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FROM THE OUTPOSTS.
“WHY this worried mien, dire possibilities, for many your honour the Bey?” asked obvious reasons. the junior, entering the grass- His command, of four comthatched hut that served as panies and headquarters of a orderly-room in the up-river Soudanese battalion, was in station. For answer the Com- rags, after repeated excursions mandant threw an official letter against local chiefs, who had across the table.
con- been raiding their neighbours' tinued opening the others, newly cattle; whilst the equipment, arrived that morning, brought torn by thorn scrub on the in by a naked Nuer whose forced marches in circumvenpost-bag was a stick, cleft to tion of elephant poachers, was hold the correspondence, and in a sad state of disrepair. tied at the top with a strip The roofs of the company huts of hide to keep the mail to-' required rethatching. The work gether.
had been delayed by unusually The younger officer read early rains, which had already the communication, transcribed formed a sea of mud on the from a telegram received at black cotton soil. Worst of the nearest office two hundred all, the year's supply of food, miles distant. It had been brought by steamer from Khardecoded from a simple cypher toum for the British officers' on arrival; also, before des- private needs, was nearly expatch, by the Egyptian tele- hausted; and the new congraph clerk, whose dull life signment could not be expected was brightened by this unlaw- until river transport became ful mental gymnastic.
The great little man who To 0.C. Station,
held sway over the Soudan in MOYA KETIR.
those far-off days was, very
rightly, a stickler for smart H.E. the Sirdar will inspect your
and station beginning of April.
ceremony among the black troops, and SEKRETAIR.
was fully aware that a well
kept station meant a healthy The news was absorbed with one in this uninviting part of all the equanimity of one who the country. is not directly responsible. To The O.C. looked up from his his senior it was fraught with work as the native Bimbashi
came into the hut with the To lend an effect to his apdaily report. He was the staff pearance, the cook, who had officer to the small garrison been enjoying a nap, brought (although illiterate), a grizzled a knife and steel into the old Nuba of umpteen years' presence, as if surprised in the service, white man at heart, application of his craft. and staunch Mohamadan sol- On being approached as to dier. His salute was irre- his menu for such a royal proachable, and he stood like a occasion, he at once described statue in his clean khaki.
the dainties that could be May your day be happy, served, if a generous variety your honour the Bimbashi.' was forthcoming of what he
May yours be happy and well knew to be unprocurable blessed, Sartel Bey."
failing a series of miracles. “There is news. Sardet El After the description of a feast Sirdar will inspect us after that reminded his attentive fourteen days."
listeners of London and leave, “By God's will, all will be he crossed his culinary tools in in order."
front of his portly person, and It was the usual formula, cast his eyes to the roof in and the black mask remained search of further inspiration. inscrutable, but they both knew Having depleted his fund of that many things were anything imagination for the moment, but in order !
his employers brought him back After arrangements had been to earth, and insisted on a list made to do the best under the of what could be obtained adverse circumstances, and from their combined stores. orders given to reblock the The recital did not take long. tarbushes into seemly shape, There were two dozen tins to crease the best pair of of sausages, that owed their breeches, and patch up the immunity from consumption worn leather equipment, he to the label, that portrayed withdrew, to inform his men a highly-inflated prize pig, and of the penalties that would be therefore found no favour in incurred if the reputation of the eyes of the Mohamadan the regiment was tarnished by chef. A few odd tins of salmon any lapse from military virtue were, of course, among the on their part.
remnants of the year's proMohamad, the cook, was visions. One becomes slightly then summoned to a confer- tired of this lordly fish in his
pristine freshness; It has always been the law tainly becomes heartily sick of the wilds that a guest must of him in the tin, despite be offered the best that can artistic chemical colouring, and be provided, and in this case the cunning disguises to which the need for doing things well he lends himself. Many atrowas paramount.
cities are committed in the
name of preserved game, but boned, and stuffed with ground few travellers in the wilderness nut and cunning herbs ; but are innocent of having fallen see to it, o Osta, that they victims to the tempting oval are plucked of their feathers, canister, with the engaging pic- and not flayed, as is your lazy ture upon the top of gaily- tartib. Sweet potatoes, small attired sportsmen, playing sim- and few in number, must be ultaneous havoc among the fried ; also rigl shall be served, pheasants and wild duck, in so that the guests may think it what would appear to be the is spinach from England-perrestricted kitchen garden of a haps. You shall have further profiteer's country palace. Two orders in time; our talk is of these atrocities were in the finished, Mohamad.” The cook list, and, on subsequent ex- retrieved his sandals, which amination, proved to be both had been discarded, according explosive and offensive. The to polite custom, on his entry, possibilities of artificial food and retired. were disappointing, and Mo- Turning to the junior, the hamad was desired to express Commandant continued his inhis views upon what could be structions, done with natural resources. “You, my lad, will be ex
Again he looked upwards, cused parade on the day before, and assumed the likeness of a and will sally forth with the hen drinking.
little •22, doing the needful “There shall be fish from among the guinea-fowl. Percy, the river, also there shall be the perfect pie dog, must tree water-buck from the hulla, yet them for you; we don't want again there may be liver from to spoil the shoot. You might the cattle-on toast.”
show the Osta how to make “Empty talk, O Mohamad,” that famous fruit salad of was the reply. Would you yours ; there are still a few prepare dinner for a Greeki tins left, and we've got that trader, or for His Excellency liquor from old Capato to The fish in our waters are mud give it a kick. So much for fish, the meat of the water- dinner; now we'll fix up the buck is coarse and of a strong band programme; they'll like flavour. The meal will be as I our cheery old orchestra, if it order. First, there will be isn't a “close-up” performsoup of tomatoes, made with ance." milk and seasoned with red The band sergeant was sent pepper gin. Then must we for, and instructed to bring have an egg curry, mixed as suitable music for selection by you alone know how (the artful a committee of three. compliment was received with On his arrival a serions disa broad smile). To follow cussion took place. The score there will be roast guinea-fowl, of a musical comedy, which hung for thirty hours, then had been popular in London
about two years earlier, had complete, the problem arose at last reached this outpost of as to the rendering of the Empire, and he was anxious to ‘Marseillaise' for his delectainclude the item. When asked tion. Fortunately there was the title of the piece, he stated, a gramophone available, and "The song is about a beautiful among the records was the and attractive young shamuta, national anthem of France. who is possessed of very much After listening in rapt attenmoney." The British officers tion to a repetition of the air, were amused but puzzled. the bandsmen were able to
"How does the music go, play the different parts with O Shawish?"
complete satisfaction-to themThus, your Honours, Tum- selves, at any rate. tum - pom - pom - pay
y! (He The programme settled, the gave a capital imitation of the band sergeant commenced withcornet.) The well-built figure out delay to practise his merry swayed to the air, the tassel men, and for days the two of his red tarbush keeping white men were almost retime to the rhythm. It seemed duced to homicidal mania by almost impossible that, a few the constant strains that arose years before, this smart-looking from the lines as the musicians soldier had been a naked Dinka wrestled with the intricacies of savage.
light opera. "I know what he's driving Before the eventful day arat, it's 'The Dollar Princess,'" rived, another important intersaid the Bey. “But it is not view took place. It was with stated, Shawish Abdul Abderah- the head Sheika of the batman, that this young lady was talion. courtesan."
This good lady held the The expert advanced another position of regimental sergeantcomposition for approval : “It major among the women and concerns two youths of evil children. Under her command habits, who came into the city were other dames, each in from the hulla and created charge of a company. They much disturbance. The written were responsible to the Bey music was blown away in the for discipline among their sislast haboob, Sartel Bey.” Again ters, and for seeing that justice the vocal explanation revealed was performed on those whose the name—it was "The Bing frailty caused their feet to Boys on Broadway." The Sou- stray from the path of virtue danese are apt pupils, and can (as was frequently the case). pick up a tune by ear with the For these lapses into guilty greatest ease.
There was an dalliance the punishment was occasion when a distinguished inflicted with a cane, generally French colonial passed through on the hand, but sometimes in our territory, and, being entitled the method employed on perto a guard of honour with band sons of tender years, the latter penalty being enforced in the offspring. Entering into the privacy of the delinquent's arrangements with gusto, she abode.
promised to have all her comIt is the custom for the head mand on view in their best Sheika to bring cups of black robes, to have many drums in coffee to the orderly-room dur- attendance, and that the Most ing the morning "office” for High would be welcomed in the refreshment of the officers, proper style with a prolonged and questions of interior eco- “lu-luing” (a peculiar shrill nomy in regard to the harrimat cheer). With an eye to the (married quarters) are then main chance, she asked for, discussed.
and was granted, a gift of The usual salutations passed money to purchase merrisa, as the old woman, in the spot- the local millet beer that fosters less white robe of ceremony, the festive spirit of carnival. came into the hut bearing a As the day of inspection tray of small cups.
drew near heavy rains set in What news from the harri- for the eight mouths' season, mat, Sheika Fatma ?”
and the Sobat-Pibor turned "By the blessing of Allah, into a vast stretch of dreary Zarah, the wife of Onbashi mud. The district is flat and Abdelhi Idris, has borne a child," swampy at any time of the she replied.
year, but after weeks of storm “Mabrouk ! She has two the black cotton soil becomes now, I think."
saturated, and the scattered “Through the mercy of Allah, stations that guard the Abysshe has eight, your honour, and sinian frontier are water-logged the last is a strong man child.” islands above the surrounding
The talkative old lady was desolation. But there are brief allowed her ten minutes of intervals of sunshine during gossip, while the deft prepara- the depressing period, and every tion of the coffee went on. one prayed for fine weather to Interspersed with valuable in- grace the forthcoming visit. formation of the inner life of Soudanese soldiers are cleanly the battalion were the details in their persons by nature, and of small talk, beloved of the the native company comgentle sex the world over; manders applied the spur of but these informal Arabic con- esprit de bataillon to carry out versations contributed to a good the orders in regard to making understanding between the re- the best of tattered uniforms ticent native soldiers and their and damaged equipment. In leaders.
any case, the steady drill and She was told of the ap- hard-bitten appearance of the proaching inspection, and the ranks spoke of a workmanlike certainty of the Sirdar ex- readiness for the warpath, apart pressing a desire to visit the from the niceties of fantasia or dusky wives and their numerous ceremony.