A messenger has come from the north.
The Turks are on the move.
Advancing beyond their frontier, they have
established themselves at Akasha. Wad Bishara fears lest they may attack
the faithful who hold Firket. In itself this is but a small matter,
for all these years there has been frontier fighting. But what follows
is full of menacing significance. The 'enemies of God' have begun to
repair the railway - have repaired it, so that the train already runs
beyond Sarras. Even now they push their iron road out into the desert
towards their position at Akasha and to the south. What is the object of
their toil? Are they coming again? Will they bring those terrible white
soldiers who broke the hearts of the Hadendoa and almost destroyed the
Degheim and Kenana? What should draw them up the Nile? Is it for plunder,
or in sheer love of war; or is it a blood feud that brings them?
True, they are now far off. Perchance they will return, as they returned
before. Yet the iron road is not built in a day, nor for a day, and of a
surety there are war-clouds in the north.
CHAPTER IV: THE YEARS OF PREPARATION
In the summer of 1886, when all the troops had retreated to Wady Halfa
and all the Soudan garrisons had been massacred, the British people
averted their eyes in shame and vexation from the valley of the Nile.
A long succession of disasters had reached their disgraceful culmination.
The dramatic features added much to the bitterness and nothing to the
grandeur of the tragedy.
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