The means by which we fight;
the end at which we aim.
Imagination should paint the river through every
page in the story. It glitters between the palm-trees during the actions.
It is the explanation of nearly every military movement. By its banks
the armies camp at night. Backed or flanked on its unfordable stream they
offer or accept battle by day. To its brink, morning and evening, long
lines of camels, horses, mules, and slaughter cattle hurry eagerly. Emir
and Dervish, officer and soldier, friend and foe, kneel alike to this god
of ancient Egypt and draw each day their daily water in goatskin or
canteen. Without the river none would have started. Without it none might
have continued. Without it none could ever have returned.
All who journey on the Nile, whether in commerce or war, will pay their
tribute of respect and gratitude; for the great river has befriended all
races and every age. Through all the centuries it has performed the annual
miracle of its flood. Every year when the rains fall and the mountain
snows of Central Africa begin to melt, the head-streams become torrents
and the great lakes are filled to the brim. A vast expanse of low, swampy
lands, crossed by secondary channels and flooded for many miles, regulates
the flow, and by a sponge-like action prevents the excess of one year
from causing the deficiency of the next. Far away in Egypt, prince,
priest, and peasant look southwards with anxious attention for the
fluctuating yet certain rise.
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