What a good letter! Grogan's achievement was more or less of a joke upon Mr. Rhodes himself. There was no more greatly surprised man in the world when he learned of the lad's arrival in Egypt—not even Captain Dunn, who met Grogan by chance just after he emerged from a four hundred mile tramp through the Dinka swamp and Nuerland, and mistook him for one of a party of French hunters in the neighborhood. Think of the shock to a typically phlegmatic Englishman when he met a man on the upper Nile, and after some casual conversation about game, asked him where he came from, and heard him say “the Cape”!
What young Grogan quietly did alone, several large expeditions were setting out to do almost immediately behind him. There was a large party under Major Gibbons which came in six months after Grogan, having traversed practically the same route. Their disappointment when they reached the upper Nile stations and had the bloom taken off their pride must have been sadly amusing. Still more boastful was the start of Lionel Décle, the young Frenchman who exposed the abuses in his home army at the time of the Dreyfus trial. He set out with a great flourish of trumpets and a huge caravan as the envoy of the London Daily Telegraph to be the first to explore the line of the Cape-to-Cairo railroad. His expedition also had the patronage of Mr. Rhodes to the extent of £1000. He is still unheard from, in the heart of Africa. It is needless to say that the Daily Telegraph was strangely silent in the chorus of delight which greeted the news of Grogan's arrival in Egypt.
As to personal appearance, the young traveller is in no way disappointing. He is the tall, muscular, pink-and-white young man that you would choose from a hundred to do what he has done. You find it hard to believe him when he tells you how he has suffered from African fever; and you wonder still more to hear how even now, when the fever excites him, his mind reverts to the awful journey through the Dinka swamp, where days were maddening and nights hideous. Often, at the time, he thought that he was going mad. Day followed day in the trackless jungle when the life of every man of them depended on the truthfulness of the compass. Even the black men could not stand the strain: two of the porters went insane and had to be driven along handcuffed at the point of the spear. The porterage was reduced to the barest necessaries; the whole party was only fourteen, and there were troubles enough to have justified even the kindest of leaders in leaving crazy men behind. The fierce sun was directly overhead and gave no aid to direction. Perhaps the compass was false and they were travelling in a never ending circle. The atmosphere, the slush, the vegetation, even the multitudes of insects, were so poisonous that perhaps they were all insane and had lost their original purpose. And the absolute lack of companionship for the leader was no light addition to his distracted mind. He says that the myriads of mosquitoes furnished some kind of stupefying injection which caused him to rise utterly dazed in the morning after a bad night with them. Two of his negroes were bitten to death, literally sucked dry, by them. To hear him tell of these terrible experiences (and he tells of them very vividly) as if the whole thing were a huge joke, is an experience not soon to be forgotten.
The expedition was planned first of all in search of sport. Its leader says that as a child he had four ambitions—to slay a lion, a rhinoceros, and an elephant, and to see Tanganyika. Had it not been for big game hunting, no earthly consideration would have induced him to put his foot one mile south of the Pyramids. Yet the scientific results of his journey are surprising and varied. The geographical results include an exploration of the swamps on the Pungwe River, made as a sort of spur on the main journey north. The explorers found the face of this whole stretch of land much changed since it was last described nine years ago. There seems to be a general drying up of the swampy plains. Where natives, according to former accounts, went from village to village in canoes, there is now dry land with only a few deep water holes. Their boats rot on dry plains, and a few surviving crocodiles lead a precarious existence. Mr. Grogan thinks that as remote as this is from the centre of volcanic disturbance, there is a constant and rapid process of upheaval. The quantity of game in this country, called the Goronzoza country, was found to be incredibly large.
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