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AT the end of January, Makatubu turned up from Kamasia. He brought, however, considerably less food than was needed for a prolonged stay at Baringo and a return through the Masai country. As my wound was now quite healed I would have resumed our march at once; but I felt I was in honour bound not to desert the few old traders left by Jumba. These were beginning to be anxious about his non–appearance, as all sorts of rumours were in the air about fearful massacres and fights. Under the circumstances I could do no other than wait some time, even though our stores and supplies were getting perilously near an end.

In order to fill up the time there, I resolved to explore the country to the north of Baringo, and, if possible, indulge [318] in a bit of sport for its own sake, all my previous deeds in that line having been prompted more by necessity than by any craving for the luxury of adventure.

On making my arrangements we were somewhat taken aback by discovering that no guide could be got to lead us to the place required, as no meat is allowed to be touched, except elephant, buffalo, and fish, between the period at which the water is let into their fields and the formation of the heads of grain. Any one known to touch antelope or zebra during that time is at once excommunicated and driven as an infected being from the village. How these strange ideas have arisen it would be difficult to say, as they do not belong to their brethren, the Masai, neither are they held by their neighbours, the Wa–kamasia. Doubtless, some disaster happened to the crops on the occasion of a zebra–hunt, and was ascribed to the fact that they did kill and cat that animal while the grain was springing. From such trivial causes many otherwise inexplicable phenomena of negro life have without a doubt arisen, and do not require the very profound and subtle explanations generally attempted.

We at last got a young man to guide us, one who, having no relations and no riches, was careless whether he was excommunicated or no, so long as he was assured of a handsome reward and protection from violence. This matter settled, we set off, going east to the base of the Lykipia mountains. We then ascended three steps, which were clearly formed by as many lines of fault running parallel to the principal direction of the escarpment. The grass had been only recently burnt off, leaving the country under a perfectly black pall, unrelieved by green or yellow. To add to the desolate aspect of the landscape and the horrors of the march, the entire country was like one continuous irregular mound of angular lava fragments, which made the march infinitely painful and harassing. After a killing tramp of six hours we reached an upper step with a more fertile and flat surface, on which we found great numbers of game and plenty of water. As we had determined to live entirely by the chase, no food had been brought; but in half an hour two zebras and one giraffe fell to my gun, and their bones were soon ornamenting the environs of our camp.

Next morning, on leaving camp, we spied great numbers of buffalo. I had, however, learned caution in dealing with these brutes, and though revenge for my recent rough handling appeared sweet, I cleared the way at a safe distance by a shot. [319] Further on I had to do the same with a rhinoceros, which looked defiant, and paid with its life in consequence. Its companion soon followed suit with a ball through the heart, and then a third falling in my way, I dropped it apparently dead. Brahim was speedily upon it, and in a twinkling his knife had performed its deadly work. But just as its blood began to flow in a crimson torrent, we were all astonished by seeing it make a sudden spurt. The next moment Brahim was pitched from the head of the wounded animal, and we were all scattered. Getting on to its feet, the rhinoceros furiously charged us with its throat completely cut. Of course it did not go far, as its life–tide was gushing forth, and in a few minutes it once more succumbed. The brute had only been stunned by my ball, and had come to its senses too late to avert Brahim’s sanguinary incision. These three rhinoceroses were shot within half an hour, and at the same moment we could see three enormous herds of buffalo, together with zebra, giraffe, and antelope.

We now ascended another but more formidable step, leading to the tipper plateau. On reaching the top of this step we had before us a marvellously desolate and dreary prospect –a narrow, stony valley, cut up by numerous mullahs, without a green thing to be seen, and backed to the cast by another and final step to the top of the table–land (for, be it noted, the plateau escarpment, which further south rises in an almost unbroken precipice, is here broken up by a series of faults, producing an effect something like colossal steps). In this desolate place I noticed an antelope, though I failed to shoot it. It was unlike any I had yet seen, but I am now inclined to think it was the lesser kudu. Before camping we saw some eland and beisa antelope.

We rejoiced in a storm of thunder and rain during the night; but happily it cleared up shortly after sunrise, and we were enabled to proceed. For three hours we tramped on painfully over stony ground, and crossed with difficulty these extremely deep, dry gorges. About ten I stalked an old buffalo bull, and brought it down; but I was particularly

careful not to go up to it till I was perfectly certain I would not go up in any other sense. The horns, though not nearly so long from curve to curve as many, were certainly the most massive and rugged of any I had yet set eyes on, even beating my Kimangelia pair. Like the animal from which the latter were taken, he was an old solitary bull, a fact which the lions had taken advantage of to relieve him of his caudal appendage. [320]

A hundred yards from the scene of this adventure I shot a second buffalo, and ill following it up, I got a startling warning that I had better be cautious. I nearly ran slapdash on to the horns of the vindictive animal before I knew what I was about, as I had lily eyes intently fixed on another buffalo running away ahead, which I thought was the one I had just wounded.

After midday we reached a spring in a gorge of the mountain, and camped. It seemed, however, that we were going to be compelled to return without even seeing an elephant, and it was only too clear that my guide knew no more of the surrounding country than I did. After refreshing myself with some zebra–steak, I started off with Brahim and Bedu� to have one last look round, and find, if possible some more likely place for the elephant than where we were. Following a game–path first north, then east, over the range of hills we had been traversing all day, we reached the top, to find yet another valley or hollow stepbacked by a third line of mountains. The scene was not quite so desolate as the one we had just left, yet it did not promise elephants. Not to be beat, however, I, though somewhat footsore, resolved to ascend the mountain ill front.

Proceeding to cross the valley, I was suddenly arrested by Brahim drawing my attention to what he called a rhinoceros. On examination I was at no loss to discover that the animal before me was a real indisputable elephant. All opportunity was thus at last afforded me of hunting this noble brute. Circumstances, however, were sadly against me from the absence of cover, there being no bushes or trees ill the elephant’s immediate vicinity. Noting, however, that it stood with head towards the wind, and therefore in a favourable position for stalking, I commenced that exciting game. Getting fairly in its rear, and also into a hollow, we were able to advance pretty quickly without being perceived. On emerging, however, from the depression within fifty yards of the elephant, the real difficulties commenced. It was leisurely feeding up the wind, though now and then turning half round to crop the bushes. On these occasions it was necessary to clap close to the earth to escape detection, and then jump up and make a short rush forward, as the animal moved its head back, to subside once more behind a bushy tuft the moment it showed symptoms of looking round. My sensations, however piquant, could hardly be described as comfortable in finding myself in an open desert within a few yards of the Goliath of animals, knowing [321] that if it should turn quite round nothing could save us from being discovered.

At last I found myself within ten yards, and concluded that I had got near enough. Getting with some trepidation on to one knee, I waited till the great hulk swung round nearly, though not quite, at right angles to me. The next moment I fired with my 8–bore, causing it to grunt out as the ball went crashing into its body. Unfortunately the ball penetrated diagonally, causing it just to miss the heart. As the elephant went off at a quick trot, I gave it the contents of the second barrel, though, of course, at a disadvantage. Then I seized the Express, both barrels of which I fired. On the fourth shot we were fearfully taken aback by the elephant trumpeting out, hauling round, and coming down at full speed straight for us. Giving myself up as a lost man, I had, however, sufficient presence of mind to fall down behind a slight tussock of grass, and simultaneously with stern and penetrating tones to order my companions to do the same, for they were preparing to rush off at once, which would have brought them to a speedy death. Brahim pushed the 8–bore to –lie with cartridges ill, ])lit unlocked. Rectifying this dangerous mistake, I wriggled myself into a proper position to fire when the crisis came, and held the, gun ready.

My sensations can be better imagined than described on seeing the monster coming along at a terrific rate, apparently bent on our destruction. We seemed to be choking with the excitement as we almost counted each footstep. I had to exercise all my powers of control to prevent myself from firing my gull prematurely through my convulsive clutching of the weapon. We were clearly in for a life–and–death fight, in which the odds were vastly against us. We knew that our balls would have no chance of dropping the elephant, even at close quarters, and, sadly wounded as it already was, we could hardly hope to turn it. As it approached, however, a ray of hope gleamed fitfully across lily mind. It did not seem to see us, and appeared rather to be looking for the enemy than charging at a definite object–otherwise, it would probably have been screaming with trunk uplifted. But while this was true, there was, nevertheless, the awful fact that it was coming dead for our lair, and if we had not already been discovered, we must inevitably soon be so. We must still fight for life! The space between us was lessening with horrible rapidity. My eyes were almost [322] blinded by the profuse perspiration; yet I was conscious of becoming more collected as the danger became greater.

I was now tortured chiefly by the question, "Shall I fire, or shall I wait?" Nearer and nearer it came! More and more it loomed fate–like in my vision! Fifty yards–thirty yards–twenty–and still it held a straight line, pledged to our destruction I My men implored me to fire. My only reply was a kick to be quiet. My gun was at my shoulder, and my eye glanced along the barrel. The elephant had reached within ten yards. I must fire. But just as I was on the point of pressing the trigger, the elephant swerved a little to one side. Thank God! It had not seen us, and we were saved! As it passed close to us I was about to fire, when a hand clutched my leg, and a voice, terror–laden, prayed me to desist, an injunction I was by no means loth to attend to, as, even in the first moment of my relief, I began to feel rather limp and shaky. Our suspense had been terrible. Fortunately, also, it had been brief–for the whole period between my first shot and the passing of the elephant would hardly be two minutes.

The wounded elephant now disappeared in a mullah. Pulling ourselves together with a desperate effort of will, we worked away to get once more if possible to close quarters. I did not want to lose my prize, for of course I was confident, as people usually are on such occasions, that I had fatally wounded the elephant, and that it must speedily fall. Before we reached the mullah the hunted animal had left it, and there was nothing for us but to follow pell–mell, tripping over stones, falling into holes, and tearing our clothes among the thorns. But we reeked not of these mishaps as, with gasping breath and eyes eagerly fixed on our game, we resolutely pressed on.

At first it led the way up the valley; then it struck up the face of the eastern hills. Seeing this we tried to cut off its course; but we only got to the top to find ourselves exhausted, and the elephant swinging on in front, though much slower than before, as if its strength was giving way. This sign encouraged us; only I began to have terribly scalded and sore feet from having put on a pair of very heavy new boots, and we had now been on the tramp for ten hours over the most harassing road conceivable. I had therefore to lot Brahim and Bedu� follow up, while I came on more at leisure. The elephant was now walking, but at a quick, steady pace, which kept them at a trot. There [323] was still no cover to run alongside of, or the game would have been speedily ours, and all that we could do was to follow up in the rear till trees were reached. We crossed one step, and then up another height, to find another valley and another range of hills. Still the brute held on, and I finally lost sight of both the hunted and the hunters.

Presently the sun set, and I was in the unenviable position of being ten miles from camp, without a weapon, in a country where lions were numerous. As darkness rapidly approached I was beginning to feel eerie and somewhat put out, when I heard a rifle–shot ringing from the distant brake. I concluded that the elephant had received its quietus There seemed, however, to be no chance of my meeting my men, and I did not know what to do. I resolved at last to wait and see if they would not turn up. Soon, to my great joy and relief, I saw two figures appearing in the fast deepening gloom. Their news was that they had fired at the elephant again at close quarters, but, owing to the darkness, had been compelled to give up the chase.

With no better guide than the stars, and with terribly sore feet, we commenced our return over hill and dale. We got knocked about sadly in the darkness. So rough was the ground, that but for the light of the moon, which now rose, we should have been compelled to get up a tree, and remain there till the morning. Herds of buffaloes could be seen moving in dark battalions across the valley, or could be heard thundering away through the bush on their scenting us. Solitary rhinoceroses loomed, demon–like, in the distance, and on several occasions the roaring of lions mingled with the indignant whistling bark of the zebra. After a weary struggle we stumbled back into camp, unspeakably thankful that we had got there safe. We had been on our feet without intermission for fifteen hours.

Next morning I resolved to move up to the farthest point of the previous day, in the hope of tracing the wounded elephant, and because Brahim had seen three more that night. On the way I shot a rhinoceros, and about mid–day reached a picturesque gorge, through which ran a stream of water rising in a series of warm springs. As I was somewhat done up with my former exertions, I resolved not to go out hunting, but sent Bedu� and a party to take up the trail of the previous night, as I was confident it could not have gone far from where we left it. Shortly after they had gone, a man came running back in breathless haste, [324] throwing us into excitement by the news that some elephants were close at hand. This was indeed a summons to battle which I could not ignore. Speedily equipping myself, therefore, with the necessary instruments of destruction, I hurried out.

We had not gone far before three elephants were pointed out to us–a male, a female, and a young one. I could not hut admire the stately animals as, with a dignified, self–satisfied air, they leisurely marched on–the female leading the way, and the young scion of the noble race following behind. Finding they were likely to get our wind, I moved lower down, but, unfortunately, the men who had first gone out remained behind, as I could not communicate with them. The consequence was that, just as the elephants were coming into good position and I was getting close to them the men were scented. The female trumpeted, and at first bore straight down in our direction, as if she had scented us, and was about to punish us for our temerity. I sank on one knee behind a bush in breathless expectancy, but, before we were reached, the female again trumpeted and turned at right–angles, presenting a capital shot, though I could not take advantage of it. Before I could secure a more favourable position they ran into the dense bush, and to fire was out of the question.

We soon lost sight of the animals, but contrived to keep the trail. In half an hour we found ourselves getting once more to close quarters in the bush, and we had to proceed with every precaution. At last we made out from the sounds that they had got over their scare and were quietly feeding. Though they were within a few yards we could not see them; but finding them coming down upon us, we had to scuttle out of the way. ]Punning round some bushes, I got a good sight of one of them three yards off. At the same moment I fired, and glided close into a bush to escape detection. At first, with outspread ears the elephant came straight for me. For my own safety I was about to give it the contents of the second barrel, when, apparently catching sight of my gallant men running away, it seemed to become affected with their fears, and, turning, made for cover. I now sprang up to pursue, expecting, from the sounds I heard, that it was crashing on ahead. Imagine, then, how thoroughly I was upset by almost running against it as I hurried out of the thick bush. The creature by a touch of its tail might have knocked me over before I recovered my [325] [326] wits, and nimbly dodged out of sight. Having regained presence of mind, I was able to observe that the animal before me was positively sitting in a most dignified attitude on its rear. I did not stop to speculate on this unusual posture, but speedily put a ball in its spine. Dignified to the last, my elephant gradually sank down with fore–legs bent in, and I emerged with the triumphant air of a Nimrod, to form a fitting figure in the grand tableau. The first bullet had done the deed, and the elephant went only some ten yards from the spot where it was shot. The tusks, though not very large, were an extremely handsome pair, weighing together 35 lbs.

Next morning we extracted the ivories, and then, after I had shot a zebra, to keep the camp in meat, I set off on an exploratory trip. We at first went east, then south, along the base of the hills, seeing numerous traces of elephants. At last we reached a gorge leading up the hills, and we were greatly struck by the enormous pathway and the evidences of elephants in great numbers having formed it in going to and fro to the hills. Following it up, we traversed a narrow defile, then ascended through a dense bush forest notable for the enormous number of black pigeons feeding upon the fruit. On reaching the top we found the country stretching away in one great expanse of light green, slightly sinking, to rise again in another range of hills. A beautiful open road, like the cattle–tracks of Ngongo, led pleasantly through the tall, much–branched bush. While moving leisurely along this, we were suddenly arrested by the sound of elephants on our left. Running back on our tracks to get the wind in our favour, we entered the forest, and noiselessly threaded our way. I speedily sighted one of the elephants. Getting up to within ten yards, I fired, but doubtless the intervening branches spoiled my shot somewhat. The bullet, however, struck. Off the animal rushed, and I, forgetful and excited, hastened after it, looking neither to right nor left. I had not continued the chase many yards, before I found myself close upon the wounded animal, which was bleeding profusely. Again I fired, hitting it on the other side. In the very moment of my firing, I became aware of a crashing on my left in such startling proximity that it gave me a feeling as of cold water running g, down my back. As I quickly looked around, the head of an elephant was just emerging from the dense ‘bush onto the small clear area, in which I stood. I dropped instantly behind a very small bush, mentally concluding that [327] my life was not worth five minutes purchase if the elephant was vindictively inclined. The position was, certainly, not without elements of the thrilling sort. Here I was, on my knee, behind a small skeleton bush, positively looking up at an enormous wild elephant, the head of which was almost over me; one elephant was running away on my right, four or five were behind me, and several on my left. I was, in fact, in the midst of a herd of elephants–though I must hasten to explain to the reader that they were all running away from the spot, with the exception of the one in front of me. For a moment it looked around with a stolid air, as if inquiring what on earth all this row meant. I was unseen, being indeed too immediately under it. My gun was levelled, however, dead fora hollow over one of its eyes, and if it should move one more step forward, my bullet would find a home in the bony cavities of the brute’s skull. As I crouched, like a stone statue, watching with dread expectancy, though with unwavering muscle, for the opportunity of action, the elephant turned sharp round, and the next moment a bullet sped to its heart. Bellowing out in its acute agony, it lumbered away, and, a few minutes after, I was rejoined by my runaways, who, at the most dangerous moment had left me in the lurch. Like blood–hounds we now took up the trail of the elephant first shot. We had no difficulty in tracing it, as the blood had literally spouted out on both sides, sprinkling the bushes with a crimson shower. At one spot where it had halted, and apparently reeled round in a dazed state., a considerable space had been saturated. But though blood hail been shed at this rate, the animal was not fated to be "bagged." As we went on the blood–stains became less and less noticeable, and we had more and more difficulty in following it up, for, besides the denseness of the bush, the astonishing quantity of game spoor deterred us from going quickly, lest we should suddenly find ourselves at the mercy of the elephant. For an hour we pushed on with very much the same sensations as we had experienced in Lykipia when following a buffalo into the bush. We were, however, in great hopes that we would secure our prize, as the footprints showed signs of exhaustion, and it was evidently dragging its feet along. Our hopes, however, were presently dashed to the ground. Repeated gunshots from the distance alarmed us, for we knew that the men left behind would not hunt alone. Fearing some attack by natives, we hurriedly retraced our steps, only to be compelled to anathematize the [328] men on hearing that the occasion of their firing was simply their discovery of the other elephant dead, within fifty yards of the place where it had been shot.

As the sun was now falling in the western heavens, and the camp was distant, we were compelled to hurry back, after extracting the tusks, which were about the same size as those secured on the previous day. Next day we set off direct for the upper forest region, in which it was clear elephants were numerous. We had not gone far before we descried a rhinoceros and young. Working up to about forty yards, I fired with the Express and struck the shoulder, a little too high up, however. Before it could collect its senses together I gave it a second in its neck, and a third ill its side. These shots paralyzed it at first, though it soon began to recover, and then catching sight of its baby, it made as if to attack it as the cause of its agonies. The poor little fellow presented a piteous and at the same time a comical spectacle of utter anxiety and perplexity. Apparently the mother realized the absurdity of the idea before summarily pitching it ill mid–air, and, precipitately rail off. Following it lip, I was suddenly electrified by a sound like the trumpeting of an elephant, and leaving the rhino to my men, I started off ill pursuit of this more noble game. The sound proved, however, to emanate from a buffalo.

Getting now to the upper region, we sighted a herd of elephants. I fired at one, but missed it, and, time being short I was compelled to return to camp. On the way back I shot two zebras. In one of the cases, a bullet With a steel core passed clean through the heart of the zebra and struck the ground beyond, making us imagine that the game had escaped scatheless. The animal galloped only a few yards, and then dropped dead. The mell had secured the rhinoceros of the morning; so we were in no lack of meat however tough and unsavoury.

Next day we had no better luck, and though we saw some elephants, we did not get a shot. It was clear to us that these animals were in very great numbers ill the forest, only the latter was so dense that no view could be got extending beyond six yards, and our only guide was the crashing of branches when the elephants were feeding. If not making some such noise, we might pass within four or five yards, and be quite unconscious of their presence. The fact that on five consecutive days we stumbled upon them, sufficiently indicates how numerous they were. [329]

Unfortunately we were badly camped for hunting this virgin forest. It required from four to five hours to reach it, and by that time the elephants bad fed, and were enjoying their siesta. The distance made it impossible for us to have more than three hours’ hunting before we required to return. We were thus on an average over ten hours a day on our feet, and I was compelled to take my companions ill relays, as they were all complaining of being, done up. The fatigue and hardship of our life soon told upon myself also; and I was beginning to moralize on the sinfulness of risking my life in this manner. I made up lily mind, therefore, to return to Njemps, though if I had camped up in the forest, and remained a fortnight, I might have easily shot a thousand pounds’ worth of ivory.

Before striking camp, I duly noted that we had been living actually in the neck of ail old volcano–one doubtless which had contributed to the ejection of the enormous masses of lava of which the plateau is composed. Cutting straight cast, over hill and dale, we made a rapid march to one of the lower steps of the escarpment, when I shot ail old buffalo and also a young one. The latter was remarkably fierce, and showed well the dangerous character of its race. After it had its leg broken, and was run to bay, it charged us bravely, and though I had actually fired ill its eyes with my rifle, it only rushed the more furiously on me, as if it had resolved that if it must quit life it would do so in company. Zebras, eland, &c., were in very great numbers, and many lions roared during the night.

Next day, by a very difficult road, we reached the north end of Baringo. On the way I saw a lion, shot a species of antelope new to me, and new, I believe, to science, and was greatly delighted by hundreds of zebra,, gambolling playfully about us at a distance of thirty yards, utterly unconscious of danger.

The site of our camp, though the most uncomfortable I ever saw, had the advantage of a most charming view of the lake, with Kirwan to the south, and an islet–dotted arm running north between rugged precipices of the most picturesque description.

Before reaching this camp, I had an adventure of the most blood–curdling, description. I was painfully pushing my way over stone and through thorn without a weapon–my–gun–bearer being away behind, when I saw a sight which [330] made me strike an attitude that would have brought down thunders of applause on the boards of a transpontine theatre. A magnificent lion lay some fifteen yards ahead of me, enjoying a siesta. I was weaponless. I looked round, only to see that I was alone. Crouching down, I began to retreat, carefully fixing his sleeping Majesty with my eye. Getting some distance back, I soon met my men, and then my gestures and evident excitement must have made them think me mad. I seized a Snider, and in an ecstasy of excited anticipation, I proceeded to "beard the lion in his den." The moment was supreme: I was (as I vowed to myself) about to add the skin of the king of beasts as a fitting finale to my hunting trophies. In my imagination, I was already detailing a thrilling story to awe–struck audiences at home, as I exhibited the spoils of the chase. I was delighted to notice on my return to the point of first discovery, that the royal beast was still asleep, and then I submitted with all the stoicism of an Indian fakir to the tortures of stalking in this horrid region. Thorns might penetrate my flesh, skin be knocked off my hands and knees, but they could not extort a sound, or divert my steadfast gaze from the lion. Foot by foot I crept on with rising hopes and excitements, breathlessly absorbed in the adventure. I reduced my distance to thirty yards, then to twenty; yet the animal heeded me not. The requirements of the chase I thought were satisfied: I must fire now! and I did. There was a fearful roar (from the gun, not the lion) and an expression of pain as my knee subsided with startling emphasis on to the point of a big thorn. I looked to see my game spring high in mid–air with a wild death yell. But no; it did not move. It must be struck stone dead! I thought; but to make sure, I fired again. No effect. Hurrah! a lion at last! I jumped up, and shouted to my men to come and see what I had done. They soon came along, shouting out in their excitement, while I turned and made for the carcass. I had not gone many yards before I received a blow (mentally). "Good gracious!" escaped from me as the awful truth crossed my mind that my friends might "write me down an ass." The lion was indeed stone dead. I had been firing at a rock! I did not wait to explain to my bewildered followers what had happened. I slunk away, and afterwards pretended that it was a little joke of mine to vary the monotony of the march.

I shall not attempt to describe the horrible march we had [331] next day, climbing dangerous precipices, and clambering over enormous angular blocks, from between which sprang tip wait–a–bit thorns of the most harassing character. After fourteen hours’ hard tramping, we stumbled into camp at Baringo in a pitch–dark night, and amid a pouring rain. And so ended my hunting and exploring trip round the lake. In the course of the ten days I had shot six zebra, four rhinoceroses, four buffaloes, three elephants, one giraffe, and one antelope.

On my return there was still no news of Jumba, and I therefore determined to march homeward as we were in danger of starvation–neither the Njemps people nor those of Kamasia having any food to sell. This would necessitate the. desertion of the men whom Jumba had left behind; but then I had a duty I owed to my own caravan, which would run a very great risk of being stuck entirely up country for want of goods.

I had determined to start on the 17th of February, when we were all shocked by most dreadful news brought by Jumba’s Njemps guide. He declared lie was the only man left of the entire caravan, every one having been massacred in Elgumi. He told his story in such a circumstantial and apparently truthful manner, that I could not but believe him.

After that, of course the traders could not be deserted. Moran and Hamis, who were in Kamasia, must be sent for, so that we might all return together.

On the 22nd of February, we left our camp under the sycamore–tree of Guaso Tigirish and moved on to Njemps of Guaso na Nyuki, where I stopped another day to await the arrival of Moran, who had exceeded his time. Next day fortunately he arrived, and shortly after appeared a native of Njemps, who had just come from the Suk country, and who brought the remarkable intelligence that the story of Jumba’s annihilation was all a lie. Here was a proper quandary! I was inclined to believe the first messenger, the traders the second. On going into council, I made it clear to them that I could upon no account stop to verify the intelligence, as my men were already on half–rations, and our goods nearly finished. The traders, however, with sentiments which did them much honour, declared that they were quite resolved not to desert Jumba or forsake the trust reposed in them. They must wait for him, though they should starve or be killed. Hamis elected to go with us, and we took charge of several loads of ivory. As all the goods of the traders wore [332] exhausted, I had to give them some of my sadly diminished stores, to keep them from starvation.

On the 24th of February, we resumed our march towards Naivasha. Our route lay S.S.E. to the end of the alluvial plain of Baringo, where it forms an angle with its apex to the south. Here a considerable area is occupied by a marshy lake, fed by two streams and a number of large springs, which on examination proved to have a temperature of 100% From the marsh, we entered a close glen or gorge. Through this ran a fine stream, the Ngare Rongei (Narrow River), which also had its source in a number of hot springs, that were to be seen bubbling up along a line of fault. To judge from the large deposits of travertin, there must be great quantities of lime in solution in the springs.

Pushing on rapidly up the glen–which on our left presented a precipice, and on our right a slope grading up to form a hill–we soon after reached a more open space with a marshy expanse formed by the head springs of the Ngare Rongei.

Here we camped, and had to be content to drink warm water. Running parallel to our route, was another glen to the east with exactly similar topographical features; namely, a precipice marking a line of fault, with numerous hot springs gushing from the fissures, and a slope leading upwards to drop off in another precipice along a line of fault. The whole depression, indeed, between Lykipia and Kamasia is formed by a sinking of the ground; but, besides, there have been at least three secondary earth movements parallel to the main lines.

I had now been for some days feeling uneasy at certain dysenteric symptoms which had appeared in me, brought on, doubtless, by the bad fare of the last two months. They at last had begun to assert themselves in a most uncompromising manner, though as yet not alarmingly. On leaving Ngar� Rongei, I felt very ill and weak, but had to rouse myself up to shoot meat for the men. I knocked over two waterbuck, though I could hardly hold up the rifle. After a couple of hours I was compelled to mount the donkey, but, owing to the thorns and roughness of the road, I had to walk as much as ride. I contrived, however, to shoot one rhinoceros, and Brahim a second. A third I had a very narrow escape from. I was riding away ahead with Muhinna and the cook, while my guns were far behind. We were suddenly thrown on our beam–ends by the sight of a rhino charging straight for us out of the bushes. Struggling off the donkey ("Nil Desperandum"), [333] I seized Muhinna’s Snider, only to find it unloaded. With eager haste I crammed in a cartridge, and with weak and shaky hands I fired when the beast was actually within three yards. The ball took effect in the shoulder, causing the brute to swerve and pass on one side. After a waterless march of eight hours, we camped on the Guaso na Nyuki. I here became much worse, and could neither cat nor sleep.

Next day’s march was distinguished by my rapidly increasing illness, and by the sight of enormous herds of buffalo grazing on the succulent new grass springing, up on the lower plains. In spite of my illness, my shooting powers kept up wonderfully, as I brought down buffaloes with single shots and at great distances. At 150 yards I shot three, the single bullet in each case being sufficient. We crossed the beds of two small dried–up lakes, and at mid–day we halted beside a fine stream flowing to the Guaso na Nyuki. Close to camp I shot a zebra at 200 yards.

On the 27th I could not walk; yet we had no alternative but to push on. We reached a kraal of El–moran and their sweethearts. These young warriors were magnificent specimens, and were surprisingly on their good behaviour. I now made certain that I was suffering from dysentery of the worst type, and my look–out was certainly gloomy enough, as I had not a single European article except tea–not even common salt.

Next day I struggled onward, but was almost glad that we were compelled to halt at a kraal of El–moran, after little more than an hour’s tramp. We were here almost due east of the north end of the salt lake of Nakuro.

Our next camp, which was near the north end of Elmeteita, we reached after a four hours’ swift march, under a terribly hot sun. By this time I required to be supported on the donkey. The whole country presented a fearful spectacle of skeletons and dried skins, which told eloquently a tale of disease and death. The scourge had found its way from the plateau, and had hardly left a head of cattle in the entire country. At this camp the place was pointed out where, a few years ago, a Mombasa caravan had been utterly annihilated by the Masai, owing to some trivial dispute.

The following march was to Kekup�, past the edge of Elmeteita, great patches of which seemed to be suffused with a pinky glow. This is due to multitudes of flamingoes.

More dead than alive, and held on the donkey more like [334] a corpse than a sentient being, I was borne away from Kekup�. The one refrain that passed hopefully through my brain was, "Let us get to Naivasha, and milk will put me all right." And so, heedless of horrid tortures and burning suns, I pressed the men onward. One man died of dysentery. The Masai saw the death, and consequently he had to be left to the hyenas. Martin, good soul, was in despair, and he said eloquently–though unintentionally–with his eyes; "You are dying " and what on earth shall I do?" I smiled, however, at the idea, as I had not yet made up my mind to cave in, and the will, after all, has something to do with these matters.

On the 4th of March we reached our old camping–ground of Msegina, at the north end of Naivasha, and there I utterly collapsed. I could neither stand nor sit. Even milk curdled in the stomach, and the crisis of my fate had come. I had much reason to fear perforation of the colon, which I knew would mean speedy death. The rest, however, had a good effect. The lamp of life flickered a little, then became more steady. I never lost hope, and the idea of my becoming meat for the hyenas was one I would never permit myself to entertain for a moment.

For seven days I got absolutely nothing but a few cups of clear soup to keep me going. Owing to the cattle disease, no food was to be had for love or money. Martin and the men, however, contrived to shoot three zebra and to buy two rotten bullocks, which staved off starvation.

While we were at Naivasha, the remnants of a war–party got back from Nandi, near Kavirondo, where they had been utterly thrashed and one–half of their number killed,–the rest returning home in ones and twos, some without spears, many without shields. Finding myself a little better after two days’ rest, I resolved to proceed to Mianzi–ni (place of bamboos), on the plateau, and try to get into communication with the Wa–kikuyu, for the purpose of procuring food. A hammock was rigged on a pole. I was lifted into it, and off we started. We rounded the lake, and soon were moving up the slopes towards Mianzi–ni.

At our camp another man died of dysentery, and again Martin was compelled to leave the poor fellow as a feast to the hyenas. Martin, thinking that my fate was likely speedily to be the same, did not tell me anything about it till long after.

On the third march we surmounted the last step of the [335] escarpment, and then a magnificent view burst upon us. We were looking across a great plain, slightly undulating and perfectly treeless, bounded on the east by the imposing mass of the Aberdare Range, with Donyo Kinangop rising in picturesque distinction. Through a slight gap the snowy peak of Kenia glittered in crystal purity. To the south–east lay the wooded highlands of Kikuyu, with forests of bamboo in the foreground. To the south–west we saw the yawning pit of Donyo Longonot, and the romantic expanse of Naivasha. To the south the desolate plain of Dogilani, and to the cast the massive escarpment of Mau. I got myself held up to view this grand landscape–probably unsurpassed any where and, weak and weary as I was, I surveyed the glorious panorama with infinite delight, though also with a spice of awe.

Shortly after, we entered the bamboo forest, and, to our great astonishment, we were soon made aware that the traders we had left with the Andorobbo of Kenia had found their way thither, and were hiding among the hunters, unable to return alone, and hoping for the appearance of Jumba’s caravan. The sight of our party of course raised their spirits, as they were now able to come forth and join us.

At Mianzi–ni we found ourselves at a height of nearly 900 feet, and anything but comfortable. The cold was excessive, [336] and the misery of it was unspeakably intensified by the damp and the almost daily rain. It felt worse than the east of Scotland in early spring; A steady wind blew from the cast during the day, though fortunately falling away at night. Everything was sloppy and wet, and hail–storms were common.

For the first two days I began to feel myself getting better, and I might have been all right within a fortnight if I had had a little proper food and medicine;. but clear soup made from diseased meat of the most disgusting character was hardly suitable as an invalid’s food.

On the 12th of March I find the following entry in my diary: "After a critical three days, during which I hovered on the verge of the grave, I have contrived to give Death the slip by timely ‘joukin’ roun’ the corner,’ and to strike out on more hopeful bearings. Appetite returning, and, after some fourteen days’ starvation, able to eat a little." After that there appears in my journal a blank of six weeks, which tells eloquently its own tale.

On the day following the entry, I was removed from the tent into an imperfectly–thatched grass hut. Immediately after, a terrific storm of thunder and hail burst over Mianzi–ni. For hours great lumps of ice fell incessantly, amidst crashing thunder and vivid lightning. Everything was drenched, and I myself was speedily soaking. The whole country for sixteen hours–at least wherever it was free from forest–lay absolutely white. It was like a winter scene in England.

The consequence of this wetting was a relapse under the most wretched circumstances. Throughout the period represented by the blank I lay at death’s door. I never knew what it was to have more than fifteen minutes’ sleep. I was confined to a grass hut without a window. Owing to the cold, even the door had to be kept shut, so that I lay in almost complete darkness. A fire could not be lighted, and I had no material to make candles. Martin, poor fellow, felt my situation too acutely to be a very enjoyable companion. I myself could not talk, and many times I actually thought I had seen the last of this world. And through the dreadful, weary, sleepless nights, how mournfully did the wind sigh through the bamboos, and how gratefully I thanked [God to hear the cock crow (we had brought one with us from Kavirondo), and then waited and listened to hear the chirping of the feathered inhabitants of the wilds gradually [337] rising in volume, till through the chinks in the grass walls could be seen faint pencils of light, and I know that another weary day had begun. Then would appear Songoro with some soup, and later on Martin would turn up with kindly inquiries. I became an object fearful to look upon, with eyes sunk away deep into my skull. A skin bag drawn tightly over a skeleton and enclosing a few indispensable organs of the human frame might express graphically my general appearance. I was almost afraid to bend myself, lest the skin would not bear the tension over my bones. Fortunately my pains were only occasionally acute, but if ever I attempted the smallest bit of solid food it caused me to writhe about in agony.

But enough of these details, which can have little interest for the reader.

The Masai of the surrounding district were at this time in despair through the almost utter loss of their cattle, and from the absence of rains in the low–lying district causing them to remain up in the cold bleak highlands. They were greatly disposed to ascribe their misfortunes to our presence. "What do you want here?" they would ask. "You have no goods left; you can’t give our young warriors their customary presents. The rain is not coming, and the grass has not sprung up. Our cattle are dying off. You must be the cause of all this." Meanwhile it had to be kept secret that I was ill, or we should have been bundled out bag and baggage. It was represented that the great white lybon was hatching spine infallible medicine, that he was in consultation with the gods, and must not be seen by mortal eye.

The temper of the Masai was well shown one day, when a porter, having declared he had not a string of beads to give in alms to a warrior, the latter showed his belief that he had no right to be crawling between heaven and earth in that miserable plight by spitting him on one of their terrible spears, and afterwards splitting his skull open. That event took place at the very gates of the camp, and before we got the matter squared up we had to pay compensation to the Masai for blood having been spilt in their territory.

Towards the end of April we were all greatly astonished and delighted by the appearance of Jumba Kimameta and his entire caravan, all safe and sound, and fairly well loaded with ivory from regions never before reached by a coast caravan.

The weary days thus went on, and I alternated between [338] periods of hope and despair, though frequently I would have welcomed death as a happy release. It now, however, became increasingly clear to me that I should never get better in the cold, wet heights of Mianzi–ni, and I at last determined that, as death in any case seemed almost certain, I might as well close my career in an attempt, however hopeless, to reach the coast. I was accordingly borne off, the mere shadow of my old self. Descending the escarpment, we camped behind Donyo Kejab�, where I got a good supply of milk. Next day I was joined by Jumba, and we proceeded to our old camp at Guaso Kedong. There we found the ivory cache all safe, though a Masai kraal had been built on the top of it. The warriors were in great numbers around us, and during the night we were kept in a very lively state by their incessant attempts to steal, which ended in their carrying off a large number of donkeys. Next day they showed a disposition to fight, but fortunately we got off without bloodshed.

Two days later we reached Ngongo–a–Bagas, and there we found a huge caravan of 1200 men. We were received with great hospitality, and a large tax was levied for our benefit; for it is customary for a caravan proceeding up country to assist gratis with goods a caravan going coastwards, which is supposed to have nothing but ivory, and to be at the starvation point–a description which we certainly merited.

Jumba and the entire caravan now brought pressure to bear on me to make me give up my project of crossing Kapt� and proceeding via U–kambani and Teita to Mombasa. They were determined I should return with them to Pangani, and they told the most dreadful tale of massacres and plunder committed by the ferocious warriors of Kapt�. I was obdurate, however, and would listen to none of them. Go I would by the route I had determined. Finding at last that neither lies nor truths had any effect upon me, they gave way, and Jumba, with surprising generosity, gave me a very large present of beads, cloth, and wire, to help me onward A more thoroughly good follow than Jumba, Kimameta never lived (though lie possessed almost all the characteristic vices of his race), and I thought he had been. poorly repaid for his services when I left 1001. in the hands of Sir John Kirk, to be spent for his benefit. I was assisted by him in every way, and rarely thwarted–a statement that can seldom be made by a European with regard to his connection with a coast trader. [339]

On the 7th of May I left Jumba and his caravan, and crossed the Kapt� plain, which here extends in treeless monotony to the hills of U–kambani with hardly an undulation to vary the grassy expanse. In two marches we reached the eastern boundaries of Masai Land without meeting any warriors, as they had all retreated to the low country. Our progress was enlivened by our being scattered by a rhinoceros, and by an attempt of mine to shoot a magnificent lion.

On leaving Kapt� we entered upon the mountainous district of Ulu, which we found to be densely inhabited, fertile, and well cultivated, with cattle also in great numbers. In a few hard marches I traversed this friendly district, with rising hopes of life, and dreams of home and friends. Instead of becoming worse, I was getting better, and the only bar to a rapid recovery from my state of emaciation was the absence of any digestible food.

Leaving Ulu, we emerged on the barren wastes which stretch away to Kikumbuliu, and at a killing rate we rushed through this forbidding, uninhabited wilderness–for our goods were exhausted, and the men were on half–rations. But there were no grumbles heard, no remonstrances expressed. The men worked like heroes, and pushed on cheerfully from morn till dewy eve, often parched for want of water, and with fell famine gnawing at their stomachs. They saw their bright silvery dollars shining ahead, and I, as the surety for the realization of their hopes, was carried forward right heartily. My vow registered at the coast was fulfilled. These porters were regenerated morally and physically. I had taken them away as the refuse of Zanzibar rascaldom; they were returning as men, with their moral and physical defects cast off, and their good points in the ascendant. They laughed at hardships, and made jokes regarding the emptiness of their stomachs.

We were once more in the "Nyika," with all its inevitable horrors. We crossed Kikumbuliu, and found the people dying of famine; so no food was to be got there. The Tzavo was reached, and then Ndi of Teita. Our food was absolutely finished. One day the men did not get an article, and the next only a comparatively infinitesimal quantity. At this point my two white donkeys, that had followed me from first to last, got poisoned in some way or other, and on the same day, to my great grief, they both died. At Ndi we found the famine also devastating the land. No food was to be got. Ndara was reached on the 21st of May. There Mr. [340] Wray took pity on my condition, and gave me a small quantity of coast salt and a cupful of rice. We stayed at Ndara only one day. Famine was the cry everywhere, and my men at Ndara could get nothing but sugar–cane–not a very nutritious article of food taken by itself.

Three days later we startled the inhabitants of Rabai by coming upon them unexpectedly and firing of repeated volleys; but speedily the panic was allayed, as I was seen walking through the village to greet my friends, the Rev. A. D. Shaw and his charming wife. This was the first bit I had walked for more than three months, and I was glad to seek repose.

I need not tell how I got to Zanzibar, to find my old friend Sir John Kirk back at his post, nor how I began rapidly to improve under his judicious care. After a short stay I proceeded homeward, via Bombay and Brindisi–the Sultan of Zanzibar generously giving me a free passage in one of his steamers to Bombay.

I have but one word to add in conclusion, and that word is in well–merited eulogy of James Martin. I cannot speak in too high terms of this young sailor, who was ever prompt to do whatever was required, always cheerful, and, though –uneducated, an intelligent companion. He never presumed upon the favour with which I regarded him, and he had no opinions of his own–an admirable quality for a subordinate in an African expedition. The fact that from first to last we tramped along in the most admirable harmony, and never once quarrelled, speaks volumes of itself. [341]



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