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ON the 6th of October, after a restless night, we were up with the dawn, and having disposed of a hasty breakfast of zebra–steak and millet porridge, washed down with honey–sweetened tea, we braced ourselves for the ascent of the plateau.

Pushing for an hour through the steep, wooded slopes of the gorge of the Kekup�, we crossed that stream as it tumbled down in babbling music over coarse volcanic [203] agglomerate. I was surprised to observe that it was distinctly steaming. Putting my hand into the water, I was still more surprised to find it quite warm. My curiosity thus aroused, I continued up the stream, and soon I was charmed beyond description by emerging upon a delightful nook, surrounded by picturesque precipices and rocks bedecked with the most profuse vegetation. It was an exquisite illustration of the inimitable felicity of Nature’s "art,"–the grim and cragged faces of the rocks becoming quite sunny and charming in their marvellously rich drapery of leaves and fronds and flowers. The central object of the whole, however, was a grandly rugged rock–basin, in which the Kekup� welled up in living waters, sending off a silvery sheen of steam, which condensed on the overhanging leaves till they shone with diamond–like drops. So romantic was the spot that, as I stood entranced, I should not have been astonished to have been saluted by some ethereal water–nymph, or to have heard some syren notes. Poetical raptures, however, are generally transient in Africa. The charm was gone when I remembered I was the leader of the Royal Geographical Society’s Expedition, and soon, on scientific cares intent, I was making the welkin ring, shouting for Songoro to bring my thermometer. On applying this test I found the spring to have a heat of 105 Fahr.

Our route should have been nearly west, but it was impossible to climb the precipices. We were, therefore, compelled to keep almost due north, along a secondary line of fault, in one of which the Kekup� rose. There were several of these lines of upheaval (or depression), which produced most varied and picturesque effects, assisted as they were by a cap of compact lava–beds overlying coarse agglomerate, that, again, being crowned by fine trees. Finally, about mid–day, we emerged from the shattered sides of the escarpment and stood on the billowy expanse of the plateau at a height of 8400 feet. We camped shortly after in a dense grove of junipers, in which we found a deserted village of Andorobbo–the hunting tribe of the Masai country. The district is called Dondol�, which, I am informed, means "everybody’s (that is to say–no man’s) land," from the incessant quarrels for possession that have taken place between the Masai of Kinangop and the Masai (Wa–kwafi) of Lykipia. Shortly after camping I spied a herd of buffalo, and after a dangerous hunt shot two, a cow and a bull. In crossing a wooded gorge an animal bounded [204] from some dense cover, which my men declared was a lion. I did not see it myself.

Next morning, on waking I felt it wondrous cold. On untying my small tent–door (I had taken Martin’s tent), I was profoundly astonished at observing we were enveloped in an unmistakable Scotch mist, which was driving with ghostly effect through the grove, and obscuring the view except in our immediate vicinity. As I danced about outside in patriotic enjoyment of this un–African phenomenon, with hands crammed to the bottom of my pockets, I could only feel the utmost pity at my benighted men, who, quite unable to see "the fun of the thing," shivered as if with ague,. as they sat shrivelled up before huge bonfires. Of course it was out of the question to start in such weather, and we had to wait for three hours before the sun took sufficient effect and drove off the mist.

Matters thus improved, we once more set forth. We were in a somewhat anxious mood, however, as we expected to meet with the Masai. That meeting would very much determine our fate; the passage of the "Mlango" (door or gate) of a district is always the most ticklish matter. We had some idea that the Masai were near, and we proceeded with great caution, as we wanted to get to a camping–place before the news spread, so that we might unmolested get our boma constructed. On our way we were greatly astonished to observe the dried carcases of numerous cattle which dotted the entire district. They showed no signs of death by violence, and only some parts had been eaten by hyenas and other carnivora. We came to the conclusion that some disease must be raging in the land. After some time we sighted a Masai kraal. Skilfully keeping out of sight, we came pretty near it, and finding a small stream (the headwaters of the Murundat) we camped, and in a surprisingly short time we were surrounded by a strong fence. We then made our presence known by firing a gun. We were highly pleased to find that the kraal was one of El–moruu (married men). Our pleasure, however, was quickly dashed on learning that there was a big El–morans’ (warriors’) kraal quite close, and that they would soon be forward for their hongo. These bloated young scapegraces in a short time began to arrive in large bands. At first they greeted me most ceremoniously, and in a few minutes they transferred a considerable layer of odoriferous grease and clay to my hand. Finding me harmless though phenomenal, they began to [205] cross–examine me. Where was I going? Where did I come from I What did I want? and why had I so few goods? These and a thousand other questions were poured upon me. I told them that I was the white lybon of the Lajomba (Wa–swahili)–that I was visiting the country to find out for the traders by occult means where ivory was to be got. Mbaratien (their chief lybon) was a fraud in comparison to me "Could any one but a great medicine–man have a skin like mine, or hair like mine?" "Now, you there!" I said, "come to me, and I will take off your nose and put it on again. Come! you need not be afraid. Ah! very well. Just look here for a moment, and I will show you a thing or two. You see my teeth? Observe how firm they are" (here I tapped them with my knuckles). "You see there is no fraud there. Just wait then till I turn my head. Now look! they are gone!" Here every one shrunk back in intense amazement, and the whole party were on the point of flight. Reassuring them, I once more turned my head, put [206] matters to rights in a twinkling, and, bowing and smiling to my wondering spectators, I once more rapped the teeth. Here let me inform the gentle reader (in the strictest confidence, of course) that I have a couple of artificial teeth, which at this juncture were perfect treasures. These I manipulated to the astonishment of the Masai, and as they thought I could do the same thing with my nose or eyes, they hailed me at once as a veritable "lybon n’ebor" (white medicine–man).

After this they asked alternately for presents and medicines, though the regular black–mail had been paid. They pestered me horribly, dinning eternally the same persistent demand for beads, &c. I was actually pulled about as if I was a toy to be played with. They grasped my arm, pulled my hair, and took off my hat. If I went into my tent, they would squeeze themselves after me, until everything was filthy. They gloried in frightening my men by making a show of stabbing them, and roars of laughter greeted their piteous terror. Cooking food, under the circumstances, was out of the question, and I had to be content to sit and munch some boiled Indian corn. On my asking for a guide to take me on next day, they laughed derisively. "What!" said they, "do you not know that our cattle are dying in hundreds on all hands I You are a great lybon; you must stay with us and stop the plague." Here was a pretty fix! In fact, I was regularly "hoist with mine own petar." My appeals were made in vain. Stop I must. For two days I was detained, and my wits were exercised to the uttermost to invent excuses and reasons why I should go on to spread the blessings of my infallible cures over the country. The cure, I told them, was not to commence while I was in their neighbourhood, and not till ten days after I left, Through the day I had to make an hourly exhibition of my teeth– drawing, and during the night we had to be incessantly on the watch, as continual attempts were made to steal. The people were indeed in a very dangerous mood, as the horrid disease was threatening to cut off all their cattle. Round about the kraals the scene was simply fearful–hundreds of animals dying and in all stages of decomposition. No attempt was made to bury these, or drag them away. The consequence was that a fearful stench prevailed, and the people were in helpless distress. To thwart them in any way was to throw them into a fury, and I verily believe we should have been murdered, but for the lingering belief that I had some power to stay the disease. They chanted from morn till night an [207] incessant prayer, in the form of " A–man Ngai–ai; A–man Mbaratien" (We pray to God; we pray to Mbaratien). The women, painted in a curious fashion, with white clay on the face, danced in a ring, as they invoked Ngai or Mbaratien in their own fashion. The country seemed to be full of lamentations and despairing cries. Finding, at last, they could not extort anything more from me, and beginning to believe in my protestations that it was necessary for me to leave in order that my medicines might take effect, they let me go.

Our route now lay over a hilly region, with rounded outlines. The steeper slopes were occupied by dark–green woods, while the tops of the ridges and the hollows were covered with a rich carpet of grass, forming the very finest of pasturage. The whole scene was indeed lovely, teeming with rich luxuriance –a study in beautiful nature–curves, and variegated greens. The range of mountains which traverses the plateau added picturesque grandeur to the landscape as it lifted its imposing masses toward the heavens. This range, it may be remarked, is not known to the natives by one general name, only the various conspicuous parts of it being thus distinguished. Thus one fine mountain to the south is called Donyo Kinangop, from the district to the west of it. Further north rises a great evenly–rounded mass, covered with dark forest, named Subugu (forest–clad) la Poron. The lower P northern extension is known as Settima– a name long familiar to geographers: while on the western side strikes out a spur known as Gojito. Under the circumstances, I think Lam warranted in applying a name to the mountains as a range, and I have therefore designated it the Aberdare Range, in honour of the President of the Society which despatched me to those lands. The Aberdare range rises to a height of from. 12,000 to 14,000 feet, and runs north and south, its total length being sixty miles.

On this second march in Lykipia, we were greatly struck by the gigantic size of the junipers, which reached a height of quite 100 feet, with splendid boles. The beard–moss (usnea), clinging as it did to every twig, produced a very strange and ghastly effect. As it waved in the breeze, it made the conifers look venerable and hoary, and almost unearthly. Maiden–hair and many other ferns of familiar aspect, such as the bracken, were to be seen peeping forth wherever the conditions were favourable.

Next morning I had the supreme satisfaction, on looking out of my tent, to see the grass covered with unmistakable hoar–frost. This phenomenon astonished my men [208] beyond measure; it was the first time they had seen it. They could not, however, get up an enthusiasm for it, neither could they comprehend mine. They had cursed the cold in unmitigated terms throughout the live–long night, as they toasted their sides alternately before roaring fires, quite unable to sleep. We had again to wait a couple of hours till the sun warmed up the air, and there, within a mile of the equator, I had to warm up my booted feet by the fire as I stood enveloped in an overcoat, with hands crammed into my trouser pockets.


A short distance from camp I was attracted by a sound like the low roaring of a buffalo, near the top of a steep, wooded slope. As we were short of food, I set off to hunt it up. Peering about for some time to try to spot the exact locality of my game, I was nearly thrown on my beam–ends by a savage growl from a dense patch of tall grass and bamboos. Looking towards the spot, I saw a fine leopard a few feet in front of me, showing its teeth in a ferocious manner, and crouching as if it would spring upon me. Before I could fire it had bounded out of view. Rushing to the top of the ridge to get sight of it again, I was suddenly arrested by an object which fairly took my breath away. Before me, in the foreground, lay a splendid interchange of grove and glade, of forest and plain, stretching in billowy reaches down to the marshy expanse of Kop�–Kop�. Beyond rose abruptly and very precipitously the black, uninhabited mountains of the Aberdare range. These features, however, were not what had fascinated me. It was something more distant. Through a rugged and picturesque depression in the range rose a gleaming snow–white peak with sparkling facets, which scintillated with the superb beauty of a colossal diamond. It was, in fact, the very image of a great crystal or sugar–loaf. At the base of this beautiful peak were two small excrescences like supporters to a monument. From these, at a very slight angle, shaded away a long glittering white line, seen above the dark mass of the Aberdare range like the silver lining of a dark storm–cloud. This peak and silvery line formed the central culminating point of Mount Kenia. As I stood entranced at this fulfilment of my dearest hopes, I drew a great sigh of satisfaction; and as I said to Brahim, "Look!" and pointed to the glittering crystal, I am not very sure but there was something like a tear in my eye. But now, even while I stood and gazed, a moisture–laden breeze touched the peak, wove a fleecy mantle, [209] and gradually enshrouded the heaven–like spectacle. In a few moments there but remained a bank of clouds over the wooded reach of Settima. But I had beheld a vision as if from the Unseen to lure me on.

I was aroused from a profound reverie by a shout. Glancing in the direction of the sound, I saw a number of men tearing along, pell–mell, after two curious creatures. Roused to action by the sight, I made a rush myself, but only arrived at the death. The animals turned out to be enormous otters, a male and female. There tenacity of life was extraordinary. Before they succumbed, they were battered fearfully with rungus (knobkerries), and slashed with SIMMs till they were almost cut to pieces.

We camped in a very dense bit of forest, the gloomy shades of which were lightened with numerous snow–white orchids which hung in pendent beauty from every limb of the trees. The day being cloudy, however, the men felt it very cold, and they shivered and shook in the most woebegone fashion.

On leaving camp next day, I spied a herd of buffalo. Crossing a deep gorge, and keeping in the shade of the forest, I got near enough to give one a fair side–shot. I thought at first I had missed it, but on following it up, the lynx–eyed Brahim discovered some drops of blood. After gliding along the track for about a mile, we came suddenly upon the wounded animal, just as I had warned Brahim to keep a sharp look–out. On discovering us it turned with an ominous growl as if to charge. At the same moment, however, a ball from me knocked it down. Recovering itself somewhat, it made horrible efforts to reach us. Its vicious eyes were almost starting from its head; every muscle was strained in its dying rage, and it seemed the very incarnation of vindictive and helpless fury. It required two more balls in its heart before the sanguinary struggle was finished. The horns were of enormous size, with a spread of considerably over four feet. Unfortunately one was broken.

Continuing our way, after the men had cut up the meat, we passed through a glorious coniferous forest by a delightful cattle–road, though the amenities of the situation were not improved by the numerous decomposing bodies of cattle. These increased in number as we pushed on, showing that we were approaching Masai kraals. After more than an hour’s tramp we emerged from the forest and entered the great Angata Bus, a fine treeless plain which stretches in unbroken monotony along the west side of the Aberdare mountains, as [210] far as the bamboo forests of Kikuyu. Skirting the forest a short distance, we reached a charming glade or forest niche, through which ran a crystal stream. Here we camped, and, as usual, we encountered much annoyance from the Masai, though, fortunately, there were few warriors.

Another provoking delay was now experienced, "and matters began to look serious. Our small stock of goods was rapidly becoming exhausted. Food we had none. We had expected to reach Kenia in less than eight days, but it seemed as far off as ever. What added the greatest peril to the situation was the idea which was getting afloat that I myself had been the originator of the disease–so rapidly had it been developed, and so appalling were its effects–and natives can never grasp the notion of a natural cause to explain such phenomena. We were in a most critical position as they alternately swayed to and fro between a belief that I was the cause of the disease and that I might be the curer of it. I was kept in incessant anxiety, expecting that they would propose a crucial test, on which our lives would depend.

The buffalo killed on the day of our arrival kept us in food on the following one; but, on the third day there was not a pound of meat in the caravan. I tried to buy a bullock or goat, but the owners refused a healthy one, and, indicating one on the point of death, said I might have that. The very sight of the animal made me feel inclined to retire behind a bush. It was a stringent rule that no gun should be fired in the vicinity of Masai; but, in despair, I broke through this necessary rule, and went off to try my luck at buffalo–shooting. Though I hit two, I lost them both in the impenetrable bush. For a short time I was actually surrounded by buffaloes, which were crashing about among the bushes. Of course, we ourselves were not seen, except by a section of the herd.

Next day, as the Masai were quarrelsome about my having fired my gun, I was compelled to stop in camp. The men, however, must have food. Fixing at last upon a bullock apparently fairly healthy, we contrived to buy it for an exorbitant price. On killing it and opening it up, we all shrank back as a horrid stench assailed our nostrils. We were not to be beat, however, and my men, less sensitive in their organs, and ravenous for food, worked away. We found that the heart had become greatly enlarged, and seemed a revolting mass of dirty, yellow fat. Both sides of the ribs and the back–bone had all the appearance of being [211] rotten, and many of the bones were so far decayed that a push with a stick was sufficient to make them crumble up. The beef had a fearfully sickly appearance, and even my men turned away with screwed–up faces expressive of the utmost disgust. The hind legs, which were the healthiest part, were taken possession of for my use, but my stomach had received such a "turn" that I could not bring myself to touch the meat, though I told Songoro to have a bit cooked. Towards nightfall I contrived to cram a small morsel down, and next morning, the edge of my repugnance being taken off, I got on somewhat better.

On more than one occasion at this period the temperature was down at the freezing–point in the morning, with hoarfrost on the grass, and rose to 90 Fahrenheit in the after. noon–a range of 60 in eight hours.

On the 14th of October we were allowed once more to resume our journey. When we were about to start, I was called to see one of my men, who was reported so sick as to be unable to go on. As I had not heard of anything in particular being wrong with him, I thought he was shamming. I ordered them to place him on a donkey. As they were proceeding to do this, I was shocked and thunderstruck to see him actually die in their hands. Reflections and lamentations, however, were not allowed in the hard realities of our life. Our first impulsive exclamation of sorrow immediately gave place to one of alarmed anxiety. "For God’s sake cover him up, and hide him quickly!" In a trice he disappeared in the bush before any of the Masai saw what had happened. The orders to march were then countermanded.

The reason we gave to the Masai was that I had seen a sign which made it clear that it was a bad day to travel. The actual explanation of our conduct was the fact that the Masai consider the death of a Swahili on their land a personal outrage upon themselves and a danger to their country, which can only be wiped out with the heaviest penalties. Moreover, they will on no account allow a human body to be buried, as they consider that it poisons the soil–a belief which cremationists may note as showing that "niggers" have some advanced notions after all. The consequences of the discovery of this death in our midst would have been of the most disastrous kind. In the first place the body would have had to be thrown out to the hyenas and the vultures. Then we should have been [212] mulcted to an extent which would have meant utter ruin. Finally, we should have had to turn back in our steps, as further progress would have simply been impossible. It was therefore from no callousness of ours that the porter was thus summarily stowed away. In the dead of night the men worked with a will, and by means of an axe and their hands they soon duo, a grave in the heart of a dense brake. There the poor fellow was reverently laid, and all trace of his grave effaced.

In crossing the Angata Bus to the Ururu River we sighted a herd of zebra, and though there were cattle indicating the presence of Masai only about a mile off, we were all so far reduced that I resolved to risk a shot. After some careful stalking I got within range. I dropped one; and as the herd galloped off, a second bullet found its billet. Brahim was on them in a twinkling. He plunged his knife in their throats, and then, before I knew what he was about, he had cut off a huge steak, and eaten it raw.

My exclamations of disgust were stopped by hearing warning voices, and turning about, I saw my men pointing in the direction of the Masai kraals. "We are in for it now!" I mentally ejaculated, as I saw great numbers of warriors with their gleaming spears coming towards us at full trot. I retreated at once towards my men, Brahim bringing a huge chunk of the zebra with him. The warriors wore soon down upon us, and in response to their cries we stopped and closed up. The El–moran in the most savage manner demanded an explanation. As they stuck their great spears in the ground, they asked us if we wanted to fight. If so, they were ready! We at once put on our most "’umble," Uriah Heep manner, and looked profoundly contrite. We were deeply grieved, we said, for thus infringing their customs, but we had done it for the purpose of getting a particular part of the creature’s entrails which was necessary for the making up Of our medicine. They had to be further softened by a largesse from our sadly diminished stores, and then they consented to let us go on, after I had spat upon them to show that I did not mean any harm to them. It may be understood I did this latter part of the ceremony with the most hearty goodwill.

Being thus allowed to depart in peace, we shortly after reached the Ururu (so named from the thundering sounds it raises) a couple of miles to the north, where it forms a splendid waterfall. At the point where we crossed, the river [213] spreads out on both sides as a great marsh Kop�–Kop�. through which rush a series of swift streams over bouldery channels. After passing these with difficulty, we felt comparatively safe, as the Masai on the two sides of the Kop�–Kop� are not on good terms; besides, there were none in our immediate neighbourhood.

Our food being nearly finished, it behoved me to go OS and hunt, while the men constructed the boma Brahim and I had not far to go before we sighted a buffalo bull on the outskirts of a forest tract. Working up to within about forty yards, I fired and hit him on the side. As he lumbered off towards the forest, I gave him a second bullet, which struck him in the hip. Rushing forward, I saw the bull, as I supposed, tearing along outside the forest, and with eyes fixed upon him I went in pursuit. As I passed close to some dense bush, I was suddenly startled, and my mental and physical equilibrium upset, by a fury–laden grunt, followed almost simultaneously by a headlong charge on the part of the original buffalo. Gentle reader, think me not a coward, if at this juncture I did not assume a heroic attitude and wait on mine adversary. I preferred "living to fight some other day," and I positively and ignominiously fled to the. open. Satisfied, doubtless, at thus routing me, the buffalo did not chase me far, or I should without a doubt have gone up like a rocket. He retired instead into the dense bush.

Shouting to Brahim to stop his headlong career, we held a consultation as to what was to be done. Meat must be got. The bull was badly wounded, and he was in that bush; ergo we must get him somehow. All! but how? To follow a vindictive old buffalo bull into such a dense bush was as bad as putting our heads into a lion’s mouth. We prospected round about, but could see no opening except one, and that could only be traversed on hands and knees. To be charged in such a rabbit’s hole was certain death; but we were desperate with hunger, and we determined to run the fearful risk. The bush was so dense, so leafy, and so much branched, that we had literally to crawl on our bellies. We could not see a couple of yards before us. Taking a long breath, and interchanging glances which spoke volumes, we got down on our knees–Brahim behind me Pushing my head well in with breathless care, I stared into the gloom, and listened for a sound. Nothing rewarded me but the sight of the blood–bespattered bush, and the loud beating of my heart. My gull was then pushed forward, and I, in my prostrate [214] attitude, dragged myself after it. Inch by inch we increased the danger. We were literally worming ourselves into the jaws of death. A few feet were passed. The gloom deepened; the suspense was fearful; and yet we saw not our enemy. As every sense was strained to the uttermost, I was suddenly frozen by feeling Brahim nervously grasp my leg. A cold shudder convulsed me from head to foot. Recovering myself, I glanced round and saw Brahim’s eyes glance with demoniac passion, while the great beads of perspiration burst from his swarthy skin. His eyes moved, and I followed their direction. They fixed on a dense mass of sticks, and I did not require to be told that he had spotted the bull behind the bush, and within three yards of us. I stared and stared again, but I could see nothing. On looking again at Brahim, I saw that he was quite mad with the danger and excitement, and was inwardly cursing me for my stupidity with all the savage intensity of his nature. Again I tried to penetrate the gloom, while I thought my heart would burst. At last a dark something was discerned; but which was head and which was tail I could not make out. The crisis, however, had come, and giving Brahim a kick and a look, I made him draw back and leave the passage clear. With a nervous clutch and suppressed breath, I raised the rifle, and aimed at the dark mass. As the gun broke the stillness with a terrific roar, I let it drop from my hand, and, tearing my way on all fours with astonishing speed, I reached the clearing and was on my feet in a trice. Almost simultaneously a great black hulk crashed out of the forest. I fled towards the open, while Brahim made for the bush. To my great relief I found that it was he that was the hunted. He was too adroit for the buffalo among the widely–scattered bushes, and soon we were recovering our breath and equanimity together.

With blood now heated, and quite certain that had fatally wounded the brute, we resolved not to give him up. Getting on his trail once again in a more open reach of undergrowth, we soon sighted our game standing among the bushes, looking excessively vicious, and up to any wickedness. Again I fired, and my shot was followed by another charge, as we fled for our lives. Fortunately for us the buffalo had a great repugnance to venturing beyond the verge of the forest. For the third time, therefore, he gave up the chase and returned to cover. We were not to be beat; and like bloodhounds we renewed our attack. The [215] leathery behemoth, however, had got as much as he cared for, and this time he went off towards the heart of the forest. Taking up the trail, we started off like dogs on the scent.

Not a sound betrayed our steps. A motion of the finger or a look would indicate a drop of blood, or the fresh foot–prints. The first part of the way was comparatively free from undergrowth, so that we could proceed with some speed, without the danger of stumbling upon the buffalo unawares. After a two hours’ hunt, in which we contrived to keep pretty close to our quarry, we entered a dense bush, and our dangers commenced afresh, as we knew that in his exhausted condition the wounded animal would almost certainly hide here. At last we felt certain from the freshness of the blood that we were quite close. Again we had to take to creeping along, sometimes on all fours, at other times with bent back. At last, in a very small tunnel, or rather at what seemed the end of a tunnel, we found ourselves in a remarkable quandary. Brahim had got in front of me, and we were creeping on like dark, noiseless spirits, when I noticed his body becoming rigid, his ear turned slightly forward, and his whole attitude betokening the most absorbing attention. I stared and listened, but I neither heard nor saw any sign of our proximity to the bull, and my imagination was left to picture the latter in all sorts of horrid positions, and to fully realize the fact that nothing earthly could save us, if we were charged at that moment. At last Brahim showed signs of life. With the utmost circumspection he withdrew himself, and I had to move to the front, as with telling glances lie indicated that the buffalo was there. I felt horribly excited, but there was nothing for me but to venture forward. Whether the bull was ahead of us, or on one side, I did not know. Inch by inch I ventured forward, keeping myself as ready as my cramped position would admit. At each few inches I tried to pierce the gloom and dense foliage, or listened for some sound. Suddenly, like Brahim, I became petrified, as a sound, like a pain–laden sigh, reached my ears. My heart seemed to stop its action. I held my breath till I was nearly suffocated, as I once more strained my attention to catch that thrilling sound. Again it came wafted to my ears, but locate it I could not. The sigh was the long–drawn breath of the buffalo, and I was certainly within a few feet of that most dreaded of all animals, but whether it was right in front or standing alongside of me, I was quite unable to make out. What was I to do? I dared not move. I was fixed. I cast back a glance at my companion, and we smiled in a sickly manner, which eloquently expressed our thought that here was a pretty business! That short minute seemed to expand into hours of killing excitement. Something had to be done! At last, therefore, I pushed aside a small branch. The next moment there was a grunt and a crashing of bushes, as the buffalo sprang to his feet. Thinking that he meant a charge, I threw myself back into the heart of a bush, to avoid the rush if possible. The crashing of the bushes in the contrary direction, however, relieved us of further fears, and soon we were mopping our faces and generally recovering tone, preparatory to resuming our hunt.

It now seemed to resolve itself into a point of honour that we should secure the bull, and we were prepared to swear by all things sacred that we would have his carcase or perish, Again we got close to the dangerous creature, and Brahim, whose eyes and ears were more acute than mine, discovered him once more behind a very dense collection of bushes. Peering through, I could just discern the head. Taking aim, I fired. As the smoke cleared away, I became aware of the furious demon dashing with a terrific rush right into the heart of the bush. Again I fired, as he struggled fearfully to force his way through, but, so absorbing was the sight, that I actually forgot to reload my rifle–the Express. The strength of the bush–trunks, and the enormous size of his horns, rendered his savage attempts abortive, and he retired, making us, however, prepare to be chased from one side or the other. Finding that he was running away, I hurried out and gave him a side–shot. This made him spin round, and we thought it prudent to ensconce ourselves behind a tree. Recovering himself, off he went, and as –we followed, we again nearly stumbled upon him. Another half–hour was spent in the trail, but at last, to our infinite mortification, we were compelled to give up the chase, as night was fast approaching.

I have detailed this buffalo–hunt at some length, to show the character of the "sport" in the forest of Lykipia, and the extraordinary tenacity of life exhibited by that animal. I placed not less than six bullets in various parts of the bull’s carcase, of which four were from a few yards’ distance, and yet, after a four–hours’ chase, we had to acknowledge ourselves baffled.

Next day, as we dared not advance till we had prospected [217]

[218] the country ahead, I despatched a small party for that purpose, and then set off myself down the Ururu to visit its falls. On reaching them, I was impressed mightily by the stupendous thundering of the waters which in magnificent mass plunged down several hundred feet without a break into a fearful gloomy gorge. The rock is a very compact lava with a tendency to a columnar arrangement, forming near the falls precipices of a very imposing character. The crevices give support to a splendid drapery of creepers and bushes, the spray from the waters yielding the necessary sustenance. Among other plants wild bananas are to be seen. A short way down the gorge the walls become less precipitous, and recede at a high angle The –Gorge and falls have been formed by a gradual cutting back through the lavas of Settima which run some distance north and then turn west. The aspect of the great Angata (plain) Bus suggests in a very striking manner the theory that at one time it was a lake which has been thus drained by the surplus waters gradually cutting the transverse ridge away. The marshes of Kop�–Kop�. are doubtless the remnant of this lake. After photographing the fails, and naming them the "Thomson Falls," I proceeded through the forest in the hope of shooting something. I failed in my expectations, and had to return to camp, to find an empty larder and hungry looks, though no one grumbled. The men sent out to prospect came back in the evening, and reported that the Masai were a considerable distance off, and that from the cautious way we had to travel we should not be able to reach their kraals in one march.

Leaving the Ururu next morning, I went off ahead, in the hope of shooting, something, as we were at the starvation point. We had not proceeded far, when, on our passing a clump of bush, a buffalo sprang out. As it lumbered off, I seized my gun and nearly knocked the brute down by a ball which partly smashed the pelvis. It succeeded, nevertheless, in finding refuge in the bush beyond, and then, as usual, the dangerous work began. We were reckless, however, and after some very narrow escapes we succeeded in killing our game. I found that I had given it one ball in the pelvis, two balls in its skull, one in its horns, one through the shoulder–blade, one in the stomach, and two through the heart. What other animal could have stood that amount of lead? We were all delighted by our good fortune, and in a twinkling the meat was cut up. The horns proved to be four feet from bend to bend, and somewhat over six feet round the curve. [219]

After a short march we camped in a charming forest–clad gorge, where my men shot another buffalo, and I a splendid waterbuck. Here I enjoyed the eerie sensation of losing myself in the shades of evening, and it was only by accident I discovered that I was merrily marching straight away from camp, instead of towards it. It may well be believed that we all thoroughly enjoyed our feast of buffalo, even though the meat was as tough and juiceless as old boots.

Resuming our march, and keeping as much in the shelter of the forest as possible, we reached about midday the environs of the Masai grazing–grounds. We were soon discovered, and from all parts of tile forest warriors came streaming in ones and twos. They were more insolent than any I had met, dispensing even with the polite salutation of their tribe. As they followed us up with extortionate demands, uttered in the most peremptory manner, I was surprised to see that they were all apparently short of breath, and seemed, indeed, to breathe –with difficulty. Appealing to Sadi for an explanation, I was told that they had been gorging themselves with flesh in the forest for some time, preparatory to going off on a great cattle–raid to the Suk country, north of Baringo. By thus cramming themselves with beef, they believe that they become fiercer and more brave; and to such an extent did they indulge in this "Dutch courage" that running was out of the question, and respiration barely possibly.

Whether from this cause or not, certainly they were rude to a degree I had not yet seen. They scrupled not to stop us, by holding their spears at my breast, and demanding beads; on getting which they quarrelled with one another like hyenas, tearing the strings to pieces, and losing more than half on the ground. Thus escorted, and full of apprehension, we passed over a beautiful, well–watered country, and finally camped at Ngare Suguroi, having crossed the northern lower shoulder of the Aberdare range.

The Masai were in very great numbers, and continued nasty to a degree that was maddening. They played with us as a cat does with a mouse, and the end would without a doubt have been the same, but for a certain hazy respect and fear they had of me as a phenomenon the power of which it was not safe to rouse. I had to sit continually on exhibition, ready to take their filthy paws, pull out my teeth for their admiration, and spit upon them, to show that I did not mean them any harm.

The shoe leather–like buffalo beef became exhausted, and [220] we had to resume life on the diseased meat. Here also the epidemic was raging with great fury; and yet, in the midst of it all, the warriors had been gorging themselves with the best of the cattle for weeks, preparatory to going to war, while many of the poor men and women were literally starving. "Medicines" had to be made here for the warriors, to make them brave and successful. This I did by simply photographing them, the pretence of making a dawa (charm) being a capital and the only opportunity of transferring a likeness of the Masai to my collection.

A medicine also had to be prepared for the disease. I proceeded by laying out a small medicine–box with the lid open, showing all the array of phials, &c. Taking out my sextant, and putting on a pair of kid gloves–which accidentally I happened to have, and which impressed the natives enormously–I intently examined the contents. Discovering the proper dawa, I prepared a mixture, and then getting ready some Eno’s fruit–salt, I sang an incantation–generally something about "Three blue–bottles"–over it. My voice not being astonishingly mellifluous, it did duty capitally for a wizard’s. My preparations complete, and Brahim being ready with a gun, I dropped the salt into the mixture; simultaneously the gun was fired, and, lo! up fizzed and sparkled the carbonic acid, causing the natives to shrink with intense dismay. Little bits of paper were next dipped in the water, and after I had spat upon them the ceremony was over, and the pieces were handed round as an infallible cure, warranted not to fail.

A third medicine had to be made for the local lybon, named Lekib�s, who wanted one to make his powers greater. A fourth medicine also was wanted for the women, who were not quite as prolific as was desirable for a land almost depopulated by late intestine wars and starvation. The nutbrown matrons, or would–be matrons, defiled before me, and with such pleasing grace as was at my command I expectorated liberally upon them, with the aid of occasional draughts of water.

I thus starred it as a second Cagliostro; but I was not happy. We were unable to get away, or to go out hunting, though we were subsisting on the most revolting food imaginable. I was plundered of almost everything. The warriors were quarrelsome, and the slightest accident at any moment might have been the signal for a massacre. The Masai in front ordered us not to come near them till they [221] had discussed all the pros and cons of my case. Only a few miles lay between me and the base of Kenia, yet it seemed as if I would never reach it.

At last, after four days’ detention, we were rejoiced to hear that we might proceed. Grossing a ridge, we got a splendid view of Kenia, and about midday we struck the Ngare Gobit from Poron, and, following it down, we at last entered an extremely deep glen, which we found to be gorgeous with magnificent Cape calodendrons, and with numerous flowering shrubs of the most exquisite description. Noteworthy among these was the Murju, the poison–tree of this region. The air was loaded with perfume.

On leaving Suguroi we re–entered once more the region of later volcanic activity; for be it known that the lavas which form the mass of Kapt� and Lykipia are of an older date than those of the lower region, which includes such masses as Kilimanjaro, Donyo Longonot, Donyo La–Nyuki, and Buru. Here, however, as we approached Kenia we saw from the trachytic lavas and other indications that the volcanic forces had been active on the eastern side of Lykipia, at much the same time, geologically speaking as at Kilimanjaro, at the desert plain of Dogilani, and the meridional trough in which lie Naivasha, Elmeteita, Nakuro, and (as we shall see further on) Baringo. At Ngare Gobit also it was noticeable that the soil became] more light and friable as well as drier. We had descended to an altitude of somewhat under 6000 feet, with a consequent change of vegetation, from the juniper, podocarpus, bamboos, and heaths of the Dondol� country, to the calodendrons, the flowering shrubs, and other plants characteristic of Ngongo–a–Bagas.

On continuing our way down the Ngar� Gobit, the Wa–swahili who accompanied me took the Koma and went ahead, to satisfy themselves by its agency whether there was any danger or treachery to be feared from the Masai or Andorobbo. Before they had gone far, they all stood entranced and delighted, as on our left the mtembera (a species of halcyon) trumpeted out in cheery notes a right hearty welcome. This the men interpreted as an assurance that all was well, and their hearts leapt for joy as on the right another of these birds took up the song which told of peace and safety.

At the opening of the glen of the Gobit, in the plains of the Guaso Nyiro, we camped near a village of the hunting [222] tribe known as Andorobbo. A day had to be spent here, and then with hearts brimful of thankfulness and pride we found ourselves camped in a bend of the Guaso Nyiro, and though we did not see Kenia, we knew that we were at its base, and that behind the bank of cloud reposed its silent majesty, bathed in bright sunlight though hidden from thoughtless mortals. Our work was accomplished, and now that we could look back on our horrid path, and trace the manner in which we had had to bore our way through manifold opposition, we could afford to smile at it all as, upon the whole, somewhat amusing.

As pious Moslems watch with strained eyes the appearance of the new moon or the setting of the sun, to begin their orisons, so we now waited for the uplifting of the fleecy veil, to render due homage to the heaven–piercing Kenia. The day passed on, and the Masai swarmed about us in their customary manner; but we were proof against all their insolence, and we continued to watch. The sun set in the western heavens, and sorrowfully we were about to turn away, when suddenly there was a break in the clouds far up in the sky, and the next moment a dazzling white pinnacle caught the last rays of the sun, and shone with a beauty, marvellous, spirit–like, and divine, cut off, as it apparently was, by immeasurable distance from all connection with the gross earth. The sun’s rays went off, and then, with "a softness like the atmosphere of dreams, "which befitted the gloaming, that white peak remained, as though some fair spirit with subdued and chastened expression lingered at her evening devotions. Presently, as the garish light of day melted into the soft hues and mild effulgence of a moon–lit night, the "heaven–kissing" mountain became gradually disrobed, and then in all its severe outlines and chaste beauty it stood forth from top to bottom, entrancing, awe–inspiring–meet reward for days of maddening worry and nights of sleepless anxiety. At that moment I could almost feel that Kenia was to me what the sacred stone of Mecca is to the faithful who have wandered from distant lands, surmounting perils and hardships that they might but kiss or see the hallowed object, and then, if it were God’s will, die.

We were now at an altitude of 5700 feet, which may be taken as the general level of the plain from which Mount Kenia rises. Kenia itself is clearly of volcanic origin, and may be considered to be a counterpart of the Kimawenzi peak of Kilimanjaro. Unlike Kilimanjaro, its volcanic [223]

[224] forces have not changed their focus of activity, and hence it now stands as a simple undivided cone. Up to a height of 15,000 feet (9000 feet above the plain) the angle of slope is extremely low, being in fact only between 100 and 12% a fact which would seem to show that the lavas ejected must have been in a much more liquid condition than those of Kilimanjaro. The angle in the latter is much higher, indicating that the ejections were more viscid, and consequently did not flow so far from the orifice.

At an elevation of over 15,000 feet the mountain suddenly springs at a high angle into a sugar–loaf peak, which adds a further height of about 3400 feet. At the base of the peak two small excrescences are noticeable, and some distance to the north there rises a humpy mass. This peak, as in the case of Kimawenzi, without a doubt represents the column of lava which closed the volcanic life of the mountain, plugging or sealing up the troubled spirits of the earth. The crater has been gradually washed away–having been composed, doubtless, of loose ashes and beds of lava, and now the plug stands forth, a fitting pinnacle to the majestic mass below. As at Kilimanjaro, nature has appropriately woven for its grim head a soft crown of eternal snow, the cool, calm shining of which is at once a wonderful contrast and a strange close to the mountain’s fiery history. The sides of this upper peak are so steep and precipitous that on many places the snow is quite unable to lie, and in consequence the rocks appear here and there as black spots in the white mantle. Hence its Masai name of Donyo Eg�re (the speckled or grey mountain). The snow covers the whole of the upper peak, and extends some distance on either side, reaching, and indeed including the humpy mass on the north. The peak is strikingly suggestive of an enormous white crystal or stalagmite, set upon a sooty basement which falls away gradually into the dark emerald green of the forest region round the base.

On the side where we were–the west–there are no inhabitants, if we except the Andorobbo, who live near the bottom of the mountain, and roam its pathless forests in pursuit of the elephant and buffalo, on which they largely depend for their food, while by selling the ivory of the former they obtain the beads and iron wire which form their ornaments. On the southern aspect of the mountain there are Wa–kikuyu On the eastern the inhabitants, the Wa–daicho, are a very difficult and dangerous race to deal with in their [225] enormous forests–the worst traits of the Wa–kikuyu being fully developed in them.

To the north of Kenia a low range of mountains runs northward, separated from the former by the Guaso Nyiro. This range is known as Donyo Endika, which may be freely translated as the pig–tail mountain, in allusion to the way in which it stretches from Kenia in the manner of the tied–up hair of the Masai warriors.

A very few streams, and those of the smallest, rise on the east and north side, though curiously it is said that a very large number flow down the southern aspect, and add enormously to the volume of the Kilalumi or Tana River, which rises near the edge of the Kikuyu highlands, overlooking Naivasha, thus resembling Kilimanjaro in a very remarkable feature.

Before dismissing Kenia it remains but to be said that almost the only times at which it is to be seen are the early morning and the evening. The mountain remains as a rule shrouded up during the day in clouds. As in the ease of its colossal kinsman, Kibo, the upper peak is seen frequently long after the lower part has disappeared, and presents the most imposing spectacle imaginable –giving one the idea of some supernatural vision in the sky.

The Guaso Nyiro, on which we were camped, is a stream of considerable dimensions, draining nearly the whole of Lykipia, the Aberdare Range, the west and north of Kenia, and then flowing N.E. through the Galla country to Lorian, which is sometimes described as a country, sometimes as a lake.

I was surprised to find at this place a large number of camels, which had been captured from the Gallas to the north–east. The Masai have no idea of using them as beasts of burden; but, though astonishingly fastidious as to what they eat, they do not scruple to use them for food. They were also acquainted with the horse, which they called brut.

I had thus got to the base of Kenia; but I had not been many hours there before I became impressed with the fact that the sooner I was clear of the Masai the better, and that all thought of ascending the mountain must be abandoned. Our goods were utterly exhausted, and the warriors proportionately difficult to manage. Eno’s fruit salt and a couple of artificial teeth were no longer novelties; my tormentors were also becoming a trifle too importunate in ordering me to cut off my nasal organ and clap it on again. One warrior humiliated me insultingly by seizing it with vice–like grasp, [226] in the belief that it would give way. On my assuming a severely indignant expression, and threatening to bring the wrath of the gods upon him, he slunk away, leaving me to wash off the greasy finger–marks. They were also in an ex. cited condition over their projected raid, and they even talked about impressing me into their service. On inquiry I learned with great satisfaction that between Kenia and Baringo there were no inhabitants, so that if we could once get fairly away we should be safe.

At last our flight could be delayed no longer. The traders who had come with me so far agreed to disappear with the Andorobbo into the forest, where they would be safe, and find some way of getting back to Mianzini, so as to be able to rejoin Jumba on his return. I was greatly delighted to find here a brother of our very good friend Kombo–ngishu. We at once became the greatest of friends. He advised us, if we valued our lives, or wished to get away at all, not to lose another day, but to flee in the middle of the night. This we resolved to do, he promising, for the sake of his brother, to take us a part of the way. The night, however, was so dark, and the way so thorny and bad, that after going a short distance we were compelled to stop till near daylight. We then scattered somewhat, not to make too distinct a track, and went off almost at a trot. The morning was extremely cold, which helped us immensely, as we knew that the Masai would not venture out of their kraals till at least two hours after sunrise. By that time we had got past the worst, and into a forest tract, where we could breathe in comparative safety, though we did not dare halt for a moment. We thus pushed on without a pause for more than twenty–five miles, to a small stream or rather string of muddy pools, capitally described by its name Elgejo le Sekira (the Cowrie Stream; the white Pools being strikingly like a string of those shells. Here we came across a rhino with a baby. The former we drove off, and then captured the latter, which gave us infinite fun by its irrepressible pugnacity and pluck. It knocked over several of the men by going full tilt at their legs. We here had to part with our generous guide, who ran great risks in thus assisting us to run away. He was careful, however, to go off to a distance and visit some friends, to throw his tribesmen off the scent.

We were now in a very peculiar position. Through a wilderness infested by roving bands of Wa–suk and Masai, we were ordering our steps for Lake Baringo, which our [227] guide of the previous day had pointed out as being somewhere in a particular direction. The country was covered with a trackless forest, and food we had none. Yet we were all in the highest spirits after our life of worry among the Masai. Game was plentiful, and the entire country was a network of sparkling streams. We voted the whole adventure quite delightful, and, heedless of everything, we light–heartedly whistled and sang or cracked jokes till the very welkin rang. Buffaloes turned up their noses and snorted astonishment; rhinoceroses, like evil spirits exorcised, fled, blowing off wind like a steam–engine.

On our third march we reached the Guaso N’Erok (Black River), so called from the apparent colour of the water as it flows over black volcanic boulders and rocks. This river is the continuation of the Ururu below the gorge of the Thomson Falls. Here it flows, however, through a deep valley or glen, flanked to the east by a high, mountainous region, which forms an extension of the highlands of Dondol�.

The march on leaving the Guaso N’Erok was one of supreme discomfort. We pushed our way steadily for six hours over a hilly country covered with the very densest of forest and undergrowth, and in the midst of a horrid drizzle. We had to get along by means of the buffalo tracks, in constant danger of stumbling on the dangerous brutes themselves. Sometimes we had literally to crawl below the bushes, and we were soon in a most filthy condition with dirt and wet. At midday we struck the small marshy valley of the Marmoset, and we got on a little better after that.

Next day we began the descent of the western aspect of the Lykipia plateau, and our hopes were greatly raised on striking a small stream and valley which evidently ran towards Baringo. This we identified as the Guaso Teen. Buffaloes, zebras, elephants, and rhinoceroses were in astonishing numbers.

The following day proved to be a very trying one, though deserving to be marked with a white stone. Leaving camp, we passed down a small gorge by which the Teen escapes from the valley. We had not gone far before we got a "facer," by reaching a second gorge running at right angles, into which the Teen precipitates itself, a depth of over 400 feet, by a series of most picturesque falls. It seemed for a time as if we were to be beat; but at last, to our great joy, we discovered a place where with some danger we could descend. On reaching the bottom, we found that the other [228] side was quite as difficult and dangerous to ascend. But Nil desperandum! was our cry, and we reached the top safely, though only to find that, after about four hours’ hard work, we had. not got more than a quarter of a mile from camp.

As I was pushing on in front with Muhinna, in the hope of getting a sight of Baringo, which we had now been anxiously expecting to see for the last two days, we suddenly sighted two buffaloes. I had not my own rifle, but I seized Muhinna’s, and fired. Rather to my surprise it dropped at once. As its companion stood bewildered at the unwonted sound, I crammed another cartridge into the Snider, and fired at it, and, like the other, it dropped where it stood. Going up to them, I found them to be two fine bulls, both shot through the shoulder. On their seeing us, it was terrible to witness the mighty struggles of the monsters to reach us and die revenged. How they writhed and drew themselves together in demon–like fury! How their eyes, starting from their heads, gleamed with concentrated rage and pain I The sight made me shudder. Brahim soon arrived, out of breath, with my rifle. I placed the muzzle on the skull of one and fired; yet though the rifle was a .577 Express, with a steel core bullet, the shot did not even stun or knock down the bull, and the bullet certainly never reached near the brain. It had no more effect than Death’s dart on Dr. Hornbook’s patient:

"It just played dirl on the bane
But did nae mair."

Like the grim Destroyer in that authentic story:

"I might as weel hae try’d a quarry
O’hard whin rock!"

That fact will show the reader what sort of customer is the African buffalo. The horns of one of the bulls measured very little short of four feet from bend to bend, and they have now found a home in Scotland.

A short distance from this spot we got a glimpse of Kenia, and still farther on we were thrown into raptures by suddenly emerging from the dense forest, and finding ourselves at the edge of the meridional trough which we had left at Kekup�. Best of all, there was the mysterious Lake Baringo, gleaming apparently at our feet, though several thousands of feet below.

I have now looked upon many striking and wonderful lake scenes in Africa. I have viewed Nyassa from the [229] mountains to the north, Tanganyika from the south, the east, and the west, Lake Leopold from the Fipa Mountains. But not one of these spectacles approaches in beauty, grandeur, and variety the landscape that now spread out before me on the edge of the Lykipia plateau. Imagine, if you can, a trough or depression 3300 feet above the sea–level, and twenty miles broad, the mountains rising with very great abruptness on both sides to a height of 9000 feet. In the centre of this depression lies a dazzling expanse of water, glittering like a mirror in the fierce rays of a tropical sun.

Almost in its centre rises a picturesque island, surrounded by four smaller islets–a group of nature’s emeralds in a dazzling setting of burnished silver. Round the irregular shaped lake appears a strip of pale green, which indicates a marshy border, and in an outer circle extending up to the mountains, spreads a very dark green area which you know to be table–topped acacia–trees. A remarkable assemblage of straight lines, wall–like extensions, and angular outlines produces an impressive and quite unique landscape. It speaks eloquently, however, of igneous disturbances; –for there you observe numerous earth movements, faults crossing each [230] other at right angles, and other features, which are clearly not modelled by surface agents, all of them so recent in origin as to remain comparatively untouched by the hand of time, which seems to abhor anything approaching a straight line.

Such is the lake and the depression. Casting our eyes further afield, we observe that the mountains which form the opposite side of the trough really constitute a sharp, narrow range like a Brobdignagian earthwork, striking off at an acute angle from the Mau escarpment, which is the true counterpart of the heights we now view the scene from. The Mau escarpment is seen to extend under the name of Elgeyo, like a second line of colossal earthworks, behind Kamasia the name of the mountain range I have just referred to–till at a certain point, like a huge billow which heaps itself up on nearing the shore, it rises into a great range running at right angles to the escarpment. This high range is known as Maragwet and Chibcharagnani. The narrow trough in which lies the lake widens out considerably towards the north, though some distance beyond a picturesque range, known as the Silk Mountains, lies almost at right angles across the depression, and seems to close it in entirely. Here and there, to the north of the lake, appear a number of less conspicuous hills, while away beyond in the far horizon are to be seen various isolated masses, described as those of Turkan (Elgumi), Nyiro, and Lorian.

When we had thoroughly engraved on our minds the main outlines of the scene, we began to cast about in our thoughts how to descend to the lake. It seemed as if a couple of hours should bring us to its shores. But,s alas! we reckoned without our host. Where we were it was almost a sheer precipice, and to descend there was out of the question. Keeping along the edge of the plateau for some distance, we at last, after an hour’s search, came upon a place where a faintly traceable line showed that some game had been able to descend. At that moment I was alone with Brahim and Songoro. Leaving them behind to direct the others when they should turn up, I started down to see if the path was quite practicable. The desert was excessively steep; but by exercising great care I did reach the bottom safely. When there, I was hailed from above, and by their signs I understood they had found another pathway.

Though quite unarmed and alone, I was not alarmed, and thinking I should strike upon their pathway farther ahead, I [231] started off. The country was most horrible, with sharp angular boulders hid by grass and thorns of the most fearful description. The afternoon was now far spent, and after tramping along in that dangerous waste for about an hour and seeing no sign of a place where my men could descend, I began to get a little uneasy in my mind. Not a soul could be seen, and buffalo and rhinoceros were in great numbers, starting up indeed in more than one instance quite close to me. I shouted, but a mocking echo alone answered me. My courage gradually oozed away, and I was feeling something like a panic taking possession of me. Seeing that there was no chance of falling in with Makatubu, I at last hurried back, in the hope that my attendants had followed me. I shouted with renewed energy, but the only effect was to further unhinge myself. I was tired and extremely hungry, for I had been on my feet for ten hours in the roughest region I had yet met, climbing up precipices, crushing my way through dense bush, stumbling over hidden boulders, scratching myself with wretched thorns. Night was approaching, and I had come to the conclusion that I was beyond all doubt lost, without food or means of defence. I was casting about for a convenient tree in which to stow myself for the night, but before finally succumbing I gave one long halloo. No sound came back to me but the reverberation of my own voice, though long I stood breathlessly listening for some welcome note. In the awful silence my heart sank within me, Just m I turned away in despair the bang of a gun came as music to my ear. With joy I rushed away in the direction of the sound. Bang went another shot, and a few minutes later I was on an eminence, yelling out like a madman to three men, who I saw at a glance were Brahim, Songoro, and my cook. They after all had followed me, but in some queer fashion we had missed each other.

Though tired and footsore, we now made a grand spurt in the hope of emerging from the narrow valley, in which we were, to the plain around Baringo. Leaving the former, and following a fine stream which we knew must go to Baringo, we entered a gorge of the narrowest and wildest description. Every available foot of ground was covered with the densest of thorn–bush. We had a terrible time of it, pushing our way along, the game tunnels eternally crossing and recrossing the river. Darkness came on at last, and it had been raining heavily for some time. We were therefore compelled to halt in the narrow gorge. With buffaloes and rhinoceroses in [232] great numbers, we were in no small peril. By a good deal of groping about we contrived to gather some firewood together, but then to our dismay we had only three matches and these bad, while we could find nothing but damp grass. Before venturing to strike we held a consultation as to who was the best at striking a light. Brahim was chosen. The scene was very strange as we gathered round him in breathless interest, in the almost pitchy darkness of the night, with great sycamores overhead, and dense bush around haunted by wild beasts. The mountain torrent roared and tumbled over its rocky channel, and the night–wind sighed along the face of the hill, or brought a weird sough from the gorge below. The first match was struck, there was a faint flicker, and then darkness. With an imprecation Brahim threw it savagely aside, and we all indulged in expletives, each "after his kind." The second attempt was watched with further excitement, but it went like the other. The last match was taken in hand. To our unspeakable relief it caught. Nursing it as if it were divine fire, I kept leaves of my note–books burning till some twigs ignited. In a short time we were drying ourselves before a glorious fire, and under its genial influence we were, quite prepared to think our situation a piece of rather good fun, as we each munched about a mouthful of Indian corn, a very little of which we had been able to get from a friendly Masai at Guaso Nyiro. The rain fortunately stopped, and, setting a watch, we were able to enjoy a snatch of sleep, only broken at intervals by the movements of some buffalo or rhinoceros whose nightly rambles had been disturbed by our blazing fire.

Next morning we were off with the dawn, expecting every moment to emerge from the gorge. After a two–hours’ fearful scramble, during which we crossed the large stream over thirty times, and got our clothes and our skin. sadly torn, we were taken aback by reaching a precipice which could not be surmounted, and there was nothing for it but to ascend the mountain. This would have been impossible, so densely was it covered with thorns, but for the sword of Brahim, who literally cut a way for us. It required six hours’ hard work over the worst country I have ever traversed before we reached the grazing–grounds of the Wa–kwafi of Njemps, and, accosting some herdboys, were directed on our way. Crossing a fine stream by a rude bridge, we reached Njemps Mdogo (the little), and here Muhinna met some friends of former days. An hour more and we neared the [233] confines of Njemps Mkubwa (the big). Our last cartridge was fired, and before long we had crossed the Guaso Tigirish, and entered our encampment, to find a nice house under a cool sycamore, and Martin and the men all well and hearty, though full of anxious misgivings about our safety. We had been thirty–four hours without food, but we were soon feeding like princes on–to us–rich dishes of "animated mire"(for Burton’s description of certain fish might well be applied to those of Baringo), and a kind of porridge formed from a species of millet. This was indeed glorious fare after the old shoe–leather–like beef of the buffalo and the more juicy than savory messes of diseased Masai cattle, on which we had been regaling for the last month. As for Makatubu and the thirty men, they wandered about for two days longer, utterly lost and almost starved, trying to find a way down. After leaving me, they had found themselves in a cul–de–sac. 


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