On the 26th of August the force of irregulars numbered about 2,500 men, principally Jaalin survivors, but also comprising bands and individuals of Bisharin; of Hadendoa from Suakin; of Shukria, the camel-breeders; of Batahin, who had suffered a bloody diminution at the Khalifa's hands; of Shaiggia, Gordon's vexatious allies; and lastly some Gellilab Arabs under a reputed son of Zubehr Pasha.

The country was a desert, covered with interlacing thorn bushes. An eight days' march brought the force to a village which was considered sacred, as it contained the grave of the Khalifa's father, and the house where the Khalifa himself had been born. Three days later they reached the abandoned camp of the Khalifa, a wide tract that had been cleared of bush.

And still the dervishes got nearer, swinging up their left, for their right was now fairly held by the British fire. Colonels Maxwell's and Lewis's brigades had to address themselves to the task of checking the Khalifa's attack. Colonel Long had so disposed the cannon and Maxims that the guns rendered invaluable help.

The tomb was subsequently levelled to the ground by an explosion of gun-cotton and the débris was cleared away. I had a good look over the Khalifa's war arsenal. There were plenty of cannon, old and new, as well as machine guns, rifles, pistols, and fowling pieces of all kinds. Musical instruments, war-drums, elephants' tusks used as horns, coats of chain-mail old and new, and steel helmets.

After this somewhat unfortunate affair, which naturally added to the prestige of the Khalifa, the months passed uneventfully; but, late in October, preparations were made for an attack upon a large scale against the Khalifa's camp, and eight thousand men were concentrated at Karla, on the White Nile.

The trees were now larger; the scrub became a forest; the sandy soil changed to a dark red colour; but otherwise the character of the country was unaltered. The column rested at Abu Rokba. A few starving inhabitants who occupied the huts pointed out the grave of the Khalifa's father and the little straw house in which Abdullah was wont to pray during his visits.

To meet the Khalifa's attack he had arranged his force facing south-west, with three battalions in line and the fourth held back in column of companies in rear of the right flank an inverted L-shaped formation.

They began to traverse the rear of MacDonald's brigade, dimly conscious of rapid movements by its battalions, and to the sound of tremendous independent firing, which did not, however, prevent them from hearing the venomous hiss of bullets. Had the Khalifa's attack been simultaneous with that which was now developed, the position of MacDonald's brigade must have been almost hopeless.

Feversham heard for the first time of a most convenient spirit, Nebbi Khiddr, who was the Khalifa's eyes and ears and reported to him all that went on in the gaol. It was pointed out to Feversham that if Nebbi Khiddr reported against him, he would have heavier shackles riveted upon his feet, and many unpleasant things would happen.

All false as the people themselves. We shall have more such tales." "Then you think you would still defer our start, Hal?" said the Hakim, who had sat listening in silence. "Certainly, for we should only be riding to our death. We must accept our position of prisoners until the Khalifa's men have suffered some real reverse.