The utmost energy was put forth, after the defeat of Mahmoud, by the Director of Railways, Major Girouard, R.E., to get the track completed to Dakhala, the junction of the Atbara with the Nile. Not only the railroad battalion, which was nearly 3000 strong, but every available Khedivial soldier, laboured in some way or other at the task.
But they went back to Mahmoud with a fresh proposal, milder than the first; and eventually, after yielding point by point, until Kagig begged them kindly to blow his brains out and bury him with Monty, they reached a basis on which Mahmoud was willing to capitulate or to oblige them, as he expressed it. He won his main point: Zeitoon was to accept a Turkish governor.
And that, of course, was obvious. Mahmoud alive would be worth a thousand to us of any Mahmoud dead. Gloria ran down the road beside me, and Will caught sight of her in the dancing light. I heard him shout something in United States English about women and hell-fire and burned fingers, but beyond that it was not polite, and was intended for me as much as for Gloria, I did not get the gist of it.
Just now I saw Mahmoud and Eblis walk into my room, and shortly following them, I found that Mahmoud had drawn a pillow to the foot of the bed, and was lying comfortably with his head upon it, and that Eblis was lying at the other end. I do hope that you will not be tired of the apes. To me they are so intensely interesting that I cannot help writing about them.
Here's the tap off yer head, me darlin's!" he added as they turned and faced the dervishes. "We must kill them all, or be killed," said Mahmoud, as the dervishes suddenly stopped, and the one with the jibbeh called to Mahmoud: "Whither do you fly with the white Egyptian?" "If you come and see you will know, by the mercy of God!" answered Mahmoud. The next instant the dervishes charged.
Then he said: "Mahmoud, I am going away back to my distant home, unless you will get me more pearls." But Mahmoud said: "I cannot get you any more pearls because it is too hot, and if only you will stop you can go on doing some protecting, which, upon my soul, I do like better than anything in the world."
Who sat so sweetly at my feet With red tarbouche and slippers neat And stirred my heart with many a beat? Mahmoud. And now, when all the trip is done Rides to temples, and tombs, and fun, We may forget them all save one, Mahmoud. Mahmoud took great pride in showing his many references in prose and rhyme, and the members of our party were glad to contribute in prose to his collection.
They had all become Mussulmans, and were superb fighters; but their insults and insolence, engendered by their traditional pride in the prestige of the corps and the favor shown them by successive Sultans, filled Mahmoud with wrath. The Sultan dissembled his resentment, however, in order to bring all the soldiers he could command to the utter destruction of his rebellious subjects.
"If you will, you will, and there's no holding you; but we are all very sorry. That's all. Mahmoud! bring fire, you lazy pigling, that I may smoke." And he threw himself into a chair, the very creaking of the cane wicker expressing annoyance and dissatisfaction. So there was an end of it, and Isaacs strode off through the moonlight to his quarters, to make some arrangement, I supposed.
But he fought his way in the lead with a clubbed rifle, and stood over Kagig's body working the weapon like a flail. That was all I saw of that encounter, for Mahmoud decided to attempt escape by the upper way again, and it was I who captured him. I landed on him through the darkness with my clenched fist under the low hung angle of his jaw and, seizing his leg, threw him out of the saddle.