CHAPTER XIII. MORAL RESULTS OF THE HUNT.

The moral result of the elephant hunt was very satisfactory, at the same time most unexpected.

The sound of cannon had been heard by the natives for many miles; this had awakened their curiosity, and numbers had sped from the surrounding heights and satisfied themselves that several elephants had been killed. The natives of Bedden flocked to our little camp in hundreds, and were delighted at receiving permission to take as much elephant's flesh as they required. They raced along the bank for a couple of miles to the spot where the two elephants had been secured by my people, and towed upon a sand-bank.

I had sent down a noggur to make sure of the heads, as the opportunity of obtaining entire skulls seldom offered. These two heads had now been brought safely to camp, and the natives were employed in cleaning every atom of flesh from the bone.

In the mean time, great numbers of our enemies were to be seen squatting upon the heights, watching the happier Baris of Bedden, who had congregated like vultures in the river, and were quarrelling and scrambling over the immense carcases of the elephants. The temptation was too great to withstand. Who could resist flesh? The mouths of our enemies were watering, as they watched the heavy loads of red meat carried upon the heads of the rival Baris. In the afternoon, a messenger hailed the sentry to say that one of the sheiks wished to present himself to me to crave a cessation of hostilities. Shortly after the disappearance of this man with a courteous answer, a batch of messengers arrived to beg that their chief might be received, as they all desired peace.

On the following morning I held a general levee. About twenty headmen, or sheiks of principal villages, attended by many of their people, came to present themselves and to sue for peace. I received the chiefs on my diahbeeah, and each received a present of a long blue shirt as he stepped on board. They now seated themselves by Bedden, and a general explanation took place.

I assured them of my regret that they had forced me into war, as my mission to the country had been one of peace; at the same time they must have seen how impossible it was to resist the troops who were armed with weapons of precision, and drilled in a manner very different from the companies of slave-hunters.

I told them that I had many thousand cattle, and that had they agreed to sell me the corn that was absolutely needed for the troops, I should have paid for it punctually with cows, as I had promised them when I first entered their district. I also explained that, as they must have observed, I had never taken a single head of cattle from them, although I had frequently heard the lowing of their oxen. I had adopted this conduct, although in actual war, merely to impress upon them the fact that they might depend upon my word. I had offered to exchange my cattle for their corn; thus had I taken their cattle, they might have disbelieved my sincerity.

They replied, that "it must be expected that little differences would occur at the beginning." They had been incited against us by the Baris of Belinian, and the war was entirely their own fault. At the same time they laughed, and said that "hunger was a very bad thing, and that hungry men would always fill their stomachs, if they could, therefore we had been quite right to take their corn." They declared that it did not in the least matter, as the islands were very fertile, and would produce another crop very quickly; in the mean time they had a good supply concealed, and their loss only necessitated a little extra labour.

They continued this peaceable conversation by saying, that "the elephants were seldom seen in this district, and that the Baris did not understand such hunting, but they had heard the cannons, and they knew that we should be able to kill them." The meeting concluded by a request for meat; and the sheiks having given instructions to certain messengers, despatched them to summon their people to the sand-bank, where the remains of the elephants were lying.

In a short time, swarms of natives, lately our enemies, were collecting from all quarters, and hurrying towards the attractive spot, as though they were going to a fair.

I gave the headmen [*] a present of beads, and took them to admire themselves in the large glass within the cabin of the diahbeeah. I scrambled some pounds of beads among their people, and got up foot-races for prizes.

[*Footnote: The superior chief was presented with a costume which delighted him. This was a long blue shirt with red waist-band, a bright tin funnel inverted to form a helmet with a feather in the tube, and a pair of spectacles. He declared that he would be "the admiration of the women."]

The natives selected some of their best runners; but although they ran well, they were all beaten by Ali Nedjar of the "Forty Thieves," who was the champion runner of the expedition.

The sheiks requested that the cannon might be fired for their amusement. A shot with blank cartridge made them look very serious. They then went to look at the two elephants' heads, which they believed had been blown off by the cannon on the day of the hunt.

They returned to the diahbeeah, and ordered their people to bring the present they had prepared for me. This consisted of thirty-one jars of merissa, each of which was duly tasted by themselves as a proof of the absence of poison.

Before they departed, I was assured, not only of their regret that any misunderstanding should have taken place, but that after their bean crop, which would be in about two months, they would unite with Bedden and carry all my baggage into the interior. They took leave and went off in the direction of the dead elephants.

Here was a sudden change in the politics of the country! Peace had been effected by the sacrifice of two elephants!

This peace was the result of greediness and envy. The natives had pined for the flesh, and envied the Baris of Bedden who were carrying it away; therefore they sued for peace.

At the same time, they had originally declined my offer of a large herd of cattle that would have been worth a hundred elephants. Thus they had courted war, in which they had lost some of their people, together with much corn, all of which they might have sold for cows; and they now desired peace, only to join in the scramble, like vultures, over the flesh of two elephants.

African negroes are incomprehensible people, and they cannot be judged by the ordinary rules of human nature. It was easy to understand, that if they desired peace upon so frivolous a pretext, they would plunge into war with the same frivolity - with a "coeur leger."

As each division of the district quickly followed the example of another in desiring peace, in like manner would they follow an evil example in provoking hostilities.

They had now professed friendship for the sake of a few steaks. They had promised to carry our baggage into the interior. If they would only be true to this offer, I should be able to transport the steamer, as the natives could easily drag the two-wheeled carts. Although I doubted their professions, I had some secret hopes of success, and I resolved to do all in my power to establish confidence. I therefore invited two very intelligent natives to pay me a visit, and to reside some time at Gondokoro, where they would witness the general management of the station, and see the workshops, They would also see the vast herds of cattle belonging to the government, the spoil of the Bari war. This would be a sight most interesting to the eyes of Baris, as it would be a lesson of the great power of the government to either punish or reward.

In the afternoon I was visited by other native headmen from the east side of the Nile. These people had swum the river, and had followed the example of the other natives to sue for peace, and to beg for elephant's flesh.

This extraordinary craving for flesh would suggest that the Baris were devoid of cattle. On the contrary, there are countless herds throughout the country; but the natives have a great objection to kill them, and merely keep the cows for their milk, and the bullocks to bleed.

The cows are also bled periodically, and the blood is boiled and eaten, much in the same manner that black pudding is used throughout Europe. A herd of cattle will thus provide animal food without the necessity of slaughtering.

The great traveller, Bruce, was discredited for having described a fact of which he was an eye-witness. This was the vivisection of a cow, driven by natives, who cut a steak out of her hind-quarters.

I had a bull with a very large hump. (This bull was left at Fort Fatiko.) This animal was very handsome, and was kept for stock. I observed that the skin of the hump showed a long jagged scar from end to end, and my people assured me that this bull had frequently been operated upon. It had been the property of one of the slave-hunters' parties, and they had been in the habit of removing the hump (as a surgeon would a tumour). This is the most delicate portion of the meat, and I was assured that the hump would always be replaced by a similar growth after each operation.

On 18th November, I commenced the march homewards. The natives were now friendly throughout the route, and my men were strictly forbidden to enter a village. There was a great change in my officers and troops; they had fallen into my ways and obeyed every order with alacrity. They had learned to place thorough reliance upon any plans that were arranged; and, now that they knew the necessity of obedience and discipline, they had, imperceptibly to themselves, changed from ruffians into very orderly soldiers.

On the march homewards, upon arrival at the foot of a mountain, I made an excursion inland, as this was a portion of the country that I had not yet visited, though only six miles from Gondokoro. The natives were very shy, but I at length succeeded in obtaining an interview with their sheik, a tall powerful fellow, named Meri. I explained that I required no corn, nor any supplies, except stone. (This sheik Meri and his people always remained faithful to the government from that day.)

The country abounded with pieces of gneiss with a very straight cleavage, that suited them admirably for building purposes. All the granaries of this country were supported upon pillars formed of single stones, about three feet long. The houses were also protected by large flat stones arranged like tiles around the base, and thus securing the sides from the driven storms of rain.

On 19th November, I returned to Gondokoro highly satisfied with the result of the campaign. Not only were my magazines all filled with more than twelve months' supply of corn, but I had established peace throughout a large and powerful district, and I had received promises of assistance, and an assurance of allegiance to the government.

Abou Saood, who had received permission to go to Khartoum, had only gone down the river as far as his station at the Bohr. There he had made arrangements with his people that the ivory from Latooka station, 100 miles east of Gondokoro, should avoid my head-quarters, and be conveyed by an oblique course to the Bohr. By this swindle, the government would be cheated out of the share of two-fifths of the ivory which belonged to them by contract with Agad Co.

Abou Saood having personally witnessed the departure of the troops to Khartoum, considered his game as won, and that the expedition, now reduced to only 502 officers and men, would be compelled to centralize at Gondokoro, without the possibility of penetrating the interior. He had thus started for his stations in the distant south, where he intended to incite the natives against the government, to prevent me from following out my plans with the small force at my disposal.

This was the first time in the career of Abou Saood that he had ever travelled inland. He had for many years been in the habit of arriving at Gondokoro from Khartoum with the annual vessels from Agad Co., bringing new levies of brigands together with fresh supplies of arms and ammunition. He then remained at Gondokoro for several weeks, and received the ivory and slaves collected from his various stations in the interior with which he returned to Khartoum.

The necessity of the occasion induced him to use much personal activity. Knowing well the date when my term of service would expire, he had only one object, in which he had already nearly succeeded, - this was to prevent the possibility of my advance within the given period.

It was therefore necessary for him to visit his stations, and to warn his people to hold both their slaves and ivory until I should be withdrawn from Gondokoro by the expiration of my term of service; after which, he had no doubt that things would quickly return to their former happy state. By these means he would be able to cheat the government out of the two-fifths of all ivory; he would preserve his slaves; and a judicious present to some high official would reinstate him in his original position as the greatest slave-hunter of the White Nile; with the additional kuilos of having battled the Christian Pacha.

I had already written to assure the Khedive that, should my work not be satisfactorily accomplished at the expiration of my term of service, I should continue at my post until I could honourably resign the command, when the government should be firmly established in the interior.

I now devoted every energy to the preparations for starting, together with the English engineers and the steamer. Having given the necessary instructions to the engineer in chief, Mr. Higginbotham, I had no anxiety, as I felt sure that everything would be in order.

The carts were to be thoroughly examined, and the No. 3 steamer of 38 tons was to be divided in parcels; the small work secured in loads of fifty pounds, each sewn up in raw hide, and the heavier portions divided among the carts.

The officers were now perfectly resigned to their lot. The remnant of the Egyptian force had been converted into artillery-men, and all the Soudanis formed one regiment.

While Mr. Higginbotham was engaged in the work of arranging and packing, my masons were busy in making bricks, as I wished eventually to build the barracks of this solid material, instead of trusting to the dangerously inflammable straw-huts. I had already written to England for sufficient galvanized iron for 3,000 feet of building in actual length.

Although galvanized iron is hot in a tropical climate, it can easily be protected from the sun by a light framework of canes slightly thatched. My Soudanis were never overpowered by heat, as they had been born in a high temperature.

On my return to Gondokoro, I found that Meri's natives had collected a large quantity of stones, and they had sent to request a vessel to transport them. I gave them a cow, and they had a general dance. This reception seemed to delight them, and they returned to their villages, accompanied by a noggur with an officer and twenty men. I gave strict orders that no soldier should enter a native hut under any pretext.

The Bari war was over. Upon every side the natives had been thoroughly subdued. I now heard from our Bari interpreters, Sherroom and Morgian, that the Sheik Allorron was willing to sue for peace, and to declare his allegiance to the government.

Abou Saood and his people had departed; thus the evil spirit was withdrawn that had hitherto covertly incited the natives against the government, and the effect of his absence was immediately apparent.

I devoted my attention to the final preparations for the start, and to the necessary instructions for the command of the station during my absence. The officers found that it was now impossible to resist their destiny; and Raoul Bey, the colonel, who had, against orders, sent off so many troops to Khartoum who were in good health, now discovered that he would be left with a comparatively small force to hold the important position at head-quarters.

The troops who had been employed under my personal command, were very anxious to accompany me into the equatorial district.

There was no more fighting. All my hopes of peace were at length realized. The nights were always undisturbed, and the sentries might have indulged in sleep without the slightest danger. A dead calm had succeeded to the excitement of constant watchfulness.

I now employed the "Forty Thieves" in making salt. There were peculiar surface mines within a mile of my little station. These were situated upon a sandy loam on the banks of a brackish lake, that swarmed with crocodiles.

The salt always showed upon the surface after a shower of rain had been evaporated by the sun. This efflorescence, together with sand and other impurities, was scraped from the earth with large mussel shells. It was then placed in earthen-ware vessels containing about five gallons. There were pierced with holes in the bottom, which were covered with a wisp of straw as a strainer. The jars, being full of salt and sand, were watered occasionally, and the brine accordingly filtered through to a receiver. The contents were boiled, and produced the finest chloride of sodium.

The natural productions of the neighbourhood were salt, iron, tamarinds, the oil-nut tree; and the cultivation of the natives was principally Hibiscus hemp, tobacco, varieties of beans, sesame, dhurra, and dochan (millet). I endeavoured to persuade the Baris to cultivate and prepare large quantities of the Hibiscus hemp, which would be extremely valuable in the Soudan. The Baris used it for nets and fishing-lines.

The tamarinds were of two varieties, and were produced in extraordinary quantities. About two miles from head-quarters, there was an extensive portion of the forest composed almost exclusively of these magnificent trees.

The forest was also rich in the tree known by the Arabs as "heglik" This bears a fruit about the size of a date (lalobe), which is a combination of sweet, bitter, and highly aromatic. My men collected several hundredweight, as I wished to try an experiment in distilling. There was an excellent copper still in the magazine, and I succeeded in producing a delicious spirit somewhat resembling kirschenwasser.

My cotton was now ripe, and I cleaned it with a small hand gin that could be worked by two men. This greatly interested the Bari visitors, who, by my special invitation, had been residing for some time at Gondokoro.

The dry season had been very unfavourable for cotton; nevertheless, the quality was good, and proved that it would thrive in the locality. The species that was indigenous grew to a great size, and seemed to defy the drought. This bore a red blossom, and the pod was small. The native cotton was of short staple, and adhered strongly to the seed.

On 29th November, two Arabs arrived from Abou Saood's Latooka station, 100 miles east of Gondokoro: they had travelled at night, and were deserters from the vakeel. One of these fellows turned out to be my old follower during my former journey, Mohammed the camel-driver, and he literally cried with joy when he saw my wife and me again. He gave me all the news from the slave-traders' camp, which was full of slaves, and they were afraid that I might arrive, as they were aware that I knew the road. The vakeel of Latooka had received and harboured two of my Egyptian soldiers, who had deserted from Gondokoro and joined the slave-hunters under the guidance of a Bari.

On 1st December, Lieutenant Baker shot a fine bull elephant, with very large tusks; this was within four miles of head-quarters. At this season they were very numerous in the neighbourhood of Gondokoro. During my absence to the south of Regiaf, there had been a curious nocturnal alarm in the station.

Upon a fine moonlight night the sentries were astonished by the appearance of two immense bull elephants, that, having marched along the cliff, took the fort in the rear on the river side.

The fort was a redan, open at the river base; thus, unheeding the sentry, the elephants coolly walked into the centre. The sentry's musket was immediately responded to by the guard; the buglers, startled by a sharp fire of musketry, blew the alarm.

The elephants, now alarmed in their turn, rushed onwards, but upon ascending the earthwork, they were met by a deep yawning ditch, which they could not cross. The whole force turned out, and the attack on the thick-skinned intruders became general. The bullets flew so wildly that it was more dangerous for bystanders than for the elephants.

In the mean while, the panic-stricken animals charged wildly in all directions, but were invariably stopped by the ditch and rampart, until at last they happened to find the right direction, and retreated by their original entrance, most probably not much the worse for the adventure.

Mr. Higginbotham, who gave me this account, described the excitement of the troops as so intense, that they let their muskets off completely at random: and so thick were the bullets in his direction, that he was obliged to take shelter behind a white-ant hill.

I had no time to devote to elephant-shooting, otherwise I might have killed a considerable number in the neighbourhood of Gondokoro. The Baris are not good hunters, and they merely catch the elephants in pitfalls; therefore, being free from attack, these animals are exceedingly daring, and easy to approach.

They are generally attracted by the ripe lalobes, the fruit already described of the heglik (Balanites Egyptiaca). The trees, if of medium size, are frequently torn down for the sake of this small production, that would appear too insignificant for the notice of so huge an animal.

I once had an opportunity of witnessing an elephant's strength exerted in his search for this small fruit. I was in the Shir country, and one evening, accompanied by Lieutenant Baker, I strolled into the forest, about half a mile from our vessels, to watch for waterbuck (Redunca Ellipsiprymna) in a small glade where I had shot one on the previous evening.

We had not long been concealed, when I heard a peculiar noise in the thick forest that denoted the approach of elephants.

We at once retreated to some rising ground about 150 paces distant, as our small rifles would have been useless against such heavy game. In a short time several elephants appeared from various portions of the covert, and one of extraordinary size moved slowly towards us, until he halted beneath a tall, spreading heglik. This tree must have been nearly three feet in diameter, and was about thirty feet high from the ground to the first branch; it was therefore impossible for the elephant to gather the coveted fruit. To root up such a tree would have been out of the question. The elephant paused for a short time, as though considering; he then butted his forehead suddenly against the trunk. I could not have believed the effect: this large tree, which was equal in appearance to the average size of park-timber, quivered in every branch to such a degree, that had a person taken refuge from an elephant, and thought himself secure in the top, he would have found it difficult to hold on.

When the lalobes fall, they must be picked up individually and although the trouble appears disproportioned to the value of the fruit, there is no food so much coveted by elephants.

Near this spot, on the following day, I had a close adventure with a hippopotamus. I had gone to the same place where I had seen the elephants, and I was returning through the forest within a few yards of the river margin, when, upon suddenly turning round a dense thorn-bush, I came within four or five paces of a large bull hippopotamus. This animal had left the river for an evening ramble on the shore, and was munching some succulent grass with such gusto that he had not heard my approach. Unfortunately, I had come upon him exactly at right angles, which restricted my shot to the temple. This is the most difficult of penetration in the hippopotamus.

I only had the "Dutchman," and my attendant Monsoor carried a snider rifle; thus we were badly armed for so impenetrable a beast. I fired just in front of the ear, certainly within fifteen feet. The only effect produced was a shake of his head, and he appeared rather stupid, as though stunned. The left-hand barrel followed quickly upon the right. Monsoor fired with his snider. The "Dutchman," being a breechloader, was ready again, and we fired into this stupid-looking brute as though he had been a target, and with about the same effect.

Suddenly, as though we had just awakened him, he turned round and bolted into a dense mass of thorns, about thirty paces before us.

In the mean time, the troops at the vessels, that were within about 300 paces, having heard the rapid and continued firing, supposed that I had been attacked by the natives. The "Forty Thieves" rushed to the rescue. I heard the bugle, and presently the voices of the men as they approached, running through the bush at full speed. The hippopotamus had moved from his thorny retreat, and was walking slowly forward, when he was stumbled against by "The Forty," some of whom literally ran against him.

The animal appeared quite stunned and stupid, and he merely stood and stared at his new assailants. The sight was perfectly ridiculous. Every rifle was fired into him; but the hollow bullets of the sniders had no penetration, and we might as well have peppered the stone bulls of Nineveh, in the British Museum. At length, after having been the centre of a blaze of fireworks, as every man did his best to kill him during the space of about a minute, he coolly approached the edge of the cliff, which was quite perpendicular and about eighteen feet high.

A tremendous splash was the end of the encounter, as the hippo committed himself to the deep, with a clumsy jump from the midst of the disappointed soldiers.

I was constantly annoyed by the want of penetration of the Boxer hollow bullets. The "Dutchman" carried three drachms of No. 6-grain powder, which should have driven a solid bullet through a large antelope; but the hollow Boxer projectile invariably disappeared in small fragments upon striking a bone; or it expanded, and had no further penetrating power after striking a thick hide.

The sniders, although admirable military weapons, possessed a very small power of penetration. I have frequently seen the bodies of natives with only one bullet-mark; and I have extracted bullets that ought to have passed completely through.

My "Forty Thieves" were now proud of themselves as experienced in various sports, and they were terribly disgusted at the escape of the hippopotamus. They were never idle for a single day. If no other work was on hand, I practised them at the target, or they were treated to a few hours' drill.

Sometimes I took them fishing: this was always a great amusement, as the expedition was well furnished with nets.

There was a small lake near my station that abounded in fish. One of my sailors belonging to the diahbeeah was a professional fisherman, descended from a race of this calling. I had therefore intrusted him with the charge of the nets. All the sailors of the diahbeeah were good men, but the fisherman, Howarti, was the best of the picked crew. He was a Nubian, born in Khartoum, and of an exceedingly light colour. His style of beauty was rather spoiled by the loss of one eye, and altogether his personal appearance was not attractive; but he was very strong, although a small man, and in any case of emergency he was the most active and intelligent sailor. Howarti was always the first man to leap overboard with the tow rope, when it became necessary to drag the vessel against wind and stream: he was, like all Nubians, an admirable swimmer.

Our comfort had depended much upon this man throughout the expedition, as he was the only person who could properly throw a casting-net. Thus he had always supplied us with excellent fish. I often admired his perseverance, when, after twenty or thirty barren casts, he rested for a while, cleaned his net, and waded, in spite of crocodiles, to seek a more likely spot to catch fish for breakfast, at a time when this meal would depend entirely upon his success. At such times I frequently advised him as a good Mohammedan to say "Bismillah" (in the name of God) before he threw the net. On the first occasion, before I gave him this advice, he had had extremely bad luck, and he told me that "something was wrong with the fish;" as he had thrown his net for an hour without catching anything, except a few uneatable spike-fish.

I advised him to come with me in the dingy; and having rowed a short distance, we arrived at a sand-bank in the bend of the river. Here we landed, and I found fault with Howarti for omitting to say "Bismillah!"

"Will it do any good?" asked the profane Howarti. "Try," I replied; "you know the opinion of Mohammedans; now then, Howarti, say 'Bismillah,' and throw just in that hole close to the weeds. Spin your net so that it shall fall perfectly round, and advance very quietly to the edge, so that your shadow shall not disturb the fish."

"Bismillah!" ejaculated Howarti, and he crept cautiously forward to a very likely-looking hole. "Bismillah!" and with a dexterous throw, the net described an exact circle as it fell evenly upon the water.

No sooner had the fisherman commenced to tighten the crown line, when the rapid and powerful jerks showed that he had something good within his net. "Now, Howarti, look sharp! the bottom is clean sand: haul away, and don't give them time to burrow beneath the leads."

Howarti hauled away, and as the net came near the shore, there was such a splashing and jumping as he had rarely seen. The net came in upon the clean sand-bank, and we counted upwards of forty fine boulti, several of about four pounds, and the smallest about half a pound weight.

Howarti, having counted his fish, exclaimed, piously, "Elliambd-el-Illah!" and added: "In future I shall always say 'Bismillah!'"

Howarti cleaned his net: the fish were placed in a basket, and were covered with some river-weed to keep them fresh.

Once more the fisherman arranged his net upon his arm, and cautiously approached a most inviting little nook, where some large lotus leaves floating on the surface denoted a medium depth.

"Now then, Howarti, throw very carefully, so as to spread your net in that open space among the lilies, and take care to avoid the leaf stems that would lift the leads."

"Bismillah!" away flew the net, which fell in a circle, exactly in the spot desired.

It was amusing to watch the usually stolid countenance of Howarti, that was now expressive of intense curiosity.

The crown-line jerked and tugged even more than at the first lucky throw. Howarti cleverly and cautiously landed his net. It contained a regular "miraculous draught," including a Nile carp of about nine pounds.

"That will do, Howarti," I exclaimed; "we have fish enough for all the people on the diahbeeah, as well as for the officers of 'The Forty.'" The basket would not contain them; therefore the larger fish were laid upon grass in the bottom of the boat, and we returned home.

Howarti now divided the fish according to orders, and explained to the delighted crowd the extraordinary effect of the word "Bismillah," which insured a netful at every cast.

On the following morning, at sunrise, the now pious Howarti went out as usual with his casting-net accompanied by a sailor, who carried the largest basket he could procure.

We had moved our position, and there was no sand-bank in the neighbourhood.

After an absence of about two hours, Howarti returned, together with his companion and the large basket. This contained a few small fish hardly sufficient for our breakfast.

"Ah, Howarti!" I exclaimed, "you are a bad Mussulman - you have forgotten to say 'Bismillah.'"

"Indeed," replied the dejected fisherman, "I repeated 'Bismillah' at every cast; but it's of no use saying 'Bismillah' in deep water; nothing will catch them in the deep, and I can catch them without 'Bismillah' in the shallows."

Howarti was not a fanatical Mohammedan. Poor fellow he never lived to return with us to Khartoum: his melancholy death will be described hereafter.

In fishing in the lake at Gondokoro Howarti had the usual charge of the proceedings. We dragged a boat across the neck of land from the river, and having launched it, we first laid a stop net 140 yards in length along the bank of bulrushes that grew in water about five feet deep; this was to stop the fish from running into the rushes on the advance of the drag-net.

We now dragged a portion of the lake towards the stop-net, intending to land it upon an incline where the water was extremely shallow.

The "Forty Thieves" hauled away steadily enough until the net came close in. At that moment several immense fish dashed about within the narrowed inclosure; these created such excitement, that the men rushed into the water to secure them, which ended in the escape of the greater portion of the fish.

The next haul was very successful, and after fishing for about two hours, we caught 434 fine fish, one of which weighed 40 lbs. and another 26 lbs. I sent 200 to head-quarters for the troops.

The greater number of these fish were boulti and baggera, both of which are species of perch, and are delicious eating. I have never caught a boulti larger than five pounds, but the baggera grows to an immense size, and I have seen them about 150 lbs. or more. I once weighed a baggera upwards of 130 lbs., but they are said to attain a weight of several hundreds.

I have formerly described the beauty of this salmon-coloured fish in "The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia."

It is well known that in all countries the same species of fish differs in flavour and quality according to the water in which it is caught; thus the boulti and baggera are almost worthless in the lower Nile, compared with the same fish of the upper river.

Travellers may often unjustly condemn a fish as worthless, because it may have been out of season when they had the opportunity of eating it.

I never tasted any fresh-water fish superior to a boulti, slightly salted, and smoked for twelve or eighteen hours.

In hot climates all fish should be split down the back, and laid open; they should then be salted and should lie for a few hours to drain; after which they should be hung over the smoke of a dry-wood fire. This treatment renders them delicious for immediate use, but if required to keep, they must be smoked for a couple of days, and then be highly dried in the sun.

The 14th December was the Mohammedan holiday called the "Ume el Ete," on which day every person, however poor he or she may be, is supposed to dress in new clothes.

We had now been upwards of twelve months without communication with Khartoum. The soldiers' clothes were reduced to rags, as they had suffered much from hard work and fighting in thorny bush. The whole force was in despair: they were in arrears of pay, they were without clothes; the festival was close at hand, and instead of turning out in finery, they would be dirty, dingy, and ragged.

Every one was downcast. The troops could not possibly start with me to the interior, to represent the government in a state of rags or nudity.

On 13th December, the day preceding the festival, I summoned the officers to the magazine, in which I fortunately had all that could be required. The merchandise and general stores that I had purchased in England had no connection with the army clothing and stores which should have been supplied for the troops from Khartoum. This supply had been impossible owing to the state of the river.

I served out new clothing for the entire expedition. I arranged that 212 officers and men should accompany me to the interior. To these I gave scarlet flannel shirts and white trousers. The officers received all that they required, and the men were allowed to purchase from the government stores any articles that they considered necessary for themselves or their wives. (There was no cash at Gondokoro; thus, in the absence of pay, the soldiers were contented with the supplies from the magazine which furnished all their wants.)

On 14th December the cannons fired at sunrise to proclaim the holiday. I rode up to head-quarters and inspected the troops on parade, all in their new uniforms. Every man was in a good humour, and they burst out into three cheers as I completed the inspection and addressed a few words to them.

The men's wives were decked out with gaudy colours, and were happy in proportion to the amount of red and yellow.

The troops and sailors were astonished at the unfailing contents of the magazines, which established confidence that should we be positively cut off from all communication with Khartoum, we were nevertheless independent of supplies.

Everything was in order at Gondokoro. The natives were at peace; food was abundant; the station securely fortified.

I now determined to penetrate into the south, and to carry a steamer in sections to N. lat. 3 degrees 32 minutes, where she would be constructed by the Englishmen, and launched on the navigable river above the last cataracts, to open the communication with the Albert N'yanza.

All intrigues and opposition to the expedition had been overcome. Although my force was small, the men were full of confidence, and promised to follow wheresoever I might lead.