WHEN I left Port Sudan I came back over the railway to the Atbara, and then some way up the Khartum line as far as the small wayside station of Zeidab: having been invited to visit a cotton plantation, which was at that time about the most important example of agricultural development on a large scale visible in the Sudan. The railway is on the east bank of the Nile; the estate on the west, some miles higher up. I was to alight at Zeidab station, where I was to be met by my hosts and provided with a boat to cross the river and conveyance on the other side.
The south-bound express bustled alongside the little platform, and left me standing there with my luggage piled in a neat mound: nobody seemed to be expecting me. The stationmaster had only a few words of English and I only a few words of Arabic; but with the help of this limited vocabulary I was enabled to understand that a hitch had occurred in the programme. Owing to some mistake in transmitting or reading telegrams, my friends at the plantation had been led to believe that my train would not arrive before midnight, whereas here it was in the afternoon. What was to be done? The stationmaster, the post-office clerk, an