D u r i n g those fateful months when Gordon was surrounded by a wall of fire, the experts of the British War Office were studying plans for the relief of Khartoum. Lord Wolseley knew that time governed the entire question. The Valley of the Nile was not a closed book to him. To his mind all hope of reaching the capital of the Sudan before it was “ too late ” depended upon taking advantage of the high river. Its flood tide served a double purpose. It enabled Gordon to make use of his steamers and it permitted him to profit by the inundations which divided the Mahdi’s forces in twain. Lord Wolseley dreaded what would happen when the recession of the waters should circumscribe the field of operation of the boats and also allow the Dervish bands to close in, more tightly than ever, upon Khartoum.