EGYPT AND THE SOUDAN
a pitcher to get less undrinkable water from a distance. Heads of hippopotami bobbed up at times all about us in the mid river, but were very shy of approach. At that date, I should have said there were crocodiles on nearly every sandbank on the Nile below the Cataracts, for considerably more than half of the way thence to Cairo.
Beyond the despondency caused by the 'air and the mournful character of the scenery, I have little to say, except that our journey upwards was concluded somewhat earlier than intended, through an adventure. One of my two companions, attended by Parkyns, lay out at night to shoot a hippopotamus, whose recent tracks were only too apparent. They returned in the dark and very early morning in much excitement, and tried to make us understand that we ought to wake up and return at once, for some unintelligible reason. However, to please them, we yielded to their insistence, roused up the crew and sailed homewards. It turned out, some hours later, that the real reason was that my sportsman-companion had shot, not a hippopotamus, but a cow that was coming down to the river to drink. There really seemed no feasible way of making amends for the mistake, and a certainty of clamour and excessive claims if we confessed it. So we disappeared from that district, much as a pestilence would have done.
Our return journey past Khartum was by our boat to Matemma, opposite to Shendy, where we discharged it, and hired camels to take us a six days' journey, I think, across the Bayouda Desert to Dongola. We had become by that time used to cannel-riding, we were well mounted, and travelled even as much as