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Ten Years' Captivity in the Mahdi's Camp 1882-1892

And he was relegated to the Saier


now evil reports were spread abroad regarding Khalil. It was said that he was a great friend of Mustafa Yawer, the ex-Mudir of Dongola, and that it was mainly through his influence that he prevented him adopting Mahdiism; it was also said that he was the chief of the spies sent by the English, and a bitter enemy to the Mahdi. It was imprudent under such circumstances of Khalil to go as an envoy to Omdurman. He had given his services to the Government for this purpose, and he bravely adhered to it; but he was well known to the inhabitants of Dongola and Dar Shaggieh, and it was quite certain that the Khalifa would never permit such a man to return to Egypt. Even in Omdurman he would not allow him to be at large.

Two days later the judges were assembled to consider Khalil's case: false witnesses came forward who asserted that they had seen Khalil worshipping the sun and frequently turning towards the west at prayers, and all sorts of stories were trumped up to induce the Khalifa to put Khalil in chains.

The pliable judges condemned the sheikh, and he was relegated to the Saier. Neufeld had to give up his cell, which was made over to Khalil. None of the prisoners were allowed to speak to him--thus was the poor man left without a friend or acquaintance to help him; everyone shunned him as if he were the victim of some foul disease. From the earliest days of Mahdiism it was always the fate of those who fell in favour

to be deserted by all, and this was more especially the case with all those on whom the Khalifa's wrath fell. Thus everyone--fearing for his own life--avoids all intercourse with such prisoners.

When Khalil had expended the little money he possessed, he sold his sword, sheepskin, and clothes, and bought bread--such bread too!--even Sudanese, who are accustomed to eat all sorts of stuff, could only eat prison bread when hunger had made them like ravenous wolves; but Khalil had come from Egypt and its flesh-pots, and the Sudan bread made him ill.

At length he had no more money to buy even bread, and then he suffered the pangs of hunger. For a month before his death his beard had grown quite white, and he himself had become like a skeleton. His wretchedness and loneliness brought on sickness, and he died a miserable death. It occurred on a Friday whilst the Khalifa was attending a review, and Abdullah accidentally fell from his horse on that day, but was caught before he reached the ground. This was considered a very bad omen by the people, who thought that Khalil had been unjustly condemned. They believed it pointed to the overthrow of the Khalifa's rule, and he himself was very much disturbed.

The disloyal Ababdehs of Hassan Khalifa were also locked up in the Saier. Hassan was a nephew of the former Mudir of Berber, had been for a long time emir of Abu Hamed, and during Nejumi's advance on Egypt had occupied the wells of Murat. It was said that when there, he had acted in a most reprehensible manner, and had wrung quantities of money out of the merchants. It was also said that when Saleh Bey advanced from Korosko on Murat, he came to an arrangement with him--for he was not a Mahdiist at heart--and had retired on Abu Hamed without attempting to fight.

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