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

On Hansal being summoned to come down


This

was a new shock to the already terror-stricken Domenico. He threw himself on the bed and begged that Halima would not betray him; but she, fearing to be found out, crept out of the hut, went up to the Dervishes who were collected round the camp fire, and told them that there was a Turk in her cottage. Some of them jumped up, and, following Halima into the hut, they drove out the unfortunate Domenico with the butt ends of their lances. He was brought in front of the camp fire and carefully searched for money; but he at once drew forty pounds out of his pocket, which he distributed amongst them, and they were satisfied and did not ill-treat him.

On the following day he was taken before Ahmed Wad Suleiman, the Emin beit el mal, who made full inquiries of him regarding the Mission money. Domenico said that when the Mission left Khartum they took all the money with them, and had left nothing. Domenico was then sent to the garden to work there for his new master, but soon afterwards was betrayed a second time, and fell into grievous trouble and danger.

A few days before the fall of Khartum he had buried L150 in the garden, intending to make use of it when the needful time came; but one of the blacks who was working at the steam-pump in the garden, to whom Domenico had confided his secret, and who was one of the garden labourers who had escaped the massacre, went and told Ahmed Sharfi (one of the Mahdi's nearest relations)

that Domenico had concealed money. This he did to ensure his own safety, for the Dervishes had been greatly disappointed in the quantity of loot they expected to find. In the palace they had discovered only paper money, and in the Mission some furniture, instead of the treasure they had been led to expect. Ahmed Sharfi was therefore much pleased with the black's information, himself came to Domenico and asked to be shown the place where the money was buried. In vain Domenico protested that he had given all the money to Gordon. He was at once knocked down and flogged with a kurbash; but the first stroke, which drew blood, made him cry for mercy; he disclosed the hiding-place, and, when Ahmed Sharfi had secured the money, he was released.

The ruthless bloodshed and cruelty exercised by the Dervishes in Khartum is beyond description. I will briefly describe the deaths of the best-known people. Nicola Leontides, the Greek consul, who, on account of his amiable character, was much respected in Khartum, had his hands cut off first, and was then beheaded. Martin Hansal, the Austrian consul, who was the oldest member of the European colony, was alive up till 2 P.M., when some Arabs from Buri, led by his chief kavass, who was on bad terms with him, entered the courtyard of the house, and, on Hansal being summoned to come down, he was at once beheaded. At the same time Mulatte Skander, a carpenter who lived with him, was killed in the same way. His body, together with that of his dog and parrot, were then taken out, alcohol poured over them, and set fire to. After a time, when the body had become like a red-hot coal, it was thrown into the river.

Human blood and ruthless cruelty alone seemed to satisfy the Dervishes. The Austrian tailor, Klein, on making the sign of the cross, had his throat cut from ear to ear with a knife which was used to slaughter animals, and his life-blood was poured out before the eyes of his horror-stricken wife and children. Not satisfied with the death of the father, they seized his son, a youth of eighteen, and, burying their lances in his body, they stretched him out at his mother's feet, a corpse! They then took counsel as to how they should kill the next son, a lad of fifteen. But by this time the mother, a daughter of Cattarina Nobili, of Venice, was worked up into a state of mad despair. Seizing her son of five years old with her right hand, while she held her suckling babe to her breast with her left, she fought against these murderers like a tigress being robbed of her young, and they could not wrest her children from her; but they seized her daughter, a girl of eighteen, who became the wife of an Arab.


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