The first draft of “Guns of Khartum” closely follows the narrative structure and thematic elements of its final version, with some variations in detail and character development. This draft, like the final version, is set against the backdrop of the siege of Khartum and centers on the adventures of Emmett Corcoran, an American ivory hunter caught in the conflict.

See the finished version of “Guns of Khartum” for more information.

This first draft of “Guns of Khartum” weaves a tale of historical events with fictional heroism, exploring themes of love, betrayal, and the struggle for survival amidst dire circumstances.

Story summary

The story begins with Corcoran navigating through the desolate streets of Khartum, reflecting on the prolonged siege by the Mahdi’s forces. His encounter with Ruth Brenton, who is being attacked by her half-caste servant Zelda, sets the narrative in motion. Corcoran’s intervention saves Ruth, sparking an immediate connection driven by his attraction and her vulnerability.

As Khartum falls to the Mahdi’s forces, Corcoran and Brenton are thrust into chaos. Separated in the tumult, Corcoran is believed dead but is saved by Zelda, who reveals her own desires for him. Utilizing Zelda’s affection to his advantage, Corcoran engages with her while plotting his next move.

Corcoran’s journey takes him to Omdurman, where he learns of Ruth’s capture by Gerard Latour, a French renegade now serving the Mahdi. Corcoran’s rescue mission culminates in a confrontation with Latour, whom he kills. The narrative then pivots to Corcoran’s audacious plan to assassinate the Mahdi himself to rescue Ruth, leading to a climactic moment in the Mahdi’s palace.

The story concludes with a daring escape facilitated by an emir blackmailed by Corcoran into aiding their flight. As they flee into the night, Corcoran and Ruth look forward to a future filled with hope, leaving behind the horrors of the siege.


  • Emmett Corcoran: The protagonist, an American ivory hunter whose courage and determination drive the narrative.
  • Ruth Brenton: A British woman visiting Khartum, who becomes Corcoran’s love interest and the focal point of his rescue efforts.
  • Zelda: A Somali-Arab half-caste and Ruth’s servant, who harbors her own desires for Corcoran and plays a pivotal role in the narrative.
  • Gerard Latour: A French renegade serving the Mahdi, obsessed with Ruth, and an antagonist to Corcoran.
  • The Mahdi: The leader of the besieging forces, a pivotal figure whose downfall marks the climax of the story.
  • An unnamed Emir: A disgraced emir blackmailed by Corcoran into aiding their escape, representing the complexities of power and survival in the narrative.

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