Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/354

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350 Southern Ilixtnr'n-iil ,SV/r/y Paper s.

camel and injured by the fall. The result was paralysis of his legs, accompanied with great pain about the region of his liver. He could neither walk nor ride. But his intellect was bright, and his spirit undaunted. He was carried hundreds of miles across deserts in a litter supported on the shoulders of four Arab soldiers, who were relieved every half hour. He always remembered affection- ately these strange, but kind and gentle men who were detailed for the duty.

The surgeon advised and insisted that he should turn over the command to the next in rank, and go direct to Cairo for proper at- tention and treatment. He refused. He was the only American left with the force; had been obliged to send one home to Cairo on account of his illness, but he had been notified that the government had sent another American officer by another route to meet him at El Obeid hundreds of miles away. He knew that if he gave up, the expedition would be a failure, and the American staff would be dis- credited in Egypt. He declared his purpose to remain in command, and march (in the litter) with his army until he could meet the offi- cer sent out to relieve him. When at El Obeid he turned over the command to Major Prout, Colston was wholly paralyzed from his waist down, and was given up to die by the attending surgeons. Reaction and relaxation, following relief from the tension of so great responsibility, would probably have been fatal to most men under the circumstances. But his vigorous constitution, cherished by habits of virtuous life, and his indomitable pluck enabled him to rally. After remaining at El Obeid for six months in the care of an order of charitable sisters, he got well enough to be carried to Khartoum, 300 miles across the desert, in a litter rigged up between two camels.

" Courage and constancy; steadfast to the last." These immortal words of Lee addressed to his army, doubtless recurred to Colston's memory, and helped to sustain him in his dire distress.

General Colston brought back to America a considerable sum of money in gold, the savings of his Egyptian pay enough probably to satisfy his modest wants for life. Some of his friends in Wall street undertook to make a great fortune for him, and he lost it all. Thrown again upon his own personal resources, he delivered lectures and wrote for magazines on subjects with which his great learning and large experience had made him familiar. In the year 1882 he was offered the professorship of natural philosophy, mechanics and astronomy in the Virginia Military Institute. This was a great temp- tation. It offered him a berth for life, with most congenial surround-