Then they began
to cheer. They were still a mile away from the hill, and were concealed
from the Sirdar's army by the folds of the ground. The noise of the
shouting was heard, albeit faintly, by the troops down by the river.
But to those watching on the hill a tremendous roar came up in waves
of intense sound, like the tumult of the rising wind and sea
before a storm.
The British and Egyptian forces were arranged in line, with their
back to the river. The flanks were secured by the gunboats lying moored
in the stream. Before them was the rolling sandy plain, looking from the
slight elevation of the ridge smooth and flat as a table. To the right rose
the rocky hills of the Kerreri position, near which the Egyptian cavalry
were drawn up - a dark solid mass of men and horses. On the left the
21st Lancers, with a single squadron thrown out in advance, were halted
watching their patrols, who climbed about Surgham Hill, stretched forward
beyond it, or perched, as we did, on the ridge.
The ground sloped gently up from the river; so that it seemed
as if the landward ends of the Surgham and Kerreri ridges curved in towards
each other, enclosing what lay between.