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TO KIKUYU

ON the 10th of August the men sent to Taveta returned, bringing with them a letter from one Jumba Mwengi–Mwengi, asking our Jumba to wait for him about ten days, and he would then join him with his caravan. A council was called, and in fear and trembling I awaited the result. To my great relief the conclusion arrived at was not to wait, but to set off at once to the Masai. It may be mentioned, by the way, that this new caravan, consisting of several hundred men, was attacked by small–pox shortly after its arrival at Taveta, and that more than one half of them died, in consequence of which the remainder were compelled to return to the coast. This will suggest to the reader one of the many dangers that are always facing an African expedition.

On the 11th of August we made what may be called our fourth start for that country which had proved to be "so near and yet so far." On getting outside the forest, the traders indulged in some mysterious incantations and ceremonies in which the use of blue paper was an essential feature, and then in the midst of a dense fog we set off.

At first the route led us through thick bush; or rather we projected our own route, for pathway there was none. In a short time we emerged upon a pleasing grassy, rolling country, with numerous conical and dome–shaped hills to the east. We rose gently in elevation, till, after two hours’ marching, we reached the pasturage of the Masai in the dreaded district of Lytok–i–tok. Of course we were pushing on with every possible precaution, as we did not know when we might fall in with the Masai themselves. I led a strong vanguard of men without loads, comprising several of the best speakers of the language, while the main body kept as compactly together as their environment would permit, the rear being brought up by Martin, Jumba, and nearly all the masters. Near a deserted kraal we were thrown into confusion by a rhinoceros breaking through the caravan, and again by another showing a disposition to perform the same feat. It may be here remarked that this was an extremely common occurrence, and yet no person had ever been hurt. The animals seemed to make these escapades for the pure fun of the thing, for if they had intended serious mischief they might easily have tossed the porters running panic–stricken before them. Probably the fact of their breaking through [154] arises from no special desire to scatter their enemies, but from their inborn tendency to run up the wind. I have noticed that in almost every case the charge has taken place when the brute has been lying asleep among the grass on the leeside of the caravan. Having been suddenly saluted by the scent of the passing company, it has jumped up and rushed straight through, either with no vindictive purpose, or so bewildered by the numbers of men running in all directions that it has been unable to select any victim. On one occasion, however, I saw one pitch a load in the air that had been thrown down in its course. The komas on those occasions aid always unfurled and waved vigorously to exorcise the demon by their magical virtues.

Near the kraal we crossed a small stream, and then a short distance farther on we camped at another stream named Kamanga or Ngar� Rongei (narrow river). Finding game very numerous here, I went out shooting in the evening, and brought down two buffaloes, though I was exceedingly careful in my movements, after what I had seen of the vindictiveness and vitality of these animals. I also followed a herd of nearly sixty giraffes, but failed to get a shot.

The Kamanga flows cast and then turns round near the Kyulu mountains and joins the Tzavo. Our camp proved to be 4600 feet above the level of the sea. We had thus reached the highest point of the broad ridge which here extends from the base of Kimawenzi, and which shades off into the drainage basin of the Tzavo. The men must have suffered sadly during the night, as the wind blew bitterly cold from the mountain, and the temperature sank to about 50.

Next day we made a short march, and camped at a spring. Game continued to increase in numbers, and at one and the same moment there could be seen rhinoceros, giraffe, zebra, eland, wildebeest, Grant’s antelope(?) hartebeest, pallah, ostriches, and hyenas, while buffaloes were also in great numbers hidden in the dense bush. I enjoyed a feast of ostrich eggs, which, when beat up into an omelette, are barely distinguishable from ordinary eggs.

The view looking north–east across the basin of the Tzavo, with its conical, isolated peaks, grassy plains and forest reaches, to the fine range of Kyulu, of U–kambani, is very similar to the view from Mandara’s across the Kahe to the Sogonoi mountains, though it is wanting in the tropical luxuriance and richness of the latter landscape. [155]

Leaving the spring, we make a good march over much the same kind of country. Keeping in front, I shot two zebras and a wildebeest. These proved to be a welcome addition to our larder, which was showing signs of beginning to fail, our men having been too heavily loaded otherwise to be able to carry many days’ food. After a tramp of five hours, we descended considerably in altitude, and reached a great plain which stretched north and west as far m the eye could reach. Coming suddenly from the forest to the edge of the ridge near a small pond, I was astounded at the marvellous numbers of game. Antelopes and zebras were literally in thousands, and yet a more barren, dusty plain can hardly be conceived. This place is known as Maragoa Kanga, or Guinea Fowl Camp, a sad misnomer, as not a specimen of these birds was to be seen.

We here got into communication with the Masai once more, and I could not but express my admiration at the cool manner in which three or four elders came into camp without a trace of fear, though their people had been murdering the traders time after time, till they succeeded in blocking the road altogether. Indeed, only the previous year they had set upon a caravan going to Taveta from U–kambani, near the Kyulu mountains, in the dead of night, and stabbed forty porters without the slightest provocation. And now here were members of the same clan visiting us with all the dignity of lords of the creation, knowing full well that no retaliation would be attempted. They were magnificent specimens of their race, considerably over six feet, and with an aristocratic savage dignity that filled me with admiration. After the calm, formal salutation of their tribe, they began to detail with great minuteness how guns had been heard from their kraal, and, imagining that the Wa–kamba had attacked them, they had come out to reconnoitre; how they had at last come across our track, and found that it was a caravan, though they had been greatly puzzled by footprints such as they had not seen before (alluding to mine). They then lightly touched upon the causes of the road being blocked so long, as if these had been little trivialities not worth mentioning. They must not be too hard upon their young warriors if they broke out on the loose a little, and stabbed a few porters to taste blood and keep their hand in I "Boys will be boys," and "their wild oats must be sown, "was the defence of the greybeards. And now they were glad to see the traders again, as they were running short [156] of iron wire, beads and chains for their young women Of course a suitable reply was made to this harangue. The elders wore told where we were going. They were assured that we desired peace, and were prepared to forget the past; only they were clearly to understand that we were quite prepared to revenge ourselves if blood was shed. Moreover, our caravan had come provided with a powerful white lybon (Masai for medicine–man), who could with the greatest ease devastate the land with famine and disease; so let them beware how they provoked us! Various speakers took part in the debate, which from first to last was carried on with astonishing gravity and dignity.

We learned, to our relief and delight, that the warriors of the whole of Njiri, as far indeed as Matumbato, had left on cattle forays to U–kambani, the coast, and Kavirondo. This was indeed good news as it would save us a world of trouble and annoyance, not to speak of the enormous economy in goods, as the larger part of the black mail goes to the warriors. Our course for the next few days lay over a great plain called Njiri, which bore on the face of it abundant evidence to show that formerly it had been the bed of a great lake. Lying at an elevation of 3300 feet, it extends in an almost unbroken level from Kilimanjaro in the south to Matumbato in the north, and from the Kyulu mountains in the cast to the hills of the Guaso N’Ebor (White River) on the west. Since leaving Mombasa, I have had occasion to describe many varieties of scenery; the pretty hill–country of Rabai; the undulations of Duruma, with their dense covering of bush and tangle, the ghastly desert of the Nyika; the mountains of Teita; the forest paradise of Taveta; the magnificent panorama from Chaga; and the prairie–land of Sigillary and Ngar� N’Erobi. These all present very distinct features, and it might well have been supposed that in such an enumeration I had exhausted the varieties of scenery to be found in this restricted region. Such, however, is not the ease. In the plain of Njiri we have a spectacle which in certain aspects is as impressive as Kilimanjaro itself, though the mountain adds to the solemnity of the effect as it towers heavenward.

Conceive yourself standing in the centre of the plain. In your immediate vicinity there is not a blade of grass to relieve the barren aspect of the damp muddy sand, which, impregnated with various salts, is unfavourable to the growth of [156] [157] any vegetation. Here and there, however, in the horizon are to be detected a few sheets of water, surrounded by rings of green grass, and a few straggling trees or scrubby bushes. Other green patches of tall waving sedges and papyrus mark the position of various marshes. These ponds and marshes indicate springs of fresh water, which here well forth, loaded with salts in solution, to deposit their burden on the evaporation of the water. Beside these, there extend considerable tracts covered with a pure white crust of natron and saltpetre, formed by the efflorescence of the salts left by the dried–up marshes of the wet season. These areas appear to the eye as sheets of pure white snow or lakes of charmingly clear water. At other times, struck by the rays of the sun, they shine with the dazzling splendour of burnished silver. A weird haze envelopes the land with an influence shadowy and ghostly, while the mirage adds to the strange effects, till indeed everything seems unreal and deceptive. The exceptional nature of the sight is emphasized by the stupendous mass of Kilimanjaro, the pyramidal form of Meru, the double peak of Ndapduk, and the dark height of Donyo Erok, which are all faintly traceable through the dull grey sheen. In spite of the desolate and barren aspect of the country, game is to be seen in marvellous abundance. The giraffe, fit denizen of such a region, appears against the horizon like some unearthly monster, or browses among the trees and bushes. The wildebeest, imp–like and fierce in appearance, frisks with uncouth movements, or speeds with stiff, ungainly gallops across the natron plain. Zebras in long lines pace leisurely along from some distant pasture–ground. Hyenas slink home from their meal of carrion. Lions satisfied with the night’s venture express their sense of repletion with reverberating roars. The inquiry that naturally rises to one’s mind is, How can such enormous numbers of large game live in this extraordinary desert I A curious illusion is produced by the damp, heated air rising from the sands. This gives a marvellously beautiful waving motion to the black–and–white stripes of the zebra, which seem to quiver up and down with an effect not unlike the well–known electric advertisements. As we stand in this phantom plain, awestruck with the impressive spectacle, the haze gradually thickens in the distance, and eclipses the smaller mountains. Then a morning breeze laden with moisture from the sea touches the peak of Kimawenzi and, cooled by its influence, leaves a cloud. Passing [159] across to Kibo, it enshrouds it in a winding–sheet of stratus. In a little while the mountain wholly disappears from view like the "baseless fabric of a vision."

It is very probable that the lake which formerly existed here supplied the necessary element to generate the volcanic forces which built up Kilimanjaro, these having doubtless become extinct coincidently with the silting up or more probably the desiccation of the lake. I have already adverted to the extraordinary fact that not a single stream descends from the mountain on this side (for we are now in the northern aspect). The only signs of any communication with the snows of Kibo are the numerous springs which well up here and there on the plain, and form various marshes and ponds, in which are to be found mud–fish and hippopotamus. These have no outlet, and evaporation alone seems to preserve the balance.

In crossing Njiri our men ran absolutely out of food, and would have starved, but for my exertions with the rifle. In the course of three days I shot, while on the march, three zebras, three rhinoceroses, four pallah, and one waterbuck, two jackals and several guinea fowl. On one occasion, when I was carefully stalking some hartebeest, creeping up behind bunch of grass, I got a fearful scare by nearly falling over leopard, which, equally intent on watching the game, was unaware of my approach. With a startled snarl it turned, and displayed a set of teeth in dreadful array. I thought it was upon me as I stumbled back in my surprise. Fortunately, it did not follow up its advantage, and before I recovered myself and brought my gun to bear, it was out of sight.

On the 17th of August we camped at a salt–water pond, in which, however, water of a drinkable nature welled up. At this place for the first time we came upon the Masai in some numbers. The scene that met our eye here was one which reminded me greatly of the descriptions given of Somali or Galla Land, as the large herds of fine cattle came down to this pond to drink, attended by a few old men, women, and boys. It was wonderful to see the fearless and insolent manner in which even small boys hustled our porters from the water, and made them stand out of the way till they had finished, and equally surprising to see the meek and patient way in which these indignities were submitted to by the porters, men who in other places are accustomed to lord it, and to see the Wa–shenzi (wild–men, the terms used to [160] designate all up–country natives,) cringe in terror before their high and mighty presence.

Though there were only a number of elders here, we had nevertheless to pay 14 seneng�s, 4 cloths, and 150 strings of beads. I contrived by a little dexterity to photograph some Masai women, though thereby I came dangerously near raising a serious row, as it was supposed I was bewitching them. Marabout storks were seen at this place in considerable numbers, along with vultures, kites, &c., which kept about the camp, looking for offal and garbage. My shooting one of the storks was the occasion of a great clamour. These birds are looked upon as sacred, they being, along with the vultures and the hyenas, the gravediggers, or rather indeed the graves, of the Masai–for these people simply throw out their dead to be devoured.

My theodolite also had to be laid aside. Its portentous appearance and strangely intricate mechanism were looked upon with such feelings of alarm by the people that they made a hostile demonstration, and threatened to have it destroyed. Manifestly if I continued to use the instrument, it must be at the risk of my life. I was most reluctant to yield, but I saw that I must needs make a virtue of necessity; more especially as Jumba and the traders besought me not to run myself and them into the danger of having the road closed to us.

I was very much surprised to see that as night came on all the men retired to their kraals, though considerable numbers of the women remained in camp, a proceeding, that did not seem to elicit the slightest remark from the men. During the night hyenas and lions kept up an incessant disturbance. They approached so close that their forms could be quite clearly distinguished in the darkness.

Next day we resumed our march. A couple of hours on our way we found the ground beginning to rise in elevation, and then we discovered an outcrop of red gneissic rock with a northerly strike and almost vertical dip. It was clear that we had once more left the area of volcanic eruptions of which Kilimanjaro is the centre, and re–entered the metamorphic formation. Coincidently there was of course a change of soil and a return to the vegetable characteristics of the Nyika.

At sunset we camped without water at a deserted Masai kraal.

Starting before sunrise next day, we rounded a ridge, and [161] entered the small plain of the Ngare na Lala (broad or marshy water) which rises on the southern aspect of Donyo Erok (black mountain) and, after spreading out in a marshy reach, disappears in the desert. Donyo Erok is an imposing mass of mountain rising with very great abruptness on the south and falling away northward. Ndapduk, which is here seen to the cast, is a more picturesque pile formed of two peaks. The rocks of both are graphic granite, gneiss and schists.

We had now entered the most dangerous part of the Masai country, and it consequently behoved us to be continually on our guard. The very strongest of bomas had to be formed, guards appointed, no one allowed to pass out singly or unarmed, or to go any distance from camp. Fortunately there were hardly any El–moran or warriors about, so that upon the whole we were not greatly annoyed. We had, however, to stay here several days, as it was necessary for the traders to buy cattle for food, and donkeys for the carriage of their provisions and ivory in returning. They also hoped to pick up a few tusks, as no caravan had visited the place for some time. The competition for donkeys among the traders was a never–ending source of amusement to me. How each one poured "soft sawder" into the ears of the [162] nutbrown Masai ladies and persuasively slipped rich coloured beads or fine chains into their hands as lie strove to persuade them to bring donkeys to him and no other! And then what a race would ensue if one of these venerable animals was seen in the distance! How the traders would buckle up their skirts, and, forgetful of years or grey hairs, tear out pell–mell, each one shouting to the owner to keep it for him, as they exhibited rich gifts or preliminary douceurs, the acceptance of which settled who was to have the first chance! If the owner showed signs of hesitation, then would come the supreme scramble. Some would seize the rope which held the donkey, and fight for possession. Others would lay violent hands upon the creature’s ears, or add fresh ignominy to its humble lot by grasping its caudal appendage. The owner himself, cut off from his property, would be bewildered by a crowd deafening him with yells of "Shore! shor�!" (friend, friend), and beseeching, him to do them the favour of accepting the small tokens of their esteem in the shape of beads, which they would throw over his neck, or put on his arm, or try to enclose in his hand. In my own quiet way I cajoled a daughter of the celebrated lybon Mbaratien into bringing me a donkey; and so completely had I won her heart by my pretty speeches (though unfortunately they lost much of their savour in passing through an interpreter) that she actually wanted to make me a present of it.

Cattle came in very slowly and sold at enormous prices, and then so lazy were both Muhinna and Sadi that we might have starved if we had had to depend on their exertions. From the moment of joining the Pangani caravan, I had made a great friend of a trader named Al Heri. He was a Masai by birth, and had been stolen as a boy and brought up as a slave at the coast, but had gradually risen to the position of a trusted trader. His Masai name was Kombo–Ngishu, meaning the owner of many cattle. This man proved to be of great use to me, and along with his confrere Moran, another Masai trader, made me for the time quite independent of my guides, besides giving me no end of information about their countrymen.

Matters, however, were getting rather bad, and the men were already on short commons, so I had to make up my mind to a new hunting expedition. I shot round the base of Donyo Erok, and on my return I could point to the marvellous "bag" of four rhinoceroses, one giraffe, four zebras, and four antelopes, all of which had fallen to my own [163] rifle within six hours. This will give the reader an idea of tile extraordinary numbers and variety of the big game of this region. We saw also some buffalo and numerous footprints of elephants. On the same day a coast elephant–hunter shot one of the latter, which I saw. It measured ten feet two inches at the shoulders, and the two tasks weighed little short of 200 pounds’ weight. My day’s shooting saved us at least more than a load of goods, and kept my own men and half the Pangani caravan in food for several days.

Two days after this I ascended Donyo Erok, which at its point will be very nearly 6000 feet. I saw several eland and shot two. I also met with a species of hornless antelope (called by the by the Wa–swahili Ndop�) which I had never seen before, and have only once seen since. I found that the upper part of the mountain was covered with fine pasturage, on which the Masai grazed their herds. Some parts, however, were clad with forest.

On the 24th of August, having completed our purchases, we resumed our march, though not till the fifth hour, as Jumba had discovered by his art that it would be bad to start before that time. The interval was enlivened with a bloodthirsty quarrel between Martin and Makatubu, in which the hot southern blood of the former and the unbalanced temper of the latter got quite the better of them. Makatubu drew his revolver, and the fracas would probably have reached an unpleasant crisis, had I not captured Martin, and ordered Brahim and others to bind up the other combatant. I am glad to say that matters were soon squared, and such a quarrel did not occur again. Makatubu’s act served however, to show what even the very best native servants are capable of. I have no doubt he would have shot Martin if he had not been promptly secured.

Our way now lay almost due north along the eastern aspect of Donyo Erok, through a very barren tract covered with a dense and forbidding acacia forest. The Masai became more and more numerous, and now included large numbers of warriors, a fact which necessitated great care in our movements. After a short march we camped at a small stream, Ngare Kidenoi, where the last caravan that had passed had been nearly annihilated. The district is called Matumbato, and the Masai inhabiting it are by far the weakest–looking specimens of their race I had yet seen. They nearly all squinted, a peculiarity which often gave the most villainous of expressions to their faces. Flies and dust [164] were the distinguishing features of the country, and perhaps this may to some extent account for the squinting.

Thieving or attempts to thieve, were now of hourly occurrence. A warrior would in the most unexpected way make a desperate dash at a porter’s load on the march, and try to carry it off; or in the very centre of the caravan would pick up an unguarded article, and make for the open. These attempts rarely succeeded; but it was very amusing to notice the subdued and almost deferential way in which the traders submitted to these annoyances. It was a stringent rule that no attempt was to be made to punish the thief when caught. The stolen article was simply taken possession of, and the thief allowed to move on, feeling what annoyance he might at the laughter of his companions or jeers of the porters at his failure. Such attempts almost wore the air of friendly contests,–activity, strength and daring on the one hand, versus vigilance and numbers on the other, nothing being allowed to disturb the good–humour of either party.

At Ngare Kidenoi I had to pose incessantly as a great lybon or medicine–man with the power of life and death in my hands–a position which secured me from much annoyance and trouble, though of that I had quite enough. This reputation often placed. me in most comical and embarrassing positions. One day, for instance, an aristocratic and wealthy old Masai appeared with a young and very pretty wife. Tipping me the wink (A la Masai), he called Sadi, and then let me know he had something of importance to say. Wondering what was in the wind, I politely invited him into my c) tent, and closed the door. The old gentleman looked important, the young lady bashful and simpering, Sadi smiled, and I began to feel uneasy and to wonder if the Masai was thinking of bestowing his wife on me. He then informed me that he had been immensely struck by my personal appearance, was delighted with my colour, and, speaking for his wife, he might say that she was simply charmed with me. Here it may be imagined we mutually blushed as we exchanged glances. Having no secrets, they had confessed to each other their personal admiration of me, and agreed that it would be quite too delightful to have a little white boy who would be a counterpart of me. Thereupon they had come to the conclusion that as I was a great lybon, capable of anything, it would be a simple matter for me to give them a medicine which would secure the required result.

It may well be supposed that I was immensely tickled [165] by this extraordinary request; but I so far contrived to keep my countenance as to reply to the old gentleman with all due gravity. I explained that such things were out of my power, that that was entirely in the hands of "Ngai" and that to him he must pray for such a blessing as a little white boy. The old gentleman did not quite "see it," and as he looked sceptical, and the lady examined with much interest her toes, I became fidgety. The reply was that it was good to do as I suggested, but that in a case of this nature they had more faith in me. They had bullocks and donkeys to bestow upon me if I consented; but if I didn’t, he would consider that I was a bad man, and he was certain that his wife would never forgive me. The position was getting too ridiculous, and at last I consented to spit upon them, which I did most vigorously and liberally, my saliva being supposed to have sovereign virtues. Quite delighted and honoured at the singular "unction," they brightened up considerably, though still desirous of having some special medicine. At last, wearied with their pertinacity, and being far from well at the time, I brewed some Eno’s fruit salt as a specific warranted not to fail. They drank the effervescing liquid with eager expectation, yet in fear and trembling. They still seemed, however, to have some lingering doubts whether the coveted result was a certainty. Unfortunately I had not one of Eno’s pamphlets about me at that time, or doubtless I should have proved to their entire satisfaction that it had never been known to fail in producing even more astonishing effects, as was amply certified by the various testimonials. Having then once more, with all good will, spat upon them all over, I politely showed them the door, after bestowing some nice beads on my charming friend in trust for the prospective white baby. Bidding them goodbye, I returned to my tent, and let out my surcharged feelings by a few steps of a Scotch dance and sundry screams of convulsive laughter, greatly to the bewilderment of Songoro, swho thought I had gone mad.

The country we traversed on leaving Ngare Kidenoi became more and more broken and barren, with the numerous small isolated peaks of Mbarasha on our left. Water was only obtained by digging deep in the dried–up beds of streams. Hardly a blade of green grass was to be seen to relieve the red, glaring soil, and it was a continual source of wonder to see the enormous numbers of cattle which in some way or other found sustenance. [166]

It may be here remarked, that round about the base of Donyo Erok is one of the few districts where Masai are always to be found, water in the lowlands being so scarce, and the rainfall so small, that they are compelled to desert them in the dry season, and migrate to the higher plateau regions or mountain ranges. Water, however, being found throughout the year at several small streams which descend from Donyo Erok, the Masai are enabled to live always near it, though even here the greater number migrate to better pasturage.

At this time our sole food was beef, game being extremely difficult to get at. We wore compelled to buy three bullocks per day. This was no easy matter to do in competition with the Pangani traders, who were capable of any meanness, and were thoroughly up in the ways of trading which none of my men were, except Sadi and Muhinna, both of whom were the personification of laziness and gluttony. I had to depend greatly upon Kombo–Ngishu and Moran, than whom there were not better men in the entire caravan. The buying, moreover, was an exhausting labour, no bullock being secured under ail hour to two hours of haggling and debate, on the general lines which rule all such business operations. The final seal was put on the bargain by the Masai spitting upon his bullock, and my men doing the same on the seneng� and beads. Once that was performed not another word passed on the subject.

Spitting, it may be remarked, has a very different signification with the Masai from that which prevails with its or with most African tribes. With them it expresses the greatest good–will and the best of wishes. It takes the place of the compliments of the season, and you had better spit upon a damsel than kiss her. You spit when you meet, and you do the same on leaving. You seal your bargain in a similar manner. As I was a lybon of the first water, the Masai flocked to me as pious catholics would do to springs of healing virtue, and with the aid of occasional draughts of water I was equal to the demand. The more copiously I spat upon them, the greater was their delight; and with pride they would retail to their friends how the white medicine–man honoured them, and would point with the greatest satisfaction to the ocular proof of the agreeable fact. It was certainly rather drying work for me when I had a large number to operate. upon, and I required the aid of bullets and stones in my mouth to stimulate the production of the precious fluid. However, their simple faith in the [167] efficacy of it made me suppress my feelings, and give them the pleasure. How could I, for instance, resist the upturned face of a Masai "ditto"(unmarried young woman), as with her bright eyes she would look the wish she longed to utter; and what better reward could I have than the delighted glance of the nut–brown maid when I expectorated upon the little snub nose so eagerly and piquantly presented?

At a place called Seki an incident occurred which strikingly illustrated the cool and daring character of the Masai warriors. One of these had had a donkey stolen and sold to one of our party. Recognizing his property, this warrior called up his friends, and proceeded, without further ado, to lay violent hands upon the animal. In a moment the cry of "Bunduki! bunduki!"(Guns!) was raised, and in a surprisingly short time between four and five hundred porters streamed out of camp armed with guns, and formed a circle round the disputants. Such a demonstration, in any other part of Africa I have visited, would have produced a panic among the natives and a stampede. Not so with the Masai who though quite a small party, remained as cool and indifferent as if they were quite unaware that they were surrounded. The only effect was to make them relinquish their grasp of the ass, and tone down their demands for restitution. An orderly and calm discussion ensued, and ended with an arrangement agreeable to both parties.

On the 30th of August we reached Becil, and camped near a low range of hills, beyond which could be descried the Ulu mountains some distance off. Before we camped, I saw a fight between two rhinoceroses, who attacked each other in the manner of bulls. One at last gave in and fled, while the other followed behind, dealing it tremendous blows in the rear, which actually lifted it up and made it squeal out like a pig. In the chase they seemed to be quite unaware of the caravan as they passed close ahead. The victor, having driven off the other from the field, turned its attention to us, and, its blood being up, it charged the caravan with fierce and defiant air, scattering the men like a flock of sheep, though, fortunately, doing no damage. The episodes of this evening included the stealing of a load from the midst of the camp, a stabbing case between two traders over ivory, and a goat being torn out of camp by a hyena during the night. Becil lies at an altitude of 4700 feet, and forms the dividing ground between Matumbato to the south, and Kapt� to the north. [168]

Leaving Becil, we made a capital march north to the nullah of Turuku, over undulating grazing–grounds, comparatively free from trees, dotted here and there with which, however, were deserted, owing to recent raids of Wa–kamba, who of late have begun to assume the offensive and to make reprisals in cattle–lifting in the heart of the enemy’s country. Near camp we entered a gorge which led us gently down, by a fine road formed by the Masai cattle, to the stream of Turuka. We here noticed that the tops of the hills which formed the gorge were capped by masses of porphyritic greenstone, with a tendency to columnar arrangement. The metamorphic rocks here disappear at a very high angle beneath the lava, and the gorge presents capital sections, showing the relations of the two rocks.

Leaving this camp, we descended the gorge, and in the course of an hour we emerged on a great desert, which stretches ill unbroken monotony away to the hills of Nguruma–ni and Mosiro, behind which tower the dark and forbidding mass of the escarpment of the Guas’–Ngishu highlands. Looking cast, the eye sees only a dark and frowning precipice of lava rock, running wall–like in an almost straight line north and south, forming ill fact the counterpart of Mau. These together mark the lines of two great faults, between which the plain that lies before us has sunk to its present level, leaving the edges of Guas’–Ngishu and Kapt� standing out ill bald and grim massiveness. The eastern line of fault, however, is diversified by numerous small conical hills, which even a distant view reveals to be of volcanic origin. They have arisen along the line of weakness formed by the subsidence of the ground, this having afforded comparatively easy exit to the imprisoned forces which have built tip the hills. Further north a lateral range of picturesque mountains projects from the escarpment westward. The desert is known as Dogilani, and, being for the most part destitute of water, it is uninhabited except close to the base of the mountains, whence small streams descend from the highland,–,, and permit the growth of grass. The escarpment, from its dark and forbidding appearance, is known as Donyo Erok el Kapt� (Black Mountain of Kapt�). To find water we were compelled to penetrate far into the extremely picturesque gorge of Ngare Sure, which is several hundreds of feet deep, cut through the lava rock.

Two more marches brought us to the district of La Doriac, which strikingly suggested a magnificent bay a,, it lay flat [169] and even, surrounded, except to the west, by a splendid amphitheatre of mountains, Donyo Kisali guarding the entrance on one side, and Donyo Nyiro on the other. We here camped under the most uncomfortable circumstances we had yet experienced.

The whole country was covered with wretched angular blocks, guarded by the most exasperating of "wait–a–bit" thorns, which certainly might make one dream of beds of luxurious ease, but hardly helped to make us realize the charm of such a couch. The Masai were in extraordinary numbers, and proportionately insolent and troublesome; while astonishing myriads of flies, with characteristics comparable to those of the tribe they prey on, made life a burden, and the fact that we swallowed no end of them in our food did not add to our satisfaction. In spite of two boys who stood over us at our meals, I verily believe we ate more of these pests than of anything else. The heat was terrific, and the natives would not give us a minute’s [170] rest, in spite of bomas, thorn fences round the tents, and a lot of guards. The Masai stole whatever they could lay their hands on. Makatubu, forgot himself, and nearly precipitated a fight by firing his revolver at a thief–fortunately without any damage, otherwise our position would have been serious. Wild bullocks broke loose, and ran amuck through the camp, knocking down tents, men, and whatever came in their way. A tremendous clatter filled the air, and chaos seemed to have come again.

Leaving this place with intense relief, we ascended the lateral range by the course of a stream. Crossing the summit at a height of over 6000 feet, we entered the narrow valley of a second stream, and continued along its sides till, reaching the head, we descended into a small enclosed valley, finally camping at nightfall near the base of a Kapt� mountain named Lamuyu. On the way I shot at one spot no less than four rhinoceroses. It was really glorious fun to see one of these brutes scattering the caravan before I gave it its quietus.

During the night the men had a bad time of it. No firewood was to be got, and rain set in after sunset, while the wind blew with tremendous fury from the plateau, utterly disheartening the weary porters, who lay exposed to its fury. Fortunately the storm lulled about midnight. I, however, had to take pity on my good friend Jumba, and give him one of my Austrian blankets.

Nobody thought of leaving camp till a late hour on the following day. When we did get started, we continued up to the north end of the valley, where we found a disused Masai cattle–road leading tip to the top of the Kapt� plateau. The view that met the gaze at the edge of the table–land had more the general aspect of a European scene than that of Central Africa. A grand expanse of undulating country lay before us, the hollows knee–deep in rich and succulent pasture, in which peeped forth familiarly the homelike clover. The ridges were covered with trees of moderate size, and markedly temperate in their aspect, though splendid Cape calodendrons formed an unwonted spectacle with their glorious canopy of flowers. The interspaces of the woodland were filled up with a dense mass of beautiful and fragrant flowering shrubs in great variety. These open spaces were the haunts of large herds of buffalo, and the feeding–ground of numerous elephants and rhinoceroses, while in the grassy reaches could be seen vast numbers of elands, hartebeests, [171] zebras, and ostriches. I stalked one of the elands, but only succeeded in wounding it. I was more successful in finishing a sleeping rhinoceros. I crept up to it with the customary precautions and in the process I experienced the usual sensations as of crawling centipedes about my spine, a wildly pulsating heart, a feeling of sweating blood, staring eyes, and gasping for breath, till on getting into actual danger, my nerves became braced up, and my muscles like iron. When within a few yards, I took swift and silent aim. As the report echoed with startling roar, I dropped to the ground like a hare. The great black mass instantly became animate. Jumping up, it stared wildly round, and then with blood spouting out of its nostrils like water from a fountain, it ran a short distance, to topple over dead. It had been shot through the lunge.

After this feat, an hour of marching brought us to a beautiful depression, surrounded by wood–capped ridges, and enclosing a glorious bubbling fountain of clear, cold water, which formed a charming pond in which ducks swam and water–lilies reclined in vernal beauty. This was Ngongo–a–Bagas, the "eye" or spring of the Bagas, one of the chief head–waters of the Athi River of U–kambani. A second, of greater dimensions, the Ngare Murju, meets the Bagas a little to the east. It springs up, like the latter, in considerable volume at the base of the eastern side of Donyo Lamuyu.

Before proceeding further, it may be well to give the reader some idea of the routine of our daily life here. It was a recognized and invariable rule with us to be on the march ere the sun passed the horizon. At the earliest indication of dawn, or more frequently on the crowing of the various chanticleers carried in the caravan, we tumbled out of bed, dipped our faces in the cool water, and just as objects became distinguishable, we were seated outside at breakfast, while the askari pulled down the tent, folded up the camp–bed, and made everything ready for the road. Little time was spent over breakfast, and as the crimson flush of morn changed to a golden gleam, the signal to start was given.

I myself take the lead with the advance–guard. The camp is left behind, and in the fresh and invigorating morning air we hie on merrily. The men at this stage go at a capital pace, and each one tries in friendly rivalry to get to the front. As the sun ascends, however, their enthusiasm tones down. The weakly and the lazy begin to lag behind, and soon they [172] are to be seen every here and there throwing down their loads, either to rest or under the pretence of putting something to rights. Straggling, however, is not allowed, and the rest is of the most temporary character. Each one well knows that to be caught straying alone would mean speedy death by the Masai spear. Martin brings up the rear of our section, and sees that all is well, while I in front take my bearings and other observations, and, where possible, shoot rampant rhinoceroses or buffaloes, thus at one and the same time staving –off a danger and filling the pot. It is a thing thoroughly suggestive of savagery to see the hungry men precipitate themselves like voracious hyenas upon the game, and with slashing knives and quarrelsome tongues try to secure the fat or the tenderer parts. Cuts are not uncommon, and frequently order has to be introduced into the fighting pack by the dread uplifting of the birch, and the threat that is known to be never spoken in vain.

Two hours after leaving camp a halt is called, to let the long file of men close up, for now the Masai are beginning to issue forth with the warming of the air. On all sides we are greeted with "Shor�! Shore!" (friend). In my case I am addressed as "Lybon" (medicine–man), to which I reply with an inarticulate sound, signifying I am all attention. "Gusak" (your hand) is then asked for. The shaking being duly honoured, a further stage in the ceremonious greeting is made by the salutation "Sobai?" ("How do you do?") to which I answer "Ebai" ("I am well") Then as a corollary to the ceremony, the visitor follows it up with the demand "Jogon? mashetan" ("Do you hear? a string of beads!") and with. out demur a string of beads is handed forth to the stalwart beggar. With more pleasure, of course, and with the addition of a smile, we greet the "ditto" (unmarried young woman) I who is saluted in different words from those suitable for the men– "Tagwenya!" the reply from the woman being "Eo!" Beyond seeking presents, the Masai receive us characteristically with aristocratic dignity. They do not, as in the regions further south, shrink oft in alarm, nor, on the other hand, run alongside with rude shouts and vulgar laughter. Calmly they survey us, curious without a doubt, but hiding their feelings beneath an apparently indifferent exterior.

About midday the place selected for camping is reached. Each trader chooses some suitable spot, a grand rush and scramble being made for the ground under shady trees or [173] [174] other desirable places. The first man who reaches a coveted locality seals his claim by laying down his gun or some other article, and no one disputes his right. Muhinna was first–class at this work. He seemed intuitively to know the most cosy and comfortable corner, and had a knack of being at it always first. The moment every one is into camp, the goods of each trader are stacked and covered over with skins or some other article to hide them from the prying eyes and twitching fingers of the Masai. Guards are then appointed, and without loss of time the men with axe and gun proceed to cut down thorn acacias in order to form a strong boma or fence. The gun is laid near for any emergency, while with vigorous blows the axe is applied to the stems, and soon the trees are lying ready to be further manipulated, or dragged with resonant chorus by bands of men to the line marked out. Martin superintends that duty while I take up my position beside our huge pile of goods, and keep a watchful eye upon them m I submit myself to the gaze of the natives, and refresh myself with a cup of coffee, generally in company with Jumba, who had a knack of turning up at such moments.

While this work is proceeding, various bands of El–moran appear from different quarters, resplendent in a new coating of clay and grease, carrying great spears, which flash in the rays of the sun, and shields newly painted in the heraldic devices of the particular clan or district. When near the camp, these warriors proceed to perform a variety of military evolutions, which show they have some rudimentary idea of the military art, and of the value of discipline and working in unison. This over, they gather together, strike their great spears in the ground, and rest their shields against them, thereafter indulging in an extraordinary dance. A warrior hops a few steps forward; then with rigid body, arms held at the side, and unbending knee, he jumps straight up in the air a number of times, indulging occasionally in a hitch forward of his long back hair over his face. While one is thus performing, the others, with the most serious of faces, chant in a ludicrous manner a song of welcome (to be plundered!). The contortions of their faces and their intense seriousness make the sight comical beyond description.

The dance over, they are now ready to proceed to business. The principal spokesmen on both sides first exchange elaborate salutations. These are followed by a prolonged discussion as to the proper amount of tribute to be paid. By [175] the time the hongo question is finished, the fence is complete, and we are safe from all serious danger, though our annoyances are only about to commence. The tents are pitched, and a second fence of thorns is placed round them, leaving only a small opening. This is guarded by two askari, who seek, with bland manners and soothing words, to mitigate the horrors of a Masai invasion. All such attempts are, as a rule in vain, for no one dares to lay a hand on a warrior when he is determined to see me and my things. With the greatest insolence he will push aside the guard, swagger with the utmost abandon and "hail fellow, well met" kind of air into my sanctum, and bestow his odoriferous, grease–clad person on my bed, or whatever object suits his idea of comfort. Ceremonious even in his arrogance, he will now greet me, and then demand some beads. These I give with the greatest alacrity, in the hope of hastening his departure. Finally, after I have exhibited to his untutored gaze all the marvels of my person and tent, he may be cajoled out, leaving behind him various unsavoury tokens of his presence. The indignities we had to submit to are simply inconceivable. Though a warrior had tweaked my nose, there would have been no redress; and though he had "smitten me on the right cheek," I should have had to illustrate with sweet literalness the somewhat trying Gospel rule, and appear smilingly willing to "turn to him the other also." I must thank my reputation as a medicine–man that matters did not come quite to this pass. But from morn till night I had to remain on exhibition, and be ever ready to bestow beads upon the warrior beggars–for a denial was never dreamt of. No man dared lay aside his gun, or leave a single object exposed to view. It was only in large numbers that they could go outside to draw water or fetch firewood. The camp was kept in a continual turmoil, heightened every now and then by a Masai laying violent hands upon some article or other, in the very midst of the camp, and rushing with it towards the open. Thanks to our precautions, this rarely succeeded; but then there was no cheek to its repetition, as nothing could be done to the thief: he could not even be safely expelled from the camp.

At sunset the warriors would withdraw to their kraals, and a sense of relief would begin to be experienced. The gate would be blocked up, and a guard set. Guns might then be laid aside, fires lit, and food cooked. Tongues would be loosened and general animation would prevail, as if a great [176] load had been taken off every one’s mind Now and then voices would be, hushed, as a prowling Masai was challenged by the guard, or a gun fired to frighten them away. The stir of the camp would reach its maximum about three hours after sunset, and gradually die away as. the porters, wearied with the work and –with the care of the day, and filled to repletion, sank one by one to rest, and then only the horrible laughing and yelling of hyenas the occasional roars of lions and cries of jackals, would be heard in the clear midnight air.

And now to resume our story after this digression. I found that at Ngongo we had reached the southern boundary of the country of Kikuyu, the natives of which have the reputation of being the most troublesome and intractable in this region. No caravan has yet been able to penetrate into the heart of the country, so dense are the forests, and so murderous and thievish are its inhabitants. They are anxious for coast ornaments and cloth, and yet defeat their own desires sby their utter inability to resist stealing, or the fun [177] of planting a poisoned arrow in the traders. These things they can do with impunity, sheltered as they are by their forests, which are impenetrable to all but themselves. Rarely does a caravan come into communication without their trading ending in bloodshed, and though they have received some bitter lessons in several fearful massacres at Ngongo and other places, they are yet as ready as ever to fall foul of the traders. Their country may be described as triangular in shape, the base forty miles in breadth, in a line from Ngongo to the point of the plateau overlooking Lake Naivasha. Its greatest length is about seventy miles, the apex of the triangle ending on the southern side of Mount Kenia. This triangular stretch of country lies immediately south of the line, and forms what may be called a great undulation of the Kapt� plateau and of its northern extension, named Lykipia. It occupies the forest region lying between 6000 and 9000 feet high, the trees of the higher parts consisting mainly of magnificent junipers and another conifer named podocarpus. At this high region drought is unknown, and astonishing fertility is everywhere seen. Streams abound in great numbers, and form the head–waters of the Kilalumi or Tana River. Enormous quantities of sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, sugar–cane, Indian corn, millet, &c., are raised, and the supply seems to be quite inexhaustible. On my return journey I found a caravan of over 1500 men staying at Ngongo, who remained there a month, and carried away little short of three months’ provisions, yet it did not seem perceptibly to affect the supply or to raise the ridiculously low prices. Extremely fat sheep and goats abound, while they have also cattle in considerable numbers.

The Wa–kikuyu, are allied to the Wa–kamba in language and manners, though they are by no means such fine–looking people. The young men and the women affect the Masai dress with modification, though in the odours they cultivate about their person by the use of grease and lampblack they remind one of the Wa–teita. They carry a small spear and shield, the knobkerry, the sim�, and the bow and arrow. The Masai have made repeated attempts to penetrate into the country, but they have found that the Wa–kikuyu were more than a match for them in their dense forests. They have failed on every occasion. Curiously enough, however, though they are eternally at war to the knife with each other, there is a compact between them not to molest the womenfolk of either party. Hence the curious spectacle is exhibited of [178] Masai women wending their way with impunity to a Kikuyu village, while their relatives are probably engaged in a deadly fight close at hand. In the same way the Wa–kikuyu women frequently carry grain to the kraals to exchange for hides. The huts of the Wa–kikuyu are of the conventional beehive or conical shape. It but remains to be said that these people must lead a trying life up in those high altitudes, the temperature in the dry season ranges from below freezing–point to nearly 90 ; while in the more unpleasant wet season it varies from 50 to 95 –though, owing to the excessive moisture it a feels both colder at the lower and warmer the higher temperatures than in the dry season. Hail–storms of very great violence and severity are of common occurrence. On more than one occasion caravans have been caught in these, and lost large numbers of men from the exposure.

Such is the country and people we had now reached at Ngongo, and it behoved us to lose no time in making ourselves secure from the Wa–kikuyu on the one hand, and the almost equally dreaded Masai of Kapt� on the other. These were known to be in great numbers some distance to the east. Our ordinary protection of a thorn fence was deemed unsuited to our present situation, where the arrows of the Wa–kikuyu in the dead of night were the things most to be dreaded. A palisade of tree trunks had to be built. For this purpose one half of the men were set to dig the necessary trench, while the other half with gun and axe proceeded to the forest. There the dull thuds and the crashing branches soon told us that the men were working with a will. Meanwhile soldiers patrolled the neighbourhood, on the look–out for murderous natives. In a couple of days we had enclosed five acres with a palisade which was strengthened by branches thickly interwoven.

This important work performed, we had to try to get into communication with the Wa–kikuyu, to buy food, of which we were greatly in need, as we had been now for nearly a month on a purely meat diet which the men ate without salt. The consequence of this was a prevalence of dysenteric symptoms, from which I myself was by no means free. It was not an easy matter, however, to get at the Wa–kikuyu. The large numbers of Masai who came to the camp by their presence prevented their enemies venturing down to us, though at first they agreed to make their market some distance off. To make matters worse, a fight resulting in several deaths took place, and it became clear [179] that there was no other course for us but to penetrate into the forest.

A strong party was accordingly organized, of which I took command, and we started on our somewhat dangerous enterprise–for we knew they would be quite a match for us in the intricacies of the forest. We traversed one of the most lovely woodland scenes it has over been lily fortune to see. Roads, ten to twenty feet broad, penetrated the wood in every direction. These being absolutely free from bush or creeper, and carpeted with a beautiful covering of clovery sward, were most delightful to walk on, hedged in as they were with evergreen trees, magnificent calodendrons, and a profusion of flowering shrubs, which filled the air with their rich fragrance. Every here and there these roads opened out on a beautiful park or charming glade, enlivened with groups of antelopes, and sometimes with dark herds of buffalo. Everywhere were evidences of the presence of elephants, though we saw none. These fine footpaths were a great puzzle to me at first. They were so beautifully regular and so broad that they were clearly not of nature’s handiwork. On inquiry I found that they had been formed by the continual passage of the great herds of the Masai between the different open reaches in the forest.

After a couple of hours’ careful march along the interlacing roads we reached a place supposed to be near the Wa–kikuyu. In response to a thundering volley from our guns, hundreds of natives sprang suddenly to view,

And every tuft of broom gave life
To dusky warrior armed for strife.

They had evidently been swarming in the woods all the time, watching our movements and looking out for an opportunity to attack us. They now crowded round us; but seeing them look dangerous, we "showed our teeth," and they precipitately retreated some distance. Going into the centre of the clearing, we arranged a plan of action–so many to buy.. so many to carry to the central station, and over one–half to remain as a guard ready for any emergency. Several articles were stolen and various stampedes occurred among the Wa–kikuyu. but fortunately no serious accident occurred, and we were enabled to return to camp laden with. all sorts of good things.

After this, matters improved considerably. The women (though never the men) came frequently down to the edge of the forest and disposed of their abundance to us. They tried [179] hard, however, to inveigle the thoughtless porters into the depths of the forest by always making their market further and further inland. So eager was the competition, and so utterly senseless our men, that if they had been left to themselves they would certainly have gone on till a number of them would have been massacred. With regard to my own followers, however, I soon put a prompt and effective stop to such reckless proceedings, while Jumba did the same with the men under his charge.

On the 8th of September, having learned that elephants had been heard trumpeting in the neighbourhood, I set off with a small following of trusty men to try my hand at that form of sport. Plunging into the bowels of the forest, we commenced following an elephant pathway with the utmost circumspection, directing each other entirely by looks or signs, though to attract attention a low whistle was allowed. The sombre gloom, our stealthy, silent movements, the care with which we pushed aside the bushes, our painful sensitiveness to every sound and sight, the highly strung state of our nerves, and the danger of the chase, were at once sources of intense excitement and of irresistible fascination. We moved about in this manner for quite half an hour, when we wore electrified by a peculiar sound in our immediate neighbourhood. We stood like statues, with breathing suppressed, hand held warningly up, and ear turned in the direction of the sound, and then we exchanged glances which required no thought–reader to tell that the word "tembo" (elephant) was in each one’s thoughts. We at once redoubled our. precautions, examined our guns, and put everything to rights for the trial that was before us. We could not see a yard ahead, and we had to trust to the sound to guide us in the right direction and indicate the nearness of the game. Evidently we were near, but the sound ceased, and we strained our attention to catch any further indication of the position of the elephant. Then we got down on our hands and knees and crept along, peering into the gloom with gleaming eyes, and ever and anon halting to spot, if possible, the game. Again the strange sound broke on our ears, and it seemed quite close, but curiously enough we heard no signs of breaking branches, or swish of bending bushes. The suspense became killing, and we hardly knew what to do. We looked at each other in painful perplexity, then on again we went, after some pantomimic gestures and face–movements. Inch by inch we neared our supposed elephant. Once more [181] the perplexing cry was repeated, and it seemed within a few. feet, and still it was unaccompanied with any other indication that the animal was near. We glared through every bush; we listened with new eagerness, but heard only the wild pulsations of our own hearts, while the great drops of sweat poured down our cheeks and into our eyes. Suddenly there was a horrible snarl which made our hearts jump to our mouths, and the next moment no elephant but a wretched leopard bounded almost from under our nose–,. With an exclamation of disgust, though with a feeling of being relieved from an intolerable strain, we jumped to our feet, but too late to get another glimpse of the monster cat, which disappeared in the bushes.

Feeling, rather ashamed of ourselves at being thus taken in, we resumed our hunt. We had not gone far when we were all astonished and upset by a terrible crashing, as if a whole herd of elephants was bearing down upon us. My gallant men fled behind trees or tried to climb them, while I in the echoing forest stood bewildered, hardly knowing in what direction to look for the terrible enemy. The next [182] moment a great rhinoceros broke from the bushes close to us, and before I could fire, it disappeared again, blowing air through its nostrils with extraordinary snorts, in fact, a most thorough resemblance to a puffing steam–engine. We pushed on, but though we saw plenty of fresh spoor, we failed to set eyes upon a single elephant, and returned crestfallen to camp.

Business gradually improved at Ngongo. Food was bought in abundance from the Wa–kikuyu, while the Masai swarmed in daily with cattle, donkeys, goats, and sheep, enlivening our life considerably by their incessant attempts at stealing, their chanting, dancing, and military manoeuvres when coming for hongo, while their half–wild cattle were continually breaking loose, running amuck through the camp amidst great uproar, or breaking outside, inviting a grand chase, to be ultimately shot down. Makatubu, signalized himself greatly in these hunts by his fleetness, and hie prowess with his army revolver, which was a never–ending cause of astonishment to the coast traders as well as to the Masai–for to them the revolver Seemed a harmless toy.

One of my men who had disappeared near Turuku in a very mysterious manner, was brought to us by a Masai El–moruu (elder or married man), who had saved him from being spitted on the spear of a Moran. The warrior had found the poor fellow, and, as is customary, wanted to stab him. A man named Kilimali also died here from dysentery, making the fourth death in my section of the caravan. The Wa–swahili elephant–hunters shot two elephants while we stayed here, but though I went out to try my luck twice, I failed even to sight one.

Our life at Ngongo was, however, upon the whole a very pleasant one. The view was charming, the incidents and camp sights of the most lively nature, while in our palisaded camp we felt perfectly secure alike from Wa–kikuyu and Masai. Conversations with some of the better class traders agreeably filled up odd times, and the evenings were devoted to the pages of a favourite poet, or to astronomical observations. The days, it is true, were very hot, the temperature rising usually above 90 though tempered by pleasant breezes. But then the nights were deliciously cool–40 being no uncommon figure before sunrise. On one occasion, indeed, it was as low as 32 making a range of quite 60 within the twenty–four hours.

In One of my shooting excursions, I saw for the first time [183] specimens of that beautiful monkey known to naturalists as the Colobus guereza. Its great peculiarity is a stripe of long white hair running along the Sides and meeting at the tail, which is also white, and in the case of the males even more bushy than a sheep’s. The white hair at the sides is frequently a foot long, and round the root of the tail a half more. The rest of the skin is covered with short, velvety, black hair. This beautiful animal occurs only in dense forests, its habits being purely arboreal. It is found frequently on Kilimanjaro and in the forests of Kah�, from both of which places I got skins.

After our fortnight’s rest we found all our men thoroughly recruited and our preparations complete. The Pangani traders on an average would have little short of three months’ food collected, which they were able to carry with the great number of donkeys they had bought. I, however, with such a number of men and only a dozen donkeys, was not able to take more than about twenty days’ food. Of this the men now carried eight days’ in addition to their load–and that too without a mutinous word–a fact which showed how thoroughly they hated a purely meat diet, and which no less clearly revealed an enormous stride in moral discipline. If I had proposed to make the men carry even a single day’s food on leaving Rabai, not one would have moved a mile, inland. Besides the twenty days’ found in millet, beans, and maize I had secured over twenty bullocks and five goats, which represented an additional week’s rations. [184]

The 20th of September was given up to a grand "Sadaka" or sacrifice to propitiate the gods and learn the decrees of fate. This Sadaka consists in the enjoyable religious exercise of feasting on fat things and the best of the land, while they chant or intone certain prayers. A sign is then sought for as to the best day and hour for travelling, without which no Pangani or Mombasa caravan thinks of leaving camp. The result of these pious performances was the discovery that their Sunday (Friday) at the fourth hour, was the propitious time, and to that effect Jumba’s man sang out the customary Ki–nyamwezi warning to be ready.

 

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