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

Lupton underwent terrible sufferings


Early

in September, Lupton Bey, Mudir of Bahr el Ghazal arrived at El Obeid; he had been permitted to retain his property, and he was most kind to us; indeed, I have no words to express our gratitude to him for his unvarying generosity to us. He told us a great deal about his own fights, and related how, after the destruction of General Hicks, the Mahdi had despatched the two slave-dealer brothers Karamallah and Kirkesawi from Dongola to the Bahr el Ghazal. Karamallah had summoned Lupton Bey to surrender; but Lupton, as his letters to Emin Pasha show, determined to fight; his subordinate officers, however, almost all deserted him, and joined the Mahdiists, and the few who remained loyal eventually refused to fight. Indeed, I have seen the actual document they drew up and signed to that effect. Lupton, who at that time was thoroughly exhausted by his constant warfare against the Dinkas, had therefore no alternative but to submit, which he did on the 28th of April, 1884.

A few days later Lupton, with his kavass and clerk, were sent as prisoners to El Obeid, _via_ Shakka. His arrival was a welcome addition to our little circle, and it was a very great comfort to us to have the society of such a genuine and kind friend as Lupton in these times of trial. He remained with us for about a month; at that time we had daily information about the movements of the English expedition, and we now hoped that the time for our deliverance was approaching. Many of the

Mahdiists themselves were getting tired of the new _regime_, which gave neither rest nor security of property to anyone. It was through these malcontents that we obtained news which gave us food for argument and speculation during the long and weary days of our captivity.

This life of a slave was terribly obnoxious to poor Lupton, who frequently gave way to bursts of indignation, and in one of these Sherif Mahmud arrested him, and in the first week of October he despatched him under escort to the Mahdi. On his arrival at Omdurman he was put in chains, where he remained for ten months, as he had attempted to escape to Khartum. During this period of captivity, Lupton underwent terrible sufferings, which I could not possibly describe.

Shortly after Lupton left us, we received a letter from Slatin, saying that Gordon intended holding out until the English arrived, at the same time he urged us to try and obtain leave to come to Omdurman; but this was impossible. Another friend also told us that he hoped shortly to be able to effect our release; but in his letter he wrote in such a manner that we alone were able to grasp his meaning, for he feared that what he had written might fall into the hands of the Dervishes.

Our anxiety can readily be understood, for we felt certain that if the English were victorious, we should be killed in revenge. Sherif Mahmud had already received orders from the Mahdi to encamp outside the town, and be prepared for any eventuality. So our days passed in a whirl of hopes and fears, and death would have been welcome.

But now a new disaster occurred; the circumstantial account of the death of Colonel Stewart and his party, and the fact that the state of Khartum was rapidly becoming desperate, made us full of doubt as to Gordon's fate. The fall of Omdurman further confirmed our fears, and we trembled to think that Khartum would fall before the English arrived. The prolonged resistance of the town, and the knowledge that the English were almost there, caused no small alarm amongst the people in El Obeid; when, therefore, Sherif Mahmud ordered a salute of one hundred guns to be fired to announce a great victory, the reaction was tremendous.


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