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

Suleiman invited him and the consuls


messengers were well received by Sheikh Suleiman Wad Naaman, and neither he nor his people were wearing jibbehs; they asserted that they were thoroughly loyal to the Government, and added that it was only the arrival of Sheikh Heddai that had made them pretend to be against the Government. Suleiman said that he would assist the shipwrecked passengers with the greatest pleasure, and so well did he conceal his wicked treachery that the messengers returned to Stewart greatly elated with their success. But in the meantime Suleiman had prepared a treacherous trap, into which the over-confident passengers blindly fell. He sent secret orders to all the people round about to prepare for a fight, and then drove some camels along the river bank, to show that he was preparing for the journey. Colonel Stewart ordered all the spare ammunition to be thrown into the river, and then landed with the other passengers.

Suleiman invited him and the consuls, Power and Herbin, to go into his house, so as to make final arrangements with the camel-owners, and at the same time he begged them to remove their arms, as the Arabs might get alarmed and make difficulties about hiring their camels. An artillery captain who was with Stewart begged him not to let go his arms, as there might be treachery; but Stewart laughed at his fears, and he, with the two consuls and the interpreter, entered the house, while the others remained outside; they still retained their revolvers.

Suleiman begged them to be seated, and proceeded to present to them a number of Arabs, who, he asserted, were the camel-owners.

The traitor had dates brought to them, and, so as not to offend him, they took some. Then Suleiman stood up and lifted his leather water-bottle, which was the prearranged signal for the Arabs to rush out of their hiding-places and attack the guests. In a second the house was full of armed men, who called upon them to throw down their revolvers and submit; but before they had even time to do this, the Arabs rushed upon them with their swords. Consul Herbin, who was standing near the door, was the first to fall; his head was chopped off with an axe. Consul Power and Colonel Stewart were soon cut to pieces. The interpreter, Hassan, begged to be spared, crying out, "I am a Moslem! I am a Moslem, and my name is Hassan!" So he was not killed, but received a wound in the shoulder. The murderers then rushed off to the river bank to attack the others, who were soon killed, except two artillerymen, who jumped into the river, and a few servants. It was said that the interpreter, Hassan, had arranged the betrayal, and I was afterwards told that when he got into difficulties later, he sent a petition to Mohammed el Kheir, in which he said that he was entitled to reward for having secured Colonel Stewart's death. He is still living in Omdurman.

Suleiman sent all the correspondence he captured to the Mahdi, who thus became thoroughly aware of Gordon's desperate condition. On the 22nd of October he wrote to Gordon, informing him of the event, and summoned him to submit, as he had no hope of receiving any relief.

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