The last chapter carried the account of the war forward at express speed.
The reader, who had already on the railway reached the Atbara encampment
and was prepared for the final advance on Khartoum, must allow his mind to
revert to a period when the Egyptian forces are distributed along the river
in garrisons at Dongola, Debba, Korti, and Merawi; when the reorganisation
of the conquered province has been begun; and when the Desert Railway is
still stretching steadily forward towards Abu Hamed.
The news of the fall of Dongola created a panic in Omdurman.
Great numbers of Arabs, believing that the Khalifa's power was about to
collapse, fled from the city. All business was at a standstill. For several
days there were no executions. Abdullah himself kept his house, and thus
doubtfully concealed his vexation and alarm from his subjects. On the fifth
day, however, having recovered his own confidence, he proceeded to the
mosque, and after the morning prayer ascended his small wooden pulpit and
addressed the assembled worshippers. After admitting the retreat of the
Dervishes under Wad Bishara, he enlarged on the losses the 'Turks' had
sustained and described their miserable condition. He deplored the fact
that certain of the Jehadia had surrendered, and reminded his listeners
with a grim satisfaction of the horrible tortures which it was the practice
of the English and Egyptians to inflict upon their captives. He bewailed
the lack of faith in God which had allowed even the meanest of the Ansar
to abandon the Jehad against the infidel, and he condemned the lack of
piety which disgraced the age.
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