Gyassas glided by, loaded with pots like magic melons, long masts pointing as though they had been wands in the hands of astrologers: and the reflection of the piled pots as they moved gave vague glimpses as of sunken treasure. Denderah meant work for Fenton. There had been trouble there, and tourists had complained of insults.
The whole riverside was filled by a forest of masts. Crowds of gyassas, barges, and steamers were moored closely together; and while looking at the furled sails, the tangled riggings, and the tall funnels it was easy for the spectator to imagine that this was the docks of some populous city in a well-developed and civilised land.
But the funny thing is, you can't bear to shut your eyes for a single minute for fear of missing a tree, or a mound, or one of those tall-masted gyassas loaded with white and pink pottery: they all seem so ridiculously important, somehow! Then, there's that bothersome north wind following you, and trying to freeze your spine, unless you pounce on the best seat where it can't reach.
It is certain, however, that these boats are ordinary little river craft, the usual Nile felûkas and gyassas of the time; they are depicted together with emblems of the desert and cultivated land,-ostriches, antelopes, hills, and palm-trees,-and the thoroughly inland and Upper Egyptian character of the whole design springs to the eye.
All his supplies of grain were accumulated in the gyassas which lay moored to the west bank. These vessels were under the close and accurate fire of the artillery and Maxim guns on Artagasha island. Several times during the night the hungry Dervishes attempted to reach their store; but the moon was bright and the gunners watchful.
A small steamer, a fleet of large gyassas and other sailing vessels moored to the further shore explained what had happened. Conscious of his weakness, the prudent Emir had adroitly transported himself across the river, and had thus placed that broad flood between his troops and their destruction.
While the infantry divisions were marching round the heights of Shabluka to the camp opposite Royan island, the steamers and gunboats ascended the stream and passed through the gorge, dragging up with them the whole fleet of barges and gyassas. The northern end of the narrow passage had been guarded by the five Dervish forts, which now stood deserted and dismantled.