Chapter Two of the Lost Diaries
Chapter Two: The Queen of the Nile
We soon learnt that a certain Captain Cavor had been sent by the Admiralty to Egypt in command of the White Manatee, a dirigible airship modeled upon the French invention. He took on an immediate interest in our catch, and contrived to fashion a superior model. On this enterprise he obtained the approval of the Admiralty, and did manufacture a similar vehicle utilizing the boiler plates from a steamship. He spoke excitably of the flash-boilers and steam-recycler in the German machine which made it more powerful, but much of it was incomprehensible to me.
Now the fault with Captain Chard (if indeed it can be called a fault in a soldier) was that he is drawn to the fight as a hound would be top the chase on the scent of blood. It was not too long after Captain Cavor had completed his work on the new Steam-tank, which he named 'The Queen of the Nile', that Captain Chard proposed an expedition against the Germans. Reasoning that they must have made themselves a base in the Soudan, it was a simple matter of finding them along the course of the Nile, for beyond the banks of the river there was no water and no life, save a few oases.
And so with Captain Chard in command of the Queen and Captain Cavor in command of the White Manatee (which was the name of the dirigible airship), we set off along the Nile. And towards mid-morning we came by the oasis which the scout had reported.
The Germans had set themselves here, and there under the shade of the trees sat a company of German soldiers by a second steam-tank of the same design. Our men set upon the Germans with such surprise that they were upon the Germans before the stokers could get their boilers started. But this time were were not so lucky, and even as they were upon the tank the men could not enter its hull to stop the machine. Then Captain Cavor came on with the White Manatee, and the gunners began to rain shells onto the German tank. I must say the impression they made was minimal.
And suddenly, upon a ridge to the west another company of men appeared - it was a company of the French Foreign Legion! No doubt word of the German's presence in the Soudan had reached them. It was clear they had come to seize the German tank for themselves too, for they immediately fell upon the Germans. Thus outnumbered, the Germans fell back south, abandoning much of their gear by the oasis. And then the French turned upon us!
It seemed that now that the German tank had fled, their commander would avail himself to any other tank! A hard, confused fight followed, for the French, unlike the Germans, were made of sterner stuff and would not give the fight up easy. We got away that day badly mauled, even if the French did come off worse. Captain Chard, however, was unfazed, and on the journey home vowed to return the French a favour. For it was known that they had a fort by the border to the west, from whence the company we have just met had come from."