Gregory Hilliard, whose real name is Hartley, comes of an aristocratic family but quarrels with his father over his marriage. Finding it hard to make a living as a writer, he leaves England and goes to Egypt for the sake of his wife's health. He passes through the bombardment of Alexandria and then disappears into the Sudan and becomes an officer in Hicks' raggle-taggle army which is sent to destroy the Mahdi's incipient rebellion, but which is wiped out at El Obeid. His young wife remains in Cairo with their baby son, also a Gregory, convinced that her husband has somehow survived. However, she eventually dies when the boy is sixteen, and in due course the lad accompanies Kitchener on his mission. There are descriptions of the battles of the Atbara and Omdurman and finally of the death of the Khalifa a year later.
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