The Soudan Is Joined To
Egypt By The Nile, As A Diver Is Connected With The Surface By His
Without it there is only suffocation.
Aut Nilus, aut nihil!
The town of Khartoum, at the confluence of the Blue and White Niles,
is the point on which the trade of the south must inevitably converge.
It is the great spout through which the merchandise collected from a
wide area streams northwards to the Mediterranean shore. It marks the
extreme northern limit of the fertile Soudan. Between Khartoum and Assuan
the river flows for twelve hundred miles through deserts of surpassing
desolation. At last the wilderness recedes and the living world broadens
out again into Egypt and the Delta. It is with events that have occurred
in the intervening waste that these pages are concerned.
The real Soudan, known to the statesman and the explorer, lies far
to the south - moist, undulating, and exuberant. But there is another
Soudan, which some mistake for the true, whose solitudes oppress the
Nile from the Egyptian frontier to Omdurman. This is the Soudan of the
soldier. Destitute of wealth or future, it is rich in history. The
names of its squalid villages are familiar to distant and enlightened
peoples. The barrenness of its scenery has been drawn by skilful pen
and pencil. Its ample deserts have tasted the blood of brave men.
Its hot, black rocks have witnessed famous tragedies. It is the scene
of the war.
This great tract, which may conveniently be called 'The Military Soudan,'
stretches with apparent indefiniteness over the face of the continent.
Level plains of smooth sand - a little rosier than buff, a little paler
than salmon - are interrupted only by occasional peaks of rock - black,
stark, and shapeless.
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