96 MEMORIES OF MY LIFE
eighteen hours out of the twenty-four, on more than one day. The Polar Star and the pointers of the Great Bear served as the hand of a huge sidereal clock to tell the weary time.
At length we reached our destination. It is the habit of dragomans to tell fibs about their masters, to enhance their own importance ; anyhow, we were treated to a review as distinguished strangers. I then had little experience with horses ; Boulton was not a much better horseman than myself. Barclay was, but even he found himself in difficulty when sitting in a Turkish saddle with short stirrups and holding a rein armed with so powerful a curb that it required the lightest of hands to use it properly. However, we all passed the ordeal, without ludicrous mishap.
From Dongola we rode three days across the desert on the opposite side of the Nile, to cut off a small bend, and thenceforward by the west side of the Nile itself, so far as the very broken ground permitted. Semney was a surprise ; a compact little temple, high above a spot where the whole Nile at that time of the year flowed through a channel so narrow that a cricketer ought to be able to throw a stone across. I tried, but, being bad at throwing, failed by a little. On the other hand, at the Sixth Cataract, between Berber and Shendy, where the river is broad, I had waded right across it to shoot ducks.
We had felt no small anxiety about the fate of our dahabeyah, but there she was at Wady Halfa in spick and span order; Bob, that bit of a boy, having risen to the level of his responsibilities and maintained perfect discipline. I t appeared that the rais, or captain, was