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teen Streams and pressed north to Vryburg along the railway which runs to Mafeking. Colonel Mahon, still farther west, flew along to the relief of Mafeking, and the little garrison was relieved on May 17th, one day before Roberts had promised to accomplish the feat.
While these four columns had been doing lively work, Lord Roberts was pressing the allies around Kroonstadt, Lindley and Heilbron. On the 23rd he crossed the Rhenoster River, and three days later the Vaal, the main force crossing at Vereeniging on the 27th. On the 28th Roberts was at the Clip River, and on the last day of the month in Johannesburg.
On that day at Lindley, in the Orange River Colony, the 13th Battalion of Imperial Yeomanry was surrounded and captured, showing that the Free Staters were still capable of striking a blow. Sir Henry Colvile, between Ventersburg and Heilbron,
had also considerable fighting, and farther west Rundle's advance was steadly opposed.
In spite of these things, and his sixty-seven years, the indefatigable Roberts started for Pretoria. On the 4th of June he had a stiff fight with the enemy, and next day he entered their chief city. He had taken a victorious army from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, nearly three hundred miles, in thirtyfour days, opposed every day by a wily and elusive enemy. This is a performance which is unsurpassed in military history, and one of which the grand old General may feel proud.
The Boer forces made for the mountains in the north-eastern Transvaal, from which they can be dislodged only by months of hard work. The two chief towns of the Transvaal, all the important railway lines and the valuable mining regions are now in the possession of the British. The end of the war is near-but how near nobody knows.
Y heart at thy feet was blindly laid
But we left that world so far away,
We lost each other, and then forgot,
Augusta Helen Thompson.
WAR PATH: FREDERIC VILLIERS, CORRESPONDENT.
WHAT impressed me more than any
thing else in my resolve to share the fortunes of the British Army, the object of which was the relief of General Gordon in 1884, was an article which I read in one of the daily papers. In this remarkable article was a description of the palace of the Mudir of Dongola. The oriental splendour depicted in the account written by the author of this article was not excelled even by the best stories from the "Arabian Nights."
he was seated. This was more or less the tone of the article I read, and I resolved that I must see that Mudir, and, if possible, penetrate into his harem.
There must also have been a spirit of adventure about this daring correspondent, for no person was allowed outside the British outposts; and he must have given the sentries the slip and have crossed a weary stretch of desert, and have suffered much hardship for many days before reaching his goal.
A Frenchman, M. Oliver Pain, had already snapped his fingers at the British authorities, and had plunged into the sandy waste for the purpose of joining the Mahdi. I read that article over and over again, and longed to follow in the footsteps of the author of it. At last the time came. I hurried to Cairo. A few hours in the city of lattice work and I made my way to Asiout. Here I found that Lord Wolseley was about leaving the next morning by steamer for Wady Halfa. I waited up all night, not knowing when the special train with the Commander-in-Chief would arrive. When, at an early hour, it steamed into Asiout, I asked the General's permission to join his party.
This was speedily granted, and in an hour I was steaming up the Nile in the direction of Dongola. What a
The Mudir, according to it, was the oriental potentate of one's boyhood conception, attired in turban and Turkish trousers with scimitar by his side. His throne was a Turkish carpet of rare beauty, on which he lounged supported by soft cushions of Broussa silk. Damacine lamps, burning fragrant oil, hung from the lofty Moorish ceiling and diffused a soft light on the swarthy faces of his courtiers, who prostrated themselves before their ruler. A screen of the finest Musharabe, or lattice work, divided the divan from the harem, and soft laughter, low beating of the tom-tom, and scraping of a stringed instrument, resembling the fiddle in its worst mood, told the western visitor that the stern-featured Mudir had a soft place somewhere beside the cushion of Broussa silk on which
charming journey it was! We took in all the wonderful temples during the day, and when we anchored in the evening we were entertained in quaint Arab fashion by the elders of the nearest village.
We gazed on the lilac sunset, the yellow moonlight-the stars hanging like clusters of gems in mid air, so clear was the atmosphere-and then came the ruddy dawn. The chocolatebrown waters reflecting the cobalt blue sky, the sand dunes, the palm trees, the quaint mud villages with their bluegowned inhabitants, all made the voyage delightfully interesting and pictur
At last the first cataract was reached, and Philæ was visited while our steamer braved the rapids and arrived safely in the calm waters beyond. When we were once more aboard, steaming up the Nile to Korosko, where poor Gordon abandoned his last touch with the outer world and pressed on into the desert for Abu Hamed, Berber and Khartoum, never to return. Wady Halfa reached, the General came to a halt for a time, and waited for the whale-boats which had been made in England; and here the Camel Corps was formed. Camels were bought, and Tommy Atkins made his acquaintance with the ship of the desert. Tommy took to the awkward beast with great good will, and a fine serviceable force the Camel Corps became, thanks to the energy of that smart British officer, who went under the sobriquet of "Curly Hutton," now Major-General Hutton, in command of the Colonial brigade in South Africa. I met him not long ago in Australia, and he hardly looked a day older than when, fourteen years ago, one memorable morning, I sketched him capturing one of the enemy's guns in the trenches of Tel-el-Kebir.
When the boats at last arrived they were collected and portaged round the second cataract, and an advance on Dongola by land and water was made.
What a quaint fleet that was as it stood out in full sail from the Sarass levée, the Camel Corps cheering from
the shore as the Canadian voyageurs steered their English brethren safely past the porphyry rocks which looked like huge black teeth in the dead white sand on either side of the narrow pass that enters the Sarass basin.
I purchased a camel at Wady Halfa, and after being instructed in the mysteries of mounting and dismounting, in a short time I became fairly accustomed to the novelty of camel-riding, which has a peculiarity all its own. Unlike a horse, mule, donkey, or even elephant, you can never make a pet of a camel; you never seem to advance in his good graces, however well you may treat him. Young, old, or middleaged, he has always the same evenlybalanced temperament, neither vicious or sweet, but a normal state of I-don'tcare - two-straws-about-anything-inparticular demeanour. He is certainly unpleasant to ride; his breath is odoriferous, and he has calm and doe-like eyes, with a mournful, tearful expression about them, which rather excites one's sympathy for the beast; but this feeling is soon dispelled when the brute grouses, and this he will do on the slightest provocation. I suppose this word grouse, which is applied to the language of the camel, emanates from the word "grouze" (origin obscure), to devour noisily, that one sees in the dictionary; and yet the word grouser (origin unknown) which should apply to a grousing camel, means quite a different thing-a temporary pile, or iron-shod stake stuck in the river.
But the camel and everything concerning him is peculiar. This noise, which is called grousing, does not occur only while he is eating, but at all times, early or late. It comes gurgling from its funnel neck, sometimes resembling the bray of an ass; eventually it rises to the dignity of the roar of a lion, with the bleating of a goat thrown in, and will as quickly change to the solemnity of a church organ. It is so peculiar a noise that no pen can properly describe it; only a phonograph could do adequate justice to it. When the camel is about to start on a long journey and one is about to load hir
he will grouse vociferously. the day's work is done and you relieve the beast of his burden, he will grouse. If you strike him he grouses, or on patting his neck gently he will grouse. If you offer him something to eat or twist his tail he makes the same peculiar noise. No doubt the camel's vocabulary is a scant one, and he is compelled to express all his varied sensations in this simple but unsatisfactory manner. With this, to me, novel animal, I joined the company of the Camel Corps under Captain Pigott, and started across the desert.
Pigott was known to his men by the sobriquet of "Bloody Pigott; for though a man of a mild-looking exterior-in fact, his face was almost effeminate in appearance, pale and hairless, with delicate features, thin lips, and pale grey eyes-there was a devilish recklessness in him which made both friend and foe have a wholesome respect for him. A common thing in fight was to see Pigott engage a Fuzzy-Wuzzy in single combat, like the brigands of the romantic drama; and on one occasion, ever memorable to a small audience of Mr. Atkins, who held aloof to see fair play, Pigott proved his blade, which, by the way, was the sabre of his sire, by cutting off the head of his assailant and pointing another through the neck as he came to a comrade's assistance.
Alas! poor Pigott is no more. died the death of a consumptive, through exposure and arduous soldiering on the West Coast of Africa. Still, he died game. His doctors recommended San Remo and retirement, but directly Pigott knew his days were coming to an end he resolved to die in harness. He remained in England, going the round of society, and living like a man sound in body, till he dropped by the way, full of pluck to the bitter end.
What a strangely quaint march that was, under the blazing sun! We slouched along at two miles an hour, through short deserts, always gaining the Nile by nightfall. Some of us, who could not stand the glare of the
sun, would keep our eyes fixed on the ground, watching the numerous trails, wondering by their imprint what beast or reptile had left its mark on the yielding sand. Others would watch the shadows of the camels gradually shortening till the sun told us that mid-day was nigh, when we would halt for our rations of tinned beef, biscuit and water. Then, after an hour's rest, we would move forward till four o'clock, when we would settle down on the bank of the Nile for the night.
While the rations were cooking we would take pot shots at the crocodiles, which lashed the waters furiously with their tails when a bullet struck a crevice in their armour. Many a cartridge was thrown away on a snag of wood or jagged rock sticking above the water, so keen was our belief that hverything in the Nile was a crocodile till it was proved otherwise.
When at nightfall we rolled ourselves up in our blankets and courted slumber, a slight breeze would freshen the air, sweeping across the desert, imperceptibly skimming the sand of its lighter particles, covering us with an impalpable powder, almost choking us with its suffocating dryness, and blinding us with the drift in our eyes. When the reveillé sounded, we might have been a few of the Great Majority rising from their graves, so completely had we been embedded in the sand.
Soon the banks of the Nile assumed a greener aspect. The cultivated fringe widened as we entered the fertile Wady of the Province of Dongola, and presently on the west bank was visible the city, the goal for which I had longed, and to attain which I had endured considerable hardships.
The city of Oriental splendour was an utter delusion. Surely this straggling town of squalid mud and plaster houses, with half-ruined mosque and tottering minarets, could not be the beautiful Dongola I read about! In spite of this cruel disappointment, I was still hopeful regarding the inner life of the city and the wondrous palace. The splendour of the Mudireh I hoped against hope might still be
hidden, like a Kimberley diamond in its original setting of blue clay.
With beating heart, I crossed by the native ferry, and soon found myself in the streets of Dongola, which turned out to be tortuous lanes through labyrinths of mud walls. I was billeted in a house of baked mud with Harry Pearse, one of my brother-correspondents. Pearse had brought with him a brand-new saddle and bridle, which he hung on a wooden peg on the mud wall of our room. Scorpions, centipedes, ants, and other loathsome insects were running, crawling and meandering about the earthen floor. So we stood the legs of our angareel, or native bedstead, in empty jam-pots filled with water, and strove to sleep the sleep of the unmolested just. There was a scramble round the jam-pots all night, but no insect was bold enough to adventure the depths of the cans.
In the morning I woke up and discovered Pearse's saddle still hanging on the wall, but minus the stirrup leathers. The stirrup irons, it is true, were glistening in the sun, now streaming into the room, but apparently they were hanging by nothing visible. awakened my comrade and pointed to this phenomenon. He jumped out of bed, and examined the saddle. In another moment he was cursing, in vigorous English, all ants, black, white, and red. The stirrup leathers had been encrusted in the wall and eaten by white ants in less than six hours. As he touched them they broke away from their mud crust like pieces of charred paper. We found that the insects had nibbled at everything in the shape of leather; our saddle-bags, revolvercases, portmanteaux, valise-straps, had been scoured over and over. All that we could do was to congratulate ourselves on our personal safety; but for those jam-pots, we might have lost leather too.
A hasty meal of Chicago beef and hard tack, washed down with boiled tea, and I was ready for the glories of the Mudireh. A native pointed out my road, and I made my way to the palace. As I entered the compound, it
flashed on me in a moment that the special correspondent of the London daily could never have been there at all. As I mounted the steps of the whitewashed, mud-walled building, I was motioned by one of the attendants to wait awhile; the Mudir was about to officially receive his officers or sandjacks. My heart sank within me. I mournfully realized that I had been utterly deceived by the brilliant imagination of a Fleet-street special.
Well, this is what I saw. In a whitewashed square hall opening on to a balcony was the Mudir, just seated -not on any Turkish carpet, but crosslegged on a Vienna bent-wood chair. By his side was another chair, across the cane bottom of which was a Dervish sword, pen, ink, and sand, and the seal of office. At the back of the Mudir stood a servant swaying to and fro a long bamboo stick to keep the sparrows from sitting on the chair or even the shoulder of the Mudir, for they were both numerous and tame.
The Dongola Mudir wore the simple black frock Stambouli coat, a fez, with small turban, trousers rather short for his legs, and red morocco slippers. Above him, from the mud ceiling, hung no Damascus lamp with oil of rare fragrance, but a two-and-sixpenny opaque kerosene lamp, which exuded a strong smell of paraffin. After paying my respects to the Mudir, I entered the reception-room. No Oriental splendour was here. A cabbage-rosepattern Brussels carpet partly covered the floor. A divan, draped with cheap French damask, occupied three sides of the dingy apartment. A table in the centre wore a red baize cover. Standing against a column supporting a fly-blown, whitewashed ceiling was a tall French clock with flower-painted face, a clock which struck the wrong time with uncertain vigour.
I left the Mudireh sad and dejected, but on lighting my pipe and reflecting for awhile, I came to the conclusion that, after all, the Fleet-street special's description was much more pleasing and satisfactory to the unthinking public. public. People at home naturally look