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Fallow Years, 1844-1849   201


very next afternoon. We settled to leave the boat, her captain and crew under the charge of Bob, our Arab pipe boy, as our representative, who rose easily to the position and they had orders to take the boat to Wadi Halfa and await us there. This was in mid January, we expected to return, as we did, early in March. We got off on camel back in the afternoon and encamped 3 miles from Korosko and next morning started fairly off. It was a desert, like the skeleton of the earth, with sand blown clean away from the bare stones, or lying here and there in drifts, table topped hills. Evard had some sort of eruptive fever and was frightfully depressed and lamenting, then Boulton got it and bore bravely up. It was hard lines for them. The water 4 days from Korosko, the only wells on the route, was brick and undrinkable; that in our water skins was horrible with the taste of leather. The waste of desert was terrible, and the way was marked by bones of slaves and camels. Often a dead camel was desiccated; it looked fairly right but when touched broke and crumbled into dust, all the inside was blown away, or eaten away by the ants leaving the skin and part of the bones. These desiccated bodies were so light, that I once held up what appeared to be half a camel when first seen and as it lay untouched. Our guide, a son or nephew of the Great -Sheikh, was a jovial gay fellow and we all became excellent friends. Others joined our caravan; a man, his wife, baby and donkey, just like Joseph's flight. Also another man on foot, with no possessions but an old French cuirassier sword, wherewith he was going to join slave raids in Abyssinia. In 8 days from Korosko, we reached Abu Hamed-the sight of the Nile most refreshing, but we soon tired of the midges and air, and were glad to travel on a little inland by camel to Berber. On the way we stopped at the 5th cataract, where we waded with our guns across the river among the many islands. At Berber the Pasha received us in state and gave us lemonade from his own limes and it seemed delightful. He also lodged us in a mud house and gave us permission to hire a boat ' for Khartoum. The people were troublesome when we tried to start, and seized the rope and wanted to detain us. Barclay behaved with much pluck, cast off the rope and made the 2 or 3 men who were on board hoist the sail. We got away and after a little, the rest of the crew ran along the bank and swam to us, and we got off. It was quite a small one-masted boat, cabin 4 feet high, cockroaches all about but we made shift well enough. I recollect little of the sail to Khartoum, except the mud pyramids of Meroe by the way. At Khartoum we got (I suppose through the captain of our boat) a mud house facing the Blue Nile across which the dust columns were seen in numbers dancing on the plain. We heard of the existence of a wonderful Frank, possibly an Inglese; so we went to see. We knocked and walked in and there was about the most magnificent physique of a man I have ever seen, half-dressed in Arnaout costume,' looking quite wild, and he turned out to be Mansfield Parkyns recently arrived there after years in Abyssinia. He had been at Trinity College as well as ourselves and having taken part in an awkward row, found it best to leave, and had travelled ever since. He put us in the way of all the "life" in Khartoum and introduced us to the greatest scoundrels I think, that could be found anywhere in a room, men who were too rascally for the Levant or even Cairo. They were slavedealers, outlaws and I know not what else. Full of stories about how A had been poisoned by B, B having just left the room before the story was told &c. Parkyns with perfect sang-froid and with all his wits well about

P. G.   26


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