, I should forbid the capture of women and children, who, by all Mohammedan rules, were lawful prizes!

It was not slave-hunting: they were simple prisoners of war that God had delivered into their hands; and it was a hard case that, after all the trouble and difficulties which had been encountered, they should be debarred from taking a few prisoners.

This was the argument of the military force, to which, had I yielded, the expedition would have quickly relapsed into the original slave-hunting of the White Nile, which I was bound to suppress. I have already described the direct disobedience of the officers in having purchased 126 slaves secretly from the slave-hunters' station during the voyage. A slave trade would quickly spring up between the Khedive's officers and the slave-hunters of Abou Saood, unless I enforced the strictest discipline. The expedition would represent a government slave market for the reception of slaves captured by the Khartoum companies.

It may easily be imagined, that my determination to enforce obedience to the newly-instituted reform caused bitter disappointment and disgust. The government I had established afforded justice and protection to all, whether freeman or slave. I had not interfered with the slaves that had been the property of officers prior to my taking the command of the expedition; these remained in their original position, with the simple improvement, that they could not be ill-treated with impunity.

A poor little Abyssinian boy, about eleven years of age, had one day crawled through the high river grass to escape the observation of the sentries, and suddenly appeared on the deck of my diahbeeah to claim protection. He was streaming with blood, and had been shamefully ill-used by his master, who was a captain in the Egyptian regiment. The boy demanded his freedom, and I immediately granted his release (This boy, named Amam, was a great example to others in his general good conduct and integrity. He accompanied us throughout the subsequent trials of the expedition with much devotion, and he is now one of our household in England).

This forfeiture of this child was a warning that had an excellent effect in favour of the slaves, but was very unpopular among the force.

Although I regretted the ill feeling which existed on all sides, I considered the position with patience; and I could not help admitting that this was a natural and inevitable consequence of a sudden reform which threatened so many interests.

At the same time, I was determined to carry out my mission without shrinking from any consequences. I was ordered to suppress the slave trade; therefore that slave trade should be suppressed; and I trusted that time would eventually give me so improved a control over the feelings of my people, that I might succeed in a reform and yet banish all ill-will.

In the midst of anxieties, there was one lasting satisfaction in my position. I had the power to execute absolute justice, and I wished for no other reputation among my people, whether slaves or freemen, than the confidence of pure equity to be obtained without delay. At all hours I was accessible, and even the complaints of little children were attended to with the same attention that was bestowed upon more important appeals. I hoped by this line of conduct to be able at length to incorporate myself with the expedition, and to gain the affection of my people; without which, success would be impossible.

The terrible absence of discipline among the troops was a great difficulty, but I had already improved them greatly. Since the mutiny of the black division at Taka, in the year 1865, when they murdered their officers, and committed many atrocities, the Egyptian officers had always distrusted them.

I was told by the colonel, Raouf Bey, that if a black soldier were punished, his comrades would probably mutiny, should he be a general favourite. The extreme laxity of discipline was the result of a want of vigour on the part of the officers.

At the commencement of the Bari war, the conduct of the troops, both back and white, was disgraceful. I have seen them, in the presence of the enemy, rush into a village and commence indiscriminate pillage: the officers mingled with their men in a race for plunder. Several soldiers had been killed by the natives upon such occasions, when separated from the rest in search of spoil. The colonel had assured me that it was impossible to prevent this sacking of villages, as it was the reward the troops expected after a victory.

Fortunately my model corps, the "Forty Thieves," were always with me, which enabled me to act decidedly. My lieutenant-colonel, Abd-el-Kader, and the faithful Monsoor, were ready to carry out my orders on the spot.

When I caught the troops in disorderly pillage, I had the principal actors seized and laid down on the instant in the centre of the men, and administered fifty apiece with a stout bamboo.

The Soudani soldiers quickly perceived that the reins were tighter than formerly; and I followed up the principle of stern punishment until I obtained an absolute control, without the slightest attempt at resistance to my authority.

I had learnt to like the Soudanis; there was an untiring energy in their movements very unlike the Egyptians; they only required European officers to become first-rate troops.

Although the force had much improved by the increase of discipline, they would have much preferred the good old times of plunder and prisoners. The officers had always looked forward to the glorious opportunity of procuring a few slaves in Central Africa, although they could not exactly define the manner of obtaining them: thus my severe orders upon this subject caused a serious heart-burning, and a desire to give up so barren an expedition.

The station was now complete, and well fortified by a ditch and earthwork. My own little station was the picture of neatness. I had two acres of the finest Egyptian cotton (galleen). Every inch of the knoll was highly cultivated, the lawn was closely cut, and the diahbeeah, which was our home, lay snugly alongside the bank, close to which was a little summer-house, surrounded by a prolific garden. This was a little gem of civilization set in the middle of savage Africa. My "Forty Thieves" were perfect gentlemen in comparison with the line regiments. The sanitary arrangements of the station were good; there was very little sickness, at the same time that upwards of 400 men suffered from ulcerated legs at head-quarters.

Our domestics were much improved. Those who had been slaves liberated by me from the traders' vessels at Tewfikeeyah, had learnt their duties, and had become very useful. My wife had trained some nice girls of seventeen or eighteen to household duties, in addition to half a dozen excellent boys, who were all neatly clothed, and kept in admirable discipline. Among these was the Abyssinian boy, "Amam," who had lately received his freedom. He was a pretty little lad, and his brown complexion looked quite light in comparison with his coal-black comrades. The Abyssinian blood showed in strong contrast to the negro type around him, and he was far superior in intelligence to any of the Central Africans.

The girls were under old Karka, who had been with us throughout our former journey. This old woman was very proud because I had given 12 to purchase her freedom in Khartoum. She was a good old soul, but wonderfully fond of fine clothes; and on great occasions she always turned out in clouds of snowy muslin with red edges and fringe, like a young Abyssinian beauty. It was amusing to see her emerge from her hut in full costume, her broad, flat face beaming with smiles in happy consciousness of universal admiration.

Old Karka was a sort of duenua to watch over the morals of the younger girls, and to see that they did not become too "fast"; but I believe that even the heart of Karka beat high when a certain corporal of the gallant "Forty Thieves" passed by. Old Karka was actually accused of sending presents of food, carefully cooked by her own hands, to the house of this same corporal, Abdullah, thus appealing to his stomach, which is the direct road to the heart, in African courtship. The younger girls and the boys of the establishment exclaimed, "Mashallah! Old Karka! who would have believed it?"

It was curious to observe the difference between my station and that of head-quarters at Gondokoro: at one, all was contentment and good order; in the other, discontent and disorder.

I had constant complaints from Mr. Higginbotham that my orders, that he should be supplied with men for public works, were disobeyed, and that every obstacle was thrown in his way.

My Englishmen had been, as usual, very industrious and having erected the iron magazines, they were now engaged in building a flat-bottomed barge to assist in transporting corn from the islands south of Regiaf. They had not been in the best health, but they nevertheless continued to work with an energy and spirit that were a delightful contrast to the sluggishness and apathy of the Egyptians.

Immediately on my return from Belinian, I had given orders that thirty vessels should be prepared to return to Khartoum.

I had not returned these vessels earlier, as I required all the sailors to assist in building the station, and in collecting corn for the troops. At this season (October) the Nile was at its maximum, therefore I hoped there would be no difficulty in the return voyage to Khartoum with empty vessels, and the stream in their favour. Had I returned them earlier, I should have been obliged to victual them for a four months' voyage, at a time when corn was extremely scarce. The sailors had now assisted us in our work, and they would not require provisions for more than two months, as the Nile was full.

Every arrangement that I had made had been most carefully considered. There can be no doubt that the greatest enemy to the expedition was the White Nile. This adverse river had given a serious check. The work and fatigue in cutting through the obstructions had killed many men, and had laid the seeds of fatal complaints among many others. The men's hearts had been broken at the onset. There was even now a feeling of despair of the possibility of receiving supplies and reinforcements by river from Khartoum. We appeared to have forsaken the known world, and, having passed the river Styx, to have become secluded for ever in a wild land of our own, where all were enemies, like evil spirits, and where it was necessary either to procure food at the point of the bayonet, or to lie down and die.

If the White Nile had been the fine, navigable river that I had known in former years, I believe I should have had no difficulty, as I could have quickly overcome the scruples of my officers by direct reports of their conduct to the Khedive; but we were lost to the world almost as absolutely as though quartered in the moon.

I had proposed, when in Cairo, that steamers should run monthly between Khartoum and Gondokoro, with the post and all necessary supplies. In former days this would have been a matter of course, and the fact of a connection with the Soudan government would have supported discipline; but the frightful obstructions of the river rendered communication impossible, except by a regular expedition in large force.

My own heart felt heavy sometimes; but I said nothing. I could easily appreciate the feelings of others, whose hearts were not actually in favour of the enterprise.

Nevertheless I commanded, and no matter what the obstacles might be, I had only one duty.

A new and sad calamity had attacked us. The well-known African horse-sickness broke out. In spite of every precaution, my horses died. The disease commenced by an appearance of languor, rapid action of the heart, scantiness of urine, costiveness, swelling of the forehead above the eyes, which extended rapidly to the whole head; stiffness and swelling of the neck, eyes prominent and bloodshot, running at the nose of foul greenish matter in extraordinary quantities, - convulsions, death.

My favourite Horse, "The Pig," was attacked. I had anxiously watched him daily, and one morning I fancied that the usual hollow above the eyes was rather full. This fatal symptom was too true a warning. He passed through the usual stages of the complaint, and died on the same day that he was first attacked.

I had only seven horses remaining out of twenty-one that had started with me from Cairo. In addition to these, were two horses belonging to the officers.

The fact of the horses dying added to the unfavourable impression already in the minds of the officers and troops. In addition to this calamity, the drought at Gondokoro had been unprecedented. The native cultivation, and that of the troops, had all perished on the light sandy soil of Gondokoro. Rain had fallen in the vicinity; but this unfortunate locality is very subject to droughts, as the rain-clouds are attracted by neighbouring mountains, where they expend themselves. The rich soil of the river islands will always insure a crop, as the roots penetrate to a depth where they obtain moisture from the river. As already described, the troops had worked so badly, that one half of the island crop had been carried away by birds. Thus, when the harvest was in their hands, they neglected to gather it; they now complained that nothing would succeed in Gondokoro.

Abou Saood had not gone to Khartoum, therefore his journey to Belinian to request my permission to depart, was only a ruse for some purpose at present unknown.

I shall now extract verbatim from my journal the entry upon October 13, 1871: -

"October 13, Friday. - The truth has burst out at last. As I have long expected, the evil spirit has brooded mischief."

Late last night I received a letter from Raouf Bey inclosing two others: one from the regimental officers, addressed to their respective lieutenant-colonels; the other from the lieutenant-colonels, inclosing the letters, and seconding the declaration with a petition embodying the same request to the full colonel. The letter from Raouf Bey supported the petitions and seconded the general complaint. The burden of this lengthy and carefully-arranged correspondence, was the determination of the officers and troops to abandon the expedition and return to Khartoum. The seals of every officer were attached, with the exception of those belonging to the "Forty Thieves."

I noticed that although there were three separate letters upon several immense sheets of paper, they were all written in the same handwriting. This proved that they were the result of dictation from a superior, and I at once traced the conspiracy to the colonel, Raouf Bey, the friend of Abou Saood.

It had been pre-arranged in this fashion, without a hint of such an intention having been given to me, that the officers should sign a round-robin to their lieutenant-colonels; the latter should support and forward the petition, together with a letter from themselves; the colonel should then forward this general and irresistible expression of public opinion to me, together with a long epistle from himself, explaining the absolute necessity of a general abandonment of the expedition, and a return to Khartoum.

I find these words in my journal: - "These letters from the officers declare, that the expedition must return to Khartoum, as there is no corn in the country, and the soldiers would die of starvation.

"Although these people complain of want, they actually purchased 126 slaves during the journey from Tewfikeeyah, thus adding to the number of mouths, and at the same time acting against my positive orders.

"They say there is no corn in the country, but as yet they know nothing of the neighbourhood, with the exception of Belinian; and when in the midst of plenty they _will not collect it._ Thus the Khedive's officers would actually abandon the expedition, and forsake the immense amount of stores, merchandise, which would fall into the hands of the natives.

"By God, not a man shall go back, except by my orders! no matter whether they mutiny or not. I shall forward the officers' letters to the Khedive."

This conspiracy would have played the game of Abou Saood, and he would have revelled in his success. I made no remarks upon the conduct of Raouf Bey, but the chain of facts will speak for themselves.

For the first half-hour after the receipt of these letters, I was disgusted through every bone. It appeared as though all hope of success was gone. What could be done with such wretched and treacherous material?

I would not condescend a reply to the letters I had received. I rode up to head-quarters; Mr. Higginbotham was ill, as were also some of the Englishmen and Mr. Marcopolo. Nevertheless all were unanimous in their resolve to stand by the expedition at any risk.

I sent Lieutenant Baker, R.N., to Raouf Bey, with instructions not to mention the letters, but to convey the following order: -

"Colonel Raouf Bey, with six companies of troops, to be under arms at 2 A.M., to await me at head-quarters."

Mr. Higginbotham had the entire charge of the vessels. I ordered three noggurs to be prepared, together with one small diahbeeah, to pass the troops across the river at 2 A.M.

All troops and sailors were to take two days' provisions. I had determined to push straight for the Bari islands, south of Regif hill. Should I be able to procure the supply of corn that I expected, it would at once checkmate the conspiracy.

The Baris of Regiaf and south of that hill had been allied with those of Belinian, and had taken charge of their great herds during the month's campaign in that country.

We started punctually at the time appointed, and sailed for about seven miles up the river, which at this season could be navigated without difficulty. We now crossed over to the west bank, and the wind being foul, the soldiers turned out and hauled the vessels against the stream by tow-ropes.

The country was perfectly lovely. The high, rocky hills, a few miles distant, sloped in beautiful undulations of open, park-like land to the river's bank. Here and there fine ornamental trees were dotted about the surface; but the absence of forest would have rendered the locality unfit for a large station.

The villages were innumerable: but there was not a sign of friendship among the numerous population. The natives poured out of their various stations leaping, brandishing their spears, and gesticulating with unmistakable actions of hostility.

The river was about 500 yards wide, and in several places the dull, grey heads of rocks protruded from the surface. We therefore continued to tow the vessels close to the bank, with a party marching parallel to protect the flank in case of a sudden attack.

The natives evidently intended to oppose us. I always gave the Baris a fair chance, and allowed them to make the first hostile move before I proceeded to forcible measures. I therefore landed and advanced a few hundred paces inland. There were many curious rocks in this neighbourhood, some of which were clean blocks of granite in masses of forty or fifty feet high, piled roughly as though arranged artificially.

The natives, as we advanced, moved gradually towards this shelter, in which they squatted until we arrived within a hundred and twenty paces. My interpreter now conversed with them, saying that I had not come to fight, but to purchase corn, that I would give them a cow for each googoo full of unthrashed dhurra: this was the usual price when the natives traded among themselves.

In reply to this polite assurance, they used most insulting language, and said - "You need not offer us your cattle, as we intend to take them by force; therefore, be off to Khartoum!"

By this time I had advanced with the interpreter to within a hundred yards of them. They were completely in my power, but I resisted the temptation. This is the disadvantage in treating with savages. I always afforded them every opportunity for peaceful arrangements, and returned civil replies to their abusive and coarse insults. This gave them the advantage of selecting their own convenience for an attack. A hundred times I have had them in my grasp, as upon this occasion, when a well-directed volley would have created a terrible effect; but I have always been patient, and allowed them to strike the first blow.

I now explained to them my position. I gave them the instance of their friends at Belinian, and begged them to avoid a similar necessity. I must have corn. Their granaries were overflowing, while mine were empty. I had many thousand cattle in addition to all kinds of merchandise. I desired fair dealing, which would give satisfaction to all parties. They simply shouted a derisive reply, coupled with most disgusting and insulting language.

"Won't you have a shot, sir, at that fellow on the rock?" said my shadow, Monsoor, who was always at my elbow. I declined the invitation, to the great disappointment of my men; at the same time I explained to these pig-headed Baris that they must accept the consequences of their conduct.

I ordered the bugler to sound the assembly.

With great readiness the troops left the vessels, and having formed, they marched up the slope with drums and bugles. I now made a display of force, and once more addressed the natives, explaining that the men were hungry and would take their corn gratis unless they would agree to sell a portion.

The natives sullenly withdrew to a greater distance, and commenced blowing their whistles, and making a peculiar shrill cry which is used by them generally in derision and contempt of an enemy. The last words we distinguished as they increased their distance, were a threat to exterminate us during the night, if we dared to remain in their country.

It appeared hopeless to attempt a peaceful communication with the Baris. This portion of the country to the south of Regiaf was immensely populous, and the natives were more dreaded by the slave-traders than any other. I now determined to examine some of the villages.

Having extended the men in line so as to cover about half a mile, I ordered the advance towards the hill of Regiaf, with strict orders that no soldier was to enter a hut; but they were simply to examine the villages as they passed through, by tapping the numerous wicker googoos or granaries with their hands, to prove whether they were full, These neat little granaries contained generally about forty bushels, but they varied in size: some would have held more than double that quantity.

The natives watched us in considerable numbers from all points. In this manner we examined twenty or thirty villages, each of which contained at least fifteen googoos, nearly all of which were quite full of corn. The entire country was overflowing with dhurra and sesame. As far as the eye could reach were innumerable villages, all of which we knew were stores of abundance, by the samples we had already examined.

From the high land of Regiaf, we looked down upon a long series of rich islands in the river, that appeared to be nothing but a line of granaries, as I could distinguish with the telescope the numerous clumps of googoos and small villages that fringed the fertile banks of these welcome retreats.

I felt as the Israelites, when the manna and the quails appeared in the desert. Thank God, we were delivered from the danger of famine, and we had at length arrived at the Promised Land.

Even the officers, all of whom had signed the declaration "that there was no corn in the country, therefore they must return to Khartoum," looked delighted, and exclaimed "Mashallah!"

I felt the relief, for I had suffered much anxiety; but outwardly I took it very coolly, and quite as a matter of course. I explained to the officers and men, that of course they were ignorant of the country, but that if they relied upon me, I should always lead them ("Inshallah!") into a land of plenty. The black officers now began to exclaim, "Wah-Illai! the Pacha knows the country well! Who would have believed when at Gondokoro that there was corn enough for a couple of years within a day's march?"

"A couple of years!" cried another; "we couldn't eat this corn in ten years!"

"We might drink merissa every day in this country," exclaimed others of the soldiers.

Sailors who have been in danger of shipwreck, with a rocky shore close on the lea in a heavy gale, may understand the relief offered by a sudden shift of wind in the moment of extremity. Such experience alone can allow an appreciation of the mental reaction after a great strain of anxiety that I had suffered for some time past.

A certain knowledge of human nature determined me to improve, without a moment's delay, the opportunity, while the troops were under the first impulse of astonishment and delight.

I addressed myself to the "Forty Thieves" in particular, and to the line generally, and explained "the pleasure that I felt in now being able to increase their rations of corn, that had been reduced by half. At the same time I had been much dissatisfied with the small collection they had made from the harvest at Belinian. I knew the country, and this was the only true granary that admitted of river transport to Gondokoro. If they neglected this opportunity, the rations would again be reduced; but upon no account whatever should I permit the return to Khartoum of any officers or men, except those who could present a medical certificate of chronic bad health. I should thus get rid of the useless mouths, which would relieve the strong men from the work of gathering corn to feed the weak, who could not perform their share of the labour."

I concluded by recommending them "to thank God, and to set to work with good will."

I marched my men to several villages deserted by their inhabitants, which I occupied in force, and anchored the vessels close to the bank beneath them. Having sent for Raouf Bey, I made no other remark, than to give the orders necessary for the night. This melancholy officer looked more miserable than usual, and his expression reminded me of one of Dante's damned souls, as illustrated by Gustave Dore.

The sun sank, and I had not tasted food for twenty-four hours. I was without my wife, therefore I was not very particular; my good Monsoor having foraged, produced some pumpkin soup, as he termed it, which was composed of a very watery pumpkin boiled in water without salt. The next dish was the very simple native luxury of dhurra flour boiled into a thick porridge. I was very hungry and very happy, thus I ate the plain fare with a good appetite.

Monsoor had made a fire with dry cattle-dung, and spread a native mat on the ground, close to the smoke, upon which I could sleep if the mosquitoes would allow me. I lay as close to the smoke as possible, with a comfortable log of wood for a pillow, and pondered over the events of the day, feeling very thankful for the change of circumstances, and making plans for the morrow until I fell asleep.

No sooner had the bugles sounded the morning call, than I was up and off. I instructed Raouf Bey to take a company of troops with the vessels, and occupy the islands. At the same time, I marched through the country to the south, and having passed about three hours in exploration, I formed two stations in excellent positions, and divided my men equally under Lieutenant-Colonel Achmet and Major Abdullah. These stations were about a mile apart, upon high ground, and commanded a view of Raouf Bey's vessels, that were already anchored at the island about a mile and a half below them. The three positions formed a triangle, in the very heart of the greatest abundance.

Having concluded these arrangements and established my positions, with the necessary instructions to the officers in command, I returned to the river, and prepared to start for Gondokoro in the little dingy. I did not wish to take a large vessel, therefore I ordered Raouf Bey to fill the noggurs with corn as rapidly as possible, and to start them off when full to Gondokoro. The granaries on the islands were all full, and close to the banks; therefore the vessels lay alongside, as though in a dock, and could load with great ease.

I started in the dingy with two boatmen to row, accompanied by Monsoor and two soldiers of "The Forty."

The stream ran at three miles and a half per hour: thus, with good pulling, we reached head-quarters in one hour and thirty-two minutes, a distance of about ten miles and a half.

I believe it is common to human nature to love to carry good news. The sight of the little dingy approaching Gondokoro alone, had given rise to all kinds of surmises, and when I reached the shore, a crowd of officers, soldiers, sailors, and women were standing in expectation upon the cliff. My men immediately recounted all particulars.

Great was the joy of the English party at the news of our success. This flew through the station, and the Egyptian officers and soldiers slunk away; whereas, the black wives of the Soudani regiment were delighted, as they did not wish to go to Khartoum. These women were slaves that I had liberated, and they always imagined that if they should arrive at Khartoum, they would be sold. This home influence was of service to me. In conversation with my "Forty Thieves" I had suggested, that perhaps on their arrival at Khartoum, the government might not permit them to retain so many wives in the regiment. The Soudanis are always happy if they have a wife and plenty to eat and drink; therefore Central Africa was preferable to their taste, where they could enjoy domestic bliss with a young wife, instead of sitting in the sultry barracks of Khartoum as melancholy bachelors.

I now determined to devote myself specially to the work of collecting corn. I therefore placed all my luggage in the magazine, cleared out the diahbeeah, and towed her up stream from my little station to head-quarters, ready to start on the following day.

On 17th October I started at 6 a.m., and reached the island at 4 p.m. There I found Raouf Bey, and the vessels that I had left in his charge. He had only occupied one island, and the natives were hard at work carrying off their corn from the islands to the south. I immediately sent troops to take possession.

On 18th October I sent Raouf Bey to Gondokoro, with orders to despatch to Khartoum all the really sick and incapable, but upon no account to permit any man to return unless he was hopelessly invalided.

On 19th October, having noticed that the stream brought down numerous stems of dhurra, I concluded that cultivated islands existed further up the river. I therefore instructed Lieutenant Baker to sail up and explore; at the same time he was to take possession should such islands be discovered.

On 21st the dingy returned with a letter from Lieutenant Baker, who had, with only ten men of "The Forty," driven out the enemy, and occupied an island, rich in corn, further south. The dingy had been attacked on her way by the Baris, who had shot arrows, all of which had fallen short. I immediately started with my diahbeeah and reinforcements, and united with Lieutenant Baker. I had now three large islands in possession. The fertility of the soil was extraordinary. The cultivation was confined to the rim or sides of the islands, as the centre was swampy in the wet season, but the extreme richness of the soil produced the heaviest crops, and the granaries were full throughout the very numerous little villages, that were stationed around the islands.

Having worked for twelve days, during which time numerous vessels had enlivened the river by passing to and fro heavily laden with corn, between our granaries and Gondokoro, I received notice from the mainland that the work of the two stations under Lieutenant-Colonel Achmet and Major Abdullah was concluded. Achmet had thrashed out all his corn, and was waiting for boats to convey it; and Abdullah had shipped all that he had collected, and was waiting for orders.

I sent instructions, that Abdullah should march his detachment along the mainland, towards the south, and occupy the villages on the high land, exactly opposite my vessels. The country was beautifully open, like a fine park, in long, rolling undulations, which terminated in rocky hills, about four or five miles from the river.

On 24th October, having loaded a line of vessels that lay alongside the island as snugly as though by an artificial quay, I was amusing myself, together with Lieutenant Baker, in shooting ducks, which swarmed in the neighbouring ponds and swamps. At about 4.30 p.m. I heard rapid file-firing in the distance, and I concluded that Major Abdullah's detachment, that was hourly expected, was attacked by the natives. I at once returned to the diahbeeah, where my wife was stationed on the high poop-deck, having a good view of a very pretty little engagement.

The troops were about a mile distant, and while steadily on the march according to my instructions, they were suddenly attacked by the natives in great force. This was a fair stand-up fight in the open. The big drums and horns were sounding throughout the country, and the natives were pouring from all directions to the battle.

The white uniforms of the soldiers formed a strong contrast to the black figures of the naked Baris; thus we could see the affair distinctly. We could also hear the orders given by bugle.

Major Abdullah had prudently secured his rear by the occupation of one of the small villages, fortified by a hedge of impenetrable euphorbia. He then threw out skirmishers in line, supported by the force that held the village. The natives were yelling in all directions, and I never before saw them make such a good fight upon the open ground. They not only outflanked, but entirely surrounded Abdullah's detachment of ninety men. The troops were keeping up a heavy fire, which did not appear to produce any decided result, as the natives thronged to the fight and advanced close up to the fire of the soldiers, whom they attacked with bows and arrows.

I ordered our solitary field-piece to be dismounted, and placed in the large rowing-boat, together with a rocket-trough, and the requisite ammunition, in readiness to support Abdullah with a flank attack upon the natives, by crossing the river, should it be necessary. As our vessels were in close view, I waited for the signal by bugle should Abdullah require assistance.

I had only twenty-two men of the "Forty Thieves" with me, together with the eight artillerymen belonging to the gun. The remainder of "The Forty" were holding the second island, about four miles in our rear.

Just before dark, I noticed that the Baris were giving way: they had evidently suffered some loss, which caused a sudden retreat. I heard the bugle sound "the advance," and we could see the troops advancing and firing in pursuit. The Baris ceased blowing their horns, and collected in dense bodies at a great distance from the troops, who had halted and now held the position.

Only occasional shots were now fired, and the sun having set, darkness gradually dissolved the view.

I fully expected that the Baris would renew the attack during the night, but I knew that Abdullah was safe in his strong position within a village, surrounded by the high and dense hedge of euphorbia; the thick, fleshy branches of this tree are the best protection against arrows. I ordered the boat with the gun to remain in readiness, so as to start at a moment's notice should we hear firing renewed during the night. I should then be able to land the gun, and take them unexpectedly on the flank with case shot.

Morning broke without any night alarm. I had filled the vessels with the last of the corn upon the island, therefore I determined to cross over with my force, and to meet the detachment under Major Abdullah. This was not easy to accomplish, as there were some awkward sand-banks in the middle of the river. It was therefore necessary to pass up stream between two islands, and then, by rounding the head of a point, to descend through a channel about a hundred yards wide between the western island and the mainland. This occupied about an hour, and we dropped down the channel and took up an excellent position against a high shore that formed a convenient landing-place. From this point the land rose rapidly, and the entire landscape was covered with villages abounding in corn. The natives appeared to have deserted the country.

Having given the necessary orders, I took my shot gun, and, accompanied by Lieutenant Baker, Monsoor, and two soldiers of "The Forty," I walked along the river's bank towards the village occupied by Major Abdullah's detachment, who I imagined might have found a large quantity of corn, which accounted for their delay in commencing the morning march.

There were great numbers of ducks and geese on the river's bank: thus as we walked towards Abdullah's village, about a mile and a half distant, we made a tolerable bag.

We had at length arrived within half a mile of the village, which was situated upon high ground, about 600 yards from the river, when I noticed a number of people issuing from the gate way carrying large baskets upon their heads.

"The soldiers have found plenty of corn," remarked Monsoor; "they are carrying it from the googoos."

My eyes were better than Monsoor's. I at once perceived that the people thus employed were Baris!

We were only five guns, now separated from our vessels by about a mile, and the troops under Major Abdullah had evidently evacuated their position!

Where upon earth had they gone? and for what reason? Certainly we had the river on our right flank, but we might have been attacked and cut off from our vessels, had the Baris the pluck to assume the offensive.

It was time to retreat, but as I wished the Baris to believe that we felt quite at our ease, we accomplished the move very leisurely, and strolled quietly homewards, shooting ducks and snipe as we walked along.

The moment I arrived at the vessels, I despatched a party in the steamer's large boat, under Captain Mohammed Deii, of the "Forty Thieves," to row down the river, and to recall Abdullah's detachment, that must have retreated for some inconceivable reason. The current ran at nearly four miles per hour; thus the boat would be sure to overtake them.

I was exceedingly annoyed. A force of ninety men had evidently been cowed by their engagement with the natives on the previous evening, and had retreated upon Lieutenant-Colonel Achmet's position, instead of joining me according to orders. At the same time my vessels had been in sight only a mile and a half distant! I was thus left with a small party of thirty men, while ninety men had fallen back.

This was an example of the utter helplessness of the officers and men when left to themselves. If the natives had repeated the attack, they would most probably have got into dire confusion.

Having started the boat, I took ten men of "The Forty," and, accompanied by Lieutenant Baker, I marched along the bank in order to meet the detachment on their return, when recalled by Mohammed Deii. During the march I continued to shoot ducks, as this amusement would deceive the natives respecting the retreat of Major Abdullah, which might then be attributed to some other cause than fear.

In about an hour, I distinguished a sail coming round the point of Gebel (Mount) Regiaf. The wind was fair, and she quickly ran up the stream. I now discovered that she was towing the boat that I had sent down the river to recall Abdullah's detachment. (This was a vessel from Gondokoro on her way for a cargo of corn. She had met the retreating party of Abdullah, and had brought them on by the river.)

Upon her near approach, I hailed the vessel and ordered her to land the troops (with which she was crowded) upon the west shore.

In a short time, Major Abdullah and his gallant company had landed and formed in line.

His excuse for the precipitate retreat which he had commenced at daybreak was, that he feared a renewed attack, and he was short of ammunition. He had therefore determined to fall back on the station occupied by Lieutenant-Colonel Achmet.

He appeared to have forgotten that he could have communicated with me by bugle.

I inspected the men's pouches, and found that most of them had eighteen or twenty rounds of cartridge, while the minimum contained eleven rounds; this is what the major considered a short supply of ammunition for a march of a mile and a half along beautiful open country to my vessels.

He described the overwhelming number of the natives, and their extreme bravery in the attack, which his troops had repelled without any loss to themselves either killed or wounded. At the same time the troops under his command had killed twenty Baris, whose bodies he had himself counted.

I now ordered them to advance to the village, as I wished to examine the position. Upon arrival at the spot where the battle had taken place, there were a number of vultures settled in various spots where the ground was marked with blood, and the cleanly-picked skeleton of a man, lying close to the euphorbia hedge, showed that the Baris had really come to close quarters. (The officer declared that twenty of the enemy were slain, while the soldiers admitted that only five were killed. There was always a gross exaggeration in the reports.)

The natives had carried off their dead, with the exception of the body that had been cleaned by the vultures; this must have been a stranger who had no friends, as the Baris are very particular in the interment of their people.

I now marched my men along the high ground towards the south, and examined the numerous habitations, until I arrived at a little colony comprising six villages, all of which were full of corn. Here I left Major Abdullah and his detachment, with orders to collect all the dhurra from the neighbouring villages, and to form a central depot at his present station, after which, the corn could be thrashed out and carried to the vessels. I stationed a noggur by the bank exactly opposite his position, about half a mile distant.

The natives had abandoned the neighbourhood: and hundreds of villages remained without an inhabitant.

On 3rd November, I sent off vessels heavily laden with corn to Gondokoro, under the command of Lieutenant Baker, with instructions that the detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Achmet should join me as soon as possible, and that empty vessels should at once be sent to my corn depot.

On 4th November, I sent fifteen of the "Forty Thieves" to the south, where I had discovered large quantities of corn in the villages that had been until now undisturbed. To arrive at these villages, it was necessary to pass over very high ground, which obscured them from our view when on the diahbeeah.

My men had built themselves huts, and had formed a nice little camp, on the hard, stony bank, close to the spot where my diahbeeah and other vessels lay alongside. My horses were picketed in the centre, and we had transported and erected a great number of granaries, which I had filled with cleanly-thrashed corn, to await the arrival of the return vessels from Gondokoro.

I was superintending the arrangements of the camp, when my attention was attracted by exceedingly steady firing in single shots at a distance, in the direction taken by my small party of "The Forty." Nothing could be seen, owing to the high ground on the south.

I immediately ordered my horse, and accompanied by Monsoor and three soldiers of "The Forty" I rode at a trot towards the direction of the firing. I had left a small guard with the boats, as nearly all the men were absent in the interior collecting the ` dhurra.

After riding for about a mile and a half over high ground covered with fine turf, from the summit of which I had a beautiful view of the undulating country before me, with the White Nile flowing through the valley, and high mountains in the distance, I came suddenly upon a village, where I observed two of my "Forty" mounted as sentries upon the summits of the tallest huts. A little in advance of this position, I found the remainder of my party. It appeared that they had been suddenly, attacked, but the sentries on the house-tops had given timely warning.

There could not have been a more suitable country for rifle-practice, as it was completely open and almost devoid of trees. The fine, swelling undulations were intersected with deep rocky ravines at right angles to the river, which after heavy rains brought down the torrents from the mountains.

My arrival on the summit, on a white horse, attended only by Monsoor and three soldiers, was a signal for a great blowing of horns and beating of drums. Immense numbers of natives were to be seen in all parts of the view before us. They ran eagerly from their villages, and collected from every quarter, evidently bent upon a fight with my little party.

I ordered my men to cease firing, as they were wasting their ammunition uselessly, and destroying the prestige of the rifles by missing at long ranges.

I ordered a general advance in open order, about four yards apart; thus twenty men covered a line of about seventy-six paces. This front, with the men in scarlet uniform, made a tolerable show. I rode at the lead on a very beautiful Arab, "Greedy Grey," which was the most perfect of all the horses I had brought from Egypt: excelling in breed, speed, beauty, and temper.

My little company marched forward in quick time. This was a signal for a chorus of yells upon all sides; the big drums sounded louder than before, and the horns of the Baris bellowed in every direction.

Great numbers of natives now advanced with their bows and arrows, gesticulating and leaping from side to side in their usual manner, so as to prevent the possibility of a steady aim.

As yet, they were about 600 yards distant, and I continued the march forward as though no enemy were present. As we descended a ravine and marched up the opposite incline, I found that the natives retired over the next undulation. Their line of front extended about a mile and a quarter, while we occupied at the most eighty paces.

Having marched about a mile without firing a shot, and finding that the natives invariably fell back as we advanced, at the same time that they kept the same interval between us, I at once understood their tactics. It was now five o'clock; the sun would set within an hour, and their intention was to draw us forward until darkness would reduce the power of the rifles. They would then be able to surround us, and very possibly over power our little force during our retreat to the vessels in the dark.

I halted my men, and explained to them the Baris' dodge. I now ordered the retreat after this manner: we should hurry down-hill and march quickly up the next undulation, so as to deceive the enemy with the idea of a precipitate retreat. This would induce an advance on their side. The Baris would be certain to follow us at full speed if they supposed we were afraid of them.

It was my intention to cross rapidly the first undulation where my men would for a few minutes be out of view of the enemy, and there to conceal them in a deserted village which I had noticed during our advance. This would be an ambush that would take the Baris by surprise, as they would imagine that we had passed ahead: they would therefore come near the village.

The order to the "right about" was given, and my men, who took a keen interest in the plan, commenced so precipitate a march down the hill that my horse was forced into a jog-trot. I heard the savage yells of the enemy, who, as I had expected, now followed us with the hope of cutting off our retreat to the vessels.

We crossed the dry rocky bed of the torrent in the bottom, and ascended the hill-face rapidly. Looking back, I saw the natives running at full speed in pursuit. They began to descend the hill just as we had crossed the summit of the high ground; thus they lost sight of us, as we quickly concealed ourselves behind the huts and granaries of a deserted village. I hid my horse behind a hut, and the men, having surrounded the position, crouched low on the ground behind the most convenient cover.

Unfortunately, the natives, who were on the high ground on our right flank as we faced about, perceived the snare, and endeavoured to give the alarm by blowing upon their whistles of antelope's horn.

This was either misunderstood, or unheeded by the enemy in our rear, who quickly made their appearance.

I had ordered my men to reserve their fire, and not to expend any ammunition until the command should be given. The natives on our right flank now passed forward, which would bring them in our rear. At the same time, those in our front appeared in very loose and open order, evidently looking for us in all directions.

I observed a man painted red, like a stick of sealing-wax, with large ivory bracelets upon his arms. This fellow was in advance, and he ascended a small ant-hill to obtain a better view.

A puff of smoke and the sharp crack of a rifle startled the enemy, as the red sheik rolled over. The yells increased on all sides, the whistles of the antelopes' horns now sounded a shrill alarm, during which the leading Baris shot off their arrows, but they fell short.

Another quick shot cracked upon the body of a native, who was caught in the arms of his comrades and dragged away as they precipitately retreated in all directions from the dangerous locality.

My men now begged me to allow them to charge and to capture the man, who was endeavouring to escape. I gave them leave, and a body of fifteen dashed out in pursuit, with loud yells, after the retreating natives. For about a minute the natives faced them and shot their arrows, but the gallant fifteen coolly knelt upon the clear ground, and taking steady rests upon their knees, opened a fire that drove the enemy before them. The fifteen immediately charged forward and bayoneted a fugitive, and returned with his bow and arrows in triumph.

The enemy had quickly the worst of it. They were now standing in all directions at distances varying from 400 to 1,000 paces. Many of them were actually in our rear, but I noticed that these fellows were already opening to the right and left, as though they faltered in their determination to resist our retreat to the vessels.

The Baris would not stand in the open ground before the sniders.

The ground was dry and dusty, thus each bullet marked its bit as the puff of dust rose from the earth, like a jet of smoke.

Some of the enemy were knocked over at very long ranges; others were so scared by the close practice, as the bullets either struck the ground at their feet, or pinged close to their ears, that they cleared off as quickly as possible. Their noisy drums had ceased, and suddenly I perceived a general skedaddle, as those upon our right flank started off in full speed, shouting and yelling to alarm the rest. I now distinguished a body of troops hurrying at the double down the hill-side in the distance. These were commanded by an active Soudani officer (lieutenant) who had been in Mexico under Marshal Bazaine. He had heard the firing as he was returning with his day's collection of corn to the vessels, he had therefore dropped the corn, and hurried on with his party to our support.

I ordered the bugler to sound the retreat: and having joined forces, we marched without further opposition.

We reached the diahbeeah and my little camp about half an hour after dark.