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IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA 



THE MACMILLAX COMPANY 

NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO 
ATLANTA • SAN FRANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., Limited 

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 



THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd. 

TORONTO 



IN THE GRIP OF 
THE NYIKA 

Further Adventures in British Fast Africa 



BY 

y 

LiEUT.-CoL. J. H. PATTERSON, D.S.O. 

AUTHOR OF 

"THE MAN-EATERS OF TSAVO " 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS 



JUN 2.^ ] 



Wttn gorfe 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
1909 



-^//- rights reser'ved 



Copyright, 1909, 
By the MACMILLAN COMPANY. 



Set up and electrotyped. Published December, 1909. 



XortuoolJ iSress 
J. S. Cushiiii: Co. — Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 



PREFACE 



In the following pages I have endeavoured to 
give a plain account of the trials and adventures 
which befell me on two recent expeditions through 
the nyika, or wilderness, in British East Africa. 
On the first trip there were three of us, and all 
returned safely to civilization, although dangers were 
not wholly absent. On the second and longer 
expedition there were also three Europeans, but, 
alas ! only two got back, the nyika having claimed 
the third ; nor was the god of the wilds content with 
this sacrifice, for, in addition, he claimed several of 
my native followers. He laid his deadly grip on 
me as well, but I was wrested from him by the care 
and attention of my companion, to whose skilful 
nursing I feel I owe my life. 

In relating the events of the journey I have 
considered it incumbent on me, not only to tell the 
exciting adventures among the wild men and wild 
beasts of the regions traversed, but also to give some 
of the more tiresome detail connected with a safari 
in the nyika, as my object all through has been to 
describe everything exactly as it actually happened. 

I trust that future travellers along the route taken 
by me will find my maps of some use. I made 
them as accurate as possible under somewhat trying 
circumstances, and they are reproduced in eight 



vi 



PREFACE 



convenient sections. I found that the Guaso Nyiro 
makes a much greater bend to the south than is 
shown in any of the existing maps. 

I took a large number of photographs on these 
two expeditions, but unfortunately I found on 
my return to civilization that over ten score films, 
which I fondly hoped held excellent and unique 
pictures, had been ruined by the excessive heat and 
damp experienced on the journey. Some, however, 
turned out fairly well, and these, I trust, will give a 
fair idea of the country, people, and animals. My 
very sincere thanks are due to Mrs. A. Saunderson 
and Mr. T. J. Spooner for permission to reproduce 
some photographs taken by them, W'hich much 
enhance any interest that the book may possess. 
Mr. Spooner was one of the first to explore the 
regions about the Aberdare range of mountains, 
and it was he who discovered Lake El Bolosat, 
of which a beautiful photograph is reproduced on 
page 142. 

The exploits of the Man-Eaters of Tsavo aroused 
so much interest that I have devoted the open- 
ing chapter to an account of one or two of their 
many unrecorded and unwelcome appearances in 
our midst at the time of the building of the 
Uganda Railway. 

Practically the whole of this book w^as written 
while I was suffering from the illness w^iich I 
contracted in the nyika, so I trust that its many 
shortcomings will be overlooked. 

J. H. P. 

London, August, 1909. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

TSAVO REVISITED I 

CHAPTER n 

AT NAIROBI . 13 



CHAPTER III 

ox SAFARI 26 

CHAPTER IV 

ON THE YATTA PLATEAU 40 

CHAPTER V 



A FRUITLESS LION HUNT 49 



CHAPTER VI 

CHASED BY A RHINO - 59 

CHAPTER VII 

THROUGH A GAME COUNTRY . 70 

CHAPTER VIII 

AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY o . . 85 

vii 



Mil 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER IX 

PAGE 

OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER I03 

CHAPTER X 

PREPARATIONS FOR A SECOND EXPEDITION . . . .122 

CHAPTER XI 

ON SAFARI TO THE NORTH 1 29 

CHAPTER XII 

AN ADVENTURE WITH LIONS IN A SHOMA I40 

CHAPTER XIII 

THROUGH LAIKIPIA I52 

CHAPTER XIV 

ALONG THE GUASO NAROK 165 

CHAPTER XV 

THE MASAI 177 

CHAPTER XVI 

ACROSS COUNTRY TO THE GUASO NVIRO 1 98 

CHAPTER XVII 

ALONG THE GUASO NYIRO 211 

CHAPTER XVIII 

AN ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE 228 

CHAPTER XIX 

THROUGH SAMBURU LAND 24I 

CHAPTER XX 

IN QUEST OF THE BOUNDARY . . , . . . •255 



CONTENTS 



IX 



CHAPTER XXI 

PAGE 

A ROGUE ELEPHANT KILLS ALADDLX 265 

CHAPTER XXH 

A RHINO CONCERT 279 

CHAPTER XXni 

THE TRAGEDY IN THE DESERT 29I 

CHAPTER XXIV 

ACROSS THE KAISOOT DESERT 303 



CHAPTER XXV 

AT MARSABIT 313 

CHAPTER XXVI 

SOUTHWARD ONCE MORE 32 1 

CHAPTER XXVII 



BACK TO THE GUASO NYIRO 328 

CHAPTER XXVIII 

WE REACH THE MERU COUNTRY 339 

CHAPTER XXIX 

THROUGH THE MERU COUNTRY 352 

CHAPTER XXX 

BACK TO NAIROBI 364 

APPENDIX — HOW A MERU BIRD TRAP IS MADE . . . 386 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 

'•Five Sikh carpenters had made a staging" .... 6 

'• Several of the trucks were hurled from the rails " ... 9 
'• The rapids on the up-stream side ...... 10 

" The more placid and beautiful stretches of water " . .11 
"A stately and beautiful Grant's gazelle"" .... 14 

Rhinos no longer charge the engine with sad results to them- 
selves "' . . . . . . . . . -15 

" Nairobi, the official capital ■* . . . . . . .16 

" Abbudi was a rather good-looking youth " . . . -19 
Aladdin ... a beautiful white Arab *' . . . . .20 

The mules . . . had meanwhile been loaded up with great 

difficulty" 23 

*• Our camping-ground was only seven miles distant"" ... 24 
"Our camping-place was ju t beside a beautiful waterfall "' . .28 
Breakfast under the south-eastern brow of El Donyo Sabuk "" . 32 
"Loves to make himself a rude shelter" ..... 38 

This turned out to be Xgai 43 
They ventured to approach the fallen beast . . . -46 
I took the photograph as they were on the run "" . . -48 
Interspersed here and there with groves of trees ■■ ... 50 
Coke's hartebeeste . . . . . . . . -54 

"The ravenous beast continued to eat the flesh of the still living 

gazelle"" 57 

*• That rather scarce and beautiful antelope, the bushbuck "* . . 71 
One solitary bowman . . . cautiously threading his way through 

the nyika *' . . . . . , . . . -76 
I saw the huge beast stretched out in the thicket, stone dead " . 81 

I took several photographs of the eland "" 82 

" The horns . . . ranked second to the best on record "" . -83 

xi 



xii 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Page 

" Festooned with the graceful hanging nests of the weaver bird " 88 
A very fine Jackson's hartebeeste *' . . . . . -113 
*• Over he tumbled after going some dozen paces ** . . .114 

*• The falls on the Athi river " 117 

Dropping it dead within a dozen yards of him *■ . . .118 
The safari donkeys complained bitterly ... at their unusually 

heavy loads" . . . . . . . . .119 

'•A couple of most playful lion cubs" . . . . . .120 

" And construct rude bridges over streams .... 126 

^* Rope to assist in crossing rivers " . . . . . .127 

"A smiling M'kiku}-u chief" . . . . . . -132 

" Wambugu . . . the local chief . . . readily consented to pose 

for a photograph " 136 

" In the full panoply of their Kikuyu ceremonial dress . . 137 
" We were not sorry to leave Nyeri " . . . . . .141 

" The beautiful waters of Lake El Bolosat " . . . .142 

A Masai nianyatta . . . . . . . . -153 

" The Masai chief Masekondi " 154 

Masekondi's wives and children . . . . . . .160 

" His great stature is apparent " ....... i6i 

" To see that the porters carried him gently " . . . -173 

The Junction 174 

The gerenuk . . . . . . . . . -175 

Hut in a Masai nianyatta . . . . . . . .178 

In appearance the Masai are slender . . . . .180 

" The Masai have a habit of distorting their ears " . . .181 

The period of boyhood 183 

" Exercises calculated to make the limbs supple " . . . 187 
No wonder that they inspired terror " . . . . .191 
"Carryall . . . which cannot be heaped on to the donkeys . 194 

Her distorted and scarred head" 195 

" Bowled over a very fine oryx " . . . . . . . 204 

''Adding this much-prized trophy to her bag"" .... 213 

" Bowled over her first impala'' ....... 214 

'' Breakfast under a shady tree" . . . . . . .215 

"' Karogi and another Samburu " . . . . . . .216 

" Under the shade of the fine trees ...... 221 

" We very soon had an opening made 224 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Xlll 



PAGE 

"Nyumbu was most expert with the rod ..... 229 

" Bent almost to a right angle by the crocodile .... 232 

"An ingenious device made by some Wandorobo" . . . 233 

" Giving himself room to stand upright inside .... 234 

" And then stepped cautiously forward" ..... 236 

" A shaiiri under the shadow of the large Union Jack " . . 246 

" He does not hesitate to weave in some false hair . . . 248 

" Delighted with her success in bringing down the great beast " . 251 
" My Indian syce, Asa Ram 272 

" I saw poor Aladdin lying there lifeless before me . . . 273 

" She was placed in triumph on his back " 277 

" There was some competition for this task " .... 278 

" A rocky ridge which formed a background to our boma " . .281 

" I saw here immense herds of camels 285 

" These jars are made in various sizes 286 

The cook's tent .......... 294 

"The camels . . . appeared to enjoy crossing this desolate 

waste" 307 

" The beautiful waters of Angara Sabuk " . . . . -316 

" Rushed eagerly into the cool flowing stream " . . . . 337 
"But for a timely rescue it is probable that a crocodile would 

have seized him " ........ 338 

"She laid the giraffe low with one merciful bullet" . . . 341 

"We reached the outskirts of the Meru country " . . . 345 

" Overlooking a village" . . . . . . . . 346 

" The howling army then . . . dispersed 347 

" Dominuki . . . sent us presents of cattle " .... 348 
" Decked out in all the finery of the Meru belles " . . -351 

"Thularia . . . eventually appeared " ...... 353 

"A good supply of food-stuffs*' 354 

" A quaint-looking youth clothed in banana leaves " . . . 358 

" A couple of young fowls . . . were perched on a donkey " . 360 

" To startle out of the long grass a reedbuck " . . . . 365 

" Or perhaps a steinbuck 366 

" Or a shy little klipspringer " 367 

" The women wear beautifully-worked goatskins "... 368 

" I got the safari to line the rope " 369 

" We reached another river called the Mara " . . . .371 



XIV 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 

Unexpected obstacles in the way of streams " . . . . 372 

" On the way we had to cross several more rivers "... 374 

*• We reached Embii " . . . . . . . . . 377 

Brought his fine head safely after us to Nairobi . . • 3^>i 

*• Cautiously spying on the or^7/^z;7" ...... 382 

I looked at the Tana river, which rolled at my feet, and 

beyond at the giant peak of Mount Kenya ... 384 

*• A woolly-headed and much wrinkled old native . . . setting a 

cunningly-made bird trap " 387 

MAPS 

Route Map I 171 

II 200 

III 218 

I\' 240 

V 264 

VI 280 

VII 305 

VIII 314 

General Map of British East Africa .... at end of vol 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA 



CHAPTER I 

TSAVO REVISITED 

On the loth October, 1907, I sailed out of Mar- 
seilles harbour, bound once again for Mombasa, the 
picturesque gate of that land of sun and adventure, 
British East Africa. Within three weeks we reached 
our destination and dropped anchor in the harbour 
of Kilindini. From this port I took train for Nairobi, 
the capital of the country; and at about midnight on 
the I St November I awoke from a restless slumber in 
a Uganda Railway carriage, and found myself speed- 
ing down the incline which leads into the valley of 
the Tsavo, some one hundred and thirty miles from 
the coast. 

It was with a feeling of returning to my own 
that I peered out of the carriage window on that 
star-lit night, gazing into the gloomy depths of 
the thorny wilderness which shuts in the iron way 

B I 



2 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



at this part of the route. The unchangeable 
face of this expanse of sun-bleached nyika re- 
called to my memory a thousand incidents and 
adventures connected with the building of the 
railway, when it was an everyday occurrence for 
workmen to be seized and devoured by the two 
insatiable man-eating lions who at that time haunted 
these wilds. I have told the story of their dep- 
redations and final end in a previous volume 
entitled The Man-Eaters of Tsavo; but the details 
of many tragic deaths and narrow escapes remain 
still unrecorded, and some of these came crowd- 
ing back to my mind with startling vividness as 
bit by bit the well-known route unfolded itself 
before my eyes. 

It was with a shudder that I recalled, in particu- 
lar, the circumstances connected with the death of a 
workman who was seized and devoured near here 
by one of the brutes. A platelayer who witnessed 
the whole occurrence described it to me very real- 
istically a few hours after it had happened, and it is 
as gruesome a story as any that has yet been told. 
The victim was an Indian coohe who happened to 
be one of a gang sent down from Railhead to 
load up some building material which was required 
for platelaying. At this particular time the Man- 
Eaters had not yet made the name of Tsavo so 
terrible and sinister in the ears of the workmen as it 



I 



TSAVO REVISITED 



3 



afterwards became, and they therefore lay down to 
sleep anywhere in the open quite fearlessly. One 
evening the unfortunate man whose end was so 
near went to rest, with some companions, in an 
empty truck which was standing on a siding. There 
was not room in the truck for all the workers, so 
some of them slept on the top of a pile of wooden 
sleepers that had been made at the side of the line 
at this place; and among these was the platelayer 
who described the occurrence to me. 

He told me that as he lay awake in the waning 
moonlight he was startled by seeing a lion creep 
stealthily out of the undergrowth and stalk in silence 
towards the truck where his companions slept. 
He immediately shouted out, "Beware, brothers, a 
lion is coming," but on hearing the cry the brute 
hid himself in the shadow with the agility and 
silence of a cat, and when the men craned their 
necks for a view of him, he was nowhere to be 
seen. There happened to be a goods train stand- 
ing on the siding for the night, and the lion 
now ran down the full length of this under the 
wagons, and a few minutes later was seen staring 
with glowing eyes into the guard's van, in which at 
the time there lay, rolled up in a blanket, an 
engineer named Ogilvy who was an invalid on his 
way to the coast for change of air. 

Poor Ogilvy little dreamed of his peril that night. 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



Undoubtedly the lion meant to have seized him; but 
just as the brute was, as the workman graphically 
described it, ''dancing on his legs" preparatory to a 
spring, a cleaner who was at work on the engine a 
Httle distance away threw some slag on to a heap 
of iron rails, and this so upset the lion that he dived 
under instead of into the van. 

Presently the watcher on the sleeper stack saw 
him come out from the shadow of the van, stand for 
a few seconds in the open track as if undecided what 
to do next, and then disappear again beneath the 
train. He must have run along very quickly under 
the wagons, for a moment later he was seen 
standing beside the coolies' truck; and before the 
watcher had time to utter another warning cry, 
the lion gave a spring and landed in amongst 
the men. As may be imagined, the panic that 
ensued was indescribable. Shrieks, yells, and terri- 
fied cries broke the silence of the night, as the 
powerful brute closed his jaws through the shoulder 
of his victim, and, shaking him as a terrier would a 
rat, lifted him up and carried him off. 

Ogilvy's servant happened to be lying next to 
the man who was seized, and the lion, in springing 
up, landed with a paw on his shoulder, driving 
the claws well home. The poor fellow got a 
terrible fright, and, thinking no doubt that his 



I 



TSAVO REVISITED 



5 



end had come, added his cries to the general 
uproar which made the jungle ring for miles 
around. The coolie who was l>ing on the other 
side of the victim felt his comrade's body being 
drawn across him, and tried to save him by seizing 
an ankle, to which he held on until he was forced 
to reHnquish his hold when the brute leaped over the 
side with his prey. 

The platelayer told me that it was heartrending 
to hear the man's cries as he was dragged from 
the truck and through the jungle ; nor did they 
cease until the crunching of his bones and the loud 
purring of the horrible brute, which could plainly be 
heard by the terrified men, proclaimed that at last 
his sufferings were at an end. 

I may mention that the engineer who had such a 
lucky escape on this occasion did not long survive, 
as he succumbed to his fever a short time afterwards 
in ^lombasa Hospital, where Dr. Wynstone- Waters 
and myself visited him and did our best to cheer him 
up a couple of hours before he died. Ogilvy was 
one of the best engineers on the railway and a right 
good fellow. 

While I am on the subject of the ]Man-Eaters, I 
may perhaps put on record two other incidents con- 
nected with them which are of interest. 

On one occasion some workmen of mine had a 



6 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA 



narrow escape at a camp near the Tsavo Bridge. 
The occurrence took place at a time when the 
fear of the brutes had gripped hold of every- 
body, and the imaginative Hindu had already 
endowed the lions with supernatural powers. 

Five Sikh carpenters had made a staging some 




"five SIKH CARPENTERS HAD MADE A STAGING." 



eight feet high and on this had pitched their tent, 
where they slept in peace, and, as they thought, in 
safety. Every night they gained access to their 
airy abode by means of a movable ladder, and they 
took the precaution, Robinson Crusoe-like, of pulHng 
it up into their castle immediately after nightfall. I 
had already warned these men that their perch was 
not nearly high enough, and told them that they 



I 



TSAVO REVISITED 



7 



would be much safer on the water-tank or in trees, 
until the iron huts which I was then building for their 
protection could be got ready. They did not wish 
to move, however, and Natha Singh, the leader of 
the party, assured me that they felt quite safe so high 
up; besides, was not Khuda (God) all-powerful? 
It seems that Khuda was indeed looking after them. 
One night, contrary to their usual custom, they 
carelessly left part of the ladder projecting a Httle 
way beyond the end of the staging; a hungry Man- 
Eater on the prowl observed this, and thinking that 
he could not find a meal more conveniently else- 
where, determined to try how a carpenter tasted. 
Calculating his spring, he leaped Kghtly on to the 
projecting ladder, which, unfortunately for him, 
instantly tipped up and toppled over, both falHng 
heavily to the ground. No doubt the ladder gave 
him a good blow when it struck him, for he fled at 
once without attempting to touch the men, who, 
thoroughly terrified by the tearing of their tent 
caused by the tipping up of the ladder, and 
believing that the Hon was upon them, jumped from 
the staging in all directions and with terror-stricken 
cries raced for their Hves to the nearest trees. 
Fortunately no one was hurt, but after this the 
staging was deserted for the more secure fastness 
of the top of a masonry pier rising out of the river 
bed. 



8 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



On another occasion the presence of the Man-Eaters 
added considerably to the horrors of a collision which 
took place three or four miles beyond the Tsavo 
Bridge. By some mischance the driver of a train 
laden with rails and sleepers was one night given 
''hne clear" by the Indian station-master at Tsavo, 
who in the press of overwork forgot that he had 
already telegraphed the same message to the driver 
of another train at Railhead. 

FeeHng of course thoroughly secure, the up driver 
put on full steam and gathered what speed he could 
on the steep grade from the Tsavo River, never for 
a moment dreaming that the train from Railhead was 
rushing swiftly towards him on that tortuous single 
track. Of course a colHsion was inevitable, and the 
usual ill-luck attended it, as the trains met round a 
sharp curve where it was impossible to see the head- 
Hghts until too late, owing to the dense jungle which 
shut in the Kne. 

Several of the trucks were hurled from the rails, 
and some unfortunate Indian coohes and African 
natives who had taken advantage of the darkness to 
travel in them — a thing they were not supposed to 
do — paid for their surreptitious ride with their Hves. 
Others, less fortunate, were jammed between the 
wreckage, and had to remain there until relief was 
sent from Tsavo. 

While they were in this terrible predicament they 



I 



TSAVO REVISITED 



9 



were appalled by hearing the growls of the Man- 
Eaters gradually getting nearer and nearer. Some 
of the poor fellows almost lost their reason through 
terror, as they lay there pinned down at the mercy 
of the brutes; but fortunately before the Hons made 
any actual attack, a relief gang arrived, accompanied 
by Dr. Brock, the medical officer, who had a busy 
time that night. I was especially struck with the 




"several of the trucks were hurled from the rails." 



dreadful injuries sustained by one poor SwahiH 
porter, who had several ribs broken, an arm 
fractured, and in addition one of his thighs smashed 
to atoms half-way above the knee. 

I thought it a perfectly hopeless case, but Brock 
took him in hand, bound up the fractures and 
amputated the leg. In some six weeks the man 
was out of hospital, and I saw him often afterwards, 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



quite a cheery fellow and a living monument to the 
clever doctor's skill. 

These thoughts of my adventurous life at Tsavo 
were suddenly brought to an end by the train coming 
to a standstill at the station, and I found myself 




"the rapids ox the up-stream side." 



once more in the old familiar place. I must confess 
that I looked rather anxiously at the dark side of 
buildings and tanks, lest a Hon should be lurking 
there ready to spring on me out of the gloom. 
Tsavo looked much the same as it did some 
eight or nine years previously, but it now lacks 
the excitement of the Man-Eaters, for which 



I 



TSAVO REVISITED 



II 



the Indian station-master and his staff are duly 
grateful. 

The old romantic caravan road is, alas, used 
no more, and is practically obliterated with jungle 
growth. The site of my old palm hut and honia 
(enclosure) would be difficult to find, owing to the 
dense undergrowth which has enveloped everything 




''the more placid and beautiful stretches of water." 



in its tangled embrace. The river, always fresh and 
cool, with its palm-bordered fringe of emerald green, 
runs merrily as ever, the rapids on the up-stream 
side of the bridge rushing noisily onward to the 
more placid and beautiful stretches of water 
which murmur gently the song of the Tsavo on its 
way to the sea. The bridge, too, stands out as 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, i 



clear as ever, and it can be imagined that I looked 
upon it once again with no httle interest, remember- 
ing the unusual trials and difficulties that beset us in 
that lonely spot while stone upon stone was being 
placed in position. Indeed, it may fairly be said 
that the gneissic blocks with which it is built were 
cemented together by the blood of the unfortunate 
victims of the Man-Eaters who terrorized the neicrh- 
bourhood during its construction. 



CHAPTER II 



AT NAIROBI 

The last hundred miles or so of the journey from 
Mombasa to Nairobi is especially full of interest, and 
it may safely be said that the view of wild Kfe which 
may be obtained from the carriage windows cannot 
be equalled on any other railway in the world. Here, 
on the great Athi Plain, all kinds of game may be 
seen grazing away quite unconcernedly within a 
stone's throw of the passing train. The traveller 
may observe a dainty Kttle Thomson's gazelle Kft 
its head up from the grass, wag its tail in a friendly 
dog-Hke manner, stare for a moment or two, and then 
quietly resume its grazing, as if a train coming 
through its domain was the most natural and 
commonplace thing in the world. Further on a 
stately and beautiful Grant's gazelle will gaze stead- 
fastly at the puffing engine as it rushes past, without 
showing the slightest sign of fear. Numbers of 
hartebeeste dot the plain on each side of the Hne, 

13 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



and one of these will probably indulge in a race 
alongside the track just to show how fast he can go 
in spite of his ungainly appearance. I have also 
seen a troop of zebra gallop up to look inquisitively 
at the train, snort defiance at it and then wheel round 
and disappear in a cloud of dust, kicking their heels 




"a stately and beautiful grant's gazelle." 



in the air. At certain times in the year, wildebeeste 
abound on this great expanse and enliven the scene 
by their curious antics, while it is not at all rare to 
surprise a herd of giraffes close to the Hne. It is 
true that rhinos no longer charge the engine with 
sad results to themselves, nor do lions spring into a 



II 



AT NAIROBI 



15 



carriage as they used to do occasionally in the 
early days, but these are perhaps attractions that 
the traveller would prefer to dispense with; and 
even without such excitements he will find much to 
interest him in the wild life of all kinds by which he 
is surrounded. 

Soon after my arrival in Nairobi I began to make 




!- 



Sl. " .. ___^i.«<fcJ 

"RHINOS NO LONGER CHARGE THE ENGINE WITH SAD RESULTS TO 
THEMSELVES." 

preparations for a short journey to the eastward 
which would take me to that part of the Ukambani 
Province known as the Kitui district. I may per- 
haps mention that for administrative purposes the 
Protectorate of East Africa is divided into seven 
provinces, and of these Ukambani is one of the most 



i6 



IN THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 



important, as on the western verge of it Nairobi, 
the official capital of the country, is situated. The 
inhabitants are called Wakamba, and are spread 
more or less over the whole pro\ince. Not very 
many are to be seen, however, about Nairobi, as in 
their densely populated villages round the Machakos 
hills, a few marches to the eastward, they contrive 




"NAIROBI, THE OFFICIAL CAPITAL." 



to produce ah the necessaries of life, and for more 
than these they as yet show but little ambition. 

The Wakamba are a numerous agricultural tribe, 
with keen instincts for travel and barter. They 
are good hunters and fighters, their weapons being 
the bow and poisoned arrow, in the use of which 
they are so expert that they have more than 
once inflicted a crushing defeat on their hated 



II 



AT NAIROBI 



17 



enemies, the Masai. On one occasion, some twelve 
years or so ago, the latter made a raid on this 
tribe in its mountain fastnesses and captured a 
number of cattle, but failed to get clear of the hills 
before they were overtaken and surrounded. Every 
rock on the sides of the defiles gave security to a 
bowman, who rained a shower of arrows on the 
doomed Masai spearmen as they strove in vain to 
break through with their spoil. The invaders were 
slaughtered to a man, and the result of the victory 
was that the Masai never again attempted a foray 
among the mountair^s where the Wakamba dwell. 

Nearly all the people of this tribe file their teeth to 
a point, which gives them a pecuKar and not over 
pleasing appearance. The men marry as many 
wives as they can afi'ord to pay for, as the more 
wives they have, the less work they do. Like nearly 
all other native tribes they are very superstitious, 
and have great faith in the Witch Doctor. The 
tribe is split up into many small family clans, which 
are independent of each other and acknowledge no 
sway beyond that of the petty chieftain of the 
village. Were it not for this complete lack of 
cohesion and discipHne, the Wakamba would, I 
am convinced, have made a deep mark on East Afri- 
can native history. 

There were no reliable maps to be had of this 
country, so as guides for my journey I engaged two 

c 



i8 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA 



Masai youths, named Abbudi and Mellauw, who 
had been acting as scouts in the district for some 
time and therefore knew the way thoroughly. 
They were both very bright and intelligent, and soon 
became great favourites of mine. 

Abbudi especially proved himself most useful and 
amusing. He was full of information about the 
country, so I always took him with me every- 
where; he used to stride along by my horse's side, 
recounting unending, and to me most entertaining, 
stories about his interesting nation, the Masai. I 
shall have to mention him constantly when relating 
what befell us on this trip and on another longer 
expedition which I subsequently made to the 
Northern Game Reserve beyond the Guaso Nyiro. 
Abbudi was a rather good-looking youth and but 
for his prominent teeth, which are characteristic of 
the Masai, would have been quite handsome. I 
gathered a good deal of useful information from 
him, but found that many of his statements had to 
be taken with a grain of salt. It is a strange but 
undoubted fact that no wild native ever seems to 
be capable of telHng the exact truth, for he has a 
way of suiting his statements to his audience, and 
saying what he thinks will please and make a good 
impression. 

Personally I can quite bear out the remarks made 
by Lieutenant- General von Liebert, formerly gov- 



II 



AT NAIROBI 



19 



ernor of German East Africa, at the meeting of 
the German Colonial Society held at Dresden in 
June of this year. During the discussion as to the 
advisability of administering the oath to natives, 
General von Liebert said: ''As far as the oath 




"abbudi was a rather good-looking youth." 



was concerned a native could be easily induced 
to say anything. All that was necessary was to 
wink with the left or the right eye, according to 
circumstances." 



In addition to the two Masai guides, I of course 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



engaged a number of porters to carry food, tents, &c. 
I was also fortunately able to buy a horse that I 
knew well, as he had been ridden by a friend who 
was with me on a shooting trip through Laikipia a 
couple of years previously. He was called Aladdin, 
and was a beautiful white Arab, with arched neck 




" ALADDIN" ... A BEAUTIFUL WHITE ARAB." 



and long flowing tail, fleetfooted as a gazelle. He 
was, however, rather timid and nervous when 
going through bush country, so much so that if 
even a bird fluttered out of a tree, he would give a 
great jump and bound away with a terrified snort. 
Poor Aladdin ! He must have been aware of the 
danger which lurked among the bushes, and perhaps 



II 



AT NAIROBI 



21 



have had some premonition of what his own sad and 
untimely end was to be — but this is another story, 
and will be told in a later chapter. 

It was now the favourite shooting season in 
East Africa, and numbers of sportsmen were arriving 
from England. Among these were Mr. and Mrs. S. 
and Captain and Mrs. P., who brought with them 
letters of introduction from mutual friends. As they 
were anxious to set out for a shoot in the same 
direction as that in which I was going, we decided 
to join forces, and travel together for part of the way 
at any rate. 

Our safari ^ consisted of a motley crowd of men, 
horses, mules, and donkeys. As is usual, the 
morning fixed for the start was a very busy one. 
The porters whom we had engaged all came crowd- 
ing round, clamouring for their advance of pay, 
blankets, posho (food), &c. Their names had to be 
entered on a roll, and some of these were most amus- 
ing — such as Piinda (donkey), Fow ^ (rhino), Kazi 
moto (hot worker), Kazi mbaya (bad worker), Niissu 
rupeea (half rupee), Nyumbu (mule), and a host of 
other similar ones, given for some well-marked or 

^ This word safari is no doubt derived from the Arabic " safar," a 
journey. In Swahili, however, it means not only a journey but every- 
thing connected with it, including men, animals, equipment, &c. 

^ The caravan porter always uses the word fow for rhino, and not 
kifaru as given in the Swahili text-books. 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



well-known peculiarity. The usual fighting for the 
lightest loads then took place, and order had to be 
restored by the Headman. Each porter was given 
out a number on a tin disc attached to a string, and 
this was slung found his neck. The number corre- 
sponded to that on the load he had to carry, so 
that in this way a check could be kept on each 
individual carrier. Of course a good pagazi 
(porter) makes it a point of honour never to 
throw down or part from his load, no matter how 
tired or thirsty he may be; but then it is a rare 
thing to get a safari together without having 
included in it a few first-rate scoundrels who 
have been guilty of nearly every crime in the 
calendar. Many of these draw half a month's pay 
and a couple of days' food in advance, and then 
desert at the first opportunity, taking their load with 
them if they think it is of any value, or pitching it 
into the bush if they have no use for it. 

At last, when everything was satisfactorily 
settled and the chaos reduced to some semblance 
of order, the porters were all formed up in a 
Hne with their loads in front of them. When 
everything was ready, the Headman shouted 
^^Haya handika, bandika,^' and the men picked 
up their loads, placed them on their heads, 
and marched off in single file towards the first 
camping-place — to the accompaniment of weird 



II AT NAIROBI 23 

shouts and screams, some of the men making great 
leaps into the air and others beating their boxes with 
sticks, to let the whole country know what fine fellows 
they were and that they were off on a safari. 




"the mules .... HAD MEANWHILE BEEN LOADED UP 
WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY." 



When the mules and donkeys, which had mean- 
while been loaded up with great difficulty, came 
to take their places in the long hne, the sound 
of the wild shouting so excited the animals 
that they began to kick and buck and fling 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



their loads to the ground in all directions, thereby 
adding greatly to the uproar. 

The first march is always made a short one, so as 
to give the men and beasts a proper chance of 
becoming accustomed to their loads and setthng 
down into their places. In this case our camping 




"our camping ground was only seven miles distant." 



ground was only seven miles distant, and when the 
safari had been sent on ahead, we arranged to meet 
there later in the day. But as we did not all 
start together from Nairobi, the result was that two 
of the party (Captain and Mrs. P.) did not turn up 
at the rendezvous, owing, as it turned out, to an un- 
fortunate misunderstanding as to the position of the 
camping ground. 



II 



AT NAIROBI 



25 



When the day wore on and they did not appear, 
we began to get concerned for their safety and 
sent askaris (armed porters) all over the country to 
look for them. As their safari had arrived with 
ours at the meeting place, we knew that they would 
be without food or shelter for the night, and this 
caused us great anxiety, especially on Mrs. P.'s 
account. While we were looking through our 
glasses in the gathering dusk, scanning the country 
for any sign of our friends, we spied a herd of 
hartebeeste feeding towards a httle hollow some 
distance away. Mrs. S. immediately proposed a 
stalk, so off we set without delay, and after 
negotiating a river, crept on all-fours over some 
rocky ground until we got fairly close to the herd. 
Mrs. S. then crawled forward alone to the verge of 
the hollow, and picking out in the gloom the best 
head she could find, covered the beast with her rifle 
and fired her first shot in East Africa. Instantly 
there was a kick and a buck, a gallop for about fifty 
yards, and then the beast fell with a crash, stone 
dead. We all tendered our hearty congratulations 
to the skilful shikari, and hoped that her success was 
a good omen for our journey. 



CHAPTER III 



ox SAFARI 

It was quite dark by the time we got back to 
the tents, and as there was no sign of our friends 
we had a great fire made, and all night long 
at intervals the askaris discharged their rifles to 
guide them in case they should be wandering 
about near at hand, and yet not able to find the 
way to camp. At daybreak next morning they 
were still missing, so we concluded that they had 
returned to Nairobi and would join us at the 
next camp when they got news of us. We there- 
fore decided to push forward to a place called 
Murra-med-et, on the right bank of the Nairobi 
river, some eight miles or so further on, and send 
back word to our friends of our whereabouts. 

Our route lay through an open tract of grassy 
country on the northern verge of the Athi Plains. 
As we were riding along I noticed something stalk- 
ing through the grass, so, thinking it was a leopard, 

26 



CHAP. Ill 



ON SAFARI 



27 



I called my friends' attention to it. On spying 
through our glasses, however, we discovered that it 
was a serval cat, which Mrs. S. immediately stalked 
and bowled over. When we went to pick it up 
it suddenly sprang to its feet, made a great arch 
of its back and spat furiously at us, but a timely 
bullet killed it outright and prevented it from 
doing any damage. Soon afterwards, as we were 
marching along towards camp with the skin of the 
cat stretched over a porter's load to dry in the 
sun, we suddenly came upon a deserted baby harte- 
beeste lying desolate and hungry-looking in the 
grass. It had evidently been left by its mother all 
alone on the Plains to take care of itself — or of 
course it is quite possible that the mother may have 
been killed and eaten during the night by a Hon or 
other beast of prey. Although it was only a tiny 
youngster, it gave us a good chase on our horses 
before we finally captured it. As we had no means 
of giving the pretty Httle creature fresh milk, with- 
out which it would have died, we had it carried 
by one of the porters, so that we might hand it 
over to the owner of the first farm we should 
come across to keep for us until our return, when 
we hoped to take it along with us to Nairobi. 

We reached Murra-med-et about mid-day, and 
found that our camping-place was just beside a 
beautiful waterfall, where the Nairobi river plunges 



28 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



some forty or fifty feet down into a beautiful basin, 
all covered with green trees, shrubs, and creepers. 
Indeed, Abbudi informed me that the name IMurra- 
med-et means "Falling Water" in Masai. Early 
in the afternoon I observed a horseman riding 
towards our camp, and from him we at last got 





n ■ 









"our camping-place was just beside a beautiful waterfall." 



news of our m.issing friends. It turned out that 
they had taken a wrong turning, and had spent the 
night without food in the jungle, and were now a 
good many miles away, sadly in need of their safari. 
We at once sent their porters and camp kit across 
country to them in charge of the horseman, and 
under the guidance of Mellauw, the Masai, who 



Ill 



ON SAFARI 



29 



knew this part of the country well. I heard on 
the return of the guide that they reached Capt. 
and Mrs. P. late that night; but our safaris never 
afterwards reunited, nor did I see our friends 
again until we met a short time ago in London, 
when I hstened with much interest to a very 
graphic account of their adventurous and successful 
trip in East Africa. 

We were astir at dawn next morning, and before 
setting oft on the day's march made our way over 
to the beautiful waterfall, taking our cameras with 
us, as we were all anxious to secure a photograph 
of the pleasing scene. We were quite ready to take 
the picture just as the first rays of the sun struck 
the gleaming waters as they dashed headlong into 
the turbulent pool beneath. It was a very pretty 
sight, and the photograph which I reproduce gives 
but a poor idea of what it was really like. 

Just as we were about to start off on our journey, 
we had a rather amusing experience with some of 
our men. W> had brought with us two Somali 
gun-bearers and an Abyssinian syce, and a more lazy 
and unsatisfactory trio it has never been my lot to 
meet. We were highly entertained and pleased, 
therefore, when, just as we were about to move off, 
these three men came up and announced that they 
would not travel with us any further unless they got 
tea, sugar, milk, and butter, just the same as the 



30 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 

Bn'anas (masters) ; and, in addition to the boy who 
was already provided to carry their kit and tent, 
they actually demanded a second boy to wait on 
them I AMthout more ado we paid them their two 
days' wages and dismissed them on the spot. They 
looked exceedingly taken aback at this, as of course 
they believed that we could not possibly get on 
without them, and fully expected us to comply with 
their impudent demands. It was a comical sight to 
watch their crestfallen expression as we marched 
cheerily away, leaving them on the deserted plain 
to carry their own kit back to Nairobi. I do not 
think that they will forget the lesson in a hurry, 
or attempt again to dictate terms to a sportsman 
in the wilds. 

Wq made but a short march along the right bank 
of the Xairobi, which we followed to its junction with 
the Athi at a place called by the ]\Iasai Mdoum-too- 
a-Guaso. The Athi river runs north here through a 
deep gorge, and we found the passage rather difficult 
to negotiate, as we had to clamber down one boulder- 
strewn side and then up the other, which was as steep 
as the side of a haystack. By about noon we had our 
camp pitched on the eastern or right bank on a site 
which gave us a splendid view of the surrounding 
country. A poisonous snake killed on the way was 
our only trophy. 

Our Httle captured hartebeeste had been carried 



Ill 



ON SAFARI 



31 



on this march in spite of its vigorous struggles to 
escape, but when we reached the junction of the 
Nairobi and the Athi, we left it at a prosperous 
ranch close by. The hospitable owner himself 
happened to be away at the time, but his agent 
kindly undertook the care of it for us until we 
should call for it on our return journey. 

As there was plenty of game in this neighbour- 
hood, S. and Mrs. S. went out to try their luck and 
succeeded in bagging a couple of trophies, while I 
went towards the Machakos hills to explore the 
country and make notes. We all joined forces 
before dusk, and as we were riding back to camp 
in the darkness I saw an animal, which I took to be 
a lion, crouching in our path some ten yards ahead. 
Shouting ''Look out!" I levelled my rifle without 
dismounting and fired. The noise and flash 
frightened the beast whatever it was, but from the 
clumsy way in which it galloped off, I came to the 
conclusion that it was an ant-bear, an animal 
only seen at dusk or on a moonhght night, and but 
rarely even then. Indeed, in all my travels and 
wanderings both by day and night, I only once 
previously came across an ant-bear, and that was near 
Bloemfontein during the Boer War. 

Next morning we started off from Mdoum-too-a- 
Guaso soon after sunrise and marched through the 
plain, among large herds of antelope and zebra 



32 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



which we left undisturbed. We halted for break- 
fast under the south-eastern brow of El Donyo 
Sabuk (Masai for ''Great Mountain") and then 
continued our journey in a north-easterly direction 
through a delightfully wooded piece of country 
abounding in game of all kinds, great and small, 
until after marching for about 15 miles we 

1 




"breakfast uxdee \sterx brow of el doxyo sabuk." 



reached a stream called by the Wakamba, Kat- 
cimachuko. 

On the way we had a most exciting hunt after a 
grand specimen of the roan antelope. We saw him 
first when we were among some trees, but he at the 
same time saw us and bolted for the open country as 
hard as he could go, while we galloped madly after 



Ill 



ON SAFARI 



33 



him on our ponies in an endeavour to keep him in 
view. We halted on reaching the edge of the trees, 
and had the satisfaction of seeing the roan come to a 
standstill in the midst of an open glade about 700 
yards away. There was a large clump of bushes, 
some 200 yards beyond us, which by a Httle 
manoeuvring we managed to place between him 
and ourselves. Under cover of this we made a 
rapid advance on foot, but of course we dared not 
expose ourselves to take a peep at him all the 
time we were covering this distance, in case he 
should see us. Accordingly it was with no Httle 
anxiety that we spied through the branches on 
reaching the covert, to see if our quarry had stood 
his ground. We thought ourselves lucky when 
we saw the magnificent creature standing there 
watching the forest suspiciously, all unconscious 
that he was even then being covered with a rifle. 
A shot was fired, but unfortunately the distance was 
underestimated and the bullet fell short, so oft' he 
sped again, and as soon as our horses came up we 
followed after him as hard as ever we could, hoping 
for the chance of another shot. He managed how- 
ever to make good his escape and we never saw him 
again. Later in the day we came upon a female 
roan which offered an exceedingly easy mark at 50 
yards' range, but of course we had no intention of 
interfering with her. 

D 



34 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



We also had a very exciting chase after a 
waterbuck, which seemed to possess a fine head; 
but he too managed to elude us in the dense scrub 
of a dry watercourse, without so much as a shot being 
fired at him. 

At our camp at the Katcimachuko we were visited 
by some Wakamba from a village close by. They 
were very much interested in us and brought us 
news of the game in the locaHty: in particular they 
told us where some buffalo and rhino were to be 
found. 

After a short rest I started off to explore the 
surrounding country and had a most interesting and 
adventurous afternoon. I was mounted as usual on 
Aladdin and accompanied by my two Masai, 
Abbudi and Mellauw. I saw plenty of game in all 
directions, and on my way passed quite close by 
and watched a cow rhino with her Httle baby a few 
days old beside her, which looked very much like a 
large pig. 

Soon afterwards my progress was barred by a 
deep ravine with very steep and precipitous sides. 
As it would have been impossible to take a horse 
down where I struck it, I walked along the edge for 
some distance until at last I found' an animal path, 
which we could just manage to negotiate to the 
bottom, although it was somewhat precipitous and 
narrow. 



Ill 



ON SAFARI 



35 



Mellauw went down first, I followed, and last of 
all came Abbudi leading iVladdin. The ravine was 
a wide one — at least thirty yards across at the 
bottom — and was covered with dense bush. When 
we got down Mellauw was just about to force his 
way through this undergrowth when he suddenly 
stopped and whispered to me, "Bwana, fowT^ 
("Master, a rhino!"). I asked under my breath, 
"Wapi?'' ("Where?"), and he replied in a 
frightened undertone, '^Hapa, karihu sana^^ ("Here, 
just beside us"). 

There was not room enough to turn Aladdin, so 
I signalled to Abbudi to back him up the side of 
the ravine, while Mellauw and I quickly scrambled 
to what safety we could secure behind a tree. 
Here we waited for the expected charge of the 
now disturbed and suspicious brute. I held my 
rifle ready and we hardly dared breathe while we 
listened to his angry snorts and watched xAbbudi 
and Aladdin slowly making their way backwards 
towards the summit. Very luckily for us the wind 
was blowing strongly from the rhino in our 
direction. Had it been the reverse, he would 
undoubtedly have scented us and charged while we 
were all in the narrow path — possibly killing or 
maiming the lot, as there was no way of escape. As 
it was, he stood undecided for a few moments, 
sniffing and snorting loudly; and then, not being able 



36 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



to make us out, he crashed off out of the ravine in 
the opposite direction. I was hugely reUeved and 
pleased to see his broad black back show now 
and again through the scrub as he swiftly made his 
way up the far bank of the nullah and disappeared 
into the bush. 

It was a good lesson, but the experience might 
have been too dearly bought. Never again shall I 
go down a precipitous narrow track into a bush- 
covered ravine in the wilds, without first assuring 
myself by much stone-throwing and hallooing that 
there is no dangerous beast lurking at the bottom 
waiting to give me a possibly too-warm reception. 

My afternoon's adventures were not yet over. 
I continued on my way for another hour, making 
notes of the country and the game. I then saw a 
very fine waterbuck, which I started to stalk; and 
so intent was I in manoeuvring to get a shot, that I 
very nearly walked into a rhino that was standing 
behind a thick bush which I was making use of to 
cover my advance on the waterbuck. The huge 
beast soon attracted my attention pretty forcibly, 
for just as I approached the bush, out it dashed 
from behind its covert and charged viciously at 
me. I only had my .303 loaded with a soft bullet, 
but I was lucky enough to break the brute's leg as 
it came for me, tumbhng it completely over. I then 



Ill 



ON SAFARI 



37 



fired several more bullets into the beast, wishing I 
had a heavier rifle to put it out of pain more 
speedily. It was with no little joy therefore that 
just at this moment I saw S. come rushing up with 
his heavy rifle, with which he quickly gave the 
brute its quietus. 

' Hardly had I time to comment on his opportune 
arrival when out of the scrub rushed another rhino, 
and came for us like a steam engine ! S. very 
quickly and calmly planted a .450 bullet somewhere 
in his anatomy which gave him a sudden distaste 
for our society, so he quickly turned off and 
disappeared in the direction of the Athi River. I 
then found time to ask S. how it was he managed 
to appear just at the right moment, and he told me 
he had been hunting close by and on hearing my shots 
rushed up to see what was happening. 

We then went /and looked at the dead rhino, and 
found it was a female well stricken in years. It was 
too late to do anything with it, so we determined 
to let it remain where it was for the night. Early 
next morning we took a number of porters and 
sallied forth to cut it up for camp meat. On 
nearing the spot where it lay we noticed about 
a score of Wakamba, with long knives and quaint 
antediluvian little axes, speeding along a parallel 
track, all intent on securing a rhino steak. It was 
well that we had made an early start, for had these 



38 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



men got to the kill before us there would not have 
been a morsel of that much-prized meat left for 
the safari. Of course we did not let them touch 
the carcase until our men had cut off all the meat 
they could carry; but even then there was enough 
left on the huge bones to start a fierce quarrel among 




"loves to make himself a rude shelter.-- 



the ravenous Wakamba, who all this time had 
sat eyeing the dead beast like so many vultures. 
The true savagery of the native of this part of 
Africa comes to the fore when he is engaged in 
hacking off lumps of flesh from a slaughtered 
beast. The demon-like expression of ferocity that 
comes over his countenance when he sees a hated 



Ill 



ON SAFARI 



39 



rival secure a coveted tit -bit of still quivering 
flesh is a sight to be remembered. Indeed I 
have more than once seen a desperate fight with 
knives take place over the possession of a tooth- 
some morsel. When he has secured a good haul 
of meat, the native loves to make himself a rude 
shelter, in which to gorge to his heart's content and 
watch the sun dry up such strips of flesh as he is unable 
to devour at the moment. 



CHAPTER IV 



ON THE YATTA PLATEAU 

Before leaving Nairobi we had been told by 
people with a knowledge of these parts that posho 
could be obtained without any difficulty from the 
Wakamba. We did not therefore take more than a 
week's supply with us, as of course the smaller the 
number of loads of food carried, the fewer porters 
we required. We were now on the borders of 
an inhabited district, so I sent some men with an 
askari to a local chief named Ngai with money 
enough to buy half-a-dozen loads of beans, of which 
we were running short. I was told by a native of 
these parts that it would take two days for the 
porters to bring the food, so I employed the interval 
in rambhng about the country making notes and 
sketches, while my friends did some shooting and 
secured good specimens of impala, bushbuck, and 
waterbuck. One day, while stalking a rhino, S. 
came suddenly upon a buffalo as it emerged from 

40 



CHAP. IV ON THE YATTA PLATEAU 



• a thicket, but before he could make up his mind as 
to which of the two was the finer trophy, both 
disappeared into the bush. However, had he only- 
known it, he should not have hesitated in choosing 
the buffalo, as we saw but few traces of these animals 
during our trip, while rhinos were much too numerous 
to be at all pleasant. 

While at this camp three of my Wakikuyu 
porters took it into their heads to desert, and so 
left me with three important loads which had to be 
carried by hook or by crook. I was luckily able 
to get three Wakamba to replace the deserters. 
I have always found the Wakikuyu porter to be 
most unreliable, and from moment to moment one 
can never tell when he may suddenly pitch his load 
aside and disappear into the bush. 

On the evening of the second day the porters 
returned with only a single bag of beans, but they 
brought back an improbable tale of how the chief 
Ngai was collecting food for us, and would himself 
meet us with it if we marched towards his village. 
I had very Kttle faith in this story, as I knew that 
natives will promise anything, although well aware 
at the same time that there is not the remotest 
chance of their promises being fulfilled; nor do they 
evince the very least shame or contrition when 
they are proved to be the most flagrant liars. 

In any case, however, we had to pass Ngai's 



42 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

village on our way to Kitui, as we had to march 
that way to reach a ford over the Athi river, 
which again barred our path. It was now flowing 
in a south-easterly direction after having taken a 
great circuit round the northern slopes of El Donyo 
Sabuk. On our way to the ford we passed through 
several villages, from which most of the women and 
children fled on our approach. They were evidently 
unaccustomed to white men in these parts, although it 
is so near to Nairobi. 

As I marched along at the head of the safari, I 
noticed by the side of the path, and awaiting our 
approach, a group of natives under the leadership of 
a tall old man, who looked a very striking and 
picturesque, though rather incongruous figure, a 
bright red blanket wrapped round him, a white 
helmet, similar to that worn by the troops in India, 
tilted well back on his head, a very large and 
battered umbrella tucked under his left arm in the 
latest Piccadilly style, and a formidable Masai spear 
grasped in his right hand. This turned out to be 
Ngai. 

In addition to his male following he was accom- 
panied by two of his wives, who carried food for 
their lord, and also a present for us in the shape 
of a parcel of beans made up in a native-made and 
neatly-woven matting bag. As I had all along 
more or less suspected would be the case, Ngai 



ON THE YATTA PLATEAU 



43 



brought no food for the safari, in spite of all his 
lavish promises, and he seemed to expect that I 
would be appeased by the small handful he had ^ 
given us as a present. When he sav^ that I was 
very angry with him for having sent me a false 
message, he sent back one of his wives with three 
of the Wakamba to bring some loads of posho 




" THIS ti-i;xi:d on T' > 



from his village, while he himself offered to lead us 
to the ford over the Athi. 

As we marched along he soon got tired of carry- 
ing his heavy spear, so handed it to his wife and 
took from her a curiously made little three-legged 
stool on which he sat whenever we made a short 
halt. This wife also carried a baby of two or three 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



months old slung on her back by means of a 
cowskin bag. It was a wretched little piece of 
humanity, and howled piteously most of the time, 
which was a thing not to be wondered at consider- 
ing its most uncomfortable position. Why it was 
not smothered is a mystery to me. The mother 
appealed to us to cure it of fever and coHc, so we 
did the best we could, but with what success I 
know not, as it was still waihng plaintively when 
we parted company some days afterwards. 

We crossed the river in safety, and then climbed 
the escarpment which for many miles bounds it 
on the left bank, and pitched our tents under some 
shady trees on the Yatta Plateau. All the water 
had to be brought up here from the Athi, much to 
the disgust of the porters, who wished to camp 
down by the river, regardless of the crowds of 
mosquitoes which had their abode there among the 
tall reeds and grass Hning the banks. 

In the afternoon I went out again to explore the 
surrounding country, accompanied only by Abbudi 
and Mellauw. When I had gone some Httle dis- 
tance, I saw, about a quarter of a mile away, a 
weather-beaten and battle-scarred old rhino with 
fairly good horns, standing complacently under a 
tree, apparently enjo3dng an afternoon siesta. Now% 
my friends had never shot a rhino, and were, of 
course, most anxious to bag one. I thought, there- 



ON THE YATTA PLATEAU 



45 



fore, that this was a splendid opportunity, so I sent 
iMellauw at his best speed back to camp to tell 
them to come out quickly and bring their heavy 
rifles with them to try their luck. 

^leanwhile, I sat down in the shade for 
about half an hour and awaited their arrival. 
Presently the old rhino awoke from his reverie, and 
sauntering leisurely out from under the tree, began 
to graze away quite peacefully in the open, little 
dreaming of the fate which was to befall him so 
soon. By the time S. and ^Irs. S. arrived he had 
got among some ant-hills, which gave us a splendid 
opportunity of stalking him. We got to within 
fifty yards of him unobserved, the wind being in the 
right quarter. Then hing prone under cover of an 
ant-hill, ^Irs. S. waited for a favourable movement 
to get in a shoulder shot. I inwardly prayed that 
the wind mi^ht not veer round and so reveal our 
presence to him, as of course he would then have 
charged down on us like a thunderbolt. At last, 
after what seemed an age, he presented his shoulder 
and instantly the rifle rang out and toppled him 
over, practically stone dead. It was a very well- 
placed shot, as the great beast barely gave a kick 
after he fell. 

All the same, the gun-bearers and boys were 
much too terrified to go up to the prostrate brute, 
as they are always in deadly fear of a rhino. It 



46 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 



was not until I had ridden closely all round him 
and assured them that he was really quite dead, 
that they ventured to approach the fallen beast, 
and even then only after ha\ing thrown stones at 
him for some time. When at last two or three did 
summon up sufficient courage to go up and touch 
his head, I suddenly gave a loud snort, imitating 




"they ventured to approach the F.ALLEN BEAST." 

a rhino as well as I could. Instantly all fled with 
wnld yells, to the huge amusement of the more 
cautious majority, who enjoyed the joke tremen- 
dously. 

While the men were engaged in skinning and 
cutting up the rhino, we spied another one a Httle 



ON THE YATTA PLATEAU 



distance away, so as we did not wish to shoot it, I 
proposed that we should go and try to take its 
photograph. We got fairly close to it, but the 
grass was so long that it was still impossible to secure 
a successful snapshot from where we were. It was 
rather risky for all three of us to approach any 
nearer, as there was no place of refuge except a 
single tree which was a Httle beyond where the 
rhino was and rather to the left of him. I thouizht, 
therefore, that it was better to leave my friends 
where they were, and go on alone to try and take 
the picture, as there was less chance of him seeing 
one than three. I was getting along beautifully 
when unfortunately, just as I got almost close 
enough to take a snapshot, the rhino spotted me 
and promptly charged. I made for the tree for all 
I was worth, pursued by the angry brute, and 
luckily reached it in good time. The rhino 
then stopped in mid career and made off in the 
opposite direction, so I did not get his photo- 
graph after all. 

I was more fortunate, however, on another occa- 
sion, when I made a picture-stalk on a couple of 
rhino that were grazing in the open, near a soKtary 
tree. I must confess that I approached them Avith 
fear and trembKng, all the time wondering if they 
would spot me, and if so, whether I could get to 
the tree without being caught by one or other of 



48 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, iv 



them, if they should take it into their heads to 
charge. I had no rifle with me, as it would have 
been too awkward to carry with my camera while 
wriggHng along in the grass. In spite, however, , 
of all the care which I took to avoid being seen, 
the rhino spotted me just as I stood up to take 




the picture. I was intently watching them reflected 
in the finder of my camera, when I suddenly 
observed them moving rapidly and, as I thought, 
towards me. On looking up, however, I was much 
relieved to find that they were going in the opposite 
direction, and I took the photograph as they were 
on the run. 



CHAPTER V 



A FRUITLESS LION HUNT 

Our march across the Yatta Plateau to the 
Kwamutuku stream was a short o^ne of only about 
nine miles. It was a delightful country to ride 
through, and every yard of the route proved inter- 
esting. On the way we were charged viciously, 
but without damage, by several rhino; indeed we 
saw in all no less than ten of these interesting and 
quaint-looking animals on this short stretch of our 
route. The country for the most part was undulat- 
ing, beautifully grassy, ^ and interspersed here and 
there with groves of trees, through which game 
of various kinds could be seen moving about. I 
counted roughly some 300 kongoni (hartebeeste), 
about fifty zebra, and ten waterbuck, but I only 
observed two Thomson's gazelle, and did not see 
a single specimen of the beautiful and graceful 
Grant's gazelle. 

At our camp on the Kwamutuku we were visited 

E 49 



50 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



by a second Wakamba chief with about a dozen 
of his people. He promised to bring any food we 
wanted, so I decided to wait here another day. 

While rambling round the vicinity in the afternoon 
I came upon an old deserted homa with a few sharp 
stakes set up inside it; this led me to speculate as 




" LNTTERSPERSED HERE AND THERE WITH GROVES OF TREEC,'" 

to what they could be for, and I wondered if it 
could be a cunning native trap of some kind. I 
remembered a curious incident that occurred some 
years ago at a place called Kew, where an engineer 
was encamped inside a somewhat similar homa. As 
a rule a fire was Hghted in the enclosure every night, 
but on one particular evening the engineer happened 



V 



A FRUITLESS LIOX HUNT 



to be away, so the place was left in darkness. The 
wood for the fire, however, was all in place, and 
in the heap by chance was an upright sharp stake. 
Soon after nightfall a lion, seeking what he might 
devour, jumped into the homa, and by an unlucky 
accident for himself landed fair on the upright 
stake, which went clean through his body. The 
beast managed to drag himself out through the 
bushes, but was found dead just outside on the fol- 
lowing morning, with the stake sticking through him. 

In a country such as this, abounding as it 
did with so much game, Hons were sure to be 
numerous, and we had ample e\ddence of this 
fact soon after darkness set in, as we heard them 
roaring in all directions round our camp. S. and 
I therefore planned an expedition for the follo^^ing 
morning, while we still sat in the glow of the camp 
fire and listened to the music of the wilds as voiced 
by these majestic animals. Accordingly, at about 
4 A.M. we started off, he on his mule, and I mounted 
on Aladdin. We marched in practically a northerly 
direction, following to the best of our ability the 
sound of a roaring Hon. We were, of course, ac- 
companied by Abbudi and a couple of gun-bearers, 
while about a mile behind us, so that they might 
not frighten the game, marched a dozen porters to 
carry back to camp any meat or trophies that we 
might shoot. 



52 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 

In this way we progressed very slowly in the 
misty moonshine until dawn began to break, when 
all at once we discovered that we were right in the 
midst of a herd of about 200 zebra. They seemed 
more curious than startled at our sudden appear- 
ance, and gave S. an easy shot, so that he was 
enabled to bring down his first zebra. 

Lea\ing a man to take the skin of! and cut up 
the meat, which is considered delicious by the 
porters on account of the abundance of fat, we 
pushed on ahead, still following the roar of the lion; 
but when we had gone on another half mile or so 
we found that we were quite unable to locate the 
direction from which the muffled sound came. 
It seemed to be now to the right of us, now to the 
left of us, now in front of us. We therefore agreed 
to separate, having first marked out a conical hill 
as a meeting-place later on. I gave S. his choice 
and he took the left-hand route, while I made a 
detour to the right. 

I continued my way along de\ious animal tracks 
and b^'^vays, up and down banks and among 
nullahs, through woods and over hillocks, and at 
last arrived at the landmark agreed upon without 
ha\ing seen an}1:hing of importance. Here I 
waited some considerable time for S., but as he did 
not turn up I thought I would go on a little further. 
From the hillock on which I stood I could see the 



V 



A FRUITLESS LION HUNT 53 



edge of what looked like an escarpment stretching 
away to the east, so I made up my mind to go and 
see what the valley beneath contained. I left a 
man with instructions to wait for an hour in case S. 
should arrive, so that he might direct him to me. 

Taking with me Abbudi and my gun-bearer, I rode 
off and in a Kttle time approached the edge of the 
Yatta Plateau where it descends precipitously to the 
valley below, thus forming an abrupt boundary to 
this wide expanse of plain that stretches away to the 
horizon. Of course, I dismounted before reaching the 
edge of this precipice and walked quieuy towards it, 
taking cover behind a rock, so as not to disturb any 
game that might be in sight. On looking over, I 
was rewarded by the magnificent view which met 
my eyes. A lovely stretch of broad valley unfolded 
itself beneath me, bathed in soft but brilhant morn- 
ing sunshine. Standing out boldly, and apparently 
about half a score of miles away, jutted up some 
gigantic and curiously castle-Hke rocks. I looked 
longingly at these and wanted very badly to go and 
explore them, especially as I heard the short sharp 
grunts of a Honess coming from somewhere in their 
direction, accompanied now and again by the more 
majestic roar of her mate. 

Just at the bottom of the escarpment grazed a large 
herd of Coke's hartebeeste. As I had approached so 
cautiously, they were wholly unaware of my presence 



54 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 

and grazed away quite unsuspiciously beneath me, 
although I could almost have hit any one of them with 
a stone. Further afield, but at no very great distance, 
I counted three black objects mo\ing about, which 
with the aid of my glasses I made out to be rhino. 




coke's hartebeeste. 



Flerds of zebra, hartebeeste, Grant's and Thomson's 
gazelle, and a few eland were also scattered about 
here and there, ginng life to a particularly pleasing 
scene. 

I did not of course attempt to disturb the harte- 
beeste directly underneath me, but contented myself 
vdth watching them, and the other animals, in their 



A FRUITLESS LION HUNT 



native haunts. Neither did I try to climb down the 
escarpment, for it was now getting late and I was 
anxious to find S. if possible and return to camp, 
as we had been on the move since 4 a.m. Just 
as I was about to mount Aladdin and set off in 
quest of my companion, I heard the report of a rifle 
close by, and on riding up found S., who had shot 
and knocked over a very good impala, but had had 
no other adventures worth speaking of since we 
separated, neither had he seen any trace of the 
Hons we had come out to seek. 

As some of the porters with me belonged to the 
Kiku}ni nation they petitioned me to shoot a kon- 
goni, as they would not touch zebra, of which the 
SwahiH are so fond, and the impala just killed would 
not be sufficient to go round. I therefore stalked 
an old bull hartebeeste which they pointed out to 
me, and brought him down with a bullet rather far 
back in the body. He got up again, however, 
hobbled off and broke into a run, so Abbudi flew 
after him — all the joy of being able to get a 
thrust with his spear, in the approved Masai 
manner, showing in his exulting face. The harte- 
beeste gave him a good long run, more or less in a 
circle, so that I was able to watch everything that 
happened. At last, when the ungainly antelope was 
beginning to get tired, it turned and faced him. 
This manoeuvre checked Abbudi for a moment, 



56 



IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, v 



and made him adopt more cautious tactics. He 
tried his utmost to work round to the animal's 
flank, but the wily old hartebeeste was too artful for 
this, and wherever Abbudi went he always found the 
head of the kongoni facing him; indeed, once or 
twice the latter made one or two sharp charges 
which caused Abbudi to take nimbly to his heels. 
Eventually the poor hartebeeste seemed suddenly 
to get very weak and tottered to his knees, still 
facing his enemy. This happened just at the 
moment I came up, intending to give him a finishing 
shot. Abbudi, however, instantly saw his chance, and 
the long bright blade of his spear shot suddenly out 
and appeared to go through the beast as easily as if 
he had been made of butter. The thrust evidently 
pierced the heart, for without another struggle the 
gallant old kongoni turned over with a groan, gave y 
a couple of tremors, rolled up his eyes and remained 
quite still. 

It always makes me feel unhappy to see a beast die, 
especially if he has made a good fight for his life, as 
this one did. Of course, if the animal is killed out- 
right at the first shot, he is dead before he can 
realize what is happening, and can feel Httle or no 
pain. If, however, the shot merely breaks a leg 
and the animal goes off limping, all my sympathy 
is aroused, and I am not easy in my mind again until 
the poor beast has been put out of its misery. 



58 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, v 



The swift death which is, as a rule, meted out by 
the sportsman inflicts, after all, but Httle pain com- 
pared with the suffering which the poor weak 
creatures of the \\ilds have often to endure when 
they fall into the pitiless clutches of a voracious 
beast of prey. As an example of this, I may per- 
haps mention an instance which a friend of mine, 
Mr. C. Rawson, actually witnessed. He was out 
shooting one day on the Athi Plains when he 
wounded a Grant's gazelle. The animal managed 
to get away from him, so he quickly followed it up 
to finish it off. Meanwhile a lean and hungry- 
looking hyaena sprang out of the grass and joined in 
the chase, eventually catching up with the gazelle 
and pulling it down. The hyasna did not waste 
any time in attempting to kill the gazelle, but, 
putting a strong paw on its quarters to hold it 
down, proceeded to tear great pieces of flesh from 
the unfortunate creature's flank. Rawson arrived at 
this moment and fired at the hyaena, which he hit 
far back in the spine, totally disabhng the brute's 
hind-quarters. In spite of this the ravenous beast 
continued to eat the flesh of the still li\ing gazelle, 
nor did he stop for a moment until a second shot 
killed him outright. 

Mr. Rawson took a photograph of the pair 
exactly as they lay, which he has kindly given me 
permission to reproduce (see p. 57). 



CHAPTER VI 



CHASED BY A RHINO 

That night the camp was much disturbed, not 
with a roaring Hon but with the chief's yelling baby, 
so next morning I told Ngai, who was still with us, 
that he and his wife and child had better return 
home to their own village, at the foot of the 
Kanjalu hills. The old fellow had been instrumen- 
tal in procuring for us some half-dozen loads of food, 
and although this was much less than we had been 
led to expect, we were forced to make a \irtue of 
necessity and appear to be content with the short 
supply. 

Before the chief and his family left us we gave to 
each a small present, as a token of our goodwill. 
Ngai, who was a keen lover of tobacco, went irTto 
ecstasies over a supply which S. gave him; the 
old man seemed quite loath to part with us, and 
gave us a most cordial in\itation to his village when 
next we should pass that way. 

59 



6o 



IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



We were not sorry to leave the camp on the 
Kwamutuku, as the water in the holes in the bed of 
the stream was very brackish, and the mosquitoes 
and ticks were most troublesome. Under the 
guidance of a couple of local natives we continued 
our journey in an easterly direction towards the 
Karusi river, which we were told was a short distance 
ahead of us. The country we rode over continued 
to be beautifully grassy and undulating, with nu- 
merous trees scattered about here and there. S. 
walked through the long grass and alternately 
handled his rifle and shotgun, according as a rhino 
or a fat Httle quail was put up. A considerable 
quantity of game was to be seen in all directions, 
and the whole march was a most interesting one. 
On the way I counted 50 Thomson's gazelle, 30 
eland, 30 wildebeeste, 7 rhino, some ostriches, and 
hundreds of kongoni. 

Shortly after setting out from camp we heard a 
great noise and commotion among the men, who 
were following us. Riding back to learn the cause 
I found that a rhino had suddenly charged the 
safari, but had fortunately gone through the line of 
porters without impaling anybody; and beyond the 
breaking of a few loads as they were hastily thrown 
down by the terrified men, no damage was 
done. 

Soon after this incident, as we marched along in 



VI 



CHASED BY A RHINO 



6i 



single file at the head of the safari, I noticed, a 
considerable way to our left front, a herd of 
wildebeeste browsing quietly through the bushes, 
looking in the distance for all the world Hke the 
American bison. I had no desire to shoot one, 
as I had obtained my trophy years before, when 
they were much more numerous than they are now 
and could be counted by thousands on the Athi 
Plains. My friends, however, had up to that mo- 
ment never even seen one, and they were naturally 
very keen to obtain a specimen. I proposed, there- 
fore, that they should gallop on ahead, under cover, 
to a point which I indicated about a mile further 
on, while I made a circuit so as to get on the far 
side of the wily animals, and if possible drive them 
towards the guns. Accordingly, of! I went on 
Aladdin, keeping in the thickest bush I could find 
wtII out of sight of the wildebeeste. While going 
along at a smart pace I almost rode on to a female 
rhinoceros and her calf. Aladdin was so terrified 
that he almost bounded from under me, and flew 
at his utmost speed from the equally startled 
animals. The old dam made' a short charge, ac- 
companied by the calf, but they very soon gave 
up the chase and returned to the shady depths of 
the thicket. 

After this I went more cautiously, as the place 
was infested with rhino; but before I had gone a 



62 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA 



quarter of a mile I suddenly came upon a savage 
old male, who was evidently in a very bad temper, 
as he charged most viciously the moment he caught 
sight of me. I immediately raced Aladdin for some 
bushes, thinking to elude him; but he was not to be 
thrown off. I heard him crash through the scrub 
after me, and looking over my shoulder saw him 
with his head raised in the air and his tail cocked 
over his back, pursuing me with the utmost deter- 
mination. The tangled undergrowth was all in his 
favour, as I could not let Aladdin go very fast. 
Fortunately there was a httle glade ahead, and the 
moment I got into this I rode as hard as I could, 
while the rhino thundered after me, giving vent to 
loud snorts, which lent wings to Aladdin's nimble 
feet. I outpaced my pursuer here, but again got 
into a belt of bush which I had to cross to get 
into the open country. He still chased me most 
doggedly, and almost overtook me before I got 
clear of the scrub. Once in the open I felt safe, 
as Aladdin soon showed him a clean pair of heels, 
and the old rhino at last gave up the pursuit 
and returned sulkily to the cover of the bushes. 
Although I have been chased on horseback many 
times by rhino, this is the only time in all my 
experience that one of these brutes has made such 
a very determined and persistent attack. As a rule 



VI 



CHASED BY A RHINO 



63 



they make a short charge, and if unsuccessful, dart 
away again. 

As I was in this way forced to show myself, the 
wildebeeste soon spotted me. They stared for a 
few moments at the strange and extraordinary 
spectacle of a man flying along on a galloping 
horse; then, when they saw that I was rapidly gain- 
ing on them, they evidently made up their minds 
that I was bent on mischief, and with one accord 
down went their heads and up went their tails and 
off they started in their peculiar gallop, cutting 
antics all the time, with manes and tails streaming in 
the wind. 

I raced after them as hard as ever I could, 
urging Aladdin to his top speed, regardless of the 
numerous ant-bear holes which studded the ground 
hereabouts. The faster I went the faster the 
wildebeeste went also, and I soon found that they 
had no intention whatever of being driven the way 
I wanted them to go. As a matter of fact, they 
rapidly made off in quite a different direction, and 
made good their escape in spite of all my en- 
deavours to head them off. 

Now, my chase had taken me a considerable 
distance away from my companions, and when I 
looked round the caravan was nowhere to be seen, 
and I found myself in the midst of some stunted 



64 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



thorn trees, which completely hid the intervening 
country from me. However, I knew the direction in 
which the safari was travelling, so I started ofT at an 
easy pace to meet it. I rode through an ideal bit 
of sporting country, consisting of rolling downs with 
numbers of trees dotted about, patches of bush, open 
glades, with here and there a nullah, and above all 
animals galore for the lover of wild life to feast his 
eyes upon. Indeed, I would not like to state the 
number of wild creatures of various kinds that I 
surprised in the course of that short ride. I re- 
member giving chase to a couple of beautifully- 
coated jackals that started up out of the grass at 
Aladdin's feet and fled away in the direction in 
which I was going, thereby giving me an exhila- 
rating hunt without hurting the jackals, as they 
eventually scuttled into safety in a thicket or down 
a hole. 

In the course of an hour or so I was glad to come 
in sight of the safari again, as after all it feels 
somewhat lonely to be away entirely by one's self 
in the bush, in the midst of wild animals of all 
kinds. Riding up to some spreading trees I waited 
there for the safari's arrival, turning Aladdin's head 
towards the approaching crowd and watching them 
as they came into view through the bushes. 
Immediately behind me was a belt of forest and 
some high grass. No sooner had the caravan got 



VI 



CHASED BY A RHINO 



65 



to within fifty yards of my position than the men 
began to set up a terrific noise and outcry, but 
owing to the hubbub raised I could not make out 
what it was all about. I thought to myself, ''Another 
rhino, I suppose, charging the safari'^ \ but presently 
I made out the cry of "Simbal simba!'^ (''Lion! 
lion I"). I at once called out, "Where? where?" 
when to my surprise they shouted back, "He has just 
got up from behind you." 

Turning quickly in the saddle, I looked eagerly in 
all directions, but could see no sign of a Hon any- 
where. My companions by this time had come up 
and told me that they too had both watched it 
glide through the grass but a few yards behind 
where I stood. We all three immediately plunged 
into the thicket in hot pursuit. Our chase, how- 
ever, proved fruitless, and not a trace of the lion 
could we find, although we hunted through and 
through the jungle, with our gun-bearers, syces, and 
porters all strung out in a line, so that the bush might 
be beaten thoroughly in all directions. 

After some time we gave up the hunt and settled 
comfortably down out of the fierce heat of the sun 
under a spreading tree, where we had a much-needed 
lunch. While we were enjo\ing this frugal meal one 
of the porters came to tell us that he had gone to 
the place where he had first seen the lion jump up 
out of the grass, and had there discovered the half- 

F 



66 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



eaten body of a hartebeeste. When I heard this I 
called a council, and it was decided that the safari 
should go on to camp under one guide, while we 
w^ith the other guide and our gun-bearers should 
go back and carefully stalk the carcase in case 
the Hon had returned in the meantime to finish 
his meal. 

I called up the two Wakamba guides and ex- 
plained this plan to them, and told them to arrange 
between themselves the exact spot where camp 
was to be pitched, so that later on in the evening, 
after our hunting was over, we should have no 
difficulty in finding the right place. 

We then rode back for some distance, and on 
approaching the spot where the lion had first been 
seen we all dismounted and very cautiously stalked 
the dead hartebeeste, hoping to find the lion back 
on his kill. In this we were disappointed, however, 
for unfortunately we drew a blank. We found the 
half-eaten carcase, but no Hon. 

I knew it was a perfect certainty that he would 
return during the night for another feed, and I was 
more than half inclined to make arrangements to sit 
up over the kill that night, more especially as I 
knew it would be almost full moon ; but as I found 
that one of my companions was not over-keen on 
this method of passing the time I gave up the notion, 
and we all decided to start for camp. 



VI 



CHASED BY A RHINO 67 



On our way across country we met with another 
herd of wildebeeste, which S. spent nearly an hour 
stalking, as he was still most eager to secure a 
trophy. From a little eminence I watched him 
make a skilful stalk, and on seeing him approach 
the wily herd, I felt as anxious for his success as 
I am sure he must have felt himself. As he crept 
along stealthily in the open from one bit of cover to 
another I thought that they would be sure to catch 
sight of him, for they w^re very much on the alert, 
and a head would go up from the herd every now 
and then and have a good look round; instantly S. 
would drop on the grass and remain absolutely still 
until the head went down again and all was safe 
for another advance. In this way he managed to 
wriggle up to within about eighty yards without 
being observed, but then, alas ! he was seen, and 
off scampered the quaint-looking herd. One only, 
more daring or more curious than the rest, remained 
behind for a moment to investigate the cause of 
the disturbance, and, to reward him for his curiosity, 
he got a bullet somewhere in his body which had 
a most extraordinary effect on him, for he imme- 
diately started off at a furious gallop, kicking and 
bucking with all his might ; after going about 200 
yards in this fashion he began galloping round in 
circles, performing mad antics in the most fantastic 
manner, and finally circled himself out of sight 



68 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



in the thick bush, where we lost all trace of 
him. 

It was hopeless to pursue him any further, so 
we made our way back to our horses, and led by 
the guide, struck out for camp. By this time it 
was getting late, and after going some distance we 
began to fear that we had lost our way, as there 
was no sign of camp anywhere. We therefore con- 
sulted our guide as to where it was, and he cheer- 
fully admitted that he did not know ! He said it 
ought to have been where we now were, as by this 
time he had brought us to the banks of a small 
stream which he said was the Karusi. This was 
most annoying and disconcerting, for we had no 
desire to pass the night in the wilds without either 
food or shelter, after having been on the march since 
early morning. 

I felt pretty confident, however, that if we kept 
on up-stream we would be almost certain to come 
upon the camp sooner or later, so telhng my friends 
to follow me as fast as they could, I pushed on at a 
sharp pace, and after a while was deHghted to 
hear the joyful sound of an axe chopping up wood 
for the evening camp fire. Riding quickly back 
I hallooed lustily to my friends that camp was in 
sight, and it was not long before we were all seated 
under the friendly shelter of a canvas awning, sipping 



VI 



CHASED BY A RHINO 



69 



hot tea, that most grateful and refreshing of drinks 
after a hot day on safari. 

Next morning, out of curiosity to see if I was 
right about the lion returning to finish the kill, I 
sent a couple of reliable men to investigate. On 
their return they told me that every scrap of the 
meat had been eaten, and that there was no doubt 
that it was a Hon that had been there, as his fresh 
tracks were plainly to be seen all round the place 
where the kill had been. 



CHAPTER VII 



THROUGH A GAME COUNTRY 

We Stayed at the camp by the Karusi river for a 
couple of days, as the water was fairly good and 
not nearly so brackish as we had found it at the 
Kwamatuku. There was plenty of game, too, in the 
neighbourhood, and during one ramble I counted 
no less than three Hons, 300 kongoni, 200 zebra, 
50 impala, 30 wildebeeste, 5 rhino, 5 duiker, one 
soHtary bull giraffe, and one specimen of that rather 
scarce and beautiful antelope, the bushbuck. 

Xext day I was out exploring with my friends, 
and in the course of the afternoon ]\Irs. S. stalked 
and hit a bull wildebeeste. He did not drop to the 
shot, so we followed him up for miles, but could not 
get near him, and as it was now beginning to grow 
dusk we had reluctantly to give up the chase and 
make our way back to camp as quickly as we could 
in the fast-gro\Aing darkness. In the excitement of 
the hunt we had not noticed that all our natives 
had been outpaced, and when we turned homewards 

70 



CHAP. VII THROUGH A GAME COUNTRY 



there was not one of our followers in sight. On our 
way we almost rode into a herd of zebra which were 
moving about in a rather uneasy way, as if suspect- 
ing the presence of some other foe than ourselves. 
This put me on the alert, and I looked keenly all 
round. In a few minutes I was rewarded by the 




"that rather scarce and beautiful antelope, the bushbuck." 



momentary ghmpse of what I took to be a lion's 
head, raised out of the grass not more than fifty 
yards away. 

I dismounted, and, leading Aladdin, walked up to 
the place as cautiously as I could, and found myself 
on the edge of a kind of dry basin, about ten to 



72 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



fifteen yards in diameter, with a raised rim all round. 
On the opposite side of this I could dimly make 
out in the darkness the forms of three animals 
which I now took to be large pigs, as we had been 
putting up several of these animals for the last half 
hour of our ride — in fact, I called out to Mrs. S., 
''Oh, they are only pigs!" The moment they heard 
my voice, they all three rose up, and I then saw to 
my astonishment that they were not pigs but lions ! 

It was impossible to follow their movements in 
the gloom, and as I feared they were coming for me, 
I mounted Aladdin in record time and was about to 
ride hastily off, when my companion, who was in a 
position to have a better \dew than I, called out, 
"They're going! they're going!" Thus reassured, 
I dismounted, and taking my courage in both hands, 
aimed at what I imagined to be a standing Hon. 
As the object did not move I made a closer inspec- 
tion, and found that it was only a bush, behind 
which the Hons had taken shelter in their line of 
retreat. It was out of the question to think of 
pursuing them, as we could not see ten yards ahead, 
so, much to our chagrin, we had to turn our backs 
on the lions and push on as rapidly as possible for 
camp. 

On the way we felt distinctly "creepy," riding 
along in the dark, and not knowing what wild beast 
might be lurking among the bushes ready to spring 



VII 



THROUGH A GAME COUNTRY 



73 



on us as we passed. The circumstances recalled 
to my mind the true story of the extraordinary 
escape of one of the Game Warden's assistants in 
South Africa, who delivered himself out of the very 
jaws of a Hon, by a good knife, a cool head, and 
plenty of pluck. This man was riding home at 
dusk through a game reserve, when a Hon suddenly 
sprang at him out of the bushes, knocking him off 
his pony and so terrifying the latter that it galloped 
madly off, pursued by the fierce beast. The man 
was picking himself up when another Hon pounced 
on him, gripping him through the shoulder. The 
Game Ranger was dazed for a few^ moments by the 
shock, but when he came to his senses he found 
himself being carried off in the maw of the lion, 
whose long tusks met through and through his right 
shoulder, rendering his right arm useless. As he 
was being dragged off in this fashion, with his heels 
traiHng on the ground, he gave himself up for lost, 
but suddenly bethought himself of an old hunting 
knife he carried on his waist-belt at his right side. 
The knife was so loose in its sheath that it usually 
fell out on the least provocation, and even as the 
Ranger quietly doubled his left hand behind his back, 
he had a hopeless feeHng that it would not be there. 
Imagine his joy when he felt the hilt in his desperate 
grip ! In a moment the long keen blade was poised, 
and a blow at the Hon's heart, thrice rapidly repeated, 



74 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



made the brute wonder what had hurt him. He 
dropped his would-be victim, eyed him with astonish- 
ment for a second as he lay beneath him, and then 
staggered off into the bush. The moment he was 
out of sight, the Ranger struggled to his feet, 
climbed a tree, and before he fainted strapped 
himself on to a branch with his belt. No sooner 
had he done so than Hon number one appeared on 
the scene again, having failed to catch the pony. 
He remained at the foot of the tree until the 
Ranger's dog came up, and by his barking attracted 
the attention of some passing natives, who drove 
off the Hon and rescued the fainting man from 
the tree. A brief search disclosed the dead body of 
the lion that had attacked the Ranger, stabbed to 
death through the heart. 

Although we were more than a thousand miles 
away from the scene of this adventure, yet we, 
too, were riding through a Hon-infested country 
in the dark. It was a vast reHef, therefore, when 
at last in the distance we heard Abbudi's voice 
calHng out to guide us to the track leading to 
our tents and to safety. I was not quite happy, 
however, until I saw the cheery camp fires twinkling 
at us through the bushes. 

I only had a very short rest that night, as at 3 a.m. 
I started off again accompanied by Abbudi and 
INIellauw to visit a homa which lay some twenty 



THROUGH A GAME COUNTRY 



miles away. The stars that morning were shining 
brilliantly, and it was delightful riding along by 
their light and that of the waning moon. The 
Southern Cross showed up particularly well and 
served to guide me on my journey until dawn. 

Of course, for the first couple of hours, while it was 
still dark, I saw no game, although we could some- 
times hear animals rustling in the undergrowth. 
When dayhght came I saw that the country all 
round was sparsely covered with dwarf trees and 
bush, with here and there broad stretches of open 
grass country. Away to my left, and at a much 
lower level, lay an immense undulating plain which 
appeared to stretch away as far as the eye could 
see. Game seemed very numerous in this valley, 
for by the aid of my glasses I could make out 
giraffe, eland, rhino, and many kinds of antelope, 
while I saw one lion stalking along with the 
contented gait which showed that he had enjoyed 
a good meal but a short time before. Of mankind 
I saw no trace, save only one soHtary bowman who 
was cautiously threading his way through the nyika. 

I found this whole journey a most interesting one, 
for the country was quite new to me and I was 
constantly coming upon some feature of fresh 
interest. When I had covered about sixteen miles 
of the distance, I spied a very fine bull eland stand- 
ing about a quarter of a mile ahead under the 



76 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



shade of a spreading tree. My path, however, 
turned sharply off to the left here, so as I did not 
wish to do any shooting until after I had paid my 




visit to the distant camp, I left him undisturbed, 
though I promised myself a stalk if he should still 
be in the neighbourhood on my return. 



THROUGH A GAME COUNTRY 



I finally reached my destination at about 9 a.m., 
only to find that the man I had come out to see 
was away on a few days' shooting trip after Hons. I 
rested for about half an hour at his camp, and heard 
from one of the men left on the place that lions in 
this part of the country were very numerous and 
troublesome. Only a short time previous to my 
visit one of these daring beasts had come one night 
close outside the donkey homa and by roaring 
vigorously succeeded in stampeding the donkeys. 
This was of course just what he wanted, for he 
thereupon promptly seized one of them and ate it 
close by. 

I thought that Abbudi and Mellauw would be 
tired after their twenty-mile march, but they made 
quite light of it, and we all started off on the return 
journey in the best of spirits. When we approached 
the spot where I had seen the fine eland we made a 
careful search for him, but he was nowhere to be 
discovered, so we pressed on camp ward without 
further delay. 

When we had covered about a dozen miles of the 
way I noticed in the distance eleven giraffe, all 
standing behind trees and intently watching us as 
we approached. As I did not want to shoot one of 
these gentle and harmless animals I took no notice 
of them and rode straight ahead. The giraffe stood 



78 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



quite still for some time and allowed us to approach 
to within a couple of hundred yards of them before 
they turned and started off at a quaint gallop. 

Xo sooner had they made off than to my deHght 
my huge eland bounded out into the open from 
under a tree. He was evidently the same that we 
had seen in the morning, and it was certainly most 
accommodating of him to have walked so far in the 
direction of our camp. The moment I saw him I 
stood stock still, telling the ]\Iasai to do the same. 
After galloping a couple of dozen yards the eland 
pulled up, and looked all round to see what had so 
startled the giraffe. If he saw us he evidently took 
us for part of the landscape, as we remained quite 
motionless. At any rate he took no notice of us, 
and flicking his sides with his tail, he sauntered 
leisurely over to the nearest tree and took up his posi- 
tion there in the cool shade. 

Xo sooner had he done this than I sHpped quietly 
off Aladdin, handed him over to Abbudi, and started 
off with my .303 to do a stalk. Before setting 
out I gave very emphatic directions to both youths 
to remain absolutely still, as the slightest movement 
on their part would spoil everything. 

A little way to my right the ground dipped into 
a hollow, which, if I could manage to gain it un- 
observed, would take me to a point within forty 
yards of the great bull. I therefore wriggled along 



THROUGH A GAME COUNTRY 



perfectly flat on the ground until I got to this 
hollow, but when once under cover I was able to 
push on much more rapidly and soon reached 
the point from which I hoped to be able to get a 
clear and close view of the eland. Strange to say, on 
peeping carefully from behind the cover of a friendly 
ant heap, I could nowhere make out the form of the 
beast, and was for a time extremely puzzled as to 
what had become of him. The fact was that I had 
forgotten to make due allowance for the distance 
which I had travelled, and was looking at quite the 
wrong spot — a thing which is very Kkely to happen 
unless careful calculation is made beforehand of the 
position of the quarry with regard to some 
commanding object. Indeed I did not discover my 
mistake or catch sight of the eland until it attracted 
my attention by suddenly whisking round and 
looking, not at me, but at the moving woolly head of 
Mellauw, who had disobeyed my instructions and 
had crawled up to a position on my left some distance 
off to see how I was getting on. For this dis- 
obedience I had a few words to say to him later on 
when the adventure was over. 

There was, of course, no time to be lost now, so 
taking as steady an aim as I could at the startled 
eland, I fired straight at his heart. The instant he 
felt the lead, he gave a kick and a buck and was 
out of sight in a moment behind a small rise. I 



8o 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



gave chase as fast as possible, but on reaching 
the hillock behind which he had disappeared I 
could not see him anywhere, nor could I find 
any trace of blood. On my left, at a distance of 
about 150 yards from the spot where I had fired, 
there was a steep decHvity down to the valley 
already mentioned, so I rushed to the edge of 
this and looked over, expecting to see the eland 
strugghng down to the bottom. There was no 
sign of him, however, so I ran of! to the right, 
thinking that he might have gone behind a fold of 
the ground in that direction. He was not to be 
found there either, and I was completely puzzled to 
know what had become of him. By this time the 
two Masai whom I had called to my assistance had 
come up, so I mounted Aladdin and galloped off 
to a rise at a Httle distance from which there was a 
good view all round; but still the eland was nowhere 
to be seen. 

I could not understand it at all, for I knew that 
he had been hard hit and could not have gone very 
far, so I returned to the Masai and told them that 
there was nothing to be done but to keep searching 
until we found him. We then went back to the 
place where I had shot him, and from there, after 
infinite pains, we managed to track him, step by 
step, to the edge of the precipice over which I had 
already looked. There was no doubt now that we 



THROUGH A GAME COUNTRY 8i 



were on the right trail, as we found a drop or two 
of blood on the edge. The side of this precipice, 
as well as the whole valley beneath, was covered 
with a matted tangled mass of trees, shrubs, and 
creepers, and as I looked at this I despaired of ever 




I i.^'.'." HUO^ LZASi :;iiij:.ICHr.Li uUi IX i Hi. iKICKEi, 

STONE DE.\D." 



finding any trace of the wounded animal in such an 
expanse of undergrowth. 

However, I intended to make a thorough search, 
so I tied Aladdin carefully to a tree, and off we 
all started down the steep face of the escarpment. 
Abbudi led the way, and while I was still lowering 
myself from the topmost rocks I heard a cry of 

G 



82 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



triumph, and he called out exultingly, ^^Napata, 
Bwana, napata^^ (''I have found him, master, I 
have found him"). Hurrying after him down the 
cliff I saw the huge beast stretched out in the 
thicket, stone dead. He had evidently fallen over 
the edge of the precipice to his present position 




"l TOOK SEVERAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE ELAND." 



among the undergrowth, where it was quite im- 
possible to see him from the spot on which I had stood 
at the top. 

I immediately sent Abbudi at his best pace 
to camp to bring out twenty porters to carry 
back the head and meat, and also to fetch me a 



VII THROUGH A GAME COUNTRY 83 

much-needed lunch, as I had had nothing to eat 
since 3 a.m. except a crust of bread from my wallet 
and some cold tea which I had brought in my water 
bottle. 

While waiting for his return I took several photo- 
graphs of the eland just as he had fallen, clearing 




"the horns . . . RAXKED SECOND TO THE BEST ON RECORD." 



away the thick scrub for this purpose with much 
labour, and by the time the porters arrived the 
skinning and cutting up had been completed, and 
there was nothing left for them to do except to 
shoulder the meat, the hide, and the horns and 
march back with these in triumph to camp, which we 
reached safely just as night fell. 



84 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap, vii 



On measuring the horns I found that they ranked 
second to the best on record shot in East Africa 
up to that date. My friends were very much in- 
terest^ in my day's adventures, and more especially 
rejoiced with me at the good luck I had had in 
obtaining such a fine head. 



CHAPTER VIII 



AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY 

I HAD now travelled as far to the eastward as I 
desired to go, so I proposed to my friends that we 
should swing round to the north-west and march 
through the great Kauti Plain as far as the Tana 
river. This suggestion was readily agreed to, 
as it promised an interesting trip through a 
practically virgin country. I had many shauris 
(consultations) with my two Wakamba guides as to 
the nature of the country to be traversed and 
especially as to where water w^as to be found. 
They were both well versed in the geography 
of the district and gave me quite readily the local 
names of such mountains and hills as were in 
sight. Knowing that a native will say anything 
that comes into his head rather than confess his 
ignorance, I questioned both separately and apart 
from each other, and their answers gave me 
confidence in their fitness to lead us through the 

8s 



86 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



nyika. They told me that we could not reach 
the Tana in one safari unless we started at 3 a.m. 
and marched until dark, and that the only water we 
could be sure of finding on the way was a small 
stream some ten miles from our present camp by 
the Karusi. Sometimes, indeed, a Httle brackish 
water was to be found at a place called Jukone, a 
hill a few miles short of the Tana, where there was a 
spring — but it might be dry, added one of the guides 
with characteristic caution. 

I suspected that the Wakamba had either been 
bribed or intimidated by the safari into trying 
to induce me to make but a short march and camp 
by the stream which they had reported as only 
ten miles away, and that for this reason they were 
exaggerating the water difficulties at Jukone. I 
determined therefore to endeavour to reach the 
Tana in one march, and ordered the tents to be 
struck at 2.30 a.m. on Christmas morning, so that 
we might be ready to start half-an-hour later. 

^^A Merry Xmas" we called out to each other as 
we assembled round the dying embers of the camp 
fire to drink an early cup of tea before setting out. 
The stars twinkled brightly as we moved off in the 
darkness, the Plough and the Pole Star being 
exceptionally conspicuous on the northern horizon. 
My Wakamba seemed to be well aware of the 
fixity of the latter. I observed that they marched 



AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY 87 



straight towards it for a considerable time, so I 
asked them how they were able to find their way 
in the dark, and they immediately pointed to the 
North Star as their guide. 

Save a stumble here and there into a hole, 
nothing of any moment occurred until after dawn. 
Then, as the Hght grew clearer, our interest was 
aroused by the sight of various kinds of game on 
each side of our path. A herd of wildebeeste trooped 
off to our right, while on the other hand, to our left, 
an inquisitive troop of zebra galloped towards us, 
evidently very much interested in finding out what 
kind of new animal we were. I always noticed that 
Aladdin had a very great attraction for them, and 
whenever I rode him I found that I could approach 
quite close to them, as their curiosity seemed to over- 
come their fears. 

A little further on we passed a clump of acacia 
trees, many of them festooned with the graceful 
hanging nests of the weaver bird. The small 
sparrow-Hke occupants arose from them in clouds as 
we approached. I examined several of the nests, 
which each contained three eggs of a beautiful tur- 
quoise blue. I noticed that the entrance, curiously 
enough, was at the bottom of the nest, but the 
clever parents had made such a cunning little 
hollow just inside the doorway that there was 
small danger of the young birds falling out, until 



88 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



such time as they were able to fend for them- 
selves. 

As we marched along through this beautiful 
country we came upon a small herd of eland, which 




"festooned with the graceful hanging nests of the weaver 

BIRD." 

my companions attempted to stalk. They were not 
destined to be successful, however, as there were too 
many hartebeeste about, and they, in their usual 
annoying way, betrayed the presence of an enemy 



VIII AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY 89 

to all the animals in the vicinity. I have often 
noticed that it is the custom of the hartebeeste to 
detach one of their number from the herd to act as 
sentry, and it is a common sight to see this sentinel 
perched on the top of an ant-hill or other eminence 
which commands a clear view of the surrounding 
country. He seems to be rehed on by all the game 
in the neighbourhood to give notice of the approach 
of an enemy, for as soon as he snorts and stamps 
and gets uneasy, everything within sight takes alarm 
and gallops off to safety. 

After watching this fruitless stalk I separated 
from my friends and took a circuit to the left, as 
there was a Httle eminence in that direction from 
which I wanted to have a look round. It is ex- 
traordinary what a perfectly irresistible charm a hill 
has for one in an unexplored country. I always 
expect to find something strange or wonderful on 
the other side of it, and as it generally happens that 
there is still another rise beyond, I am invariably 
lured on so that I may have a peep into the 
unknown and find what is waiting there to be 
discovered. 

Like Kipling's Explorer, I always seem to hear a 
voice whispering. 

Something hidden. Go and find it. 

Go and look behind the Ranges — 
Something lost behind the Ranges. 

Lost and waiting for you. Go ! " 



90 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



I cannot say that I have as yet made any 
startling discovery, but perhaps this has yet to 
come ! 

On the present occasion there was of course 
another rise further on which called me to it, so 
without any hesitation I dipped down into the 
valley which intervened. The grass was very long 
here, and before I was aware I found myself 
almost on the horns of an old rhino and his wife, 
who were slumbering peacefully side by side. 
They were a most comical looking pair, and 
reminded me of a grotesque caricature I had 
once seen of a respectable old married couple 
with their nightcaps on. They were sleeping so 
soundly that my presence did not disturb them 
in the least, and I was so much interested in the 
weird-looking pair that I remained there for quite a 
long time watching them while the sun gradually 
grew stronger in the east. I could not help feeling 
that I was intruding on the privacy of the home life 
of these quaint creatures of the wilds, and I well 
remember the feeling which this vision of nature 
called up — among other things a tremendous sense 
of loneliness and isolation, and the utter insig- 
nificance of all those things which, in the busy hum 
of civilization, seem to count for so much. 

With these thoughts in my mind I rode carefully 
round the curious pair — not even disturbing their 



VIII 



AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY 



slumber when my horse dipped into a sandy gully 
and scrambled up the opposite side not a hundred 
yards away. 

When I had crossed the valley and reached the 
crest of the rise on the further side I was rewarded 
by a magnificent view over the surrounding country. 
Away to my left rose the frowning ridge of the 
Yatta escarpment. The distant roars of a lion 
came reverberating from the huge rocks which 
studded its precipitous face, while the lesser roars 
of a Honess, given in that particular manner which 
shows she has cubs with her, were plainly to be 
heard miles ahead in the direction in which the 
safari was travelling. 

From my post of observation I could see for a great 
distance all over the country, yet curiously enough 
not a sign was visible of my own party, although 
they, with nearly a hundred followers, were not a 
mile away. The little valley along which they were 
travelling engulfed them as completely from me 
as if they had been at the other end of the world. 
I knew, however, that they were making for a huge 
castle-like rock which stood out distinctly on the 
plain some three miles off, where we had arranged 
to have breakfast, so putting Aladdin to a canter 
I made for this rendezvous. On the way I came 
across another rhino followed by her baby, but 
both speedily made off as soon as they observed me. 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



I reached the meeting place well ahead of my 
companions, and tying Aladdin securely to a tree, 
I at once began to explore the neighbourhood. 

First of all I tried to scale the rocky height, but 
the growl of some unseen beast lurking in its dark 
lair soon checked my enthusiasm, as unfortunately 
I had no rifle with me. I had foolishly left it with 
my gun-bearer — a most unsound thing to do in the 
wilds, as the unexpected is always happening, and 
one never knows what predicament one may be 
placed in at any moment. 

Just as I had made up my mind to restrain my 
impatience for the present, Abbudi spied me from 
afar off where he was striding along at the head 
of the safari, and stretching out his beautiful limbs 
in the pecuhar run so typical of the Masai, was 
very soon beside me, bringing my rifle with 
him. 

I then once more attempted the rock, which was 
some sixty or eighty feet high and rose up practi- 
cally perpendicularly from the plain. I had not yet 
found a sufficiently easy path by which to reach 
the summit when the safari arrived, so I abandoned 
the attempt for the much more agreeable occupation 
of sitting down to a hearty breakfast which Paul 
the cook quickly prepared. We were all quite 
ready to do justice to it, and I think that a break- 
fast in a shady spot in the wilds after some hours' 



AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY 



riding in the keen morning air is perhaps the most 
enjoyable meal of the day. 

While pots and pans were being packed away 
and preparations made for resuming the march, I 
once more attempted the ascent of the rock, while my 
companions elected to go on with the safari. 

This time I was successful in my cHmb, and got 
a beautiful view of the country from the broad flat 
summit of the rock, which was, as far as I remem- 
ber, some twenty yards or so in diameter at the top. 
I had not been long on the look-out when I saw 
a fine bull eland come trotting along in my direction, 
as if he had been disturbed somewhat by the noise 
of the safari. 

Now I knew that Mrs. S. was desperately keen 
on shooting an eland, so as this one had by far 
the largest pair of horns I had ever seen, I was 
naturally anxious for her to bag it if possible. I 
could still see her in the distance, riding ahead with 
the safari, so I tried my best to attract her atten- 
tion, but without result. The eland, however, saw 
me and stood stock still, gazing wonderingly up at 
my perch on the castellated rock, not fifty yards 
away. 

Seeing that I could not in any way attract Mrs. 
S.'s attention, I called down to my gun-bearer to 
jump on Aladdin and gallop after her as fast as he 
could go. Now this man had never been on a 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



horse in his Hfe, and the moment he mounted, 
Aladdin seemed to be quite aware of his inexperi- 
ence, for he took the bit in his teeth and galloped after 
the safari at his top speed. 

It was a most comical sight to watch the un- 
fortunate gun-bearer hanging on to the saddle hke 
grim death, without paying the very sHghtest atten- 
tion to the reins, which dangled freely on the horse's 
neck ! All went well until the tail end of the safari 
was reached, when Aladdin unluckily put his foot 
into a hole, and horse and rider turned a complete 
somersault. 

From my rocky perch I witnessed the whole 
thing plainly, and fully expected that either the horse's 
leg or the man's neck had been broken. 

My feelings were greatly reheved, however, when 
I saw both horse and man get up, apparently none 
the worse for the mishap. All this commotion had, 
of course, attracted the attention of the safari, and I 
saw Mrs. S. ride back to see what was the matter. 
When the gun-bearer had deHvered my message she 
came galloping as fast as possible in my direction. 

Meanwhile, however, the eland had taken to his 
heels, and by the time Mrs. S. got up to me, he was 
but a speck on the horizon. We reluctantly decided 
not to give chase, as he was going in the opposite 
direction to our hne of march, so, wishing 
someone else better luck, we left him and fol- 



AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY 



lowed the safari. By the way, I heard afterwards 
that a sportsman did come out to this very part a 
few days later on, and meeting a huge, solitary 
eland shot it. It turned out to be one of the 
biggest heads ever bagged in East Africa, so I have 
no doubt that it was the one I saw. 

We now turned off a Httle to the right of the 
direction in which the safari was going, hoping 
that we might be lucky enough to meet with Hons 
on the way. At about ii a.m. we unexpectedly 
reached the banks of the stream which the guides had 
told me about, and forded it without any difficulty. 
We did not, however, see much game about, at least 
nothing which we wished to shoot, so, soon after 
crossing the stream, we turned again to the left and 
headed for the safari. We noticed now that it had 
come to a halt, as some of the tents were being put 
up. I could not understand this, as I had given no 
orders that camp was to be pitched so early. As 
soon as we reached the men, I rode up to the 
Headman and asked him what the meaning of it 
was. He told me that he thought we should 
want to stay and hunt here, because, as the safari 
approached the river, a Hon, three Honesses, and 
five cubs suddenly jumped out from the reeds close 
by! The lion and two of the Honesses trotted off 
across the plain, while the third, with the cubs, took 
refuge in the reeds beside the river. 



96 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



S. was with the safari at the time this happened, 
and spotted the beasts when they were about 150 
yards away. He was, however, unfortunately 
mounted on the very laziest and most obstinate 
mule that it has ever been man's misfortune to 
bestride, and although he made every effort, and 
tried every inducement to make the brute canter 
after the retreating Hons, yet it was ail of no use, 
so finally he had to dismount and try to overtake 
them on foot. Needless to say, the pursuit was a 
hopeless one, and he never got the chance of a shot. 

When I heard that the lioness with her cubs 
had taken shelter in the reeds, I collected all the 
available porters and had the covert beaten out. 
We hunted through the rushes untiringly for over 
an hour, but still there was no trace of them to be 
seen, and it was only when I got to the other end 
that I plainly saw her pug marks and those of her 
cubs in the soft mud, clearly showing that she had 
travelled rapidly up the bed of the stream and 
made off. It was evident from what the men told 
me that the Honess had remained in the reeds for 
some little time, for she was distinctly heard growling 
viciously at intervals. She must then have taken 
to her heels just in time to avoid the beaters, and under 
cover of the river bank escaped to the plains, where 
she no doubt rejoined her mate far away in the jungle. 

I felt very much tempted to fall in with the 



VIII AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY 97 

Headman's view that I should camp at this place 
and make an effort to bag these Hons or give my 
friends a chance of doing so, but as my business 
was not to shoot, but to see the game and make 
notes of its variety and distribution, I felt that I 
must press on, and therefore gave orders for camp 
to be struck and the march resumed. There was 
much grumbling at this, and the guides were quoted 
as having said that water was very far off, and 
could not be reached until very late in the evening. 
However, I meant to go on, so they had to take 
down the tents. While this was being done, two 
old rhinos walked deliberately and solemnly up to 
within 80 yards of us, and calmly watched the 
whole proceedings; and although the porters yelled 
and howled at them for all they were worth, they 
would not budge an inch until they had satisfied 
their curiosity, when they went leisurely away. 

We now got into quite a different kind of country. 
Up to this time we had been travelling through an 
open valley practically free from bush, with great 
undulating swells sweeping across the broad downs 
like waves on the sea; but now the character of the 
scenery entirely changed. We were shut in on all 
sides by dense bush and trees of various kinds, 
interspersed here and there with rocks and hills, 
which practically hid everything from view. We 
had a most exciting afternoon, for during our passage 

H 



98 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



through this belt of bush, we were charged no less 
than four times by rhinos ! 

The first time this happened we were all three 
riding abreast, the safari straggling behind and 
jabbering away among themselves. As we emerged 
from the thicket into a strip of glade, we saw to our 
left, on the far side of it and some seventy yards 
away, two rhino that had evidently heard our 
approach and were on the look-out for us. The 
moment we appeared they bore down as if they 
meant to trample us out of existence. There was 
but Httle chance of stopping them with a bullet, as 
it is never an easy matter to hit a charging rhino in 
a vital spot. Instant action was, however, necessary, 
so I called to the others to stand still and galloped 
the unwilHng Aladdin on ahead towards the brutes. 
When I got to within some twenty-five yards of 
them, they suddenly swxrved from the safari and 
made a furious charge at my horse. This was 
exactly what I wanted, so swinging Aladdin sharply 
round I rode swiftly across the front of the caravan, 
not thirty yards ahead of it — the snorting rhino in 
hot pursuit. 

My companions meanwhile stood breathlessly 
watching the exciting chase, full of anxiety on my 
account, while I was only concerned that the beasts 
should continue their charge until wt were well clear 
of the safari. I knew there was no danger so long as 
Aladdin kept his feet. 



VIII 



AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY 



99 



The moment we had left the safari behind I 
turned sharply off once more, while the rhino went 
thundering T)n straight ahead and were soon lost to 
sight in the bush. 

]\Iuch the same thing happened a second time, 
and again a third time, and we began to feel quite at 
home in meeting these attacks and out -manoeuvring 
the rhino. The pagazis, however, never felt re- 
assured, as they are in mortal terror of a rhino — so 
much so that the moment they see one approaching 
they will drop their burdens any^vhere and fly for 
safety to the nearest tree, which I readily admit is 
quite the best thing for them to do. 

We were more inclined to be of the porter's 
opinion after the fourth and last charge, which very 
nearly had a disastrous ending. At about half past 
four in the afternoon I was riding a little ahead of 
my friends, and seeing a large leafy tree a short 
distance to the left of the track, I called out and 
suggested that we should have tea under it. ^ly 
proposal was eagerly accepted, and we turned off 
to reach its cool shade. I had not gone a dozen 
yards, w^hen, as I was passing through some thick 
bush, I was startled by hearing a violent snort 
come from the midst of it, and next instant I 
saw the vicious head of a huge rhino dashing at 
me at full speed. Aladdin needed neither v>hip 
nor spur to get out of the way — in fact he gave 
such a great bound that he almost unseated me, 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



and simply flew for about 30 to 40 yards before 
I could get the least control over him. Glancing 
over my shoulder to find out what was happening, I 
was horrified to see gun-bearers dashing wildly for the 
trees, mules careering off riderless through the bush, 
S. standing weaponless shouting for his rifle, and — 
horror of horrors ! — the infuriated rhino rushing head- 
long on to Mrs. S., who was seated on the ground 
with nothing in her hand save an open umbrella. 

I gave her up for lost, as I knew we could do 
nothing in time to save her. Luckily, at this 
critical moment she did not lose her nerve, but 
^'shooed" the umbrella right in the face of the 
oncoming brute, and this extraordinary and unex- 
pected apparition so startled the great beast that, 
instead of continuing his charge and tossing her 
aloft, he suddenly veered away to the left and dis- 
appeared through the bushes in a cloud of dust ! 

What might have been a very serious catastrophe 
had ended so comically that we all burst into a roar 
of laughter, which became even merrier when we 
looked round and observed that all our followers, 
with one exception, had taken refuge in the nearest 
trees. The one exception was Mrs. S.'s gun- 
bearer, who stood nobly by her all the time with 
his rifle at the ''present" — but with no cartridge in it ! 
He evidently thought there was virtue in the mere 
presence of an empty rifle ! He was, however, only 



VIII AN EVENTFUL XMAS DAY loi 

a Kikuyu shenzi (savage) taken from the safari to 
carry a rifle for a day or two. 

After this adventure we all thoroughly enjoyed 
our tea, and I could not feel too thankful for the 
providential escape which Mrs. S. had undoubtedly 
had. I determined not to run such risks again in 
this close country, so I threw out a string of scouts 
to give us timely warning in case we should meet 
with any other unwelcome visitors. It was very 
well that I did take these precautions, for during 
the remainder of the march no fewer than eight 
other rhino were discovered close to our path. We 
had these driven off, not without difficulty at times, 
before the safari came up. The whole country in this 
particular locaHty seemed to be simply aHve with rhino 
of a particularly vicious breed. Giraffes were also very 
numerous, while impala were in herds of hundreds, the 
bucks in one herd and the does in another. 

Before reaching camp I had an exciting chase 
after a great boar, which at first sight I took to be 
a Hon. It occurred in a Httle bit of open country, 
and I very much regretted that I had no spear 
with me, as I quickly overtook the boar and 
galloped close to him for a while, a proceeding 
which Aladdin very strongly objected to. 

During the last few hours of the march the foot- 
steps of the men lagged and many halts had to be 
called. Dusk was falKng as we approached Jukone 



102 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap, vm 



hill, and I sincerely hoped that we should find water 
at the foot of it, as I feared that the safari would 
be too exhausted to go on to the Tana, which was 
still some miles further on. It was with no little 
anxiety, therefore, that we followed the guides to the 
spring they had spoken of, which was called Muli- 
lone. As we reached it I saw that our tired men 
need not brace themselves for any further effort, as 
the green marshy track showed plainly that water 
was there. On tasting it we found it particularly 
brackish, but none the less thought ourselves very 
fortunate in not finding the spring dry. 

We did not rest even yet, for just as camp was 
being pitched I saw a herd of about thirty eland 
grazing away on the right at about 300 yards' 
distance. We all set out at once and made a very 
careful and most interesting stalk, dodging from 
bush to tuft, and from tuft to bush, in our endeavours 
to get near a fine bull which we had noticed among 
the herd. He was too well guarded, however, by 
the females and youngsters to allow us to approach 
within satisfactory shooting distance, and as the 
light was by this time rapidly failing, we were com- 
pelled to give up the stalk and return to camp. We 
were not sorry to do this, as we had been on the 
move ever since about 3 a.m., and it can well be im- 
agined how much we enjoyed our somewhat Spartan 
Christmas dinner after such a long and eventful day. 



CHAPTER IX 



OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER 

I DECIDED to remain at Jukone for a day or two 
as I wanted to see the game and country, and also 
wished to give the porters a rest after their long and 
trying march from the Karusi. 

We were early astir on Boxing Day, and set off to 
explore the neighbourhood and have a look for the 
eland which we had unsuccessfully stalked the 
evening before. We rode over some beautiful 
country, through woods and across valleys, but saw 
very little game until finally by chance we came 
upon our eland again. He proved much too wary 
for us, however, and speedily took himself off and 
disappeared into the great expanse of the Kauti 
Plain. 

A very great drawback to this particular region is 
the vast number of ticks which abound in the grass. 
These are atrocious little red brutes of about the 
size of a pin's head, which speedily work their way 

103 



104 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

through one's clothes and set up a most violent 
irritation on the skin. 

On our way back a kongoni bull took a lively 
interest in our movements and was bagged by \Its. 
S. for camp meat, of which we were in much need. 
We explored the whole neighbourhood in the vicinity 
of our camp, but found that it was but a poor place 
for game at this particular time of year, although 
I believe at certain seasons the plain swarms with 
animals. There were no natives living in these 
parts, but I was told by our guide that the Wa- 
kamba often visit it on a hunting raid. We were 
also informed by some men of the safari who had 
been in this district once before with a shooting 
party, that great herds of buffalo might be seen in the 
neighbourhood of the river Thika. 

I made a shrewd guess that this was but a pretext 
to lure us in the direction of Nairobi, which the 
men longed to reach in order to spend the few 
rupees already earned; and from my experience 
of the unreliability of information supplied by 
natives I did not expect that we should come across 
a single buffalo, much less vast herds. At the 
same time, as it suited my purpose to march in 
this direction, we determined to pitch our next camp 
on the banks of the Thika. 

Accordingly, we made an early start and passed 
through a very broken bush country, interspersed 
here and there with huge rocks and stony hillocks. 



OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER 105 



Eventually we arrived at the river, which we 
crossed at a ford, intending to camp on the other 
side. The whole safari got over by noon, so, as the 
country looked very enticing we decided to press on 
southward until we should strike the river again 
higher up. We knew that we could do this in a 
couple of hours' march, as the course of the river 
forms a great elbow^ here. Inside the angle in 
which we now were the country was very beautiful, 
with deHghtful belts of shady trees alternating with 
open glades. We saw plenty of game, including 
impala, waterbuck, kongoni, giraffe, zebra, rhino, 
duiker, and dik-dik. We also came upon a newly- 
born waterbuck which had been deserted by its 
mother. The going was good inside the loop, so 
we did not take long to reach the river again, which 
we crossed for the second time before camping. 

The moment the tents were put up, we set off in 
the cool of the evening to look for the much-talked- 
of herds of buffalo. Alas ! however, not a vestige of 
them was to be seen. As we walked along the 
banks of the river an occasional flop into the water 
warned us of the presence of crocodiles, while the 
peculiar sounds which came from far down the 
stream told us that some hippo were disporting them- 
selves in the deep pools of the river. 

I sat alone by the camp fire that night ruefully 
reflecting on the fact that our pleasant trip was 
now almost over, and while I warmed myself by 



io6 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



the cheerful blaze, I listened to the medley of 
noises, made by the wild things of the forest and 
river, which came plainly to my ears. The familiar 
sounds aroused in my mind memories of quite a 
host of incidents and adventures of other days; 
and it was with no little pleasure that I recalled the 
enjoyable time spent with some cheery companions 
a couple of years before, at a camp not a day's march 
from where I now sat. 

We were a party of four on the occasion I speak 
of, and as we had had news of a great herd of 
buffalo on the opposite side of the river to that on 
which we were camped, we determined to cross 
over and go in pursuit. The Tana, even in the 
dry season, is by no means an easy river to cross, 
while in the rains it is entirely impassable for weeks 
at a time. Three of us therefore carefully followed 
the lead of an experienced guide and passed over in 
safety, but the fourth, thinking he knew a great deal 
more about the ford than the guide, haughtily ignored 
his advice and struck out a line for himself. What 
might have been expected happened. He missed 
the ford and his pony put his foot into a deep hole 
and over went both, headlong into the swiftly flowing 
stream. Our independent friend parted company, 
not only with his horse, but also with his hat, which 
he had to strike out for and rescue, and then swim 
to the bank, where his horse had meanwhile arrived. 
I am afraid we were all unkind enough to laugh 



IX OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER 107 

heartily at our dripping comrade, and chaff him un- 
mercifully about his knowledge of African fords. 

Eventually we separated and rode in pairs in 
quest of the buffalo. My companion and I had 
excellent sport, and, moreover, had the good fortune 
to come upon the herd, some two hundred strong. 
The buffalo continued to graze peacefully while we 
did a most painstaking stalk through bush and scrub, 
and along the rough bottom of a shallow donga, 
which eventually brought us quite close to a couple 
of magnificent bulls that had straggled a Httle way 
from the main body. We were only waiting for them 
to give a favourable turn so that they might expose 
a vital spot, when suddenly a waterbuck burst at full 
speed out of the donga in front of us, and, careering 
into the midst of the buffalo, startled them so much 
that the whole herd thundered off in a cloud of dust. 
We heartily blessed that waterbuck as we again 
painfully followed the spoor, and saw that there was 
very Httle chance of our ever again being able to get 
into such a favourable position. 

Later on I spied a soKtary bull buffalo, and 
thought I could run him down on my pony. My 
companion said it would be impossible to do this, 
so there was only one way to test our argument, 
and that was to try. Accordingly off I started on 
the trail of the buffalo, which had a lead of some 
400 yards. Fortunately, it was clear open country 
without a bush or tree of any kind for at least a 



io8 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



mile and a half. The moment the buffalo spotted 
me it made off at full gallop in the direction of a 
belt of trees which grew along the Tana. This 
gave me somewhat of an advantage, and enabled me 
to cut off a little bit of the arc of the circle on 
which he was travelling. Urging my pony to his 
top speed I galloped after him in hot pursuit. 

How I escaped the holes and pitfalls that were all 
over the ground I cannot say, but luck was with me, 
and before the beast got up to the belt of trees I 
had him well in hand, so much so that, knowing that 
he was outpaced, he came to bay and waited for my 
oncoming. Seeing this, I stopped some 50 yards' 
distance short of him and had a good look through 
my glasses, when to my chagrin I found that it 
was not a bull buffalo at all, but a cow ! Of course 
I had no intention of shooting a female, so I had to 
be satisfied with the knowledge that I had run her 
to a standstill. I must say that I was surprised 
at the pace the buffalo kept up, as I was well 
mounted, and expected to have had much less 
difficulty in overtaking her than proved to be 
the case. 

After this incident my companion decided to return 
to camp with the gun-bearers, while I struck off 
alone for some hills which were about ten miles 
further on, as I wanted to see the country and 
an}1;hing new that might be found in it, either men 
or beasts. 



OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER 109 



In this way I went on and on, always enticed 
further away by the prospect of seeing something 
unknown and something new from the top of each 
hillock. All at once I discovered that it was 
growing late, and I was far away from camp and not 
very certain of the position of the ford. I therefore 
turned at once and rode back with all possible 
speed, making for what I thought was the crossing. 

On reaching the river, however, I found myself 
in the midst of high reeds and rushes which covered 
not only my pony but myself as I rode along. Up 
and down the river bank I cantered, full of anxiety 
to find the ford before complete darkness set in, but 
I could find no trace of it an\^vhere. I had but a 
few cartridges left with me, and now and again I 
grudgingly fired one in the hope that my companions 
might hear it from the camp somewhere on the other 
side of the stream. It was a very awkward position 
to be placed in, especially as I was ravenously hungry, 
neither myself nor my pony having had any food 
since early morning. The place, too, was infested 
with lions, leopards, and rhino, while the river was 
alive with crocodiles, so much so that I dared not 
cross it at any point except the ford, which I found 
it quite impossible to locate. I could not tell 
whether I was five miles above it or five miles 
below it, as the trees and general aspect of the 
country looked much the same all along, and there 



no IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



was no prominent landmark of any kind to serve as 
a guide. 

I now fired the last cartridge that I could spare, 
which left me with but three for the night, and sat 
my pony eagerly listening and longing to hear an 
answering shot from my companions somewhere 
across the river. No such cheering sound broke 
the stillness of the gathering gloom, but instead I 
was startled to see the heads of two great rhino 
emerge from the bushes not forty yards away. 
They had evidently scented me, and now began to 
sniff the air and turn their heads from side to side 
in their efforts to locate me. I speedily got out of 
their way, and when I had put sufficient distance 
between us, I decided upon a tree in which I meant 
to pass the night, as by this time I had given up all 
hope of being able to find the ford over the river. 

The sensation of being lost in such a wilderness is 
not at all pleasant, especially when one has had 
nothing to eat, and I must say that I felt pretty 
miserable. But when I remembered the exploits of 
some of the old African travellers and thought 
of the lonely and trying positions in which some 
of them had so often been placed, I was somewhat 
comforted and reassured, for after all I knew that 
my inconvenience was only a temporary one, and 
I remember quite well saying to myself, ''You 
are only lost for a night ; it isn't as if you were 



OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER in 



lost for ever, so there is nothing to make a fuss 
about." 

Having thus resigned myself as cheerfully as 
possible to a cold and hungry night out in the 
nyika, I dismounted and led my pony in the direction 
of the river, wondering how on earth I was to get 
him a drink, of which he stood sadly in need. 
I feared that it would be impossible to get him 
down to the water, as the banks were very high 
and steep, but I hoped to be able to get enough 
in my felt hat to satisfy his needs for the night. 
While I was searching along the bank for a good 
place to climb down to the water, to my great 
delight I suddenly spied a native a little way 
off. I saw that he had not observed me, and I 
was afraid to shout to him lest he should be 
frightened and run away. I therefore approached 
him as closely as possible without speaking or mak- 
ing any sound, and then called out ''Yambo'^ 
(''Greeting"). He looked somewhat startled and 
seemed inclined to run away, but I reassured 
him by signs that I meant him no harm, and 
when I got up to him I made him understand, 
although I could not speak a word of his 
language, that I wanted to find the ford and 
cross over to the other side. He was an in- 
telligent fellow and readily understood what 
was wanted, so we set off, and within a very 



IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



short time he had guided me to the ford, 
which was not so far away after all. It was 
by tliis time growing very dark, but I safely 
negotiated the somewhat dangerous passage 
and soon afterwards rejoined my friends by a 
cheery camp fire. They were beginning to 
get anxious about me and were just about 
to send up some rockets as a guide, when 
I happily appeared amongst them. It can 
well be imagined how pleased I was to get 
back to camp so unexpectedly, and how much 
I enjoyed my dinner and comfortable bed that 
night. 

I was still with these same companions, but in a 
different part of the country, when one day I had 
an unusual piece of good luck. 

I had decided to see the camp all cleared out and 
follow on an hour or so after the others had marched 
off. I therefore let the whole safari get well out of 
sight, and ha\ing with me only my gun-bearer, I set 
off a little to the right of the path taken by the 
caravan. We had gone but a short distance when 
I spied a silver jackal, which I successfully bowled 
over. Soon afterwards I came across a Grant's 
gazelle with a very good head, which was also 
added to the bag. After this I observed something 
of a whitish colour standing under the shade of a 
tree, and, on stalking it, found that it was a zebra. 



OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER 113 



As I did not want to molest it I merely walked past, 
and soon found myself on the top of a rise over- 
looking a beautiful valley, interspersed here and 
there with clusters of trees. A little to my right, 
and some 400 yards away, I observed through my 
glasses a very fine Jackson's hartebeeste, which I 




"a very fine JACKSON'S HARTEBEESTE.'* 



made up my mind to secure. There were a number 
of ant-heaps dotted profusely over the valley, and 
I saw that I could keep under cover by stalking 
carefully from one to another. At last I got up 
to within 50 yards without being observed, and 
kneeHng behind a convenient hillock I covered the 
I 



114 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

beast with my rifle. Just as I was about to fire, I 
suddenly heard a tremendous disturbance and the 
sound of galloping feet coming from among the 
trees on my right. After a moment, out from the 
bushes at a headlong pace burst a beautiful roan 
antelope, followed by a second in hot pursuit. 




"OXER HE TUMBLED AETER GolXO StJME DOZEN PACE>. 

There evidently had been a fight between these two, 
and the larger and older animal was giving chase to 
the younger. On they both came at a tremendous 
speed in my direction, all unsuspicious of their deadly 
enemy lying behind the hillock. Number one flew 
past me at thirty yards, and as he did so I put a 
bullet into his shoulder, and over he tumbled after 



OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER 115 



going some dozen paces. Number two, in his rage, 
took not the sKghtest notice of the rifle shot but 
came galloping furiously past, with the result that a 
moment afterwards he too toppled over by the side 
of his late enemy, stone dead. 

Of course I was naturally overjoyed with my luck, 
especially as it was such a rare chance, and the 
first occasion on which I had come across a roan 
antelope. Leaving my gun-bearer to do the 
skinning, I rode rapidly to camp for porters to carry 
in the trophies, and on the way bagged a fine 
ostrich and a warthog. When I arrived my com- 
panions had just finished lunch, and one of them 
asked me what luck I had had. Beginning with 
the smallest I told him that I had bagged a jackal, 
a Grant, a warthog, an ostrich, and two roan ante- 
lopes. ''Yes," he rephed sarcastically, ''and you 
have forgotten the three Hons." Xor did he quite 
believe in my good fortune until the trophies arrived 
in camp a few hours later, when at last he was 
convinced, and remarked : "You are the luckiest man 
in Africa." 

But all this is a digression, and I should not 
have remembered to put on record these experiences 
of a previous trip, but for the fact of our being 
camped in the neighbourhood of the Tana, which 
brought everything back vividly to my mind and 
induced me to jot them down roughly -by the light 



ii6 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



of a solitary candle, long after the rest of the camp 
had gone to sleep. 

Soon after dayhght next morning we struck our 
tents by the Thika river. Just before starting and 
as one of the mules was being saddled up, it 
suddenly developed acute coHc, foamed at the mouth 
and nostrils, threw itself down in an agony and 
dashed frantically about. After a few minutes it 
expired in a final convulsion, blood coming freely 
from the nostrils and mouth. What happened to it 
I really do not know, but it is probable that it had 
eaten some poisonous plant during the night. 

Abbudi told me that he believed the mule died 
from eating a certain kind of caterpillar which 
climbs up to the tips of the blades of grass, 
especially during the night and early morning when 
the dew is on it. Later on, when the sun comes 
out, the caterpillar quickly disappears down into the 
grass roots for shelter. For this reason, according 
to Abbudi, the JMasai never allow their cattle to 
graze in the early morning. If by any chance one 
of their cows ate one of these caterpillars and 
showed symptoms of poisoning, Abbudi told me 
they would immediately bind a tight thong round 
the beast's neck, open a vein close to the spot where 
they had tied it, and allow the animal to bleed freely. 
He assured me that four minutes' bleeding in this 
manner effected a complete cure. 



OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER 117 



Whether there is any truth in this or not, I of 
course cannot say. The Masai have some very 
curious beHefs and customs, and many of them are 
so quaint that they are well-nigh unbelievable. I 
hope to devote a chapter to these interesting people 
a httle later on, and to give some of Abbudi's own 




"the falls ox the athi river." 



personal history which he entertained me with, bit by 
bit, as we journeyed together. 

After leaving the Thika we marched straight 
across country in the direction of the falls on the 
Athi river, which we reached at about 11 a.m. On 
the way we saw a great variety of game, including 
waterbuck, kongoni, impala, giraffe, zebra, bushbuck. 



ii8 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



and duiker. The safari also saw a lion which 
frightened them considerably — especially Paul, the 
cook, as it walked quite close to him for several 
yards. At the moment we happened to be some 
distance behind with all the rifles. As soon as we 
heard the shouting we hurried up, but by this time 
the lion had disappeared. We hunted for him 



f 




"dropping it dead within a dozen yards of him." 



eagerly through the trees and bushes, but unfortu- 
nately had no luck, although he must have been hiding 
somewhere close by. 

The camp by the xAthi Falls was a most de- 
lightful one, as there is a charming stretch of 
river here and the falls themselves are most beauti- 
ful. The water takes a leap of some fifty feet sheer 



OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER 119 



down, and the tropical foliage, green, soft, and 
feathery, harmonizes well with the white flecked 
foam of the falHng water and adds additional beauty 
to the scene. 

It would have been pleasant to have remained 
longer at this dehghtful spot, but we had to 






THE SAFARI DONKEYS COMPLALXED BITTERi. 

UNUSUALLY HEAVY LOADS." 



hasten back to Nairobi, so we struck camp next 
morning, and, once more reaching the Athi Plains, 
made for the farm where we had left the young 
kongoni on our outward journey. Here we were 
most hospitably entertained and put up for the 
night. We found our young hartebeeste thriving 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



wonderfully well. Indeed, so sturdy and strong 
had he become, that when Mrs. S. went out to see 
him he succeeded in breaking loose from her and 
bounded off into the wilderness with such speed 
that before we could take any steps to recover him 
he was quickly lost to view. 

At daybreak next morning we said good-bye to 




"a couple of most playful lion cubs." 



our host, and set out for Nairobi, which we reached 
about noon without any further adventures. Un- 
fortunately, I got a bad touch of sun on the last 
march, which brought on high fever a day or two 
after my arrival in Nairobi. 

My two friends went further afield, and had some 
excellent sport and wonderful escapes from Hons 
and other dangerous game. On one occasion S. 



OUR CAMP BY THE THIKA RIVER 121 



only saved himself from the mad onrush of a 
charging elephant by dropping it dead when within 
a dozen yards of him. A few days later Mrs. S. 
had a very exciting time, for a herd of these beasts 
took it into their heads to pay an afternoon call 
at the camp, and chose her tent as the rallying 
point. They were vaHantly repelled, and some of 
them paid for their intrusion with their Hves; but 
the safari donkeys were very much annoyed at this 
visit, and complained bitterly to each other next day 
at their unusually heavy loads. 

Among the trophies bagged by Mrs. S. were a 
couple of the most playful Hon cubs imaginable, 
which she brought home with her and presented to 
the New York Zoo. 



CHAPTER X 



PREPARATIONS FOR A SECOND EXPEDITION 

At the time I arrived in East Africa the Northern 
Game Reserve was a large tract of country, about 
which but very little was known, and of which 
the boundaries, especially those to the north and 
east, were of the vaguest. While the southern 
and western sides were defined by recognizable 
physical features, such as the Guaso Nyiro on the 
south, and the Turkwell on the west, no natural 
boundaries could be given On the north or east, for 
want of geographical knowledge of the country, and 
on these two sides the limits of the Reserve were 
merely arbitrarily marked out on an inaccurate map 
by straight lines drawn along the 3rd parallel of 
north latitude, and the 39th meridian of east 
longitude. 

The whole Reserve was some thirty-eight thousand 
square miles in area, or, in other words, as large as 

122 



CHAP. X PREPARATIONS FOR AN EXPEDITION 123 



all Scotland and Wales put together. It contained 
within its borders part of that vast cleft in the 
earth's surface known as the Rift Valley; practically 
unexplored lakes such as Rudolf, Sugota, and 
Baringo; mysterious rivers such as the Turkwell 
and Guaso Xyiro; inhospitable tracts of barren 
waste like the Kaisoot Desert; and rugged ranges 
of volcanic mountains such as Lorogi, ^Matthews, 
and IMarsabit, whose beautiful forest-clad slopes 
give a last shelter to the fast vanishing elephant. 
Throughout the greater part, however, it is nothing 
but nyika — a vast, parched wilderness of thorny 
scrub and stunted growth, practically waterless 
except during the rains, when for a few weeks its 
innumerable dongas and ravines fill to overflowing 
with a rushing^ torrent. 

This great area had been declared a Reserve by 
a former Commissioner (as the Governor of East 
Africa was until recently styled), in order to prevent 
an undesirable number -of sportsmen from pene- 
trating into those regions where as yet we had no 
effective control," and where, in consequence, 
trouble with such savage tribes as Hved there might 
have been expected to occur — probably with ill results 
to the shikari. 

The inhabitants of these regions are practically 
all nomads, and some of them are very keen 
hunters. It is, of course, a very difficult matter 



124 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



to put a stop to the depredations of these people, 
who from time immemorial have had undisputed 
rights to the hunting and killing of the game in 
their districts. The question as to how they should 
be dealt with is a vexed one. I consider that it 
would be most unwise and unjust to prohibit the 
native from exercising his undoubted rights and 
privileges, which are part of his birthright, without 
compensating him in some suitable manner for his 
loss. If it is decided that no hunting of any kind 
is to be done in the Reserve by either native or 
European — and I think such a ruling would be 
a wise one — then the chiefs and headmen of the 
various tribes concerned should be summoned to a 
council and some agreement arrived at. They would 
probably gladly forego their time-honoured rights for 
a yearly present of a few cows, sheep, and goats. 

Xo attempt had ever been made to guard this 
large tract of country, and the result was that 
raiders came down from Abyssinia, and ivory 
hunters got in from the coast, and slaughtered the 
elephants with impunity. In any case this so-called 
Reserve was much too unwieldy to be properly 
watched, and a sanctuary that is not adequately 
guarded is worse, to my mind, than no sanctuary at 
all. It was important, therefore, that the area should 
be cut down to a workable size, and its limits defined 
by physical features, as soon as possible; and I knew 



X PREPARATIONS FOR AN EXPEDITION 125 



before I left England that this was a duty I should 
have to undertake. 

Soon after my return from the expedition to 
the Kitui district, I received expHcit instructions 
to find, if possible, a well-defined eastern boundary 
to the Reserve, somewhere about the 38th degree 
east longitude, and I accordingly began to make 
preparations for a trip through this unknown wil- 
derness. At the same time I intended to report on 
the number and variety of the game seen, make 
maps of my daily route, take notes of the various 
tribes met with, and jot down the general char- 
acteristics of the territory traversed. I could get 
but very little information about the country or 
the people, beyond the fact that the entire region 
was practically foodless and waterless. Some of 
the tribes were believed to be hostile, and it was 
rumoured that a raiding party of Somalis from the 
Ogaden borders were contemplating a foray on the 
Rendile and Samburu ; if these fanatics were en- 
countered I was told that but short shrift might be 
expected from them. 

As I knew that I should be away for some three 
or four months, very careful preparations had to be 
made for this expedition through the nyika. I 
could not expect to obtain any food-stuffs on the 
way, as there was a famine at the time in the 
Kenya Province, through which the safari would 



126 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



have to march; in order therefore that we might 
not be held up for want of posho, I had a supply of 
rice and beans sent on ahead to a place called 
Nyeri, which was about a week's journey from 
Nairobi on the hne of route. To guard against the 
danger of dying of thirst in the wilderness, I 
arranged to take about fifty tins capable of hold- 
ing five gallons of water each; these when filled 



"and construct rude bridges over streams." 

would enable us to travel for a day or two even 
if we did not come across a stream or water hole. 
Besides these tins I had a couple of water-tight 
canvas bags made which could be carried, slung over 
the men's shoulders, on a pole. 

In addition to these arrangements for food and 



X PREPARATIONS FOR AN EXPEDITION 127 



water, I had also to take rifles, ammunition, tents, 
camp kit and cooking utensils; hatchets and slashers 
to cut down trees, make roadways, and construct rude 
bridges over streams; rope to assist in crossing 
rivers, and the thousand odd things necessary for 
the complete support of a body of men entirely cut 
^ off for some months from all civilization and sources 




"rope to assist in crossing rivers." 



of supply. Of course money would be useless 
among the tribes of the interior, so I had to take 
as currency bales of amerikani (cotton sheeting), 
coils of brass, copper and iron wire, beads of many 
colours and shapes to suit the fashions among the 
belles of the different nations, and many Httle 



128 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, x 



trumpery knick-knacks which I knew to be very 
precious to the savage heart. 

When I came to enroll the pagazis (porters) to 
carry all the loads of food and necessaries, I found 
myself obliged to enhst a good many undesirables, as, 
owing to the number of sportsmen who had already 
outfitted at Nairobi, all the best men there had been 
engaged. Luckily, however, I was able to secure 
my old Headman, ^lunyakai bin Diwani, who 
proved himself invaluable throughout the journey. 
Of course I took with me Abbudi and mv Arab 
horse Aladdin, as well as a dog. Lurcher, which 
had been given me by a friend a short time pre- 
viously. 

While I was in the midst of these preparations, 
and just as I was about to set out on my journey, 
a friend of mine, B., and his wife arrived in 
Nairobi. Before I left England I had been asked 
by B. and a friend of his if I would help them to 
get their safari together, so that they might not 
waste time on arrival. This I promised to do, but 
at the last moment the friend found that he was 
unable to leave home. The safari was all ready 
when B. and Mrs. B. arrived, and as they were 
most anxious that we should journey together, I 
applied for and obtained official permission for them 
to accompany me. 



CHAPTER XI 



ON SAFARI TO THE NORTH 

We left Nairobi on January 21st and set out 
on what proved to be an eventful and disastrous 
expedition. 

Our route lay northward in the direction of Fort 
Hall, and as usual the first march proved full of 
difficulties. The men had to shake down into their 
places and get used to their loads ; the mules and 
donkeys kicked and bucked and tossed their burdens 
off as fast as they were put on ; some rascals who 
had received the usual advance of pay and posho 
tried to run away, and a strict guard had to be 
placed over them; so that it was not until late in 
the evening that we were all comfortably settled in 
camp at Kamiti Ranch, where the owner entertained 
us most hospitably. 

Of course Httle or no game was seen so close to 
Nairobi, although a small herd of buffalo was reported 
within three miles of the ranch, which is situated on 

K 129 



130 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

the northern edge of the great Athi Plains, not far 
from the picturesquely wooded foot-hills of the 
Kiku}Ti ^Mountains. 

During the night six rascally porters managed 
to elude the guard and escaped, taking their 
blankets and posho with them. This meant, of 
course, that their six loads had to be distributed 
amongst the remaining porters, who grumbled 
loudly, and swore dire vengeance on the deserters 
should they ever cross their path again. 

Xext morning we resumed our march to the 
junction of the rivers Chania and Thika. We 
camped on the tongue of land between the two 
rivers, which forms an ideal site for the home- 
stead of an enterprising rancher. Both streams are 
fringed with fine trees at this spot, while within 
sight are the beautiful Chania Falls, which plunge 
over a rocky precipice some fifty feet high. 

Soon after daylight the following morning we 
set off again, and had not long resumed our march 
when we met a large caravan of Arabs, SomaHs, 
and natives of the Boran country, with camels, 
mules, cattle, goats, and sheep. I noticed in the 
crowd a most beautiful and graceful girl, who had 
the appearance and wore the dress of an ancient 
Egyptian. She reminded me forcibly of a picture 
I had once seen of Cleopatra travelHng in a similar 
way, with camels in the background. I only wish I 



XI ON SAFARI TO THE NORTH 131 

had thought of taking the girl's photograph. She 
had been bought in the Boran country by one of 
the SomaK for four cows, and the owner expected 
to arrange a profitable marriage for her in the 
civilized South, for which the caravan was bound. 
She seemed quite happy and contented with her lot, 
and for the few minutes we saw her she showed 
quite a gay and mirthful disposition. What happened 
to her when she got to Nairobi, I know not. 

We had scarcely gone more than two miles after 
passing this safari when we suddenly came upon 
the dead body of a M'kikuyu, who had evidently 
been recently killed, lying by the roadside. There 
was no doubt that he must have met his death at 
the hands of one of the SomaHs who had just passed,, 
as the wound, which by the way was under the 
fifth rib, clearly showed that the broad blade of a 
SomaK spear had entered there. On making inquiry 
from some other natives whom I met close by, I 
was told that the dead man had tried to steal the 
Somalis' goats as they were passing through some 
long grass. The owner caught the thief red-handed, 
and, as is the way of the wilds, promptly put his spear 
through him. 

A Kttle further on we saw a nice shady tree 
under which we thought of resting for a few 
minutes, but no sooner had we reached it than we 
made hasty tracks away again, as there, reposing in 



132 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



the grass, lay the sun-dried and mummified corpse 
of another black man, all curled up as if he had died 
in great pain. I hoped in my own mind that these 
depressing sights would have no ill effect upon the 




A SMILING M KIKUVU CHIEF. 



nerves of my companions, and I trusted that they 
foreboded no e\al to our own fortunes throughout the 
expedition. 

When we arrived in the afternoon at our camp 
at Barra-Barra we were met by a smiHng M'kiku\ai 



XI ON SAFARI TO THE NORTH 133 

chief, who did the honours of the locaHty and kindly 
brought us some much-needed firewood. During 
the latter part of the march, B. had been com- 
plaining of pain in his foot, and I now found that he 
was suffering considerably from inflammation. 

Abbudi happened to be standing by while I was 
making an examination, and was equal to the occa- 
sion by suggesting a certain Masai cure, which con- 
sisted of a poultice of hot cow-dung. I decided to 
give it a trial, principally because I remembered 
reading in the memoirs of the late President Kruger 
how on one occasion, when he had amputated his 
thumb with his pocket-knife, he removed the in- 
flammation and saved his Hfe by placing warm on 
the wound a somewhat similar poultice made from 
the contents of the stomach of a goat. Unfortu- 
nately, the remedy recommended by Abbudi did 
not in this case have much effect, but a hot 
fomentation which I appHed proved more effica- 
cious. 

We were glad to leave this somewhat dreary 
camp early on the following morning and march to 
Fort Hall, which we reached without any incident, 
save that a porter ran away on the road. Fort Hall 
is so called after the official who built it in the 
early days of the Protectorate, when I had the 
pleasure of knowing him. He was a most lovable 
man, with a thorough knowledge of the Kiku}^ 



134 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

nation. These people knew him as Bwana Hora, 
and although he had often chastised them, they 
came to love him in the end as they have loved no 
other white man before or since. As is fitting, his 
bones He here among the people to whom he gave the 
best of his life. 

The Fort is now the headquarters of the official 
in charge of the Kenya Province. The telegraph 
had already reached it, and was being constructed 
further afield to Xyeri at the time of my journey. 
The building of a branch Hne of railway from 
Nairobi is now under consideration, and this work 
will probably be put in hand as soon as funds can 
be raised for the project. A raihvay is badly 
needed for the development of this part of the 
country, in which there are many hard-working 
settlers who are at present severely handicapped for 
want of cheap transport. 

Within a march or two of Fort Hall, in the 
direction of the Tana river, is the excellent shoot- 
ing district of Embu. Buffalo and rhino abound, 
while lions are also fairly numerous. Elephants 
come down from the forest occasionally and give the 
sportsman an exciting time in the high jungle of the 
Kenya foot-hills. 

From Fort Hall straight north through this 
district and along the eastern slopes of Mount 
Kenya would have been the most direct way to 



ON SAFARI TO THE NORTH 135 



continue my journey to get to that part of the 
Northern Reserve which I wished to reach. 
The local officials, however, considered this 
route too dangerous, as the various tribes were 
represented to be thirsting for the blood of any 
stranger whom they found travelling through their 
dominions. Indeed, it was said that no one with a 
force of less than 400 trained soldiers to guard him 
could with safety traverse it. Owing, therefore, to 
the policy which prohibited any person from march- 
ing through this "danger zone," I was compelled to 
turn off sharply to the left and make for Nyeri, a 
Government station a couple of marches to the west, 
in one of the districts of the Kenya Province. 

Just after leaving Fort Hall we had to cross the 
Sagana river, over which there is a fairly good 
wooden bridge. We had two mules and six donkeys 
with us besides a horse and two ponies. The 
mules and donkeys showed a most extraordinary 
disHke to this wooden structure, and began kicking 
their loads off as soon as we endeavoured to get 
them to cross. We found that nothing would 
induce them to attempt it until all the loads were 
rem_oved, and even then we had Hterally to drag them 
over by main force. 

We camped at Wambugu's, a place so called after 
the local chief, who speedily paid us a \isit. He 
was most friendly, and readily consented to pose 



136 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

for a photograph. In honour of our arrival he 
collected a body of youths, in the full panoply of 
their Kikuyu ceremonial dress, to dance before us. 




"WAMBUGU . . . THE LOCAL CHIEF . . . READILY 
CONSENTED TO POSE FOR A PHOTOGRAPH." 



They looked very weird and quaint, as their bodies 
were all smeared over with white clay, which had 
been removed in rippling streaks by the finger of an 
artist. The dark brown skin accordingly sho^^'ed 



XI ON SAFARI TO THE NORTH 137 

between waving bars of white clay, and produced a 
not unpleasing appearance. 

The dance itself, and the droning tune by which 
it was accompanied, was rather monotonous, so after 
looking on for some time we began to grow tired 
of it. To end the performance, therefore, I let 
oft a few rockets, which had the effect of dispersing 




"in the full panoply of their kikuyu ceremonial dress." 



the assembly with magical celerity, accompanied by 
shrieks of delight from the women and children, 
who were dancing close by on their own account. 
Wambugu himself was so pleased with the bursting 
of the rockets in mid-air that he would not be 
content until he had let off some with his own 
hand. 



138 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



On the next day we arrived at Nyeri after a 
comfortable march along a good road. I hoped to 
find here some fifty donkeys which I had ordered 
from Baringo to enable me to carry food supplies 
onward through the nyika. The moment we 
arrived, therefore, I inquired of the official in 
charge, but he had heard nothing of them, so I at 
once sent a Masai runner on to Rumuruti to get 
news of them, and impressed on him the necessity 
of doing the journey in record Masai time. I did 
not wish to set out for Rumuruti myself, and possibly 
miss the donkeys if they were coming through by a 
different road. 

While awaiting the runner's return we made a 
few trips in the neighbourhood, which is reputed to 
be well stocked in bush buck. We, however, saw 
none, but we did not explore the country towards 
Kenya very thoroughly. The whole district is 
very beautiful, the glades, valleys, and streamlets 
in the forest towards the great snow-capped peak 
being particularly lovely. I was told by a man in 
my safari who had been up on the mountain that 
in the dense forest belt which encircles it there 
lives a race of pygmies. On my expressing dis- 
belief, the man assured me that it was quite true, 
as he declared that he had seen them himself at 
close quarters. However, as I knew the man to 
be a great coward, I concluded that what he saw 



XI 



ON SAFARI TO THE NORTH 



139 



was a troop of great baboons from which he fled 
in terror before making any investigation. 

One morning at Xyeri news was brought to us 
that a lion had killed two women in the forest some 
three or four miles away, so we started off at once 
to try and bring the depredator to book. We had 
with us as guide a boy of about eight or nine, who 
said that he was present when the women were 
carried off and heard them scream when seized by 
the lion. This youth led us to the spot in the 
forest where the women had been sitting, but we 
could find neither lion nor trace of blood an}^vhere, 
although we searched very carefully for a couple of 
hours through the dense undergrowth. There was 
no doubt, however, that the women had disappeared, 
so what became of them remained a mystery. I was 
rather inclined to doubt the Hon theory from the 
beginning, as my experience told me that he would 
only kill and devour one at a time. It seemed 
to me much more likely that some enterprising men 
of a tribe in the locality were short of wives, and so 
had made a raid and carried them off. 

On returning to camp I was glad to find that my 
Masai runner had returned, but unfortunately he 
brought back word that there was nothing what- 
ever known of the donkeys at Rumuruti. I decided 
therefore to set out next morning for that place and 
discover for myself what had become of them. 



CHAPTER XII 



AX ADVENTURE WITH LIOXS IX A SHO^^LA. 

We were not sorry to leave Xyeri, as although 
the climate of the place is on the whole good, yet 
on account of its height, some 8000 feet above 
sea level, it is frequently covered with cloud or mist, 
and the nights are intensely cold. 

Soon after setting out we began to see game in 
small quantities, especially hartebeeste and eland. 
They all seemed very shy, owing, no doubt, to the 
number of times they had been shot at by safaris 
passing this way. After a pleasant and interesting 
march we reached the Buni (Ostrich) river soon 
after mid-day, where we camped. The grass all 
round was long and very dry, so I gave orders that 
on no account were fires to be lighted until it had 
been cut down from about the tents. A few 
moments afterwards, what I had wished to guard 
against happened, for while the other men were 
busily engaged in cutting down the grass, the cook 

140 



CHAP. XII AN ADVENTURE WITH LIONS 141 

disobeyed my order, with the result that the whole 
place flamed up in a second, and but for the 
prompt and desperate efforts of the whole safari, 
who beat the flames out with branches, our entire 
outfit would have been burnt up. As it turned out, 
I was deHghted to find that it was the cook himself 




"we were not sorry to leave xyert." 



who was the only one to suffer, all his blankets and 
kit being lost in the fire. When he came later on 
to inform me of his misfortune, I told him that it 
was a well-merited punishment for his disobedience. 
In the afternoon we went out to have a look at 
the country, and had a most exciting chase after a 
serval cat, which my dog Lurcher made desperate 



a^-liitiiiitlitilliiifl^ irir 




CHAP. XII AN ADVENTURE WITH LIONS 



efforts to overtake. I fancy he would have had a 
very warm reception if he had succeeded, as a full- 
grown serval is by no means a despicable foe. 
The cat, however, was too quick for him, and got 
into the bush among the trees, where it was quite 
hopeless to try and find it. 

During this chase, while galloping across a bit of 
grassy plain, B. inadvertently dropped his field 
glasses and did not discover his loss for some time. 
As this was a serious matter in the wilds, we deter- 
mined to have a good search for them next day. 
Accordingly, in the morning we took practically the 
whole safari with us, and divided the country over 
which we had travelled the previous day between 
the men, spreading them in a fine over it. They 
were all very keen on the search, as a reward 
of five rupees was promised to the man who should 
find the glasses. The prize fell to a Masai who 
had attached himself to us at Nyeri and who, with 
Abbudi, was in the van. This man was so delighted 
with the five rupees and considered himself so rich 
thereby that he promptly left us and returned to 
his manyatta (village), where no doubt there were 
great rejoicings over his good fortune. 

We saw some hartebeeste, duiker, ostriches, and a 
jackal on our day's march, and that night we camped 
on the banks of the Guaso Nyiro, which is here but 
a small stream having its source in the forest -clad 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



Aberdare Mountains, which stretch away to the 
southward at no great distance. In that direction 
also towers the giant mountain Kinogop, near 
which He the beautiful waters of Lake El Bolosat. 
The nights were still bitterly cold and we all suffered 
more or less from the chill wind that swept down 
the valley from icy Kenya, which stood out boldly 
no great distance off to the north-east. 

From the Guaso Nyiro we marched to a stream 
which the Masai call Angara Ngabit, and on the way 
we saw a troop of baboons, huge red and brown 
brutes that looked in the distance just like old 
negroes. Lurcher made for them at sight, but they 
were not in the least afraid, and when they got him 
into their native bush, chased him for his life back 
to us. 

The following march took us to the stream 
called Angara Suguroi, and here we had an 
exciting experience. As soon as camp was 
reached, we noticed a crowd of vultures circling 
in the air, about half a mile down-stream. I there- 
fore sent Abbudi to find out what had been killed. 
He soon returned with the information that two or 
three Hons had been there, and had killed and partly 
eaten an eland. This was exceedingly good news 
to receive, as I knew that the lions would be certain 
to return after dark to resume their feast. We there- 
fore determined to build a shoma, which is the 



AN ADVENTURE WITH LIONS 145 



Somali name for a structure made beside a kill, 
from which a sportsman may, with some degree 
of safety, shoot a lion when he returns after dark to 
have another meal. 

We accordingly all set out for the spot, taking 
with us the Headman, Munyakai bin Diwani, a 
Somali gun-bearer, and a couple of dozen porters 
carrying axes and slashers to cut branches and drive 
in stakes. When we arrived at the spot where the 
half-eaten eland lay, we found ample evidence of a 
mighty death struggle, as the ground was torn up 
all round, while shrubs and branches lay broken in 
every direction. 

We at once proceeded to build the shoma within 
four yards of the dead eland. It was constructed 
in the following manner. First, stakes were cut 
and driven firmly into the ground in a circle ha\dng 
a diameter of about eight feet. As a matter of 
fact, we had no time to complete the enclosure, for 
when little more than half of these uprights were 
in position dusk came on, and the remainder of 
the shoma was merely closed by bushes hastily 
cut and placed round to fill in the gap. The upright 
stakes were interlaced with thin wattles which 
bound them firmly together and made them more or 
less rigid, while all over the outward face we fixed 
small branches and leaves, which we plucked from 
the surrounding trees and bushes, so as to make the 

L 



146 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



whole structure look as natural as possible. Near 
the base of the shoma, and looking out on the body 
of the eland, loopholes were cut, through which we 
could see and thrust our rifles. Of course a small 
opening was left at the back of the shoma for a door- 
way which would be closed again by a bush as .-oon 
as we got inside. 

In addition, I had a steel trap set close to the 
kill, which I thought would be powerful enough to 
hold the Hon for a second or two if he put his foot 
into it, thus gi\ing us a better chance of shooting 
him before he could get out of sight in the dark. I 
had this trap firmly anchored to a big root by means 
of a stout rope. 

When we returned to camp we swallowed a hasty 
dinner, and then all three set out for the shoma^ 
accompanied by two gun-bearers whom I considered 
necessary to have inside with us so that they might 
guard the back of the flimsy shoma, where we were 
only protected by a few bushes. 

The ground inside had been covered with dry 
grass, and on this we placed our blankets beside 
the loopholes, and taking up as comfortable a posi- 
tion as possible, thrust the barrels of our rifles 
through the holes and remained thus for hours, 
intently watching the spot where we knew the half- 
eaten body of the dead eland lay. The night was 
so inky black that we could barely see even the 



XII AN ADVENTURE WITH LIONS 147 

muzzles of our rifles. It was consequently quite im- 
possible to make out the eland, which was only four 
yards from the loopholes. 

In this way we sat with all our senses on the alert 
until about midnight, when I heard a rusthng 
among the bushes; I whispered to my companions 
on no account to move or make a noise of any 
kind, as the Hons were approaching. Intense 
silence again reigned for the space of about half an 
hour, when, without warning of any kind, I heard 
the deadly, cautious advance of a Hon absolutely at 
my elbow, just outside the fence on my side of the 
shoma. He was so close that when he stealthily 
put down his paw, after holding it poised in the air 
for what seemed to me Hke an eternity, he actually 
stepped on to the dry leaves which had fallen from 
the branches of the shoma, and these now rustled as 
he placed his foot on them, not a yard from where I 
sat. 

The creepy feeHng which this slow and stealthy 
advance at such close quarters produced is inde- 
scribable. I feared every moment that he would 
jump through our fragile structure, as, of course, he 
knew quite well that we were there and was 
investigating our position, possibly with the view 
to getting at us. Every moment I hoped to see 
his body pass before my narrow loophole, and as 
a matter of fact he was so close that I was afraid 



148 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



he would brush against the muzzle of my rifle. 
I therefore drew it back with the greatest stealth 
until it was flush with the opening. 

Unfortunately, just as this moment one of the 
men, who did not reahze the importance of silence, 
moved noisily, with the result that the brute 
gave a low growl and bounded away. It was a 
great disappointment, as in another moment the lion 
would, I am convinced, have shown his head and 
so have given me the chance I was waiting for. 
However, there was no help for it, so I recommended 
that absolute silence should now be maintained, 
as I felt that he would return before long and 
endeavour to devour the remains of the eland — nor 
was I mistaken. 

Within an hour we heard him begin his advance 
once more, and this time he was accompanied by at 
least a couple of his mates, as we distinctly located 
three lions round about us. We could plainly hear 
the rustling of their bodies through the low bushes 
which grew thickly hereabouts; then there would 
be a halt for a second or two, a low growl and again 
a stealthy advance. As they neared the kill they 
gave vent to a few purrs and fierce low snarls, 
evidently with the object of instilHng terror into 
anything in the vicinity. On our part I must say 
that we found the sinister music with which they 
heralded their approach distinctly awe-inspiring. 



AN ADVENTURE WITH LIONS 149 



Finally the eland was reached and then began a 
mighty rending of meat and scrunching of bones, 
followed by vicious purrs and deep savage growls 
which were enough to make the stoutest heart 
quail. 

We had agreed that no one should fire until the 
lions had settled well down to their meal, so that we 
might have a better opportunity of making out their 
position and getting in a deadly shot. The brutes 
could not remove the kill, because I had taken the 
precaution of roping the body firmly to some stout 
trees against which it practically rested. 

All at once one of the lions put his foot into the 
trap, and the moment the steel jaws closed on him 
there was a loud and startled growl which told me 
that we must act instantly. My companions all! 
this time were eagerly and impatiently awaiting my 
signal, so when I called out ''Fire" we all three 
blazed away into the darkness, aiming as well as we 
could for the lions. At once there was a tremendous 
chorus of growls and fierce grunts, accompanied by 
the furious lashing and plunging of the lion that was 
caught in the trap, which was only strong enough to 
hold him for a moment or two. The commotion 
was so terrific that I greatly feared the enraged 
animal was making for our shoma, where in the 
darkness he would make but short work of us. To 
add to the general noise and confusion, both our 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



gun-bearers discharged their rifles, crying out that 
the lions were about to burst into our enclosure 
through the flimsy bushes they were guarding at the 
rear. Altogether, what with growling Hons, shouting 
natives, and belching rifles, the din for a minute 
or so was appalling. 

Then followed the deep silence of the night. I 
listened intently for the sound which would tell us 
that we had not failed to hit one or other of the 
beasts, and at last it came, the long, low growl which 
a Hon always gives when he is wounded and gets to 
a bit of covert. ''He's hit! He's badly hit!" I 
cried to my companions. ''We will get him in the 
morning." 

A few more growls followed, and then once 
more everything became silent. There was nothing 
to be done now but to wait eagerly for the dawn, 
and with the exception of the melancholy cry of 
a hyaena somewhere near us, nothing further 
disturbed the remainder of the night. Before it 
was quite dayHght I made a fire just outside the 
enclosure, as it was very chilly, and here we warmed 
ourselves and waited to see what luck had in store 
for us. 

As soon as there was light enough we went to 
investigate, and found that two bullets (my own and 
Mrs. B.'s) had gone clean through the dead eland, 
while B.'s could nowhere be discovered. We 



XII A\ ADVENTURE WITH LIOXS 151 

hoped therefore that it had found its billet in the 
body of the Hon. especially as B."s loophole was 
a Httle nearer to the eland than the other two. 
Accordingly we set out and hunted for a trail of 
blood, but though we searched eagerly in every 
direction, we could not find any trace of the 
wounded animal. We continued the hunt for many 
hours, but eventually had to give it up. I have no 
doubt that the wounded lion must have got into a great 
bed of reeds, some miles in extent, which grew in a 
swamp not far off. 

Although we were naturally much disappointed 
in not being able to find him, yet I shall always 
remember that night as one of the most thrilHng 
and exciting and withal enjoyable that I have ever 
spent in the wilds. 



CHAPTER XIII 



THROUGH LAIKIPIA 

As soon as we returned to camp after our night's 
adventure, we did full justice to a much-needed 
breakfast, and an hour later resumed our march 
to Rumuruti. On the way, B. secured an oryx — a 
stroke of luck, as these beautiful animals are rather 
rare in this part of the district — while a Grant's and 
a Thomson's gazelle fell to Mrs. B.'s rifle. This 
was the first bit of successful shooting done since 
Nairobi had been left, so both were much pleased 
with their good fortune. We saw numbers of the 
smaller antelope on this march, but there was hardly 
a buck with a good pair of horns left, so busy had the 
sportsmen been along the route. 

Before reaching camp we came across a Masai 
manyatta, and as I badly wanted some mutton broth 
for an invahd, I took five rupees (equal to 6s. 8d.) 
from my cash box, and, calhng Abbudi, gave him 
instructions to go to the headman of the Masai 

152 



154 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

with the money and bring back a fat sheep in 
exchange. The amount was ample for a sheep in ^ 
these parts, but the old rascal would not part with 




"the MASAI CHIEF MASEKONDI." 



one, although there were thousands round us. Of 
course he had a right to refuse if he wished, but 
still I thought it a very bad spirit to show towards the 
white man. 



XIII 



THROUGH LAIKIPIA 



155 



Next day as we approached Rumuruti we were 
met by a fine-looking native who turned out to be 
the Masai chief Masekondi. The European official 
in charge of the Masai on Laikipia issues his 
instructions principally through this chief, and holds 
him more or less responsible for the good conduct 
of the tribe. When I explained to Masekondi how 
we had been treated the previous day by one of his 
headmen, he was so angry with his inhospitable and 
discourteous conduct that he at once sent back a 
party of warriors to collect a fine of five sheep, 
which he inflicted on the old curmudgeon as a 
punishment for his churHshness. 

Meanwhile we pushed on and arrived at Rumuruti, 
which is a small Government station, situated at the 
southernmost end of what is known as the Pes ^ 
Swamp. This is an expansion of the Guaso Narok 
or Black river, and extends for about fourteen 
miles along its course, with a width in some places of 
a mile or more. 

I was much disappointed to find that no donkeys 
had yet arrived for me from Baringo, so I at once 
despatched Munyakai bin Diwani to that place to 
purchase and bring me fifty with as Httle delay as 
possible. 

Some time before I left Nairobi I had requested 
the District Commissioner of Laikipia to procure 

^ Pronounced pace. 



156 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



me a couple of reliable guides for my journey, and 
this he had been good enough to arrange, so I found 
awaiting me two men of the Samburu nation who 
knew the whole country northward to Marsabit, 
a place in the Reserve which I wished to reach. 
This was the first time that I had ever seen any of 
this tribe, and I must say that I was not favourably 
impressed with the appearance of the two represent- 
atives provided as my guides. 

When I got to know the Samburu people more 
intimately, however, I found that they were on the 
whole considerably better than I had expected, 
while the two guides who had at first sight 
impressed me unfavourably, proved themselves very 
rehable and trustworthy fellows, who served me 
most loyally throughout my journey. 

While I was waiting for the return of my Headman 
from Baringo I made various excursions in the 
neighbourhood of Rumuruti to see what game was 
to be found in these parts, while my companions did 
some shooting on their own account. I saw numer- 
ous herds of zebra, impala, Thomson's and Grant's 
gazelle within a radius of ten miles from the Boma, 
as the natives call Rumuruti. I also noticed near 
this place a few rhino, some oryx and duiker. 
Along the marshy edges of the Pes Swamp hippo 
may be found at all times, while elephants and 
buffalo sometimes visit it. A few days before we 



XIII 



THROUGH LAIKIPIA 



157 



arrived no less than five elephants were shot by a 
party of sportsmen within a mile of the Boma. 
Once in the grey dawn I watched a fine old lion 
take refuge among the cool recesses of the pap\Tus 
grass which covers its entire surface. Another time 
as I was riding back to camp in the dusk I suddenly 
came upon a lioness. I took a quick shot at her but 
missed, and she immediately disappeared in the 
gloom. 

Leopards are very numerous in the neighbour- 
hood, and I counted no less than seven of these 
beasts of prey in one afternoon. They are at times 
very dangerous, and the officer in charge at 
Rumuruti told me that they sometimes carry cff 
native children. A leopard is at all times a nasty 
brute to tackle, as when wounded it is not con- 
tent with springing on and wounding one person 
but will dash with hghtning-like rapidity from one 
to another, biting and tearing, until it has put its teeth 
and claws into everybody within reach. 

A curious incident which happened at Nairobi 
not long ago will show how very audacious these 
brutes can sometimes be. The official in whose 
house it happened, himself gave me all the details 
when I went to visit him soon after my arrival in 
East Africa. It seems that his daughter was one 
morning sitting playing the piano in the drawing- 
room. He happened to go into the room at 



158 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



the time, and on strolling over to the open 
window was surprised to see the wet, muddy foot- 
marks of some large animal plainly visible on the 
sill. On hearing his exclamation of surprise, his 
daughter jumped up from the piano, and seeing the 
spoor, followed it across the drawing-room and 
through a doorway into the bedroom beyond. Just 
as she got inside the door she was much astonished 
and startled to see, projecting from under the bed, a 
leopard's tail ! Hastily retreating, she called out 
to her father that there was a leopard under the 
bed. This sounded so incredible that for the 
moment he thought she must be mistaken, espe- 
cially as on going into the room he saw no sign of 
the tail. To make sure, however, he put his head 
down to look and was met by a fierce growl from 
the open jaws of the leopard. Needless to say he 
lost no time in putting the door between himself and 
the angry beast. Borrowing a rifle from a friend, 
as he did not happen to have one of his own at 
hand, he now went round to the bedroom window 
to shoot it. The instant he showed himself the 
leopard dashed frantically at him, but fortunately the 
window had iron bars across it, so the savage brute 
was unable to break through, and was soon de- 
spatched without having injured anyone. There 
were various theories at the time to account for the 
leopard's boldness. Some said he was charmed into 



XIII 



THROUGH LAIKIPIA 



159 



the house by the music, while others held, more 
prosaically, that he was after food of some sort. 

The country round Rumuruti is an ideal one for 
the sportsman, consisting of rolKng plain covered 
\\dth grass, interspersed with bush and forest 
glades. My companions got some good shooting, 
and Mrs. B. brought down, among other trophies, 
a fairly good wart-hog and a very good Grant's 
gazelle. The game is getting rather shy and 
scarce in the district, which is partly owing to the 
number of shooting safaris that pass through, but is 
mainly due to the vast flocks and herds of the 
Masai, which eat up the pasturage. 

When we had waited some days at Rumuruti, we 
moved on a few miles to a small stream called the 
lam, w^hich flows into the Pes Swamp about five 
miles to the north of the Boma. Before march- 
ing, we left word for the Headman to follow on 
as soon as possible, and also gave Masekondi's 
wives a small present, as they had very kindly 
supplied us with fresh milk daily while we were 
at Rumuruti. The river-bed at our new camp 
w^s dry in places, and flowed underneath the 
surface, as is often the case with East i\frican 
rivers. What Httle water remained above ground 
in some pools proved to be salty, but on this 
account w^as in great favour with the Masai, whose 
cattle thrive on its brackish waters. From the 



i6o IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



lam the safari marched on to the north end of 
the Pes Swamp, while I rode back to Rumuruti 
to make inquiries about the donkeys and leave 
word with the official there of our change of camp. 
After a pleasant lunch with the District Com- 
missioner I returned in the evening to find my 



MASEKONDI'S WIVES AND CHILDREN. 



companions all comfortably settled in the new 
camping ground, where we decided to await the re- 
turn of Munyakai. 

There were numbers of Masai with their flocks 
and herds in this locality, and on visiting a large 
manyatta, or village, of these people, I was most 
hospitably entertained. We in turn were visited at 



XII 



THROUGH LAIKIPIA 



i6i 



our camp by a particularly tine specimen of this 
tribe, whom with great difficulty I persuaded to 

pose for his photograph — indeed he would not 
submit to the dreaded ordeal until Abbudi and 




"his great stature is .APP.\R£NT.'' 



another ^lasai volunteered to be taken as well so 
as to reassure him. His great stature is apparent 
from the accompaming picture. 

I could get no information as to what the 
country was Hke between the Pes Swamp and the 



i62 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



Guaso Nyiro, which flowed to the east of us, so 
taking my rifle and some ammunition, I went off 
by myself to explore in this direction. Abbudi was 
rather hurt that I would not take him, and protested 
that it was not safe for the Bwana to go alone. I 
rode some fifteen miles from camp, and on the w^ay, 
as if to emphasize Abbudi 's warning, I fell in with 
a vicious old rhino that was standing under the 
shade of a tree. As I came upon it all unawares 
it took me entirely by surprise, and had Aladdin 
not been on the alert and speedy enough to get 
out of the way of his charge, it w^ould probably 
have fared badly with us. As it was, I escaped 
with a torn coat and a few body scratches which I 
received while plunging wildly through the jungle 
in my efforts to throw off our pursuer. My only 
fear was that I might run into another while the 
mad race lasted. Fortunately, however, this did 
not happen, though later on I saw two or three 
more rhino which were avoided by making a 
circuit at a respectful distance. The bush was 
ahve with hundreds of zebra and Grant's and 
Thomson's gazelle, with here and there a pig busily 
grubbing for a succulent root. My ride took me 
well out of the beaten track, so the animals were 
not shy or frightened of me, and it was a great 
pleasure to ride amongst them and observe their 
ways at close quarters. 



XIII 



THROUGH LAIKIPIA 



163 



The country was fairly flat, covered over with 
stunted acacias and here and there a thorn bush. 
There was a plentiful supply of coarse grass, which 
had a very dried-up appearance, as there had been 
no rain for some considerable time. There were 
comparatively few dongas, or ravines, and the ground 
was much less broken than is generally the case in 
this part of East Africa, so the going was pretty 
good throughout. When I got to the banks of 
a dry river-bed well on in the day and found that 
there was still no sign of the Guaso Nyiro, I decided 
that it was quite time to return, so, making a great 
detour in order to explore a fresh piece of country, 
I rode back towards camp. 

On the way I met five Masai, who told me that as 
they were walking along in single file, about a mile 
from where they met me, a Hon suddenly jumped 
out of a bush they were passing and growled fiercely 
at them. At the same instant no less than three 
lionesses sprang up from the long grass practically 
at their feet. Fearing that the brutes would be on 
them, the Masai poised their spears for a thrust, but 
the lions had just enjoyed a good meal — as the 
remains of a zebra close by showed — so they were 
not in the mood for a fight, and with one or two 
more growls at the intruders, they walked slowly off. 

I asked the leader if he could guide me to the spot 
where this had happened, and he agreed to do so if 



i64 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, xiii 



I would give him ''baksheesh," a word of which the 
Masai have quickly learned the meaning, as they 
are great beggars. I readily promised this if he 
would show me the lions, so off we all started, 
and in a very short time they pointed out the bush 
from w^hich the lion had bounded and the three 
''forms" of the lionesses in the grass. I scanned 
the surrounding country with my glasses in all 
directions, but there was no sign of a lion any\vhere. 
We hunted the neighbourhood thoroughly, and 
I galloped here, there and everywhere, but had 
no luck, so I returned to camp, feeling very much 
disappointed. 

Soon after I got back, however, I was delighted 
to see my Headman ^^lunyakai approaching camp 
from Baringo, bringing 50 donkeys with him. He 
had had considerable difficulty in getting them, but 
eventually, like the excellent fellow he was, succeeded 
with the help of the official in charge at Baringo in 
procuring the required number. As each of these 
donkeys would be able to carry two loads of 60 lbs., 
I was now freed from all anxiety as to how I 
should carry sufficient food with me for my men 
during the journey through the barren nyika. 



CHAPTER XIV 



ALONG THE GUASO NAROK 

I WAS now ready to set out, without any further 
delay, on the more difficult and arduous portion of 
my journey to the north, my friends intending to 
accompany me for part of the way only, and then 
return to Nairobi at their leisure. 

Accordingly, it was with no little satisfaction that 
on the following day we left the camp by the Pes 
Swamp. We found, however, that the donkeys 
were quite wild and had a decided objection to 
carrying anything, so that the pandemonium which 
ensued when the men tried to catch them and pack 
sacks of food on their backs was simply indescribable. 
Men and loads were flung all over the place, and it 
was not until each individual beast had become 
thoroughly tired out and exhausted that anything 
could be done with it. Even then they gave a great 
deal of trouble and worry, and the donkey-boys, for 
this day at any rate, were very sorry for themselves, 

165 



i66 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



and in the evening came to me and requested 
the privilege of carrying a sixty-pound load on 
their heads rather than again drive half-a-hundred 
devils. 

I may mention here that in the course of a few 
days these donkeys became quite tame, and bore their 
burdens patiently and well. All the same, they 
were a very great nuisance at times, as whenever a 
river or steep donga was meet with, all the loads had 
to be taken off their backs and carried across, and 
then repacked again on the far side. We also found 
it very necessary to guard them closely at night to 
prevent lions from getting at them, as the love of 
these brutes for donkey flesh is notorious, and they 
will run any risk to obtain their favourite food. 
Throughout our journey the guard was fairly 
successful in keeping them off, and although Hons 
often tried to get into our homas, yet they only 
succeeded in one soHtary instance, when, on a dark 
and stormy night, they managed to seize a victim, and 
get clear away with it. 

On the whole, I cannot recommend donkeys 
to the sportsman, as they are slow, troublesome, 
and often a very great nuisance. They need 
much care, and if one travels through a tsetse-fly 
country are liable to get bitten and die. Their chief 
advantage is that they are economical, for they carry 
twice as much as a man and do not require any 



ALONG THE GUASO NAROK 167 



feeding beyond what they can pick up for them- 
selves on the way. If they survive the hardships 
and dangers of the journey they can also be sold 
at a fair price at the end of the expedition, pro- 
vided no fly country has been traversed. Where 
expense is no object, and food supplies can be 
relied on, the ordinary porter is much more satis- 
factory. Camels, of course, would be preferable 
to either, and I found them invaluable when I 
reached the Rendile country in the course of my 
journey. They are, however, confined to certain 
districts, and are not available for the ordinary sports- 
man who sets out from Nairobi. 

It is somewhat surprising that up to the present 
moment no serious effort has been made to domesti- 
cate the zebra, and thus cope with this difliculty of 
transport. Here we have a country where through- 
out the greater part, camels, horses, mules, and 
donkeys are unable to Hve owing to the deadly 
tsetse-fly. Means of transport must be found 
somehow, as there are neither railways, roads, nor 
navigable rivers to speak of ; therefore the settler, 
the sportsman, and the traveller have to fall back 
upon the caravan porter, who from time immemorial 
has been the pack animal of East African wilds. 
Now that the country is attracting white men as 
farmers and ranchers, the question of labour is be- 
coming acute, and instead of wandering about with 



i68 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



a load on his head, every available native is required 
for more remunerative work on the land. 

I know it will be said that the zebra is a useless 
and vicious brute, and that it is impossible to train 
him or make him into a useful beast of burden; but 
I challenge this prejudiced view, as I am convinced 
that, given a fair trial, the zebra will yet prove one 
of the most useful of East African animals. In the 
first place, it is immune from the deadly tsetse-fly, 
and, being indigenous to the country, is not affected 
by the climate, and can stand the extremes of heat 
and cold without any harmful result. It also knows 
what food to pick up for itself in the wilds, and 
unlike the mule, will not eat poisonous grasses and 
herbs, its instinct teaching it what to avoid. It is 
capable of carrying as heavy a load as a mule, and 
is as sure-footed, being able to gallop over the 
roughest ground, while its feet and legs are perfect 
for jungle work. The zebra is also more alive to the 
necessity of protecting itself from wild beasts, and 
seems to know at once when danger is at hand. 
Finally, it can cover greater distances without water 
than any pack animal except the camel. 

It is true that certain half-hearted experiments 
have been made to domesticate these animals, and 
because these spasmodic efforts have failed, the 
zebras have been anathematized by those who know 
very little about them ; they are, alas, now looked 



ALONG THE GUASO NAROK 169 



upon as little better than vermin, and instead of an 
effort being made to train these beautiful creatures, 
sportsmen are permitted to shoot them by the 
score. Of course it would never do to confine 
them in a small space while they were being broken 
in, as stale ground and lack of freedom would be 
enough to kill any wild animal. They should have 
constant changes of kraals and a fair amount of 
country to range over in captivity. 

I very strongly maintain that if adequate trial 
were made, more especially with that fine-looking 
animal, the Grevy zebra, and proper attention paid 
to breeding, etc., the result would be more than 
satisfactory, and the problem of transport in the by- 
ways of East Africa completely solved. 

It would, I think, astonish the British public if they 
knew how much of their money has gone during 
the past ten years in providing transport for East 
Africa and Uganda. The cost of maintaining a 
zebra farm, which in a short time might breed and 
turn out useful pack animals, would, in comparison, 
be a mere nothing. The eland is another beast 
that might be domesticated and used for transport 
purposes, and while I was in East Africa I advocated 
that experiments with both these animals should be 
tried on an extensive scale. 

All this, however, is a digression, and I must 
return to our journey. On leaving the camp at the 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, xiv 



Pes Swamp we crossed the Guaso Narok, and pro- 
ceeded along the right bank of the river. A frown- 
ing escarpment runs parallel to the left bank, and is 
called by the Masai ''Lebobonye Airobi Maritee," 
which being interpreted means "The escarpment 
on which grows the tree with the green leaves." 
There was very few of these trees to be seen 
on it, as the greater part of them had probably 
been cut down by the Masai, to be used in making 
their manyattas. 

Owing to the trouble with the donkeys it was late 
in the evening when we reached camp at a place 
called Kilowash, a somewhat weird-looking spot on 
the banks of the Guaso Narok. Soon after our 
arrival I heard a guinea-fowl making a tremendous 
cackHng in a tree not more than a hundred yards 
from my tent, so I went out with my shotgun to 
get it for dinner. I was rather surprised on reaching 
the place to see a leopard bound off into the 
gloom. He was evidently on the same errand as 
myself, "pot hunting," but I was just in time to save 
the guinea-fowl from his clutches and secure it for 
our table. 

As the country from Rumuruti onward was prac- 
tically unknown, I commenced to make a map of 
our route, and every day for the rest of the journey, 
while my companions did what shooting they could 
on their own account, I occupied myself almost 



M.N. 




ntar Ccunp A™ J. on iO-Z-0«. 




171 



172 IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



entirely with map-making, noting the heights of the 
various places we passed through as shown by 
the aneroid I brought with me, taking bearings of 
the more important landmarks, and making notes 
generally on the country and the people, and more 
especially on the variety and approximate numbers 
of the game seen on the journey. While engaged 
in this way I found Abbudi invaluable, as he could 
explain to me the meaning of the names of all the 
hills, nullahs, and mountains that we came across. 
I only trust that he was not inventing, as he was never 
without an answer. 

The two Samburu guides were also much in- 
terested in my map-making, but at first looked upon 
it with considerable suspicion. It was not until 
I told them that it was a most useful and invaluable 
medicine for the journey that they could be 
persuaded freely to give me all the information they 
possessed. Each morning when we started off it 
was my custom to make one of them who was called 
Papai (father) stand in front of me and point with 
his spear in the direction of the next camp. I 
found that he was very reliable and did this most 
accurately. I then took the bearing with the 
compass, and drew a Hne across the paper in the 
direction pointed out. As we marched along I 
dotted in the path we travelled, as it went to 
right or left of this line, guided by the relative 



XIV ALONG THE GUASO NAROK 173 

position of two prominent objects well ahead of me. 
I also drew in such rivers, nullahs, hills, etc., as we 
passed on the way. Every hour I marked off three 
miles when I considered that was the average speed 
travelled at, and, of course, more or less according as 
the pace varied. 




*'to see that the porters carried him gently." 



I always took the reading of the aneroid at the 
same hour in the afternoon, as I had found that it 
would vary over 200 feet at the same spot, according 
as it was taken at noon in the heat of the day, or at 
midnight. In this way I sketched in the entire 
route from Rumuruti to Marsabit, and I hope 



IN THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 



my map will prove useful to some future traveller who 
happens to go that way. 

Unfortunately very soon after leaving Rumuruti 
B. began to feel ill, and although this gave us no 
cause for alarm, still it was most disappointing, as 
he was very anxious to shoot. I had to doctor him 



1 




THE JUN'CTIOX. 



for fever and headache, and keep him from going 
out in the afternoon sun. He also suffered a good 
deal from a painful foot and leg, and ultimately an 
abscess formed on the instep. This gave him a 
great deal of trouble, and part of the time he had to 
be carried in a hammock, or on a bed, while either 
Mrs. B. or I always walked beside him when wx 



XIV 



ALONG THE GUASO NAROK 



175 



got to a bad spot, to see that the porters carried 
him gently and carefully over the rough road. The 
country we passed through along the Guaso Narok 
was for the most part 
a good grass one and 
game was plentiful. 
Luckily for us the water 
was clear and sweet, a 
great rarity in the 
wilds, where it is usu- 
ally muddy, warm, and 
brackish. 

Numbers of baboons 
were to be seen on the 
rocks close to the river. 
While I was out ex- 
ploring one afternoon I 
came upon a large 
family of these human- 
like creatures, perched 
on a huge rock, which 
jutted up from the op- 
posite bank of the river. 
I selected a position 
under the shade of a 




THE GERENUK. 
[Mounted in Rowland Ward's Studios.] 



spreading tree, which grew at the water's edge, 
and watched them for over an hour, my glasses 
enabling me to see every wrinkle in their ugly 



1/6 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, xiv 



faces, as they basked and frisked in the afternoon 
sunshine. There was one old male — a large black 
fellow, who was evidently the ''king of the castle." 
The way the females would clutch their offspring 
and get out of his path as he rambled round was 
most amusing, while if by chance a youngster got 
in his way he was rewarded with a hearty cuff on 
the ear. When they saw me watching them they 
all crowded to my side of the rock, apparently as 
much interested in my movements as I was in 
theirs. 

Our last march before reaching the Guaso Xpro 
was through dense bush, scrub, and euphorbia trees, 
where no game could be seen. The place where 
the Guaso Xarok flows into the Guaso X\dro is 
called ''The Junction," and is a noted camping 
ground for big-game hunters, as they can be almost 
certain of finding here the much-prized oryx beisa, a 
girafte, if they wish one, and, with exceptional good 
luck, that shy and much sought after gazelle, the 
peculiar- looking long-necked gerenuk. 



CHAPTER XV 



THE J^IASAI 

During our journey through Laikipia we came 
across many Masai manyattas and met a number 
of the proud and warlike people who dwell in 
them. Abbudi was always ready to talk about 
his nation, and as he strode along beside Aladdin 
he never tired of telHng me endless tales of 
their various acts of prowess, and of warHke 
expeditions in which he himself had taken part. 
In the course of our many marches together I 
was able to glean from him much interesting 
information as to their pecuHar manners and 
customs. 

The Masai have already been so fully and 
scientifically described by such writers as Thomson, 
Hinde, HolHs, Merker, and others, that I can make 
no claim whatever for relating anything that is new, 
but will merely give a few details which either came 
N 177 



178 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



under my own personal observation or were told me 
from time to time by Abbudi. 

At one time these people were the terror of the 
whole country, but of late years their power has 
been very much curtailed. On the death of their 
great chief Batian, about 1889, internal dissensions 




HUT IN A MASAI MANYATTA. 



arose between his two sons Sendcyo and Lenana, 
and warfare was carried on for some time between 
the partisans of the rival brothers until in the end 
Lenana was victorious, and became Leibon, i.e., 
high priest and chief ruler of the whole nation. 
Soon after this, smallpox broke out among the 
tribe, and their numbers were very greatly reduced. 



XV 



THE MASAI 



179 



Rinderpest also made its appearance, and their 
cattle died in thousands, so that, reduced in numbers 
and deprived of all means of subsistence, the poor 
Masai were in a very sad pHght. 

The British then appeared upon the scene, and 
with the coming of the superior race, their last 
fragment of prestige and importance vanished. 

They have now been allotted an excellent reserve 
on the cool highlands of Laikipia, where the country 
is well grassed and watered, and here they are 
rapidly increasing in numbers and wealth. I myself 
have noticed how greatly their flocks and herds have 
multiplied during the last decade. Where ten years 
ago only a very few cattle, sheep, and goats were to 
be seen, now there are thousands, and in the course 
of my journey I must have seen at least 10,000 cattle 
and 30,000 sheep and goats. 

When I asked Abbudi how many warriors could 
be collected on Laikipia he told me about 4,000, but 
as he was prone to exaggerate everything very much, 
I cut this number down by half, and should say that 
they could probably put 2,000 spears in the field ; and 
some day perhaps the bloodthirsty young warriors may 
want to use them. 

In appearance the Masai are slender, with beauti- 
fully modelled Hmbs and regular features, which 
show they do not belong to the ordinary Bantu or 
negro type. Abbudi himself was supple and lithe 



i8o IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



as a young lion, and held himself magnificently, 
while his silky dark brown skin shone like bronze 
in the sunshine. He had the prominent teeth which 




"in APPEARANXE the MASAI ARE SLENDER." 



are characteristic of the Masai and result from their 
habit of eating meat in early childhood and tearing 
the flesh from the bone before the teeth are pro- 
perly set. As the two lower incisors are always 



XV THE MASAI i8i 

extracted the whole expression of the mouth is 
rather pecuHar. 

Another feature which strikes the stranger very 
much is the enormous size of the earlobes, as from 




"the MASAI HAVE A HABIT OF DISTORTIXG THEIR EARS." 

the days of their childhood the ^lasai have a habit 
of distorting their ears so that the lobe hangs down 
to a great length over the shoulder. This is con- 
sidered a great beauty both by men and women, and 
they succeed in acquiring it by first making a small 



i82 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

hole in the lobe of the ear and stretching it by 
putting a small stick through it, and then thicker 
and thicker pieces until finally it becomes enormous 
and capable of holding such ornaments as a mustard 
tin or a jam pot ! 

I had among my safari a man who once tried to 
put in as an ear ornament an empty ox-tongue tin. 
The result was that the lobe split and hung down 
in two long tassels over his shoulder. When they 
got in his way too much, he used calmly to take 
hold of the two ends and tie them up in a knot ! 
The dress of the ordinary IMasai met with in the 
wilds usually consists of a tanned skin 'fastened 
over the shoulder and. hanging down below the 
waist. They are very fond of adorning themselves 
with brass and copper wire, and the women of 
the tribe especially use any quantity of it as orna- 
ments for the arms, legs, and neck. The whole of 
the leg from ankle to knee is often encased in it, 
wound round in spirals to form a regular sheath. 
This must be exceedingly uncomfortable, but the 
women would endure any martyrdom rather than be 
deprived of it. 

Both men and women smear their bodies with 
oil and red clay, and simply put on an extra 
quantity when they wish to appear particularly 
smart. 

The life of a ^Nlasai di\ides itself into the three 



XV THE MASAI 183 

distinct periods of Boyhood, Warriorhood, and 
Elderhood. As they are essentially a warlike 




■ ! 

THE PERIOD OF BOYHOOD. 

people the middle period is by far the most 
important in their life. 



i84 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 

During our many talks together I heard from 
Abbudi a great deal of his own personal history. 

He could not remember anything about his 
mother, who was probably carried off by smallpox 
when he was a baby, but his father seems to have 
been a terrible old martinet, who frequently chastised 
him for his misdeeds. It was his chief duty as a 
boy to guard the goats and sheep, and bring them 
back safely to the manyatta in the evening. As a 
rule he enjoyed doing this very much and felt very 
important as he proudly stood with one leg drawn 
up and resting against the knee, keeping guard over 
his flock and holding his bow and arrow ready to warn 
oft' any intruder. 

Sometimes, however, when he was not sufficiently 
vigilant he got into trouble. One day when he was 
about ten years old he was out as usual herding 
some goats, but instead of keeping guard as he 
ought to have done, he went comfortably to sleep 
under the shade of a tree, leaving the goats to take 
care of themselves, with the result that a leopard 
came and killed three of them ! When the owner 
came out and saw what had happened, he went in 
search of Abbudi and having found him beat him, 
as he said, "Kabisa, kahisa,'" which means with a 
very heavy hand, and only that he eventually 
grovelled to the ground and seized some grass, it 
would have fared very badly with him. As soon as 



XV 



THE MASAI 



185 



he caught the grass the thrashing ceased, as he was 
now, as it were, holding the horns of the altar, grass 
being as sacred to the Masai as the altar to a devout 
Hebrew. 

Abbudi's father came to his end in a very tragic 
way. It seems that he was a notorious cattle 
lifter, and one night he and a friend and some 
boys, of whom Abbudi was one, made a raid on a 
distant kraal belonging to another section of the 
^lasai. They managed to get clear away with 
about twenty cows, but at dawn the robbery was 
discovered and hot pursuit taken up. Towards 
noon the little party of raiders got the cattle into a 
rocky ravine and hid them, as they were too tired 
to take them on any further that day. While they 
were resting here the pursuers arrived and speedily 
surrounded them, put Abbudi's father and his 
robber friend to death, and carried the boys off to 
their kraal as slaves. 

From this servitude Abbudi was not free until he 
became a warrior, and even then he had to start his 
warrior life without a cow, goat, or sheep, which was 
of course a great indignity. 

The Masai have a very complete and strict mili- 
tary organization. All the men physically fit become 
soldiers at the age of about eighteen and serve 
until they are about thirty. The nianyatta of the 
warriors stands isolated from all others, without a 



i86 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



fence round it, and here the young moran, as he 
is now called, enters upon the second, or warrior, 
stage of his existence. From the time that he be- 
comes a soldier and during all the years of his service, 
he is not allowed to marry or to smoke, take snuff, 
or drink intoxicants. The main object of his life 
at this period is of course war, and all the discipline 
and self-denial which he must now undergo is 
calculated to make him a better and more efficient 
soldier. 

Each manyatta elects a captain, who is generally 
one of the oldest and most experienced of the 
warriors, or may even be an elder. This man 
settles all disputes amongst the various members of 
the manyatta, and is usually a good speaker and 
chosen on account of his oratorical powers and 
reasoning abilities. 

In addition, there is also a chief of a whole 
district, whose authority is recognized by all the 
manyattas in this area. 

Of course, above all these is the Leibon or chief 
ruler (at present Lenana), to whom final appeal is 
made, and who is kept thoroughly inform.ed of every- 
thing that goes on among his people by a complete 
secret-service organization. 

The warriors devote a great deal of time and 
attention to exercises calculated to make the limbs 
supple, and to train and develop the muscles. I 



XV 



THE MASAI 



187 



have several times been present at their physical 
drills, and found them most interesting and instruc- 
tive. Jumping up and down a great deal on the 




"exercises calculated to make the limbs supple." 



same spot, so as to exercise and strengthen the leg 
muscles, is an important feature of these gymnastics. 

The result is certainly well worth the trouble 
they take, as the Masai are wonderful runners and 
are capable of covering very long distances, day 



i88 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



after day, without showing the sHghtest sign of 
fatigue. 

The moran also takes a great dehght in keeping 
his weapons brightly pohshed and ready at any 
moment for the fray. These consist of a spear, 
short sword, and knobkerry. The Masai spear is a 
most formidable-looking weapon with a blade about 
two and a half feet long with a uniform width of 
about two inches almost to the point. The short 
two-edged sword is sheathed in a rude scab- 
bard of tough hide, and is worn strapped to the 
waist by means of a home-made belt. The knob- 
kerry is a club made of very hard wood, principally 
used to throw at an enemy before coming to close 
quarters with the spear, and also to kill any weak, 
old, or useless captured women by knocking them 
on the head with it, as the Masai scorn to sully their 
spears with woman's blood. 

The Masai shields are elliptical in shape — about 
three feet six inches long by two feet broad. They 
are generally made of buffalo hide and often orna- 
mented with very curious and interesting designs 
painted in white or red clay and black charcoal, 
the right half of the shield being often different in 
design from the left. As a rule they are not made 
by the Masai themselves, but by the Wandorobo, 
a subject tribe who hunt game for food and pre- 



XV 



THE MASAI 



189 



pare the hides for their masters. The spears and 
swords are manufactured by a special tribe of iron 
workers, the Il-Kunoni, from whom they are purchased 
by the Masai. 

Many a time as Abbudi walked along by my 
side has he with glowing eyes and eager mien told 
me stories of the various warlike expeditions he had 
taken part in against the Wakamba, Wakikuyu and 
other tribes surrounding Masai-land. He always 
bewailed the fact that these raids were no longer 
possible, now that the British ruled the country, and 
from what I gathered the hot-blooded warriors are 
not at all pleased at the curb which has been placed 
upon them by our administration. 

The object of these forays was of course to 
capture cattle, upon the possession of which the 
Masai depend for their very existence. Before an 
expedition of this kind is engaged in many pre- 
liminary preparations have to be made — spies have 
to be sent out to investigate, the chief medicine- 
man has to be consulted as to whether the enterprise 
will be successful or not, and the blessing of Ngai 
(God) has to be invoked by continual monotonous 
chanting. The warriors have then to gorge them- 
selves for several days on bullocks' blood and 
flesh so as to make themselves strong and ferocious 
for the coming warfare. Some drink the juice 
extracted from the bark of the mimosa tree, which 



190 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



is said to render the moran utterly fearless and 
indifferent to danger of any kind. 

Abbudi told me how very proud he felt when for 
the first time he arrayed himself for an expedition 
of this kind in the full panoply of war. This con- 
sists of a weird head-dress, made of ostrich feathers, 
fixed firmly into a leather frame which encircles the 
face and gives a most ferocious expression to it. 
Occasionally a warrior is seen wearing a busby 
made of the head and mane of a lion, but he is 
not allowed to wear this unless he has killed one of 
these beasts with his spear. A long piece of cloth 
with a red stripe down the middle is worn round 
the neck and flowing out behind. A cape of hawks' 
feathers covers the shoulders, while round the legs 
are placed anklets made of the long hair of the 
collabus monkey. A rude belt is fastened round the 
waist, and this secures the short sword at his right 
side, while the knobkerry is thrust through on the 
left. The long spear is carried in the right hand and 
the curiously emblazoned shield in the left. 

When a body of young warriors set proudly 
out on the warpath arrayed in this weird fashion, 
they formed a truly savage and imposing spectacle, 
and it is no wonder that they inspired terror wher- 
ever they went. 

In their hours of leisure the Masai are a grave 



XV 



THE MASAI 



191 



and dignified people. They do not frisk or frolic, or 
indulge in the childish pleasures so usually associated 
with the ordinary untutored negro. They care little 
or nothing about music, and I have never seen one 
of them with a musical instrument of any kind in 




"no wonder that they inspired terror." 



his hand. They probably look upon this form of 
art as an effeminate pastime entirely beneath their 
dignity. Singing is rarely indulged in except when all 
join in a weird droning chant to invoke the blessing 
and goodwill of Ngai on themselves and their flocks, 



192 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



or when preparing for war or celebrating the victory 
afterwards. 

The Masai is, however, a wonderful orator, and 
possesses the gift of speech and power of expression 
in a very marked degree. He may be a little bit too 
wordy and argumentative, and no conclusion of any 
kind is ever reached without an immense amount of 
talk on both sides. All the same, a Masai speech 
is a real work of art, and abounds in felicitous 
phrases and appropriate similes. The orator uses 
a stick to emphasize his words, and this he 
raises and lowers to give point to his sentences, 
occasionally bringing it down to the ground with a 
whack. When the next speaker begins, he takes 
possession of the stick and uses it in the same 
manner. 

It is the custom among the Masai for the young 
girls as well as the warriors to live in the warrior 
kraals. 

Abbudi told me that life went very pleasantly for 
him at this time, for when he was not away on a 
raiding expedition he was waited upon and loved by 
a pretty little Masai girl, for whom he appears to 
have had a genuine affection. He constantly talked 
of her to me and said that he hoped I would give 
him leave to go and see her when we returned to 
Nairobi, as she lived in a manyatta about three days' 
journey from that place. 



XV 



THE MASAI 



193 



I often chafifed him about this Httle girl, and said 
that by the time we got back she would probably 
have forgotten all about him ; but he would not admit 
this, for, as he remarked, ''Have I not given her 
mother a number of presents for her as an earnest, 
and is she not living at this very moment with 
my own particular friend?" Abbudi did not seem 
to have any idea of jealousy, and, indeed, this 
emotion is a feeling which the Masai do not appear 
to understand. 

Of course Abbudi had not reached the Elder 
stage and therefore he had not yet taken unto 
himself a wife, but he told me that he fully intended 
to make this little dito (girl) his wife as soon as 
ever he could collect sufficient money to buy three 
cows, which apparently w^as the price her father 
had placed on her head. It was with this object 
that he had left the warrior manyatta and the life 
led by his forefathers to become a scout in the service 
of the British Government. 

When the moran has completed his military 
service, a Council of the Elders is held at which it is 
decided to admit him to Elderhood. The warrior 
then makes his choice of a w^ife and pays over to her 
parents the price demanded for her. He forthwith, 
without any further marriage ceremony, establishes 
her in a hut in the manyatta of the Elders and 
settles down to a life of ease and indulgence. The 
o 



194 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



restrictions which he was obHged to practise as a 
moran are now no longer observed, and he may 
drink, smoke, and take snuff as much as he likes. 
He usually takes full advantage of this and indulges 
in all three pretty freely. He also dearly loves a 
gossip, and talks by the hour with his friends over 
past prowess and exploits in the days of their 




"carry all . . . WH. 

THE DONKEYS." 



warriorhood. He does not do any work, although 
he sometimes goes out with the cattle and helps the 
boys to tend them. 

The real work of the manyatta falls on the old 
women, who do all the fetching and carrying and 
cleaning up. It is their duty when seeking fresh 
pastures to carry all the household goods which 



XV 



THE MASAI 



195 



cannot be heaped on to the donkeys, build the new 
huts, and make the homa, or fence round them. 
They also guard the manyatta at night time and are 




" HER DISTORTED AND SCARRED HEAD," 

responsible for the safety of the cattle, so woe 
betide them if any wild animal breaks in and steals 
a cow, sheep, or goat. It sometimes happens that 
one of these women falls a victim to a beast of 



196 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



prey. I have myself met an old lady who in the 
days of her youth had a most terrible experience 
with a lion. The brute knocked her down, seized 
her by the head, and was dragging her off to devour 
her, when her screams attracted some warriors who 
ran and beat off the Hon and rescued her. How 
she ever survived the terrible mauling she got is a 
mystery, as even now, in her old age, her distorted 
and scarred head (as shown in the photograph) gives 
a fairly good idea of what she must have endured. 

The young wives do not do any hard work, 
but as soon as they begin to get old, they become 
drudges and their place is taken by younger women. 
Strange to say they do not resent this and seem quite 
cheerful and contented with their lot. 

It is a Masai Elder's great ambition to have great 
herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats, and 
also as many children as possible, especially sons. 
Girls are rather at a discount, but still they have a 
certain value in his eyes, as at the time of their mar- 
riage they bring in at least two or three cows ! 

The Masai does not seem to have any definite 
reHgion, although he has a vague kind of behef 
in an all-powerful being called Ngai, to whom he 
prays when he wants any special favour. Anything 
that strikes him as particularly wonderful is also 
called Ngai — such as Hghtning, thunder, a railway 
engine, etc. 



XV 



THE MASAI 



197 



On asking Abbudi one day about his ideas as to 
a future state, he told me that he hoped he would 
sit in a manyaUa, with plenty of meat to eat and 
milk to drink, ^ have many wives to attend to his 
wants, and children to look after his phantom flocks 
and herds! 



CHAPTER XVI 



ACROSS COUNTRY TO THE GUASO NYIRO 

At the Junction I had a serious talk with B., 
and Strongly advised him, as he was not in very 
good health, to return to ci\ilization. Mrs. B., 
too, was anxious about him and thought it would 
be wiser to go back, but he insisted that he felt 
much better, and would soon be quite fit again. 
He was most eager to come on, as so far he had 
had rather a poor time, and wished very much to 
get some more shooting and see something of 
the new country before turning back to Nairobi. 
I, of course, could only advise in any case, so I 
somewhat reluctantly consented to his accompany- 
ing me further on my journey. 

The Guaso Nyiro flows to the north at the 
Junction, and continues in this direction for about 
thirty miles, when it takes a sharp bend and bears 
round in a great sweep towards the south-east, 
finally striking off to the east, in which direction it 

198 



CHAP. XVI ACROSS TO THE GUASO NYIRO 199 



continues until it loses itself in the great Lorian 
Swamp, about 200 miles away. It is a rather 
curious fact that two other East African rivers, the 
Athi and the Tana, a little further to the south, 
pursue a somewhat similar course. 

Instead of following the river along its tortuous 
windings, I now determined to cut across country 
to the eastward of the Junction until we should 
strike it again as it was flowing towards the south- 
east. I calculated that the distance would not be 
more than fifty miles, and I depended on the 
Samburu guide to lead me to a couple of water- 
holes which he said he knew of on the way. 

The first of these was at a place called Turah, 
in the Samburu country, some sixteen miles from 
the Junction. Our guide accordingly led us prac- 
tically due east for the first march, across the beauti- 
ful plain of Eljogi, and over undulating hills and 
lovely grass valleys. It was a magnificent piece of 
country, and abounded in game of all sorts — rhino, 
giraffe, oryx. Grant's gazelle, Thomson's gazelle, 
ostriches dotted here and there, and troops of zebra 
everywhere. 

Before setting out I had exchanged horses with 
B., lending him Aladdin, who was much easier to 
ride than his own pony, which was an ugly, stub- 
born brute, so exactly Hke a mule in manner and 
appearance that he was always called ''The Mule." 




200 



CHAP. XVI ACROSS TO THE GUASO NYIRO 201 



We had not gone very far before I saw, under a 
tree a little way to our right, an old rhino with her 
calf. We thought it would be interesting to study 
them at close quarters, so leaving the safari to 
pursue its way quietly across the plain, Mrs. B. and 
I rode off to view the mother and her baby. The 
old rhino was furious at our intrusion, and when we 
got to within about 100 yards of her, charged 
viciously out at us as hard as she was able to come, 
putting us to instant flight. Seeing that she could 
not overtake us, she gave up the chase and returned 
to her shelter under a tree. A few minutes after- 
wards, while I was galloping back to rejoin the 
safari, ''The Mule" crossed his legs, turned a 
complete somersault, and rolled right over me. The 
safari, in whose sight we had been all the time, 
instantly set up a shout, thinking that I was either 
killed or badly hurt, but luckily I was none the 
worse for the fall. 

It was a thousand pities that B. could not shoot 
in this ideal place, especially as he had come so far 
to do so, but his foot had again become very 
painful, and he soon had to dismount and be carried 
in a hammock for the rest of the way. 

While we were crossing this interesting stretch 
of country I saw a rhino with the longest horns 
that it had yet been my good fortune to come 
across. I was very anxious that Mrs. B. should get 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



him, so, as the place where the brute lay was rather 
close to our line of march, I halted the safari and 
had B.'s hammock put into a safe place beside a big 
tree before we set off to stalk him. 

The rhino was resting under the shade of a 
euphorbia, and we had to make a half -circle round 
him so that we might have him to windward of us 
and thus be able to get up to close quarters without 
being discovered. There was a convenient clump 
of bush, at a distance of about forty yards from the 
drowsy brute which I hoped we should be able to 
reach without gi^ing him the alarm. We got safely 
to this bit of covert, but found that the ground rose 
between us and the rhino, so that we could only see 
the long ridge of his back above the crest. We 
accordingly stalked on a little higher up the slope, 
just beyond the bushes, and then to our astonish- 
ment saw not one rhino but a family party of three ! 
By some means, too, they had all got disturbed, and 
our friend with the long horns, whom we had hoped 
to find sleepily kilHng time, was all on the alert, head 
and tail fully cocked, ready either to charge an enemy 
or flee down into the valley towards the river. 

I signed to ^Irs. B. to fire, and she knelt down, 
took a steady aim, and plumped a bullet straight into 
him, for I plainly heard the smack of the lead as it 
struck his tough hide. He immediately whirled 
round and disappeared down the slope on the far 



ACROSS TO THE GUASO NYIRO 203 



side, taking, as we believed, the other two with him. 
We quickly followed, but, on reaching the top of 
the rise, suddenly found ourselves face to face with 
the female and her calf, both regarding us very 
resentfully. I at once told Mrs. B. to He down and 
keep perfectly still, and as the mother rhino was 
about to charge I had to put a bullet into her to 
warn her off. Upon this she turned and trotted off 
with her youngster, apparently none the worse for 
the lead. 

In the meantime the old male with the fine horns 
could be seen gradually descending, at a steady 
trot, the long slope which led to the bushes by the 
river, where he hoped to find safety. We longed to 
follow him and bag the magnificent trophy which 
his head would have made, but felt obliged to 
return to the safari, as we did not wish to leave B. 
alone for any length of time. 

Later on in the day Mrs. B. made up for her ill 
luck with the rhino by bowHng over a very fine 
oryx on the run, at a distance of 150 yards. On 
seeing this the whole safari shouted out in great 
glee that the Bihi (Lady) was a wonderful shot and 
that the Bwanas (Masters) could not have done so 
well. It was indeed a splendid shot, and the porters 
were naturally delighted with the kill, as it gave them 
fresh meat for their evening meal. 

When we reached Turah the water which we had 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



brought with us from the Guaso Nyiro was pretty 
well exhausted and the men all rushed to the tiny 
waterhole to get a drink. As the spring was a very 
slow one it took a long time for all to get satisfied. 
I noticed that when Abbudi got hold of the 
pannikin he was not content with the water alone, 




" B(_>WLKD 0\ ER A \-I;RY FIXE ORYX. '' 

but mixed a handful of mud from the bottom of the 
spring with it, and swallowed the mixture with great 
relish. When I asked why he drank such a horrible 
concoction, he told me that it was to prepare his 
inside for the trials of the journey, and that it was 
absolutely necessary to do this when coming into a 



ACROSS TO THE GUASO NYIRO 



new country and drinking its water for the first 
time. I quite expected to have him on the sick 
list next day, but to my surprise he was none the 
worse for his muddy dose, nor was he ever ill 
throughout the journey. 

We wTre quickly surrounded by the Samburu, 
headed by their chief Lesegetetee, who lived in 
a manyatta close by. They wxre all very much 
astonished to see white people and especially a 
white lady, and a tremendous amount of chattering 
and speculation went on amongst them about us. 
The reason of our coming was discussed and our 
personal appearance criticised pretty freely. Mrs. B. 
w^as soon the centre of attraction and great was the 
admiration which they expressed for her hair, which 
w^as very long, and which she w^ore in a single plait 
down her back. The warriors love to wear their 
hair in this fashion, but of course they never get it 
to grow to anything like the length of Mrs. B.'s. 
One of the elders ran aside to bring up an old pal, 
and then pointing to the hair exclaimed, ''Sedai, 
sedai?" (''Isn't it beautiful, beautiful?"). 

They were all very kindly disposed and hospitable, 
and brought us fresh milk to drink. This would 
have been a great treat, only unfortunately their 
milk vessels, which are gourds, are cleaned by being 
held over the smoke of a greenwood or cow-dung 
fire, and in consequence of this the odour of the 



2o6 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



vessel taints the milk through and through. The 
flavour is most unpleasant to a European, but the 
native loves it and would think nothing of milk 
v^ithout it. It is an acquired taste and one which 
grows even on white people, for some old stagers in 
the country, who live in the wilds, say that the milk 
is improved by this smoky flavour. 

We had great difficulty in persuading these 
people at Turah to milk the cows direct into our 
own vessels, as they are very superstitious and 
feared that it might bring some evil on their cattle. 
However, a judicious present of some cloth and wire, 
together with Abbudi's persuasive tongue, after 
a time overcame all difiiculties and we succeeded in 
getting the pure milk without the unpleasant smoky 
taste. We always tried the same means afterwards 
when we met any of the Samburu or Rendile, and 
were usually successful in overcoming their scruples. 

Our camp at Turah was beautifully cool, as it 
stood at a height of 5,400 feet above sea level. In 
the evening, as I was sitting in my camp chair 
admiring the beautiful view, I was stealthily ap- 
proached by a well-made but extremely dark- 
skinned youth. I did not altogether like the look 
of his face, which had a rather treacherous and 
cunning expression. On being asked what he 
wanted he explained in a very low voice, but in 
good Swahili, that he was most anxious to come 



ACROSS TO THE GUASO NYIRO 



with me on my long journey, as he was familiar 
with the country to Marsabit and Rudolf, and 
friendly with all the chiefs of these parts, who knew 
him well. I then asked him how it was that he 
could speak Swahili so fluently, and he replied that 
he had been boy to the Bwana Neumann. ^'Oh!" 
I said ''then you are Karogi." ^'Ndio, Bwana" 
("Yes, Master"), he answered, with an oily smile. 

Now when I was at Rumuruti I had been 
specially asked by the District Commissioner there 
to bring this same Karogi back with me if by any 
chance I came across him in my travels, as he was 
wanted for some misdeed or other which he had 
been up to. I thought therefore that it might be 
as well to take the rogue with me, for Neumann 
had been a great wanderer in these parts, and 
Karogi would undoubtedly know the country and 
people well, and might therefore be very useful to 
me. By keeping a close eye on him I hoped to 
be able to steer him clear of mischief. I rather 
fancy, however, that on several occasions he eluded 
my vigilance. 

While we were at this camp at Turah the painful 
abscess from which B. was suffering broke at last, 
which afforded him very great relief. 

I was now anxious to continue my journey to the 
east, but my guides told me I could not do so, and 
must turn northwards, as there was no water to the 



2o8 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



east, and the distance to the Guaso Nyiro was too 
great to be covered in one march. As the country 
was entirely unknown to me, I did not feel justi- 
fied in striking out a path for myself with only a 
limited supply of water in leaky tins, so I felt bound 
to follow the advice of the guides, which is not 
always disinterested. Accordingly, northward we 
started, more or less following the bend of the 
Turah river until it joined the Rumathe a couple 
of miles further on, and then continuing our journey 
along the latter. The path was exceedingly pre- 
cipitous and bad, for we were shut in on both sides 
by high rocky mountains, and the beds of both 
rivers, and the sides of their banks, were composed 
of great masses of gneissic rock. ]\Iy aneroid in- 
formed me that in a march of about four miles we 
made a descent of almost i,ooo feet. In some places 
there was a perpendicular drop of from fifty to sixty 
feet in the river-bed, and the waterfalls must be 
magnificent when the river is in flood. The highest 
we saw was in the bed of the Rumathe, and as it 
possessed no native name, I called it after Mrs. B., 
as she was undoubtedly the first European lady who 
had ever been in these parts. 

On this march I happened to be follomng the 
safari, instead of leading it as usual, and was sur- 
prised to find, strewn all along the path traversed 



ACROSS TO THE GUASO NYIRO 209 



by the porters, more than a precious load of beans 
which they were carrying as posho for the men. 
This stream of food continued until I reached camp, 
and when I found out who the culprit was he calmly 
told me he hadn't noticed it. As it was a very serious 
matter to allow our food to be wasted in this careless 
fashion in the wilderness, I had the rascal severely 
punished and put on half-rations for a week. This 
effectually stopped any further leakage of suppHes 
throughout the journey. At our camp by the 
Rumathe we found a very fine spring of good 
water, which is permanent and capable of sup- 
plying any number of men and beasts through- 
out the year. I panned some sand from the 
bed of the Rumathe, and from several other river- 
beds, for gold, but unfortunately never got so much 
as a "colour." 

From this place we continued our journey, 
through bush and across many ravines, until we 
struck the Guaso N yiro again. On the way we 
saw plenty of Grant's gazelle, Thomson's gazelle, 
oryx, impala, and waterbuck, also a rhino and a 
leopard. 

This march was a very trying one, as there was 

neither water nor shade to be had on the way, 

and the heat was very great. All, therefore, were 

delighted v/hen at last the river was reached, and 
p 



210 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap, xvi 

the exhausted men and animals rushed down eagerly 
to drink their fill. One of the donkeys, more 
venturesome than the rest, went in too far and 
thereby came to an untimely end, for as he was greed- 
ily drinking, a great crocodile suddenly rose to the 
surface, seized him and dragged him under — and that 
was the last we saw of him. 



CHAPTER XVII 



ALONG THE GUASO XYIRO 

Our camp at the Guaso Xyiro was pitched under 
some magnificent trees close to the river at a place 
named Elongatta Embolyoi, where there is a ford 
leading to a place called Save in the Reserve. 
I now discovered that the reason the guides were 
so anxious to lead us in this direction was because 
their own manyatta was here, and they naturally 
wanted to visit it and bring me to their chief 
Leleleit, who had indeed given them emphatic 
orders to do so before sending them to Rumuruti. 
The fact that a white man visited his village would, 
he imagined, give him an extra amount of prestige 
among the other chiefs of his tribe. 

Leleleit himself, wrapped in a neatly fringed but 
grimy piece of amerikani, soon called on me and 
brought with him a present of some milk and a 
sheep, for which I duly paid him by a suitable 
present in return. He was accompanied by his 

211 



212 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

old blind wife, and asked me in simple faith, as if 
it were a small matter that I could easily put right, 
to be so good as to restore her sight, and also 
to cure his little son, who was covered with bad 
ulcers. 

I told him that I feared it was impossible for me 
to cure his wife, as her blindness was the work of 
Ngai (God) and it would be useless for me to attempt 
to undo it. I comforted him, however, by telling him 
that I would cure his little son by giving him some 
dawa (medicine) for daily application. 

I decided to remain at this place for another day, 
as I was anxious to explore the hilly country, to the 
west of our camp, through which the Guaso Nyiro 
flows after taking the sharp bend to the eastward. I 
also wished to obtain some idea of the game that was 
to be found in this direction. 

We accordingly set out westward in the early 
dawn along the southern bank of the Guaso Nyiro. 
I was anxious to cover as much ground in the cool 
of the morning as was possible, and made my way 
towards a high peak named Nandaydo, from which 
I hoped to obtain a good view of the surround- 
ing country, and, perhaps, be able to see as far as the 
eastern bend of the river. 

The sun had not been up for more than an hour 
when Abbudi came to tell us that he had spotted 
a fine waterbuck, so Mrs. B. set off to stalk it, and. 



XVII ALONG THE GUASO NYIRO 213 

taking advantage of some very favourable ground 
succeeded in getting to close range, and adding 
this much-prized trophy to her bag. 

We made rather slow progress, as the country 




"adding this much-prized trophy to her bag." 



was covered in all directions with thick thorn trees 
and scrub, through which we had to force our way 
as best we could. There was, of course, no path 
along which we could travel, save now and again 



214 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

when we were lucky enough to strike an animal 
track going in our direction. 

I was all the time somewhat anxious on Mrs. B.'s 
account, lest a rhino should suddenly dive out of the 




•• B<.»vVLLL' «'\ LR HLR yiR<I l.Mi'ALA." 



bush and charge us, as was the case when ^Irs. S. 
had such a very narrow escape on Christmas Day. 
I therefore sent Abbudi with a couple of Samburu 
spearmen to scout on ahead, while the gun-bearers 



XVII ALONG THE GUASO NYIRO 215 

were kept close at hand with the spare rifles in case 
of need; but, much to my relief, we were not troubled 
with rhino on this occasion. It was a rather weari- 
some march, the monotony of which was broken by 
the occasional glimpse of an animal as it dashed 
from our view into the thick bush. Once, as we 




"breakfast under a shady tree." 



approached a little open glade in silence, we spied 
through the branches the form of a reddish-coloured 
animal grazing in the midst of it, quite unconscious 
of our approach. I signalled to the party to halt, 
and we remained motionless while Mrs. B. stalked 
and bowled over her first impala. 

As we had started with the dawn and had nothing 



2i6 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



to eat except a biscuit and a cup of coffee before 
leaving camp, we decided to halt and have breakfast 
under a shady tree, as the sun's rays by this time 
were very fierce. We had brought out a kettle and 
teapot and everything we should require for break- 
fast and lunch in the wilds, and it was not long 




KAROi.I. 

"karogi and another samburu." 



before Abbudi had a fire lit, and the kettle, filled with 
water from the Guaso Nyiro, boiling cheerily over 
the embers. 

Meanwhile Karogi and another Samburu had cut 
up the impala and made a Samburu oven, and now 
commenced to roast a few dainty bits to add to our 



ALONG THE GUASO NYIRO 217 



feast. The Samburu method of cooking meat is as 
follows. First with the aid of a long knife a trench 
is dug in the ground about nine inches deep and 
fifteen inches wide, with outlets for a draught; this 
trench is then filled with sticks and branches, etc., 
which are set fire to and allowed to blaze away 
until nothing remains but glowing embers, which 
almost fill up the trench; sticks of hard w^ood are 
placed across the top, and on this the meat is 
grilled. I can answer for it that the resulting 
flavour is most excellent ; at all events we found 
impala, roasted in Samburu fashion,- exceedingly 
good. Practically every bit of the animal was eaten 
by ourselves and followers, Abbudi pronouncing it 
almost as good as a sheep, which is high praise 
coming from a ^lasai. ]\Ieat grilled directly after 
it is killed is fairly tender, but the same meat 
cooked an hour or two afterwards is often very 
tough. 

After breakfast we started off again, hoping for 
lions or other big game, but we saw nothing except 
two female gerenuk, which we did not of course 
attempt to molest in any way. I noticed the fresh 
spoor of a herd of buffalo, which had apparently a 
short time previously crossed over the river into the 
Reserve. 

We finally reached Mount Nandaydo, but I was 
much disappointed with the view obtained from the 



CHAP. XVII ALONG THE GUASO NYIRO 219 

summit. Away to the west nothing was to be seen 
except barren mountains and hills, stretching in a 
broken hne to the great mountain of Laigrisia, 
which stands on the north side of the river. We 
could follow^ the course of the Guaso Nyiro for 
some distance, winding its tortuous way with 
difhculty through this rugged and inhospitable 
region. The Reserve to the north of the river 
presented a bleak and uninviting appearance, and it 
struck me that the beasts in it were in a natural 
sanctuary which would not be readily invaded by 
civilized man. After taking notes of everything of 
importance within sight, we made our way down 
from the mountain and returned to camp by a 
different route. On the way we met a rhino rather 
unexpectedly, but luckily he took to his heels, and 
we reached our tents at Elongatta without any 
further adventure. We were all glad to retire early, 
so as to have a good rest to prepare us for the 
journey which we proposed to commence along the 
Guaso Nyiro on the following morning. 

My plan now was to push on along the river, 
which for many miles forms the southern boundary 
of the Reserve, until I should reach somewhere 
about the 38th degree of east longitude. Then 
I intended to turn northward towards Marsabit, 
which is a mountainous district lying on the 38th 
meridian, and explore the country as far as that 



220 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



place, and beyond if necessary, to see if a range of 
mountains or other physical feature existed which 
would form a good and suitable natural eastern 
boundary to the Reserve. If circumstances per- 
mitted I then intended to mark out a northern 
boundary as far as Lake Rudolf, returning through 
the heart of the Reserve; but, as we shall see later, 
it was impossible to carry out this part of my pro- 
gramme. 

I had given instructions that the camp was to 
be roused early. Accordingly, at sunrise, everything 
being ready, we said good-bye to Leleleit and 
set off along the right bank of the Guaso Nyiro. 
It would have been more agreeable to have marched 
all the time along the banks of the river, under 
the shade of the fine trees that in places grow along 
the water's edge, but it was not always possible to 
do this on account of the dense undergrowth and 
great masses of rock which here and there barred 
the way. 

The country to the right and left of our route 
was more or less broken and intersected with dry 
ravines, while there was thick bush, mainly of wait- 
a-bit thorns, everywhere. The heat was intense, 
and there was no shelter of any kind save what was 
scantily afforded by a few stunted acacias or weird- 
looking euphorbias. 

Away to our left front could be seen a peculiar 



XVII ALONG THE GUASO NYIRO 



221 



cone-shaped hill with what appeared to be a square 
block of stone exactly capping the apex. This hill 
is called by the natives Embuguli, which means 




"under the shade of the fixe trees." 



"vessel," as it is somewhat the shape of the Samburu 
gourd in which they carry water or milk. 

Our first camp was at a place called Kurseine, 
where the river narrows into a thread of water, 



222 IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



rushing through a deep cleft in a rocky ridge 
which crosses it almost at right angles. It is a 
hot, inhospitable and uninviting spot, but the few 
Samburu whom we met there with their flocks of 
sheep and goats seemed to thrive in this arid 
waste. 

During our daily marches along the river we saw 
a great variety of game, especially impala, oryx, and 
the beautiful Grevy zebra. Gerenuk also began to 
be less rare, and we often caught glimpses of them 
as they scampered oflf through the bush. Water- 
buck too were particularly numerous, but I never 
saw a good head on the Guaso Xyiro, and the 
horns seem to run considerably smaller than those 
of their kinsmen on the Athi or Tana rivers. One 
day as I marched along with the safari I was 
astonished to see one of these antelopes standing in 
a shallow part of the river quite close to the passing 
line of porters, taking absolutely no notice of the 
men. One or two of the pagazis, more keen-sighted 
than the rest, shouted out ''He's blind, he's blind," 
and, dropping their loads, rushed into the river and 
soon had their knives into the poor beast's throat. 
I think this waterbuck must have been deaf as 
well as blind, as he paid no attention to the 
noise and shouting, and was very easily despatched. 
It is a most unusual thing to find a feeble beast both 
blind and deaf living to a good old age in the wilds, 



XVII ALONG THE GUASO NYIRO 



where there are so many beasts of prey seeking what 
they may devour. 

I was glad to find that B. seemed somewhat 
better, and was able to do a little shooting and 
secure specimens of gerenuk, waterbuck, and im- 
pala. Mrs. B. was as successful as usual, and 
among other trophies secured a good oryx after 
a long and trying stalk. 

As we were marching quietly along soon after leav- 
ing Kurseine, my Samburu guide, Papai, suddenly 
showed signs of great excitement, and drew our 
attention to a tiny bird, fluttering and twittering 
in front of us in a very curious fashion. On ask- 
ing him through Abbudi what its antics meant, he 
replied, "He is telling us where to get honey." I 
was naturally very much interested, and when Papai 
asked me if I would halt the safari for a little while 
so that he might go and rob the nest, I willingly 
consented and myself accompanied the old Samburu, 
who now relinquished to the tiny bird his role of 
guide. The little thing, which was barely the size 
of a wren, twittered and chirruped and fluttered 
along from one bush to another, looking round 
pertly all the time to see if we were following. In 
this way it led us on for about a quarter of a mile, 
until at last it came to a dead stop, and took up its 
position on a tree, where it remained motionless. 

Papai then told us that we were now close to the 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



honey, and must be on the look-out for the bees 
coming and going. In a few seconds we discovered 
them entering a tiny hole in a tree, not a dozen 




"we very SOON' HAD AX OPEXIXG MADE." 



yards from where our cunning little guide had 
stopped. 

We very soon had an opening made sufficiently 
large for Papai to thrust his hand into the hollow, 
and in this way he removed several honey-combs 
full of the most delicious golden honey that it has 



XVII ALONG THE GUASO NYIRO 



ever been my good fortune to taste. He took not 
the slightest notice of the bees, though they flew all 
round him and some of them stung him. We were 
much pleased with our ^poil, and left a fair share of 
it behind as a reward for the trusty little guide who 
had led us along so skilfully. 

Although we passed numerous ravines daily in 
our march, yet these were always dry, so it was 
quite a surprise when at last we came to a stream 
called Ngare Oendare, flowing from the direction of 
!Mount Kenya, and filled from bank to bank with 
good, clear, cold running water. 

Soon after passing this stream, as we neared our 
camping ground at a place called Killethamia, I 
happened to notice that Mrs. B. looked pale and ill 
and rode along quite Hstlessly. In a little time she 
complained of a violent headache, and I feared 
that she had got a touch of sun, especially as she 
had been walking along in the fierce heat holding 
an umbrella over B., who was not well on this 
march. As soon as we reached camp I had the tent 
pitched hastily in the shade, and prescribed com- 
plete rest. Within an hour fever set in, and I 
knew from the feel of her wrist that it was pretty 
high, but I was not prepared for the shock I re- 
ceived when, on taking her temperature, I found 
it was over 104°. I immediately resorted to my 
usual plan for reducing temperature, which is to 

Q 



226 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



give copious draughts of very hot tea on the top 
of phenacetin, and cover the patient up in a pile 
of blankets. Mrs. B. naturally objected very much 
to this drastic proceeding, but on being told that 
it was the only way she would get fit, quickly re- 
signed herself to the discomfort. In less than an 
hour she was bathed in perspiration, and the tempe- 
rature went down to ioi°. For the next three days 
her temperature kept rising and falling, and in the end 
she was so weak that she could hardly move. 

Of course it was a very anxious time for me, as 
B. was also far from well, and I had the whole 
strain of the double illness on my shoulders, far 
away in the nyika and cut off from all possibility of 
medical aid. I little realized at the time I was 
doctoring Mrs. B. that before so very long our roles 
would be reversed, as it was my misfortune to be 
struck down by a severe illness, which would 
probably have made an end of me but for her 
skilful nursing. 

It was a reHef to find that my patient made a 
very rapid recovery. On the fourth day the fever 
abated, and ]\Irs. B. was well enough to be carried 
in a hammock, so we left Killethamia and made a 
short march along the river. 

I noticed some of the genuine tsetse-fly, with 
their peculiar crossed wings, in this neighbourhood, 
and feared for our horses, as a single bite from one 



XVII ALONG THE GUASO NYIRO 227 

of these pests would in a short time prove fatal. I 
therefore ordered two men to watch each horse and 
flick off any flies that attempted to settle on them. 
It was probably owing to these precautions that the 
horses escaped, but as none of the other animals 
died, it is possible that the tsetse-fly of these parts 
may not be infected. 



I 



CHAPTER XVIII 



AN ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE 

Whenever the men of the safari had a chance 
they spent their time fishing in the Guaso Nyiro, 
and many of them were very successful. One man 
who was known by the name of Nyumbu (mule) 
was most expert with the rod, and daily brought us 
a huge fish for our table. Although rather soft and 
full of bones, it made a very acceptable addition to 
our usual diet. 

At our next camping-place our fisherman had 
a very narrow escape indeed, and as all the 
circumstances connected with it were most extra- 
ordinary and dramatic, I must relate the entire 
adventure. 

On this particular morning I happened to be 
riding ahead of the safari on the look-out for a 
suitable camping-place, when I suddenly came upon 
an impala, and, knowing that we were in want of 
some camp meat, I made a hasty shot at him as 

228 



CHAP. XVIII ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE 229 



he fled away through the scrub. ^ly bullet struck 
him and knocked him head over heels, but before 
I could reach him he picked himself up and 




"nyumbu was most expert with the rod." 



made for the river. I fired again but missed, and 
then ran to the river bank, fully expecting to 
see him making his way across, but there was 
no trace of him to be discovered an}^vhere. I 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



was very much astonished at this, as I could not 
understand how a beast wounded so badly could 
get away so quickly; but after searching in every 
direction I gave him up and turned my attention 
to the selection of our camping ground, which 
I chose close by, under the shade of some large 
trees. 

As soon as the tents were pitched Xyumbu went 
down to the river to fish as usual, and was just about 
to step off the bank on to what he took to be a log, 
when the apparent log gave a slight movement and 
he saw that it was the back of a crocodile ! The 
man was luckily able to draw back, and rushed up 
the slope, calHng out, "Bwaua, mamba! mamba!'^ 
(^'Master, a crocodile! a crocodile!") We all 
happened to be close at hand, so I seized my rifle 
and ran down to the river, and seeing the hideous 
creature's back close under the bank quickly put a 
bullet into it. Instantly there was a terrific heaving 
and writhing in the water, which the reptile 
lashed about in all directions, though he seemed 
unable to get away. Seeing this Abbudi ran down 
to the water's edge, stepped on to a bough which 
projected out over the river and thrust his spear 
with all his might deep into the creature's back. 
The moment the crocodile felt the steel he twisted 
himself round on his tail with indescribable speed 
and viciousness, snapped at the spear, whipped it 



XVIII ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE 



clean out of Abbudi's hand, as well as out of his own 
back, and flung it yards away to the bottom of 
the river ! 

I never in all my life saw such an astonished 
and crestfallen expression as appeared on Abbudi's 
face, and indeed it was no wonder, for the rapidity 
with which the brute had turned on him was 
incredible. His position was now highly dangerous, 
but before the crocodile could whip round again to 
make a second grab, I put another couple of 
bullets into his spine, thus rendering him quite 
helpless. 

In the midst of all this excitement, and while 
the crocodile was lashing about and snapping his 
vice-Hke jaws, Mrs. B., forgetting that she was 
still an invalid, jumped on to the branch beside 
Abbudi to get a better view of what was going 
on. This was a most unwise proceeding, but fortu- 
nately the reptile was too badly hit to be able to do 
any damage. 

As soon as he was quite dead we had a rope 
fastened round him, and with the aid of a dozen 
willing hands hauled him up out of the river. The 
most extraordinary part of the whole occurrence then 
happened, for when we opened him up, we found 
inside him the half of a freshly-eaten impala ! 
There was no doubt that it was the one which I had 
shot and which had disappeared so mysteriously 



232 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

after making its way to the river bank. It was 
no wonder that I could not find him, as he must 
even then have been in the maw of the crocodile, 
which of course had caught him and dragged him 
under as soon as he attempted to struggle across the 
stream. 




"bent almost to a right angle by the crocodile." 



After considerable trouble Abbudi recovered his 
spear from the river bed, but found that the soft 
blade had been bent almost to a right angle by the 
crocodile when he grabbed it out of his hand, as is 
clearly shown in the photograph. 

The natives, with their usual happy knack for 
names, called this place Kampi ya Mamha'' 



XVIII ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE 



(Crocodile Camp), and always referred to it thus 
afterwards. 

We were visited at this spot by some of the 
natives of the Meru country carrying foodstuffs for 
barter among the Samburu people. They sell 
beans, tobacco, and a kind of flour, in return for the 




" AN IXGEXIOUS DE\ ICE MADE BY SOME WANDOROBO." 



skins of bullocks, sheep, and more especially goats, 
which no doubt eventually find their way into the 
hands of an Arab or Swahili trader of the coast, 
and thence to the markets of Europe. We did 
not do any trade with them, however, as they 
wanted too much in exchange for their goods ^ 



IN THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 



and I did not wish to spoil the market for others 
who might follow. 

Close to Crocodile Camp we came upon an 
ingenious device made by some Wandorobo for 




"giving Hl.MbELF RuOM TU STAXD UPRIGHT IXSIDE." 



the purpose of l}ing in wait for and attacking 
game in safety. A large tree grew by the side of 
a well-worn animal track, a few yards away from 
a waterhole which was apparently much used by 



xviii ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE 



the game. The top of this tree had probably 
been broken off in a storm, leaving about ten feet 
of the bole intact. The Andorobo set to work 
on this with his Httle axe of primitive shape and 
make, hewed out a narrow doorway, and then 
hollowed out the rotten stem, thus giving himself 
room to stand upright inside and freely use his 
spear on a passing animal. The back part of 
the tree was cut away to within some four feet 
of the ground, leaving a fiat platform by means 
of which the hunter could if necessary retreat from 
his position inside the hollow. The opening thus 
made also allowed his spear full play when poised 
horizontally for a thrust. If the wind was in the 
wrong direction the Andorobo remained concealed 
on the other side of the path until the beast had 
gone down the steep gully to drink, and then 
stepped cautiously forward to thrust his spear 
deep into a vital part. If it were a dangerous 
animal he merely skipped into his shelter, and if 
attacked there he scrambled on to the ledge at 
the back, where he would be safe from anything 
except an elephant or beast of prey; but the 
Wandorobo only hunt for meat, and would not 
molest a Hon if he came to drink. Altogether it 
was a very ingenious contrivance, as will be seen from 
the photographs. 

We did not come across many natives on our 



236 IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



way along the Guaso Xyiro, as the country is 
but sparsely inhabited. One day, however, I saw 
a whole Samburu village on safari, seeking fresh 
pastures. The men strode loftily along in a lordly 
manner, carrpng their spears and shields, or bows 
and arrows as the case might be, while the poor 




' AXD THEX STEPPED CAUTIOUSLY FORWARD." 

unfortunate women were laden up with all kinds of 
household goods, including the framework of the 
huts themselves, which the overladen donkeys they 
drove could not bear the weight of. The boys and 
the old men herded the cattle and sheep. 

Game continued to be very plentiful, and my 
companions got some good shooting. Xow and 




XVIII ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE 



again I went out in the afternoon when camp had 
been pitched and everything set in order. 

I made various attempts to stalk a gerenuk, 
but failed time after time, so much so that I was 
thoroughly exasperated with my bad fortune. They 
are very shy indeed, more especially the males, and 
I found it very difficult to get one. It appears that 
the Wandorobo hunt this gazelle with great zeal, as 
they prize its tender and deHcious meat very highly. 
For this reason, probably, they were very timid and 
hard to approach. However, I was determined to 
get a specimen if possible, so spent several hot 
afternoons scrambhng among the bushes studying 
their ways. I generally found that they travelled in 
a circle when attacked. 

One day, when I was out alone, I came across a 
beauty, with what I should think were record horns, 
standing on his hind legs with his fore-feet resting 
against a tree trunk, and his long neck craned up to 
the branches, eating away contentedly at the tender 
leaves and green shoots. ''Now is my chance," I 
said to myself; so, making my gun-bearer lie down, 
and telling him on no account to move, I began a 
long stalk. Soon after I started, a dip in the ground 
took me into cover, and then I dodged from bush to 
bush, and from tree to tree, gradually getting nearer 
to the still feeding gazelle. 

No luck was in store for me, however, as I had 



238 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



devoted too much attention to the buck I was intent 
on — a very common fault of mine — and conse- 
quently I did not notice that a little way to the 
right his wife and family were gazing at me intently 
and suspiciously. When they thought I had got 
quite near enough, off they started at a gallop, 
taking my intended trophy away with them ! 

Thus in one way or another I was foiled for a 
time in my attempts to obtain a specimen of these 
quaint-looking animals, but at last luck favoured 
me. 

One morning, when we had set out soon after 
daylight, I was riding by myself a little to the right 
of the others and spied what I first of all took to be 
a Grant's gazelle, standing among the bushes. Had 
I only known what it was, I might have easily dis- 
mounted and shot him without more ado, as he 
stood motionless not more than forty yards away, 
looking in amazement at the wholly unusual sight 
of a man mounted on a horse. The moment he 
moved. I saw by his long, slender neck and peculiar 
undulating motion that he was not a Grant, but 
a gerenuk with a very fine head indeed, so I 
immediately made up my mind to use every 
endeavour to bag him. I had a couple of un- 
successful snap-shots at him as he moved through 
the bushes, Aladdin spoiling my aim by pulling 
back on the reins just as I was about to fire. The 



XVIII ADVENTURE WITH A CROCODILE 



moment the gerenuk got out of sight I mounted and 
cantered after him as fast as the thorny nature 
of the bush and undergrowth would allow. In the 
meantime he had galloped across the front of my 
companions, and Mrs. B., not knowing that I was 
in pursuit, began to stalk him also, as he had now 
got into a bit of open country where he could 
be plainly seen. As soon as she caught sight of me 
she immediately stopped her stalk, and would not 
go on, although I offered to relinquish the hunt 
in her favour. I therefore continued the chase 
alone, and finally, after about an hour's hard work, 
got a fairly favourable shot at him as he stood in 
the midst of a herd of does beside some bushes. 
Although I heard the smack of the lead as it struck 
him, yet I was not at all sure that I had hit a vital 
spot, as the whole herd appeared to gallop away. 
On running up to the place where he had stood, I 
was delighted to find that he lay stretched out dead 
with a bullet through his heart. 

The horns proved to be the longest on record of any 
gerenuk shot in the Protectorate, and I was naturally 
much pleased to be thus rewarded after so many dis- 
appointments — not because of the extra fraction which 
the horns measured, but because I had at last made a 
successful stalk and secured a good head. 



CHAPTER XIX 



THROUGH SAMBURU LAND 

Journeying quietly along in this manner we 
arrived at the homa of the late Mr. Neumann, who 
wrote such a very interesting book on elephant 
hunting in East Equatorial Africa. The natives all 
knew him as Nyama Yangu, a name they gave 
him owing to his habit of saying, whenever any- 
body pointed out an elephant or other animal, 

Nyama yangu^^^ which means ^'the beast is 
mine." 

We camped close to his somewhat dilapidated 
hut under the shade of some doum palms, which 
are plentiful here. A few of the porters employed 
themselves in gathering the hard fruit of this tree 
and beating it into a kind of flour, which they then 
made into bread. I tried a piece of the loaf so made, 
but cannot say that I relished it very much, although 
the fruit itself has a rather pleasant flavour when 
reduced to powder. 

R 241 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



At this place I was much grieved to lose my fine 
dog Lurcher. He brought on a bad attack of 
pneumonia by first getting overheated while gallop- 
ing and frisking about, and then going to lie down 
in the cold water of the river. We had become 
much attached to each other, and I was very sorry 
indeed when I saw that he was dying. I did 
everything I could for him, and wrapped him up 
w^armly in my own blankets, but his end came 
very quickly after a few hours' illness. I buried 
him under a palm tree not far from my tent, and 
missed him for many a day afterwards. 

As Kampi ya Xyama Yangu,'" as the Samburu 
call Neumann's homa, is near the 38th degree of 
East Longitude, I determined to look in this neigh- 
bourhood for a suitable starting-point for the new 
eastern boundary to the Reserve, and therefore 
without delay went out exploring in the afternoon, 
so as to gather some idea of the more prominent phys- 
ical features of the locality. 

I noticed a mountain two or three miles away on 
the north side of the Guaso Xyiro which I thought 
might answer my purpose, as it made a good and 
unmistakable landmark. The natives also informed 
me that from the top of this I would be able to see 
a line of mountains stretching away northward to 
Marsabit. 



THROUGH SAMBURU LAND 243 



Early the following morning, therefore, I engaged 
an intelligent native, who knew all the country round 
about, to come with me, and, taking every available 
man in the safari to build a stone beacon on the 
highest peak, I started off to climb this mountain, 
which is called Quaithego. It rises abruptly out 
of the plain, and is about 3,700 feet high. The 
eastern side seemed to present the easiest approach, 
but even here the ascent was a very steep and 
precipitous one, and we found it a rather difficult 
matter to climb up to the top. 

When I reached the summit of this African 
Pisgah and turned my face towards Marsabit — that 
place which I had been told was a veritable land of 
promise — the sight that met my gaze filled me with 
disappointment ; for here was no land flowing with 
milk and honey, but a barren, desolate region, 
extending as far as the eye could see, unreheved by 
a single redeeming feature. Peak beyond peak 
of rugged and spectral mountains stretched away 
to the horizon, bare of aught save a veil of heat mist 
which shimmered round them from the hot and desert 
wastes of that terrible nyika. 

It was not without anxiety, therefore, that I 
contemplated leading the safari through this in- 
hospitable tract. I scanned the country carefully 
through my glasses in order to make myself as 



244 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



familiar as possible with its principal features, and 
more especially to pick out such hills and mountains 
as I considered might be useful to me for the new 
boundary. 

While engaged on this my eye was led from one 
peak to another, until finally it rested on a towering 
mountain, some 20 miles lower down on the north 
side of the Guaso Nyiro, which my guide told me 
was named Laishamunye. 

After making a careful survey of the situation I 
came to the conclusion that this mountain would, on 
the whole, make a better base from which to start in 
quest of my boundary line, especially as I observed 
that the mountains and hills running northward 
appeared to be more in a direct line with it than 
with Quaithego. I was further confirmed in this 
view by hearing from my guide that there was a 
native track just to the east of it, which ran north- 
wards to Marsabit. He told me, too, that there 
were waterholes here and there along the route, and 
that the names of the various landmarks were well 
known to the Samburu. 

On coming to the conclusion to abandon 
Quaithego, I stopped the building of the huge 
stone beacon which I had set the pagazis to erect 
as a landmark. They were delighted to cease 
work, and with joyful shouts scrambled down the 
mountain side towards camp, as they have a very 



THROUGH SAMBURU LAND 



strong objection to doing anything outside the 
ordinary safari routine. 

I remained alone on Quaithego for some httle 
time, sketching in the Guaso Nyiro and surrounding 
features of interest, and then made my way down 
the mountain on the western side, hoping that I 
should find it not so steep; but in this I was disap- 
pointed, as the going was even worse than I had ex- 
perienced in the morning. 

As I had been told before leaving Nairobi that 
the whole country between the Guaso Nyiro and 
Marsabit was waterless, or practically so, I was rather 
apprehensive of leading the safari into this un- 
known nyika where they might perish of thirst, so 
I had many an anxious consultation with my guides 
as to the whereabouts of the waterholes. Papai 
assured me that he would be able to lead me safely 
through the wilderness, and that the only places 
where there would be any difficulty would be from 
the Guaso Nyiro to a place called Serah, and again 
later on when we should have to cross the Kaisoot 
Desert, and for both of these tracts camels would be 
required. 

I sent therefore for the local chief who lived at a 
village some three miles away from our camp at 
Nyama Yangu, so that I might ask him if he would 
supply me with camels for the journey to Serah, 
as I knew he possessed a number of these animals 



246 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



The old chief, whose name was Legurchalan, came 
down with a goodly following and we had a shaiiri 
(consultation) under the shadow of the large Union 
Jack which I carried with me. The shaiiri proved 
to be a long one, as is always the case when any- 
thing in the nature of a bargain has to be struck 




" A SHAURl UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE LARGE UXIOX JACK." 



with a native of Africa. Eventually, after drinking 
much coffee, he arranged that I should have four 
camels in return for a certain amount of cloth and 
wire, which I handed over to him in payment. 

When the shauri was over, Legurchalan came 
and sat at my tent door, and in reply to my 



XIX 



THROUGH SAMBURU LAND 



247 



questions gave me a considerable amount of useful 
information about his country and people. He was 
full of curiosity as to why I had come into the 
district, where I was going, what I intended to 
do, &c. He seemed very much impressed with the 
Union Jack, and appeared to understand in a vague 
kind of way that this flag represented considerable 
power. I found him most friendly and entertaining, 
and, on the whole, I was very favourably impressed 
with all the people I met belonging to his tribe. 

The Samburu are a nation of nomads, the more 
wealthy among them possessing herds of camels, 
which are invaluable to them in their wanderings 
through the waterless nyika. They are supposed 
to be a branch of the Masai, and speak the same 
language, though they clip their syllables - in a short 
crisp way, quite different to the drawn-out Masai 
intonation. Their peculiar habits and customs 
resemble in a large measure those of their brethren 
the Masai, although, unlike the latter, the warriors 
do not live in a separate manyatta from that of 
the Elders. They daub themselves freely with 
grease and red clay, and the men braid their hair 
into a broad flat plait which is copiously plastered 
over with a reddish oily ochre, and hangs stifliy 
dowm between their shoulders, tied up with bands 
of sinewy tree-bark. Should a warrior find his 
own locks insuflicient he does not hesitate to weave 



248 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



in some false hair so as to give his plait the requi- 
site fashionable shape. The hair worn in this 
fashion is called El Daigan, or the tail; and it is 
rather interesting to note that a range of mountains, 
running to the north-west from Kenya, is called 
El Daigan because it appears to come like a tail from 
Mount Kenya, which forms the head. 




"HE DOES NOT HESITATE TO WEAVE IX SOME 
FALSE HAIR." 



Before leaving Kampi ya Nyama Yangu I sent 
out a number of men to gather a quantity of the 
fibre plant (sanseviera), which grows abundantly in 
the neighbourhood. I was rather short of rope, of 
which a great deal is always required on safari, so 
I set the porters to work and soon added several 
hundred feet cf most excellent stuff to my stock. 



XIX THROUGH SAMBURU LAND 

The manufacture is quite simple. First of all the 
plant is cut down and brought to camp, where it is 
beaten with a club against the trunk of a tree until 
'the fibres are separated; these are then plaited into 
rope by one or two of the porters, many of whom 
are experts at this kind of work, as it is a usual task 
at the native jails. 

As soon as the camels arrived from Legurchalan, 
we struck camp and set out along the Guaso Nyiro 
towards Laishamunye. One of these cam.els belonged 
to a young warrior named Lalla Rookh, who had 
the face and figure of a beautifully-modelled bronze 
statue. Indeed, he was so remarkably handsome 
that one might easily imagine him to be a direct de- 
scendant of Moore's lovely eastern princess. 

Soon after leaving camp we came upon two 
streams. The first is called the Guaso Iseolo, and 
has its source in Mount Kenya, while the second, 
which we crossed some three miles further on, is 
called the Guaso Mara, and rises in the Jombini 
range in the Meru country, to the north-east of 
Kenya. 

After this. I could hear of no river flowing into 
the Guaso Nyiro until it reaches the Lorian Swamp, 
which is a huge expanse in which the river loses 
itself. I was told by a native, however, that the 
river does not end there, as most people have 
supposed, but in the wet season flows through 



250 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



the Lorian Swamp and eventually makes its way 
eastward until it joins the Juba River not far from 
Kismayu, which is a couple of hundred miles north 
of Mombasa. 

We camped at a place called Gerger, and after 
our mid-day meal, saw close outside the camp, 
and lumbering along in our direction, a huge 
old rhino. We were all three most interested in 
him, and set out to have a look at him more closely, 
thinking we were perfectly safe, as the wind was 
blowing from him tow^ards us. We had no in- 
tention of molesting him in any way, but hoped 
we might be so lucky as to get near enough to take 
his photograph. 

His intentions, however, were not so peaceful, for 
unfortunately when we got to within about 60 yards 
of him the wind suddenly veered round and revealed 
our presence to the great brute, instantly arousing 
his fury. Up went head and tail, and he twisted 
round with the agility of a cat to face us, at the same 
moment giving a loud snort. 

Seeing this I called out to Mrs. B., ''You had 
better fire, as he is coming for us." While he still 
swayed from side to side, her shot rang out and the 
bullet from her .450 struck him in the shoulder 
and brought him to his knees, with his nose on 
the ground, his hind quarters still remaining up- 
right. Another bullet from the second barrel again 



XIX THROUGH SAMBURU LAND 251 

plumped into his shoulder within a couple of inches 
of the first, and over he rolled stone dead. 

What might have been a very unpleasant 
experience was thus happily averted, and :Mrs. B. 
was highly delighted with her success in bringing 
down the great beast and having a much prized 




"delighted with her success IX BRIXGIXG DOWX IHE GREAT BEAST." 



rhino amongst her trophies — the only one she 
secured throughout the expedition. The men cut 
up and carried off the meat to camp, and we made 
soup of his tail, which, after three days' stewing, 
proved excellent. 

The next morning, as we continued on our 
journey, we saw great herds of oryx and Grevy 



252 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

zebra. They were so little alarmed at our approach 
that we rode to within some fifty yards of them and 
took several snap-shots. Their confidence in us 
was justified, as we did not molest them in any way. 
During the latter part of the march and while 
we were making our way over some very rough 
and scrub-covered country, great amusement was 
created in the safari by a member of it running 
behind Mrs. B. to take refuge from a rhino which 
suddenly appeared out of the bush. Fortunately 
no damage was done, and the beast bolted away 
again from the shouting porters and disappeared 
into the scrub with great activity. 

Eventually we reached Laishamunye, which proved 
to be an intensely hot and most dreary and inhospi- 
table place, with great sun-blistered boulders flung 
about everywhere. Even the river itself is gripped 
and throttled by vast masses of volcanic rock until it 
is merely a ribbon of water running through a 
melancholy gorge, shrouded by a few desolate and 
depressing doum palms which droop listlessly as if 
mourning that they were chained for life to this 
dismal spot. 

The mountain of Laishamunye, which silently 
overshadows all, is a barren upheaval of rock, some 
two thousand feet from base to summit, and roughly 
12 square miles in area. It is tipped on its southern 
crest with pinnacles, on the summit of which most 



THROUGH SAMBURU LAND 253 



melancholy-looking vultures look down on the life- 
less scene. 

Unfortunately during our journey along the Guaso 
Nyiro B.'s health had not improved, and I now found 
myself placed in a very awkward and unpleasant 
predicament. I did not wish my companions to 
come any further with me on my journey; yet on 
account of B.'s state of health I could not possibly 
leave him behind in a strange country, without a 
doctor and with no knowledge of the natives or of 
the language. We were now absolutely in the grip 
of the nyika, so, all things considered, I decided that 
it was best that we should travel on together as far 
as Marsabit, where I hoped he would quickly recover 
in the cool highlands. 

After dusk I was sitting in my camp chair 
thinking over all these things. The rising moon 
shed a faint light and made our tent and camp 
look very weird amidst its desolate surroundings, 
when suddenly I was startled by the ping of a bullet 
as it sped past my ear, and the report of a rifle which 
instantly followed. Shouting out ''Who fired?" I 
sprang to my feet and, rushing in the direction of 
the sound, discovered my rascally gun-bearer with 
a rifle in his hand. I instantly seized and dis- 
armed him, and demanded an explanation as to why 
he wanted to shoot me. He trembled all over and 
said that it was an accident, as the cartridge had 



254 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, xix 



slipped into the rifle without his knowledge, but 
when I asked him why he had pointed it in my 
direction and pulled the trigger, he could give no 
satisfactory reply. 

As carelessness or rascality of this kind is a very 
serious matter and could not be allowed to go un- 
punished, I told him that he must be severely dealt 
with, and ordered the Headman to give him a 
good thrashing, which, of course, was a great 
indignity for a gun-bearer. He was a cowardly 
rascal, and I had often been obliged to admonish 
him for skulking in the rear or for running up a tree 
with the rifle when danger threatened — indeed, I had 
had to do so on that very morning. He now howled 
vigorously under his punishment, but it had a good 
effect upon him. I deprived him for some days of aU 
weapons, and never afterwards throughout the journey 
did I allow him to follow me, but always made him go 
on just ahead, so that I could keep an eye on him, as 
I never knew what viflainy he might be up to. He im- 
proved considerably under strict discipline, and was 
quite a different man by the time we reached Nairobi. 

I had several rascals of this kind in the safari 
who needed close supervision and prompt punish- 
ment when they did wrong. Otherwise they would 
have become utterly unmanageable and mutinous in 
the wilds. 



CHAPTER XX 



IN QUEST OF THE BOUNDARY 

From the information given to me by the guides, 
I understood that on leaving Laishamunye we 
should have to do a forced march of some thirty 
miles before the waterholes at Serah could be 
reached. I determined, therefore, to start late in 
the afternoon, when men and beasts had had their 
food and water, and the fierce heat of the sun 
had somewhat abated. 

After having seen that every available vessel was 
filled with water, we turned away from the Guaso 
Nyiro and set out northward towards Marsabit. 

The moment we got away from the river we 
entered upon a dreary region covered for the most 
part with stunted leafless trees and thorn scrub, 
intersected here and there by dry gravelly ravines. 
The reddish sandy soil gave an added appearance 
of sun-stricken desolation to the surroundings, and 
the dust getting into our throats induced a burning 

255 



256 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



and intolerable thirst, even without the exertion of 
making our way through the tortuous animal paths 
which we were forced to pursue. Every stone 
has had inches blistered off its surface by the 
fierce heat of a pitiless sun, and even the living things 
that roam about in this barren wilderness appear 
parched and sun-dried, all save the giraffe, which 
seems to thrive in the glaring heat. 

Rhinos are very numerous, and as I rode along 
to the left of the sajari and about a mile away 
from it, so as better to observe the game, I was 
suddenly charged by one which had been startled 
by the passing caravan. Shouting to Abbudi and 
the gun-bearers who w^re with me to take re- 
fuge in a convenient tree, I galloped off, thinking 
the brute would follow. He, however, turned 
his attention to the men in the tree instead, 
and remained for some time quite close to them, 
while Abbudi from his perch in the branches 
screamed insults at him in choice Masai. I sat 
on Aladdin some eighty yards away, enjoying the 
sight. Finally, wnth a snort, the ungainly brute 
turned and trotted off swiftly with his tail in the 
air, and was soon lost to sight among the bushes. 

Before we had traversed half a dozen miles I had 
counted eight of these creatures, but did not see 
a good head among the lot. Short horns seem 



XX IN QUEST OF THE BOUNDARY 257 

to be the distinctive peculiarity of the rhino of 
these regions. 

]My Samburu guide Papai walked beside me on 
this march and entertained me with much useful 
information, which he imparted to me through 
Abbudi. I now for the first time discovered that he 
had been born an Andorobo, and had spent all his 
youth in the pursuit of game, as is the custom 
of the men of that tribe. Sometimes, when he 
found it almost impossible to make a living by 
the chase, he attached himself to the Samburu or to 
the Rendile. One day he fortunately killed two 
fine elephants, and thus secured enough ivory to 
purchase a Samburu maiden for a wife ; in this 
manner he finally settled down with his adopted 
tribe, and had now, as he said, become a real 
Samburu. He told me many stirring tales of 
adventurous encounters with elephants and other 
big game, and described to me a method fre- 
quently adopted among the Wandorobo to strike 
down a dangerous beast. A heavy block of 
wood, thicker at one end than the other, is hewn 
out of a hardwood tree, and into the heavier end of 
this is driven an iron spike smeared over with 
a deadly poison. A long thin rope made of fibre 
is tied through a hole made in the other end of 
the block, which is then suspended spear downward 
from a convenient branch over the centre of an 
s 



258 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



animal track. The spare part of the rope is carried 
along the branch and down the trunk, and run through 
a loop fastened to the foot of the tree. The end is 
then stretched across the path a few inches from the 
ground and fastened to a peg or stump some yards 
away. The rope at the place where it crosses 
the path is almost cut through, so that a small 
pressure will break it. When the animal comes 
along and strikes the rope with its foot, it breaks 
instantly at the spot where it is cut half-way through. 
The block then falls with great force, the iron spike 
burying itself in the beast's spine. The hunter 
follows up the wounded animal, which soon succumbs 
to its injuries and the poison.^ The Wandorobo 
immediately cut out the flesh round the wound, as to 
eat that part would mean death for them too, but the 
poison does not seem to have any ill effect on the 
remainder of the carcase. 

As we marched along evening closed in, so a halt 
was called for tea and also to enable the sajari to 
close up, as by this time the donkeys were far to 
the rear. When all had arrived the moon was 
shedding a brilliant light, so we set off again and 
marched until 9 p.m., when we slept in a rude shelter, 
the night being so fine that there was no need to 
pitch tents. We were off again before dawn, and 
at about 10 a.m. sighted the graceful palms that 

' This contrivance is called an ingerengett. 



XX IN QUEST OF THE BOUNDARY 259 

abound along the bed of the Serah river. It was 
with no little anxiety that I rode up to the waterhole 
in the river-bed, fearing that it might possibly be 
dry. I was much reHeved to find an abundant 
supply, which welled up from a clear spring and flowed 
for a distance of about fifty yards along the gleam- 
ing sand before the latter engulfed it in its thirsty 
embrace. 

Near this spot I noticed great numbers of oryx 
and Grevy zebra, also some girafife and a rhino 
or two. I saw one zebra with its hind quarters 
badly lacerated by the claws of a lion. The 
wounds were quite fresh, and, as the poor brute was 
evidently in great pain, I shot it to put it out of 
its misery. Wounded animals in the wilds must 
often suffer a long drawn-out agony before the final 
end comes. 

As game was plentiful at Serah, and there was 
only one waterhole for the animals to drink from, 
I thought to myself that this would be an excellent 
place to make observations by night. I therefore 
had a boma made close by the spring so that I might 
sit and watch the various beasts in the brilKant moon- 
shine as they came to quench their thirst. I had 
the camp purposely pitched over half a mile away, 
in order that the animals should not be kept from the 
water or be disturbed during the night. 

After dinner I took up my position in the boma, 



26o IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



in which I had had many loopholes made, not for 
the purpose of shooting from, but to serve as peep- 
holes, so that I might be able to see in all 
directions; and I was well rewarded for the trouble I 
had taken. 

I had not been in my stockade for more than an 
hour, when in the distance I heard pad, pad, pad, 
pad, and a few seconds afterwards up stalked a 
very tall giraffe, followed by twelve others, their 
heads being apparently on a level with the tops of 
the palms. It was the weirdest thing imaginable to 
watch these huge ungainly creatures stride past 
within twenty yards, all the time twisting their 
heads from side to side, keenly on the look-out, 
and yet totally unconsicous of my presence. When 
they had had their drink at the waterhole, they 
stalked off again, and later on were succeeded by 
others at various times throughout the night. None 
of them went down to the water direct, but circled 
round it first to see if there were an enemy, in 
the shape of a lion or other rapacious beast, in sight. 
One elephant came and had a long drink and a bath, 
and then leisurely went his way down the bed of the 
river. 

It was a perfectly still night, without a breath of 
air blowing, which probably accounts for the fact that 
the animals did not wind my homa. 

Soon after the first troop of giraffe had gone, a 



XX 



IX QUEST OF THE BOUNDARY 261 



band of about twenty oryx came to within thirty 
yards or so of the water, and there halted and stood 
gazing at it. Then, evidently at the command of a 
leader, all rushed impetuously down into the river- 
bed, drank greedily, and galloped back to their 
former position. After a pause there, they again 
charged down to.eether. drank their' fill and galloped 
off into the night, this time returning no more. 
Undoubtedly they adopted these tactics owing to 
their fear of lions lurking in ambush about the 
waterhole. It is probable that no beast of prey 
would attack a herd of this size if they meant to 
stand bv one another, as the orvx, with its long^, 
sharp, and strong horns, set on a powerful head, is 
by no means to be despised as an antagonist, even 
by a lion. It would be very interesting to know if 
they would have made common cause against one had 
he appeared. 

An hour or so after this scores of zebra came to 
drink, and then, to add to the interest, a Hon at last 
arrived on the scene, and began to prowl stealthily 
round. I thought he was coming straight up to my 
boma, so much so that I reached out for my rifle 
and went to the loophole which he seemed to 
be approaching. I watched carefully for him. but 
for some reason he must have doubled back 
and crouched under a clump of bushes which grew 
on the bank by the water. I did not actually see 



262 IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



him go into these bushes, but felt pretty sure that 
he had hidden himself there. He gave absolutely 
no sign of his presence, however, and I began to 
think that he must have gone away along some fold 
in the ground where I could not see him. I soon 
found that this was not so, for just then some zebra 
came along, and as they passed close by, the lion 
made a mighty spring out of the bushes, pounced 
on one, dashed it to the earth, and apparently 
instantly killed it, as it hardly moved again. He 
lost no time in dragging it to the bank on the other 
side of the river-bed and over some rocks out of my 
sight. Here he was joined by several other lions, 
and the noise they made over their feast was 
appalling. They all disappeared before daylight, 
and there was very little left of the zebra when I 
went out to investigate. 

As the night wore on rhino after rhino came 
walking towards the water with the gravest un- 
concern, every species in the neighbourhood making 
way for him except his own kind. Finally, towards 
dawn, the whole place abounded with hyaenas. I 
counted eight all present at one time, and one of 
these, more inquisitive than the rest, came sniffing 
round my bonia to see what was there, and so paid 
for his curiosity with his hfe. He proved to be of a 
rather rare kind, the striped hyaena. 

A night such as this spent among the animals 



IN QUEST OF THE BOUNDARY 263 



in the wilds, watching their habits and methods 
both of aggression and self-defence, compensates 
the lover of wild life for the trials and hardships 
endured on many a toilsome march in this hot and 
thirsty land. 



CHAPTER XXI 



A ROGUE ELEPHANT KILLS ALADDIN 

Next day we continued our march towards 
Marsabit, but had to go rather slowly on account of 
B., who was feverish and had to be carried in a 
hammock, while Mrs. B. and I took it in turns, 
when it got very hot, to walk beside him with an 
umbrella to shade him from the fierce rays of the 
sun. 

The path was bushy, but there were few thorn 
trees, which was a great comfort, for where these 
abound the unfortunate porters have a very bad time, 
as they keep catching in the loads as the men 
walk along. Once during this toilsome march we 
suddenly came upon a Hon right in our path, about 
ICO yards ahead. He galloped off the moment he 
caught sight of us, and made for a bit of thicket 
away to our left. I put Aladdin after him at his 
top speed, but the Hon made good his escape among 
the dense bush, from which, in spite of my best efforts, 
I was unable to cut him off. 

265 



266 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



This was a hard day for the donkeys on 
account of the rough nature of the ground, and it 
gave Munyakai a good deal of trouble to get them 
to camp, as it was his business to bring up the rear 
of the safari and clear all stragglers on before him. 
One of the donkeys finally gave out, and although 
his load was taken off, was unable to walk any 
further. The Headman, however, was not to be 
defeated, so sending on to me for half-a-dozen 
porters, he tied the donkey's legs together, put 
a pole between them, and hoisting him aloft on the 
men's shoulders, had him borne in triumph to 
camp. It reminded me of the final stage of the fable 
of the old man and the ass. 

We reached Kavai about midday, where we 
found some salty water in holes in the otherwise dry 
bed of the river from which this camping place 
takes its name. Game similar to that seen at Serah, 
with the addition of gerenuk, abounded. 

From Kavai we marched on to a place called 
Lungaya, and on the way had a most exciting and 
tragic adventure. B. was feeling a little better 
and we were all riding together at the head of the 
safari, when suddenly, just after we had crossed 
over the dry bed of the Lungaya river, we saw a 
huge, solitary elephant stalk up out of the trees 
which grew very thick along its banks, and stand 
in a threatening attitude directly in our path 



XXI A ROGUE ELEPHANT KILLS ALADDIN 267 



some fifty yards away. As he was alone and 
looked very vicious, I at once concluded that this 
solitary rover was a "rogue," and therefore a 
dangerous beast, and I was further confirmed in 
my rogue theory by the fact that he had only one 
tusk. He had probably lost the other in a mighty 
encounter with a rival bull, who had defeated him 
and driven him out of the herd. As he showed 
every intention of charging uc, we hastily dis- 
mounted and covered him with our rifles. Just as 
he began to make for us I called on Mrs. B. to fire 
first, so she let drive at him with her .450 rifle, 
which struck him heavily. We then ah fired at the 
oncoming monster, on which he turned, and, stag- 
gering off a short distance, fell heavily among some 
dense bushes, which completely hid him from our 
sight. I ran forward, hoping that I might be able 
to give him a finishing shot before he could rise and 
do any damage, but when I got to within ten yards 
of where he lay I found that I could not see him or 
get through the thick bushes among which he had 
fallen. 

The others had by this time taken up their 
position on a high rock, from the top of which 
they could catch ghmpses of his huge body. They 
shouted out to me to come back quickly, as the 
elephant was getting up. At the same instant I 
heard a terrific commotion going on among the 



268 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 



bushes, so, without waiting to see what it was all 
about, I turned and made hasty strides for the 
shelter of the rock, having no desire to be trampled 
to pieces in that dense undergrowth, where there 
was little chance for me and every chance for the 
elephant. 

From our position on the rock we saw the 
elephant trot off through the thick bush, appa- 
rently not much hurt. He was more or less con- 
cealed from our view, but he seemed to be makins; 
for the tail end of the safari, which was still some dis- 
tance away. 

I told ^Irs. B. to remain at this spot, as it was a 
comparatively safe place on the edge of the thicket, 
with the high rock close by in case of need. I also 
ordered Abbudi to remain with her, and guard her 
from all danger until we returned. 

B. and I then mounted our horses and rode 
back to protect the rest of the safari in case the 
brute should make an attack. We soon got among 
a thick belt of bush into which the elephant had 
disappeared, and here we dismounted and advanced 
cautiously on foot, leaving the horses with the syces. 
The Headman, who was coming along with some of 
the donkeys, shouted out to us that the brute had 
just passed him and he was afraid it was going 
to attack another batch of men and donkeys which 
were following close behind. We therefore pushed 



XXI A ROGUE ELEPHANT KILLS ALADDIN 269 



on as rapidly as possible in the track plainly taken 
by the wounded beast. All at once, just as we were 
in the midst of a very dense bit of thicket, the 
elephant loomed up close to our front and with out- 
spread ears charged straight at B., who was a 
couple of paces away on my right. As he came 
on he viciously flapped hs enormous ears back to 
his sides, and just as he did this I fired full at his 
head where it joins the trunk. Although this did 
not knock him down, it providentially caused him 
to swerve off a yard or two from B. in the direction 
of Abdi, the SomaH gun-bearer, who now caught 
his eye. The terrified man made a dive for safety 
but got caught up in the thicket, and I fully 
expected to see him crushed to death before my 
eyes. I tore open the breech of my rifle with 
all the speed I could muster, wondering if I should 
have time to get another bullet into the brute 
before he was on the SomaH. Just as his head got 
level with me, I rammed the cartridge home, threw 
the rifle to my shoulder and in doing so almost 
touched his towering flank as he raced past in pursuit 
of the gun-bearer. At the moment that he reached out 
his trunk to dash Abdi to the ground I let him have 
a slanting shot, which so upset him that he merely 
knocked off the man's puggari and crashed away 
into the bush without doing us any damage. Hardly 
waiting for the jungle to close on him I gave 



270 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



chase, for I feared that the infuriated animal might 
come up with the safari again and kill somebody. 
As I rushed after him I called loudly to the gun- 
bearers to follow me, but they apparently had had 
such a terrible fright that not one of them ventured 
out of his hiding-place, so I continued the hunt 
alone, expecting to be joined by them every 
moment. None of them turned up, however, and 
I had the greatest difficulty in following the trail, 
as the ground was very dry and hard, and I had to 
depend entirely upon finding a drop of blood here 
and there on the leaves and branches against which 
the elephant brushed as he forced his way along. 
He made a tremendous round, and for a full hour 
I tracked him in this way slowly and painfully 
through the thick jungle, never knowing the 
moment when I might suddenly come upon him 
unawares. 

At last the trail led me to the Hne of the safari 
again, and my fears lest he should attack some of 
the men in his infuriated temper seemed justified. 
In confirmation of this I was met just then by a 
small party of porters, headed by a couple of 
askaris, who were coming out to look for my dead 
body, for the gun-bearers, instead of following me as 
they ought to have done, had returned to the safari 
and reported me crushed to death by the elephant. 
The moment I came into view they ran to me, and 



XXI A ROGUE ELEPHANT KILLS ALADDIN 271 



gave me the appalling news that the elephant had 
charged the caravan a little further on, and had killed 
Mrs. B. and also my horse and syce! 

The state of consternation and horror into which 
this news threw me can well be imagined. Without 
waiting for further details, I rushed on to find out if 
this terrible calamity could really have taken place. 
A short distance further on I met B., who had 
returned to look after his wife while I took up the 
spoor. I inquired anxiously as to what had occurred, 
and he considerably reHeved my feeHngs by tell- 
ing me that the worst part of the catastrophe had 
not happened, as Mrs. B. was safe, although she had 
had an exceedingly narrow and lucky escape. He 
said, however, that it was unfortunately true that my 
horse had been killed and the syce injured. This 
bit of news was bad enough, but it might have been 
infinitely worse. We then set out to the spot 
where poor Aladdin had fallen. On the way we met 
Mrs. B., who was much astonished to see me, as she 
had been told that I was dead. From her I heard 
a full account of the disaster. It appears that she 
remained for some time at the spot where we 
had left her, but after a while she became anxious 
and wanted to find out what was going on, so 
started out on foot through the jungle, taking 
Abbudi with her. On the way she came upon my 
syce and Aladdin, and told Asa Ram to follow on 



272 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

with the horse and ponies. Just as they got to the 
very thickest part of the jungle, where it was - 
practically impossible to move except at a snail's 
pace, out charged the elephant from the bushes not 
ten yards away! As she had no rifle with her, she 



his feet, and drove his tusk deep into poor Alad- 
din's side. 

At this moment, when the elephant was on the 
look-out for fresh victims, Jerogi, the Kikuyu syce, 
let the other ponies loose, and both he and they 
bolted off as fast as possible into the bush, while 
Abbudi, remembering the emphatic instructions that 




"my INDIAN SYCE, ASA RAM." 



thought the best thing to 
do was to crouch down on 
the spot where she stood, 
hoping that the brute 
would not see her. My 
Indian syce, Asa Ram, 
stood close by, paralyzed 
with fear, holding Aladdin 
tightly by the reins as if 
rooted to the ground. 
The infuriated brute 
caught sight of my beau- 
tiful white Arab, and in- 
stantly made a lunge, 
knocked down the syce, 
who lay as one dead at 



XXI A ROGUE ELEPHANT KILLS ALADDIN 273 



I had given him to guard Mrs. B., suddenly seized 
her by the wrist, and wriggled off with her through 
the undergrowth to a place of safety. Well done, 
Abbudi. I salute you: Sohai! 

Aladdin appears to have been unable to get 
free of the syce until after the elephant had driven 




"l SAW POOR ALADDIN LYING THERE LIFELESS BEFORE ME." 



his tusk into him, but the moment he felt the thrust 
he dashed madly forward for some distance, leaving 
a stream of blood in his trail. In a very short time 
his strength began to fail, then he tottered in his 
stride, and eventually fell heavily on his side, stone 
dead. 

Thus by his untimely end Aladdin more than 

T 



274 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



justified the extraordinary nervous dread which he 
had always shown when passing a bush or going 
through a thicket. His instinct, no doubt, told him 
of the manifold dangers which lurked there for his 
undoing on some unlucky day. 

When we reached the open glade where poor 
Aladdin had fallen, and I saw him lying there 
Hfeless before me, I reaHzed to the full that I had 
lost not only a faithful steed, but a dumb friend 
who had taken part with me in many an exciting 
chase. 

Determined to avenge his death, I started off 
again as soon as possible on the trail of the vicious 
''rogue" that had caused us so much anxiety and 
sorrow. We all joined in the chase, but I did not 
find the gun-bearers very keen on the hunt, as the 
brute had given them a bad fright. 

Before leaving Aladdin I had noticed, on un- 
girthing the saddle, that a stirrup-leather was 
missing from the side on w^hich the elephant had 
gored him, so, thinking that it was probably lying 
on the ground at the spot where Aladdin was 
charged, I sent the syce, Asa Ram, and an askari to 
look for it. As they did not return we walked our- 
selves in the direction they had taken, and, on 
rounding a bit of thick jungle, discovered the pair 
calmly sitting safe in the shelter of a big tree ! 



XXI A ROGUE ELEPHANT KILLS ALADDIN 275 



They had evidently determined to wait here until 
sufhcient time had elapsed, and then to return and 
tell me that the stirrup-leather could not be found. 
The moment they saw us they made a wild bolt 
for cover, but I shouted to them to come back, as they 
were discovered. 

I could not, however, find it in my heart to blame 
them very much for not wishing to venture any- 
where near the elephant again, as for all we knew 
he might still be in the vicinity, and it was only 
half an hour since Asa Ram had had such a very nar- 
row escape. 

We all now took up the elephant's spoor and 
scouted cautiously through the thick bush into 
which he had disappeared, finding it extremely 
difficult to keep on his track. He doubled and 
twisted through the jungle in the most perplexing 
manner, probably not knowing where he was going. 
Eventually, however, Abbudi came running up in 
great excitement and told us that he had seen the 
elephant standing up in a path close by, facing us as 
if he were about to charge again. 

I at once ordered everybody to keep well out of 
the way, as I did not wish any further tragedies, 
and taking the .450 rifle I set off in the direction 
Abbudi pointed out. I considered that if I went 
alone, I would have a better chance of getting 



276 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



in a fatal shot than if others were present about 
whose safety I felt anxious. I was quite anxious 
enough about my own as I stalked stealthily 
and carefully against the wind, using the utmost 
care in getting through the tangled jungle so as 
not to make too much noise. As last, as I peeped 
cautiously through the green leaves of a great 
tree whose branches hung to the ground, I saw 
the huge beast confronting me not fifteen yards 
ahead. The sight of him brought me to a rigid 
halt, and peering more intently I saw that he was 
not standing but King down at full length on his 
side. He was not dead, however, as his flanks 
were gently heaving up and down — at least I 
thought this was the case — so I put two more shots 
into him to end his career and prevent him from 
doing any further damage. Seeing then that he 
did not move I went up to him and found that 
what I had taken to be the heaving flanks was 
merely the moving shadow of some branches 
swayed by the wind above his body. I now gave 
a loud halloo and called to my companions to 
come up, as he was stone dead. They very soon 
arrived at the spot, and as it was Mrs. B.'s elephant 
she was placed in triumph on his back and photo- 
graphed. 

I knew, of course, that one of the tusks was broken 



XXI A ROGUE ELEPHANT KILLS ALADDIN 277 



oft short, but on getting out the other we discovered 
that it was absolutely decayed away and in a putrid 
mass for over eighteen inches inside the skull. This 
must have given him frightful agony, and was no doubt 




"she was placed in triumph on his back." 



the reason why he was so fierce and attacked us so 
unprovokedly in the early morning. 

We also had two of the feet cleaned out, which is 
by no means an easy matter, but as the natives like 
the sinewy flesh there was some competition for this 
task. We lost the feet later on, as will be seen in 
another chapter. 



2/8 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, xxi 



It was very lucky that this whole adventure did 
not end more disastrously. Indeed, I was very 
thankful that we got off so Hghtly, as the vicious brute 
only missed kilHng B. and Mrs. B. by a fluke, 
while the syce and the SomaH gun-bearer had also 




"there was some competition for this task." 



very narrow escapes. Fortunately Asa Ram was 
not injured, although the elephant had actually stood 
over him when it knocked him down. His nerves 
were quite shattered and for hours afterwards his 
eyes almost stood out of his head and had a startled, 
half-frenzied look in them which showed plainly that 
he had had a terrible fright. 



CHAPTER XXTI 

A RHINO CONCERT 

We retired early that night, for we were all quite 
tired out after the trials and adventures of the day. 
We were not permitted a peaceful repose, however, 
as soon after midnight two or three rhino came 
close to the camp, causing the men to make an up- 
roar, and the askaris on duty added to the confusion 
by blazing away at the unwelcome intruders. I, of 
course, had to go out to inquire what was the matter, 
and was just in time to see two of our weird visitors 
disappearing into the gloom, evidently thoroughly 
scared at the unaccustomed din raised by the porters 
and askaris at their usually quiet rendezvous by the 
waterhole. 

We remained another day at Lungaya, and I em- 
ployed the time in making sketches and taking notes. 
I got my hands so badly blistered by the sun that I 
found it difficult for some time afterwards to use the 
pencil. 

On returning to camp I found that B., who on the 

279 



CHAP. XXII A RHIXO CONCERT 



281 



previous day had been much better, was rather ill again, 
so I sat up late that night helping to nurse and attend 
to him. 

About midnight, just after I had gone to my tent 
I heard a terrific din coming from the direction of 
the waterhole which was some two hundred vards 




" A ROCKY RIDGE WHICH FORMED A BACKGROUND TO OUR BOMA." 



away at the back of our encampment, behind a 
rocky ridge which formed a background to our 
ho7na. I thought it would be mo^t interesting to 
go and see what all the disturbance was about, so 
taking an askari with me I set out and carefully 
stalked over the ridge and on towards the spot from 
whence the uproar was coming. I expected to find 



282 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



a herd of elephants fighting for possession of the 
waterhole, as the shrill and weird cries which re- 
sounded from the rocks gave me the impression 
that these animals were trumpeting there. 

Just as we got over the rocky ridge, a lion 
bounded out of the path almost at our feet, but 
he was evidently not hungry, so did not attempt to 
attack us, and was soon out of sight among the 
bushes. The askari got rather a fright and cried 
out '^Rudi, Bwana, rudil Ha pa nibaya sana^^ 
(''Return, master, return! This is a very bad 
place")- 

I had not the least intention of going back, 
however, as I was determined to see what was 
making the uproar which still continued at the 
waterhole. By this time it sounded as if there 
could not be less than a score of elephants trum- 
peting there in concert. We stalked on carefully 
and cautiously among the rocks with the wind in our 
favour, until at last we w^ere able to look over the 
edge of a crag down into the ravine at our feet. 
Then the weirdest sight that I could ever wish to see 
suddenly unfolded itself beneath my astonished gaze. 
No fewer than sixteen rhinos were gathered together 
close by, all roaring at each other and struggling 
and fighting in their efforts to get at the waterhole. 
The moon was shedding a brilliant lustre all round, 
and everything was peaceful except at this one spot 



XXII 



A RHINO CONCERT 



where pandemonium reigned. I stood perfectly 
fascinated, and from the rock where I took up 
my position watched the ungainly brutes with 
the deepest interest for a couple of hours. I 
was not more than ten yards from the nearest of 
them, and those farthest away were not thirty yards 
off, but they were so busily occupied with their own 
aft'airs that they remained quite unconscious of 
my proximity. 

I could easily have picked off half a dozen of 
them with my rifle, and some of them had very 
fine horns, but, of course, I had no intention 
whatever of molesting them. They were much 
more interesting alive than dead, and I never for a 
moment entertained the thought of disturbing their 
concert by firing my rifle. 

Two of them especially amused me very much. 
One, who was evidently a bully, took up his position 
stolidly at the waterhole and would not budge an 
inch. Then a second came and stood opposite to 
him and proceeded to give him a piece of his mind. 
The bully, of course, answered back and there they 
both stood for quite a long time, with their mouths 
wide open, roaring bad rhino language at each other 
for all they were worth ! The others, who were 
waiting for their turn to have a drink, joined in the 
discordant chorus from time to time. 

I noticed four mothers among them with their 



284 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA . chap. 



little calves sheltering closely to them amidst all the 
noise and uproar, and no doubt wondering what it was 
all about. Presently one of these mothers with her 
baby left the brawling crowd and stalked off sedately 
and leisurely. She passed practically at my feet and 
then turned to the left and mounting the rocks 
crossed the path by which I had reached my perch. 
She disappeared into the gloom without becoming 
aware of my presence. Soon afterwards another 
went solemnly off, and gradually, one by one, having 
satisfied their thirst, they all disappeared in different 
directions, while I made my way back to my tent, 
after having witnessed one of the most extraordinary 
and interesting sights it has ever been my good 
fortune to behold. 

I had given orders that an early start was to be 
made, for Papai had told me that our next march 
would be a long and trying one. It was with a very 
ill grace, therefore, that I received my boy when he 
came, long before dawn, to tell me that the camp 
was astir and preparing for the road. 

I was, however, most anxious to reach Marsabit 
as quickly as possible, so we left Lungaya at about 
4.30 and continued our march northward. 

Before midday we reached a place called Xayssoe, 
where we found an encampment of Rendile. This 
was the first time I had come across any of 
the people belonging to this tribe, although we 



XXII 



A RHINO CONCERT 



285 



had already passed one or two of their empty homas 
on our way. In outward appearance they are not 
unhke the Samburu, who live in these parts. This 
is probably due to a mixture of the two races, as 
there is a considerable amount of intercourse be- 
tween the two tribes hereabouts at the frontiers 
of their respective districts. I noticed, however, 




"l SAW HERE IMMENSE HERDS OF CAMELS." 



that the Rendile were somewhat taller and more 
spare in figure, and had more prominent cheek- 
bones, than either the Masai or the Samburu. 
Some of them had quite blue eyes, which is most 
unusual in an African. They are a nation of 
nomads, moving their families, their huts, and 
their flocks and herds to new pastures and fresh 



286 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



springs whenever a change is considered desirable 
or necessary. All the Rendile whom I came across 
could speak both Somali and ]Masai very well, but 
they have a language of their own which somewhat 
resembles Somali. 
In habits and cus- 
toms, and in the 
method of build- 
ing their huts 
and bomas, they 
follow the lead of 
the latter, and have 
but little in com- 
mon with the cus- 
toms of the Masai 
or Samburu. Un- 
like the Somali, 
however, who are 
^Mohammedans, the 
Rendile appear to 
have no religion. 
I saw here im- 

" THESE JARS ARE MADE IX VARIOUS SIZES." 

mense herds of 

camels, which these people breed principally for 
transport and food purposes. They consider the 
flesh of the camel a great delicacy, and drink 
quantities of camels' milk. Indeed, they brought 
me presents of huge jars filled with it, but we 




XXII 



A RHINO CONCERT 



287 



found it somewhat salty and odorous, so I promptly 
handed it over to the Headman for distribution 
among the safari, who thoroughly appreciated it. 

The jars in which the milk was carried were 
beautifully woven out of some fibre plant, and were 
fitted with the most cunningly made lid of the same 
material, which is commonly used as a cup to 
drink from, the whole thing being quite watertight. 
These jars are made in various sizes, with a capacity 
of from about one to five gallons. About half a 
dozen of the largest can be packed on a camel. 

A great gathering of the elders and warriors now 
came round our camp to gaze at the white men and 
more especially at the white lady, who was ever a 
source of interest and wonderment to all the people 
of the wilds. 

Among these visitors was a Samburu named 
Lukubirr, who had heard that I was going in the 
direction of Basso, as the natives call Lake Rudolf, 
and came to beg that he might be allowed to accom- 
pany me on his camel. He was most anxious to 
reach the Boran country in order to recover his 
long-lost son Bermingoo, who had been carried off 
by the Borani some twenty-five years previously, 
during a raid which they made on a Samburu 
village, where he was living at the time, on the 
shores of the lake. The poor old man seemed 
much distressed when I told him that his son, if 



288 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



still alive, had probably taken unto himself a wife 
from among the Boran women, and was now as 
much a Boran as the Borani themselves, and that 
after such a very long time it would be hopeless to 
expect him to return to the Samburu nation. 

The way the old man counted up the twenty-five 
years was very quaint. He first cut up a long stalk 
of grass into pieces which represented months; he 
then cut another stalk equal in length to the first, 
and changed it from hand to hand twenty-five times, 
which thus represented twenty-five years. 

As I required some camels to carry water 
across the parched desert which lies between this 
place and Marsabit, I had again to go through the 
dearly-loved formula of a long shauri before I 
succeeded in striking a bargain for the hire of some 
dozen of these animals. I asked the old chief 
whether, if I happened to return this way, he would 
provide me with camels to take me back to the 
Guaso Nyiro, but he was not anxious to do this, as 
he said the journey would be through Samburu 
country and his people did not like to traverse it. 
He informed me, however, that as there were 
Samburu at Marsabit and great numbers of camels, 
I should have no difficulty in engaging as many as 
I wanted there, either to take me further on or bring 
me back to the Guaso Nyiro. 

When this question of the camels had at last been 



XXII 



A RHINO CONCERT 



289 



settled satisfactorily on both sides, I made some 
coffee for the local chief Lemerlene, who greatly 
appreciated it, and was especially pleased with the 
sugar with which it was sweetened. After he had 
gulped down the first few mouthfuls he rubbed his 
stomach comfortably and said he hoped I would 
make a lot more, as he could spend the rest of his 
life drinking stuff such as this. He then called up 
some of the men of his tribe and grudgingly gave 
them a sip out of his cup; he would not on any 
account trust it out of his hands. 

The end of it was that I made a large potful of 
coffee and gave them some all round, which hugely 
delighted them and greatly cemented our friendship. 
Before taking leave, Lemerlene warned us to be 
on our guard against man-eating lions, as there 
was one lurking about in the neighbourhood that 
had taken a man out of a manyatta a few nights 
previously. 

We soon found that the old chief's warnins; 
was well timed, because soon after dark the man- 
eater appeared and made a dash at one of the 
donkey-boys, who, however, fortunately eluded him. 
The whole sajari was on the alert, and made 
such an uproar that the lion got confused and 
cleared off, only to return a couple of hours later 
to stalk our own tents. 

I had not yet gone to bed and was sitting outside 
u 



290 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, xxii 



the tent in the moonhght with a rifle across my 
knees. Suddenly the askari on duty at the watch 
fire close by called out, ^'Bivana, simha!^^ ('^Master, a 
lion !"). Looking in the direction in which he pointed, 
I plainly saw the beast stalking up to us, not fifty 
yards away. I raised my rifle and covered him with' 
it, but did not pull the trigger, as he appeared to be 
coming closer and I thought by waiting a second or 
two longer he would give me a better opportunity 
of shooting him. Unfortunately, however, at this 
moment he caught sight of me, stepped behind a 
bush and made off like a streak of light, so I did 
not get another chance to fire. 

We kept a strict watch all round the camp for the 
remainder of the night and luckily had no further 
visits from him. 



CHAPTER XXIII 



THE TRAGEDY IN THE DESERT 

Next morning we obtained our camels, said 
good-bye to our friend Lemerlene, and continued 
on our way. The march was a rather trying one of 
some sixteen miles, but the monotony of the journey 
was broken now and again by a herd of giraffe 
crossing our path, or by a rhino or other interesting 
animal breaking away through the bush, startled by 
the unusual spectacle our caravan presented to its 
astonished gaze. 

Away to our front and on our line of march 
we could see a solitary pinnacle of reddish rock, 
jutting up into the heavens in solitary state. On 
asking Papai what it was called, he told me it was 
known as Mwele. It was with no little satisfaction 
that I passed under the shadow of this rocky 
landmark, as our camping place for the night was 
only a short distance beyond it, and then but 
another long day's journey would bring us to that 

291 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



much longed-for paradise in the wilds, Marsabit, where 
I hoped that B. would soon be himself again. 

I was somewhat anxious about both my com- 
panions on this march, as B. was still feverish and 
had to be carried in a hammock for part of the way, 
while Mrs. B. was tired out by a couple of nights 
watching at his bedside. I therefore looked forward 
with the greatest impatience to reaching the bracing 
air of Marsabit, as I knew that it would do both an 
immense amount of good. Alany a time, when my 
movements were hampered by my companions, did 
I keenly regret that I had ever obtained permission 
for them to accompany me; but it is always easy 
to be wise after the event, and now upon finding 
myself in a difficult position, I adopted what I 
considered to be the best and most humane course 
of action, which was to push on to a cool climate 
with all speed. 

We arrived at Lersamis soon after noon, and 
found it to be a dismal spot, in the midst of a desola- 
tion of thorny scrub and rocky barrenness, only 
rendered possible as a temporary encampment, even 
for the wandering Rendile, by a few brackish and 
evil-smelling waterholes in the otherwise dry bed of 
the river. 

I feared that I should have Mrs. B. again on the 
sick-list if she did not get a good night's rest, so I 



xxiii THE TRAGEDY IN THE DESERT 293 

arranged that she should take possession of my 
tent at this place in order that she might have an 
undisturbed sleep, while I undertook to sit up with 
B. and look after him during the night. 

Leaving my two companions to rest in camp I 
went out in the afternoon to explore and take notes 
of the game and country. On returning to our 
homa I was much worried to find that B. had, con- 
trary to my wishes, gone out after a giraffe, which 
his gun-bearer had told him was feeding at no great 
distance. I knew that he was in no fit state to be 
out in the hot sun, so as soon as I heard of it I sent 
a message to him requesting his return to camp. 
Very soon after he got back he became seriously ill, 
and I feared he had got a touch of sun. We did 
everything we could for him and put him to bed 
as comfortably as possible. I sat up with him 
throughout the night, keeping wet bandages on his 
forehead and giving him a cooling drink whenever 
he required it. I then blessed the happy thought 
which had induced me to have canvas waterbags made, 
as when these are filled and hung up in the breeze, 
the water gets dehciously cold, and on being mixed 
with a little lime-juice forms a most grateful and 
refreshing drink. 

Several times during the night, while B. seemed 
asleep and fairly comfortable, I went out and paid a 
visit to the askaris on sentry to see that they were 



IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



on the alert, as lions, on their way to the waterholes, 
were roaring in all directions round our camp. 
Sometimes, indeed, they gave a low sinister growl 
quite close at hand, so, as I did not want anyone to 
be carried off if such an accident could be avoided, 
I kept a good fire going and two sentries on the 




EDI PAUL 

THE cook's text. 



look-out. Once, while \isiting the askaris, I caught 
a gHmpse of one of these lions stalking through 
the bushes towards the tents; he saw me, however, 
and was off again before I had time to cover him ^^ith 
my rifle. 

At about 4 A.M. B. seemed to be sleeping quietly 
and peacefully, so I went to the cook's tent and. 



XXIII THE TRAGEDY IN THE DESERT 



rousing Paul, got him to make me a cup of cocoa, 
of which I was much in need. Immediately after- 
wards I returned and sat down in my camp chair, 
just outside the tent door, to take a little rest in the 
cool morning air, telling the askari on duty close by 
to be sure and wake me up in case he should hear 
B. call out. I very soon fell asleep and woke up 
again about 5.30. Hearing B. moving about in bed 
I spoke to him, and we talked for a few minutes 
about how he felt and the arrangements for the 
coming march. I then went to see the Headman, 
who was with the safari some forty or fifty yards 
away, to give him directions about a hammock for 
B. and orders for the journey. 

In the middle of our conversation one of the boys 
named Edi came up to me and complained of being 
ill, and while I was prescribing for him, we were all 
suddenly startled to hear the sound of a shot coming 
from the direction of B.'s tent. I rushed ofif to see 
what was the matter, accompanied by the Headman 
and a dozen of the others. We all ran into the tent, 
and to our horror found B. lying back in bed with a 
bullet through his head and a revolver in his hand. 
It was a terrible shock, and one which I shall never 
forget while I live. He was quite unconscious 
w^hen we entered, and all was over in a few 
moments. 

I found out afterwards that he had instructed his 



296 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA 



boy to put a loaded revolver under his pillow every 
night, and what possibly happened is that this may 
have slipped down under his shoulder, and when B. 
put out his hand to remove it, he may have pulled 
the trigger by accident and so shot himself. Had 
I known that he always kept a loaded revolver 
under his pillow I should most certainly have 
removed the weapon, as in my experience I have 
invariably found that a revolver is more dangerous 
to the owner than to anybody else. 

Meanwhile ^Irs. B. had rushed up with the 
others to know what had happened, but as I wished 
to spare her the awful shock, I asked her to return 
to my tent, and told her that I would come in a few 
minutes to explain matters to her. 

As soon as possible I went to break the tragic 
news as gently as I could, telhng her that B. had 
had a grave revolver accident, and that I hoped she 
would, with her usual pluck, try to bear up under 
the terrible blow with what fortitude she could 
command. She did not at first reaHze ever\1:hing I 
meant to convey, and it was with difficulty that I 
made her understand that all was over. The blow 
was so sudden that she seemed quite dazed and 
unable to grasp the real situation. I therefore 
thought it was best to leave her alone, and came 
away, giving my boy careful instructions to look 
after her, and do all he could for her until I 



XXIII THE TRAGEDY IN THE DESERT 



returned from the burial, which would, of course 
have to take place as soon as arrangements could 
be made. 

When everything was ready, a mournful Httle 
procession, consisting of myself, the Headman, and 
some of the men in the safari, made its way out 
into the wilderness, where the sad interment took 
place. Over and round the grave we placed large 
stones, so that it should not be disturbed. 

I then sent the men who had assisted me back 
to camp, while I remained for a Httle while by the 
graveside, thinking over the sad calamity which 
had so suddenly overtaken us. 

I was much perplexed as to what I should 
now do, and I debated for some Httle time with 
myself as to whether- 1 should return to Nairobi im- 
mediately, or go on to Marsabit, where I hoped to 
be able to complete the principal part of my work. 

Of course if the expedition had been a private 
one, I would without any hesitation have returned 
at once ; but I had to bear in mind that my journey 
was an official one, on which pubHc funds had been 
expended, so that it was clearly incumbent upon 
me to carry through my work if it was at all 
possible. We were now within 35 miles of 
Marsabit — a distance the Rendile and Samburu 
always cover in one march — and I knew that from 
the summit of one of the mountains there I should 



298 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

be able to see far enough to the north to take 
bearings of such hills and landmarks as I con- 
sidered suitable to complete the natural eastern 
boundary to the Reserve. 

It had taken us two months to reach Lersamis, 
and even if we were to set out at once, and travel 
by the shortest and most^ direct route, we could 
not reach Nairobi in less than a month. The 
three or four extra days required to go to and 
return from Marsabit could matter very little to 
Mrs. B., while it would make all the difference 
to the success of my expedition. 

After full consideration, therefore, I decided 
that the proper course to adopt was to go on to 
Marsabit, and complete the work which I had 
been sent out to do. 

With this resolve in my mind, I made my way 
down from the little rocky hillock where the inter- 
ment had taken place, with the intention of going 
to Mrs. B. to offer her what solace I could in her 
sore distress, as of course she was utterly prostrated 
by the terrible tragedy. 

It w^as not long before I was rudely shaken out of 
my gloomy thoughts, for, on my arrival in camp, I 
was met by Asa Ram who brought me the startling 
news that the whole safari, led by a few scoundrels, 
had mutinied, and — more serious still — that they 
had, during my absence, seized all the arms and 



XXIII THE TRAGEDY IX THE DESERT 299 

ammunition, and were openly boasting that they 
were now the masters and would do as they liked. 

This was a very alarming position to be placed 
in at such a trpng and critical moment, and I 
instantly realized the gravity of the situation. The 
men were now quite independent of me, and no 
doubt thought they would be able to dictate such 
terms as they chose, as I was weaponless and alone 
among them, and without any resources save what 
I could exert by moral suasion. 

I saw that the only way out of it was to show 
that I was not going to be intimidated. Without 
a moment's hesitation, therefore, I went into the 
midst of the mutinous crowd who were all assembled 
together within their homa. On seeing me enter 
there was a general hush, and many furtive and 
e\'il glances fell upon me as I walked up to the 
rascals who squatted on their heels plotting and 
planning mischief. 

When I had got into the centre of the mutineers 
I asked what fooHshness was this I heard of them. 
I could have no nonsense, and they must all be 
ready to march at two o'clock in the afternoon. 
Upon this all, askaris included, repHed with a 
great shout that they did not intend to go any 
further into the desert, where they would perish of 
hunger and thirst. They had got all the rifles now 
and would do as they liked. 



300 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



I told them it would be a very serious matter 
for them if they did not return to their duty at 
once, and asked if they realized that they would be 
severely punished later on for taking part in a 
mutiny against an officer engaged on Government 
work. They must remember that this was an official 
expedition, and as I had Government work to do 
at Marsabit it was my intention to go there and 
complete it, no matter what obstacles stood in 
my way, and they must come too or take the 
consequences. 

If they refused to obey I would collect a hundred 
spearmen from the natives in the neighbourhood 
and speedily round them up and take them 
prisoners to Nairobi, where they would be properly 
dealt with. 

There were loud cries and threats from some 
rascals in the background when I announced my 
intention. 

I then reasoned with the better spirits among the 
men, and told them that while we were in the wilds 
I looked upon them all as children of mine, in 
whose safety and welfare they were well aware I 
took a deep interest. I fed them when they were 
hungry, gave them to drink when they were thirsty, 
doctored them when they were ill, and punished 
them only if they deserved it. I should be very 
sorry to have to resort to stern measures, but unless 



XXIII THE TRAGEDY IN THE DESERT 301 

they returned to their duty at once, I should not 
hesitate to deal with them severely. 

I then called on them to deliver up the arms 
and ammunition, and told them that within an hour 
they must all parade outside my tent or be branded 
as mutineers and punished as such. 

I then went back to the shade of a thorn tree near 
my tent, which was pitched about fifty yards from the 
men's homa, and sat there waiting for the result. 

Of course the Headman and one or two others 
never joined the rebels, and they at once went 
to the parade ground. 

I questioned Munyakai as to the reason of the 
mutiny, and he told me that it was all owing to a 
few villains who were tired of the journey and of 
the strict discipline maintained, and these repre- 
sented to the others that I was going to lead them 
into the wilderness, where they would all perish 
either at the hands of savage natives or from thirst. 
''And now," observed Munyakai, "they think you 
will not go on if they make trouble, as they know 
you are sad." He also told me that for the past 
week the men had been grumbhng very much at 
the hard marches and the bad water, and had been 
only waiting for some favourable opportunity to 
break out in mutiny. 

When I had waited for about h'alf an hour, one or 
two of the rascals began to creep up, and gradually 



302 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, xxiii 



one by one they came, and before the hour was up 
every man in the safari had fallen into line on the 
parade ground, and I breathed freely once more, as 
I saw that the mutiny was completely quelled. 

Long afterwards I heard that, fearing I would 
have them punished on my return, the rogues had 
concocted quite a plausible tale to account for their 
action; but they behaved so well subsequent to the 
mutiny, that I had quite forgiven them by the 
time we got back to Nairobi, and even if I had. 
been well enough to take an active interest in their 
prosecution 1 should not have thought of bringing a 
charge against them. 

As soon as the men returned to their duty I 
immediately set them to work; and we rearranged 
the loads and discarded everything that was no 
longer required. I found it necessary to have part 
of B.'s tent burnt, and the rest I had rolled up and 
put away, as I did not wish painful memories to be 
recalled to Mrs. B.'s mind by the sight of it. 

I also had other articles destroyed which were 
now no longer of any use, and in this way I got 
rid of a couple of loads, knowing that every pound 
I took off the men's burdens would be a consider- 
able help to them when crossing the desert. 



CHAPTER XXIV 



ACROSS THE KAISOOT DESERT 

Even if I had decided to return to Nairobi 
immediately after the tragedy, instead of going 
on to Marsabit to finish my work, the mutiny of 
the safari rendered this course of action absolutely 
impossible. 

I felt that henceforward I was entirely responsible 
for the safety of Mrs. B., and if at this critical 
moment I had yielded to the mutineers and allowed 
them to dictate to me as to where I was to go and 
where not to go, my authority would have entirely 
vanished, and I could no longer have been answer- 
able for what might happen. 

Of course I kept all knowledge of the mutiny 
from my companion, as she had already enough and 
more than enough trouble to bear, and it was not 
until the tin roofs of Nairobi were in sight that I told 
her of the peril we had been in at Lersamis. 

She was naturally anxious to return to Nairobi 
at once, but I told her that I must first go on to 

303 



304 IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap, xxiv 



Marsabit, which was only one long march ahead, 
to complete my work and get fresh camels for 
the return journey. This would only delay her a 
day or two longer, and then I would go back 
as quickly as we could travel. 

As she was of course in a very dazed and grief- 
stricken condition, I thought it advisable for her 
sake to get away from this ill-fated spot as soon as 
possible. Accordingly about two o'clock in the after- 
noon of the 2ist ]\Iarch, 1908, exactly two months 
since we left Nairobi, we set out on a most dismal 
and mournful journey across the sterile and waterless 
Kaisoot Desert. The dreary landscape added to 
the depression of our spirits, and never shall I 
forget the wretchedness of that march. I tried 
hard to talk but failed miserably, so we rode along 
in gloomy silence, our minds full of the sad event of 
the morning. 

At about six o'clock I halted the safari for an 
hour on the edge of a bit of bush, and when we had 
gathered some dry wood we lighted a fire, and soon 
had a kettle boiling. 

I felt I had to rouse my companion out of her 
despondency, and used all my powers of persuasion 
to induce her to drink a little tea and eat a biscuit, 
as she had had practically no food all day. ]\Iean- 
while the sajari rested and refreshed themselves for 
the next spell of desert march. 



3o6 • IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



At seven we pushed on again across the sandy 
wilderness, under the guidance of Papai. After a 
while the moon came out and shed a weird light on 
our dismal and silent surroundings. Nothing was 
in view save the long line of men, horses, camels, 
mules, and donkeys — the rear part stretching away 
out of sight, hidden by the lava dust which lay here 
soft and thick under foot. 

Now and again the line would get broken, and 
the rear would lose touch with the front of the 
caravan. Then there would be a halt and cries of 
"Upesi, 21 pest, simba wabaya hapa^^ (''Hurry up, 
hurry up, the lions are bad here"), the warning cry 
of the askaris being made more realistic as the roar 
of one of these monarchs of the wilds resounded across 
the desert. 

Occasionally we heard the crash of some pon- 
derous beast as it lumbered off into the gloom, 
startled by our sudden and strange appearance in 
that silent waste. 

In this way we journeyed on until about mid- 
night, when I called a halt for a few hours' rest. 
Of course no tents were pitched, as we only intended 
to make a short stay. I made a bed of rugs for 
Mrs. B., on which she lay and snatched a couple of 
hours' uneasy slumber, waking up from time to time 
with a cry of distress. Meanwhile, I sat on a box 
close by, with my back against a tree stump, and 



XXIV ACROSS THE KAISOOT DESERT 



my rifle across my knee, doing all I could, when she 
started up, to pacify and soothe her sorely tried 
nerves. 

At 4 A.M., after distributing water to the sajari 
and drinking a hasty cup of coftee, we set off again, 
and had a verv lons^ and trvins: dav's march across 




'•THE CAMELS . . . APPEARED TO EXTOY CROSSING THIS DESOLATE 
WASTE."' 



the burning desert. The fierce rays of the sun beat 
down relentlessly, and there was no shade of any 
kind to be found. ^len and beasts suftered sjreatlv, 
save only the camels, and they appeared to enjoy 
crossing this desolate waste. The whole district is 
parched and sterile, and covered with red lava ash, 
which rose in clouds of dust as we marched along, 



3o8 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



penetrating into everything. All round us stretched 
a sun-scorched, arid plain, and the only thing that 
cheered our eyes was the view of the cloud-covered 
mountains of Marsabit, which stood out boldly on 
the sky-line. 

While the safari was struggling along listlessly 
and more or less exhausted by the great heat, every 
man was suddenly electrified into energy by the cry 
of ''Fou\f Fou^!'' (^'Rhino ! Rhino I"). There was an 
instant's hesitation as to which side they should fly to 
for safety, and then the dreaded beast was discovered 
to the left of the track under the shade of a thorn 
tree, where he had evidently been sleeping until 
roused to action by the sound of the passing sajari. 
He now advanced at a brisk trot, and at sight of him 
loads were pitched down in all directions, and men 
fled for safety to any bit of scrub they could find. 

I hurried Mrs. B. off to the shelter of the 
largest tree at hand, and in a few minutes its 
branches were absolutely black with a swarm of 
porters. 

I then walked out with a heavy rifle so as to 
intercept the brute if he charged any of the porters, 
for there were still many of the men straggling up 
quite unaware of their danger. 

The old rhino advanced with determination 
for about fifty yards, then suddenly came to a 
standstill, looked at us for some time with great 



XXIV ACROSS THE KAISOOT DESERT 



curiosity, apparently mingled with malicious joy at 
having caused so much terror, and in the end turned 
disdainfully round and trotted off in the opposite 
direction. 

Odd as it may sound, this little adventure cheered 
us ah up wonderfully, and the men, having once more 
picked up their loads, stepped forward with renewed 
energy. 

It was not until about five o'clock in the afternoon 
that we finally straggled in to our camping place on 
the edge of the valley of El Deerim, which in 
bygone ages must have been a vast crater. There 
was a waterhole not far oft' in the bed of a ravine at 
a place called Reti, which is on the outskirts of the 
district of Marsabit. 

The men were all thoroughly done-up, and as 
thev came in one by one, threw down their loads 
with a sigh of relief, and made as quickly as possible 
for the waterhole to quench their burning thirst. 

Here I was roused to indignation by the heartless 
and selfish conduct of my syce Jerogi. I had seen 
him on the march craving a drink from a comrade 
whose waterbottle he drained of its last drop without 
the slightest compunction, although the man tried to 
get it away from his mouth before he had quite 
finished it : and now to make the matter still worse, 
I saw him calmly pull out a large hme-juice bottle 
filled with water which he had had all the time 



310 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



concealed under his ragged coat. He proceeded to 
regale himself with a long drink from this while the 
others struggled off to the muddy waterhole. 

On asking him if he were not ashamed of his 
despicable conduct, he replied with a grin "Hapana^^ 
C'No"). 

As my unfortunate companion was in a most 
pitiful state and greatly fatigued after all she had 
come through, I decided to remain at this place 
for a day, so that she might recover somewhat 
before we resumed our journey. 

In any case this was necessary, as the march 
through the Kaisoot had proved too much for the 
donkeys. When darkness fell neither they nor the 
Headman had turned up and I was very anxious 
as to their fate out in the desert. 

Luckily the night was fine, for the men were so 
worn-out and tired that I had no tents pitched, Mrs. 
B. sleeping as on the previous night, on a bed of rugs 
under a rough shelter, while I kept guard close by. 

Now that she was left in such a forlorn con- 
dition, I feared to let her out of my sight for 
a moment, lest any catastrophe should overtake 
her too, and I be left to wend my way back to 
civihzation alone with such a terrible tale of mis- 
fortune to unfold. 

With my mind full of these distressing thoughts, 
I fell into a doze as I sat on a box within a pace or 



XXIV ACROSS THE KAISOOT DESERT 311 

two of her rude couch of grass and rugs. I do not 
remember how long I had slept when I was suddenly 
awakened by a loud cry from Mrs. B. and a mad 
rush of frenzied ponies and mules tearing past us, 
not half a dozen yards away. 

In a moment the askaris added to the panic by 
discharging their rifles recklessly under the impres- 
sion that they were aiming at a couple of rhino which 
had charged the camp and stampeded the animals. 
I very nearly shot one of the ponies myself before I 
was quite awake, taking it to be a beast of prey of 
some kind as it dashed past. Luckily the rhinos 
were soon driven off, and no harm was done to 
man or beast. It took some time to round up the 
ponies and mules, and I almost feared that we 
had lost them altogether, but in the end all were 
collected and safely tied up in camp again. It was 
very nerve -shaking, however, for poor Mrs. B., who 
had already been so sorely tried. 

During the night I had a great fire made on the 
top of a small hill close to our bivouac to guide 
Munyakai and the donkeys to our resting place, but 
when morning came there was still no sign of them. 
I therefore sent out a reHef party with water to 
search for them in the desert and kept a pillar of 
smoke going up from the hill-top to serve as a 
guide, and at last late in the afternoon they suc- 
ceeded in reaching us in safety. Munyakai then 



312 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, xxiv 



told me all about the anxious and thrilling time 
he had had. When he found that the donkeys 
were too done-up to go on any further he made 
a homa for them. They were attacked in this 
hastily-made enclosure by a lion, who was most 
persistent in his attempts to break through. Two 
or three times he was driven away, but at last, 
towards morning, made bolder by his great hunger, 
he would not be denied, and succeeded in seizing 
one of the poor brutes, which he dragged off and 
devoured. 

During the confusion and alarm which followed, a 
couple of hyaenas made a dash at the elephant's feet, 
which had been carried on a donkey's back, and 
dragged them away to some secret lair, where, of 
course, it was impossible to recover them. 

In addition to the donkey killed by the lion, 
two more died of exhaustion during the march; 
Munyakai cut off their tails and brought them to me, 
to prove that the animals really had died, and not 
strayed away and got lost owing to carelessness. 



CHAPTER XXV 



AT MARSABIT 

When men and beasts had had a good night's 
rest we pushed on again early in the morning for 
Crater Lake, which was the point in Marsabit 
I wished to reach. 

This time our journey was a much more interest- 
ing one, as it was through a mountainous, forest-clad 
country, which afforded an absolute contrast to the 
dreary desert we had just crossed. 

We again began to see game. A great herd of 
giraffe trooped off to the westward of our route; 
a couple of rhino, one or two bushbuck, a few oryx, 
and some female greater and lesser kudu, made 
the country look a paradise after the desolate and 
inhospitable tract we had just passed over. We had 
to scramble though thickets, down the steep sides 
of ravines, and make our way across valleys, over 
hills, and along the precipitous edges of extinct 
craters, such as Kurmarasan and Lonkero. The 

313 



CHAP. XXV AT MARS ABIT 315 

latter was especially remarkable for its size and 
depth. The walls of the crater were practically 
perpendicular, and were covered over with dense 
undergrowth, bush, and trees, while at the bottom 
were some waterholes. The natives told me that 
these were very deep, and that enormous serpents 
were to be found in them. 

It would have been most interesting to explore 
the bed of this crater, but under the circumstances I 
was anxious to push on as quickly as possible. My 
health, too, was beginning to trouble me; so, some- 
what reluctantly, I left this crater to our right and 
marched on between it and El Donyo Guas, which 
is a very curious looking conical hill, the whole of 
one side from base to summit being grass, while the 
other side is forest. 

Papai was now leading us to a lake, which he 
called Angara Sabuk, and for the last four miles or 
so before reaching it our track wound through a thick 
forest of most beautiful straight lofty trees, many of 
which were from 100 to 150 feet high, with trunks 
almost as smooth and upright as the masts of a ship. 

It was most delightful riding along under their 
cool shade after having endured the hot sun for so 
many days. There were fresh tracks of elephants 
in all directions, but we saw nothing of the beasts 
themselves. All at once we came out of the forest 
and found ourselves in a Httle glade, and there. 



3i6 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



spread out before us, lay the beautiful waters of 
Angara Sabuk glistening like a sheet of burnished 
gold in the brilHant sunshine. At the point where 
we approached the water the ground sloped gently 
down to the edge of the lake, which filled up a 
hollow basin, some 800 yards in diameter, that had 




"the beautiful waters of axgara sabuk." 



once been the crater of a vast volcano. It is for 
this reason that Europeans call this sheet of water 
Crater Lake, while the Samburu know it as Angara 
Sabuk or ''Great Water." On every side of the lake 
save where we stood frowned perpendicular walls 
of hard, black lava, some 100 feet high or more^ 
clothed in places with verdure of the deepest green. 



XXV AT MARS ABIT 317 

It was a most beautiful and refreshing sight, and 
one to be remembered with pleasure after all the 
hardships and trials of the burning desert. 

I was called away from the contemplation of this 
charming scene by the voice of my Headman, who 
wanted to know where I would camp. As no tents 
had been pitched since we left Lersamis, I now had 
to consider what arrangements I should make for 
the safety and comfort of the unfortunate lady who 
had been so tragically left in my care. It was quite 
out of the question that she should again use the 
tent that was associated with such painful memories, 
and in any case part of it had been destroyed. It 
was also unthinkable that she should be left isolated 
in the midst of wild men and wild beasts, especially 
after the shock she had just had. I was full of 
anxiety about her at this time, and constantly 
dreaded that an accident of some kind might 
happen to her while we were in the wilds, where 
at every turn one is liable to run upon an un- 
expected peril. I felt that I was responsible for 
her safety, and should always be close at hand to 
protect her in case of need. 

I therefore decided that the best thing to do was 
to have my own tent, which was, fortunately, quite 
large enough for the purpose, divided into two 
compartments. Accordingly I had a partition put 
up along the centre of it, which made it into 



3i8 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



two tents, each with a separate doorway. Outside 
mine I always had a sentry posted, with instructions 
to call me on the slightest alarm, as I always lay 
down in my clothes with a rifle ready to hand in case 
of need. 

I would have given Mrs. B. the whole tent to 
herself, only that on the day we got to Marsabit I 
most unluckily fell seriously ill with an attack of 
fever and dysentery. Rain also began to fall, as 
it usually does here every day during the forenoon 
at this season of the year. It was therefore abso- 
lutely necessary that I should not only have shelter, 
but also most careful nursing and attention, as 
dysentery is no hght malady, and if neglected 
may prove fatal in a few days, especially to one 
who has had an attack before. 

It is impossible for me to express my gratitude to 
IMrs. B. for the care she took of me during my 
illness, while she herself was still in the throes of a 
great misfortune. If I had during these days been 
left to the tender mercies of my servant, it is more 
than probable that I should not have been ahve to 
write this account of my expedition, as for some 
time it was touch-and-go whether the fever and 
dysentery could be brought under or not. Fortu- 
nately I had brought with me some tins of powdered 
milk, which was quite a new invention, and had 
been kindly given to me by Mrs. S. during our 



XXV 



AT MARSABIT 



expedition to the Kitui district. This was now 
prepared for me by Mrs. B., and to it, and to her 
careful watching and attention, I feel that I owe my 
recovery. 

I knew that it would be a very serious matter if 
anything were to happen to me at this particular 
time, as in that case my unfortunate companion would 
be left utterly alone and unprotected in this savage 
land. The thought of what she might have to endure 
helped me to fight against my illness and to keep 
all knowledge of it as far as possible from the men 
of the safari, lest they should think I was now a 
negligible quantity and break out in mutiny again. 
Day by day, therefore, I used to show myself at my 
tent door, where I sat and gave the usual orders 
about the daily routine, although the internal agonies 
I was suffering at the time w^ere such as I hope 
never to experience again. 

It was perhaps a mercy that INIrs. B. was taken 
out of herself by having to turn her attention to 
nursing at this period of her distress. The very 
fact that she had to begin anxious work so soon 
after the tragedy had a good effect on her, as it 
helped to divert her thoughts and roused her a 
Httle out of her despondency. 

In a few days' time the fever and dysentery 
abated, so, as soon as I was at all fit, I called Papai 
the guide to me and questioned him about the 



320 IN THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap, xxv 



country to the north. He told me that from a hill 
near our camp I could see the Urray range of 
mountains standing out boldly some 50 miles away; 
I knew therefore that they must be on the edge of 
the Reserve, as I was now about that distance from 
its northern border. 

Although I gathered that the hill from whence I 
could spy out the country was only some six or eight 
miles distant, I felt that in my weak state it would be 
impossible for me to go there and return between 
sunrise and sunset, so, as soon as I could move, we 
took six or eight porters to carry what was 
absolutely necessary for twenty-four hours, and set 
out with Papai, leaving the Headman in charge of 
our camp by Crater Lake. The morning was foggy, 
and the march was a painful one to me and prolonged 
on account of the many rests I had to take; but at 
the end of it, when we got clear of the mist, it was 
gratif}ing to find that the highest peak of the Urray 
range was plainly visible. I lost no time in taking 
its bearing, as well as those of some other prominent 
features of the country round about, and these I 
sketched in on my map, thus completing and Hnking 
up the whole chain of mountains and hills which I 
considered suitable to form a good natural eastern 
boundary to the Reserve. 



CHAPTER XXVI 



SOUTHWARD ONCE MORE 

Before setting out from Nairobi I had intended, 
as I have already explained, to mark out not only 
the eastern, but also the northern boundary of the 
Reserve. Circumstances were, however, against 
this, and my health alone made it impossible to 
consider any further extension of the journey. 

The principal object of my expedition having 
now been attained, it was with a feeKng of great 
satisfaction that I headed the safari southward and 
marched towards civilization. 

On reaching Noumbah, a Samburu encampment 
a few miles from Crater Lake, I hired twelve 
camels from the local chief, who was named 
Ledemishi, to enable us to cross the inhospitable 
desert. He also brought me some sheep and goats, 
for all of which I paid him with amerikani, wire, 
beads, &c. We got some cows' milk from him, too, 
which was most acceptable. 



Y 



321 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



From Noumbah we marched to Reti, where 
there was now, for some reason or other, but a 
small quantity of muddy liquid in the waterhole. 
On the way I halted the caravan for half an 
hour in order to give a rhino which stood in our 
way a chance to clear off, but eventually I had to 
shoot it to ensure the safety of the sajari as it 
passed. I was afraid to drink the water at Reti 
lest it should bring back my illness, but it is not 
altogether bad when not too freely mixed with mud. 
For Mrs. B.'s sake I was anxious to avoid Lersamis 
on the way back, as I did not wish her to go 
through the ordeal of returning to the scene of the 
tragedy so soon after the event. Neither was it 
necessary to retrace our steps that way, for I was 
informed that an encampment of Rendile and a 
water supply might be found at some little distance 
to the west of Lersamis, at the foot of the great 
mountain of Serramba, which rises abruptly out of 
the plain. 

Accordingly I headed the sajari south-westward 
for this mountain, and as the Kaisoot Desert 
stretched between, it had to be faced once more. 
It took us tw^o days to cross it, and in my weak 
state I found the march an exceedingly trying and 
exhausting one. The vertical rays of a tropical 
sun beat down on us fiercely, and no shade was to 
be obtained anywhere. The water which we had 



XXVI SOUTHWARD ONCE MORE 



brought with us on the camels was used up long 
before the journey was completed, and when we at 
last reached the Rendile encampment at Serramba, 
fourteen of the porters and boys had given up the 
struggle in despair, and, overcome by the heat and 
thirst, had fallen by the way. 

Munyakai bin Diwani now showed the metal that 
he was made of, for, collecting half a dozen of the 
more able porters and getting from the Rendile a 
couple of camels loaded with jars of water, he 
started back along the route, and by his prompt 
action managed to rescue ten of the exhausted men, 
who were lying stretched out on the path almost 
at the last stage of death from thirst. They revived 
somewhat when they had drunk a little of the water 
which he gave them, and as soon as they were able 
to move he sent them on to camp without their loads, 
which were brought in by other men later on. One 
of the unfortunate porters and three boys could not 
be found anywhere, and what their fate was, to this 
day I know not. I sent out search parties, lit fires, 
fired rifles, and promised the Rendile rewards, but 
without result. Two of the donkeys also died during 
the march from want of water. It may be remem- 
bered that I had set out from Nairobi with fifty tins 
to hold water, but these had been subjected to such 
rough usage on the road that not more than half a 
dozen were capable of holding anything. 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



I did not see much game in the desert, as was to 
be expected, but came across a large turtle wandering 
about in stohd indifference to its surroundings. The 
sight of it aroused superstitious fears in some of the 
men, who at once broke off a few brambles from 
the scrub and covered it up, I suppose with the object 
of averting evil. 

We found the Rendile at Serramba very kind and 
hospitable, and although there was after all no spring 
at this place, and they themselves were compelled 
to bring water daily from a distance in jars on their 
camels, yet they freely gave us from the stock which 
they held in reserve. 

Next morning we left our kind hosts and con- 
tinued our journey towards the Guaso Nyiro, 
reaching Nayssoe about mid-day. Lemerlene was 
much pleased to see us again, and brought me some 
sheep and goats, for which of course I paid him with 
amerikani and beads. I also asked him to waive 
his objection to crossing the Samburu country and 
hire me eight camels to take us to the Guaso Nyiro, 
as some of the camel men who came with us from 
Marsabit wished to return to their home from this 
place. 

The old chief, to my surprise, made no difficulty 
about lending the camels, probably because he had 
been so liberally paid for those which I had hired for 
the journey to Marsabit. 



SOUTHWARD ONCE MORE 



Knowing his weakness for sweet coffee, I had a 
good supply made, which he drank with great 
gusto, sitting on his skinny and sun-cracked heels 
at my tent door. While sipping his fifth or sixth 
cup he asked me through an interpreter if I re- 
membered his warning about the man-eating Hon. 
^^Yes," I replied, ''as he very nearly got one of us, 
and would probably have succeeded if we had not 
been put on our guard by you." The old chief then 
shook his head very gravely, smacked his lips two or 
three times, and said that the lion had since then 
become very bad indeed, and we must be more 
careful than ever, as every one in his manyatta 
was terrified of him, and only a couple of nights 
previously he had carried off a leading elder in the 
tribe out of his hut, which was only about 200 yards 
from the place where our tent was pitched. 

When I asked for further details of this tragic affair, 
he told me the following story. 

The manyatta, it appeared, had been closed as 
usual, and all the cows, sheep, and goats were 
safely kraaled inside it; the warriors and elders and 
young women and children were all asleep, while 
three or four old women, as is the custom, kept 
watch over the flocks, sitting beside the embers of a 
fire. From time to time there came to them the 
distant roar of a lion, reverberating from the 



326 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



high granite rocks which hereabouts dot the 
arid plain. They could hear him as he came closer 
and closer, making his way towards the manyatta 
along the sandy bed of the Guaso Merele under the 
gloomy shade of the trees which line its banks. 
They thought little of this at the time, as there was 
nothing unusual in the occurrence. He often 
serenaded the manyatta without attempting to break 
in, but on this night he was apparently hungrier, 
and therefore more savage, than usual. After a time 
the roars ceased and there was complete silence. 
The old crones sitting by the fireside were dozing 
off to sleep, when suddenly they and the whole 
encampment were aroused by the noise and uproar 
caused by the man-eater springing on to one of the 
flimsy huts which encircled the wall of the manyatta, 
and crashing through on to the terrified sleepers 
beneath. 

Terrified screams rent the air, and the next 
moment the brute was seen emerging through the 
low doorway of the hut, with the writhing elder 
gripped firmly in his vice-like jaws. He quickly 
disappeared with him through the bush-filled opening 
of the homa, among the stampeding cattle and amid the 
terrified yells of the Rendile tribesmen. It was a great 
piece of misfortune that the lion should have chosen an 
old and rickety roof to jump on to, as otherwise the 



XXVI SOUTHWARD ONCE MORE 



huts are made quite strong enough to have kept him 
out/ 

When the old chief had finished his story, he 
swallowed the rest of the coffee, looked round 
nervously at the gathering gloom, and quickly took 
himself off to his manyatta before darkness closed in. 
It was very evident that he was in great dread of the 
man-eater. 

Our scanty meal was rather late that evening, 
and I well remember the anxious glances we cast 
into the gloomy thicket as we sat at dinner with 
our rifles on our knees, listening to the ominous 
grunts and purrs of that self-same lion. The 
brute prowled round us all night, but made no 
attack, as I kept big fires going, and had watchers 
in pairs on the move round the camp until dawn 
appeared. 

^ The Rendile often use a rude kind of tent when on the move, but 
build huts here and there when settled. 



CHAPTER XXVII 



BACK TO THE GUASO NYIRO 

It was with great thankfulness that we shook the 
dust of Nayssoe from our feet when we set out on 
the following morning for our next camping-place at 
Lungaya. I left some of my men behind to load 
up and bring on the camels under the guidance of 
Karogi, who knew the country thoroughly. All 
went well on our march, except that a huge rhino 
charged the safari and vented his rage upon a 
water-can which a porter hastily threw down in 
escaping out of his way. 

The man who had been carrying the tin told me 
that what actually happened was this. While 
walking along with the water-can on his head, a 
rhino burst out from a thicket immediately behind 
him. To avoid the charge, he made a frantic 
bound forward, which of course threw the tin 
backwards from his head. Just as it fell the 
rhino made a lurge, caught it on the tip of his 

.^28 



CHAP. XXVII BACK TO THE GUASO NYIRO 329 



horn, and with this unusual trophy vanished into 
the bush ! I laughingly told him that it was the best 
excuse I had ever heard for getting rid of an un- 
comfortable load, but that he must now return 
and bring in the tin. On this he loudly asserted that 
his tale was true, and brought forward a couple of 
witnesses to bear him out. 

Every one turned up safely in camp during the 
afternoon, but there was no sign of the camels. 
When night came on and they had not put in an 
appearance, I began to feel anxious, for they were 
carrying the greater part of the foodstuffs for the 
safari, as well as several other important loads. 
We did not want any water carried on this march, 
as we knew we should find it at Lungaya, so to rest 
the men I had loaded up the camels with many of 
their burdens. 

Early in the morning I sent an askari and one of 
my guides back to Nayssoe to find out what had 
happened, telling them to follow me to Kavai, where 
I intended to go at once with the safari. 

On our way to this place we saw numbers of 
giraffe, rhino, gerenuk, Grevy zehra, and oryx, also 
fresh tracks of elephant. I half hopqd that when 
we reached Kavai we should find the camels already 
there before us, as it was possible that Karogi might 
have known a shorter way and so missed us, but there 
was no sign of them an^^vhere on our arrival. 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



Next day my messengers arrived from Nayssoe, 
having covered some forty miles in two days. They 
brought me news that the camels had left Nayssoe 
soon after the sajari, but were nowhere to be seen 
along the road. This was very disconcerting, as 
we wanted food badly, and I began to fear that 
Karogi had been up to some rascality, and had led 
them astray purposely so that he might steal the 
loads and disappear into the wilds. It was also 
possible that he had struck out for the Guaso Nyiro 
by some different way, and might even now be at 
Serah, the next camp, having marched there by 
some other route known only to himself. I there- 
fore despatched Papai and a Masai called Saiba to 
see if by any chance this was what had happened. 
These two had already marched twelve miles in the 
morning, and it was another twelve on to Serah, but 
they went very cheerfully, and returned at 6 p.m. in 
the evening, having covered at least thirty-six miles 
that day. They bore the disappointing news that 
the camels were not there, and to prove that they had 
really been to Serah, brought back a stick from our 
old boma at that place. 

I now feared that some villainy was afoot and 
that we might be attacked at any moment. I there- 
fore had a boma made, and later on sent the Head- 
man, with three askaris and a dozen porters, back 
to Nayssoe with orders to find out definitely where 



XXVII BACK TO THE GUASO NYIRO 



the camels had gone, and who had taken them. As 
we were in an exceedingly wild and uncivilized part 
of the country, I feared that the Samburu had 
attacked and captured them, and that the next thing 
I might expect would be a midnight attack on our 
camp. This made me most anxious on Mrs. R.'s 
account. She, however, was full of pluck, and when 
I mentioned to her that I might possibly have 
to return to rescue the camels from the Samburu, 
she seemed rather pleased than otherwise at 
the prospect of a fight and did not appear to 
realize the gravity of the situation, for which I was 
thankful. 

I remained on the alert all night, and spent a very 
anxious time straining my ears to catch any unusual 
sound. About midnight, when the camp had settled 
down into absolute quiet, without stir or noise of any 
kind, we were suddenly startled by a terrific and 
unearthly yelling and howling of a most uncanny 
kind. Instantly the whole camp leaped to its feet 
and every one seized a weapon of some sort. On 
investigation, we found that the alarm was created 
by the weird howling of a pack of twenty or more 
hyaenas, who had come dow^n close to our camp and, 
evidently at the signal of a leader, howled together 
in unison. This was repeated time after time, and 
was probably meant either to frighten us away, or as 
a reproach to us for having pitched our camp so 



332 IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



close to the only waterhole for miles round in 
the neighbourhood. 

I felt that to a certain extent we deserved this 
rebuke, for on our first night at Kavai, numbers 
of wild animals of all kinds came round our homa on 
their way to the waterhole, but were so startled 
by our appearance that they went away again. On 
this second evening they had come again, e\ddently 
very thirsty, and seeing us still there, had to 
retire once more without drinking. I felt exceed- 
ingly sorry for them, as I knew they must be suffering 
considerably by this time, and if it had been safe 
to do so, I should certainly have moved the camp 
some distance from the water, so as to give them a 
chance to drink; but I feared to do this in case of an 
attack by the natives. 

Soon after this alarm, at about one o'clock in the 
morning, ^lunyakai returned, shouting out to us 
from afar off so that we might know who he was. 
He brou2;ht us the "flad news that the camels v/ere 
following close behind and that all was well. His 
appearance was greeted with loud cheers by the 
safari, as it meant that their posho was at 
hand. 

It appeared, from what IMunyakai told me, 
though I never quite fathomed the whole story, 
that the villain Karogi, as soon as we had 
marched off from Nayssoe, tried to get for himself 



XXVII BACK TO THE GUASO NYIRO 



some sheep and goats from the Rendile, and as 
they resented this, they kept back the camels hoping 
that I would come in quest of them, punish Karogi, 
and return the sheep. However, the rascal managed 
to square the matter with them somehow, and they 
released the camels before the Headman got to 
Nayssoe. 

Munyakai's account seemed to show that the 
askari and guide whom T had sent back from Kavai 
had never gone to Nayssoe at all, as they had 
brought the false report that the camels had left 
Nayssoe soon after ourselves. 

There was not much sleep for any of us during 
the remainder of this night, as a terrific storm of 
wind, rain, thunder and lightning now came on and 
lasted until morning. These tropical storms are 
very different from those we have at home, and 
come on with most startling suddenness. All at 
once a fierce blast of wind strikes the tents, nearly 
knocking them over. Then the heavens are lighted 
up almost continuously by flash after flash of blind- 
ing lightning, while the roar and crash of the thunder 
is deafening, and the rain comes down in sheets. 
The storm was so bad that the camels were unable 
to travel, but one of the camel men came in and 
said they would follow us to the next camp and 
we need not wait for them. It was not until about 
nine o'clock in the morning that this heavy rain 



334 



IX THE GRIP OF THE XYIKA chap. 



ceased, and we were able at last to set out for 
Serah, which we reached safely, early in the after- 
noon. We heard lions roaring round the camp at 
night, and a sudden gale of wind nearly carried 
away the tent. . 

Early next day the long-expected camels turned 
up at last, and I was very glad indeed to see them, 
as food was badly needed for the safari, and we had 
been obhged to shoot meat for them every day. 
Fortunately the camels arrived just in time to take 
us across the waterless tract of country which lies 
bet^veen Serah and the Guaso Xyiro ; so, when food 
had been distributed, we started off at once, and 
before darkness fell had covered a good stretch of 
that inhospitable desert. 

Soon after we had set out on the following 
morning, as I was riding slowly and painfully 
along, I saw some \ailtures on the track just 
ahead of us. Had I been well enough I would 
undoubtedly have jumped off my pony and stalked 
the spot carefully, for I felt sure there would be a 
kill, and probably lions on it. As it was, I felt htde 
or no interest in anything, and so rode on without 
making any attempt to come upon them unawares. 
WTien we approached the spot we saw, as I quite 
expected, two lions well out in the open, feeding on 
an impala which they had killed. On seeing us they 
left what little remained of their feast and made off 



XXVII BACK TO THE GUASO XYIRO 335 

in the direction in which we were travelhng. 
Instantly Abbudi, grasping his spear and with joy 
dancing in his eyes, started off in pursuit. He had 
not run very far when he came up unexpectedly with 
one of them that had merely gone behind the nearest 
bush to take cover. Ha\ing not the least idea that 
the beast was so close, the youth approached at 
full speed and very nearly ran into him; as he 
did so the lion opened his jaws wide and gave a 
fierce growl. Instantly Abbudi threw himself back, 
poised his spear for a thrust, expecting the brute to 
spring on him, but luckily the lion had just enjoyed 
a good meal and was in no humour for a fight, so, 
much to the ^lasai's relief, he turned aside, and made 
ofi' into the jungle. 

Abbudi 's expression was very amusing, when a 
few minutes later he reacted the whole of this 
scene most dramatically, as the Masai love to do. 
His face was full of exulting pride, and it was 
evident that he considered it no small thini^ to have 
stood up to the lion without having shown any fear or 
attempted to run away. 

I felt much pleased as we approached the Guaso 
N}dro, for I knew that when once it was reached, the 
worst part of our journey would be over, and no 
matter what happened to me after that. ]\Irs. B., at 
any rate, would be comparatively safe, and within 
reasonable reach of civilization. 



336 



IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



It was extremely hot during the latter part of the 
march, and but for the fact that the porters vrere 
cheered at the prospect of reaching the plentiful 
waters of the river some time in the afternoon, there 
would have been much discontent and falling out by 
the way. The moment the feathery tops of the 
palm trees that grow here and there -along the river 
were seen, a great shout of joy ran along the hne, 
and every man seemed to shake his fatigue from 
him as he stepped briskly onward. ^ly heart was 
often moved with pity for the poor fellows, when 
I watched them drearily drag one weary foot after 
another on these hot and exhausting marches, 
carr}'ing a load of some sixty pounds in weight on 
their heads day after day. I was very glad for their 
sakes that the worst part of the journey was now 
over, and we were again entering a well-watered 
country, where shorter marches could be made. 

On reaching the river the men threw down their 
loads, and rushed eagerly into the cool, flo^^ing stream, 
to drink their fill of the sweet water. 

After an hour's rest I began to look for a ford, for 
I \\ished to cross and camp on the south bank as 
quickly as possible, in case a flood should come and 
detain me on the wrong side. 

We now required the camicls no longer, so, to 
reward the drivers. I had a large pot of coffee 
made for them, which they thoroughly enjoyed. 



XXVII BACK TO THE GUASO NYIRO 



I then paid them Hberally for having accompanied me 
through the desert, and on the following morning 
they returned to their own land, heaping showers of 
blessings on my head. 

While we were crossing the river one of the boys, 
a lazy, worthless rascal, whom I had often to punish. 




"rushed eagerly into the cool, flowing stream." 



was nearly drowned, as he was carried off his legs 
and swept away by the force of the stream, and but 
for a timely rescue it is probable that a crocodile 
would have seized him among the rocks a little 
low^er down, where these hideous brutes abounded. 
It was an odd chance that a photograph was being 
taken of the scene just as this accident occurred. 

z 



338 IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap, xxvii 



The relief which I experienced on getting into 
camp on the southern side of the Guaso Xyiro is 
indescribable. I slept more peacefully that night than 
I had done for the past fortnight, and I fervently 




"BUT FOR A TIMELY RESCUE IT IS PROBABLE THAT A CROCODILE WOULD 
HAVE SEIZED HIM." 

hoped that the remainder of our journey would be 
free from further accident or adventure. We were, 
however, by no means yet out of the grip of the 
nyika. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 



WE REACH THE MERU COUNTRY 

As I was very anxious to get back to Nairobi as 
quickly as possible, I determined to march due 
south through the fertile Meru and Embu country 
to the east of Mount Kenya, which was much the 
shortest route, instead of going all the way round 
by Rumuruti, through a sterile tract where no food 
could be obtained for the safari. 

It was absolutely essential that supplies should be 
forthcoming, as I had only four days' food left for 
the men, and it was no small worry to me at times 
to know that I had about a hundred hungry mouths 
to fill daily for another three or four weeks. 

I was aware that the tribesmen of the territory 
I intended to traverse were considered by certain 
officials to be both hostile and treacherous, and that 
no Europeans were allowed to enter the country 
for that reason; but I have always found that if one 
knows how to deal diplomatically with the natives 

339 



340 . IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



there is hardly ever any trouble with them. At the 
same time I had heard that the last party that 
went through this district, not so very long before, 
had had sixteen men killed in a fight; I must 
admit, therefore, that I was by no means free from 
anxiety, as these tribes have undoubtedly from 
time immemorial suffered from the depredations 
of passing safaris^ and might therefore treat us as 
hostile visitors and give us a very warm reception. 
After much consideration of all the pros and cons 
I came to the conclusion that it was necessary to 
take the risk and go by this route, as I was 
practically certain, by so doing, of obtaining food 
supphes for the men. 

Luckily, on the very morning after crossing the 
Guaso Nyiro, while our commissariat was in this 
low state, I was fortunate in obtaining, from an over 
inquisitive giraffe, a couple of days' supply of meat. 
The unlucky creature came rather close to our camp 
to breakfast off the green tree tops, and as I was not 
well enough to stalk it, I requested my companion 
to do so; although she was naturally loath to shoot 
one of these beautiful and harmless animals, yet the 
needs of the safari had to be considered and so, all 
unwillingly, she laid the giraffe low with one merciful 
bullet. 

Before striking south we first made our way to 
the Samburu village ruled over by Legurchalan, 



xxviii WE REACH THE MERU COUNTRY 341 



from whom we had engaged some camels on our 
way northwards. To reach this \illage we had to 
go along a very rough and lava -strewn path beside 
the Guaso Xyiro. In order to avoid the boulders 
and fissures in the lava, we tried for part of the 
march to make our way along that part of the bed 




"she laid the giraffe low with one merciful bullet." 



of the river which was now dry. For a time we 
got along fairly easily, and found plenty to interest 
us. The river here has precipitous sides of black 
lava rock some 60 feet high, in which great natural 
caverns have been hollowed out by the action 
of the water, some of them extending for over 
a hundred feet back from the face. These are 



342 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



evidently used by the Samburu or Wandorobo as 
dwelling places and cattle kraals at certain seasons 
of the year. 

In one of the caves we discovered the lair of 
a lion with freshly gnawed bones strewn about 
it. I must say that I approached the spot with 
the greatest caution, as I had no ambition to call 
on the lion in this gloomy place if he should be at 
home. 

After travelling thus for a few miles along the 
river-bed we all at once came to a narrow gorge 
through which the river ran swiftly, filling it from 
bank to bank so that it was impossible to go 
up-stream any further. We did not want to retrace 
our steps after having come so far, and it was not 
possible to climb up the precipitous sides, so we 
were rather in a difficulty; fortunately those who 
had continued to march along the top heard us 
shout, and lowered ropes to pull us up. These, 
however, proved too short, so Asa Ram, the Indian 
syce, took off his puggari, which was enormous and 
very strong, and when this was knotted to the rope 
it just reached to the bottom. By this means some 
two dozen of us were hauled up the perpendicular 
face of the rock and landed safely on the top. 

Next day, April 13th, we reached Legurchalan's 
village on the banks of the Mara stream, and found 
the old Samburu chief delighted to see us. I heard 



XXVIII WE REACH THE MERU COUNTRY 343 



from him that one of the camels which belonged to 
Lalla Rookh had died on the return journey from 
Serah. As I did not wish this handsome young 
warrior to be put to any loss on my account I sent 
for him, and very much to his surprise and delight 
paid him the full value of the beast. He himself 
protested that he was not in any way entitled to be 
recompensed for it, as I was clearly not responsible 
for anything that happened to the camel after it left 
my safari. He was quite a nice youth, and I 
was glad to be able to make him amends for his 
misfortune. 

Here I discharged my two faithful Samburu 
guides, Papai and Olasegedidi, paying them off 
with bales of amerikani, brass and copper wire, and 
beads. I first oft'ered them rupees, but these they 
laughingly declined, saying that they would be 
of no use to them in their tribe except to serve 
as toys for their children. They were dehghted 
with their reward and left me with many hearty hand- 
shakes and good wishes for a safe journey. 

On leaving Legurchalan's manyatta we marched 
south to a place called Ongata ^Nlariri, where we 
camped on the banks of a small stream called the 
Ooldooga. 

Between the Samburu and ^leru districts there 
is a tract that is quite deserted by natives, both 
nations being afraid to inhabit it. This neutral 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



zone is beautiful, well watered and grassed, and is 
an ideal country either for agricultural or grazing 
purposes. It is fairly well wooded too in places, 
and will, I am sure, when the Protectorate is more 
settled, become inhabited by a thriving population. 

It was through this savannah-Kke belt of country, 
known as the Jombini Plains, that we now made 
our way, and at our first camping place by the 
Ooldooga stream I saw a good deal of game, 
including a herd of about 200 eland, also herds 
of oryx, Grant's gazelle, some gerenuk, and a 
few rhino. Here also were great numbers of 
both Grevy's and Burchell's zebra, the two races 
meeting on this plain, but herding and feeding 
quite separately. 

I noticed one oryx in particular which I should 
have been glad to bag, as it had horns about half 
as long again as any in the herd, and they must 
have been many inches more than the best previous 
records for East Africa. I was, however, not well 
enough to undertake an arduous stalk. 

There were thousands of guinea-fowl about, so 
that there was no lack of sport of all kinds. It is 
altogether an ideal hunting country, which I have 
recommended should be thrown open to both 
sportsmen and explorers. 

From the Ooldooga we pushed on to a stream 
called Leilabah, where again game abounded; 



XXVIII WE REACH THE MERU COUNTRY 345 



numbers of the beautiful crested cranes were much 
in evidence, while the ubiquitous guinea fowl could 
be flushed out of every bush. 

The following day we reached the outskirts of 
the Meru country, and apparently took all the people 
by surprise. We were at once looked upon as a 




"we reached the outskirts of the meru country." 



hostile raiding party and there was a tremendous 
commotion raised, war-drums being sounded, and 
shouts exchanged from village to village, these 
being built very close together in this populous 
country. All the cattle were instantly driven off to 
places of concealment in the forest, and in an in- 
credibly short time we were surrounded by a howling 



346 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



band of some three hundred spearmen, under their 
various chiefs, all brandishing their weapons. 

Things looked very serious, and I must admit I 
felt somewhat alarmed. I therefore placed the sajari 
in a safe position on a rise overlooking a village, and 
walked out towards the yelling crowd of practically 




" OVEBIOOKING A VILLAGE." 



naked savages, making my way to a spot where I 
saw a group of Elders congregated, evidently dis- 
cussing the situation. I made the usual peaceable 
salutation, and we shook hands. I then explained 
in Swahili, which one or two of the elders under- 
stood, that I only wanted to pass through their 
country peaceably, and so long as I was not 



XXVIII WE REACH THE MERU COUNTRY 347 



molested I would not interfere with them in any 
way whatever. 

They seemed much impressed by the fact that I 
went out to them alone and unarmed, and took it at 
once as an explicit sign of my good intentions. As 
soon as they fully reahzed this, they shouted to the 



"the HOWTLING army then . . . DISPERSED." 

warriors to retire and lay aside their arms, as we 
were friends and had come on a friendly mission. 

The howling army then disbanded and dispersed 
as quickly as it had made its appearance, and we 
were shown a pretty site for our camp at a place 
called Athinga, close beside the village of the chief, 



348 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



who was called Dominuki. Here in the course of an 
hour we were surrounded by hundreds of eager and 
curious savages. We had apparently arrived at an 
opportune moment, because a short time previously 
Dominuki had been attacked by a combination of two 
tribes, the Kanjai and the Munyezu. Of course 




"dominuki . . , SENT US PRESENTS OF CATTLE." 



Dominuki was anxious to enhst me and my half- 
dozen rifles on his side so that we might make a 
combined attack on his enemies, and to this end he 
sent us presents of cattle, sheep, goats, milk, honey, 
eggs, &c., for which I duly returned presents of 
equal value. The old chief himself was exceedingly 



XXVIII WE REACH THE MERU COUNTRY 349 



ill with fever and ulcers, for which I treated him to 
the best of my ability. 

He now organized a tremendous ingoma (native 
dance) in our honour. x\ll the warriors in the 
locality, to the number of about 500, turned up in 
their war-paint and gathered in a field close by, 
where apparently all such ceremonies were held. 

To begin with, the old Witch Doctor took a 
small gourd filled with banana beer into the centre of 
the circle of warriors, and made a most impassioned 
speech, which was listened to with rapt attention 
and punctuated every now and again with a chorus 
of approval from the audience. At the conclusion of 
the speech a piece of turf was dug up from the field, 
the beer was placed in the hollow, and the Witch 
Doctor, with a final peroration, smashed it to atoms 
with his club, then jumped and stamped on it, finally 
covering it over with the turf. The whole of this 
performance, I presume, denoted death and extinction 
to all enemies of the tribe. 

The dance then commenced, and was a most 
weird and wild affair. The Witch Doctor first took 
the precaution of placing a guard around us, so that 
none of the excited w^arriors might do us an injury 
while in their half-frenzied state. The warriors, 
decked out in their semi-Masai garb, and painted 
hideously, then formed up in two companies in front 
of us, one to our right and the other to our left. 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



Groups of from four to six advanced from each side, 
and with savage shouts and yells dashed at each 
other, bounding into the air with great leaps, and 
making their spears quiver in their hands. They 
circled round in front of us, feigning to attack each 
other and making fierce passes in the air, leaping 
and yelling all the time, until one party retired, 
pursued by the other. 

This was repeated time after time, until the whole 
of the company had in turn taken part in the dis- 
play, after which the two companies united and went 
round us in a great circle, springing and bounding 
and hurling defiant words at their absent enemy — in 
this case the warriors of a chief called Thularia, whose 
district adjoined. 

During all the time that this war-dance was going 
on the women of the tribe kept away at a discreet 
distance, not daring to come near. Now, however, 
on its conclusion they approached, decked out in all 
the finery of the Meru belles, and each with a broad 
smile on her face, without any bashfulness or timid- 
ity, selected a favourite warrior, and a peace ingoma 
commenced. In this the performers made a ring, 
the men on the outside and the women on the 
inside, facing each other. Then, with hands on 
each other's shoulders, they commenced an up-and- 
down motion, raising themselves on their toes and 
then sinking dowm again on their heels, accompanied 



XXVIII WE REACH THE MERU COUNTRY 351 

by a monotonous chant which was weirdly interrupted 
now and then by the beating of the war drum, or 
the savage yell of an excited warrior. 




"decked out IX ALL THE FINERY OF THE MERU BELLES." 



The festivities were kept up throughout the day, 
nor did they cease at nightfall, as, while I lay awake, 
far into the night, I could plainly hear the fiendish 
sounds of the heathen revelr}\ 



CHAPTER XXIX 



THROUGH THE MERU COUNTRY 

Next morning we started off with an escort of 
about loo of Dominuki's warriors and made for a 
place called Kamuru, which was ruled over by Thu- 
laria, the chief of Dominuki's enemies. 

We had to march through forest and thick jungle, 
and I was not at all easy in my mind about the 
safety of the safari in such an enclosed country, 
where we were liable at any moment to be surprised. 
I therefore threw out my escort of warriors as an 
advance and flank guard to prevent any sudden 
attack on the caravan. 

On reaching Kamuru we found that Thularia 
w^as very difhdent about coming out of his fortified 
boma, as he feared I should take him prisoner for his 
share in the fighting with Dominuki. However, he 
eventually appeared, escorted by his Prime Minister 
and Umbrella Bearer, and a party of warriors. First 
there was the usual exchange of presents, and then 

352 



CHAP. XXIX THROUGH THE MERU COUNTRY 353 



commenced the shauri for the release of the 
prisoners he had captured from Dominuki. It was 
a very long one, but I eventually succeeded in 
making him come to terms which were just and 
equitable to both parties. Apparently in the 
first instance some 
of his men had been 
treacherously killed 
by Dominuki' s war- 
riors, and for every 
man so killed Thu- 
laria demanded 10 
cows, the usual fine 
in the Meru country 
for a life taken. 
Nothing was de- 
manded by either 
chief for the war- 
riors killed in battle, 
as a fine is never 
inflicted when a 
man is killed in a 
hand. 

When the terms were settled and the shauri over, 
I sent back word to Dominuki that as soon as he 
paid the fine of cows, imposed according to custom, 
his prisoners would be released. 

After this a market was opened, and I was able, 




THULARIA . . . EVEXTUALLY 
APPEARED. " 



fight 



with his 



s spear m his 



354 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



with the help of the chief, to procure a good supply 
of foodstuffs, flour, beans, and bananas, of which I 
was sadly in need. 

We then took our departure from Kamuru and 
proceeded to Munyezu, still through a very thickly 
enclosed country and through vast plantations 




" A GOOD SUPPLY OF FOODSTUFFS." 



of banana trees. On the way we saw by the 
side of the path the scalp of one of Dominuki's 
men, who had been treacherously speared while 
attempting to retrieve some stolen cattle. 

The chief of this district, whose name was 
Pymwezu, met us in quite a friendly way. He 
promised us food galore, but his people were not so 



XXIX THROUGH THE MERU COUNTRY 355 

hospitably inclined. They seemed very suspicious of 
the sajari, and paid no attention to his orders, so that 
we got practically nothing here — in fact, the only good 
thing that Pymwezu did was to bring us a basketful 
of most delicious tomatoes, which was the greatest 
possible treat he could have given us after our long 
and much-felt lack of fresh fruit and vegetables. 
I was so anxious to make these last as long as 
possible, that I gave them into the special charge 
of my most reliable donkey-boy. I was much sur- 
prised, therefore, when I did not see them on the 
table next day, and on asking Paul the cook where 
they were, he calmly told me that there were none. 
''But," I said, ''I gave the donkey-boy a basketful 
this morning." ''Xdio,^' answered honest Paul, 
"lakini shauri ya HamesV ("Yes, but Hamesi 
knows all about it"). I called up the donkey-boy, 
and asked him what he had done with them, when 
he gravely informed me that while he was busy 
repacking a load a donkey had eaten them I I 
remarked that I greatly feared the donkey in ques- 
tion was a two-legged one — whereupon the rogue 
hung his head. Such are some of the little 
trials and tribulations to be expected on sajari, but 
when one gets to know the character of the 
native, one can sympathize with these children 
of the ^^^lds, and even smile at the want of 
ingenuity which they display when they wish to 



356 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



concoct a convincing tale to cover some little 
delinquency. 

I made no delay at Munyezu, and continued the 
march to a place called Surah, where I was met by 
another chief named ]\Iithari, who seemed to be a 
man of considerable importance in these parts. 
Here, at the request of all the chiefs concerned, I 
held a big shauri and arranged terms of peace 
between the three tribes which had recently been 
warring with each other. ^lithari represented Domi- 
nuki's interests, while the other chiefs present were 
Thularia, Kizitu, and Mundu wa Weru. 

Pymwezu did not turn up, as he was evidently 
alarmed about his share in the fight, but he sent Kizitu 
in his place. 

This man brought with him as interpreter a young 
and good-looking wife, who spoke fluent Swahili 
and was loaded down with brass and copper wire 
and many rows of beads. She was evidently a lady 
of importance, and one who knew how to make her- 
self respected — a thing most unusual in the wilds 
of Africa, where a woman is considered a mere 
chattel. In this case, her good lord himself carried 
an easy camp chair about for her, in which she sat 
in great state interpreting throughout the shauri. 

By a remarkable coincidence this good-looking wife 
was an old dito (sweetheart) of my boy ^Ibusonye, 
who was a ^lasai, and it was very amusing to watch 



XXIX THROUGH THE MERU COUNTRY 



him, for as soon as he caught sight of her, he 
instantly divested himself of his coat and all other 
civilized attire which he wore when in attendance 
upon me, and, borrowing Abbudi's spear, went and 
made salutation to the lady, and hung over the back 
of her chair in a most lover-like way. They held a 
long conversation, but what it was about I know not. 
The result however was that my boy came to me 
later on and asked me to let him have a month's 
wages (15 rupees) in brass and copper wire, so that 
he might deck out his old sweetheart with it. 

The shauri with the chiefs lasted for a consider- 
able time, but finally the terms of peace which I 
proposed were agreed to by all as fair and just. 
Mithari accepted the terms provisionally on Domi- 
nuki's behalf, so I hope things are more peaceable 
in that part of the country now. The whole district 
is an exceedingly beautiful and fruitful one, and it is 
a great pity that it should be torn by these tribal 
dissensions. 

Quite a brisk market was now opened, and good 
trade done between the safari and the people in the 
locality. Mithari provided us with sheep, goat's milk, 
and food, for which We paid him with brass and 
copper wire and amerikani. He remained in our 
camp as a guarantee for our safety, and kept with 
him, as a messenger, a quaint-looking youth clothed 
in banana leaves. 



358 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



Rain came down in torrents during the night, 
which made matters very unpleasant, especially for 
the porters who had to carry the tents, &c., next day, 
as their loads weighed nearly twice as much when 
wet as when dry. 

Our next march took us to a place called ^Nlyeru, 



CLOTHED IX BANANA LEAVES." j^g wcnt with US through thcir 
country. I gave him a handsome present of copper 
wire and amerikani, and he departed quite pleased 
with the gift. 

Meanwhile the safari had been crossing the river 
by means of the hollowed-out trunk of a great tree 
which formed a rude bridge. All passed over in 
safety, with the exception of one pony that slipped 
over the side. The poor beast fell heavily on to a 
smooth rock, some eight feet below, and then tumbled 



" A QUAINT-LOOKING YOUTH 




and from thence we pushed 
on to Mackinduni through a 
thickly-populated and well- 
cultivated piece of country. 
We had to cross a very deep 
ravine, at the bottom of which 
ran a stream. Here Mithari 
took leave of us, for he said 
he dare not cross, as the 
jjeople on the other side were 
his enemies and would kill 
him on his return journey if 



XXIX THROUGH THE MERU COUNTRY 



down into the turbulent stream. I thought his back 
must be broken and gave him up for lost, as I saw 
him borne swiftly away towards the rapids lower 
down. Here, however, Jerogi the syce redeemed 
his reputation, for without any hesitation he dived 
in, seized the reins, and swam with the pony safely 
to shore. Strange to say, the animal was quite un- 
harmed by the accident. 

As soon as we crossed the ravine, the people fled 
from our path, and at a safe distance lined the tops of 
their village stockades to watch us while we passed. 
As they sat thus clustered together in black rows, 
they looked for all the world like vultures. Soon 
we came to a solitary hut, and from it heard the 
unmistakable cackle of a hen — a sound we had not 
heard for months, for the Masai, Samburu, and 
Rendile consider it incompatible with their dignity 
to have hens in their manyattas. Thinking that we 
might be able to buy a few eggs, I sent a man who 
could talk the local language, to make a purchase 
with some beads. The owner of the hut was 
completely taken by surprise and was so terrified 
at the sight of a stranger that, snatching up his 
spear, he fled for his life, leaving everything behind 
him, including a wife and new-born baby ! 

We halted for breakfast close to this hut, as there 
was a little clearing there, and we could not be 
surprised by a rush of the savages if they had any 



360 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



idea of attacking us. In a short time four 
old men cautiously approached, to find out our 
intentions and reasons for traversing their country. 
On hearing that we were quite a peaceable safari 
merely passing through, they seemed greatly re- 




" A COUPLE OF YOUNG FOWLS . . . WERE PERCHED ON A DON-KEY." 



lieved and brought a grateful present of eggs and 
a couple of young fowls. As these were alive, 
they were perched on a donkey, and so rode along 
daily until Paul wanted them for the pot. 

In this neighbourhood we came upon a woolly- 
headed and much wrinkled old native busily 
engaged, with all the zest of a schoolboy, in setting a 
cunningly-made bird trap, in which Mrs. B. took 



XXIX THROUGH THE MERU COUNTRY 361 



a great interest, with a view to reproducing it for 
the amusement of her httle son when she returned 
to England. I am indebted to her for the detailed 
description which is given in the Appendix. It 
shows the ingenuity and cleverness of the native, 
who constructs the entire trap with a few sticks and a 
string made out of the fibre plant. 

As we approached our next camping place, I had 
a practical illustration of the state of savagery in 
which these tribes dwell. I was attracted by the 
loud wailing of a poor woman by the wayside, and 
discovered that she was weeping for her husband, 
who had been killed on the previous day merely 
because he had attempted to penetrate into the 
neighbouring district. It was no wonder that I 
had failed in my efforts to secure a runner to take 
letters on to Nairobi. For some time past I had 
tried to get a messenger, but although I offered a 
handsome reward, I could find no one willing to 
undertake the task, all protesting that they would be 
set upon and killed by the other tribes on the way. 

We reached Makinduni late in the afternoon 
of the 22nd April, and camped under the shade of 
some spreading trees. The guide went off to a 
stockaded village about half a mile away, and 
brought back the local chief, who promised with 
much vehemence that we should have lots of food 
for the men. Luckily we were not in great need 



362 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



of it, as we got nothing. The natives here were 
inclined to be hostile, so much so that I feared an 
attack; I therefore thought it advisable to keep the 
chief in camp all night, though he was rather 
loath to remain. There was very great excitement 
among the tribe, who gathered in great numbers all 
round our camp as night came on, and yelled and 
howled in a most threatening manner. 

I had in my safari a man who had been born and 
bred in this part of the country, and, as I could hear 
from my tent the noisy yellings of another war 
party at a little distance, evidently holding a 
meeting of some sort, I sent him to find out what it 
was all about. After a couple of hours he returned, 
and told me there had been a big shauri of warriors 
and elders, who had been called together to decide 
whether they should allow us to pass through their 
country in peace or fall upon us during the night, 
wipe out the safari, and loot all our goods. The 
younger and more fiery warriors were for declaring 
war; the elders, however, refused to agree to this 
proposal, as they said that the solitary white man 
would never come through their country with a white 
lady unless he possessed some very powerful medi- 
cine with which he would be able to annihilate 
the warriors if attacked. The Witch Doctor said 
that they had never seen a white lady before, 
and it might bring great misfortune if any harm 



XXIX THROUGH THE MERU COUNTRY 363 



were to befall her. Finally, after long and hot 
arguments on both sides, it was agreed that the 
safari should be allowed to go through unmolested. 

The disappointed warriors vented their animosity 
in howls and yells round our camp. I therefore sat 
up all night long outside the tent door, with a rifle 
across my knee, never knowing what moment they 
might change their minds and attack us. From 
time to time I let off a rocket, which seemed to have 
a tremendous effect upon the howHng warriors, for 
the shouting would cease for a httle while and all 
would be quiet. 

I was exceedingly thankful when at last dawn 
appeared, and I was able to get the safari away 
from these hostile people. This was the only 
occasion upon which I was at all anxious about 
the attitude of the natives, whom I had found 
most friendly and hospitable throughout the expe- 
dition. It is more than probable that this particular 
tribe, living on the outskirts of the Meru country, 
had had to bear the brunt of many raids by Arab 
and Swahili caravans, and hence resented the intrusion 
of the safari into their territory. 

Before the chief of these truculent people was 
released he procured me a quaint-looking guide 
named Mukera, who vowed that he knew the road 
to the Tana river as well as the palm of his hand. 
So, telling him to lead the way, we marched off. 



CHAPTER XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 

Following our new guide through forest and 
glade we were soon beyond the southern border 
of the ^leru country, and continuing our march, 
found ourselves in an uninhabited and park-like 
tract of country, where, as evening closed in, we 
camped at a place which our guide called Komon- 
gera. We began again to see game here, and it 
was a pleasure to startle out of the long grass a 
reedbuck, or perhaps a steinbuck, and watch them 
bound away to safety. Now and again, in a stony 
part, we might perhaps surprise a shy little klip- 
springer. 

At Komongera our guide informed us that the 
Tana was not far away, and that he could lead us 
to a native bridge which spanned it. I knew 
there were scores of rivers and streamlets running 
into the Tana from ]\Iount Kenya, while there 
would be practically none flowing into it on the other 

364 



CHAP. XXX BACK TO NAIROBI 



365 



side, so that if we could get across we should be 
able to march much more rapidly. I therefore 
gave him directions to lead us by the most direct 
route to this bridge. 

Mukera, however, must have been rather vague 
as to its position, for, according to his story, we 




" TO STARTLE OUT OF THE LONG GRASS A REEDBUCK. 



were always just coming to it, but we never seemed 
to get any closer, either to the Tana or to the 
bridge, all the time he was with us. 

From Komongera we pushed on through a 
deserted and somewhat hilly country with fine trees 
dotted here and there over the landscape. Our path 



366 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



took us under some of these, and the branches being 
low, one had to be on the alert to avoid a colhsion. 
I was riding quietly along as usual, just ahead of 
Mrs. B., when I heard a crash behind me, and look- 
ing round saw that she had been dragged off her 
pony by an overhanging bough, while, to make 




"or perhaps a steinbuck. 



matters worse, her foot was entangled in the stirrup. 
Luckily, the pony stood perfectly still, and she was 
quickly released from her perilous position, none the 
worse for her heavy fall. 

Soon after this incident we made our way along 
the bed of a stream called the Kicheney, and at 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



367 



last, late in the evening, arrived at a place called 
Kubwaney, which is inhabited by the Tharaka tribe, 
whom we found to be quite friendly. These people 
speak a different language to that used in the Meru 
country, and they struck me as being somewhat like 




"or a shy little klipspringer." 



the Wakamba in appearance. The women wear 
beautifully-worked goat-skins, all covered over most 
artistically with little shells and beads. We noticed 
some cattle here, and a great number of goats, but 
the shambas (plantations) were very poor and badly 
cultivated. 



368 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



Our next march was a particularly difficult one, 
through tangled vegetation and across numerous 
ravines and rivers. As we emerged from some 
dense tropical growth, we unexpectedly found our- 




"tHE women wear beautifully worked GOATSKIN'S." 



selves on the bank of a swiftly flowing stream, 

which the guide told me was called the Mutonga. 

I saw that the crossing would be a difficult one, so 

called for a man who could swim well to go over 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



369 



with one end of a long rope. Mukera instantly 
volunteered and proved himself most useful; with- 
out any hesitation, he seized the rope, plunged into 
the torrent and, swimming like a duck, struggled 




I GOT THE SAFARI TO LINE THE ROPE." 



bravely with his heavy burden to the other side, 
where he secured it firmly to a stout tree. We then 
pulled the rope taut and fastened it to another 
convenient tree on our side. Holding on to this 

2B 



370 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



support, the men were able to cross one by one with 
their loads on their heads. We had, however, great 
trouble with the donkeys and cattle, and it was with 
much difficulty that we prevented some of the former 
from being carried away and drowned. I got the 
sajari to line the rope from one side to the other, 
and the donkeys were then passed over one by one 
on the up-stream side of the rope, and thus kept 
from being washed away. 

I had Mrs. B. carried across on the shoulders of 
four of the sturdiest men in the sajari, who would 
not easily be swept away by the turbulent and 
dangerous stream. Even so, she very nearly had a 
dip in the river, as at one time they were almost 
carried off their feet by the current. She herself 
wished to walk over holding on to the rope, but this 
I would not agree to, as I feared she might take a 
chill and get fever. 

When the ^lutonga had been safely cleared, the 
donkeys were loaded up again, and we had barely 
proceeded another couple of miles and were just 
beginning to get dry, when we reached another 
river called the ^lara, also in flood, and even more 
difficult to cross than the ]\Iutonga. The same 
manoeuvres had to be gone through again, and it 
gave us four hours' hard work before all had crossed 
over and we could pitch camp at a place known as 
Kairunva, on the south bank of the river. We 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



371 



found this particular strip of country a most trouble- 
some and tiresome one to traverse, for we were con- 
stantly coming upon unexpected obstacles in the 
shape of great ravines, streams, and rivers, which 




"we reached another river called the MARA." 



made our progress very slow. The prospect was 
also a cheerless one, as hardly a living thing was to 
be seen. 

At our next camp, at a place called Kangono, 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



we were visited by the local chief, named Njeroo, 
arrayed in a gorgeous headdress made of the black 
and white long-haired skin of the collabus monkey. 
He was of a crafty and cunning-looking type, and 




"unexpected obstacles in the way of streams." 



his appearance gave one the impression that 
treachery and rascality were inborn in him, but of 
course one cannot always judge by looks, and he 
may have been a very decent fellow. 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



373 



He was accompanied by a rather fine-looking 
savage, who carried a beautifully made Masai 
spear; this man told me he often went to the 
Government station at Embu, and was, in fact, 
going there the following day. As I wished to 
send an official letter to the officer in charge, I 
asked him to call for it in the morning before he 
started. He promised me faithfully that he would 
do this, but as I did not quite trust him I requested 
him to leave his spear as a pledge. This he 
readily agreed to do, driving it into the ground at 
my tent door. Instead, however, of coming in the 
morning, he crept into the camp in the darkness of 
the night, cautiously took his spear from under the 
nose of the askari on sentry, and I never saw him 
again. 

At this same place another wily native tried 
to play a trick on us, but unfortunately for himself 
it failed. He was an avaricious-looking villain, and 
as he prowled round the camp he caught sight of 
some coils of copper wire which he greatly coveted. 
Paul, the cook, happened to pass by as he was 
gloating over the wire, and told him he could have a 
coil if he brought a dozen eggs in exchange. On 
hearing this his face lit up with joy, and off he went, 
returning in a little while with the eggs. When he 
was questioned as to their freshness, he asserted 
many times that they were quite ''new laid." To 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



make sure, however, Paul tested them by putting 
them into a bucket of water, when he found that 
every one of them floated. They must have been 
months old ! The cook was highly indignant that a 




" ox THE WAY WE HAD TO CROSS SEVERAL MORE RIVERS." 



shenzi (savage) should try to get the better of him 
in this way, so calling for the assistance of a few^ 
men of the sajari, he caught the rogue and broke 
the whole reeking dozen over his unfortunate head 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



375 



— to the huge delight of the onlookers, including a 
good number of his own tribe, who seemed im- 
mensely amused at the punishment inflicted. 

Fror^i Kangono we struck south-eastward, and 
on the way we had to cross several more rivers, 
which gave us a great deal of trouble and delayed us 
for hours. 

On this march the pony called ''The Mule" died. 
He had been suffering for several days from some 
internal disease, and although he was being led 
carefully along by the syce, the rivers and ravines which 
he had to get over proved too much for him, and he 
suddenly collapsed. 

Notwithstanding the fact that we had been on the 
move practically all day, yet when evening found 
us pitching our tents at a place called Uriyeree, we 
could not have been more than half a dozen miles, 
as the crow flies, from our last camp. 

At Uriyeree the guide came to my tent and 
with much gesticulation informed me that the long- 
promised bridge over the Tana was now quite close, 
and that we should reach it at the end of the next 
day's march. By this time I had very little faith 
in Mukera's reliabihty, but I had of course to be 
guided, more or less, by what he said, as I was 
absolutely in the dark regarding the geography of the 
country, maps of which did not exist. 

From Uriyeree we pushed on next morning 



376 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



towards the Tana, and as I rode along at the 
head of the safari, I was much surprised to see a 
white man with an escort of natives in war dress 
coming along towards me. On approaching nearer 
I discovered that he was an old acquaintance of 
mine whom I had met at Fort Hall a couple of years 
previously. He had heard news at his boma at 
Embu that a European was coming down, and he 
had sallied out in hot haste to see who it was who 
had broken the local taboo by marching through this 
dangerous country. 

He told me that my guide was mistaken as to the 
bridge over the Tana, as none existed to his know- 
ledge, and that the nearest way to Nairobi from our 
present position was through his boma at Embu. 

When Mukera discovered that he was found 
out, he disappeared off into the jungle without 
asking for any reward for his services. I have often 
wondered what his game was in misleading us as he 
did. I can only imagine that he was told by his 
people to guide us beyond the borders of their district 
and then decamp on the first opportunity. 

Next day, after a march of fifteen miles, we 
reached Embu, and as we dined that evening with 
a pleasant party under the hospitable roof of the 
District Commissioner, I felt more relieved than I 
can express to realize that we were back once more 
within reach of civilization. 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



377 



My health, too, improved considerably now that 
the great strain was over, so it was with a com- 
paratively easy mind that I set out next day towards 
Fort Hall, which is two short marches from the 
Embu boma. Before starting we received many 
warnings from our kind host to beware of the rhino 



"we reached embu." 

and buffalo which infested the track. The timely 
caution was indeed very necessary, for our adven- 
tures were not yet over, and disaster nearly overtook 
us just as we were almost out of the toils of the nyika. 

It happened that our camping place was on a little 
rise on the edge of a great papyrus swamp, and while 
sitting on a chair overlooking it I saw plainly, with 



378 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



the naked eye, the black backs of a large herd of 
buffalo grazing peacefully at no great distance. I 
thought it would be most interesting and quite safe 
to walk over and take a closer view, and, if possible, 
get a photograph of them. From where I stood I 
thought this might easily be done by stalking along 
under cover of a ridge and some long grass which 
extended almost up to the beasts. Accordingly we 
set out and walked carefully along under cover, 
until we suddenly found ourselves close to a single 
bull standing apart from the rest of the herd. He 
did not see us at first, but a treacherous gust of 
wind told him of our presence, and he came 
straight towards us at a gallop. I was surprised 
at this, as, unless molested, a buffalo as a rule 
clears off on scenting danger, but I found out after- 
wards that these beasts had lately been attacked 
by several parties, and were therefore very vicious. 
I was much alarmed at his sudden onset, and having 
no desire to see the brute vent his rage on one 
of us, I covered him with my rifle, at the same time 
asking Mrs. B. to fire, as I intended to wait until 
he was quite close so as to make a sure shot. The 
next thing I saw was the great bull taking a header 
while still in full career, stopped by my companion's 
timely and well-placed bullet. 

I was naturally delighted, but the next second 
my joy was turned into the gravest anxiety, for lo ! 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



379 



— over the rise and thundering along through the 
long grass came the whole herd of about 150, 
making straight as a die for us at a steady gallop, 
the charge being headed by a bull with huge horns. 
It was an impressive and awe-inspiring sight to 
watch the great herd come on at a determined pace, 
with horns lowered and tails up, looking the very 
embodiment of savage power. 

The moment was a very critical one, and the 
dangerous situation in which we now found our- 
selves had developed with startling suddenness. I 
knew that our only chance was to shoot the leader, 
as the whole herd would then probably turn aside 
and not trample us to death; so, saying to my 
companion, "We must drop the leading bull or 
we're done," we both let drive. 

When they got within about thirty yards of us, 
the leader fell with a crash. On seeing this the 
whole herd halted and stood looking at us as we lay 
quietly on the ground in front of them, partly con- 
cealed by the grass. The situation was so alarming 
that the askaris lost their heads and opened fire. 
Luckily they forgot in their terror to take any aim, 
and their bullets ploughed into the ground, not ten 
yards ahead. Had they gone into the herd, they 
would have infuriated the beasts, and we should 
inevitably have been trampled to death. The noise 
and smoke from the black powder made by the 



380 IX THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



askaris' Martini rifles had the effect of turning them 
off a little to our right, where they again halted and 
stood looking at us, undecided what to do now that 
their leader was gone. Finally, to my intense relief, 
they galloped off and disappeared into the depths of 
the papyrus swamp. 

It was a providential escape from what might 
have been a dire calamity, and I made a mental 
vow that nothing whatever would induce me 
to leave the beaten track again while on this 
expedition. 

The solitary bull which Mrs. B. had first fired at 
lay stretched out upon the ground, while the great 
leader of the herd had again got on his legs and 
managed to reach the shelter of the papyrus in a very 
tottery condition. 

I felt convinced that he would die there and that 
we should get him next morning, as of course it was 
out of the question to do anything further just then, 
and indeed my only anxiety was to get back to camp 
as speedily as possible. 

When all the excitement was over I asked 
Mrs. B. what her sensations were when the herd 
was galloping at us, and she replied: "Something 
like what I suppose an infantry soldier feels when 
he is resisting a charge of cavalry — a case of beat 
them off or get trampled" — which I considered 
a very cool summing up, considering the grave 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



peril she had just gone through without flinching 
in the least. 

Thus ended the last of our adventures on this 
eventful journey, and I was very glad of it as I was 
not in a fit state of health to cope with them, and had 




"brought his fine head safely after us to NAIROBI." 



no desire that any further catastrophe should befall 
us now that we were within loo miles of Nairobi. 

When we struck camp on the following morning I 
left a gun-bearer and askari behind to search for the 
body of the great bull. They found it, as I expected, 
at the edge of the papyrus, and brought his fine 



382 IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 

head safely after us to Nairobi, where on measuring 
it I found the spread of the horns to be just a shade 
over 48 inches. 

The following afternoon we at last reached the 




"cautiously spying on the safari." 



Tana, and as I approached the boat ferry which 
crosses it, I suddenly came upon a native with a 
bow in his hand and a w^ll-stocked quiver at his 
back, cautiously spying on the safari from the 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



383 



cover of a large tree. On seeing me with my 
camera levelled at him, he dived off into the thicket 
with a startled yell. 

I intended to have camped at Fort Hall at the 
end of this march, but, as we had to cross the river 
by relays in one little boat, and the mules and 
donkeys showed a strong objection to being towed 
at the stern, it was nearly 9 o'clock in the evening 
before the whole safari got over. I was compelled, 
therefore, to remain by the river, although I was 
anxious to see the doctor at Fort Hall at the earliest 
possible moment. 

During the crossing of the Tana, the mule which 
I rode after the death of Aladdin w^as very nearly 
drowned. It had been hauled across the river with 
much pains by means of ropes, but no sooner w^as 
it released on the bank than it deliberately plunged 
into the swollen torrent to rejoin the other mule 
that was still on the far side awaiting his turn to be 
pulled over. Luckily, there was an island in mid- 
stream just below where the mule jumped in, and 
on this he was flung by the flood, so after a great 
deal of trouble we eventually managed to rescue 
him from his awkward position and bring him 
safely to the bank. 

On the following morning I looked long at the 
Tana river, which rolled at my feet, and beyond at 
the giant peak of Mount Kenya, which glistened in 



384 



IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA chap. 



the morning sunshine. It was with a sigh of reHef 
that I turned away to contemplate the view to the 
south which showed me that we were almost at our 
journey's end. 

On arriving at Fort Hall an hour or so later, I 
went immediately to see the Medical Officer, Dr. 




"l LOOKED LONG AT THE TAXA RIVER, WHICH ROLLED AT MY FEET, 
AXD BEYOND AT THE GIANT PEAK OF MOUNT KENYA." 



Lindsay, and was lucky enough to find him at 
home. His advice was most helpful, and I am 
much indebted to him for his kindness and attention. 

A few more uneventful marches brought us to 
Nairobi, which I was exceedingly glad to reach. 
It was an intense relief to feel that I need have no 
further anxiety on Mrs. B.'s account, and to know 



XXX 



BACK TO NAIROBI 



385 



that, although sad calamities had overtaken us, we 
were now at last safely out of the grip of the nyika. 

Unfortunately the illness from which I had suffered 
more or less throughout the return journey had 
reduced me almost to a skeleton, and I was in such 
a low state of health that when the Principal Medical 
Officer of the Protectorate saw me on the following 
morning, he sent me before a Medical Board who 
ordered my immediate return to England. 

I said good-bye to Abbudi at the railway station, 
while Munyakai bin Diwani and one or two others 
came with me as far as Mombasa. All wished me 
a good recovery and a speedy return for another 
sajari, so that wx might again journey together 
through the East African wilds. 



2 c 



APPENDIX 



HOW A MERU BIRD TRAP IS MADE 

First of all, a number of twigs some i8 inches long, the 
tops of which are too weak to tempt a bird to perch on 
them, are procured. These are fixed in the ground 
close together in a circle which has a diameter of about 
15 inches. In the fence so formed, a doorway of some 
8 inches is left, as an entrance for the bird. 

Next, three tough, thin, flexible rods are required, each 
long enough to admit of being bent into a half-circle, so 
that when the ends are fixed into the ground the crest of 
the archway so formed is about on a level with the top of 
the fence. 

These rods are fixed in the ground, one in front of the 
opening and one on either side of it, as follows. The first 
rod is bent to form a half-circle, and fixed firmly in the 
ground in front of, and close up to, the opening which forms 
the entrance to the enclosure, as shown in the photograph. 
A stiff, straight stick is placed on the ground between this 
and the fence, so that the ends touch the feet of the arch- 
way and project beyond them for a couple of inches. 

The second rod is fixed on one side of the entrance, as 

386 



APPENDIX 



387 



shown in the photograph, by first passing one end of it 
outside the arch already formed and inside the horizontal 
stick at its feet, which it touches, the end of the rod being 
pushed down into the ground at about a third of the 
distance between the feet of the first archway; the rod is 
then bent over in the form of a half-circle, the loose end 
being firmly fixed in the ground among the fence twigs. 




" A WOOLLY-HEADED AND MUCH WRIXKLED OLD XATIVE . . . SETTIXG 
A CL^"XIXGLY-MADE BIRD TRAP " (See page 360). 



The third and last rod is secured in a similar way on the 
other side of the entrance, as shown in the picture. 

WTien this is done it will be found that the entrance rod 
will be inclined towards the fence as much as is required, 
and the three arches will be rigid. 

The next part of the contrivance consists of a fairly 
stout but flexible sapling, about 7 feet long which is driven 



388 



APPENDIX 



well into the ground at the back of the fence, exactly 
opposite the gateway, and about 5 feet from it. 

To the top of this is tied a piece of string, which is 
then pulled over the central archway until the sapling is 
in a bow shape over the trap. While in this strained 
position the point where the string touches the crown of 
the archway is noted, and here the string is firmly tied 
round a thin piece of stick, some 6 inches long, at about 
an inch from one end of it. This piece of stick is then 
pulled down behind and under the crown of the entrance 
arch, and the end of it to which the string has been tied 
is placed against the outside of the crown of the arch. 
Holding the string taut in this position with one hand, 
a cross-piece of about 9 inches is momentarily held with 
the other hand low down against the arched rods at each 
side of the entrance. The tip of the lower end of the 
stick to which the string is attached is then placed outside 
and against this short cross-piece so that it grips it and 
holds it in position by the great strain on the string 
attached to the sapling. The string does not end where 
it is knotted to the 6-inch stick, but is continued in 
the form of a running noose, which is made into a 
large loop and spread out over the open space round the 
9-inch cross-piece, so that the bird will not go through the 
opening into the trap without first hopping on to the cross- 
stick. A suitable bait of bird food is placed inside the door- 
way, and the trap is then ready for action. The moment 
the bird perches on the cross-stick the latter drops down, 
and the sapling at the back being then released flies up with 
great force, pulling the noos^ tight on to the bird at the 
same time. The speed with which the sapling springs back 
is generally enough to kill the bird outright, as it is dashed 
against the crown of the entrance arch rod while in the 
tight embrace of the noose. 



APPENDIX 



389 



This trap is apparently quite successful in the wilds, 
but I very much doubt if our civilized birds with plenty 
of food about would let themselves be caught in a con- 
trivance of this description, except, perhaps, in winter, with 
snow thick on the ground. 

This device is given in detail to show the ingenuity 
and cleverness of the native, who constructs the entire trap 
with a few sticks and a string made out of the fibre plant. 
It also shows that he is a keen observer, and knows how 
to take advantage of the foolishness of a bird, which prefers 
to enter through a complicated doorway rather than fly in 
at the open top. 



/ 



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in nature, their means of livelihood, and their general characteristics." — 
A^ew York Herald. 

THEODORE S. VAN DYKE'S 
The Still Hunter 

Illustrated, cloth, 8vo, $1.75 net 

" A vivid account of the most exciting sport in the world . . . the record of 
years of experience. ... It is crammed full of valuable advice for the deer 
hunter and has the advantage of having been written before hunting became 
more of a pastime than a serious business, requiring untiring energy, great 
patience, cool nerves, and perfect sight." — Chicago Tribune. 

L. W. BROWNELL'S 

Photography for the Sportsman Naturalist 

Illustrated, cloth, 8vo, $2.00 net 

" It often occurs that he who finds delight in woodcraft, finds also a pleasure 
in preserving by photography what he finds to interest him in his wander- 
ings in the open. To such this book appeals with a peculiar force, for the 
author is evidently at once familiar with wood and field life and an adept 
with the camera." — Boston Transcript. 

C. WHITNEY'S 

Musk-Ox, Bison, Sheep, and Goat 

American Sportsman s Library Illustrated, cloth, 8vo, $2.00 net 

" The story is told in Mr. Whitney's manly, unpretentious, and straightfor- 
ward style. Only a man of indomitable pluck could have gone through the 
ordeal and only a well-balanced man could have written about it so mod- 
estly." — JVew York Sun. 

THEODORE ROOSEVELT'S 
The Deer Family 

Including chapters by T. S. Van Dyke, D. G. Elliot, and A. J. STONE 

American Sportsman's Library Illustrated, cloth, i2mo, $2.00 net 

A volume for the lover of the wild, free, lonely life of the wilderness and of 
the hardy pastimes known to the sojourners therein. 



PUBLISHED BY 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

64-66 Fifth Avenue, New York 



FREDERICK C. SELOUS' 

African Nature Notes and Reminiscences 

Illustrated, cloth, 8vo, $j.oo net 

" Extremely valuable is this collection of the observations, experiences, and 
deductions of this veteran big-game hunter and naturalist. Opening with 
two chapters on the much discussed question of protective coloration, 
recognition marks, and the influence of environment on living organisms, 
the volume contains exhaustive notes on the habits and characteristics of 
lions, hyenas, wild dogs, cheetahs, Cape buffalo, tse-tse fly, black rhinoceros, 
giraffe, the gemsbok, and that curious race, the Bushmen of South Africa. 

A Hunter's Wanderings in Africa 

Illustrated, cloth, 8vo, $2.^0 net 

An interesting narrative of nine years spent amongst the game of the far in- 
tei ior of South Africa, and containing accounts of explorations beyond the 
Zambesi, on the River Chiobe, and in the Matabele and Mashuna Countries, 
with full notes upon the natural history and present distribution of all the 
large mammalia. 

MARY H. KINGSLEY'S 
Travels in West Africa 

Illustrated, cloth, i2mo, $2.00 net 

CONTENTS 

Liverpool to Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast — Fernando Po and the 
Bubis — Voyage down Coast — The Ogowe — Lembarene — Kaugwe to 
Lake Ncovi — Ncovi to Esoon — Esoon to Agonjo — Bush Trade and Fan 
Customs — Down the Rembwe — Fetish — The Great Peak of the Came- 
roons — Trade and Labor in West Africa — Disease in West Africa — The 
Invention of the Cloth Loom. 



ARTHUR G. LEONARD'S 

The Lower Niger and Its Tribes 

Illustrated, cloth, 8vo, $4.00 net 

" This book deals chiefly with the natural religions and the philosophy of 
the various tribes. It is soundly based upon anthropogeography and is 
infused with scientific spirit and also with warm sympathy for the Negro 
races." — American Geographical Society. 

G. W. STOW'S 

Native Races of South Africa 

Cloth, 8vo, $6.50 net 

A history of the Bushmen, the now almost extinct tribe of dwarfs that used 
to inhabit the southern end of Africa. 



PUBLISHED BY 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

64-66 Fifth Avenue, New York 



FAMOUS WORKS OF TRAVEL 



This collection of rare and interesting mediaeval masterpieces is conceded by 
bibliographers to be indispensable for the reference department of any well- 
appointed library. The editions are uniform in binding and contain all the 
original curious illustrations, maps, and engraved title pages reproduced in fac- 
simile. They are printed on the very finest antique paper and bound beautifully, 
with gilt top, and are especially suited for library use. The editions are limited. 



SAMUEL PURCHAS' 

Hakluytus Posthumus ; or, 
Purchas His Pilgrimes ^^^„^, 



Contayning a History of the World, in Sea Voyages and lande Travells, 
by Englishmen and others. Wherein Gods Wonders in Nature and Provi- 
dence, the Actes, Arts Varieties and \'anities of Men, with a world of the 
World's Rarities, are by a world of Eyewitnesse-Autliors, Related to the 
World. Some left written by Mr. Hakluyt at his death. More since added, 
His also perused and perfected. All examined, abreviated, Illustrated with 
Notes, Enlarged with Discourses, Adorned with pictures, and Expressed 
with Mappes. 



Containing his Ten Yeeres Travell through the Twelve Dominions of Ger- 
many, Bohmeriand, Switzerland, Xetherland, Denmarke, Poland, Italy, 
Turky, France, England, Scotland, and Ireland. 



WILLIAM LITHGOW'S 

Some Discourse of the Rare Adventures of Long 



RICHARD HAKLUYT'S 




/n twelve volumes, 8vo, $48.00 nel 



FYNES MORYSON'S 



Itineray 



In four volumes, 8vo, S/j.oo 7iet 




PUBLISHED BY 



THE MACMILLAX COMPANY 



64-66 Fifth Avenue. New York