Three Days Later He Arrived At Reng, And There Found, As The Crew
Of The Tewfikia Had Declared, Some 500 Dervishes Encamped On The Bank,
And The Safia Steamer Moored To It.
These stupid fellows had the temerity
to open fire on the vessels.
Whereat the Sultan, steaming towards their dem,
replied with a fierce shell fire which soon put them to flight. The Safia,
being under steam, made some attempt to escape - whither, it is impossible
to say - and Commander Keppel by a well-directed shell in her boilers
blew her up, much to the disgust of the Sirdar, who wanted to add her
to his flotilla.
After this incident the expedition continued its progress up the White Nile.
The sudd which was met with two days' journey south of Khartoum did not in
this part of the Nile offer any obstacle to navigation, as the strong
current of the river clears the waterway; but on either side of the channel
a belt of the tangled weed, varying from twelve to twelve hundred yards in
breadth, very often prevented the steamers from approaching the bank to
tie up. The banks themselves depressed the explorers by their melancholy
inhospitality. At times the river flowed past miles of long grey grass and
swamp-land, inhabited and habitable only by hippopotami. At times a vast
expanse of dreary mud flats stretched as far as the eye could see.
At others the forest, dense with an impenetrable undergrowth of
thorn-bushes, approached the water, and the active forms of monkeys
and even of leopards darted among the trees.
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