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ONWARD ONCE MORE!

HAVING thus reviewed the coast region and Kilimanjaro, we may now settle ourselves down to hear Martin’s narrative of his doings while I was at the coast.

His first business had been to select a spot some distance from the traders quarters. There he cleared away the dense. undergrowth, and built a comfortable house, with baraza or palaver sheds. These he surrounded at a proper distance with the huts of the men. In the centre not a bit of garbage or dirt was allowed to lie; and a neater or more charming village could not be conceived. The Wa–taveta, who were as pleasant as ever, were delighted with it, and were never tired of contrasting it with the filth and ugliness of the traders part. The consequence was that the market was transferred to our place, which was thus daily enlivened with picturesque groups, and with the stir and hum of business.

Meanwhile Mandara had sent down messengers with presents of sheep and goats, asking Martin to go up to him, and telling him that whatever he wanted in the way of food for the men would be forthcoming at once. But Martin was too much frightened at the idea of getting into his clutches, and only sent excuses. Mandara, however, sent again with more presents.

At last famine fell upon Taveta. Food trebled in price, and threatened to make a big hole in our stores. On this, Kachech� was sent with men to Mandara, and he returned loaded with food obtained at an almost nominal price. A second time men were sent with the same result. Finally, as Mandara was still urgent, Martin made up his mind to go himself.

On reaching Moschi, he was received with lavish hospitality. Bullocks were killed, and his men were feasted; and loads of food were prepared to be taken back. Before Martin returned, however, Mandara unfolded a queer tale to him, which thoroughly corroborated my worst suspicions about Muhinna. That villain had invented the story about the Masai being on the road in front, for the purpose of driving us into Mandara’s hands. This accomplished, he did his best to arouse the cupidity of that chief; told him how [126] he did not want me to go further, and desired him to do what lie could to detain and plunder me. At first Mandara had eagerly accepted the agreeable task, and had despatched a messenger to his allies the Wa–kwafi of Arusha, to come over and help him. Better counsels, however, had ultimately prevailed, and he sent off a second messenger to stop the first. The rest of the story I have already told. At Ngare N’Erobi, Sadi and Muhinna had jointly done everything in their power to squander away my goods in huge hongos, and besides had helped to rouse the Masai against us, and, as the reader well knows, very nearly succeeded in ruining all my prospects.

Mandara continued to supply food for the entire caravan right royally all the time I was away, and quite won Martin’s heart. The men were frequently troublesome, but, having no guns at their command, could not run away. A nasty skin disease also broke out among them, and some were rendered quite useless by the loathsome manner in which their ulcers enlarged. But upon the whole everything had gone on remarkably well.

There were other news, however, to rejoice my heart. My faith in Micawber’s maxim had been justified; for something had turned up. A large caravan from Pangani, under a noted coast Mganga, named Jumba Kimameta, had reached Taveta a few days previously, and were recruiting preparatory to starting for the Masai country. I could not suppress a hurrah at this good news; for by this time I was only too glad to stoop to the idea of joining a trading caravan, as our enterprise had become pretty much a forlorn hope, depending as it did upon such a pair of traitors as Muhinna and Sadi.

I lost no time in putting myself in communication with Jumba, who proved to be a little man, deeply marked with small–pox and blind in one eye. The other eye, however, was lively, and he soon proved to be far above the average in gentlemanly character and intelligence. We quickly settled matters, and he agreed to allow me to enter into his caravan on the same footing as the traders, till we should pass fairly into the country of the Masai. He was content to accept my general promise that I would reward him if lie acted faithfully by me. I had a more difficult– matter to arrange with the other traders, who to a man were opposed to having anything to do with me. Yet in a few days, by the exercise of some little tact, and no end of "soft sawder," I managed to [127] bring them all round, and even the most prejudiced one among them declared that before he would see me beat, he would carry me on his own shoulders.

All this very much upset the plans of Muhinna and Sadi, both of whom, fortunately, were detested by the Pangani men. The former, however, determined to make one more effort –firstly, because he was afraid of going with me, and secondly, because he had made up his mind to stop us from ever getting into the country. He therefore came to me one night in the most secret manner, and, with a very long face, he told me he had found out that Jumba and the other traders were only playing with me; they had agreed to let me accompany them as far as the first Masai kraal, and there they would make me pay the entire hongo. Then, after letting me be plundered of everything, they would break off all connection with me, and make it impossible for me to get a step further. They intended, also, he said, to set the warriors upon us, to annihilate the caravan completely. On the other hand, if I would only wait a few days more, Dugumbi was going to Kavirondo, and would see me through in complete safety, as he was anxious to assist me according to the orders of the Sultan.

Now this story was very plausible. The first part agreed with my knowledge of the Swahili character; and I had been somewhat surprised at the promptness with which an arrangement had been effected. Without a doubt Muhinna would have triumphed, but for the knowledge I had acquired of his little game, which prepared me to believe exactly the opposite of all he said. I learned shortly after that Dugumbi was only journeying a short distance into the Masai country, and had no intention of going to Kavirondo, but, between them, he and Muhinna had agreed to plunder me. I had therefore a very strong temptation to let the knave know that his tricks had been exposed, and then swing him up on a tree–a punishment he already fully merited. I forbore both the exposure of his criminality and the act of just retribution for the simple reason that he was indispensable to me. Meantime, therefore, I only laughed at him, soothed his simulated fears, and sent him of to bed.

In joint council we now determined to proceed via Kimangelia, Njiri and Donyo (Mount) Erok, to Ngongo and Naivasha. That route had been long shut up, owing to the repeated fights with the ferocious Masai of Lytokitok and Matumbato, in which several large caravans had been almost [128] annihilated. It, however, promised to the trader a rich sup. ply of ivory, and to me an interesting country, far removed from the route of Dr. Fischer, with whom I had no ambition to shake hands in the wilds, however much I would be pleased to do so under ordinary social auspices.

I now set about putting my affairs in order. My first business was to overhaul my men, and clear out the incapables. Of these, fifteen were selected as utterly worthless, and not fit even to carry a gun, and were forthwith despatched to the coast. AH the Rabai men, eight in number, relieved me of their presence by deserting, with their guns, in spite of my precautions. When the roll was called, I thus found myself with only 140 available men. There was an appalling list of no less than fifty–eight men who had deserted, died, or been returned as useless. I can offer no more convincing evidence of the atrocious character of the personnel of my caravan.

My goods now consisted of 44 loads of iron, brass, and copper wire, 22 of beads, 11 of stores, 8 of cloth, 8 of ammunition, and about 20 of all other kinds. These may be accepted as about the correct proportion for a caravan of 140 men.

Mandara, on hearing of my arrival, sent down messengers with more food. To show my appreciation of his handsome behaviour, I made him a considerable present, including my galvanic battery, on which he had specially set his heart, as he was "cute" enough to see that the possession of it would immensely raise his reputation as a great Mganga, or medicine–man. I asked him, however, to give me Mr. New’s gold watch. This he agreed to at once, and he forwarded it to me exactly as he received it from New. I have had the pleasure, since my return home, of restoring the interesting relic to the brother of the missionary.

It remains but to be mentioned with regard to Mandara that while I was at the coast he had been carrying out his "imperial views," with the usual course of murder and devastation. He had attacked the Wa–chaga of Useri, and swept off over 2000 head of cattle. He had also devastated the neighbouring state of Kirua, cutting down all their banana–trees with the intention of reducing them to the point of starvation, and compelling them to recognize him as their Sultan–his aim being to acquire the sovereignty of the whole of the south–east corner of Chaga, along with Taveta.

A fortnight thus variously employed brought us to the end [129] of our preparations. On the night of the 16th of July the men of both caravans marked their sense of its being their last day among the agreeable fleshpots of Taveta, by holding an ngomma or dance round two flags. The clamour was simply infernal, and the whole scene suggested a witch–dance in the lower regions.

About I am. I was aroused by a fearful groaning from Martin, as though he were in the most terrible agonies or at his last gasp. On jumping up, I found him shaking as if he would knock the beds to pieces, and complaining of being at once freezing with cold and on fire. As he groaned, and energetically invoked some patron. saint of his childhood, I was very much alarmed, till it dawned upon me that it was only a case of ague. On my giving him a good "blowing up," and supplying him with some tea and quinine, he became better, and a little more calm. Never having had this ailment before, he had believed his end was come, and my laughter did him more good than any quantity of medicine. Next morning he was nearly all right.

On the following morning we, for the second time, left Taveta behind us, and, travelling north, we camped near the [130] base of the Chala crater, on the Lumi stream. The precautions which wore required when we had left the forest on the former occasion were still more urgently called for this time, as the men were oven more demoralized, and they had seen that it was, after all, possible to desert. All the headmen and half the askari were accordingly kept up all night, patrolling the camp. Thanks to our care, the day dawned without a man missing.

Leaving the Lumi, we passed the base of Chala, which I ascended, to be rewarded by a magnificent view across the lake towards Kilimanjaro, which stood out clear against the azure without a trace of haze or cloud. Our course lay almost due north, across a rich grassy reach, which here gently slopes from the base of Rombo to the Lumi. There was hardly a tree to be seen, except along the course of the stream, where a double row formed a leafy tunnel. Great herds of hartebeest were frequent, and here and there was to be seen a solitary rhinoceros.

The most striking spectacle of all was the long, unbroken line of the caravan moving in single file over the rich yellow grass, striking a straight line for some small hillocks which mark the head–waters of the Lumi, or (as it is here called) the Rombo stream, from the district near which it rises.

When nearing this place, which was to be our camp, we came suddenly upon 200 natives of Rombo returning from the outer plains laden with neatly–made–up bales of grass, with which they feed their cattle, as there is little pasturage on the mountain, and they dare not let them be seen outside their huts. They were evidently in great terror at suddenly seeing us, and would have pitched their loads and fled, but for our reassuring words. Their sole dress was a band of skin two inches broad, tied tightly round their waists.

At noon, after a heavy march, we camped on the Lumi again, in a bend of the stream, pleasantly shaded by a grove of trees. As I had shot a couple of hartebeest on the way, we were soon refreshing ourselves with antelope steaks.

Kimawenzi, which is here due west, presented one of the most beautiful sights imaginable. It was enveloped in a weird, grey haze, which just permitted it to be seen. The sun, on setting behind the peak, lit up the haze with a rich glow of ruddy and yellow hues, while myriad pencils of light radiated from behind the peak with magic effect.

I had now to exercise the grace of patience in no small degree, the traders having resolved to halt here for a few [131] days to collect food for the passage of the Masai country, and also to await the arrival of two Mombasa traders who were reported to be on the way from Teita. In order to pass the time, I went out in the hope of "bagging" a rhinoceros, these animals being reported to be plentiful. A cool breeze, a clear atmosphere, and a glorious sunrise, filled me with such joyous feelings, and had such an exhilarating effect upon me, that I was ready to run or jump in the pure enjoyment of existence. Yet I am almost ashamed to say that I was hardly well out of camp before I smashed the skull of one of the most graceful of God’s creatures, a beautiful species of antelope differing from any that I had seen. My regretful reflections were cut short by the excited, half–suppressed cry of Brahim, "Kifaru! Kifaru!" Turning quickly round, with rifle brought to the "ready," I looked in the direction indicated, and there, true enough, was the great monstrous shape of a rhinoceros moving leisurely along through the tall grass. With a glance around to take in the lie of the land and the direction of the wind, I was off with bent body and palpitating heart to intercept my victim. We were soon within fifty yards of the ungainly brute, which, as it slowly moved onward with head low down, was quite unaware of the enemy in front, or the danger it was running into. By this time, however, I began to have somewhat unpleasant sensations, and to wonder whether my game or myself was in the greater danger. I concluded that the odds were decidedly against me, and wanted accordingly to fire at once, so long as there was a chance of escape. My man Brahim, however, did not known my inward feelings, and as he had greater faith in my shooting powers than myself, he made me hold on a bit till it came nearer. Beginning to feel dreadfully shaky, though ashamed to be outdone in coolness by my servant, I waited with dread expectancy. My heart throbbed with wild pulsations, my fingers twitched, great drops of perspiration trickled down my face, and then, with a general want of "backbone," I counted each footstep. If a glaring eye can "fix" any animal, surely that dreadful creature might have been petrified by mine. Then ten yards were passed, and I began to read mischief in the monster’s glance. For once I wholly lost faith in myself. The suspense was intolerable, and the rhino, seeming to enjoy the fun, lengthened the period out as much as possible. At last I could stand it no longer. Steadying my arm on my knee, I fired my "infant." The dull thud which followed told me that [132] I had not fired in vain. As I gathered my wits together, I saw that the lumbering creature was spinning round, evidently dazed. Immediately, however, it recovered itself, and went off at a grand, steady pace. On seeing my adversary’s tail waving in the breeze, I became as brave as I had formerly been shaky, and, with nerves braced up by seeing the rhino running away, I gave it two other bullets from my express rifle. Yelling out to Brahim to follow, I went off pellmell in pursuit, with eyes steadily fixed on the game. The consequence was that I soon battered my nose and nearly broke my leg by falling into a hole. Recovering myself with an exclamation of disgust, I tore along again, to get sadly bruised a second and then a third time. The rhino soon showed signs of exhaustion, and at last I contrived to head it, and having in my excitement lost all caution, I went right for it, and gave it another ball. This, however, was too much for the monster, and it charged straight forward, I being right in front of it. This was more than I had bargained for, and I felt that the tables were turned with a vengeance. As that thought went through my brain like lightning, I gave a jump backward. The next moment I was sprawling in a horizontal position, and seeing unusual stars in the heavens, though it was broad daylight. It was a bush, and not the rhino, which had thus floored me, and I was now at that brute’s mercy. I thought it was. time to take farewell of life, and forgive all my enemies. The next moment there was a shaking of the ground, and a crashing of bushes. A dark body went lumbering past, and I rose from my prostrate position unhurt but breathless, delighted to see once more a tufted tail waving in the air, and to find that it disdained to hoist a fallen foe. It passed, however, only to die, and presently I was striking a heroic attitude with font on the rhino, trying to adopt the expression proper to a man who is "accustomed to that sort of thing," and, indeed, at that moment, I was on very good terms with. myself, as it was the first time I had shot one of these huge brutes. Leaving the man to cut up the meat, I sauntered back to camp as if I had done nothing worth speaking about, though ill reality, I was all alert to hear the exaggerated accounts of my prowess spread throughout the camp.

After refreshing the inner man, and applying prosaically some pieces of sticking–plaster to my bruises, I set off in the, evening to try my luck again.. A short distance from camp I stalked two rhinos, the one lying down, the other standing. [133] The latter soon spied us, but not getting our wind, it contented itself with sniffing and running about a little, as is the manner of that animal when sight alone guides its movements. Getting within fifty yards, I fired at it with the right–hand barrel of my rifle, and, turning rapidly round, I gave the contents of the other barrel to its neighbour. The first one rail only a short distance, and then succumbed, the other went off as if unhurt, and it was getting too near night for me to follow it. I tried a shot at a third rhino, but missed it, the sight of the gun having been inadvertently elevated. On the way back, however, I shot a zebra. I had thus on that day–shot an antelope, two rhinoceroses, and a zebra, and supplied the entire caravan with abundance of meat I of course made a point of tasting all, and I did so with much satisfaction as far as the rhino soup. I ]lad less pleasure, however, in the roast zebra, though it was better than the meat of its bulkier friend.

Great numbers of Wa–chaga came down to camp, though they were evidently all considerably frightened, and ready to take to their heels. The women wore small pieces of skin round the loins, ornamented by the smallest size of beads, sewn on in various patterns. A few beads and chains were suspended about the neck, while brass and iron wire, with some more beads, decorated the leg., and arms. These people tan and dress goat–skin better than any other race I. have met, turning it out is soft as chamois leather, the hair being left on here and there, and cut out ill various designs.

The next two days I was occupied ill making observations and superintending the buying of food from. the natives; but at last getting restless, I started off on the third day in search for further hunting adventures. Martin, desiring to emulate my fame, and fired by my success, resolved to accompany me. Shortly after getting out of camp, late in the afternoon, we sic, fed a rhinoceros, and in making a detour sighted;–round a hill to get near it, we discovered two others nearer at hand, lying asleep in the grass. I started off to stalk them, carrying my 8–bore gun, while Martin followed behind with my Express rifle. As we crept along through the tall grass, I noticed that Martin was lagging behind, and, judging from his face, troubled sadly with a sinking about the heart. Not caring however, to carry off all the honours, and being considerately, and of course most unselfishly, desirous under the circumstances, of only sharing the dangerous glory, I impatiently beckoned to him to close up. Slowly, but surely, [134] we crept towards our recumbent prey, with rising excitement and half–suppressed breathing. Our senses being painfully alert, the very grass seemed to make a loud noise, as we pushed it aside. We reached within sixty yards, and then within fifty. Martin was still inclined to lag; and I being more and more anxious not to monopolize the amenities of the situation, persistently disregarded his noble inclination to hold his hand, and let me get a chance of further distinguishing myself. We got to about the forty yards’ distance, and yet the rhinos slept peacefully on, while the sun east longer and longer shadows in its progress towards the horizon. As I be–an to think that I had got close enough, there was a loud crack behind me, caused by Martin clumsily breaking a rotten branch. The next moment the animals were on their feet, all attention. "We are in for it now" I thought, as I sank flat among the grass. Turning my head round, I saw Martin behind me, apparently ready to fly, and I glared and shook my fist at him to make him lie down. But too late I They had seen him, and with a loud snort like an engine blowing off the steam, they stood with defiant attitude trying to scent us, for this animal never seems to be able to make up its mind without the aid of its olfactory organs. The wind being in our favour, they did not succeed, but began making for us, running a few steps and then stopping We were now in a proper pickle; for with their heads directed towards us, no vulnerable part was exposed, and to fire at them as they stood would only be to risk our lives. Feeling myself in a decided quandary, I began to indulge in certain very wise reflections about the foolishness of running unnecessarily into such positions, and I was prepared to make the most solemn vow never to incur the same again if brought out safe this time. I seemed to be nailed to the place, though I had sufficient presence of mind to get ready to take advantage of any opportunity. One of the monstrous brutes had now got within ten yards, and still betrayed a lively curiosity about me. Realizing that I must do or die, and being decidedly averse to coming into closer quarters, I resolved to fire and stand my chance. Just at that moment bang went a rifle behind me, and a bullet passed close to my ear. Almost simultaneously, without voluntary effort of mine, both barrels of my gun were emptied, and I was sprawling helplessly on my back. Let not the reader, however, imagine that it was my purposed victim that had thus laid me low. It was simply my own gun that had so ignominiously used [135] me. Recovering myself, preparatory to turning an expected somersault in mid–air, I sprang up, when bang went the rifle again. Looking towards the enemy, I had the mortification and yet satisfaction of seeing two unwieldy creatures careering away with uplifted tails, evidently unhurt. Then turning round, I dashed my hat on the ground, and danced about as I anathematized the culprit Martin, who stood white as a corpse, shaking in every nerve.

The affair had happened in this wise. On the rhino getting up I became so absorbed in the situation that I forgot all about Martin, who meanwhile would have fled, but that he was literally fixed by the eye of the monster, which, by–the–bye, was the first he had ever seen. The excitement got to be too much for him, and, unable to bear it any longer, he fired. As I was almost in a line with the game, and as he was a bad shot, the bullet passed close to my ear, causing me to wince, and draw up my shoulder. This again made me pull back my arm, with the result that both barrels of the gun went off simultaneously, promptly landing me on my back, and the bullets in the air.

Fortunately this was sufficient to frighten the creatures, and they fled; otherwise, as they had us entirely in their power, they might have had some good fun with us. Martin actually missed both times, though little more than ten yards off. After vociferously pouring the vials of my wrath on the devoted head of the culprit, I returned mightily crestfallen, as I was aware that the neighbouring heights were lined with on–lookers. Sending Martin back to camp, I went off with Brahim to try and acquire a new wreath of laurel. Fortunately, I succeeded, as night came on, in shooting two rhinos, which somewhat softened my temper. Martin concluded, after that adventure, that he was a better shot with the gun than the rifle, and contented himself thenceforth with shooting guinea–fowl and other two–legged things.

Next morning I sallied forth again in quest of further sport. After conducting the party to the game of the previous day, I left them and pushed on with Brahim and Bedu�. Going south, and crossing the Rombo stream, we sighted a rhinoceros at some distance. We were in rather an unfavourable position for stalking it, as we were neither in nor out of the wind. It would have taken a long detour on the open plain to get into a more suitable position, so we determined to work straight up to it. When we were [136] within 200 yards, it got a whiff of us, which made it spin round as if it had been struck, and trot off. The wind immediately veering it lost our scent and turned round to look for us. Of course we simultaneously sank flat in the grass, and lay perdu. Once more it scented us and trotted away, while we sprang up, and with bent forms rushed after it to fall flat when once more it turned round, perplexed by the uncertain character of our wind. We thus got nearer and nearer. The rhino, becoming furious, now varied its movements by charging aimlessly in the direction of the hidden foe, only to turn tail on getting another whiff. At last we got pretty close by carefully attending to our tactics, and. were quite enjoying the excitement of the curious hunt, when with unexpected suddenness our game spun round, and before we were hidden in the grass we were sighted. Furiously it charged right towards us. Shouting to Brahim. to have my second ride at hand, I sprang to my feet and stood ready. The rhino’s courage, however, proved to be all show, for within twenty yards it turned. At the same moment a bullet struck its side with a dull thud. A second was lodged in the creature as it ran off, but neither seemed to have struck well, for we never got it.

Incidents of this character served greatly to relieve the tedium of the annoying delay we experienced in collecting food. I soon saw clearly that the traders did not want to travel. The time was the month of Ramadan, and, being good Mohammedans, they held that period sacred to fasting during the day, and to feasting right gloriously during the night. Where could this be better accomplished than in the cool environs of Kimawenzi, and by the shady banks and crystal waters of the Lumi? Food was in abundance, and extremely cheap. Nowhere else were there more delicious bananas and plantains, yams and various grains. The Lumi yielded savoury fish; while goats and fat sheep, butter, and milk daily descended from Rombo in quantities sufficient to gorge the most gluttonous.

I here discovered a curious fact. I had observed that the Wa–rombo wore several thick rings round their wrists and necks, besides a bulky lump of the same metal attached to their ears, for the purpose of stretching out the lobes. From the colour and appearance of these ornaments, I at first imagined them to be of coast brass; but happening to get one in my hand, I was struck by its weight, which was like that of gold. On inquiry I learned that they found the [137] metal in grains in various rivulets on the mountain after the rains, and that they smelted and manufactured it for themselves. The metal varies very much in weight and colour, which shows it to be an alloy. I thought at first that I had fallen upon gold. Further examination, however, showed this not to be the case. It is simply a native brass of remarkable density. While staying at this place, two Andorobbo (Wandorobbo of the Wa–swahili) came from Malimia, Sultan of Useri and Rombo, to invite me to visit him. These men were very interesting. I was greatly struck by the cool and indifferent way in which they moved about the camp, in striking contrast to the scared and excitable manner of the Wa–chaga They live with Malimia, occupying themselves with elephant–hunting, and, being more reliable and courageous than the Wa–chaga, they are employed as ambassadors by the Sultan. On the evening of the 15th I was greatly relieved to hear Jumba Kimameta’s henchman calling for silence, which being [138] obtained, he warned all the traders to get ready to march in two days. This announcement was followed by a tremendous uproar, screaming, yelling, shouting, singing, banging of guns, followed by a dance and a fearful scramble round the camp, the porters stopping at each trader, who threw them presents of beads and cloth according to his means or good–will.

On the morning of the 27th we were once more en route, thoroughly delighted with the idea that at last our delays were over; for however good might be the sport in the district around, my thoughts longingly turned towards the goal of my desires–the Masai country. The landscape still presented the same aspect of rich, treeless pasturage, on which browsed great herds of hartebeests. In the hope of supplying our larder, I went ahead, accompanied by Songoro. He carried my ammunition, as I did not expect to meet with any dangerous animal, or at least thought I would have plenty of time to buckle on my armour, if fight were needed. This nearly cost me dear. We had been on the tramp due north for about two hours, and I was leisurely moving along about 100 yards ahead of the caravan, enjoying the cool breeze and the grand prospect. Suddenly I was surprised by the loud report of two guns. Turning round, I saw in a moment that the cause of the disturbance was a rhinoceros, which had been sleeping in the gram unseen, and had not been made aware of our presence till after I and a part of the long file of men wore past. Rudely awakened from its morning’s nap, it was preparing to charge the caravan. As it snorted defiantly, the men began to waver, the less brave were already taking to their heels: while the "komas," or sacred magic staves and flags which load every trading caravan, were unfurled and flourished, to exorcise the demon and put it to flight. Nothing awed by these trusted charms the angry brute blew a terrible blast, and, with head down, charged the koma–bearers. These, being the very best men in the caravan, held on steadily for a little, and, with great faith in the efficacy of the komas they waved them vigorously. A stampede, however, was imminent, when Muhinna fired his Snider, which diverted the rhinoceros from the men, and made it paw the head of the caravan. Again it turned with defiant attitude, bent on an attack. This was the position of affairs when I seized my express and hurried back. For some time I was unable to fire, as the animal stood between me and the men. But, thinking apparently that [139] discretion was the better part of valour, it turned tail upon the caravan, and came at a steady trot towards me. Dropping on my knee, to take a steadier aim, I waited my time. The whole caravan were yelling and shouting, which so distracted its attention, that it did not notice me before it in the tall grass. When within thirty yards it swerved a little, and I took advantage of the opportunity to fire. The bullet struck close to the spine, and was just sufficient to paralyze it a little without breaking it. The great brute sank partially to the ground; but on my giving it the contents of the second barrel it sighted me, and then, pulling itself together, it came crashing towards me in the most precipitate manner. On looking round for Songoro, I found that worthy showing his heels in capital style, leaving me with empty rifle. There was no hope of evading the attack, loaded as I was with heavy boots, and in tall grass; face it I must. In my strongest language I shouted out to Songoro to bring my ammunition, and ran after him as fast as I could. The good fellow, remembering my plight, stopped at once, and came running with a cartridge in his hand. I seized it in feverish haste, and turned to face the enemy, which was almost upon me. I fumbled most clumsily at the lock, and it seemed an age before the cartridge was rammed home and the rifle at my shoulder. As I raised it, the rhino would be little more than five yards off. The very imminence of my danger pulled my wits together, and made me marvellously cool and collected. I did not feel the slightest nervous tremor. I was even aware that the cries of the men had ceased, as they stood motionless, waiting to see me hoisted. That, however, was not to be, for just in the nick of time I made a dash sideways. As my assailant passed, I delivered the contents of my rifle in its shoulder, and once more I stood unarmed. That bullet was sufficient to prevent the rhinoceros from turning round; but catching sight of Songoro careering, in his white kanzu, in front, it continued after him. Soon, however, it began to show signs of exhaustion, and as it was clear that Songoro was equal to the occasion, we all hurrahed and cheered on the hunted and the hunter. A roar of laughter burst forth as Songoro, thinking that the brute was coming rather too close, turned suddenly round and fired off a tiny revolver. This was renewed on seeing the rhinoceros give up the chase and turn away in another direction. Its trot presently turned into a walk, and then the entire caravan became inspired with a noble ardour for the chase. [140]

[141] The poor brute was soon surrounded by a couple of hundred men, who bewildered it with a continuous fusillade, though hardly a shot struck. Thus baited by its foes, it scattered them. several times by charging, but finally it succumbed, through the loss of blood consequent on my balls. The horns proved to be the largest I have got, the front one being beautifully curved and twenty–seven inches long.

A little further on I shot a pretty little antelope. At noon we reached a magnificent grove of enormous trees which surround the fountains of the Useri river. In a circular open space in the very heart of this dense forest we camped. It was nearly night, however, before every one came in, as the porters were excessively heavy laden, and several donkeys had broken down.

My hopes of continuous travelling were again doomed to be shattered. The traders seized on a trivial pretext to make another prolonged halt, their real object being to get over Ramadan among the delightful flesh–pots of Chaga. I had hitherto been most bland and unobtrusive in my ways, but [142] now I appeared in a new light Coming among them in conclave assembled, I burst out with all the effect of a bomb, uttering my indignation with an energy sufficient to make them quake in their shoes, if they had them. Of course they told all manner of lies, with that easy fluency so peculiar to the African race, and vowed they were just as anxious to get on as I was. One good effect of my unexpected outburst was a vastly increased respect, for nothing impresses people of that stamp so much as a judicious use of the Bombastes Furioso manner to show that you are not afraid of them.

At the fountains of the Useri stream, we had got sufficiently far north to see the whole of the upper aspect of Kibo past the northern face of Kimawenzi The latter presents what appears to be an enormous precipice on the east side extending from the plug of lava which forms the upper peak to more than half way down. This feature seems to have been formed by the blowing away of a part of the eastern side. Kimawenzi presents here in a very beautiful manner the curved outline of slope which is so characteristic of many large volcanoes. The explanation of this peculiarity seems to be that the continual removal of material from below the mountain has tended to the production of hollows into which the overlying strata have sunk, thus giving the sides a concave appearance.

On the second day after our arrival at Useri. the natives swarmed down in multitudes. Naturally desirous to see the stirring scene, I proceeded outside our forest–encircled camp. On making my appearance, I was surprised to see a sudden stampede of the Wa–chaga, who wore flying in evident dismay. Turning angrily to the porters, I inquired what they had been doing to frighten the people in this fashion. My men laughing outright put me momentarily in a rage, and I was proceeding to chastise them for their impudence when I was suddenly arrested by the thought dawning on me that I myself was the cause of the scare. This was soon proved to be the cue; for on my moving forward the flight was continued in evident terror, notwithstanding all my friendly shouts. Clearly I was an alarming object to them, and sadly, amidst the laughter of the men, I had to return to camp, where I hid my diminished head.

Our relations were rather strained with the Wa–seri. They came down only in enormous crowds, and were ever ready to fly in a panic, while none of our party dared leave camp [143] except in large numbers The cause of all this was that the last Pangani caravan that had passed had captured in the most treacherous manner and literally cut the throats of more than thirty Wa–chaga on the very spot where we were camped, in order to revenge a slight wound inflicted on a porter About the same time also a chief of Useri, who had en very troublesome to the traders, was beguiled into the camp, and he also got his throat out. Such is lynch law in East Africa.

A very exciting episode occurred at this place, which might have ended disastrously if we had been anywhere but where we were. The tall dry grass had been set on fire some distance to the south of us, probably by the Wa–seri. As the wind was blowing north with unusual violence, the flames came down on us with terrific speed and the most appalling noise. Before we wore fairly aware what was up, the camp towards the open was completely surrounded, and the whole heavens were overcast with the lurid glow. The scenes and sounds that followed wore past description. Monkeys screamed and birds cried in abject terror. Several hundred men rushed about and shouted in uncontrollable excitement, tearing down branches to thrash out the flames, or labouring away in the very midst of the relentless element, looking amid their fiery surroundings the very incarnation of evil spirits; some ran to save the donkeys outside, and to prevent a stampede, and soon the animals, panic–stricken, added to the chaos and confusion by rushing pell–mell into camp with their great cars uplifted, knocking down men or whatever came in their way. In a few seconds the furious conflagration swept past, and we were beginning to think all was safe, when every one was electrified by a shout for help from a small party who were camped by themselves outside, and who had been forgotten in the excitement. In a moment every one was running as if for life, towards the spot, to discover a small band completely surrounded by flames, and fighting away with the fury of desperation against the mighty foe which threatened to engulf them. With a will every man, regardless of burns and dangers, braced himself to the relief of the besieged. Mad with the excitement, we yelled and shouted, as with vigorous strokes we tackled the enemy, and dashed up great showers of sparks. Soon we had the beet of it, and with a shout of triumph a road was formed inside.

The battle was won, but not a moment too soon. As it [144] was, several loads were destroyed and several men badly burned. Nothing could have saved us from immense damage and loss of life if we had been camped in the open. We only escaped as we did through the fact that an impenetrable wall of green forest lines the two fountains of the Useri stream, the angle at their junction forming our camp.

On the evening of the same day I had a very narrow escape from a very poisonous snake. Requiring an article from one of my boxes, I began turning over my clothes; I got a sudden shock by finding my hand touching something clammy and cold. Instinctively drawing back, and jumping aside, I had the pleasant sensation of seeing a large snake with its steely eye wriggle itself out and disappear below my camp bed before I could seize a stick to despatch it. On examination I found quite a nest of snake eggs.

Next day the country looked very doleful. The burning of the grass left behind a perfectly black pall, relieved only by the brown colours of the shrivelling leaves which the flames had been unable actually to reach. I shot a hartebeest for the pot, and was made to regret my deed of blood on seeing the infinitely pitiful manner in which its mate hung about, divided between terror of the destroyer and wistful tenderness and anxiety for its struggling and bleeding companion. Bounding away a few stops, it would turn again to face the hunter with its great beautiful eyes, or to cast perplexed glances at the dying hartebeest, wondering doubtless what horrid fate had fallen upon it. I could have easily shot the poor creature, but I felt too conscience–stricken to do the deed of blood, and I let it alone. The realities of the situation seemed to dawn upon it when my butchers began to cut up the meat; with one last, lingering look it fled the scene, nor stopped till far away.

I would here have the reader clearly, understand that while to some extent I enjoyed the excitement and adventure arising from hunting, the whole tenor of my thoughts revolted from the idea of shooting game from mere love of sport. I can conscientiously say that except in the case of buffaloes, rhinoceroses, and elephants, I never shot a head of game for anything but the prosaic requirements of the pot, although by this means I frequently kept my men in food for days, or added to their insipid fare of porridge made from grain. In no sense do I consider myself a sportsman, and I by no means aspire to the fame of a Nimrod, though my deeds might perhaps fairly entitle me to the name. Hunting [145] did serve, however, to let off my bile and allay the spirit of restlessness when, as at Rombo and Useri, I was compelled to waste valuable time,–time which might have been profitably spent, had I not been kept continually under the belief that we would go on at once, only to have my hopes utterly disappointed by their objectless lies.

On the fifth day of our stoppage at Useri, when lying reading poetry in my tent, as a relief from the barren occupation of cursing my fate and wondering when all this purposeless delay would end, I was aroused by some men coming excitedly into camp with the news that a rhinoceros was feeding about two miles to the east. I felt very little inclined to risk my life any more in shooting those dangerous brutes, but reluctantly allowed myself to be dragged out by my men, who only foresaw a feast and did not trouble themselves about the peril to me. Followed by a great crowd of porters and traders, who were desirous of watching the sport, I started off, carrying as usual my 8–bore gun, Brahim holding my Express as a reserve. On sighting the animal at about a quarter of a mile, I discovered that it was a female with a baby rhino. A strong feeling of reluctance seized me at the thought of hunting it, and but for the fact of so many men being about, I would have turned to the right–about and slunk back to camp. But what reason could I give to the men? What would they understand by the presentiment that possessed me of disaster if I ventured within reach of that rhinoceros? Could I endure to be dubbed a coward after all the deeds of daring I had performed? I looked wistfully at the unconscious animal in the distance, and tried to find an excuse as a loophole of escape, but there was none, and rather than confess myself frightened, I resolved (as it seemed to me) to sacrifice my life for my reputation, for I felt somehow convinced that I would not escape scathless.

When we first sighted the rhinoceros it was leisurely grazing on the open plain, and there was not a bush to afford the slightest cover for the purposes of stalking. As I moved round to get the wind in my favour I was greatly relieved to see my game lie down in the long grass. That simplified our movements considerably. The same dread presentiment, however, still clung to me, and reduced my temperature to zero, till I positively shivered with a feeling of ice–cold water pouring down my back. Slowly, but surely, Brahim. and I crept along like snakes, and not a sound betrayed our presence, [146] though to my ears, now painfully acute, my heart seemed to. thump against my ribs like the strokes of a drum, and I almost suffocated myself attempting to tone down my breathing. I felt also that if I did not shake off the feelings which paralyzed me, I should never be able to hold up my gun, much less to fire it. But for pure shame and "dour" obstinacy I would not give way, and my painful sense of helplessness only rendered me irritable. Inch by inch we approached the heedless brute. Laying the rifle well forward, I pulled myself gently up to it, carefully laying the grass to prevent the slightest rustle. By repeating this process, we at last got within fifteen yards, and then to my intense relief the horrid feeling which, Nemesis–like, had threatened to destroy me, began to fade away. The twitching feeling subsided; the heart beat less noisily; I began to feel less limp; I was once more a vertebrate animal. With more confidence I pushed slowly on, and presently we were within ton yards. We wore still unobserved, but not for long; for at this moment the baby got up and began moving about restlessly, sniffing the air, and looking suspicious. At first I thought of firing instantly, but observing that the baby had not seen me, I sank flat on the gram. In a short time its suspicions were allayed, and it lay down again. There was a small tree between us, and looking upon that as a house of refuge, I determined to get up to it before I fired, though it was within two yards of the rhinoceros. The seconds now seemed to expand into hours as we noiselessly covered the intervening distance. The tree was reached at last, and as I lay for a minute to steady my nerves, and generally recover myself, I could actually hear the animal breathing. The time for action had now arrived, and the rhinoceros was lying in a beautiful position for a shot. Elevating myself slightly, not without a measure of trepidation, and pushing some grass aside to view my prey more clearly, I raised my great gun to my shoulder, and with a coolness and a firmness that surprised myself, I aimed and pulled the trigger. There was a fearful roar as I sank again among the grass, prepared, however, to use the second barrel if necessary. As the great ball pierced the unsuspecting animal, it bounded to its feet, ran a few steps up the wind, then turned at right angles and fled. At the same moment I sprang up and fired again; then, seizing the Express from Brahim, I gave its contents to the baby, and almost simultaneously they both sank down, dyeing the ground with their hearts’ blood. At the same moment I heard the distant [147] shouts of the on–lookers. After swing Brahim cut the throats of the spoil, I started off home, trying to look as if such deeds were not worth noticing, but feeling a "goneness" about me that would possibly have been helped by the customary remedy for such a weakness viz., a glass of brandy, which I may add I never taste.

Varied by adventures like these the days crept on, and it was very clear that no further movement would be made till the month of fasting (so called) was over. Food was in abundance. Water welled up in great volume at our feet clear and cool as it descended from the heights of Kimawenzi by some underground channel, while magnificent forest–trees shaded us deliciously from the noonday heat. The temperature sank to 60 Fahr. during the night, and seldom rose at any time above 70 . The traders spent the day in prayers and sleeping till the sun set, and then they caroused and fattened on the good things of Useri. The scene within that glorious arboreal amphitheatre was surpassingly beautiful and picturesque when the shades of night act in, and a hundred bonfires lit up the forest with lurid flames, among which the naked men could be seen flitting about like dark, restless spirits. Encircling this lower zone was the heightened gloom of the great trees, and over all the firmament gleamed and twinkled. About two hours after sunset, through the noise and merriment of the camp, a voice each night rose with impressive effect. As the sonorous and musical sound gathered volume, voices wore hushed, conversation ceased, and a striking reverence reigned throughout the camp. The sound that thus re–echoed through the ambient atmosphere was the sacred call to prayer. Every word was articulated with great distinctness and sung out as far as breath would last, and as it filled the reverberating and re–echoing woods with its thrilling power, even we "infidels" felt inclined to lift our hats in respect. As the echoes of the last words died away the broken threads of conversation were picked up. The joke was repointed, and liveliness was once more the order of the day.

On the 4th of August, when the departing sun lit up as with a halo the snow–white head of Kibo, and duskys–andalled eve was succeeding to the effulgence of day, every man emerged from camp, and eagerly watched the western heavens. No one was a more eager gazer than myself; for we hoped to see in the sky a sign that the month of fasting was over, and with it our vexatious delays. In other words, [148] we were looking out for the appearance of the new moon. I had the honour of being the first to see this sign of what was to me a new era of hope, and as the faint, silvery line, still bathed in the rays of the setting sun, emerged to view, I threw my hat in the air, and shouted out an eager "There it is!" Soon all saw it, and amidst jumping, shouting, and prayers, we all returned to camp.

Long before dawn the "rigidly righteous" followers of the Prophet were at work chanting prayers. This exercise continued till about 7 a.m. Then their devotions stopped, and volley after volley. was thundered forth, to the great terror of the natives, who fled in. dismay. Thereafter every one, arrayed in his best, proceeded to call on every other one, to pass the compliments of the season and exchange gifts. To mark the occasion I had to give a present to each of my men, and then, arrayed in a new tweed suit, I took up my post near my tent, and held a levee, considerably diminishing my small stock of comforts in trying to sustain my dignity as the most important man in the caravan.

Next day (the 6th of August) we prepared to march forth. But before doing so, all the traders gathered together and piled their arms. Then four men went to as many corners, and round these Jumba marched, chanting some prayers, presumably for our success and safety, and for destruction to all our foes. The ceremony ended with all the merchants joining in a common prayer from the Koran.

Our march was a short one, nearly north–west, over a somewhat better wooded country, more broken, and rising considerably in altitude, till we reached a fine grove of trees. These trees, as at Useri, mark the fountains of the Kimangelia stream, which joining the Useri stream to the east, forms the Tzavo river.

Here we resolved to camp. We had cut our way for shelter into the very heart of the wood, and were rapidly getting the undergrowth cleared sufficiently to permit the stacking of the goods and the pitching of the tents. I was taking my ease on a camp–stool, enjoying the cool shade and a refreshing cup of coffee, when I was startled by an extraordinary commotion. Jumping to my feet, and throwing down the cup as I instinctively seized my ever–ready rifle, I observed a sight which sent a thrill through me. Men were running on all sides as if the ground had yawned to swallow them up. Some were scrambling up trees, others, paralyzed, [149] hid behind bushes, or any other object. Terror seemed to permeate the air with electric effect, and the short, quick cries of excited, panic–stricken men were beard on all sides. Almost paralyzed myself at this extraordinary but as yet unseen danger, I stood helpless till I was enlightened by one of my men screaming out to me in a warning voice, "Bwana, bwana, mboga!"(Master, a buffalo.) "Good gracious! where?" I said, as I skipped with agility behind a tree, and peered cautiously past the side in the direction indicated for be it known that there is not a more dangerous or dreaded animal in all Africa. Knowing now what was really the matter, I felt less put out, and was prepared for any emergency. The next moment there was a thrilling terror–laden yell, which went to the heart of every one, and, looking in the direction of the cry, I was appalled by the sight of a man propelled like a rocket in mid–air, and a fierce old buffalo bull breaking out of the bushes. The man fell with a loud crash into a dense bush and the bull was making for him again, when several of us gathering our wits together rushed to his rescue. Before I got up, a regular volley was fired at the savage brute, which seemed to take no effect except to make him leave the fallen man and run amuck through the camp. Lots of the men were outside unable to see what was going on, and we all shouted out in a voice of warning as we rushed after the infuriated animal. We just got outside, to see a tremendous scramble on the part of every one to get out of danger, while donkeys ran braying with fear. One unfortunate brute, however, laden with seneng�, was right in the way, and before it could clear off the buffalo was upon it. Next moment the donkey, load and all, was impaled on its horns, and twirled in the air as if it were a rat thrown up by a dog. Not satisfied with that feat, the buffalo dashed a second time at the poor donkey, writhing in its convulsions with its entrails hanging out, and gave it a tremendous blow on the head, which literally smashed the skull, and ended its life.

A neighbouring clump of dense bush now afforded shelter to the buffalo, and immediately we were all round it, noisier than a pack of hounds. Every one, however, was on the alert, knowing as we did the remarkable cunning of the vindictive brute. But, in reality, we were in more danger from each other’s guns, as they were fired recklessly and aimlessly into the heart of the brake. This baiting had the effect of causing the buffalo to make several vicious [150] charges to the edge of the cover, but it always retreated after seeing its tormentors flying in terror.

Knowing that it must ultimately be driven forth, I took up a situation where I thought it would most likely break cover. I had not long to wait. There was a shout, a crashing of bushes, and then the great clumsy form came thundering out, As it pawed within ten yards, I fired my Express, and had the satisfaction of seeing that the shot had taken effect, as the buffalo staggered and nearly fell. Recovering itself, it sought refuge in the bush again, receiving, as it did so, a second bullet from me.

We now know that the game was ours, as it would infallibly die, and we were leisurely discussing the situation, when we were taken aback by a terrified shout. Looking round, I saw one of my men sprawling on the ground, and the buffalo preparing to give him his quietus. Makatubu, who was nearest, with rare courage rushed up and tired his gun into the very face of the buffalo, which caused it to retreat into the bush again. The man had been coming back to camp from drawing water, quite unaware of the cause of all the shouting and firing. In passing near the bush, before he know what he was about, he was act upon by the buffalo, and knocked down.

I now resolved to try to finish it off, and with Makatubu and Brahim as supporters, proceeded to the bush. We found, however, that that was composed of powerful thorns, so densely interlaced that no progress could be made, except on all fours along the game tracks. With bated breath and staring eyes, we crept about for some time, trying to find the enemy, but gradually becoming more and more painfully alive to the fact that nothing could save us if it should charge. To run away was a simple impossibility. At last this feeling grew so overpoweringly strong, that, after risking my life for a quarter of an hour, I withdrew from the hunt. Not so Brahim, and Makatubu, who, with a recklessness of the most remarkable character, determined to be in at the death.

On getting back to camp I found I had some work before me. The man first thrown had had his leg knocked out of joint and certain parts fearfully lacerated. The men wore looking on helplessly, but I saw that, if the man was over to be worth anything again, prompt action was required. I had never seen a leg set, and had only very hazy ideas how to do it; but with Martin and one of my strongest men, I set to, [151] and, heedless of the cries of the victim and the astonished remonstrances of the onlookers, we had his leg into its place in a trice and thoroughly bandaged up. Then, getting a razor, I manipulated the torn parts and dressed them up beautifully, and in the end felt quite a pride in my work. It may be added that the man, thanks to my prompt if rough surgery, became quite well, and was never tired of sounding my praises. The other man had received no particular injury, and was soon all right.

While thus engaged we were again sadly upset by the banging of some guns, followed by the swish of a bullet which lodged in a tree close to us. We fled in dismay once more to the friendly shelter of the trees as several more shots resounded through the forest. The firing then ceased, and shortly after Makatubu and Brahim arrived in triumph, bearing the head of the buffalo, which they had succeeded in finishing. The beast’s face bones were simply shattered, and one eye knocked out, while several holes showed where bullets had harmlessly lodged about the cranium. It had clearly been an old, solitary bull driven from the herd, and soured in temper in consequence. The massive and grandly rugged character of its horns plainly told its age, and without doubt it must have been almost deaf, as it had lain almost in the midst of the camp for some time before being aroused to indulge in the dangerous escapades I have described.

In consequence of this adventure it became necessary to send back the wounded men to Taveta. It would have been [152] out of the question to carry them with us, loaded to the killing–point as we were. I had, therefore, with the best grace possible, to submit to the inevitable, and wait for the return of the ambulance corps.

Kimangelia (or rather our camp at the fountains of the stream known to the Wa–swahili by the name of the neighbouring district) we found to be situated at a height of nearly 4000 feet. The country was much more broken and wooded than any we had yet traversed. The greatest peculiarity, however, was the frequent "Scotch mist" or drizzle which enveloped us, making the thinly–clad coast men cringe and shiver round their fires in the most pitiful manner. As the temperature during the four days we remained there rarely got above 64� Fahr., and was frequently down to 50� in the early morning, I was glad myself to get inside an overcoat. One of the trees in the forest I found to be no less than thirty feet in girth. It sprang up unbranched to a height of 100 feet, where it spread out in a massive crown.

The time of waiting for the ambulance was occupied in making two excursions up to the base of Kimangelia, where we held a market with the natives, who descended in extraordinary numbers. We had to be strongly armed and provided with a large escort, as the people were evidently only waiting for an opportunity to revenge the massacre of their brethren. I also had another rhinoceros hunt, this time following a wounded one for two hours through dense bush, and finally losing it. I cannot conceive any more exciting or dangerous form of hunting than that of following such an animal into the narrow labyrinths which penetrate an African bush. The hunter cannot see a couple of yards ahead, and never knows but that the next bush may hide the vindictive brute, though only too certain that a charge would simply mean death, as the possibility of stopping the creature by a head–shot is nil, and flight out of the question.

At Kimangelia we found ourselves at the confines of the Masai country, which I had now so long looked forward to. This also is the northern limit of the inhabited part of Kilimanjaro–the absence of water, the unbroken angle of slope, and the proximity of the Masai making the rest uninhabitable. [153]

 

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