XVI A RACE WITH A RHINO . . .212
XVII IMPRISONED BY A COBRA . . 223
XVIII TREED BY AN ELEPHANT . . 232
XIX> SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA . 250
XX CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES . 264
XXI CORNERED BY BABOONS . . 278
XXII A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS . .291
I FIRED POINTBLANK INTO HER BREAST . . FrOtltispiece v
He had WRECKED SEVERAL GRASS HUTS . . . . 60 '
The grass parted as though a snow-plough were
being driven through it 96
The canoe was lifted high into the air . . . 188
It worked its triple set of fangs backward and forward IN A vain effort TO BURY THEM IN MY HAND 230 /
Groping along and feeling out each frozen footprint 258
His guards bound his hands and feet . . . 270
The whip-lash all but cut him in the face . . 298 .
AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES CHAPTER I
A NARROW ESCAPE FROM AFRICAN BLACKS
FROM childhood the ambition of Mr. S. had been to become an adventurer. Before he had attained manhood he left England to cast his lot with that sturdy, courageous class of men who make a business of trading wch the natives and hunting elephants in Africa. At the time that I met him he had spent most of his life in South Africa, and a more interesting person I have never seen.
He was a man of few words, quiet and unassuming. While he undoubtedly knew more about the African animals than any living man, I never heard him contradict a fellow sportsman. When told of some extraordinary experience that seemed questionable, and asked to express his opinion, he always began by saying: *'My experience has been ..."
4 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Even in the days in which he visited Africa, ivory hunters were so numerous that the large "'tuskers" were soon killed out of the regions where the natives had been pacified. This made it necessary for the intrepid hunters to seek new and inhospitable fields if they intended to succeed. S. was one of the few men who was willing to endure the hardships and accompanying dangers of such a trip.
He was a passenger on the Admiral, that carried the Roosevelt African expedition from Naples to Mombasa, and we whiled away many a pleasant hour listening to his thrilling experiences.
He started once, he said, with about twenty-five Kafir boys to carry his outfit and trade goods, on a trip into the then little-known region north of the Zambesi River. Elephants, it was believed, had been little molested in that section and the chances were good for finding big "tuskers."
His objective point was somewhat of a question. He was after ivory and intended to rely more or less on the information he could gather from the tribes he met. Finally, he began to pass out of the region of friendly natives and to
draw near the line which in our country is known as the ''frontier." Here the hunter was warned of treacherous people ahead, but, as the natives are naturally alarmists and live in constant fear of attacks from each other, he placed little credence in the report. S. always carried a supply of trade goods, and believed that he would have no trouble after he had presented the various chiefs with presents and they found that he had come to barter with them.
Each day's travel brought the party in contact with strange tribes, who spoke unknown tongues and from their actions showed that they had never before seen a white man. As the caravan drew near a village the people fled in terror and stood off at a distance watching and jabbering in their peculiar language. The women and children were particularly timid and refused to enter the camp until the confidence of the men had been won.
With trifling gifts they were finally coaxed near, and soon they lost their fear and became sociable. They always carried their long, dangerous-looking spears, however, which looked suspicious. Never, after winning the confidence of a tribe of savages, had S. known them to re-
6 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
tain their arms. He laid this exception to the fact that these people were ignorant of the white man's ways, and deemed it prudent to be always prepared until they knew more of him.
One afternoon the traveller came to a chief's village and, after paying his respects to the potentate, made camp near by, enclosing it in an elephant-grass stockade.
When everything was settled the chief sent his visitor vegetables and native beer, and the guest reciprocated with calico, beads, and salt. Then he asked the chief to ferry his outfit across a near-by stream in the morning, as the caravan wished to proceed on its way without delay. The old fellow seemed wilhng, but said as his canoe was not then at the village he could not acquiesce until he had sent for it, which would take a day at least. In the meantime he wished the hunter to shoot some game for his people, promising to furnish a guide and helpers to bring in the dead animals.
The following day several head of game were killed and most of the meat was turned over to the villagers, S. saving enough for himself and his men.
As on the previous day, the natives gathered
at the camp, traded vegetables with the porters, and seemed to be on the most friendly and sociable terms. As the afternoon wore on they began to disperse and by supper time not a person was left; they had disappeared as though by magic. They did not return in the evening, either, which was most unusual, for an African native is more nocturnal than he is diurnal. While revolving the incidents of the day in his mind, the white man remembered that there were fewer women about the camp that afternoon than there had been on the previous day, which also looked suspicious. His porters, too, seemed alarmed. They sat by their camp-fires talking in undertones, and always carried their spears or left them lying on the ground by their sides, as though expecting an attack at any moment.
The anxious hunter went to his tent early that evening, and as he lay on his cot he wondered if, after all, the chief were playing a treacherous game and bestowing gifts simply to allay suspicion. He was so uneasy that he removed only his shoes and put his rifle and cartridge-belt close at hand.
Through the open tent front he watched his
8 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
porters, one by one, roll up in their blankets by the dying embers of their camp-fires. Contrary to the invariable rule so early in the evening, not a sound came from the village. It was so quiet one could almost hear oneself think, and, true to the old saying, it proved to be "the calm before the storm."
Suddenly a man slipped into the enclosure and skulked toward the fire where two of the servants were sleeping. S. sprang from the cot, snatched the rifle, and levelled it at the fellow, but at the same instant saw that the black was unarmed. He watched the native lean over and shake the slumbering boys, and then the three entered into conversation. The hunter heard one of them say:
"We had better tell our master at once!"
"What is it, Charley.?" he asked.
The caller proved to be a boy who had been hunting with them that morning and had been given a liberal supply of meat. He had come to inform his friends that the women had all been sent from the village and he feared there was going to be an attack.
If this were true there could be but one interpretation: the chief meant mischief. Step-
ping back into the tent, S. slipped into his shoes, buckled on his cartridge-belt, and, picking up his rifle, ordered the men to put out the fires, which they did by throwing dirt on them. The camp was dark.
He was standing before the tent talking with the men, when without the slightest warning the flashes of several guns burst through the grass fence. At the same time a shower of spears fell into the stockade and some must have struck the porters.
A moment later the savages broke through the enclosure and, howling like demons, rushed upon the party. They outnumbered the white men ten to one, and it would have been madness to attempt to resist them. S. shouted to his boys to flee for their lives and, turning ran toward the back of the '*kraal."
On reaching it he broke through and started for a thicket. Suddenly he tripped and fell and two men stumbled over him. They might have been some of his own party escaping, but if they were savages they must have thought that he had fallen from a wound, so they kept on after other victims.
The hunter scrambled to his feet, still clinging
10 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
to his rifle, and made for the ford of a sjtream that he had crossed when entering the village. He realised that his only hope of escape from the country would be to travel south toward the Zambesi, some five hundred miles away. Drawing near the ford, the outcast was warned of danger by hearing voices; the crafty old chief had planned his attack well. Knowing that the ford was the most likely route his victims would take, should any succeed in escaping the first attack, he had placed warriors to watch it and cut down those who came that way.
S. turned and walked along the bank in the opposite direction until he came to a deep pool. Here he took off his clothes, made them and his rifle into a bundle, fastened it to his head, and swam the stream. While dressing he looked back toward camp. The fires had been rekindled, and, amid the din of voices, he saw the savages running hither and thither as they fought for possession of the spoils.
Travelling southward all night, he came to a stream early in the morning and, after crossing it, lay down to rest and sleep. Suddenly he was awakened by voices and, looking up, saw two blacks on the opposite side of the river. Both
were armed with spears, one of which they carried in the right hand ready for instant use.
It was an anxious few minutes for the unfortunate hunter. He was in plain sight and dared not move for fear of attracting their attention. There he lay, expecting at any moment to be discovered, and wondering if he would have to shoot them to prevent their returning to the village and giving the alarm. They were so intent on looking for his footprints, which they had for the time lost, that they did not see him, and in their efforts to find them passed out of sight. S. then jumped to his feet and, skulking through the tall grass, managed to escape again.
Late in the afternoon he began to feel hungry, for he had had nothing to eat since the evening before. Game was not very abundant, but he searched about for an antelope and finally came across one, a solitary old wildebeest. After carefully manoeuvring he managed to sneak up behind the only bush that afforded shelter. He found that even then he was too far away to risk one of the four cartridges that must last him throughout the journey. He had abandoned all hope of killing the animal when, as though deliberately wishing to sacrifice itself, it walked
12 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
slowly to within fifty yards of the bush, and the trader dropped it with a bullet through the heart.
Fearing that his shot might have been heard by his enemies, he quickly cut off some of the meat and, returning to the tall grass, travelled several miles before he dared build a fire and cook a meal.
When he was again ready to move on, darkness had fallen and the chilly, tropical night seemed to penetrate to his bones. As nearly as possible he followed the route over which he had passed a few days before. Not far ahead was a village in which he had been hospitably received.
He reached this village about midnight. A boy was sleeping by a smouldering camp-fire. The hunter's entrance awakened the lad, who spoke to him, and their conversation roused two of the villagers who appeared and also engaged him in conversation.
Seated by the fire, his rifle lying on the ground by his side, the white man was trying to explain what had happened to him the night before, when from a near-by hut he caught the sound of some one loading a muzzle-loading gun. Not wanting to appear alarmed by leaving so soon, he finished his story as quickly as possible,
and was about to rise and move on when a rustle from behind caused him to grab for his rifle; but a savage grasped it from under his hands and darted into the night.
At the same instant one of the natives threw a bundle of grass on the fire. As it blazed up the hunter naturally turned toward the hut in which he had heard the gun being loaded, and there, in the doorway, stood a man levelling a rifle at him. S. snatched the piece of wildebeest meat and fled from the village. The man did not shoot; he may have been unfamiliar with firearms and have forgotten either to cap or to cock the gun.
The outcast dashed out of the village and down the trail as fast as his legs could carry him, but apparently was not followed. His position now was indeed perilous, for without a rifle to kill meat he was dependent upon the natives for food as soon as his supply was exhausted. Throughout the gloomy night he plodded along, tired and footsore, chilled and disheartened. No wonder his thoughts reverted to home and to his men, some of whom he knew must not be far away following the same guide that God, in his almighty wisdom, had placed in
14 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
the heavens to cheer and to guide such unfortunate wretches as himself—the Southern Cross. Where were Paul and Charley, his faithful gun bearer and tent boy? Were they dead or alive? those brave fellows who had shared his fate so many years and who had borne with him the burdens of hardship and danger when other men of far more intelligence would have collapsed in despair.
By daybreak he had placed many a mile between himself and his enemies, so once more he built a fire, cooked the last of his meat and then slept until dark.
About noon of the following day he reached a village the chief of which had, not many months before, befriended a fellow elephant hunter who, like himself, had fallen a victim to savage treachery. It was some time before S. could explain why he was travelling alone and without a gun or food. Finally, he made the chief understand. The old fellow was greatly alarmed, and said that the traveller must move on at once, for, if discovered, his presence would surely get the chief into trouble with the tribe that had made the attack, of which he was in great fear. The black gave him food and a guide, and once more
he was cast out into the wilds to shift for himself as best he could.
Two days later he stopped at another village and asked for food and shelter. It was here that he learned that several of his men were being sheltered in a village some distance away, so he set out at once. On arriving he found Paul and Charley, his two best men. They had had a miraculous escape but had been able to make their way southward as he had done, and here they were, again united.
For over two weeks the party travelled together, stopping at various villages, where they were hospitably received, given food, and sent on their way. After a tiresome journey of over five hundred miles they finally reached civilisation, bleeding from scratches and their clothes a mass of rags, but, nevertheless, alive and healthy and thankful for their escape.
HAVING had considerable experience in hunting big game in Alaska, in northwestern Canada, and in western United States, I joined the Roosevelt African expedition with the impression that we, who were all experienced hunters and properly armed with modern firearms, had little to fear. And I think I am safe in saying that our entire party felt much the same way. But after we had reached Africa and heard of the number of men who had been killed or mauled by lions and of the wonderful vitality, quickness, and courage of these beasts, we began to realise the danger.
The difference between our American "mountain-lion"—cougar, panther, or puma, as it is variously called—and the African animal is so great that the name "lion" when applied to the American species is a misnomer. The cougar —the term used by many mammalogists—lacks courage and even when wounded rarely charges.
Although I have camped and hunted in all the Western States inhabited by this animal, the nearest I ever came to seeing one was when I found the tracks where, the night before, out of curiosity, one had circled my camp. While this statement undoubtedly proves that I am not an authority on cougars, experienced hunters agree that the animal is a coward and so nocturnal in its habits that rarely is one seen abroad by day, unless it is driven from its hiding-place with dogs and brought to bay.
The African lion, while nocturnal also, prowls about often during the day, particularly in the early morning and late in the afternoon. Most of its prey, however, is killed at night and after a ''kill" it is very noisy, while the cougar is rarely heard. Two, three, and possibly five cougars may sometimes be found together; but African lions are found in troops of six, eight, ten, and even fifteen or eighteen, although, of course, they are more commonly seen singly or in pairs.
Lions care little for the heavily wooded regions. Their natural habitat is the veldt country, which corresponds to the prairies of our West, the bush-veldt, that might be likened to the des-
18 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ert or chaparral country of southwestern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern Colorado, Nevada, and Cahfornia, or to the open-wooded sections similar in a way to the '*cross timber" of northeastern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Indian Territory. They do retreat to the true jungle during the day when such tracts border large areas of open country, where they have been hunting during the night; but such regions are too dense for good hunting, and as their prey inhabits the open country, they are forced to spend the greater part of their life on the veldt, the bush-veldt, or on the desert.
During the last few hours of daylight, throughout the night, and well into the morning—yes, through the entire day, should it be cloudy or rainy—they may be found abroad. They may stay out later than usual in hot weather should they be so unlucky as not to make a "kill" before dawn, but as soon as they have gorged themselves, or when the sun becomes unbearable, they seek some place of refuge. This may be a solitary thorn-tree with thick spreading limbs that reach to the ground, the thick grass and weeds bordering a swamp, or, in fact, any kind of thicket large enough to afford shelter and pro-
tection from the sun. Here they remain until late in the afternoon, and it is in such places that the hunter is most liable to find them and from there with his retinue of porters can drive them into the open.
Lions were far more numerous than we had expected and I well remember when Colonel Roosevelt remarked to Sir Alfred Pease: "I do hope that I shall be able to get a lion or a lioness, it makes no difference which." Yet, in all, he and Kermit bagged seventeen, and even I —after a narrow escape from being mauled— managed to kill one.
With the exception of crocodiles, lions kill more people in Africa than all the so-called dangerous animals combined. There are several reasons for this: First, more sportsmen hunt lions than other dangerous game. Second, they are more numerous in close proximity to man than other fierce animals. Third, when wounded they do not hesitate to charge and rarely turn back. Fourth, because some of them acquire the man-eating habit.
The mortality among the natives from man-eating lions is, of course, very great, but the blacks alone are to blame. They are a simple,
20 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
child-like people who think of peril only when it stares them in the face and forget it half an hour later. They have no newspapers, it is true, but they know as soon as a man-eating lion appears in a vicinity, and they must appreciate the danger, yet they roam about at night—the greatest danger time—without weapons or lights. They even sleep in the open or, at the best, in low thorn-brush enclosures over which a lion can easily spring. A single man-eating lion has been known to kill more than thirty natives within six weeks' or two months' time.
Few white men are killed by man-eaters, for white men seldom venture far from civilisation without firearms, and when on safari —outfit and men—they sleep in tents, keep fires burning at night and armed guards watching over the camp.
In late December I was camped with a small safari in the Ulucania Hills, two days' march from Nairobi, and one morning discovered two strange Kikuyus in camp. From the head man I learned that they were members of a party of men and women that was on its way to Nairobi. About midnight they had been attacked by a lion and had scattered. The two men had wan-
dered about for several hours but finally saw our camp-fires, and came over to stay until morning. They did not know at the time whether the lion had killed any one, and as we broke camp and left about four o'clock that morning, we never heard. Just before daylight we heard the hoarse, guttural grunts of a lion back in the hills a half mile from camp, so we supposed that it must have been successful.
After a man-eater becomes known, the government usually closes the roads in that section to travellers and forbids the natives to visit the region until the animal has been put to death. Frequently there is a white hunter in the vicinity who is glad of the chance to kill the brute, and it is needless to say that the natives give the hunter all the information and assistance they can, for the death of a man-eater is received by the blacks with much joy and celebration. Very often the game warden at Nairobi is called upon to exterminate a man-eater.
With a party of natives he goes to the scene of the last tragedy, and if possible they track the brute to a clump of bushes or tall grass to which it has gone after its gruesome meal. The patch is half surrounded by the blacks, who march
22 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
through, shouting, thrashing the brush with clubs, and throwing stones in advance. If the Hon is in the cover it is forced out at the other end and killed by the waiting game warden. It is a well-known fact that the very same party of men whom a man-eater may have raided the night before can in daylight drive it before them like any ordinary lion.
This form of lion-hunting was the most successful one employed in Africa prior to Mr. Paul Rainey's original method of hunting them with dogs. In two or three months he killed sixty-three lions, and his discovery will be the means of ridding the country of man-eaters much sooner than has heretofore been possible, and consequently it is bound to cut down the death-rate of natives.
Although we had several dogs on the Sotik trip, they were continually running ahead and scaring the animals, which deprived us of the pleasure of watching them and studying their habits, so the colonel ordered the dogs sent back. Cuninghame at first remonstrated, arguing that "the time might come when they could help us out of a nasty mess," but our chief replied that whatever mess we "got into" we would have to
''get out of" without the help of dogs, so the canines went back that night. I must say that I was glad when they disappeared, for only the night before, while we were at dinner, one of them had sneaked into my tent and devoured three of my specimens. As they were the only ones of their species that I had, we stopped off a day on the return trip and trapped more, and were repaid by discovering that it was a species new to science.
A common method of hunting lions is to watch at the body of an animal lately killed. At dusk the hunter secretes himself in a brush enclosure, or on a platform built amid the branches of a near-by tree, and shoots the lions when they return.
Another way of hunting lions is to watch for them with field-glasses from the top of a hill, the best time being early in the morning or late in the afternoon. After one has been "spotted" with the binoculars the sportsman can ride it down on horseback and when within shooting distance dismount and fire. If the lion charges the hunter can stand his ground and take the charge, or if he is a little nervous, and doubtful of his aim he has just cause to remount his horse
24 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and ride away. When the Hon gives up the chase the sportsman can go back and continue the fight.
Experienced Enghsh hunters prefer attacking lions from a distance. Of course if the ground is such that by standing off two hundred yards or more there is danger of the animal escaping, they try to get closer. But they reason that the farther away the animal is the less apt it will be to charge and if it does charge there will be more time to shoot.
While it is true that the nearer one is to a lion the more liable it is to charge, close shooting has its advantages in that one's aim is more accurate and the bullets have greater penetration.
A young Englishman with whom we became acquainted shortly after our arrival in Africa was, a few months later, frightfully mauled by a lion. He went hunting one afternoon and suddenly came upon a fine maned lion. At about one hundred yards he opened fire, and the beast charged. The hunter emptied his first rifle and snatched his second gun from the gun bearer just before the lion reached him. This rifle chanced to be of a different make from any the
gun bearer had seen, and he had neglected to throw back the safety catch. Before the hunter could rectify the mistake the lion bowled him over and knocked the rifle from his hands. The gun bearer snatched it up and tried to fire. Then, with wonderful courage and presence of mind for an African native, he rushed to the struggling pair and, holding the gun over his master, shouted: '"Master, fix this gun; it won't work!" The lion was chewing the man's left arm, but he managed to reach out with his free hand and throw oflf the safety catch, and the gun bearer shot the animal through the head, x
The Englishman was badly mauled. He was in the hospital for several weeks and nearly succumbed to blood-poisoning, but finally escaped with a few ugly scars and a crippled left arm.
It is a well-known fact among professional lion-hunters that the lioness is more to be feared than her mate. She is far more willing to charge even though she may not be wounded. When a pair of lions is found, the female, therefore, is the one that old lion-hunters kill first.
A charging lion is, to my mind, the most noble and at the same time the most awe-inspiring
26 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
sight imaginable. Contrary to general belief, a lion does not bound toward its enemy; it scoots or glides along over the ground with a speed simply remarkable for an animal so stocky and with such short legs.
The true lion-hunter can always tell whether a lion is actually charging or is simply trying to escape even though it may be coming toward him. When trying to escape, a lion lopes along in an easy but not extremely rapid manner. But when he gives his tail a flirt in the air and starts toward you with his belly almost touching the ground, his forefeet reaching out like those of a pacing race-horse, his jaws half open, and, with every step, emitting a deep, guttural growl which strikes you in the chest and goes right on through, then he is charging. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred he will not stop unless you kill him, so govern yourself accordingly.
If, when you start out lion-hunting, you think the time will come when you will have to run, stay at home, for, unless you have a companion who can help you out of a scrape, should you ever turn your back on a charging lion, that's the beginning of your end. The best you can hope to do is to postpone death for a few seconds and.
unless your rifle is empty, you had better stand your ground and fight to the last.
But Mr. Lion is not a half bad fellow, after all. Unless he happens to be a man-eater, and then only at night when he is sure that you do not see him and he knows that he has the advantage, he will not molest you if you treat him with respect.
Should you be transporting stock through his country, he may try to raid your camp some night, and, if he is not successful the first time you may find him somewhat persistent. Sometimes he will depart after once being fired at. At other times he may annoy you for half the night, and this is particularly true if he has a few companions to assist him in the raid.
A very small percentage of the people that are mauled by Uons in what the English term "accidents"—that is, sportsmen on whom the tables have been turned—are killed outright or even die from the seriousness of their wounds. Most of them succumb to blood-poisoning. Lion bites when in the fleshy part of the body are usually deep, and the tissues of the flesh are torn apart to such an extent that treatment is difficult. Unless a doctor is at hand, the worst form of
28 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
septic poisoning appears in a short time and the patient is doomed. Our doctor attended three cases of Hon mauUngs within twelve hours after the accidents happened, and, though he was provided with the proper medicines and instruments, two of the men died from blood-poisoning.
Our safari was so large and there were always so many camp-fires burning at night that we were not molested by lions. One night the askariy or native ex-soldier who watched over the camp and kept the fires burning when we were in a lion country, woke us by firing his rifle. I snatched my gun and ran out of the tent. The askari was back by the grass hut that the porters had built, as a protection against lions, for the horses. He said that he had shot at a lion that was prowling about the camp. He watched it for some time, and, as it circled around to the horse-shed, he supposed that it intended to attack the animals, so he fired. Several porters that ran from their tents saw the beast, however, and they were confident that it was a hyena.
While camp-fires are acknowledged to be the best protection at night against lions, there are many instances where these cats have scarcely
heeded them. Men have been carried off while sleeping beside a brightly burning fire, and cattle have been attacked within a circle of camp-fires.
Heller took care of the colonel's large animals, so whenever an elephant, a hippopotamus, or a rhinoceros was killed he would take his skinning tools and enough men to carry his camping outfit and go out to the place and camp until his work was finished. Usually the porters returned to the main camp the same day, leaving him alone with his four native assistants. Several times, while on these trips, lions, attracted by the smell of flesh and blood, paid him visits at night.
They would circle about his tent grunting, growling, and purring, and if he was camped near the skinned carcass of an animal he could hear them fighting over it all night. But usually there is little danger from a lion that announces itself by grunting or growling. The animals that are dangerous are those that are never seen or heard until after they have snatched a man and made away with him.
One night two lions came to call on Heller when he was armed with only a shotgun and a few shells of bird shot. He very wisely shut the
30 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
flap to the tent door and sat in silence listening to them grunting and purring. They passed around his tent several times while he and his porters, who were in a near-by tent, kept perfectly quiet, and finally the cats departed.
Not far from Nairobi there lives an Englishman in one of the typical East African sheet-iron bungalows. Several living-rooms lack connections, so in passing from one room to another it is necessary to step out on the veranda and walk to the door of the adjacent room.
One evening a guest for the night arrived and left his wagon standing by the side of the veranda opposite the door of the room that he was to occupy. The two men talked well into the night, and then the guest bade his host good night and stepped out on the veranda. He had reached his room, opened the door, and was standing on the threshold, when a lion, that must have been watching the men through the window, sprang at him from behind the wagon. The beaSt miscalculated, however, for it failed to clear the vehicle, fell upon the porch, and, sliding across it, struck the door with such force that the guest was sent sprawling to the matting and the door closed safely behind him.
The rifles were in another part of the building, and, as neither of the men dared to venture out of his room, they had to content themselves with shouting to each other through the partition and let the lion depart at his will, which he did in a few hours' time.
In the N'Guasso Nyero country we met a Boer who was travelling through the land trading cattle with the Masai. Not long before this a Hon had crept up to his camp one night and sprung at a sleeping ox driver. The boy was covered with two pairs of blankets, and in its haste to escape the lion made a hurried grab and ran off with the blankets only.
In the same locality lions once chased a zebra up to a settler's house and killed it within fifty feet of his door-step. There were four or five lions in the bunch, and, though the man used up all of his ammunition trying to kill them or frighten them away, he was compelled to lie in bed most of the night listening to them. We met the same man a few weeks after leaving the region and he told us that he had come to Nairobi to buy a horse to replace one that lions had killed in broad daylight the day before and within a stone's throw of his house and our old camping site.
32 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
One is somewhat disappointed on hearing his first Hon in the African wilds. If he expects to hear them roaring as they do in circuses or zoological parks he will discover his mistake. In the eleven months that we spent in Africa I do not recall ever hearing a lion ''roar." Lion-hunters told me that they sometimes do, but rarely. Time and time again we heard lions at a distance, but they gave only deep, guttural grunts, first long and slowly uttered, then shorter and shorter and quicker and quicker, until they died away entirely. In fact, the grunts were the deep, short notes that always follow the inspiring roar of caged lions.
In British East Africa, the chief prey of lions is the zebra, and most of them are killed at night. The big cat creeps up to its horse-like prey and with a sudden spring or a dash pounces upon the victim's shoulder. Reaching over with one fore paw, it seizes the creature's nose and with a sudden wrench breaks the neck, or causes the animal to tumble and the neck is broken by the fall. Zebras are short-winded, and they are so abundant that it is not diflScult for a lion to secure a meal whenever he wishes one.
Next in abundance to the zebra is the harte-beest, and these two animals, at the time of our visit to Africa, were so common that they were a pest to the settlers. They break through barbed-wire fences and destroy the crops to such an extent that the settlers welcome sportsmen. One settler said to me: *'While Colonel Roosevelt's writings will be of great benefit to us by encouraging other sportsmen to come here and shoot the animals, on the other hand* he has done us an injury by shooting the lions. If the fifteen lions that your party has already killed had been allowed to live, in a few months they would have exterminated more game than you will get during your entire trip." Another settler argued that the shooting of lions was of benefit, for, as he said, *'some of them might become man-eaters and kill scores of natives."
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE
WHEN one passes into the Congo and Uganda country of Africa the veldt gives way to vast areas of what is called ''elephant-grass." This grass grows not only in the open level and fertile country, but also in extremely stony regions and even in the open thorn-tree groves.
When fully grown, elephant-grass varies in height from five feet to ten feet, and some of the stalks are as large as a bamboo fish-pole. The natives utilise the stalks in making fences and huts, while the blades of the grass are used for thatching roofs and for the sides of the buildings.
Travelling for days and days through these vast grass areas, where the only trails are those made by elephants and other animals, is, indeed, monotonous. The stalks tower some four or five feet above your head, the tropical sun beats down upon your back, and every breath of air is shut out by the thick, stifling foliage.
By the last of January the grass is fully grown,
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 35
and a month later it is so dry that both the whites and the natives set fire to it in order to facihtate travel. When fired by the blacks the chief of the district usually appoints a certain day for the conflagration, that the people may keep their stock enclosed and make ready for the great event.
On entering the White Nile from Lake Albert one evening about ten o'clock, we travelled all night, all the next day, and at eleven o'clock that evening came to a place that was eventually named ''Rhino Camp." It was pitch dark and the native pilot felt uncertain of his bearings, so we thought it unwise to unload the boats until dawn should apprise us of our position; therefore we spent the night on the tiny launch, serenaded by lions, hippopotami or "hippos" as they are commonly called, and elephants. In the morning we found ourselves well located, so the boats were beached and the duffel unloaded.
It was an attractive spot. The land rose gradually from the shore; the bank was lined with trees and bushes of various species, and an open thorn-tree grove extended inland several hundred yards, while beneath them the elephant-grass was eight or ten feet high.
36 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
In a few hours the porters had cleared away a large tract of grass and were busy pitching the tents in the edge of the grove. When the camp was finally settled it certainly was a picturesque sight. Our line of dark-green tents were some fifty yards from the river; back of them was a cluster of heavy drill tents belonging to the tent boys and gun bearers; then came the bee-hive-shaped grass huts of the porters, making in all quite a respectable village, with the elephant-grass, which commenced at the very back of the porters' domiciles, extending in one unbroken mass as far as the eye could reach.
We remained here about three weeks and made a fine collection, for the country was very rich in animal life. Colonel Roosevelt and Kermit had secured an exceptionally fine group of white rhinoceroses, which Heller and his native skinners had spent days of arduous work in preparing. These, by the way, aside from one or two single specimens in various museums, were the only ones of their kind in existence, and they, together with the hundreds of birds and small mammals that Doctor Mearns and I had collected, made a collection that we valued at fifty thousand dollars.
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 37
As time passed we saw dense clouds of smoke rising from the opposite side of the Nile, some twenty miles away, and we knew that the blacks were beginning to fire the elephant-grass. One afternoon smoke appeared far off in the distance back of camp, and when night came we saw the glow of the fire in the sky. A few nights later there were several other glows in as many different directions, but none was nearer than twenty miles, and as the wind was blowing away from camp we felt that there was little danger.
I must admit, however, that from the time the fires were first seen on our side of the river I became nervous and kept a constant eye on them.
When burning at a great distance it is diflS-cult to judge exactly how far away a fire really is, and I doubt very much if any of us realised how steadily the flames were creeping in upon us, until one noon, while we were eating luncheon, Kermit said to the colonel:
''Father, what are you looking at? You appear to be pondering over something."
The colonel made some casual reply, and it occurred to me that he was watching and thinking of the same thing that occupied my mind— the proximity of the fire—for from the open
38 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
tent front the smoke could be plainly seen belching into the horizon.
It was about three o'clock in the afternoon. I was busy in my tent making up specimens and the colonel was at work on his book, "African Game Trails." Far off in the distance my ear suddenly caught a faint, rumbling sound. I dropped my tools, walked out back of the tents, mounted an ant-hill, and stood gazing and listening.
The fire was coming into camp; there was no doubt of it; for far off to the northward came the ominous sound—a deep, rumbling noise that at times sounded like the roar of a distant waterfall mingled now and then with a faint explosion. A great cloud of smoke rolled up over the vegetation and drifted off to the west, partly obscuring the sun and giving it the appearance of a huge ball of fire. I hurried back to the colonel's tent.
"Colonel, the fire is surely coming into camp, you can already hear it," I said.
The colonel stopped writing and listened.
"By George, that's so. We must get busy at once or our valuable collection and camp outfit will be in ashes before the day closes. Get all
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 39
the tent boys, gun bearers, and porters together immediately, and we will cut a path in the grass and prepare to back-fire; that seems to be the only course."
The day before the colonel had shot a white rhinoceros or ''rhino" as they are generally called, the last one wanted to complete the group, and Cunlnghame, Heller, and about fifty of the porters were some ten miles away, preparing the skin and skeleton, which had cut down our force considerably.
I shouted to my tent boy. Tommy, and told him to summon all the men in camp and gather up the "pangas"—long-bladed knives that the blacks use to cut grass and brush—axes, and hatchets and any other tools that could be used. Then gangs of workmen were distributed in a half-circle around camp, from the Nile on one side of camp to the water-line on the other, and set to work cutting grass.
The idea was to clear a wide road through the grass all the way round the camp, and after it was completed to set fire to the outer side. The new, weak fire would run out and consume the fuel before the big blaze should approach near enough to leap the gap and destroy the camp.
40 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
We made the tent boys and gun bearers each a boss of every ten men. It was their duty to watch the lazy fellows and keep them at work. These gangs were placed far enough apart so as not to interfere with each other, and in a few minutes everything was working finely.
It was fully two hundred yards from the river on one side of the camp to the Nile on the other, and quick work was necessary to complete the task before the fire should reach us. All but the worthless blacks realised the danger. They seemed to care little whether the camp burned, although they must have known that their supply of food would go with it.
One fellow was found peacefully sleeping in his hut long after the others were at work, and he refused to come out until he was dragged out. He gazed at the approaching fire, yawned, and said, "Oh, the fire is a long way ofif; there is no danger," and started back into the hut to finish his siesta, but the rather rough treatment that he received at the hands of one of the gun bearers soon changed his mind and he joined the workers.
Despite the seriousness of our position it was amusing to watch the tent boys and gun bearers
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 41
exhibit their newly vested authority. In fact, the eagerness with which these "bosses" watched for an opportunity to apply the whip, and the alacrity with which they did it as soon as a man showed symptoms of shirking, added much to the rapid progress that was being made.
The colonel swung a panga as dexterously as any one, and when he noticed a gang of men that appeared to be backward in the work he strolled over and put some of his ''progressive" spirit into it.
The roar and crackle of the flames was becoming louder and louder every minute, and it was soon evident that our race with the fire would be a close one and a fight to the finish.
Kermit walked out to look the situation over and returned with the news that the blaze was not more than two miles away and was bearing down upon us a little quicker than a fast walk. This report seemed to inspire the porters and they worked more willingly.
About sundown Cuninghame and Heller came in with the rhino skin and skeleton, and this gave us fifty more men, who were at once put at work.
Cuninghame was somewhat puzzled at our actions.
42 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"What are you doing, colonel?" he inquired.
"We are preparing to back-fire and save the camp," was the colonel's reply.
"But you are liable to burn the camp with the very fire you kindle. It is risky business, for should the back-fire leap the gap and get in behind us, the porters could never whip it out."
"Well, what shall we do? What would you suggest?" asked the colonel.
"It seems to be the only way, but still there is great danger of losing the camp by it."
"Well, I would much rather have the satisfaction of burning up my own camp in an effort to save it than to stand idle and watch a grass-fire destroy it; so, unless you can suggest some better method, there seems to be no alternative," was the colonel's answer. And so, as it was decided to back-fire, the work was resumed with a rush, for the flames kept drawing nearer.
It was the most spectacular fire I ever saw. Great tongues of flame, driven by the erratic breezes, leaped fifty and seventy-five feet into the air and detached themselves for a fraction of a second before flickering out. Others writhed and twisted like huge serpents, then struck the ground and with a hissing sound spread out over
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 43
the grass and licked it up as though it were gunpowder. Loud explosions frequently occurred as the big stalks filled with steam and burst. But the strangest sight was the birds that gathered to feed upon the victims of the fire. Hundreds of marabou storks, vultures, eagles, hawks, and kites flew a few rods in advance of the flames and, poising in the air a few seconds, pounced down upon a mouse, rat, or big grasshopper that had been driven from its retreat.
The path was not quite finished when night fell and the fire was seen sweeping over the low ridge only a quarter mile away. The dew—very heavy at this season of the year—was falling fast, and we realised that in a short time the grass would be too wet to kindle. There was no alternative but to touch it off at once and trust to the porters being able to check its spreading should it succeed in leaping back across the road we were cutting.
A number of the men, armed with untrimmed branches cut fresh from trees, were stationed back of the road and the colonel gave the word. We touched a match to a bundle of grass and swept it along the outer margin of the clearing.
The wind was against us and the dew had
44 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
wetted the grass so that it would not ignite. The big fire, however, had gained such headway by being driven with the wind that the heat dried the grass far in advance of the flames.
Time and again grass torches were appHed, but each time, as we passed on to kindle other spots, we looked back to see the blaze gradually die down and finally flicker out entirely. With anxious faces we gazed at each other, and we wondered if, after all, our efforts would be fruitless.
A large bundle of dry grass was then thrown into a thick patch of withered foliage and the torch applied. It blazed up briskly and in a few minutes was a seething mass of flames. Waiting only long enough to make sure that the fire had actually started, we urged the men to bring more grass, and in a few minutes a succession of fires were burning all along the line.
While the dew had hindered us in one respect it had assisted us in another, for we found it comparatively easy for the porters with the branches to beat out any blaze that worked around behind or succeeded in jumping the gap.
It surely was a relief to watch those little blazes gradually growing larger and larger and
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 45
spreading from right to left, until they finally melted into each other and became a solid line of fire. Slowly but surely it crept out to meet and check the flood of flame that threatened to destroy the camp and its contents.
It took me back to my schoolboy days and to the pictures of the prairie fires, with the Indians and settlers, the buffaloes and the other animals all rushing off together to escape a common danger.
In this country, where animal life was so abundant, I fully expected that the same scenes would be enacted, so, when our fire had run out several rods and the earth was cool enough, I followed in its wake with my rifle. Not that I wanted to kill any of the unfortunate creatures that might have been trapped, but I thought that perhaps a lion would appear, and in such an event I might want a weapon of some kind.
Strange to say, the only animals to show themselves were the large yellow tree bats that took the place of the vultures, eagles, and other birds as soon as darkness fell.
The rival fires met about two hundred yards from camp, and as the blazes came together there was a spurt of flame into the air and then the
46 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
blaze died down and finally went out entirely. Our camp was saved from a catastrophe that is dreaded by all African travellers—an African grass-fire.
MY FIRST LION
WITHIN a day after our arrival in camp our porters had given each member of the Roosevelt African expedition a name that corresponded with his duties. The colonel was Bwana Macouba, "the big master"; Kermit, his son, was Bwana Macdogo, ''the son of the big master"; Doctor Mearns was Bwana Doctoro; Heller, who took care of all the large specimens, was Bwana Engose, "the skin master"; and I, whose duty it was to study the habits and preserve the skins of small mammals, most of which came under the head of rats and mice, was given the undignified name of Bwana Panya, "the mouse master."
In the eyes of these natives the position of Bwana Panya was a most degrading one, for they could not understand of what use the skins of rats and mice could be to any one. They thought that I was wasting my time when on all sides there were herds of zebras, wildebeests, hartebeests, and other game. Game was eny-
48 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ama (meat), and, as an African savage thinks more of his stomach than of anything else, they asked me why I did not do as the other masters had done—''kill something of value—something that people could eat?"
The first gun bearer assigned me belonged to the Masai tribe, a brave race of people that, as a whole, despises work. This "boy" was an exception to the rule, but he stayed with me just one day. When he found that, instead of shooting lions, leopards, elephants, and "rhinos," his master collected rats and mice, his humiliation was so deep that after the porters had called him Panya (mouse) a few times he could stand it no longer. That night he disappeared and I never saw him again.
Evidently, our boys—African servants, porters, and all others are called boys—thought that I lacked the courage to attack dangerous game and that I collected small mammals because it was much safer work. And so I lived for several months, despised, jeered at, and known only as Bwana Panya, the mouse master. But suddenly, within the space of eight short seconds, I retrieved my reputation, and Bwana Panya became the hero of the camp.
We were camped on the North N'Guasso Nyero River, in what is known as the Sotik country of British East Africa. About three miles away was a Masai kraal, or village, a circular enclosure of thorn brush against the inside wall of which was a row of mud-daubed huts.
The Masai are a pastoral people corresponding to the Navajo Indians of our own Southwest. They abhor work of any kind and subsist entirely upon their droves of sheep and goats and their herds of humpbacked cattle. Because of the presence of lions, leopards, and hyenas, the Masai keep their cattle inside the kraals at night; during the day they drive them out to feed, under guard of half-naked youths armed with spears or bows and arrows.
Hardly a day passed that large herds of stock were not driven to water near our camp; the herdboys paid us visits and watched us work. We came to know some of them well and, as they were quiet and orderly and did not beg for everything they saw, we rather enjoyed their company.
Lions were plentiful in the region. One day a Masai, who had been frightfully bitten and
50 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
torn by one, came to camp to have our doctor treat him. He and two other Masai had attacked the Hon with spears. All three were badly hurt; our visitor's two companions died from their wounds. - The Masai's arms and legs were severely bitten and there was a deep gash on his back.
I was skinning specimens in front of my tent one afternoon when a long-legged Masai herd-boy, whom I recognised as a frequent visitor, appeared, and stood watching me for some time. Then in a low tone of voice he tried to converse. I made a joking remark about my inability to understand him, which, of course, he in his turn failed to understand. Still, he went on talking, and was so persistent that I soon became convinced that he must have something important to communicate. I called my tent boy, Tommy, and told him to hunt up some of our porters who understood the Masai language and find out what the visitor had to say.
Tommy soon brought an interpreter, and I learned that the herdboy had left his companion watching a drove of sheep and goats and had come to tell me that he had seen a pair of lions feeding upon the body of a wildebeest. After
gorging themselves on the flesh the Hons had retreated to a thicket for the day.
It was then about three o'clock, and vainly I tried to find out how far away the lions were, but could only learn that it was "not far." Past experience had taught me that to a Masai "not far" meant a journey of from one to six hours. Finally, I learned that by travelling fast I could reach the lions half an hour before the sun should set.
Colonel Roosevelt at the time was out hunting. I mounted my horse, took the herdboy, and, with my gun bearer and several porters to bring in the lions in case we were successful, at once set out.
The Masai guide, who wore only a square piece of goatskin tied at two corners and thrown over his shoulders, was a bright-looking little fellow about sixteen years old, well built and with exceptionally long legs. When we first started out I doubted if he could keep up with my horse, but after we had gone two miles the doubt was dispelled. He not only kept pace with us but usually he was several rods in advance, urging us onward. Frequently he would wait for us, and by sign-language tell us that we must hurry
52 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
or the lions would leave their retreat and start out foraging before we arrived.
For eight miles that half-naked young savage, with a spear in one hand, piloted us on a swift trot over the plains without the slightest sign of fatigue. Then his actions showed that we were approaching the dangerous spot.
The sun had sunk low; in half an hour it would drop behind the rocky hills on the border of German East Africa. In the far distance I caught sight of an animal that I took to be a lion. As I thought it was one of those we were after that had left its lair, I dismounted and, after telling the boys to wait with my horse, advanced on foot.
The country seemed alive with game. A wart-hog with a litter of pigs appeared not twenty yards away; bands of topi, hartebeests, wildebeests, Thomson's gazelle, Grant's gazelle, and zebras fed quietly or stared at me from all sides; and quarter of a mile away was a mammoth eland bull. I kept on until I was close enough to see that the animal I was following was not one of the lions, then I went back to where the boys were waiting.
I found them clustered about a thorn-tree in
the centre of a level, grassy tract, and as I came up my gun bearer pointed to the tree and whispered: ^'Hapa simba bebee, Bwana, The lioness is there, master." At that moment one of the porters, who was walking round the tree, gave a sudden start and backed away. I knew that he must have spied the lioness, although the branches were so thick and extended so close to the ground that at a distance the eye could not penetrate them.
The Masai herdboy's curiosity now got the better of him, and he ventured within ten feet of the tree and peeped in. Then he ran back to me and, in a dramatic and realistic manner, imitated the grimaces that the beast had made at him.
I took a position that later proved to be sixty-three paces from the tree.
Then, placing my second rifle on the ground by my side, I knelt on one knee and ordered my gun bearer to shoot a charge of buckshot into the thicket in hope of driving the lioness into the open. As she did not appear, he fired a second shot, but still she remained hidden. Then I shot two bullets from my rifle into the tree without any result.
54 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Although I began to think that the imagination of the men had got the better of them, I was determined to be on the safe side. It would be unwise to empty the magazine of my rifle, for the brute, if she were there, might take that opportunity to charge out at me. I therefore started to reload.
I had placed one cartridge in the magazine and was about to insert another, that would give me the full complement of five, when, with a deep growl, the lioness sprang through the thicket directly in front of me. Only her head and fore quarters were visible as she paused a few seconds, snarling viciously and looking about. Realising that there was no time for further reloading, I pressed the snap that sent a cartridge into the rifle chamber, and threw the rifle to my shoulder just as the tawny brute whirled and charged for one of the porters off to my right.
She had covered about thirty feet when my first bullet caught her back of the fore shoulder —too far back to strike her heart. She wheeled about so suddenly that if her tail had been a whip-lash it would have cracked in the air, and with a savage, snarling growl came straight at me.
For an instant I was undecided whether to stand my ground or run. But I realised that it would be useless to run for she would overtake me in a few seconds, so I remained kneeling, to meet the charge and take whatever punishment she might give me.
It was the first wild lioness I had seen, and I expected her to charge in great bounds, but, instead, she glided along close to the ground. I waited until she had covered possibly ten yards, to see if she would change her pace, and as she still came on at the same steady ghde I settled myself for action.
It would be like shooting at a stationary object that grew larger every second; but there was now no time to lose, for she was coming with the speed of an express-train and ''every little movement had a meaning all its own."
I heard a rumbling growl at every step she took, and my eye, focussed through the globe-sight of the rifle, looked squarely at a light spot on her breast through which I hoped to send the bullet that would stop the mechanism that worked those claw-armed paws and those powerful, merciless jaws.
The rifle-sight covered the light chest spot
when I pressed the trigger, yet the snarhng creature did not even hesitate when the bullet struck her. Once more I quickly took aim and pulled the trigger, but still she came gliding, growling on.
Could it be that I was missing her? It seemed impossible, for she was now not sixty feet away and coming faster and faster. I thought of the ugly wounds that I had helped dress on the mangled Masai and wondered how much of a mauling I was about to receive.
Only one more cartridge remained. This I jBred pointblank into the breast of the lioness when she was within a rifle length, and then I managed to tumble to one side as the tawny streak shot past, just grazing my legs. The glassy stare in her eyes told me she was almost dead. Although the force of her charge carried her ten feet beyond me, she lacked the strength or the instinct to reach out with her paw and seize me as she passed. I snatched the second rifle from the ground and wheeled round just as her hind quarters sank to the ground. But there was no need for another bullet. She threw her head in the air and, with ^ gasp, rolled over on her side, dead.
The boys came rushing up to congratulate me, for it had been a close call. The Masai herdboy danced about the lioness in great glee, shouting, gesticulating, and rehearsing the incidents of the exciting event.
As night was fast coming on and it would soon be too dark to shoot, we lost no time in examining our prize, but made off at once for another thorn-tree beneath which the Masai thought the lioness' mate had hidden. We found the lair where the lion had spent the day, but the beast must have been disturbed by my shots for he had made his escape.
When we skinned the lioness we discovered that all four of my shots had taken effect; the three that I had fired when she was charging were so close together on her chest that the palm of my hand covered all three wounds. One mushroom bullet had passed through her heart and left the casing in it, yet she had had the vitality to keep on. Then I knew what is meant by the phrase, "the heart of a lion."
It was now dark, and as we plodded along toward camp under a full moon and the Southern Cross the boys chanted the victorious hunting-song. The Masai walked by my side, jab-
58 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
bering incessantly as if I understood every word, and again and again showed me how the Uoness had looked and acted as she charged.
Three miles from camp we met a party, with lanterns, that had been sent out by the head man to guide us home. When my companions shouted the news of our success they rushed up to me and shook my hand. One fellow, as he grasped my hand, exclaimed: ''Well done, Bwana Panya! You are no longer Bwana Panya (the mouse master); you are Bwana Simba (the lion master)!" And from that moment I was known to the entire party as Bwana Simba,
THE WAYS OF THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT
NOT many months ago a writer stated that the various species of African elephants were being exterminated and in a few years would become totally extinct. This may be true in the case of large bulls, animals carrying tusks of not less than sixty pounds the pair, which is the minimum weight for their lawful killing. Unless the law is changed, elephants with tusks larger than this may be exterminated from those parts of Africa accessible to white men, but there are large areas of country *'inside" that have been little explored, where big tuskers are yet found in considerable numbers.
Young bulls, cows, and calves are still plentiful and always will be, for they have no commercial value, are seldom molested by the natives, and the danger of elephant hunting is so great that few white men care to shoot many of them for mere sport, even should the government permit it.
60 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
During my eleven months in Africa I must have seen about two hundred elephants—not many, it is true, when one realises that the professional elephant hunter who knows the best elephant country finds them in herds numbering into the thousands.
In regions where elephants are common they cause considerable damage to the natives by raiding the plantations—usually at night—and feeding on sugar-cane, corn, and vegetables. We passed through one section of country where the people had constructed grass watch-houses in the tops of trees, in which guards were stationed to look for elephants. As soon as a herd was sighted an alarm was sounded and the people gathered with drums, horns, and other racket-making devices and frightened the elephants away.
A chief told us that the buffaloes also raided the '"shambas" (gardens) and between the elephants and the buffaloes the inhabitants of a village were sometimes compelled to desert it and settle in another locality.
Elephants become so bold that they tear down huts and even kill people. Within two days' march of Lake Albert we came to a village near
HE HAD WRECKED SEVERAL GRASS HUTS
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 61
which Hved a ''rogue" elephant that had terrorised the people for weeks. He visited the gardens nearly every night and had wrecked several grass huts, destroyed crops, and had killed one man.
No sooner had we passed through the usual ceremony of greeting the chief of the district than he appealed to Colonel Roosevelt to rid his people of their pest. For several days prior to our arrival the chief had stationed men to watch the brute in anticipation of our coming, and he told the colonel that a runner had just come in with the news that the rogue was then resting quietly in some elephant-grass less than half a mile away. That any kind of an elephant should take up its abode within hearing of a village where the people were constantly shouting, singing, and blowing horns seemed incredible.
Having killed all the elephants that were needed for scientific purposes, the colonel was at first loath to shoot the animal, but after an interpreter had portrayed its true character, and Cuninghame had explained that the natives expected white men to shoot such animals in return for the privilege of hunting in their coun-
62 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
try, and therefore would consider it a breach of courtesy if he refused, he consented.
As the colonel, Kermit, their gun bearers, and the guide left camp, the chief warned them that the rogue was dangerous and would charge the instant it saw them. The guide took them right up to the animal before they saw it through the tall grass, and at that moment it either spied or scented them and charged. The colonel gave it a bullet and just then Kermit fired. The elephant stopped for a second and as it turned to run a second bullet from the colonel's rifle struck it back of the ear, and Kermit fired again. The elephant fled through the tall grass, and the hunters followed the trail for some distance and finally came upon the mortally wounded rogue standing in a clump of bushes. The colonel worked round to one side and dropped the animal in its tracks with a bullet through the heart. It measured ten feet and nine inches from the sole of its front foot to its back and carried tusks weighing one hundred and ten pounds.
The shots and the shouts of the guide and the watchers were plainly heard in camp, and when it became known that the elephant was dead there was great rejoicing among the villagers.
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 63
In British East Africa we found elephants inhabiting the jungle country about the base of the mountain ranges and isolated mountains and on the mountains themselves to an altitude of over twelve thousand feet. Up to that level, on Mount Kenia, their tracks were common. In the lowlands of Uganda and the Congo they frequented the immense tracts of elephant-grass that grew to a height of ten feet, the small strips of jungle along the rivers, and the open thorn-tree groves, where they seemed to feed extensively.
In the thickly wooded countries the elephants had travelled single file and had stepped in each other's footprints. Sometimes deep holes had been worn in the earth, and there were stretches where these holes were full of water; so in following them we had to step over the puddles from ridge to ridge. As the stride of an elephant is much longer than that of a man, we found travelling at times leg-stretching work.
While the trails themselves were wide and well worn, strange to say the great brutes had simply forced their way through the tangle which closed in behind them, so we were kept busy ducking under limbs, pushing brush away
64 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
from our faces, and climbing over logs. Wherever a tree of not too great size obstructed the way they had put their heads against it and pushed it over, tearing up the roots on all sides.
While travelling they had reached up with their trunks and broken oflF great limbs and eaten the branches. We found that in some instances they had carried or dragged the limbs several hundred yards without eating them, which gave the impression that it was done in a spirit of playfulness. Again they had dug about the roots of a tree with their tusks and then pushed it over or pulled it down with their trunks. And so all through the forests we found trees that had been shoved down for one reason or another, limbs lying here and there on the ground, and roots that had been dug up to eat.
In one place where a large herd of elephants had passed through an acacia grove to water at the Nile the uprooted and torn-down trees appeared as though a cyclone had swept over them. The acacia tree is a species of thorn-tree with spines three and four inches long. The thorns produce a poisonous effect on the flesh, which lasts for several days, yet the elephants fed ex-t-ensively on them, thorns and all.
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 65
All through the jungle at the foot of big trees were beds where elephants had kicked up the dirt as they stood sleeping and swinging their great feet, for an elephant sleeps while standing and rarely lies down to rest.
One day we lost our way in the jungle at the base of Mount Kenia; so, taking advantage of the last hour of daylight, we went into camp in a little vista scarcely large enough to accommodate our tents and through which ran a well-worn elephant trail. The porters, who were without tents, made bough shelters in the edge of the timber, and after the customary dancing and singing orgies they retired for the night, and the camp-fires died down.
Camping in the middle of an elephant thoroughfare without knowing when the next street parade will take place is conducive to insomnia; so I lay awake until after midnight. I was dozing oJ0F when suddenly the most unearthly screech I ever heard started me from the cot with a bound. It was a sort of bugle screech that was immediately followed by another and another, until the jungle seemed to be infested with a new species of demon, each one trying its utmost to outscream its competitors. The
66 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
effect would have made the inventor of a patent hair restorer hang his head with shame.
Snatching my rifle, I rushed out of the tent and stood Hstening. From the porters' shelter low murmurings could be heard and through the inky darkness I could see the camp-fires brightening as the embers were scraped together and kindling applied. In a few minutes the little glade was aglow and through the flickering light we saw the porters perched in the tops of the trees.
For an hour the elephants circled about, now trumpeting, now roaring or bellowing, and the thought that they might stampede into camp at any moment was not particularly comforting. Finally, the rumpus died away as the herd slowly went toward the mountain, the porters came down from their perches, and once more everything was serene.
The camp had just quieted down when a solitary elephant began to serenade us. He almost circled our tents, but finally left us by the lower side, trumpeting loudly as he passed beyond hearing.
The following morning we packed up, found the trail again, and were soon in the bamboo
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 67
belt, a stretch five miles wide that completely circles Mount Kenia between the altitudes of nine thousand and eleven thousand feet.
Travelling in the bamboo might be compared to tramping through a field of giant rye or oats from fifteen to fifty feet high. Elephant trails sectioned and cross-sectioned each other in all directions. The trails were so numerous that we could travel in any direction, deviating but Ut-tle from our true course.
Under the most favourable circumstances elephant hunting is dangerous work, and in the jungle, the thick bamboo, and the tall elephant-grass this risk is multiplied ten times. One can seldom see more than a few yards into the thicket, and he is likely to overlook an elephant standing a short distance away which on scenting him is quite as liable to charge as not.
October and November are the best months of the year to study elephants at close range in the bamboo belts on the high mountains, for it is then that the cows leave the lowlands to feed upon the tender bamboo shoots and to bring forth their young. As may be imagined, much of interest can then be learned in a very short time, for a big elephant with a small one is pro-
68 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
portionately peevish and a person can never tell when this peevishness will suddenly be thrust upon him.
I must admit that a peculiar feeling always passed over me whenever I heard a commotion in the bamboos near by and the gun bearer frantically seized the Ithaca shotgun from my hand and replaced it with the cocked rifle. Every instant I expected to see an elephant rush out, and I wondered whether I had better shoot for the heart through the chest, for the brain through the head, or for camp through the bamboos, and a feeling of reUef came over me when I discovered that time that my elephants were simply a troop of startled monkeys hurrying away.
When resting or sleeping, elephants stand huddled together, but when they start out to feed they scatter and the hunter can never tell when or from what direction he will be charged by an animal he has not seen. Colonel Roosevelt had a narrow escape in this way when shooting one of his first elephants.
He and Cuninghame were trailing the animal, and when within shooting distance the colonel fired and wounded it, but killed it with his second barrel. Before he could reload, another ele-
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 69
phant charged unexpectedly and would surely have wounded or killed one or both of the hunters had not Cuninghame turned it aside with both barrels of his heavy rifle. The dense jungle prevented all chance of escape, and the brute passed so close to the colonel that it could have touched him with its trunk as it rushed past.
As soon as a shot is fired the herd will frequently charge about, trumpeting and bellowing. Even when an elephant is charging the hunter cannot always fire as soon as he would like for fear his bullet might strike a limb and deflect from its course.
From these remarks it must not be taken for granted that elephants always charge. On scenting danger from afar they usually depart. It is when surprised at close quarters that they seem to lose their heads and rush about, probably trying to locate the trouble in order to avoid it. Trumpeting, bellowing, and squealing, they tear first one way then another, and should they catch sight of the hunter they are then liable to charge him. Failing to find him, they huddle together and the whole herd departs. After one such experience it is only men with
70 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
iron nerve that care to continue the so-called sport.
An elephant uses several original and effective methods of exterminating its victims. It may rush upon a man, seize him in its trunk, beat him to death on the ground, and, before leaving, tear up the foliage for yards about.
There are many instances of elephants literally tearing their victim to pieces. The story is told of an English oflScial in Uganda who, on noticing a safari passing, stepped to the door to inquire of the head man the whereabout of his master. In response, the black swung a human arm before the official and replied that a few days previous his master had been torn to pieces by an elephant and that he had brought back the arm as proof of his assertion.
Then, again, after knocking a man down an elephant will often continue on its course without stopping to learn how much damage it has done. A hunter who was within close proximity of a herd of elephants handed his rifle to the gun bearer and started to climb a tree to look about. At that moment an elephant charged from the tall grass and made for the gun bearer. As the man started to run, he threw up his arms, and in
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 71
some peculiar manner the elephant, in reaching for him, snatched the rifle from his hand and stopped to hammer it on the ground while the black made good his escape.
Usually, though, after an elephant has knocked a man down it kneels on him or, dropping to its knees, probes him with its tusks. Mr. Carl Akeley, who has visited Africa several times in the interests of various American museums, was nearly killed by an elephant in this manner. His elephant charged at close range, knocked him down, and kneeling, attempted to gore him. He managed to grab the tusks in time to swing his body between them before they descended, and they passed harmlessly on each side. The curled trunk, however, crushed his chest and broke several ribs. When he regained consciousness the elephant had gone and his boys had deserted him. The boys finally returned and carried him to camp and it was several months before he fully recovered.
It is a strange fact that there are very few cases of men being slightly mauled by an elephant. They are either killed outright, mortally wounded, or escape miraculously with nothing more than a general shake-up and a
72 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
severe fright. In fact, when an elephant charges one can never tell what will happen until it is all over.
At Nairobi we were introduced to a Russian doctor who went over into the Congo a few weeks in advance of our party. At Gondokoro we again met him and he exhibited a shirt in which was a long rent made by the tusks of an elephant. The animal charged, he jumped aside, and the tusks ripped the hole in his shirt. Continuing its course, it overtook the gun bearer, knocked him down, stepped on his head, and rushed on.
Unlike a lion, an elephant will usually bolt when severely wounded. There are very few instances where a lion, after once charging, has been known to stop or turn aside unless it was disabled. It continues so long as it can keep on its feet and will sometimes kill a man while gasping its last breath. But an elephant, when mortally wounded, will often turn, and even should it continue its charge and pass so close that it could easily pick up its victim it frequently rushes past without noticing him.
Very little is known of the breeding habits of elephants or their manner of caring for their young. A gentleman with whom we became
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 73
very well acquainted while on the Mount Kenia trip was not a professional elephant hunter, nevertheless he had killed several elephants on Kilimanjaro. Once by mistake he shot and wounded a cow elephant that ran some distance before falling. On overtaking her he found that she had fallen in a kneeling position. A little calf was pinned under her knee by a leg that was driven deep into the soft earth. A close examination of the route over which the old elephant had passed failed to reveal any of the little one's tracks. This, together with the fact that the calf was not hitherto seen and the peculiar manner in which it lay, might be taken as proof that the mother was carrying it in her trunk or perhaps resting it on her tusks, with her trunk holding it in position.
Certainly a baby elephant cannot keep up with its mother when escaping from danger, and it is reasonable to suppose that an animal which makes a specialty of carrying things in its trunk and is intelligent enough to push down trees ten inches in diameter and shove logs and stones out of its path might, under certain circumstances, have the sense to carry off its young.
We were astonished to find elephants roaming
74 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
over the rocky ridges and the steep sides of ravines, and it was really remarkable what rough country they sometimes inhabited. I was once searching about a steep, rocky, timber-covered pinnacle at the lower edge of the heather belt on Mount Kenia for a good place to set my mousetraps. In scrambling through the moss-covered boulders I found many elephant tracks and after some difficulty reached the summit to discover that a herd of elephants had preceded me. Elephants can climb up the side of a mountain so steep that the hunter, even by using the shrubbery to aid him, has difficulty in following. Way up in the heather belt, at an altitude of twelve thousand feet, where in October half an inch of ice formed in buckets of water standing outside the tent at night, we found elephant tracks common. In crossing the bogs—of which there were many—the elephants usually separated and came together again as soon as they struck solid ground. Their feet left holes in the muck from one to two feet deep. These holes were full of water and grass had grown over them; so we were constantly stumbling into them, and the water spurted into our faces as we fell forward and wallowed on all fours. I never
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 75
returned to camp after dark without being drenched in this manner and soon learned to get back before the sun went down.
From a long distance the hunter is often apprised of the presence of elephants by the flocks of white *'cow-herons" that usually keep them company and feed on the hordes of insects that the animals attract and disturb from the grass. As he draws near he hears the breaking of branches and the crash of faUing trees, but if the animals are resting he may first be warned of danger by a strong pungent odour, or he may hear the rumble of their stomachs and other sounds caused by the process of digestion.
The hearing of elephants is very acute, but in regions inhabited by natives they become accustomed to the human voice and scarcely heed it, as already recounted in the case of the rogue elephant killed by the colonel.
We were finishing our last day's march to Lake Albert and passed a village where the people were laughing, singing, and talking, while the children romped at play. By the side of the trail several blacks stood on the topmost branches of a huge fallen tree, gazing intently at some object in the elephant-grass. On mount-
76 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ing the limbs I saw a herd of about ten elephants huddled together not more than three hundred yards away. I was told that this herd had been lingering in the vicinity for several weeks.
In regions little frequented by man the sound of the human voice will alarm elephants as quickly as the scent of a hunter. But they rely more on their keen scent to warn them of danger than on either hearing or seeing. When approaching a herd the chief thought in an elephant hunter's mind is the direction of the wind. He first tries to make sure that the animals are not scattered and that there are none to the right or to the left that will catch his wind and give the alarm. Often he sends his gun bearer up a tree or to the top of an ant-hill to look about.
So long as the elephants' trunks are down there is little danger, but, when he sees the U-shaped curve of a proboscis waving in the air over the top of the elephant-grass, he knows that if its owner has not actually scented him, it is at least suspicious of danger and is feeling for his scent. Then, when another and another appears, he is certain that the warning has been communicated to the whole herd and that trouble
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 77
is brewing beneath those heavy skins, which on an adult animal will average an inch and a half in thickness.
Many a man has Providence to thank for creating so powerful a creature with a serious defect—poor eyesight. I am not aware that any ocuhst has examined the sight of an elephant to determine how far it can see, but it is certain that, so far as discovering a human being is concerned, its eyesight is not of much use beyond fifty yards. Time and again men have stood by the side of a tree, crouched by a bush, or lain flat on an ant-hill while a herd of infuriated elephants charged about only a few yards away.
While out hunting white rhinoceroses in the Lado country on the White Nile, we came upon a herd of nine elephants. When first seen they were on a burnt tract about four hundred yards away, but they gradually drew nearer until they were within two hundred yards. We did not wish to kill them, so rather than run the risk of a charge and be compelled to shoot them we circled them. From an ant-hill we watched the great brutes for fifteen minutes and were in plain sight all the time, yet they never detected us. An
78 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
antelope or a deer would have spied the danger the instant our heads appeared over the grass.
A small flock of cow-herons accompanied the herd, riding on the backs of the animals and then flying to the ground and feeding in the grass until the elephants had outdistanced them, when again they launched into the air and overtook their great hosts. The elephants paid so little heed to the birds that it was quite evident the two lived on most friendly terms.
There were several calves in the herd and they trailed along in the rear and then galloped on to overtake their parents. We circled them without trouble and continued our hunt. On returning several hours later, we found them in almost the same position in which they had been left.
A few days later a herd of about fifty elephants strolled to within a mile and a half of camp and for over an hour we watched them through the glasses. It was about ten o'clock in the forenoon, so probably they were on their way to water at the Nile. There were only young bulls, cows, and calves in the herd. They must have scented our camp, for very soon they
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 79
became suspicious and, after wandering about, started back over the route they had come.
When in the open country they spread out and walked abreast, but as soon as a thicket was reached they dropped behind each other and followed single file. They were constantly tossing dirt and tussocks of grass on and over their backs, fanning themselves with their immense ears and at intervals extending them on each side, which, through the field-glasses, presented a most hideous appearance. As usual, a large flock of cow-herons accompanied them and when these birds lit on the back of an animal they gave it the appearance of being a white-backed elephant.
Suddenly the launch that was to take us to Nimule rounded a bend in the river and whistled. The elephants turned sharply to the right and ambled off at a rapid rate. A little calf some distance in the rear did not hurry fast enough to suit its mother, and I saw her stop and wait until it came up and then drive it on ahead, occasionally giving it a gentle tap with her trunk.
CHASED BY AN OSTRICH
PROBABLY the most amusing incident that happened to any member of the Roosevelt African expedition occurred to me before we had been in Africa a week; I was chased by an ostrich. The ostrich was not a wild one, for the wild birds are far too cunning to do anything so adventurous. We saw them feeding in pairs and small groups on the veldt, but they were too shy to be easily approached.
The ostrich that gave chase to me was a huge bird that belonged to an English settler by the name of Percival. It was a member of a fine flock he had reared from eggs brought to him by the natives. He valued the old birds at four hundred dollars each.
At night Percival kept the ostriches in a kraal (brush enclosure) and early each morning let them out to feed on grass, while a Kikuyu boy stood guard. The native was armed with an eight-foot pole, at the end of which was a
wide crotch. This stick he used to protect himself when an ostrich became ill-tempered and attacked him; he would push the fork against the bird's neck and hold the creature off until it became discouraged and was willing to "be good."
A cock ostrich when peevish has a disagreeable habit of running up to a person, bowling him over with a blow of its foot, and then dancing on him.
Unless a man has one of those forked poles when he is attacked by an ostrich, he is likely to be seriously injured by the bird's powerful kicks. In such a case the best thing to do is to lie flat on the ground and let yourself be trodden on. You may be pounded black and blue and badly bruised, but even that is better than having a fractured skull, broken ribs or limbs, or great gashes cut in your flesh by the bird's strong feet.
It is the duty of safari managers to warn greenhorns of the danger from tame ostriches, and as one of Percival's birds was noted for its truculent disposition, our party had been properly cautioned.
Unpacking our outfit at Kapiti, where we
82 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
made the first camp, we remained there only long enough to put things in working order and then rode across the veldt for half a day to Sir Alfred Pease's ranch.
All along the route we saw thousands of animals. It seemed impossible that in this age there could be any spot on the earth where animal life was so abundant. Herds of zebras, hartebeests, Thompson's gazelles, and wildebeests, in separate bands and sometimes mingled together in one great herd, were feeding on all sides.
The wildebeest is a remarkable animal. Some herds are so shy that it is almost impossible to stalk them. Others seem full of a spirit of playfulness and will caper about a hunter as if trying to induce him to join them in a frolic.
Doctor Mearns was once pursuing, on horseback, a wounded animal when a herd of wildebeests joined in the chase and for half a mile ran by his side, tossing their heads in the air and bucking and kicking as if they were thoroughly enjoying the hunt.
It was the dry season, and as there was a scarcity of water at Sir Alfred's place and his shooting-box was too small to accommodate
us all, Doctor Mearns and I and most of the porters camped at Potha River, about four miles away.
Three quarters of a mile behind the camp was Percival's place. In the evening of our first day at Potha he came down and asked us to visit him and see what a typical East African ranch was like. On the way I noticed numerous small earth mounds that looked as if they had been thrown up by our Western pocket-gophers.
Now, my special work with the expedition was collecting small mammals, and, naturally, when I discovered these mounds I became interested. Early the next morning I shouldered a bag of steel traps and, with my gun bearer carrying my rifle and shotgun, made for the spot where I had seen the gopher workings the evening before. I wore a green shirt, which was supposed to serve the double purpose of being invisible to animals and of tempering the rays of the powerful tropical sun.
We arrived at the spot, about four hundred yards from Percival's house, and I began digging into a burrow with a long case-knife, with the intention of setting a steel trap in
84 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
the underground passageway. The animals live a subterranean life, and appear above ground only when, in the course of their work, they break through the surface in order to push out the earth that they have excavated.
It was a gently rolling country, and the only trees in sight were the scattering ones along the edge of the river where our camp was pitched.
I had set one trap and was on my knees digging into another mound. My gun bearer, wondering, no doubt, what new kind of white man I could be, stood by, watching my actions. Glancing up from my work, I noticed the Kikuyu boy driving the flock of ostriches from the enclosure and starting them ofiF to pasture.
Presently I heard him shout, and I saw that an enormous cock-bird had left the band and was heading in our direction in a very significant manner.
Of course I had a gun and a rifle with which to protect myself, but the four hundred dollars that I would have to pay if I shot the bird made me reluctant to kill it.
perplexity at the gun bearer. *'What shall we do?" I said. "Run.?"
Although he could not understand English, he must have known by my tone that I was asking a question, and so he replied with the only English word he knew:
I did not wait to pick up the bag of traps but snatched the shotgun. The gun bearer grabbed the rifle, and oflE we started. It was fully half a mile over the gently rolling veldt to camp, and it seemed that the great bird would easily overhaul us before we could reach it, but the thought of the four hundred dollars stimulated me to my top speed. Yet I did not dare to throw away the shotgun.
We had a lead of three hundred yards. At intervals I looked back over my shoulder and saw the ostrich swinging over the ground at a graceful trot; his wings were half raised, and at every step his body rose and sank as if it were resting on springs.
A herd of about twenty-five wildebeests were just ahead of us. When they saw us bearing down on them they divided to let us pass. Then they lined up on each side, about a hun-
86 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
dred yards away, and dashed along parallel with us, tossing their heads, bucking and frisking, and evidently taking a deep interest in the race.
It was plain that the ostrich was not exerting himself. Perhaps he thought it would be more fun to run us down and tire us out than to end the race by a sudden burst of speed. With each stride his feet reached out like those of a race-horse, and as he drew near I saw that his bill was half open. With his extremely small head mounted on his snakelike neck, his open mouth gave him an idiotic appearance.
When he was within forty or fifty yards of us he suddenly began surging back and forth, and it seemed that I could read his thoughts:
"I've got you. You can't get away."
And he did have us. But the ridiculousness of our position, together with a nearer view of the green shirt that I wore, seemed to intoxicate him with ecstasy; the foolish old bird threw himself flat on the ground, lifted his wings over his back, and began rocking from side to side and twisting his head and neck about as if he were ready to burst with laughter.
How long he continued to act so I do not
know; I was too busy watching for the green covers of the tents to loom up ahead. But I do know that we put two hundred yards between us and the bird before he again started after us. We were so near the camp that the wildebeests had veered off and now stood watching from a safe distance the finish of the race.
When, at last, we came within shouting distance of the tents I tried to call, but I was so thoroughly out of breath that I could hardly make a sound. I turned to the gun bearer and by signs made him understand that I wished him to attract attention. He shouted long and loud.
The porters came swarming from their tents, and the uproar of laughter that broke from the crowd still rings in my ears. Not one of them offered to come to our assistance; they just stood there and laughed. Cuninghame, however, darted back into his tent and reappeared with a large towel. Running toward us, he waved the towel in front of him as if to flag the bird or to announce to us that the race was over and that we had won the prize of four hundred dollars.
As we entered the camp, amid the uproar-
88 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ious mirth of the child-Uke porters, the ostrich trotted up to within twenty yards of the tents, threw himself on the ground, and again repeated the antics that he had gone through a few minutes before. Finally he tired of it, and rising, began feeding about the veldt as if nothing had happened. Soon his keeper appeared and drove him back to the flock.
During the rest of the trip I was constantly reminded of that experience and time and again was obliged to tell the story. But what wounded my sensitive feelings most was to have Sir Alfred Pease ludicrously cartoon the episode and ask me to inscribe beneath it my feelings at the time and then to sign my name!
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT
)1 LL day the sun had been beating down /-\ upon us, one hundred and ten degrees strong. As I sat in my tent on the shore of that wonderful Lake Albert which Sir Samuel W. Baker discovered on March 14,1864, there was naught in the climate or the country to remind me of the winter they were having back in York State save the gentle tinkling noise, made by the myriads of frogs or toads, that sounded like distant sleigh-bells.
We were due at Butiaba the day before but were detained a day by waiting at the last camp to secure the tusks and feet of an ugly old "rogue" elephant that Colonel Roosevelt had killed at the earnest solicitation of the natives.
The hunters had come upon the brute in the tall grass, and, true to the chief's warning, it charged the instant that it saw them and before a shot had been fired.
As we marched into Butiaba we were met by Captain Hutchison, who congratulated the
90 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
colonel on his recent feat, adding that escape from a charging elephant of any kind, and particularly a "rogue," deserved congratulations, as he could testify from a certain *'close call" he once had in elephant hunting.
"Now, captain," spoke up the colonel, "I feel sure that you have an interesting story to relate; so please give it to us at once."
"Well, it was a bit awkward, I must admit," began the captain, "and so upset me that I have never 'taken on' an elephant since.
"I had been out ivory hunting for some time, and, while we found elephants, they were all small animals or cows with calves. One morning we struck a bunch in which, judging from the enormous track, there was an immense tusker, well worth following. Sending word back to camp for my men to pull stakes immediately and come after us, for one is never sure how many days he may have to follow a herd, I struck out in pursuit of them.
"The tracks were made several hours before, and evidently there were about twenty elephants in the bunch. They were travelling at a good rate, and we hoped that they would stop to feed late in the afternoon.
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 91
"Elephants may look slow and clumsy in captivity, but when they are walking at an ordinary gait a person must step along at almost a dog-trot in order to overhaul them. It was about ten o'clock when we took the 'spoor' * and we knew that we were starting on a journey of at least twenty miles. The trail was not hard to keep, for a herd of twenty elephants following single file through the ten-foot elephant-grass makes more than a well-worn path.
"As they marched along they had amused themselves by snatching a bunch of grass and tossing it aside; then, as they had passed through a grove of thorn-trees, they had broken off limbs and dragged them a hundred yards or more before dropping them. ' Several times one had halted long enough to dig a hole in the ground three or four feet in diameter with his tusks, and then we saw where he had galloped on to overtake his comrades. Once they gave us an advantage by stopping for some time to wallow in a water-hole, and as they emerged they rubbed their bodies against the first trees they passed, leaving the mud plastered ten feet
* A sign of any kind.
high on the bark. These and other signs, growing fresher and fresher all the time, told us that we were slowly overtaking our game.
"About noon we surmised that, if the elephants were still travelling, we must be within five miles of them; but, as it was feeding time, I thought it practical to send my best tracker ahead to reconnoitre, while we followed more slowly. In a short time he returned and reported that he had overhauled the herd feeding in a grove of thorn-trees, of which they are particularly fond. They were breaking off the branches, digging up the roots with their tusks, and then pushing the trees over with their heads or pulling them down with their trunks. Although he had not seen the big fellow, there was no doubt that it was somewhere in the group.
"By the time we had arrived they had passed out of the grove and were again in the elephant-grass, which, owing to its height and density, made it impossible for us to see them. Even when we mounted an ant-hill the growth was so tall that we got only an occasional glimpse of a back or of a few snake-like trunks waving about in the air. The wind was scarcely
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 93
in our favour; so we circled them to a large tree, and I sent one of the boys up to see if he could locate the big tusker.
"We watched him for several minutes as from his lofty perch he scanned the country. Presently he pointed oflf to the right, and from his signs we read that there were two tuskers with good ivory, one rather small, but the other the grandfather of all the elephants with mighty tusks. I beckoned the man down, and there, under the tree in whispered conversation, we planned the attack.
"Our prize was on the far side of the herd and in such a position that, should we attempt to stalk him, there would be risk of some of the elephants catching the scent and giving the alarm. Nothing could be done, therefore, but to keep watch until he had worked around to a more favourable position.
"Again the boy ascended the tree, and as we lay upon the ground about the base we could hear the elephants ripping up the grass. It was probably half an hour before the boy again descended and reported that the elephants were working our way, and it would be dangerous to remain there longer. So we took
94 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
up a new position on an unusually large ant-hill, several hundred yards to the left, and awaited developments.
"At last the long-looked-for time arrived, for the tusker was on the outskirts of the herd, and the wind was favourable. We circled to his side and stealthily drew near—my gun bearer, tracker, and myself—while the other boys remained in the rear.
*'The tall grass prevented us from even catching a glimpse of the beasts, but it was easy to locate them by the noise they made while feeding. My gun bearer assured me that the brute I wanted was one of three not more than fifty yards away.
"We held to the elephant trails, as no one could penetrate that jungle of grass and travel silently. Next to silence we had to watch the ^ind, for, once the animals caught our scent, tney would either dash away or charge, probably the latter.
"So far our plans had worked out admirably; the elephants, unconscious of our presence, were still tearing up the grass directly in our front, while my boys and myself proceeded inch by inch and strained our eyes to catch sight of
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 95
the brutes. These boys had been my compan-' ions on many an elephant hunt, and I had the utmost confidence in them, knowing well that, if it were necessary, they would not hesitate to give up their lives to save mine.
"I don't care how many elephants a man may have encountered, while he is sneaking upon his game a feeling of uneasiness steals over him until the critical moment arrives; then things happen so quickly and his brain works so rapidly that all sense of fear is for the moment lost.
*'With both hammers of my rifle raised, I cautiously sneaked nearer and nearer, my faithful boys following at my very heels. At last we were within fifty feet of the elephant, and as he moved toward me I could see the top of the grass swaying violently from side to side. Suddenly fate turned against us, for a shifting current of air must have warned the brute of danger, I saw a huge trunk rise above the grass, heard a shrill, deafening trumpet, and knew that the fight was on. The grass parted as though a snow-plough were being driven through it, and the next instant there loomed up, not twenty feet away, a monster head with
96 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
wing-like ears protruding on either side like the sails on a dhow. 'Two shiny tusks of ivory, fully six feet long, were pointed at my chest, and the towering trunk between them gave the head a fiendish look not often found outside of Hades. The other elephants took up the trumpeting, and the uproar was appalling.
"My rifle was at my shoulder from the second the brute began his charge, and the instant that he hove in sight I fired both barrels point-blank into his face. Without a second's hesitation I reached back to my gun bearer for the '450' and brought it to position. Immense though the brute was, he looked three times his normal size as I cast my eyes along the barrels levelled at his head not five feet away. I pressed one trigger, then the other, but there was no report, and with a feeling of horror I realised that my gun bearer, in the excitement of the moment, had failed to raise the hammers.
'* Before I could lower the rifle from my shoulder the brute was upon me! With a scream of rage he twined his trunk about my body and, lifting me high above his head, "brandished me about in the air as though I were a feather. Every instant I expected to be
THE GRASS PARTED AS THOUGH A SNOW-PLOUGH WERE BEING DRIVEN THROUGH IT
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 97
hurled fifty feet or more through space, which I welcomed as the only possible likelihood of escape. But no; at that moment I struck the ground with a thud. Three times I was lifted high and brought crashing through the grass to earth. The last time the elephant uncoiled his trunk and left me lying there, stunned and dazed and staring blankly into his wicked little eyes, now hot with rage.
*'Then, dropping to his knees before me, he knelt there hesitating, as though to give me time to deliberate before the end should come. But he did not keep me waiting long, for slowly the two great tusks began descending. With all my waning strength I threw my body snug up against his bending knees, and the tusks passed harmlessly over me, just grazing my back, and tore great holes in the earth beyond. Again the ponderous head was raised, and again his tusks bore down upon me and probed deeply into the earth.
"Evidently the animal had been somewhat bUnded by my shots, for, assuming that he had done his work, he started to rise, and as he did so the sudden thought came over me that he would probably attempt to trample me to
98 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
death, the usual method that an elephant employs to obliterate an enemy. So, as he slowly rose, in some unaccountable manner I managed to scramble between his forefeet and, working back, seized hold of his hind foot.
"Once more I felt the snake-like trunk being wound around me; next I was being waved about over the grass top—then the ground seemed suddenly to rise and meet me, and I lost consciousness. How many times I was hammered on the ground I do not know.
"Three hours later I came to and found myself in camp and my boys dashing water into my face. When I opened my eyes I saw the gun bearer holding a smoking rifle in his hands. He had just returned from the scene of my mauling and brought in my rifles, one of which he had attempted to unload and in some manner had accidentally discharged. The explosion had no doubt assisted to revive me.
"My men told me that my life was saved by the quick action of my tracker, who appeared on the scene with a spear at about the time that I lost consciousness and, rushing in, plunged the spear into the elephant's side. Leaving me, the animal took after its new tormentor, but
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 99
the agile native, twisting and doubling in the thick grass, managed finally to escape. The elephant had devastated the grass, bushes, and small trees in his search for the man and, fortunately, had not returned to me.
"While it is undoubtedly true that the native's action had much to do with saving me, one reason why I was not dashed to death Ues in the fact that an elephant's trunk is the tenderest part of his body, and, being twined about me, it received the brunt of the blow each time that I struck the ground, and evidently the pain kept the animal from using the force necessary to kill me.
"As a result of that mauling, I was laid up for six weeks before I was well enough to hobble about again.
"That elephant may be alive at this present moment, for all I know. My native attendants were too terror-stricken over the outcome of the hunt to give the brute any further attention after I was mauled; so no one followed him up to discover what damage my shots had done. Judging from the amount of vigour that was left in his great hulk at the time he put me to sleep, he could not have been seriously wounded.
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"Well, as I have said, colonel," concluded Captain Hutchison, "that hunt used up my stock of courage, and I doubt if I shall ever *take on' another elephant, unless in seK-defence."
A NY one who has toured through the country /"\ at night in an automobile with bright headhghts must have noticed how brilliantly a stray cat's eyes shine when the lamps' rays strike them squarely. The members of the Roosevelt African expedition made use of this fact to secure specimens of the nocturnal animals that otherwise could not have been so easily collected.
The time was when deer were hunted in the Adirondack Mountains in much the same manner, but it has long since been stopped by law on the ground that it was unsportsmanlike. Be that as it may, **jacking" animals in Africa is an entirely different proposition, especially when one's main object is to secure the specimens for scientific purposes. We were there for specimens, and it made no difference in what manner they were procured so long as torture was not resorted to.
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So far as sport is concerned, there is very little sport in collecting most specimens, anyhow; it is not the killing of a creature that delights the field naturalist, it is the specimen itself—the knowledge that science has been enriched by another skin and the hope that that skin will be the means of adding a new species to the world's nomenclature or that some new and interesting fact will be revealed.
"Jacking" animals in a country where there is no danger to the sportsman may be unsportsmanlike from an animal's point of view, but ''jacking" animals at night in the land of the rhinoceros and man-eating lion is not only risky but many of our African acquaintances pronounced it foolhardy.
We used an ordinary acetylene bicycle lamp and never went out until it was pitch dark; in fact, the blacker the night the better the chance of success. On moonlight nights the light does not penetrate so far and the animals can detect danger more quickly.
Naivasha, where we did most of our night hunting, is a hamlet of about a dozen houses situated in a tract of country similar, in a way, to the deserts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona,
southern California, Colorado, and Utah. Every night hyenas and jackals prowled about the garbage piles, and as we lay in bed we could hear them howling and barking and occasionally also the deep, grunting moans of a lion in the rocky hills a mile or so away.
Kermit Roosevelt originated this new form of night hunting, and the first night he killed several springhaas.
The springhaas—Dutch for jumping hare— is an animal about the size of a jack-rabbit but shaped more like a wallaby or a kangaroo. Its front legs are short, while its hind ones are long and used for jumping. Its ears, too, are long, like those of a kangaroo, and its movements and mode of locomotion are almost identical. Its upper parts are red, or reddish, and its under-parts whitish, while its tail—very long —is well haired and has a ''brush" at the end. The springhaas lives in colonies in holes in the ground, like a prairie-dog, and each pair, or family, has its individual burrow. It is truly a nocturnal rodent—a gnawing animal—and if ever seen in daylight it is just after a shower or when the sky is deeply overcast.
Kermit's success spurred Doctor Mearns and
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myself to try our luck. So one dark night about nine o'clock we shouldered an Ithaca shotgun and, with the bicycle lamp, sallied forth.
We struck out across the quarter-mile, uninhabited flat between the hotel and the railroad station, intending then to turn to the right toward the hills. Springhaas's burrows were numerous and we had hope of finding a spring-haas before we reached the station.
I walked ahead and carried the light, which I kept casting about from side to side as we slowly walked along. Not a word was spoken. The lantern cast a V-shaped ray over the hard, sandy, brush-covered flat.
Suddenly, out of the inky darkness, there sprang, like magic, two balls of fire the size of a five-cent piece and about three inches apart. My heart gave a leap and for a few seconds I stood petrified, forgetting entirely the object of my presence. The next instant I came to my senses and, turning to the doctor, whispered:
"There's one! Give me the gun quick! Here! you take the lantern and hold it on him and I'll shoot!"
The doctor took the lamp and turned it again
upon the fiery balls, which in my excitement I had neglected to keep within the rays. Not even the outline of the animal could be seen, simply those two balls of fire. I had no idea how far away the creature was. I raised the gun to fire, but could not even see the barrels much less the sight, so I pointed in that general direction and pulled the trigger.
Not a breath of air stirred and the gun roared like a cannon. Instantly the two glowing balls disappeared and some animal let out an awful yowl. Without waiting for the lamp, I ran at top speed, leaving the doctor far in the rear. As soon as I reached the spot where I judged the animal should be, if my aim had been true, I began to search about, but, having gazed for so long into the glare, I could not see. Soon my eyes became accustomed to the darkness and I thought I saw a movement a little to the left. Jumping to the spot, I gave a kick. Again the creature began to yowl and started off, but it had taken only a few steps when I jumped on it and began shouting for the doctor.
What the thing was I could not tell. That it was not a springhaas I felt certain, for it was too large and its cries were not those of a jump-
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ing hare. Quickened by my cries and those of the animal, the doctor soon came up with the light, and found me waltzing about on the hurricane-deck of a large grey fox, for all the world a prototype of our American grey or "woods grey" fox. Why it did not bite my legs I cannot understand. We put it out of its misery immediately and were greatly pleased with our success so early in the hunt.
It would be a serious breach of a field naturalist's etiquette not to mention that this fox proved to be a new species, and was named by Doctor Miller, of the National Museum, Otocyon virgatus.
We both realised that killing animals in this manner was all luck, and that in order to make our aim true every time we must devise some way of casting the light along the gun-barrels so as to reveal the sight. After a little experimenting we found that by holding the lantern in the left hand and resting the gun on our wrist we could twist the lantern so that the rays would strike the barrels and show the animal's eyes at the same time. Aiming, then, was quite as easy as in broad daylight.
Having but one lantern, it was now the doc-
tor's turn to show his skill, so I carried the fox while he prospected about for more eyes. We had gone only a short distance when we "picked up" a pair of eyes, and the doctor let fly and shot a springhaas.
We did not get back to the hotel until after midnight, and during the time killed four more springhaas. This trip proved to be more of a lesson than a hunt. We learned many things of interest, and, although we missed several shots, we always profited by the loss.
We found springhaas singly, in pairs, or in groups of three to five, and sometimes several pairs of eyes could be seen within the radius of the lamp.
At first our eagerness to secure the animals led us to shoot before we were within range, and it was some time before we were able to judge the distance accurately. Perhaps we would be near enough the instant the light revealed the animal. Sometimes the springhaas would become suspicious; then we had to follow it about the flat before we could get a shot.
After the novelty wore off and we saw that we would easily secure all the specimens we required, we began to study the animals more
108 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and to see how near we really could approach them. Rarely did we get so near that the whole outline of the animal could be seen, but once or twice one allowed us to walk within ten feet of it. There it posed like a miniature kangaroo, raising and dropping its head in a nervous, jerky manner as though puzzled by the glare. The dazzling light, of course, prevented the creatures from seeing us behind the lamp, and, as we made no more noise than possible, it was probably just as difScult for them to tell how far away we were as it was for us to gauge their distance from us.
It was a strange fact, that while the person who held the lamp could easily see the eyes of an animal when the light shone directly into them, a companion standing by his side or looking over his shoulder was usually unable to distinguish a thing. Finally, however, our eyes became so keen that when we missed a shot, we could often see the faint side-light glimmer from the eyes as the animal dashed away.
This ''jacking" was extremely interesting from one point of view. We found that at night the diurnal life had been replaced by an entirely different fauna. For instance, during the day
we did not see a single springhaas or a white-tailed mongoose and only one fox, but while "jacking," we killed several mongooses, six or eight foxes, and a fine series of springhaas, besides seeing many more of each.
Difficult as it might seem, it was not long before we were able to tell the different species of animals by their eyes and their actions. The constant bobbing motion of the springhaas identified them at once. The foxes would peer at the light, then the glare was lost as they turned their heads and looked away, but a second later it appeared again. Then we would lose it entirely; but by shifting the fight from right to left or by advancing a few steps, we would again pick up the eyes shining at us from another quarter. The foxes were harder to approach and were very restless, and sometimes we were obliged to follow one about for half an hour before we could get a shot.
We discovered springhaas and foxes living amicably together. Foxes are perfectly able to kill jumping hare and quite probably do at times; nevertheless we " shone" the eyes of both of these animals at the same time, showing that they must have been standing within a few
110 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
yards, if not feet, of each other. We examined the stomachs of all the foxes we killed and invariably found them filled to bursting point with the queer insects erroneously called ''flying ants." These insects live in holes in the ground, and at this time of the year, on cloudy days and after dark, emerge in a steady stream, so foxes have little diOiculty supplying their wants.
Tin cans, pieces of tin, and pieces of glass shone quite as brightly as animals' eyes, and while they deceived us many times before we had had much experience, we never blundered to the extent of firing at them.
Mr. Cherry Kearton, England's famous nature photographer, was working at Naivasha at the time of our visit. He was anxious to get a flash-light photograph of a springhaas and I told him that I thought it might be accomplished.
He had an electrical, flash-light contrivance rigged up on a pole with wires, batteries, and buckles. This he strapped about the waist of his assistant, Jimmy Clark, who, when everything was in readiness, ignited the flash by pressing a button.
It took about half an hour to get Jimmy
properly harnessed to the apparatus, and then we started out. It was agreed that I should carry the lamp and walk ahead and find a springhaas, and when we got within fifteen feet of it, Kearton, who was close by, should focus the camera on the brute, give the signal to Clark following behind, and he would then press the button, explode the flash, and the picture would be taken.
We had proceeded only a few yards when I discovered the eyes of a springhaas about a hundred feet away and called Kearton's attention to them. He made some reply that led me to suppose that he, too, saw them, and we began to stalk the animal. We had gone but a few feet when Kearton knelt low over his camera and began to focus. Puzzled at his action, for we were too far away for a photograph, I was about to remonstrate, when glancing down I saw the single glare of a piece of tin not ten feet from the camera. Before I could give the warning, Kearton had signalled to Clark to press the button. There was a dull roar and a blinding flash.
*'I have him! I have him!" shouted the excited photographer.
lU AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
I stepped forward and turned the light full in the face of an innocent-looking tin can.
In print it may not sound funny, but the elaborate preparations that had been made and the stealth with which we stalked the supposed animal added to the ridiculousness of the situation, and it was some time before we recovered our composure. I met Kearton in New York three years later and he still clung to the belief that it was a concocted scheme.
Colonel Roosevelt went out with us one night. He was greatly handicapped by poor eyesight and missed several shots, but he soon caught on to the trick and then had better luck.
As we groped about in the darkness, the colonel with the gun, Doctor Mearns with a gunny sack in which to put the game, and I with the light, the party had all the earmarks of a chicken-stealing outfit on a raid. When I called the colonel's attention to our appearance he laughed heartily and replied that he hoped no reporters would see him and add another crime to the already long list of which they have accused him.
Doctor Mearns and I were hunting one midnight along the base of a series of rocky hills
about three miles from Naivasha. We were after foxes and anything else but springhaas, for we had long since collected a sufficient number of them.
Now and then the light would fall upon some small ground-dwelling bird that allowed us to approach almost within arm's length before it flew, and several times we nearly caught one in our hands.
Sometimes we would walk suddenly upon a mouse or a rat which stopped and blinked at the light and then scampered into a hole or into a cluster of bushes.
Again, a tuft of grass, a hummock, a stone, or a bit of wood, discovered at such a distance that for the minute we could not tell whether it was an animal or not, caused us to approach cautiously in anxious expectation of adding another species to our already large collection. Far back in the hills, fully a mile away, came the deep guttural moan of a Hon. Possibly he had just made a ''kill" and was voicing his satisfaction at the prospect of a full stomach; we hoped so at least, for then we were in Uttle danger from that particular Hon.
From right to left and back again the light
114 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
searched the open, brushy, and rock-strewn country, trying to discover some specimen of value.
The lamp had just finished a half-circle to the left and I had started to swing it back, when a faint glimmer caught my eye. I held the lamp steadily and looked again. Two fire balls, much wider apart and quite different from anything we had ever seen, stared at us.
"What's that.?" I asked.
"Go on," replied the doctor.
Cautiously and silently we approached. Larger and larger grew the lights. My heart began to bump against my ribs. , Now we were within shooting distance.
"Let him have it!" whispered the doctor.
"No," I said, "It's neither a springhaas nor a fox; it's too large, it must be a lion."
"Give it to him, anyway," he replied.
"Not on your life! I'm not going to tackle a lion in the dead of night with nothing but a shotgun and two loads of number four shot," I whispered.
"All right, then! Give me the gun, I'll shoot him," said the doctor.
Just at that moment the lights flared up, and
I then saw that our Hon's eyes were nothing more than the dying embers of a Kikuyu native camp-fire.
Probably the blacks were clustered about five or ten deep and at that moment were sleeping the sleep of the just, oblivious of wild animals or wild white men. Had I fired, I should undoubtedly have peppered a dozen or more of them. It was a fortunate thing that I discovered the mistake in time, for it costs something to shoot a native in Africa. One must not only pay for those he wounds but all the near relatives of a man he may kill expect payment.
After we returned to the hotel, we began to figure. Based on the damage paid for such suits, we came to the conclusion that that shot would have cost each of us at least two dollars and thirty cents.
A FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS
TO fully appreciate the danger of lion-hunting, a person should visit the little cemetery at Nairobi, British East Africa, with some one who can show him the graves of those unfortunate hunters who have been killed by these mammoth cats. Gruesome though such an experience may be, it serves as an object-lesson to the green hunter who has just arrived in the country, and proves to him the need of being cautious, cool, and accurate in his aim.
I feel safe in saying that inexperienced sportsmen do not at first realise the great danger of lion-hunting. They take it for granted that one or two well-placed bullets from a modern high-power rifle are sufficient to stop the charge of any so-called dangerous animal. Such is often the case; but again several balls in vital spots will fail to kill a lion before it has succeeded in killing the hunter.
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 117
It is too often true that sportsmen who are killed or are mortally wounded by lions have placed their lives in jeopardy by following wounded animals into thickets or into tall grass, where the meeting is almost certain to be at close range and unexpected. And yet many an experienced lion-hunter has been mauled when the conditions were such that an '*accident"— as the English call a mauling—seemed impossible.
Some African tribes of natives do not hesitate to attack lions with spears, even though they know that usually it will result in the death or serious injury of one or more of their party.
We were camped in the Sotik country, on the North N'Guasso Nyero River, where lions were abundant. One afternoon a young Englishman named Chapman, who was travelling through the country selling and trading sheep with the Masai tribe, camped near by. We spent a pleasant evening together, and during the course of our conversation he mentioned that he had never shot a lion, but was anxious for an opportunity. He showed us an antiquated single-shot rifle and asked if we thought it powerful enough to do the work. We ex-
118 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
pressed a doubt. The following morning he broke camp and moved over to a Masai village, some twenty miles away.
About supper time two days later I stepped to the tent door and, gazing across the veldt opposite camp, saw a man leading a mule on which was perched a very wabbly object resembling a native. As they drew near I discovered that it was Chapman's tent boy leading the animal, and that the wabbly object was a porter.
They slowly plodded into camp, and the tent boy handed Doctor Mearns, our physician and surgeon, a note from Chapman. The doctor opened the letter and began reading, while the injured man, his arms and legs bandaged in pieces of cloth, was helped from the mule and immediately sank to the ground.
The note told us that Chapman had attacked a troop of lions in a thick brush and wounded two of them, one of which had charged the party and mauled the porter. The poor fellow was badly injured. Both of his legs and arms were bitten and scratched, and his thumb was crushed. Doctor Mearns washed out and sterilised the wounds, then wrapped them in clean bandages, and we made the man as comfortable
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 119
as we could. The tent boy was then sent back to Chapman's camp with the mule.
At breakfast time the next morning, who should appear but the same boy, this time riding the mule. He carried another note from his master saying that after the fight, the Masai had attacked the lions and that two of the men were badly mauled. He wanted the doctor to come over as soon as possible and treat them.
The doctor left immediately and returned late that evening, and this is the story he told:
"Chapman had camped near a Masai 'kraal,' and, after selling the villagers a few sheep, he asked them if they knew where there were any lions. They took him to a thicket that eventually proved to be the lair of a troop of lions. It was then late in the evening, so the Englishman decided to postpone his attack until the following day.
"Soon after daylight Chapman returned with his boys and a Masai spearman, and, sneaking up to the thicket he saw two half-grown cubs playing at the skirting. He opened fire and wounded them, but they bolted out of sight into the brush before they could be despatched. He circled the brush patch several times, but
no AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
did not find them, so he determined to send in the boys to drive them out—a dangerous undertaking.
"Reluctantly the blacks entered the lair and began shouting and beating the brush with sticks. Chapman, on the outside, a few rods in advance, waited for the lions to appear. Half of the thicket had been driven over when a beater found one of the lions, dead, and it was dragged into the open. This discovery somewhat encouraged the men, and they returned to the brush more willingly.
"There still remained about one hundred yards of the thicket to be driven, yet so far only two lions had been seen. Chapman was beginning to think that the ones he had seen the evening before must have escaped during the night. Suddenly a large lioness stepped from cover and calmly stood gazing at the Englishman. As he raised his rifle and took aim, two more lions appeared some distance farther on. Chapman fired, and when the bullet struck the lioness she gave a deep, hoarse growl and, wheeling about, charged him. The distance between them was so short that he did not have time to reload. The infuriated
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 121
beast was almost upon him when one of the porters in the edge of the brush jumped from cover directly in the path of the charging brute.
"The poor fellow discovered his mistake too late, for, as he turned to run back, the lioness reared, and, burying its teeth in the man's shoulder, bore him to the earth. The man and the cat tumbled about on the ground while Chapman worked frantically to reload his rifle.
''At that moment the Masai spearman bounded up to the struggling pair. Crouching behind his rhinoceros-hide shield, he poised his spear in the air and drove the steel shaft into the lion's body. Growling savagely, the lion dropped its victim and turned upon the Masai. Chapman had reloaded by this time, and he managed to shoot the animal through the shoulder before it had a chance to maul the guide.
"Chapman's narrow escape convinced him that he had better not attack any more lions with his single-shot rifle, so, after attending to his wounded porter, he started back to camp. He had gone only a short distance when he met a party of Masai warriors who had been attracted by the shooting. They were heavily
122 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
armed with their tribal weapon—spears. After they heard what had taken place they wanted Chapman to return with them and kill the other lions, but he refused to go.
"The Masai were insistent. They said that they would go whether he accompanied them or not, so finally he gave his rifle to one of his boys and sent him back with the natives while he continued on with the wounded porter.
"On arriving at the lair the warriors took positions on the outside of the thicket and sent several men inside to drive out the lions. In a few minutes the shouts of the beaters told that a lion had been started, but the animal kept closely under cover so there was no opportunity to spear it. The beaters had worked along to the end of the thicket, when suddenly a large, black-maned lion rushed from the thicket within a few yards of two warriors. Both men hurled their spears at the animal. One of them missed his mark, but the spear from the other struck the lion in the flank and it turned and bounded back to cover.
"The lion could be heard snarling, growling, and thrashing about in the brush in an effort to extract the spear from its side. From the
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 123
swaying of the bushes the Masai saw that the animal was working its way into a dense part of the thicket, so they thought it best to leave it in hope that it would soon die from its wounds.
"The beaters worked around behind the wounded lion, as they supposed, and again commenced to beat the brush for other lions. They had not given the spearmen time to properly distribute themselves since the last encounter, however. Only one man had reached the far side of the thicket when a deep, guttural growl was heard. The next instant the wounded lion bolted out of the brush close to the solitary spearman and, catching sight of him, threw up its tail and charged.
'*The Masai, crouching behind his shield, his spear poised in the air, waited until the brute was almost upon him, then with a gentle flirt of his wrist he sent the keen-bladed weapon into the lion's shoulder and out on the opposite side, fully eighteen inches. The Hon struck the uplifted shield and, reaching over it, seized the man by the shoulder and the two sank to the ground.
"Had the other spearmen been present to follow up the attack, the man's life might have
been saved. As it was, after he had once thrown his weapon he was helpless, for these people carry only one spear, relying upon their kinsmen for help when needed.
''A sixteen-year-old boy who chanced to be tending cattle near by had been watching the hunt and was only a few rods away when the lion attacked the Masai. Seeing the plight his comrade was in, he rushed to his assistance and, with only a '' knob-stick "* for a weapon, began beating the great cat on the head. Three blows were sufficient to make the shaggy-maned creature leave the man he was mauling and spring upon the brave little herder. Only a few moments elapsed before a score of spearmen arrived and riddled the animal with spears, but the poor little fellow had been mortally wounded."
Doctor Mearns made three trips from our camp to the village in an effort to save the lives of those two natives, but both of them died of blood-poisoning. When the news reached us that they were dead, the doctor said: "Lo-ring, during my career as an army surgeon I saw and heard of a great many cases of bravery, but never have I known a boy so young to vol-
*A three-foot stick with a knob the size of a baseball at one end.
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 125
untarily enter a conflict which he must have known meant certain death. It seems a pity-that such an act of bravery should pass without some recognition from a civiHsed people."
THE chief difference between the crocodile and the aUigator hes in the head, the snout of the latter usually being much longer and narrower than that of the former. While there are no alligators in Africa, there are both crocodiles and alligators in the United States.
As we left Lake Albert and entered the Nile we found crocodiles in considerable numbers. As the steam-launch Kenia glided down-stream, crocodiles slid from the bank into the water. Frequently, while passing a narrow bay or rounding a sharp bend, we surprised one or more at close range, and they swished their tails in the air and scrambled into the river.
At ''Rhino Camp" they were very common, and our party killed several during our three weeks' stay. Colonel Roosevelt shot one from which we took forty-eight eggs and Kermit killed another that contained fifty-two eggs.
On a high bank of the Nile, about fifteen feet from the papyrus, I discovered a crocodile's nest with thirty-eight eggs and in the bushes near by were the shells of several more eggs that had been stolen and eaten by monitor lizards.
These nests were depressions in the ground. The eggs, placed in layers, were so arranged as to leave no doubt that the crocodile used her forefeet in placing and covering them with the earth and rubbish in which they were always buried.
Several times I surprised a "croc" lying out on the bank about a mile from one of our camps, but it was so watchful that it managed to elude me. One afternoon I crept stealthily to the edge of the bank and, looking over, saw it basking in the sun with its jaws wide open—a favourite attitude. As usual, it slid into the water before I could aim and fire. I knew that it would return soon, so I took a short hunt and then came back. There it was again, hauled out on the bank much farther than usual, the tall grass concealing quite half of its body. A brain shot, or one through the spine, is the only sure medicine for a crocodile, so, as its head was hidden, I was compelled to
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aim at the middle of its back. At the sound of the rifle it threw its head high in the air and wriggled about so that my second shot missed the brain and struck the jaw. The first shot had severed its vertebra, however, and it soon died. That night the body was carried away by some animal.
A few days later another croc slid off the bank, not far from the same place, but foolishly rose to the surface a few yards away, giving me time to shoot it through the brain with a ball from my 32-40 Moundsville three-barrel gun. Turning on its side it sank at once and was not seen again.
Another wily old fellow lived in a channel between the bank of the river and a papyrus island fifty feet away. Time and again it managed to escape me by scurrying into the water before I could fire. The first time that we met I came upon it so unexpectedly that it almost turned a back somersault off the bank, as it wheeled and plunged into the channel. After that it would lie in the water, close to shore, with only its eyes and tip of its nose above the surface.
How many times that old villain escaped I
am ashamed to say, but one morning I crept up behind a huge tree and, peeping through some bushes, saw its eyes and nose. Through an opening I carefully aimed and took off the top of its skull. It sank instantly, and, as the water was shallow, I tried to persuade my gun bearer to wade in after it. He was afraid of being nabbed by another croc, however, so it was left to me to get the animal out. Armed with a long pole, I waded into the shallow and fished about until I found the body, while the gun bearer stood on shore with my cocked rifle in case another croc appeared. Finally, I managed to drag the croc close enough for us to catch it by the tail and haul it to the bank. It was a small one, only nine feet long; in fact, of the four crocs that I killed none was larger.
When we commenced to skin it the thing thrashed and kicked as though it were alive, but of course no animal whose brains had been floating down the Nile for the past fifteen minutes could still be ahve. Nevertheless, it was the Kveliest dead thing I ever attempted to take the bark from. My gun bearer straddled and tried to hold it, but it wrenched its tail about and threw him several feet. Finally I managed,
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after a half-hour's fight, to sHce off the few pieces of skin I wanted.
While we were going down the Nile, on the way to Nimule, my tent boy spied a crocodile on the bank about fifty yards away. We had passed before I saw it, and by the time I could get my rifle it was hidden by a patch of grass. Taking a quick aim into the tussock, I pulled the trigger and had the satisfaction of seeing the croc's jaws fly open and come together with a snap, and as it did not leave the shore we knew that he was hard hit.
To many people this may not sound commendable, but I am sure that my action will be indorsed by every one who has visited the upper Nile country and knows the true habits of these reptiles. Crocodiles deserve no more sympathy or protection than do tuberculosis or cancer germs, for they are nothing more than a gigantic parasite. Annually hundreds of natives are carried off by these loathsome creatures, and, knowing them as I do, I must confess that a sort of fiendish glee overcame me whenever I killed one. That our entire party shared much the same opinion is proven by the fact that of all the animals we killed during our eleven
months in the country, the crocodile was the only one whose body or skin was not put to some useful purpose.
While lions also prey on the natives, their mode of attack and their entire life is so different from that of a crocodile that their crimes do not seem as repulsive. A lion will not hesitate to risk its life in a fight for food and, in a way, will give its victim a chance to protect itself, but a croc shows no quarter; it drowns its prey without endangering itself, and then leaves the body in a hole, or on a ledge under water, to be devoured at leisure. Instead of enjoying life in an active, intelligent manner, as most animals do, its only ambition is to bask in the sun until hunger compels it to commit another crime. Of what use is such a creature either to itself or to the world at large, and why did nature place such an animal on earth?
In the stomach of a crocodile killed by Kermit Roosevelt were found the claws of a cheetah, the hoofs of an impala, the bones of an eland, and the shell plates of a river-turtle. Not only do crocodiles slay wild animals, but they prey extensively upon sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, dogs, and cattle. Once a camel that had
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gone to water to drink was grabbed by the nose by a croc and hauled under the surface. There is even an authentic record of a full-grown rhinoceros being caught by the leg and dragged into deep water and drowned, and the witness took several photographs of the beast as it was gradually pulled farther and farther toward its doom.
When a crocodile discovers where the natives gather at a watering-place, it lurks near by, coming to the top only when compelled to breathe. It may float on the surface, several rods away, until a native approaches to fill a water-jar. Instantly it dives, and, swimming under water, is not seen again until it has grabbed him by the legs, or the hand, and dragged him in. Perchance it will first strike its victim with its tail, knock him off the bank, and then seize him; at all events the result is the same.
Women and children are the chief victims, because upon them rests the duty of providing the household with water.
A Httle girl was given a gourd water-bottle and sent to the river to fill it, but she never returned. Through friends, with whom she stopped to play en route, she was traced to the
watering-place, where the half-filled gourd was found at the water's edge.
As our boats drew up to the landing at Nimule I noticed women dipping up water with gourd shells fastened to the ends of long poles, and learned that such caution was necessary because of the danger from crocodiles. Only a few days before a woman had been seized and carried away by a croc, and we were told that these animals were particularly dangerous at this place.
A few years ago—and this is only one of many similar instances—a boy seated on the gunwale of a Soudan boat was dangling his feet over the side. Suddenly a croc threw itself out of the water, and, snatching the lad by the legs, dragged him in. A native sailor saw the tragedy and plunged in after the boy but was unable to save him.
Two Boganda lads about ten years old were fishing in a little estuary of the White Nile near Nimule. Tiring of their unsuccessful efforts, boy-like, they romped up and down the shore. They were chasing each other close to the water's edge when a croc's tail whipped around and knocked one of them into the water. His spunky companion grabbed him by the leg;
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at the same instant the croc caught the boy's arm. A few minutes' struggle and both boys were slowly dragged farther out into the river, and finally the rescuer was compelled to loose his hold. A throng of natives gathered and wandered along the bank seeking some clew of their kinsman's whereabouts. Finally, the crowd dispersed without finding him, but two hours later several women, returning to the village with fire-wood and unconscious of what had happened, passed the spot and heard faint cries for help. They searched the neighbourhood, but the voice was weak and came so irregularly that they abandoned the hunt and went to the village for assistance. Some two hundred people assembled. By keeping quiet they finally located the cries, which apparently came from the bowels of the earth at the base of a big tree growing at the water's edge. Several women began digging about the roots, and in time the earth gave way and they discovered a cavity where the waves had undermined the bank so that when the water receded a ledge was left. On this ledge the boy was found. He was some fifty yards from the spot where he had first disappeared. After the crocodile
had held him under water until it supposed him drowned it had carried him to the cavity and left him for dead, but the lad had recovered consciousness and was rescued before the brute returned to make a meal of him.
The story is told of two natives who attempted to cross the Nile in a leaky dugout canoe. They had gone but a short distance when they saw a crocodile floating on the surface twenty rods away. It sank and came to the top much nearer to them; again it went down and this time reappeared only ten rods from the canoe.
The natives are familiar with the habits of these reptiles, and the canoemen realised from its actions that it intended to attack them, so they bent all their efforts toward reaching shore. They were half-way across when the croc's head burst from the water close to the stern and made a lunge at the man in the back of the canoe.
The blacks had been shouting for help, and the people who had gathered with spears and clubs ran along the bank shouting and gesticulating. Encouraged by the villagers and spurred by a dexterous swing of the croc's tail that just missed one of the men, the two paddled for shore with
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all their might. A second blow and the reptile struck the canoe on the side, keeled it over, and it slowly filled with water. When it finally settled back on an even keel only a few inches of the gunwale were above the surface.
One of the men had lost his paddle and in the excitement he tried to paddle with his hands, giving the croc the very opportunity it sought, of which it was quick to take advantage, for it grabbed the man by the hand. The canoe capsized and threw out the occupants.
In all dugout canoes there are several stays that are used to spread the sides and keep them in shape. To one of these the croc's victim held with his free hand, while his companion floundered to safety.
A score of blacks rushed into the water, and while some snatched the canoe others grabbed the struggling man and dragged him and the writhing croc toward shore. As soon as the creature appeared above water a dozen spears were thrown into it, compelling it to loosen its grip on the man, and he was dragged to the bank beyond harm's way.
The croc, badly wounded, kept floundering about and snapping at the spear shafts dangling
from its body. Finally, a native succeeded in throwing a noosed grass rope about its head and they all began to haul the big reptile ashore. The brute fought desperately but was soon halfway out of the water, and the people fell upon it with clubs and spears and put it to death.
The native's arm was badly lacerated to the shoulder-joint and was amputated by a doctor from one of the near-by missions.
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT
WHILE Colonel Roosevelt was engaged collecting a group of elephants on the opposite side of Mount Kenia Doctor Mearns and I had been instructed to ascend the west slope as high as possible and make a thorough biological survey at various altitudes.
Boga, a Kikuyu native, had heard of our intention to climb the mountain, so, while we were camped at Neri, he presented himself and applied for the position of guide. He knew the way? Oh, yes; he had been a member of the Ross expedition that had ascended to the top of the mountain a few years before; therefore he had qualified as a guide.
One might ask: "But why should you need a guide to show you the way to an isolated mountain of jungle, bamboo, heather, rock, and snow seventeen thousand two hundred feet high and only thirty miles distant?" So far as not being able to find the mountain was concerned, there
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 139
was no need. What we wished to avoid was cutting our way through the jungle when we should reach the actual base of the mountain, and, as this man knew the trails, he could save us days of arduous work and vexation, so we ''took him on," to use an English expression.
Three hours' march from Neri brought us to the end of what seemed to be a ''wood trail" —used by the native women wood-carriers—in the thick of a bit of jungle.
"Boga," said we, "you're a great guide. You told us you knew the trail, and here, before we are scarcely out of Neri, you've lost us on a wood trail. We don't believe you have ever been up Mount Kenia."
Boga's ingratiating smile spread from ear to ear. ''Bwana (master), indeed I have been almost to the very top of the mountain, but you see, Bwana, I went up from the opposite side. I know nothing of the trails on this side," he replied.
How like a native! Either through cunning-ness or stupidness—it might have been either; it might have been both—he had trapped us into hiring him.
Among our hundred Kikuyu porters, who had
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lived under the very shadow of the mountain all their lives, there must be some one who knew the right trail. But no; the snow-capped peak, glistening in the sun, did not appeal to these half-naked fellows. They were working for us because their chiefs, in making the treaty with the government, had agreed to furnish the white men with porters when called upon, and they were anxious for some excuse to turn back, so none volunteered to act as guide.
"Very well," we said, *'we are going up Mount Kenia, trail or no trail, so if you would prefer to cut your way through the jungle or stumble along with your heavy packs it makes no difference to us," and we started on again.
Then it was that a porter suddenly remembered that he knew the general direction—if we crossed the gully beneath us we would soon come out on a veldt and by skirting it for a few miles we might strike the right trail. The rascals! They knew the way well enough but hoped to turn us back by declaring their inability to act as guides.
We put the new guide at the head of the procession and in half an hour were out in the open country once more. In the distance was a
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 141
Masai kraal (village) and we decided to get a man there who could put us right again.
This fellow—a rather old man who carried a spear—proved to be worse than the first guide, for, after proceeding about five miles, he called a halt just as we were about to enter another dense jungle. He said that he was not sure of the direction and wanted time to look for the trail, so we seated ourselves in the shade of the forest and awaited developments.
He kept us there for half an hour and then returned with the discouraging news that he could not find the trail. Once more he started ofip in another direction, and that was the last that we ever saw of him, for he deserted us slick and clean.
That the trail was to the north seemed reasonable, so, with my gun bearer running by my side, I put spurs to my horse and started off to do a little scouting on my own account.
A mile and a half I rode over veldt, through brush clumps, and then into the jungle, where, for the most part, I followed elephant and rhino paths.
Finally, I came to a stream about fifty feet wide. Had it been early in the morning, before
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the snow on the mountain top had commenced to melt, I should have had no difficulty in fording it, but the sun had been beating down on the drifts for hours, and the stream was converted into a raging torrent that undermined great boulders and sent them bumping over the rocky bottom to find new resting-places far below.
I worked my way along the bank, looking for a chance to cross, and finally came to a place where the creek widened and the water was shallow. Although the current ran swiftly, it seemed to be the only near-by spot to ford and, as we had already lost much valuable time, I decided to make the attempt.
At the foot of the riffle the stream narrowed, and there appeared to be an abrupt drop in the river bed, for the water suddenly broke into a succession of angry billows, three feet high, that extended down the main channel, like the waves that follow in the wake of a large steamer.
Taking my rifle from my gun bearer and laying it across the saddle in front of me, I told him to wait there until I should return and then rode into the stream.
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 143
In addition to my hunting-coat with large inside pockets, I wore hobnailed shoes, spurs, and a belt filled with cartridges, from which dangled my hunting-knife.
Lazarus, my hunting pony—so named because of his lack of flesh and general ansemic appearance—stepped fearlessly into the stream. He was perfectly at home in the water and a good swimmer; at least that was what I was told when I purchased him.
The creek became deeper and deeper with every step, and by the time I was in the middle the water was dashing wildly against my animal's legs. I had reached the most dangerous spot when my gun bearer shouted. The roaring of the torrent drowned his words, so I turned to look back.
At that instant Lazarus must have stepped on and slipped from a large boulder, for suddenly he stumbled and fell upon his knees. He fought bravely for a few seconds to regain his footing, but the tumultuous water was more than a match for him. He slipped, slid, and floundered about, deluging me with water.
Nearer and nearer we bumped along toward the end of the riffle and the rolling billows below
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it. On the brink of the drop the faithful beast made a frantic effort to save himself and did manage to gain a footing for a few seconds; so I turned his head up-stream.' It was too late, however, for the instant that he raised his foot the impact of the water against his chest swept him from his feet, and we were carried into deep water.
I shall never forget the feeling that passed over me as the ice-cold water crept up my legs and slowly reached my thighs. I could not withhold a gasp, and then suddenly the current whisked the horse about and bore him into the riotous waves.
The spray dashed into the horse's face, terrifying and bewildering him. He pawed the water with his forefeet and refused to swim. Each time we headed toward shore, he received the full force of the swells on the flank. He rolled like a round-bottom boat, while I clung to the saddle horn and swayed from side to side in an effort to balance him, and also to prevent being pitched oflf.
Two hundred yards below, in a sharp bend of the stream, a mass of logs, limbs, and tree tops had lodged, and the spray was boiling over this
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 145
drift pile with terrific force. I instantly realised that if the horse should be carried against it we would both be drawn under by the suction of the water.
Lazarus was hopelessly unseaworthy, that was plain; so there was no alternative but to desert him to his fate and try to save myself. With all my strength I hurled my rifle toward shore and saw it fall within a few feet of the bank. Then I kicked my left foot from the stirrup and tried to do likewise with the right one, but it caught in some manner, and, struggle as hard as I could, it would not free.
I imagined myself thrown from the horse and dangling head down in the water, with my foot fast to the saddle. This vision brought me to my senses; it was no time to think, but to act.
Jerking my hunting-knife from its sheath, I reached down, cut the stirrup strap that held me prisoner to the horse, gave several vigorous kicks, and finally the stirrup slid off my foot.
Then it was that I must have lost my head. Of course, I had no time to replace the knife in its sheath, but, instead of tossing it ashore and hunting it up afterward, as I might well have
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done, I dropped it into the stream. Although one cannot think of all these little details at such a time, I always feel chagrined when I recall the act.
Once free, I rolled off Lazarus's back into the ice-cold water, that less than an hour before had probably formed part of a glacier or a snowbank high up on Mount Kenia. I had scarcely left the animal when he rolled completely over, and one of his feet hit me as I drifted away.
The left shore toward which I had floated, was a perpendicular bank five feet high, and the water that washed its sides was deep and running swiftly.
The instant that I faced the current the spacious pockets of my hunting-coat filled with water and acted as a drag, so I turned and tried to swim down-stream and toward the opposite side. The swift current carried me toward the cut bank, however, and my coat floated about my head and shoulders, retarding me worse than before, so once more I wheeled about and stemmed the stream.
It was useless and wearing on my strength to attempt to swim against the current; so I devoted my energy to simply staying on the sur-
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 147
face, for the cut bank here ofiFered no chance for a grip or a footing.
Each time that I sank into the trough of the billows all view was hidden; then, as I rose upon a crest, I saw my gun bearer running along the bank. Finally I passed out of the billows into the choppy waves, which splashed into my face and choked me.
The heavy shoes and belt of cartridges seemed to be doing their best to drag me down to a watery grave. Trees and bushes shot past like a moving panorama.
By this time the distance to the drift pile had been reduced to a hundred yards, and as I gazed toward it I saw, hanging over the water, the top of a small tree from the roots of which the water had washed the earth, causing it to lean. This seemed my only hope.
By great exertion I swam to a point where the rapid current would carry me within its reach. Down, down, down, nearer and nearer to death or salvation I drifted.
As I drew near the limb I tried to swim with the stream, but once more the coat flopped about my arms and I was able to work my hands just enough to keep afloat. Finally,
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only twenty feet separated me from the branch, then fifteen, ten, five, and with all my strength I threw myself out of the water and frantically seized the limb.
It yielded until it could bear no more and, as the current whipped my body about and my pockets again filled with water, there was a sudden jerk—the strain was too great on my numbed fingers and the limb slipped from my grasp.
A feeling of despair swept over me as I looked down at the spray, dashing over that pile of logs and rubbish, and the swerving whirlpool ready to suck me under.
Then suddenly I saw the end of a Hmb protruding above the water about five feet from the jam. The current swayed it from side to side and I knew that it must be insecure, but it was my last chance.
On nearing it I stemmed the current and began to swim with all my fast-waning strength, hoping thus partly to check my progress and ease the shock to my arms and to the limb when I should grab it.
Just as I was about to shoot past I seized it in both hands and clung for dear life. The
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 149
limb was attached to a submerged log, one end of which was lodged in the drift pile and the other rested diagonally against the bank.
It bent almost double from the awful strain, but I managed to keep my grip. At that moment my body was drawn under until my head was so low in the water that the spray splashed into my face. I felt a bar of some sort resting across my back—I had been partly drawn under the edge of the drift pile.
Feeling about, I finally found a resting-place on a log for my feet, and by pushing, and pulling at the same time with my hands, I wriggled my body from side to side and managed to work my head above the water.
A mass of roots protruded from the bank almost within arm's reach. Again bracing my feet against the log that had pinned me down, I gave a vigorous push, threw myself toward shore, and snatched the roots.
Under ordinary circumstances it would have been easy to scramble out, but in my exhausted condition, and with at least a bucket and a half of water in my hunting-coat pockets, I could scarcely drag myself from the stream.
At last, however, I managed to work my way
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to the top of the bank and, leaning over, allowed the water to drain from my coat; then laboriously crawled over the edge and up on the bank.
When I looked about I saw my gun bearer holding Lazarus by the bridle. As soon as I had left him he had commenced swimming, and after floating down-stream some distance he struck a bar and waded back to the bank from which he had started.
Undressing, I rubbed my numbed body and ran up and down the shore until my blood was again circulating freely. Then donning my clothes once more—oh, they did feel so cold and clung so tightly!—I walked along the bank, found a suitable place to cross, and, plunging in, swam over to the horse and man awaiting me.
The safari was awaiting my return, so after I had related my experience we went into camp for the night in a small opening in the jungle.
Early the following morning the head man started out in quest of the trail, which eventually he found three miles to the east. While he was away I went back to recover my rifle.
The stream was now a mere rivulet, and, after locating the spot where the rifle should be, I
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 151
waded about in my stocking feet until I located it and then went back to camp. After I had given the gun a thorough overhauling and oiling we continued our journey up the mountain.
CONSIDERING the length of time that Central Africa has been "opened up" to white men, together with the wonderfully large native population that has always lived there, it is really astonishing that the hippopotamus has not more rapidly decreased in number. Of the three great African pachyderms—the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the hippopotamus—the latter is, perhaps, the least suspicious of danger, is not hard to kill, and, being restricted to water, is easily found.
Seldom is the "hippo"—as it is generally called by big-game hunters—found far from water during the daytime. As soon as it becomes alarmed, or is wounded on land, it makes for water and seeks protection in the dense undergrowth in the shallows, or by diving and remaining under until forced to come to the surface to breathe. Even then the white hunter can follow along the bank or from a boat can
fire when the animal's head appears; while the method of the natives is to chase it in one or more canoes and with spears literally torture it to death.
While more numerous in large waterways, the hippo also inhabits small watercourses and even small pools, and during the dry season is forced to seek the deep, isolated pools that occur in the semi-dry river beds, where it falls an easy prey to the blacks.
The female hippo produces but one or two young at a time, and probably does not breed more than once in two years, if, in fact, as often as that. As all of the large lakes and waterways have been traversed by explorers and sportsmen for many years, one might naturally conclude, after what has been said, that the hippo would have been exterminated long ago.
The natural habitat of the hippo is the lowland lakes and rivers and the deep, narrow streams bordered with dense aquatic vegetation that extends some distance into the water. Here it is that the hippo spends the day, hidden in the weeds and papyrus, or floating leisurely on the surface, or basking on the bank. Sometimes you will see him floating with only the
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top of his back and head above the surface. Again you find him with several of his companions huddled together on a bar, or on an island in midstream, or hauled out on shore where he can plunge into the water at the slightest sign of danger. As you watch him lying there, apparently asleep, save for the sudden and violent spasmodic convulsion of his thick skin as he rids himself of insect pests, you might easily conclude that he is entirely oflf his guard. Try to approach him in a boat and, although you will be able to get within rifle-range, you find that he is evidently sleeping with one eye open, for suddenly, without the slightest hesitation, he jumps to his feet and into the water, followed by his companions. Sinking out of sight, he swims so deep that not even a ripple is left, but the rising bubbles from expelled air mark his course and give you an idea of his whereabouts. If you wait a few minutes—usually not more than two if you have not fired and badly frightened him—^you will see only his eyes and nostrils and hear a loud, puffing sound as he appears, some fifty or seventy-five yards away, to take a fresh breath of air. If he sees you he remains in sight only
long enough to fill his lungs and then sinks, but if you have hidden yourself, he may stay in sight for a minute or more before disappearing.
We were introduced to hippos at McMillan's ranch, where, one evening, we walked through the garden to the banks of the Athi River, at this point not more than thirty-five feet wide but having numerous enlargements of still, deep water where hippos lived. At intervals along the bank well-worn hippo paths led from the river bank inland for several rods and then dwindled out where the animals had diverged to feed. Throughout the undergrowth directly bordering the stream, for a distance of fifty yards from shore, was a network of hippo trails.
It was at McMillan's ranch, not many years ago, that the gardener, one moonlight evening, was awakened in his little grass shack at the border of the garden. He stepped to the door and discovered a hippo feeding upon the vegetables he had so carefully cultivated and guarded. An argument immediately took place but was abruptly terminated by the hippo biting off the man's head with a single snap of its jaws. Now they have another gardener at McMillan's.
The gardens of villagers living near waters
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inhabited by hippos suffer greatly from the depredations of these animals, chiefly at night when they break through the brush fences and feed on corn, sugar-cane, and garden-truck. It is then that the hippo is dangerous and is most likely to resent being disturbed.
While rowing silently along one of these small East African rivers a hunter will be startled by a sudden rushing sound on the bank only a few yards away, or possibly directly opposite him, and the next instant a hippo pitches down a steep, well-worn trail and plunges into the river, sending the waves splashing against the side of the craft and perhaps nearly capsizing it.
Again, if you keep a sharp lookout as you round a bend you may catch a glimpse of a hippo's head disappearing, and as you pass the spot you will see the rank grass moving and hear the rustle of the weeds as the animal seeks shelter.
Lake Naivasha was the second place where we encountered these great animals. After two days' march from the N'Guasso Nyero River we went into camp close to the lake. While the porters were putting up the tents, I walked down to the shore. Peeping through an open-
ing in the papyrus, I saw two hippos floating leisurely on the surface about two hundred yards away. Every few seconds one of them would open his great jaws and bring them together with a snap as he munched the succulent lily-pads and stems.
The brush about the lake was very thick and in some spots extended inland several hundred yards. All through this growth were wide, well-worn trails. Where the brush was so thick that a person could not penetrate, the hippos had forced their way, leaving a deep foot-path only, and the branches had swung back into position overhead so that to follow them one had to crawl on hands and knees.
Near camp we found the bleached bones of a half-grown hippo that had been killed by a settler because, either for fun or in fits of ugliness, it had persisted in chasing his cattle whenever they came down to the lake to drink.
At Lake Naivasha Colonel Roosevelt collected most of the hippos that will some time comprise the group in the National Museum at Washington. He went hunting several times before I finally saw Cuninghame and three of the porters in a boat towing a large hippo ashore. The
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colonel and Kermit had run into a herd of hippos and had wounded one of them, which charged through the water. For a few seconds it appeared as though the animal would reach the boat and dump the occupants into the lake, but the colonel's shots, fired into the brute's open mouth, finally killed it and the rest of the herd made off.
Frequently boats are upset or crushed between the jaws of a hippo, and the hunters are drowned or seriously injured. There is, however, more danger from a hippo in the water than from one on land, for when surprised on land, in daylight, their chief thought seems to be to get back to water as soon as possible.
After we left Lake Albert and entered the White Nile we found hippos far more abundant than in any other section of Africa we had visited. During the two days' run down the river to "Rhino Camp," and again after we left the camp and were on the way down to Nimule, we saw anywhere from a dozen to fifty hippos every day.
They were found in ones, twos, and threes, and sometimes as many as a dozen to fifteen were seen at a time. Usually they were float-
ing on the surface with only part of their backs and their heads visible, but often we saw them standing in the shallow water, huddled together on a bar or on an island, or lying in groups on the bank sunning themselves.
Whenever we came suddenly upon them they would scurry into deep water and sink out of sight, but when there was a long stretch of water and they were iSioating they could see the boats in the distance and would raise their great heads to get a better view. As we drew near they disappeared, coming to the surface once more some distance away.
Sometimes they would go down and come up just as we were passing, not twenty feet away. On seeing the boats their surprise was so great that they often threw their bodies quite out of water, and, falling back with a mighty splash that sent huge waves washing against the craft, disappeared, and were next seen several hundred yards in the rear.
There is no doubt that we could have killed twenty-five or thirty hippos on the way from Lake Albert to ''Rhino Camp" and three times as many during our two weeks' stay in camp. The colonel and Kermit had killed all
160 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
that were wanted for specimens, however, so they were not molested.
x\t "Rhino Camp" we heard them snorting and bellowing at all times of the day and night, but mostly after dark. The bellowing sounded first like the noise produced by the exhaust of a huge ocean liner and then ended with a cowlike "moo."
In a little estuary of the Nile that was bordered on the far side by a wide, dense growth of papyrus, not seventy-five yards from camp, there lived an old cow hippo. Nearly every afternoon about five o'clock, she left the cover and swam about in the open water, within easy sight and hearing of the group of men and porters who were watching. One evening the colonel saw a young one standing on her back, just as they were depicted in our old school-books.
One night I was awakened by two hippos that were fighting just across the bay. I arose and, walking to the tent opening, stood and listened. The two monsters were bellowing fiercely and floundering about in the thick weeds and shallow water. Every few seconds I heard a great splash as though they had reared up and fallen back into the water. The conflict
lasted about three minutes, then all was silent for some time; but finally I heard a hippo bellow several rods down the river, and then came the answering bellow of the victorious animal in the papyrus opposite camp.
It is not at all unusual to find hippos with their heads and bodies badly scarred from wounds received while fighting.
Kermit and I tried to get some flash-hght
photographs of hippos, but we were new at
this kind of photography, and as we did not
have the time to experiment much we failed.
One afternoon while we were at work setting up
the camera, arranging the flash and the cord
that it was intended the hippo should run
against, when he came out on the bank at night
to feed—thereby opening the shutter, setting
off the flash, and taking his own picture—five
hippos appeared in the river opposite us, not
more than fifty feet away. They would poke
their heads out of water, puff, wiggle their
short, pink ears, and after a minute draw in a
long breath, close their nostrils, and then sink.
They remained in the vicinity for fully half an
hour, coming to the surface at intervals of
about two minutes and then sinking again.
162 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
We had our rifles ready in case one should charge; they did not attempt to molest us, how-e^^er, but simply seemed inquisitive. We were unable to tell whether they fed on the vegetation at the bottom of the river, for they never appeared with food in their mouths, although they could easily have swallowed it before coming to the surface.
During the early settlement of Africa, when the mail was distributed along the Nile by canoes, these animals were so abundant, and so many of them were truculent, that the mail-carriers were provided with large, water-tight rubber bags in which the mail-sacks were tied. These in turn were fastened to wooden floats by long lengths of stout cord, so that when a canoe was capsized by a hippo, the sacks could be easily located and recovered without much difficulty.
An ugly old bull hippo which lived not far from "Rhino Camp" was a terror to the natives. It would lie in the edge of the papyrus and charge out at passing boats. It had upset several canoes and drowned one or more natives, so the blacks appealed to the colonel to kill it, but it wisely kept out of sight during our visit in the vicinity.
While rowing or paddling on the rivers and lakes of Africa I was many times very close to hippos, but always escaped being attacked. Just why these animals, which are considered the least dangerous of the three great African mammals, should attack a craft is somewhat puzzling. While a few of them, no doubt, do charge with malice aforethought, even without first being molested, from all accounts it would seem that the greater number do so for sport, or lack of employment.
It is seldom that a hippo actually demolishes a boat or kills its occupants. The few that do charge simply bump into a craft and knock a hole in it with their snout, or rise beneath it and turn it over, and then go on about their business, if it can be said that a hippo has any business.
A few days before our arrival at Butiaba, on Lake Albert, a hippo had attacked a small steel boat and driven its tusks through the bottom, sinking it at once.
Captain Hutchinson, of the Uganda Marine, told me of an experience he had with a hippo while hunting on Lake Albert. He had just left the landing in a small wooden rowboat and did not expect to see any hippos for some
164 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
time. Suddenly a hippo rose from the water close astern, and, throwing its body into the air, it fell on the boat, capsizing and sinking the shell with its weight. The occupants were all dumped into the lake, but as soon as the boat reappeared they swam to it and finally managed to reach the near-by shore. The hippo did not return to the attack, however, and no damage was done other than the battering in of the stern of the craft. The danger arising from a hippo capsizing a boat is not so much from the hippo itself as it is from the chance of one of the unfortunate crew being picked up by a crocodile. Many casualties of this kind have happened.
While out hunting crocodiles with the colonel and Kermit near "Rhino Camp," one afternoon, we suddenly cut across a little bay that was completely hidden by the tall, thick papyrus, and, as the boatmen allowed the boat to drift with the current, the herd of five hippos that was basking in tne sun at the far end of the bay did not hear or see us until we were within fifty feet of them. The surprise was mutual, for, while the bay was not unknown to us and we had expected to see crocodiles in it, we did
not count on the hippos; but there they were, hippos and crocs, cuddled up together in peace and comfort.
Such a scrambhng and splashing as the crowd made when we came into view deiBes description. The crocs were out of sight in an instant, but the bulky hippos almost reached the boat before the water became deep enough to submerge them.
Thinking if we pulled in alongside the papyrus and waited, some of the crocodiles might come to the surface in a few minutes and give us a shot, we ran the prow of the boat into the weeds and watched. Three minutes must have passed when, suddenly, the head of a hippo appeared, not fifteen feet from our boat. He gave one look and, throwing himself out of the water, fell back and sank, and the next time he came to the surface he was a hundred yards out in the Nile. The animal must have been one of the herd which, on seeing the boat blocking the entrance when we first appeared, had rushed into the deep water and, fearing to dive under our craft, had remained there in hope that we would pass on, as no doubt he had before seen hundreds of boats do.
166 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
On several occasions I saw hippos disappear and later come up in the same place.
Where large beds of papyrus grew on comparatively solid ground hippos had made wide, well-worn paths all through it, and all along the river bank, in some places at intervals of every fifty yards or so, hippo trails emerged from the water and led inland, where the animals had come out at night to feed on the vegetation. Of course, these trails were used also by other animals that came to drink, but that hippos travelled them extensively was proven by our finding hippo tracks two and three miles from water.
By being used generation after generation, hippos had worn not trails but trenches ten feet deep through the perpendicular clay-banks to the water level. The sides of these trenches, about three feet apart, were smooth and polished, caused by the animals' wet sides rubbing against them. The only way such runs could have been made was by constant use for years while the Nile was rising and falling, until they were finally worn level with the low-water mark.
While the hippo spends most of the day snoozing in the papyrus, floating on the surface
of the water, or basking in the sun along the bank, as soon as it becomes dark he takes to the land to feed on grass and other vegetation. In his meanderings along the bottom of the river and as he comes to the surface amid dense growths of aquatic plants he often becomes tangled in them, and some of the leaves, stems, and roots stick to his body. After he has been on shore a short time his body dries and the leaves and blades fall or are scraped off by the bushes; so one will find water-plants strewn wherever hippos have been wandering.
One would think that such a clumsy, short-legged animal would not be able to move very fast on land, and, in fact, they seldom do move fast when not molested; but if they are frightened they attain remarkable speed.
One night my tent boy awakened me and said that a hippo was prowhng around back of the porters' tents. The men had had no meat for some time. Thinking that this would be a good opportunity to supply them, without running a risk of losing the animal by its sinking, as hippos do when shot in the water, I snatched up my rifle and with Doctor Mearns started after the brute. It was a moonlight night, and
168 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
we could see plainly for some distance; so, clad in our pyjamas, we scoured the burned-grass plain looking for the game, but did not find it.
As before stated, the African natives are able to kill hippos with spears. They also destroy them with poisoned spears, and then patrol the shore for days, waiting for the animal to die and float to the surface, which it does from an hour to three hours after death.
Captain Hutchinson tells of seeing the natives of the Lake Albert region kill a hippo with spears. They first attacked the animal in open water, and it made into the papyrus and hid. Finally it was driven out, whereupon it charged a canoe and seized one of the natives by the head. Other canoes were in reach, and before it had time to decapitate the man so many spears were driven into its body that it opened its jaws and attacked another boat but was killed before it could do more damage. Strange as it may seem, the man escaped with no more than a badly disfigured face but probably would have died had he not received medical attention from a British army surgeon.
Killing hippos in this manner is considered
so dangerous that not many of the blacks are wiUing to take the risk, which, no doubt, is one of the reasons why hippos are still so abundant in thickly populated native districts.
INTERESTING AFRICAN REPTILES
FROM the reader's standpoint a book on African travel or African animals might seem incomplete without a chapter on snakes, yet, after reading these few lines, if you feel disappointed, please do not blame me. I have tried my best to make an interesting chapter of a subject that to most people is "repulsively fascinating," but I may have failed for lack of material.
Snakes there are in Africa—^big, little, poisonous, and non-poisonous—but not nearly so many as is generally supposed. One may be able to gain some idea of their abundance when I say that our-safari never numbered less than a hundred porters and once reached three hundred and sixty-five, and that, while every one of these men was a collector of reptiles, our collection of snakes at the end of eleven months did not exceed a hundred specimens. In short, snakes
were not so common as in the southeastern part of the United States.
The general interest in snakes is shown by the great number of questions asked me, and I might say the first one invariably is: "Did you see many snakes?" Most people are possessed with a desire to learn something of this group of truly wonderful animals, which in the next breath they characterise as loathsome, uncanny, and repulsive. This feeling is born in man, civilised and uncivilised. Our porters feared them and used as much caution in killing a harmless species as they did when attacking a poisonous one. They never brought us a snake without exhibiting a certain amount of childish heroism, and when a group of boys was seen bringing in a snake one always knew that it was dead, very much dead, and that its head, if it had one, was pounded to a pulp.
In The Journal of the East African and Uganda Natural History Society, Mr. C. W. Hobley states that there are forty-one species of snakes in British East Africa, of which ten are poisonous. There are several species of cobras that eject a poisonous fluid at an enemy. When this fluid gets into one's eyes it has no worse effect
172 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
than to render him partially blind for a few hours. In speaking of these snakes Colonel Roosevelt says:
"One of the latter three times 'spat' or ejected its poison at us, the poison coming from the fangs like white films or threads to a distance of several feet."
Personally, I saw about a dozen snakes, and none of these was poisonous. Doctor Mearns, while hunting one day, stepped over a large puff-adder lying in the tall grass, and his gun bearer was about to follow his example when the snake was discovered and killed. It was a very thick-set, stubby beast, with a bulldog-looking head and had enormous fangs. At Gondokoro one of our porters, while arranging his blankets, was struck on the hand by what he supposed to be a small adder. The doctor attended him at once, so he suffered no severe results, being able to go about his business the next day.
Our party killed several pythons from ten to thirteen feet long—not much of a snake when compared to the pythons of India, which attain a length Httle short of thirty feet. Like all of these big snakes, they are not poisonous but kill their prey by coiling about and crushing or
strangling it to death. In zoological parks I have repeatedly seen a python kill an animal by first seizing it in its mouth and, instead of actually coiling about it, catch it in a bend or angle of the body and crush it to death. An Indian python about twenty-six feet long, in the New York Zoological Park, lately devoured a pig that weighed sixty pounds. There is httle doubt that an African python twelve feet long might swallow an animal weighing twenty pounds.
We usually found these big snakes near water, where they were seen lying out on the rocks or on the bank sunning themselves. Aside from startling a person when he first sees or almost steps on one, they are harmless creatures, and when disturbed bolt for water and sink from sight. Their food consists of small antelopes, hares, monkeys, small mammals, and game-birds such as guinea-fowls, spur-fowls, bustards, and francolins.
Colonel Roosevelt had an amusing and interesting experience with the first python he killed. He and Judd were hunting along the bank of a river when one of the gun bearers discovered a python coiled under a tree. The colonel fired and hit it through the back; the snake struck at
174 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
him with its open jaws and then came gUding toward him. He stepped aside, and the snake passed over the spot where he had been standing. A second shot killed it. The colonel does not believe the python really meant to charge him but is of the opinion that it was bewildered and in trying to escape did not realise in what direction it was making. It was twelve feet long.
In connection with the above remarks, it might be well to chronicle the only and what seemed to be authentic record that came to our attention of an African python attacking a person. Two small native lads were sent by their master to the banks of a stream to cut grass for stock. A few hours later they appeared, staggering under the weight of the much-mangled body of a twelve-foot python. They said that while one of them was on his knees cutting grass in the underbrush he was suddenly seized from behind by a python. The boy called to his companion for aid, and the two finally managed to kill the snake with their sickles before it had seriously wounded them. The lad who had been attacked exhibited a lacerated buttock where the snake had bitten him.
Undoubtedly the python saw only a part of the boy's body in the grass and, being hungry and mistaking the lad for a quadruped, seized him on general food principles, not discovering the mistake until too late.
A porter ran into camp one day with the news that a large python was lying out on some rocks by the side of a stream, not far away. I snatched my shotgun and followed the boy. On arriving at the place I found a snake, about ten feet long, sunning himself on some rocks on the opposite side of the river. There was no ford nearer than two miles, so I contented myself by giving the reptile a charge of buckshot from where I stood. The snake threw its body high in the air, whipped about, and plunged into the water. Three days later it was found dead floating on the surface.
On another occasion, while "driving," I had an experience that, for a second, sent a cold chill over my body. Since I have mentioned "driving," may I ask the reader's indulgence long enough to explain this most interesting and exciting method of hunting, although it is entirely foreign to the subject of reptiles.
The greater part of British East Africa is
176 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
plain and desert country. Here and there are clusters and strips of bushes, while along the streams, pools, swamps, and dry watercourses are thick growths of underbrush and trees, spoken of as ''dongas." During daytime all of the nocturnal animals—lions, leopards, hyenas, jackals, and many species of antelopes as well as myriads of small creatures—take to these thickets to rest and sleep, and for protection from the sun.
Selecting a "donga," the hunter stations his porters at intervals of ten feet across one end of the thicket. At a given signal they start toward the other end, shouting, thrashing the brush with sticks, and throwing stones and clubs as they advance. The hunter, on the outskirt, walks along a hundred yards or so ahead of the beaters and shoots the game as it is driven from cover.
Anything from a lion to a hare is apt to burst into view without a second's warning. Guinea-fowls, spur-fowls, and other species of game-birds rise above the brush and seek shelter farther on. The true big-game hunter always carries his heavy rifle and orders his men to pay no attention to birds or small mammals; but we
were naturalists, and our porters had learned that we wanted nearly everything, so they made almost as much noise when they saw a dikdik or a hare as they would had it been a lion. Once there was an unusual outcry just as I was in the act of shooting at a guinea-fowl. The gun bearer snatched the Ithaca shotgun from my hands and replaced it with the cocked rifle, and I heard some great brute tearing through the brush. The next instant a leopard bounded past, but the openings were few and small; so I did not get a shot.
Kermit Roosevelt, however, killed several leopards in this manner, one of which charged a porter and bit and scratched him severely before it was finally killed.
These brush patches teemed with animal life, so from the time that a drive began until the porters had passed out into the open country at the other end it was one continual round of excitement. You never knew what kind of an animal to expect next, and, no matter what appeared, you usually had the wrong gun.
The porters also bagged their share of game, for, while they were never allowed to carry guns, they were experts at throwing clubs, and there
178 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
was never a drive made that they did not cut down several guinea-fowls, spur-fowls, small antelopes, or hares. Once I sent out a gang of ten porters to find a secretary-bird that I had winged with my rifle, and after chasing it some distance had seen enter a "donga" a mile away. They not only returned with the secretary-bird, but with three hares, two spur-fowls, and a guinea-fowl, all of which they had knocked down with sticks as the game tried to escape.
But to return to snakes. We were driving a small ''donga" bordering a stream in the N'Guasso Nyero country and were having fine luck. First three mongooses came out, but they were so far away that my shots only turned them back into the thicket. Next a dikdik appeared, then a steinbuck, and a few seconds later a flock of spur-fowls. I fired at and wounded one of them, and it settled in the brush under the ten-foot cut bank of the stream. Hoping that the bird would again flush, I sent my gun bearer down to drive it out. I was walking through the tall grass on top of the bank, when, on glancing down, I saw four feet of python, another step and I would have trodden on it. I leaped over it and at the
same instant shouted: ''Snake!" The python fairly bounded over the bank and into the water, almost colliding with the gun bearer, who the next instant came rushing up to me, his eyes bulging from their sockets. How long the snake was I cannot truthfully say, but, as I saw four feet of it and my gun bearer six, I figured that it was either forty-six or sixty-four feet long.
It developed later that I had made a "double shot" when I fired at the spur-fowl, for one of the porters had strayed ahead of the line of beaters and had been struck in the arm by one of the spent shot. After the drive was over he sought me for an explanation, at the same time exhibiting the shot which he had picked out of the skin. I told my tent boy to tell him that if he had obeyed orders and kept in line he would not have been shot. Although it was a slight wound, I gave him thirty-three cents—a rupee—and he went away quite jubilant.
Another interesting reptile that we found very common in certain sections of Africa was the horned or ''rhinoceros" chameleon. This creg-ture is about eight inches long and has three horns, an inch in length, protruding from the
180 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
top of its head. Its eyes work on the ball-and-socket plan and roll about in a most comical fashion. The eyes are independent of each other and the animal can look in two directions at once without turning its head; it simply holds one eye stationary and rolls the other forward, backward, up, or down to suit its wishes.
Next to its eyes, its tongue is the most wonderful part of its anatomy, being quite the length of its body. In feeding it perches motionless on a limb and waits for its prey to come within reach. Should a fly or an insect light out of range, it slowly and deliberately walks hand over hand out on the limb, takes steady aim, and with a lightning-like thrust its long tongue darts from its mouth, and the fly is glued to the gummy, club-shaped end and drawn into its throat.
As one travels along a trail where the bushes overlap, his head frequently comes in contact with these queer creatures clinging to the branches by their feet and their prehensile tails. There they sit rolling their eyes about in opposite directions in a most uncanny manner as they survey the various members of the party.
Dangerous as the rhinoceros chameleon looks,
it is perfectly harmless and so listless that it does not attempt to escape or even move when discovered. Strange to say, the blacks had not learned this and held them in great fear. As soon as they discovered the nature of our work they began to bring us specimens, and in a short time there was a throng of people waiting outside of the tent to be paid for the creatures they had captured. Every one was anxious to dispose of his prize as soon as possible, so that he might hurry away for another; but they brought in the specimens faster than we could handle them, consequently the "congestion." Whenever a new arrival appeared with a chameleon, he caused a stampede by shouting a warning and then thrust into the crowd the branch to which the animal was clinging. The throng immediately gave way, at the same time fiercely upbraiding the man for so ruthlessly endangering their lives, as they supposed.
As the natives had no idea why we wished these animals, they thought that we must be crazy, and the head man said they had told him they thought we were collecting them to make medicine of, and as soon as we left the country there would be no more sleeping sickness.
182 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
In the Lado Enclave country there Hves a lizard-Uke animal known as a monitor. These lizards sometimes attain a length of four feet. They are perfectly harmless so far as being poisonous is concerned. Although one might give a person a bad bite if he attempted to pick it up; at the slightest sign of danger they scurry into the bushes or into the water, near which they are usually found. They live in holes in the ground and feed upon rats, mice, snakes, other lizards, birds, and crocodile's eggs.
While digging a pit for garbage our porters unearthed what we took to be a monitor's nest, some three feet under ground. It contained several leathery-skinned, dirty white eggs.
One afternoon I surprised a monitor looting a crocodile's nest. The nest was on a high, sandy bank close to the Nile, and the eggs had been covered with dirt and rubbish by the old crocodile. On seeing me the monitor scurried over the bank and into the river. I hid in some brush near by and waited for the creature to return. Within fifteen minutes I heard it crawling out of the water and over the dry dead rushes, and then it poked its head above the steep bank and looked about. At first it acted
as if suspicious, but finally it gained confidence and came boldly forward.
Crawling to the crocodile's nest, it picked up an egg in its mouth and retreated to a clump of bushes. I watched it take several eggs, and each time it returned to the bushes, crushed the egg between its jaws, then dropped it, and lapped up the contents with its long forked tongue.
Finally I frightened it away, and, taking some of the eggs from the nest, I arranged them in an open spot near by, set up my camera, and to the shutter attached a long string which ran to a tree where I hid. In this manner I succeeded in securing two excellent photographs of the monitor with eggs in its mouth, probably the only ones of the kind ever secured, although it had been generally believed for years that monitors ate crocodile's eggs.
This creature must be one of the crocodile's worst enemies, for I found several nests that had been robbed in this way, and Kermit Roosevelt also discovered a monitor robbing a croc's nest while the owner lay asleep only a few yards off.
A FIGHT WITH " HIPPOS"
BACK in the early days/' my friend Bancroft began, "the mail that supplied the garrisons in Central Africa was brought by flat-bottom steamers up the Nile from Khartoum to Gondokoro. From there carriers transported it overland to Nimule, a distance of one hundred and sixty miles. At Nimule I received it and distributed it to the army and trading posts along the White Nile and in the region of Lake Albert. I always made the trip by canoe.
"One spring morning I left Nimule with the usual consignment of mail-sacks and began the three-hundred-mile journey up the White Nile. My water caravan consisted of two large native dugout canoes, made each from a single log and manned by four stalwart Baganda blacks.
"On both sides of the river for almost the entire distance there were great areas of papyrus from fifteen feet to a mile wide. For miles
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 185
the dark-green tasselled stalks, ten feet tall, swayed in the breeze like a gigantic field of
"Hippopotami were abundant and were known frequently to upset native canoes. To guard against losing the mail by such accidents, the government suppUed me with water-tight rubber bags. The sacks were placed in these bags and there was a wooden float with seventy-five feet of stout cord attached to each bag. Thus we could easily recover the sacks in case of a mishap.
"As we paddled slowly against the rapid current of the muddy river, noisy fish-eagles with white heads and tails circled overhead or settled in the trees, sometimes not more than thirty feet away. Myriads of cormorants and snake-birds, perched in clusters along the banks, stretched out their wings as if taking a sun-bath; as we drew near they took flight or plunged into the water. Occasionally we saw a troop of baboons running along a high, stony bank, playing with one another.
"Now and then we came upon a herd of hippos. Some were floating leisurely on the surface, others were huddled close together on a
186 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
bar or small island or lying asleep in the edge of the papyrus. As we approached they lifted their heads to gaze at us and then slowly took to the water. In a few minutes they usually appeared again some distance away. We paid little attention to them unless we thought that a hippo was coming to the surface close to one of the boats. Then I would take the rifle and stand guard until the danger was over.
"One day was quite like another. To break the monotony and to furnish a little excitement for the men, I occasionally took a shot at a crocodile on the bank. We would then stop long enough for the boys to wrench out the teeth, which they either made into necklaces or traded for food with the natives whose villages we passed.
"They were an interesting people, those jolly, black-skinned villagers. As soon as we came in sight of a town the inhabitants rushed from their huts and followed along the bank, laughing and joking with my men, and trying to persuade us to land and barter. The women and children who tended wickerwork fish-traps presented us with specimens of their catch and were greatly pleased with the trifling gifts we gave them in return.
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 187
"We had passed a village and were skimming along close to the papyrus, when suddenly the canoe shot across the mouth of a small estuary that the high papyrus growth had completely hidden. The other craft was following close behind, and the two boats were in a position to blockade the mouth of the little bay, when I heard a terrific splashing of water. I turned instantly and saw that we had surprised a herd of about ten hippos in the edge of the papyrus.
"Our sudden appearance had startled them, and so strong was their instinct to seek refuge in deep water that with one accord the entire herd tumbled ofif the bank and came splashing down upon us.
"I snatched my rifle and turned to fire. There was no time to aim carefully for the brutes were less than thirty feet away. So, hoping that the noise and flash might split the herd and cause the hippos to pass round us, I simply pointed the weapon at the head of a large bull and pulled the trigger.
"The struggling creatures did not swerve from their course. When, however, they had come so close that I could almost have touched
188 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
them with a paddle, they reached deeper water and, sinking quickly, disappeared. The next thing I knew, the canoe was lifted high into the air, and we were dumped into the water.
''I struck on my back, and at the same moment something hit me a terrific blow that drove me beneath the surface. There I was bumped and jostled about for what seemed an age. When at last I came to the surface, I saw that both the canoes were bottom side up and that the men were floundering in the river. A long, black arm shot out of the water in front of me. I seized it with my left hand and swam with the half-drowned boatman to the canoe, where I supported him until he stopped choking and coughing.
"Two men were clinging to the mail-sack buoys and shouting for dear life. Another fellow, hanging to the second canoe, was holding up a companion who had been stunned by a glancing blow on the head when the canoe fell back into the water. No one was seriously hurt.
"The natives in the village, attracted by the rifle-shot and the shouts, could see our predicament from the high bank. Some came to our
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 189
assistance in canoes; others ran along the bank and added to the fright of my already terrified boys by telling them that the place swarmed with crocodiles. However true that may have been, there was little danger from them now, for the herd of floundering hippos must have scared every crocodile away from that part of the Nile.
"In a few minutes we were hauled into canoes, and then, after recovering the mail-sacks, we towed our canoes down to the village and emptied them of water.
"Presently I saw numbers of natives emerging from their huts with long-bladed barbed spears, and learned that they were going in pursuit of the hippo I had wounded. One of them had seen it enter a marshy strip of papyrus on the opposite side of the river. I tried to persuade them that it would be foolhardy to attempt such a thing without a rifle, and told them that my rifle was at the bottom of the river where the canoes had capsized. They replied that they had often killed hippos with spears and would show me how it was done.
"About a dozen canoes were launched. Each one was manned by four paddlers, and by a
190 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
spearman who took a position in the bow. In the bottom of each canoe was a bundle of spears. To the shaft of one of the weapons was tied about forty feet of rawhide rope; the other end of the rope was fastened to a large chunk of wood.
"With about two hundred of the villagers I went to the high bank overlooking the scene. The canoes divided and lined up about fifty feet apart on each side of the spot where the hippo had entered the papyrus. One canoe landed some distance away and several men started on a circuit to get behind the animal. We could hear them thrashing about in the reeds, but it was fully fifteen minutes before they found the hippo and, by shouting, started him toward the river.
"As soon as the beaters gave the alarm the spearmen stood up in the bows of the canoes, each with a spear poised above his head, and waited breathlessly for the brute to show himself.
"The crashing of the papyrus and the swaying of the tasselled tops announced his coming; the next second he broke from cover. Before he could plunge into the river several of the barbed
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 191
spears were hurled into his body. Then, as the men in the canoes hurriedly tossed the wooden floats overboard, he disappeared beneath the surface. For a moment the floats bobbed up and down; then, with a jerk that pulled some of them under water, they started oflf.
"At first the hippo swam, or ran along the bottom of the river so fast that the canoemen could hardly keep up with him. He was so far below the surface that he did not make a ripple, and had it not been for the floats there would have been no way of telling the creature's whereabouts.
"Some of the canoes followed close behind; others hurried ahead of the buoys and kept about twenty feet on either side of the spot where the hippo would soon come to the surface. Since enough of the buoyed spears had been attached to the animal to mark his position, the spearmen now armed themselves with free lances; in the bow of each craft stood a stalwart fellow ready to plunge a weapon into the hippo the instant he appeared.
"At that point the river was about three hundred yards wide. For some distance the animal
192 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
headed straight across; then the floats suddenly turned to the right, down-stream. The canoe-men quickly changed their course. Those on the right side paddled vigorously for fear that the beast was charging or that he might come up under the canoes and capsize them.
"Just then his head appeared above water; but when he saw the canoes he dived before any one had time to throw a spear, and again the floats moved down-stream at a rapid rate.
"The second time that the hippo rose, two of the spearmen hit him, and as the spears sank into the flesh the great brute threw himself into the air and fell back with a mighty splash.
"The natives were now worked up to the highest pitch of excitement. There seemed to be no leader; every one was shouting orders, and each canoe went wherever the fancy of its crew took it. Whenever the hippo made a sudden turn the paddlers would skilfully wheel their craft and race off in another direction. As a result, there were frequent collisions and narrow escapes from upsetting.
"Each time the hippo appeared they sent home several more spears. He fast became
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 193
exhausted; the time that he remained under water and the distance that he travelled became shorter with each successive dive. It seemed strange that he endured the torture so long without attacking the canoes.
"'Suddenly, while the boats were huddled close together, the floats stopped. To the experienced hunters that must have been a signal of approaching danger, for, as if by magic, silence reigned, and some of the men began to back frantically.
"Again the spears were poised in the air and again the great head burst from the water in front of the fleet. But this time, instead of diving, the animal hurled itself at one of the canoes. The beast's blunt muzzle struck the craft amidships and tossed it into the air. It landed squarely across a canoe near by, and both were swamped.
"The other canoes raced to the rescue of the ten men struggling in the water. The air was filled with spears, but they seemed to have no more effect on the animal than so many pinpricks.
"In the din caused by the shouting of the men, the bellowing of the infuriated beast, and the
194 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
splashing of the water, the hippo's head would suddenly appear among the canoes. I heard the crunching of wood as canoe after canoe was crushed to pieces in the vice-like jaws. Men were falling or jumping into the river to escape the maddened monster. The sun, striking the polished blades of the spears, shot flashes of dazzling light across the water.
"I could not help admiring the wounded brute which was fighting so courageously against such tremendous odds. Its body so bristled with swaying spears that it had the appearance of a gigantic porcupine.
"In the confusion, things happened fast and furiously. All at once I discovered that the hippo had disappeared; the blacks, paddling back and forth and scanning the water eagerly, were searching for their missing comrades. How many were drowned or killed I do not know. Several of the canoes had been smashed into kindling-wood, and most of the men who had occupied them had been taken into the other boats with the wounded.
"I noticed that the natives who had watched the fight were leaving me and running along the bank. Then I saw the floats some distance
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 195
below; they were moving slowly, merely drifting along. Occasionally they would stop for an instant and then start again, as if the object to which they were attached was bumping over the river bed.
"The canoemen finally left the wreckage and, paddling down-stream, caught the buoys and began to tow the dead hippo ashore. As soon as the body reached shallow water the natives waded in and pulled out the spears so that they should not be bent or broken; then they fastened ropes to the body and hauled it out on the bank, where the task of cutting up the meat began.
"With my boys I went back to the scene of our first encounter with the hippos and, by diving, recovered my rifle and some of the cooking utensils. After purchasing from the natives enough food to last us until we reached the next army post, we continued our journey with the mail."
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE ''et"
NO matter how fastidious a man may be before he becomes a "field naturalist," after he has kicked about the country a few years, cooking his own meals over a camp-fire and eating those served to him by all classes, creeds, and nationalties, he discovers that his stomach is really not so critical as he had once supposed it to be. Fresh air, hard work, and plenty of outdoor exercise give him an appetite that dulls his epicurean sense and causes him to forget polished china-ware, clean linen, good seasoning, and delicate dishes. He may not relish improperly cooked food, or meat the antiquity of which cannot be questioned, still he finds himself eating it with a relish that a few years before he would have thought impossible. Such common circumstances as a caterpillar, a yellow-jacket, or a horse-fly dropping suddenly into his soup, instead of causing him to leave the meal in dis-
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 197
gust only disconcert him during the process of their extraction.
As time goes on and he becomes more fa-miUar with the hfe histories of the animals, he discovers also that many of the beasts of the fields and forests are far cleaner in their tastes than our domesticated animals. For instance, *'What Doesn't a Chicken Eat.^" would be a far more appropriate subject for a church debating society to argue after a chicken supper than before, and the same can be said of swine. But should I send out an invitation to a banquet and head the menu with a stew composed of what are generally termed ''rats and mice," how many covers could I count'on.^ While rats and mice are hardly proper to serve to one's friends, so long as we eat rabbits and squirrels, which belong to the same order, there is no reason why we should not consider field and forest rats and mice edible. They feed on fruits, seeds, roots, grasses, vegetables, and bark, and are exceedingly cleaner in their habits. The meadow-mouse, or field-mouse, spends much of its time cleaning itself with its tiny front feet, and its living-rooms are as clean and sanitary as they are in any house or hotel. This is not
198 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
only true of the meadow-mouse, but also of most rodents that live in a fixed abode.
Our highest camp in British East Africa was on Mount Kenia, at an altitude of thirteen thousand seven hundred feet. Here Doctor Mearns and I remained four days, Colonel Roosevelt, in the meantime, having passed around to the opposite side of the mountain to collect a group of elephants for the Smithsonian Institution. We were above the heavy timber and even beyond the bamboo belt, but there were a few patches of stunted heather here and there. Although the equator crossed the mountain peak a mile or so to the east, the nights were so cold that half an inch of ice formed on buckets of water standing outside the tent.
We had plenty of tinned food, but fresh meat was scarce, which naturally increased our desire for it. One or two small antelopes were seen about the rocky ridges, but we failed to shoot any. Our work consisted in collecting birds and small mammals, and we found the latter well represented by numerous species of rodents— rats and mice.
The mountain hyrax—an animal somewhat resembling a guinea-pig but the size of a wood-
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 199
chuck or ground-hog—was common in the cHffs and rocks, and they helped to supply our larder. From the time the camp-fire was kindled until we left the locality four days later, the body of every insectivorous and seed-eating bird, every hyrax and every rat and mouse that we skinned, was cleaned and thrown into a pot of boiling rice.
At the expiration of a day the contents of that pot had grown to wonderful, not to say questionable, proportions, but diminished with equal rapidity as each onslaught was made upon it. Our stay was so limited and the locaUty so valuable, from a naturalist's standpoint, that we wasted no time waiting for meals. We ate when we were hungry, regardless of each other's society, and the last man to leave camp piled faggots on the fire and the first one to return rekindled it. In this manner our ''vaudeville stew," as we learned to call it, was ready day and night, and, unlike the traditional "watched pot," it always boiled. In consequence, our culinary duties were few, although, of course, it took five times as long to cook meat at that high altitude as it would in the lowlands. The coffee-pot always stood near the fire, so a few
200 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
minutes only were necessary to bring it to a boil. Then we would fish about in the pot with a fork until we had captured the well-done bodies of several rats or mice and three or four birds—• varying in size from half a mouthful to three mouthfuls—and begin our meal. The mice and birds were the first to be exterminated, for they were tender, juicy, and sweet, and, while the variety of species might have caused a variety of flavours, there was not enough difference to leave an impression that can now be explained. Doctor Mearns always declared with emphasis, that our ''witches' pot" was the best eating he had on the whole trip.
Since eating fried monkey, I have never been able to look a new baby square in the face, and it is with a feeling of dread that I accept an invitation from a friend to call and pass judgment upon the latest addition to his family.
Although there was plenty of monkey meat to go around—in fact, there was ''some left over"—I didn't eat much because my stupid Swahili tent boy who cooked it had thoughtlessly failed to include some sort of strong disinfectant among his seasonings.
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 201
Parrots were really delicious eating, and we made use of the body of every one we collected. I seldom shot one without half expecting to see a window open somewhere and hear an old maid's voice reproaching me for the act.
In Uganda, while passing between Lake Victoria and Lake Albert, Colonel Roosevelt killed a rogue elephant that had been destroying the gardens, tearing down the huts, and doing other mischief.
Our cook made soup from the trunk. It was thick and dark-coloured, and, while the taste was strong, I enjoyed it enough to ask for a second dish. Of course, only a small portion of the trunk was used and the excessive heat of Uganda would not permit a second meal from it after twenty-four hours. Not so with the blacks, however, for the following morning I was surprised and amused to see one of our porters stalking down the trail under the broiling sun with about two feet of the trunk tied to his pack, the blood and grease oozing out of it and flowing down the sides of his load.
The morning following the rogue's death, we went out with a number of the natives to view the animal. After the tusks had been
202 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
chopped out and the trunk and feet amputated for trophies and food, the blacks fell upon the carcass with avidity. The heart is considered a great delicacy, so, while some were busy hacking oflf great chunks of meat others were cutting a hole through the belly of the animal, and, this having been accomplished, one of the men worked his way in until he was half submerged. How he managed to remain long enough to secure the prize without being smothered is more than I can explain. Finally, his comrades hauled him out by the feet, and his appearance as he emerged, dragging the animal's heart after him, is better left to one's imagination.
Kermit Roosevelt once came upon a band of blacks who for several days had been tracking an elephant that they had shot and speared with poison-tipped weapons. The animal finally died, and, judging from the stench, which was unbearable, must have been dead some time, yet the natives were cutting off the meat in great chunks and eating it raw.
Rhinoceros tongue and hippopotamus tail soup were other dishes that were served us. The former tasted not unlike beef's tongue; that is, it so closely resembled tongue of some
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 203
sort as to be instantly recognised, though it was too strong to be good.
Speaking generally, the game of British East Africa does not compare with the meat of our American game animals; for, with the exception of the eland and the hippo, it is dry, though tender when young, and lacks the fat necessary to give it the delicious, palatable flavour possessed by our deer, antelope, and mountain-sheep.
After we had skinned an animal and turned the body over to them, our porters fought over the division of the meat, and we soon discovered that the only way to keep peace in camp was to deal the meat out ourselves. Many times I have cut off pieces of zebra meat drying before their camp-fires and munched it as I travelled along the trail. It made an excellent substitute for gum, and, while sweet and palatable, a small piece would last indefinitely. Chew, chew, chew! It seemed as though one would never be able to grind the mouthful fine enough to be swallowed, and for half an hour afterward my jaws ached as they did when I had the mumps.
On the way to Africa we stopped twice at the Azores and several places along the Suez Canal.
204 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
We naturalists, with an eye to swelling our collection, made at once for the open country and occupied our time collecting specimens. These were deposited in a large-mouthed pickle bottle, filled with alcohol, that the steward of the Ham-burg had generously donated to our cause. By the time we had reached Kapiti Plains the bottle was packed with lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, snails, grasshoppers, beetles, worms, and other curious creatures that would have made the inventor of the "Fifty-Seven Varieties" blush with shame. On entering my tent I placed the bottle in one corner and thought no more about it. Imagine our surprise, on seating ourselves at the supper table that evening, to discover the specimen bottle occupying a conspicuous position with other delicacies in the centre of the table. My tent boy. Tommy, had discovered it and, assuming it to be another strange concoction of the white man, had promptly given it the place of honour to which he thought it entitled. The uncanny suggestion undoubtedly would have spoiled the appetite of most people, but with us it only proved the source of a hearty laugh, in which even the colonel joined, much to the embarrassment of the well-meaning boy,
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 205
who for several days was the object of ridicule by his associates.
At Rhino Camp, on the White Nile, some one —I don't remember who—suggested that we try scrambled crocodiles' eggs. While I cannot speak for the rest of the party, I ate the eggs from pure curiosity. Were they good? Well, being pressed for an answer, I will say that they tasted about as I should expect the best quality of sawdust to taste if prepared properly.
The body of a monitor Hzard (described in a previous chapter) was also added to our already mixed bill of fare. The meat was white and tasted like alligator meat that I have eaten in Georgia, reminding us of fried fish.
As I have never been without food for more than forty-eight hours, I cannot claim to have been hungry; nevertheless, for six long weeks I have lived on nothing but dried mountain-sheep meat and tea. It kept me in good working condition but never satisfied my hunger. No matter how much or how often I ate, there was that continual gnawing in my stomach that only fresh meat and good camp provender can appease.
I have spent several seasons in the Athabasca
206 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Lake region of northwestern Canada, and on one occasion went sheep hunting with a band of Cree Indian half-breeds. By their stupidity the sheep saw us before we were within range and made their escape. We took up the trail, and after following it over two high mountains I gave up the chase and started back to camp with an Indian boy.
While descending the mountain we shot a half-grown marmot, or woodchuck, which, young though it was, equalled in size our Eastern species. As soon as we reached the timber, we halted, built a fire, and roasted our prize, hide, fur, and all. In half an hour there wasn't enough left of that marmot to feed a sparrow. Let me say that the only way to cook a wood-chuck properly is to roast him whole on a stick over a camp-fire, turning him from time to time until he is well done. The skin keeps the fat from broihng out, and enough sinks into the flesh to make it tender and juicy.
The Cree Indians are a hospitable race, even to the point of robbing themselves of their last mouthful of food; but it always seemed to me that they expect far more in return than they give. An Indian has no set meal-time; he eats
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 207
when he is hungry, regardless of the time of day or night, and no matter how lately he has eaten. When food is plentiful he eats all the time, and when his larder is exhausted he fasts until hunger compels him to hunt. So long as you will feed him, so long will he watch for the smoke of your camp-fire and drop in at mealtime. If you eat without inviting him to join you he will take the hint in a short time, and within half a day you will see him returning from a hunt with his horse or his squaw loaded down with venison or sheep meat.
I rode into a Cree camp one afternoon and, in accordance with the custom of the country, was asked to dismount and "eat." As I stepped into the tepee and took a seat on a sheepskin spread on the ground, an old squaw was bending over a large pot hanging over the fire. Finally, she placed a plate, knife, and fork before me and began fishing about in the pot with a fork. Piece after piece of meat she brought to the surface and dropped again until she finally found the right one, a hideous-looking beaver's head. This she placed upon my plate and, pouring out a cup of tea, bade me eat. Waiting for the others to be served, and wondering what they
208 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
would draw, I gazed at the bulging eyes and grinning teeth which seemed to carry a sort of "go-to-it" expression. Next to the tail I had been given the choicest morsel, so the other members of the party contented themselves with various pieces of the animal's anatomy. I fell to with a will. The **other Indians" seized a piece of meat between their teeth and, while they held it in one hand, sawed oflE a mouthful with the other. Since then I have repeatedly watched Indians eating in this manner, and, although I have expected to see one shave off the tip of his nose at any moment, up to date I am unable to record such a disaster.
Having disposed of the muscular pieces of flesh on the skull and sides of the jaws, I pushed my plate away, thinking that the ordeal was over. But no; I was reproached for being so wasteful and was told that I had overlooked the choicest parts, the eyes and brain. Did I eat them? I did not.
A few weeks later this same band of Indians tried to feed me on boiled wildcat, or Canadian lynx, and I must say that, had I not seen the milky-coloured water in which it had been cooked, I might have tasted it at least.
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 209
During the early days, as a mark of great respect, the Indians always brought the tails of the beavers they trapped to the Hudson Bay factor. A smoked beaver tail was given to our party and was boiled. It was rich and sweet and, while really enjoyable, was so blubbery— more like marrow fat, in fact—that a few mouth-fuls were sickening.
Moose nose is another Indian tidbit that I have tasted in Alaska. It is crisp and insipid and lacks a taste that tempts the palate.
Once, while a boy, camping on the bank of the Susquehanna, near my home, Owego, New York, I shot a pigeon and a crow, and, being anxious to know how the latter tasted, cleaned and picked them both before arriving in camp. After boihng them for three hours, I served them up, being careful that my camp companion did not get the pigeon. He sawed away on it for a few seconds and then tasted it. The uncomplimentary remarks that he made have always led me to suspect that he did not think the bird he was eating was the same species as mine, and, not wishing to deceive him, I admitted the truth but made the mistake of giving him the Latin name, Corvus americanus, I
210 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
knew he had not studied Latin, but, nevertheless, the name and the taste were near enough for him to guess the common term. He promptly stalked to the brink of the river and, tossing the body far out, spent the afternoon sullen and silent. But the agility with which he came to, hustled ofif his clothes and dived into the water to recover that crow's body when we sighted two visitors coming up the river proved beyond doubt that he considered the joke good enough to be played on some one else.
Our friends soon arrived and, following the demands of all boys' stomachs, asked for something to eat. Corvus americanus was once more brought forth and divided equally among them. Again I am unable to publish the comments that were made when our guests discovered the trick.
Ten years later, while stopping at a large estate in Belgium, I was repaid for this deed in my own coin, but instead of eating in ignorance, the dish was prepared for my special benefit and at no little trouble. The European rook corresponds to our crow and in that section of the country is considered a great delicacy. I was told that thousands of them were killed
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 211
annually, the meat being minced, mixed with veal, and made into a sort of veal loaf. Had I not known what I was eating at the time, I surely should have pronounced it veal loaf. I will add, however, that I am personally not partial to veal loaf of this description.
A RACE WITH A "rHINO"
BRITISH EAST AFRICA has reason to feel proud of the finely equipped narrow-gauge railroad that connects Mombasa with Lake Victoria, a distance of five hundred and eighty-four miles. It is a toy railroad, to be sure—so small, in fact, that three days had passed before the Roosevelt African expedition's outfit was transported from Kilindina to Kapiti. But what can one expect of a railroad that was only built to open up a savage country to civilisation and which is operated at a yearly loss of thousands of dollars to the government that maintains it?
The tiny cars are drawn by wood-burning Baldwin—American—locomotives that haul two trains up and down the road every week. On account of the destructive '"white ants" that devour everything made of wood, sheet-iron sleepers are used, and the road-bed—ballasted
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 213
with broken stone—is kept in repair by native labour under Indian overseers, usually Goanese.
The ''division superintendents," as they are called in America, are known in Africa as ''permanent-ways inspectors." They are usually EngUshmen or Scotchmen. It is the duty of these men to ride over the fifty miles or more of railroad assigned to them and see that it is kept in good repair.
On his trips the inspector uses a hand-car, not the clumsy kind propelled with pump-handles, that is common here, but a light car equipped with a long seat that runs from side to side through its centre. On this seat the inspector sits while two barefoot negroes run on the rails behind and push. A third man rides as passenger until it is time for him to relieve one of the other two.
On two occasions the inspector at Naivasha let me accompany him on his trips. We would be rolling along through a cut, and suddenly ghde out on the veldt into the very midst of a herd of zebras, hartebeests, or Thomson's gazelles. The surprised creatures would bound away in all directions or race along parallel
214 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
with us for half a mile or more. Or perhaps, when we were coasting down a grade, we would round a sharp curve and surprise a hyena or a pair of jackals hunting mice in the tall grass.
Once, after passing through a bit of bush, we ran right up to a secretary-bird that was stalking along beside the track. He raised his wings, flapped them vigorously, and ran along the ground, preparatory to taking flight, but we were under such headway that we overtook him and, as he launched into the air, I brought him down with a charge of number four shot. Now his skin is in one of the big cases in the Smithsonian Institution.
A few months later, when I was travelling in a ''down train," I related this experience to an inspector who was a fellow passenger.
"I can understand why a novice might think such a trip interesting," he said. *'But we get rather accustomed to adventures. I'll tell you one of mine.
"There had been a heavy rain, and the road south of Naivasha had suffered badly. I put several extra gangs at work to repair the damage and then went north to oversee the construction of a bridge that had been swept away. A
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 215
week had passed before I finally found time to take a run south to inspect the grade repairing that had been going on in the meantime. It was about nineteen miles to the end of the washed-out stretch, so we started early. The boys, chanting a song as they skipped over the rails, sent us along at a lively clip.
'' We had gone about eight miles and were travelling through a bit of open bush-veldt when we saw two rhinos standing near the track ahead of us. In a low voice I ordered the boys to stop and at the same moment applied the brake. The car halted about fifty yards from the brutes.
"A rhino is a stupid, unreliable creature and his eyesight is so poor that when the wind is in the right direction a person can walk within fifty yards of him without fear of being seen.
"The rumbling of the wheels had attracted the attention of these animals, and they stood gazing at us. One of them walked slowly toward us; then it paused and sniflfed the air. They were so near the track that it would have been impossible for us to pass without provoking an attack. We rolled the car back a few rods and waited for them to go on, but they did not
216 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
seem inclined to move. Finally, one lay down within twenty feet of the track.
"In the hope that if we retired from their sight the rhinos would saunter off, I ordered the boys to run the car into the bush. There we left it, and I walked back to the skirting and watched the brutes from ambush.
" I must have remained there twenty-five minutes, but the rhinos did not change their position. The delay was exasperating. Why had I not brought my rifle? We should then have had something with which to protect ourselves, and I might have fired a few shots and put them to flight.
"At last I had the boys bring up the car again, and once more we moved forward, although I had no clear plan in mind.
"When we were within a hundred yards of the animals we halted and awaited developments. The rhino that had been lying down rose, and stood looking in our direction; its mate also showed signs of interest.
"We began to push the car ahead. Nearer and nearer we came. The stupid creatures simply stared at us until we were within fifty yards of them. Then one puffed, snorted.
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 217
and began a series of comical, awkward bucks; after that it ran about twenty-five yards and stopped. The other stood still and continued to stare at us.
"I ordered one of the boys to walk ahead and try to drive it away from the track. Reluctantly he obeyed, much to the amusement of his comrades. As the boy waved his arms and shouted the rhino wheeled about and rushed off after its companion. I jumped on the car, shouted to the boys to push, and we started rapidly down the track.
"Ahead there was a sharp bend. For most of the way round the track ran through a cut eight feet deep; at the farther end of the cut it dropped down a steep grade. The rhinos were cutting across this bend, and, although the chance of meeting them again at the farther side occurred to me, the possibility seemed remote.
"We were nearly out of the cut when a great dark body suddenly came plunging over the bank on our left. We all shouted, and the rhino tried to turn, but its momentum was too great; the animal lost its balance and came rolling down the bank ahead of us.
"The boy who was riding with me jumped.
218 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and so did I. When we struck the ground and turned to run the two men who had been pushing the car were fully twenty feet ahead of us, for they had taken to their heels the instant the rhino appeared.
'*As the huge body of the brute rolled down the bank and onto the track, the car struck it a glancing blow on the side, then left the rails, and ploughed into the bank. The rhino jumped to its feet and, with a toss of its head, attacked the car. Then, seeing us running up the track, it came charging after us.
"The two boys ahead of me ran up the left side to the top of the bank and I quickly followed. The rhino kept on after the third boy, who was dashing along the right-hand side of the track. We shouted to him to climb the bank, and he bounded up with the agility of a cat. Below, in the cut, the animal rushed by us, and it was only ten feet behind the boy when he reached the top of the bank. The bank was low at that point, and the clumsy animal, after slipping and sliding back into the cut several times, succeeded in scrambling up.
"Meanwhile, the boy had run some distance along the top of the bank and thrown himself
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 219
flat on the ground. When the rhino reached the top it ambled out on the veldt a few yards, and, since it could not find its enemy, it stopped and looked about.
"While the animal's back was turned the two boys and I jumped down into the cut and made for the upturned car. Hurriedly we lifted it on the track. I told the boys to push it to the top of the down grade and to wait there for me. Then I climbed back to the bank and looked about to see what had become of my third assistant. On the veldt only thirty yards from him, the rhino stood, snorting and puffing, and turning first to one side and then to the other. I watched my opportunity and then waved to the boy several times; but he was so occupied in watching the rhino that at first he did not see me. Finally, however, he jumped up, dashed for the bank, and leaped into the cut.
"He was hardly on his feet when the brute caught sight of him and again charged. The boy bounded down the track toward us. The rhino reached the top of the bank a hundred feet behind him; it plunged down and continued the chase between the rails.
220 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
*'While the two boys and myself had ample time to escape, I saw at once that the brute would overtake the other man long before he could reach the car, and, as we could not desert him, we were forced to again take to the top of the bank and the pursued boy once more followed our example. The persistent rhino lost considerable time scrambling up after him, and again the two came tearing on toward us, the boy now fifty yards in advance of his pursuer.
"Now was our chance, for the boy would reach the car at least fifty yards ahead of the rhino. We darted back into the cut and slowly started the car down the grade.
''The boy kept to the bank till he was abreast of us; then he jumped down and joined the other two boys in pushing the car. The rhino, charging along the top of the bank, gained on us rapidly. The bank now sloped toward the track, and every step that our pursuer took brought it nearer our level.
''I urged the boys to exert every bit of their strength, and a few seconds later they jumped aboard, for the car had attained such speed that there was danger of their being left behind.
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 221
"There was nothing we could do now except to watch the brute thundering along between the rails. Although the weight of all four men caused the car to gain headway, the rhino was drawing nearer every second. Faster and faster we sped along, but still the animal gained until it was only a few rods away.
"A short distance ahead was another sharp curve, and round this we flew at breakneck speed. We were going so fast that I feared the car might leave the rails at any moment. It was a choice of two evils, and we chose to stay with the car as long as it remained on the track. As we rounded the curve I was horrified to see a gang of graders at work. They saw us approaching. One of them cried out in alarm, and the whole crowd flung their tools aside and bolted into a near-by "donga."
"When I again looked back I saw that the rhino had not gained on us in the last hundred yards. As the steepest part of the grade was before us, I knew that we had won the race. Still the stupid brute kept doggedly on. In half a minute more we had reached the steep grade and began to leave our pursuer behind; but it was not until we were a quarter of a
222 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
mile in the lead that we saw the rhino slacken his speed and finally stop.
"Then I gently applied the brake, and we continued slowly until we had reached the next gang of workmen.
*'My one regret is that there was no motion-picture man present to record our game of hide-and-seek!"
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA
AS soon as Colonel Roosevelt announced r^L tis intention to head a scientific expedition into the wilds of Africa, a number of journalists and nature photographers seized upon the opportunity to precede him and market their work while the interest in the Dark Continent was a live one.
Among this class of adventurers were several nature photographers from England and America. To be at the head of this profession requires untold patience, almost supernatural coolness, and the highest type of bravery. To-day the photographer is creeping stealthily upon a dozing rhinoceros, an African lion, or a buffalo, any one of which big-game hunters consider a dangerous adversary, even when pitted against modern firearms.
In order to get unique photographs, something that will be in demand by publishers, the nature photographer must provoke an attack
224 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
from his subject. As the beast dashes at him he must take the charge with sullen indifference and press the button at the critical moment, leaving it to his armed companion to carry him through in safety.
The next day you may find this same man cooped in a little blind, with his camera trained upon the carcass of a freshly killed bait, to which he hopes some passing bird of prey or carnivorous mammal will be lured.
It was while thus engaged that one of these nature photographers had a thrilling experience with a cobra, the most deadly of all poisonous snakes. At the time he was camped with twenty porters at the south end of the Ulucania Hills, a series of rocky ridges in which live lions, leopards, hyenas, klipspringers, hyraxes, eagles, vultures, and cobras and other species of snakes.
Looking over the grassy veldt bordering these hills, one sees herds of zebras, hartebeests, wildebeests, bustards, secretary-birds, and ostriches. On being fired at, the sound of the hunter's rifle has scarcely died away when the vultures, eagles, kites, and marabou storks begin to congregate to feed upon the carcass of the victim.
Seizing upon this suggestion as a good oppor-
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA 225
tunity to secure rare photographs of the great birds, one of the nature photographers killed a hartebeest and had] his porters carry it to the foot of a rocky ridge.
"I found a place where an oval-shaped slab of rock rested on and overhung a great boulder," he said. "By draping the green canvas ground-cloth of my tent over this rock and securing the lower corners to the ground, I made a sort of bhnd behind which I could hide. A few leafy branches placed against the canvas gave the structure a more natural appearance.
"Everything in readiness, I had my men put the body of the hartebeest within fifty feet of the blind, and then I sent them back to camp. Crawling into the blind, I focussed my camera upon the body through a slit cut in the canvas. Although the vultures, storks, and eagles were already beginning to gather in the air, I knew that probably it would be some time before they would congregate in suflBcient numbers to suit my purpose.
"I fear that I was somewhat greedy in my ambition. I did not care for a photograph of two or three birds; what I wanted was a group of fifty or more tearing away at the carcass
226 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and fighting with one another for the choice bits.
*'I arranged my field-glasses, water-bottle, and camera case in a crevice behind me and leaned my rifle against the rocks by my side.
"For some time I amused myself by watching the comical and awkward actions of the birds. Eagles, vultures, and storks came from every direction and circled about a few minutes, then gracefully lighted on the ground near the carcass, where they stood eyeing the blind suspiciously.
''Whenever a new arrival appeared an aggressive bird would raise its wings over its back, lower its head, and take several awkward hops toward him. Occasionally fights took place, but they were never serious and usually ended by one of the birds taking wing and joining another and more friendly group.
"Becoming sleepy and knowing that as soon as the birds had gathered in sufiicient numbers to suit my purpose their squabbles would awaken me, I made a pillow of my rain-coat and curled up in my cramped quarters for a few minutes' snooze.
"'How long I slept is of little consequence. It
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA %n
might have been an hour; it might have been but fifteen minutes. At any rate, I was awakened by a peculiar grating sound, as of something being dragged over the loose, fine gravel; in fact, I became aware of the presence of some creature before I was fully awake. When I did come to my full senses I was horrified at discovering an immense cobra stretched full length at my feet.
"I reaUsed that the slightest move on my part meant death; in fact, the mere opening of my eyes had attracted the snake's attention, for instantly it stopped and its sinister, beady eyes stared at me from their lidless sockets.
"I have faced many dangers in the course of my short time on earth, but heretofore it has been in the open where I had the freedom of my Hmbs and the power to use them. But here I lay a captive at the mercy of the fangs of the most gruesome of all creatures. For all practical purposes I might just as well have been charmed, for there was my rifle within easy reach yet I dared not make a move to secure it.
"To prevent my limbs from shaking and betraying me, I set my muscles, locked my jaws, and simply stared. So long as the cobra re-
228 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
mained in the confines of my small enlcosure it was always within striking distance of me, and I realised that my safety lay in either being able to kill it or in waiting for it to depart.
''The minutes seemed like hours—they always do under such circumstances. Finally, the snake turned to one side and began slowly to crawl toward the opposite end of the blind, where the ground-cloth failed to reach the earth and there was space for it to get out. It was within a foot of the opening when its head struck the cloth, and, drawing back suddenly, it paused for a few seconds, then, to my horror, turned and slowly glided back toward me. Before it had covered half the distance, however, it came in contact with the camera tripod and began to slide up one of the legs.
"At this juncture I decided to try to reach my rifle. While the reptile was fumbhng about the camera I carefully reached out, but fate was against me, for I had hardly moved when my coat sleeve grated on the gravel. Slight though the noise was, the cobra heard it, turned its head toward me, and its hood began to inflate. There it stood, quite a third of its body in mid-air, swaying its head from side to side, its
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA 229
long, forked tongue darting in and out of its mouth.
*'My blood seemed to freeze; a cold sweat covered my forehead and I was nearly petrified from fear. Every instant I expected to see the reptile's head dart forward and to feel its deadly fangs enter my flesh. Had I moved again, this would have happened. Finally, the hood gradually contracted and the snake dropped to the ground and continued its tour of investigation.
"It moved around behind and out of my sight, but I could trace its position by the grating of Its body on the gravel. Soon I heard it scuffling about at my feet and the next instant felt its head hit them and its body begin to slide over. That snake seemed to be a hundred feet long, but, finally, it once more came into view, its head held close to the ground.
"I had kept still for so long that my nerves were almost shattered, and I was willing to resort to desperate means in order to rid myself of my captor.
"While I had been sleeping my helmet had fallen from my head and had rolled to the ground in front of me. Toward this the cobra
230 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
was making, and as soon as its head had disappeared behind it my hand shot out and I seized the snake by the neck. Springing to my feet, I did not wait to go out by the regular exit, but burst through the front of the bhnd, tearing the canvas fastenings from the ground.
''Finding itself a captive, the snake instantly twined about my waist, and I felt its hood trying to expand in my grip. With jaws wide open, it twisted its head about and worked its triple set of fangs backward and forward in a vain effort to bury them in my hand, while the venom oozed from their points in drops.
''Fortunately, the cobra is not a constrictor like the pythons and many other species of snakes, so its grasp upon my body, while uncomfortably tight, was not dangerous.
"It was evident that to dislodge the snake was going to be no easy matter. Fearing to lose my grip for even a second, I kept a steady strain on its body and wondered what next to do. Suddenly the cobra began to relax its hold and I felt the coils slipping. Encouraged by this, I pulled harder and again the coils gave way, until I was holding the snake at arm's length with only a single coil about my body.
IT WORKED ITS TRIPLE SET OF FANGS BACKWARD AND FORWARD IN A VAIN EFFORT TO BURY THEM IN MY HAND
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA 231
"Holding the snake in one hand, I seized it about the middle with the other, but the instant the reptile felt itself grasped in another place it struggled so hard that I was obliged to again grip it with both hands about the neck.
"My strength was waning fast, but the satisfaction of knowing that the cobra, too, was becoming exhausted gave me courage. The constant strain that I kept on it had weakened it, so the next time I caught it in the middle it made one feeble effort to contract, then the coil gave way and slipped off my body entirely.
"Swinging the snake free from my body, I waved it about my head and with all my strength brought it down on a rock. Again and again I whacked it over the boulder and finally threw it as far as I could.
"Then rushing back to the bhnd, I returned with my rifle, but I was so unnerved that the bullets went wild and I was obliged to resort to stones in order to kill the cobra, although it was almost dead from the hammering I had given it."
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT
CRITTENDEN left London because he had to. His creditors pushed him so vigorously that they made him uncomfortable, and, as his bank account was exhausted because of his extravagant mode of living, he sneaked up into Yorkshire and took a position as bookkeeper.
"I simply made up my mind," he said, ''that home was no place for me until my debts were paid, and, as my creditors still kept nagging me, I remained in my new position just long enough to lay by a few pounds and then booked on a steamer for British East Africa and drifted up here into the Congo to hunt ivory."
"How long have you been here?" I inquired.
''Not quite a year, and I'm going to stick it out until my pile has been made and I can go back and pay up."
"But isn't there some risk of your creditors
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 238
being cheated of their pay by the elephants? " I ventured. ''Don't you consider it a Httle risky, this prowKng about after five-ton monsters with tusks that have gored scores of hunters, feet that have stamped out many a man's Hfe, and a trunk that acts Uke the tentacles of an octopus? Isn't there a slight element of danger in ramming about through the jungle, the bamboo, and the tall elephant-grass, chasing such creatures as these?"
"Certainly there is, but it's part of the game. Every elephant hunter understands that, and it is up to him to play a trump card every time or else be euchred. But still there's no more danger here in the wilds of Africa than there would be in any large city.
"Take, for instance, the automobiles; they are continually blowing their horns and tooting their whistles, danger or no danger, and you get so accustomed to them you become careless. But when you hear an elephant trumpeting you sit up and take notice. You can shoot an elephant if he comes too close, but you can't shoot a 'bally' chauffeur, can you.^—so there you are!"
"Did you ever have to shoot an elephant
234 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
chauffeur to keep from being run down?" I inquired.
''Did I! Being charged by elephants is such a common occurrence to an ivory hunter that he remembers only the dangerous charges. The most thrilling escape that ever happened to me occurred in the very country to which you are now going.
"We had so far made a good kill of ivory. One noon three of my trackers who had been looking for fresh signs returned and told me that, some five miles north, they had discovered a watering-place on the Nile where elephants came to drink.
" I took my gun bearer Kongoni—Swahah for hartebeest—three trackers, my blankets, and two days' grub and left at once.
**Late in the afternoon we arrived at the spot. The earth along the bank near the watering-place was trodden hard by huge feet, and, after looking over the scene, I saw at once that the elephants must have watered there the night before.
"There was little use in trying to trail them up that day, for they might be twenty miles away, so we back-tracked a mile and went into
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 235
camp for the night, intending to take up the fresh tracks in the morning should the animals return that night.
"It must have been some time past midnight when my gun bearer awakened me to say that he heard the elephants coming. I, too, could catch the faint sound of trumpeting, and as time passed the trumpeting became louder and more frequent, and finally we could hear the animals bellowing. For over two hours the noise continued and then gradually grew fainter and fainter as the herd moved back into the bush-veldt.
"We were up before the sun and after a hearty breakfast, for we knew not when we would get another square meal, hurried off to the watering-place.
"A faint glow in the east showed that the day was dawning, and when it became light enough to see clearly, we picked up the trail. It was evidently an enormous herd, but the ground was pounded so hard by its previous visits that for the time we could gain no correct idea of its true size. Kongoni said that there were a hundred; one of my trackers doubled the number, and I felt sure that he was nearer right.
236 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
**We followed the wide trail at a rapid rate and hoped to overhaul them soon, for as they had been feeding all night, they might halt about ten o'clock to rest.
"Through patches of tall elephant-grass, groves of thorn-trees, and then out into a somewhat barren open country the tracks led us. On all sides were uprooted trees and great branches that the animals had wrenched off as they passed along.
"We had gone about five miles when we suddenly passed out of the elephant-grass, crossed a dry, sandy creek bed, and came to a level piece of ground about a mile wide. A fire had lately swept the grass from this flat and at the far side we could see a dense bush-veldt.
"The elephants were probably resting in that bush-veldt, and, as there was no longer need for professional trackers, the men were told to wait at the edge of the clearing until they saw Kon-goni and me enter the bush on the other side, then to follow slowly so as to be near and ready to assist in cutting out the ivory should we succeed in shooting a tusker.
"We had crossed the flat and were two hundred yards from the timber when Kongoni
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 237
stopped; he said he could hear the elephants feeding. A few seconds later the sound of breaking branches and then the crash of a falling tree dispelled all doubt.
"We were discussing a course of procedure when Kongoni caught me by the arm and, pointing toward the thicket, exclaimed:
'''Bwana, there's an elephant standing under that thorn-tree!'
''Straining my eyes to the limit, it was impossible to discover the brute, but suddenly another elephant appeared, and then another and another, until in all some ten or fifteen animals were in sight.
"'Hurry, Bwana,' said the gun bearer, 'they are coming this way and we will be caught in the open.'
"Scattered here and there were small clusters of bushes that had escaped the fire. Fifty yards to our left stood a solitary tree. A hurricane had taken out the top, leaving several large limbs protruding from the upper part. Sixty feet from this tree was an ant-hill six feet high; a small patch of bushes grew just beyond, while still farther on the Nile flowed placidly beneath a perpendicular twenty-foot bank.
238 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"Moving slowly so as not to attract attention, we reached the tree and I placed my rifle on the ground, intending that Kongoni should hand it to me as soon as he had assisted me into the limbs. He gave me the expected boost, but when I turned and reached down for the gun he was gone.
"'Kongoni! Kongoni!' I called in a low tone. There was no response. Then Kongoni was seen waving to me from a clump of bushes a few rods off. The idiot! what had possessed him to suddenly desert me in this manner? There was no danger so long as we were hidden, even if the herd was large and only two hundred yards away, for an elephant's eyesight is so poor that he cannot see a man much more than fifty yards off.
"I should have descended the tree at once, thrown the rifle strap over my shoulder, and climbed back again, but I wasted so much time trying to persuade Kongoni to return and hand it to me, that when I did think of it the elephants were dangerously close and I did not dare make the attempt.
"It was a grand and wonderful sight; that army of two hundred modern mammoths—left-
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 239
overs from antediluvian days—marching majestically toward us in one solid, unbroken mass, their great ears waving back and forth as they calmly fanned themselves. They were continually tearing up bunches of grass and tossing them upon or over their backs; the totos —young ones—strolled along by the side of their mothers, who frequently reached out their trunks and appeared to fondle their offspring.
"How I yearned for my rifle, for there were many big tuskers in the herd. Several of them were within range and from my elevated position there was a fine opportunity to bowl one over.
''Some of the animals walked right under my tree and I held my breath lest they should look up and discover me. Probably a third of the herd had passed when several of them lifted their trunks and waved them in the air; they had caught our scent.
''One began to trumpet, and the others quickly took up the alarm. Suddenly every elephant in the herd seemed to have lost its head, for they raced backward and forward quite panic-stricken. In one wild dash the advance-guard suddenly wheeled around and
240 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
started back toward the timber, the Httle totos dodging about to prevent being trampled.
"Kongoni dared not hft his head for fear of provoking an attack, so he crouched low, a silent listener. Had he been able to see, there would have been no trouble, for he would have noticed that the stampeding elephants had passed him, leaving a little toto in the rear, its mother a few rods in advance. But two of the brutes had torn by uncomfortably close to him, which, together with the roaring and trumpeting, struck terror to his heart, so instead of holding his position, he broke cover and bounded for my tree.
"As he burst through the brush he nearly collided with the toto, which gave a peculiar little squeal and dodged out of the man's way. The mother had heard her child's cry and, wheeling about, came to its rescue.
"Kongoni saw that he was trapped so he ran for the ant-hill, dodged behind it, and stood waiting. He did not have long to wait, however, for Mrs. Elephant soon reached the spot and for a few seconds, in double-quick time, the two raced around the clay pyramid.
** Thinking that she would surely catch the
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 241
boy, I was about to descend, grab my rifle, and help him out of the scrape, when the elephant, on the far side of the ant-hill, began tearing it down with her tusks. I realised that now was Kongoni's opportunity to escape. From the opposite side of the ant-hill he could not see what was taking place, so I called out, *now is your ciiance, run for the tree!'
'*With the ant-hill between him and the infuriated animal, he bounded toward me and, as he reached the stub and began climbing up, I leaned down and gave him a helping hand, and the next instant he was safe in the branches.
''The elephant demolished that ant-hill as completely as a stick of dynamite could have wrecked it, and then stood over the ruins, surprised, no doubt, at not finding her victim. The moving branches and the scratching of our bodies on the limbs must have betrayed our position, for she caught sight of us and bore down on the tree.
''Before climbing the tree, which was fully eight inches in diameter, it seemed impossible that any elephant could push it over, but as I looked down and saw her put her great head against it, it was evident that she intended to make the attempt.
242 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"There was a ripping, grinding sound and the sod about the base began to heave; stubbornly the tenacious roots fought against surrendering the burden that they had supported for so many years. The five tons of flesh and bones were more than a match for them, however, and slowly the tree began to descend. Instead of toppling over with a crash, the sinewy tentacles eased its fall so gently that we were given an opportunity to adjust our positions and prepare for the worst.
"Even after the tree had attained an angle of forty-five degrees, we stood on the trunk and clung to the now almost perpendicular branches. The elephant must have thought that it was going over; she backed away for a second but, seeing her mistake, again began to push, and this time the tree slowly went down.
"As it struck the ground, the sudden loosening of the roots on one side caused it to roll slightly which threw the gun bearer to the underside and buried him beneath the branches. At the same time I was brought to an upright position and, jumping to the ground, started for the small patch of bushes in which Kongoni had first sought shelter.
"If I could only gain possession of the rifle
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 243
that Kongoni in his excitement had left somewhere in the brush, it might be possible to bring our troubles to an abrupt termination. The black rascal was to blame for our predicament and it would serve him right if the elephant gave him a chastising.
"Where was he now? Was he pinned helplessly beneath the limbs, or was he simply lying there in the hope that he would escape punishment and the infuriated beast would make me the target for her revenge?
"'If he reasoned thus, he reasoned wisely, for on looking back over my shoulder I saw the elephant charging after me, her trunk curled up between her tusks and her great ears extended on both sides of her villainous-looking head.
"There had been no chance for me to recover the rifle that had been left at the foot of the tree, neither was there time to search for the gun in the bushes; in fact, should I succeed in reaching the shelter before she could overtake me, under the circumstances it was all that could be hoped for.
"Luck favoured me, and darting in with head bent low and arms thrust out in the position of a diver, I bolted through the tangle. The
244 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
crashing of brush resounded in my ears as I turned sharply to the right, threw myself flat on the ground, and lay there, panting and trembling.
''On she came and must have passed within ten feet of my hiding-place, but I dared not look up, for to show my pale face or move might have attracted her attention.
''She rushed through the thicket and trumpeted loudly at the other side, while my heart hammered away as though it would break through my ribs. From what I knew of the habits of elephants, there was little possibility of her leaving the locality until she had either killed me or had demolished that clump of bushes in her eflforts to find me.
"One thing was sure, the bushes were only fit for temporary shelter, and it was a matter of only a few minutes before I should be compelled to leave them. A solitary tree growing on the brink of the Nile seemed to be my only hope, but one experience with a tree as an 'elephant escape' had not proven particularly satisfactory, still there was no choice.
"These thoughts were suddenly dispelled by another commotion in the brush; the 'old
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 245
woman' was coming back to make a more thorough investigation. This time she charged by to my right, and as soon as she had passed I sprang to my feet and once more rushed on, relying on the noise she was creating to drown whatever racket I might make.
"As I broke through the cover and for an instant glanced back, she was standing at the far side of the brush patch looking in my direction, but before two more steps could be taken she was at me again.
"My eyes were riveted on that tree, and with every jump I longed for postponement of the silence that would tell me she had passed out of the thicket and into the open. I could then judge how much lead I had and what were my chances for escape.
"Suddenly the crackling of limbs and the swish of bushes ceased and the shuffling and dull thud of feet on the gravelly earth was heard. A hasty calculation placed me a little more than half-way between the animal and the river, still I did not look back. I could not look! I did not want to see her, and yet in my mind's eye I depicted her charging along behind as plainly as though she had been in front, instead of in my rear.
246 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
*'0n I rushed at top speed. The shuffling grew louder and louder every second, for she was fast overtaking me. But that tree grew nearer and nearer with each step. Just then Kongoni shouted:
'''Pacey! pacey ! Bwana T ('Hurry! hurry! Master!') and I knew that she must be crowding me closely. Even should I reach the tree ahead of her, evidently there would not be time to climb it before she twined her snake-like trunk about my body and hurled me to the ground.
"What was beneath that bank.^^ Was it a drop off of twenty feet to a mass of jagged rocks or into the water? The elephant would surely kill me if I did not make the jump, so what was the difference? If the river was deep and ran in flush with the bank, as from the top of our perch in the tree it appeared to do, and I could only outdistance my pursuer, there was nothing to fear, for I was an expert swimmer.
"It certainly was a relief to see the water-line creeping gradually toward shore over the horizon of the bank, and as I rushed along I wondered if the animal had gained such headway that she would come tumbling down on top of me.
"A few more strides and the bank was
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 247
reached, and without a second's hesitation I sprang into the air and shot through the twenty feet of space into the swiftly running water. The force of the fall drove me out of sight. Turning quickly, I swam under water and downstream until lack of breath compelled me to come to the surface.
"The elephant was standing on the bank above, trumpeting loudly and blowing great clouds of dust and ashes into the air. Now a new peril presented itself—crocodiles. The Nile swarmed with them, but on second thought I remembered that they frequented sluggish water and, as the current here ran fully six miles an hour, there was, after all, not much danger from them.
"Striking out for shore, I was soon so close under the bank that the elephant was lost to view. By continuing alongshore for a hundred yards, the exposed roots of a tree were found, and to these I clung until my breath had returned. Swimming on down-stream to a point where the bank was low, I climbed out into a fringe of bushes and small trees.
"Working my way quietly through the foliage, I went back part way and then cUmbed a tree
248 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
overlooking the country. The old elephant was prowling along the top of the bluff, but just then she turned and, shuffling over to the prostrate tree, began breaking off the branches with her trunk. I watched anxiously to see if she would find the gun bearer, although I felt quite certain that if he had not been injured he must have taken advantage of his opportunity to make his escape to a more secure hiding-place.
"After she had nearly stripped the tree of its branches and scattered them over the ground, she put her head against the trunk and pushed it aside. But Kongoni was not there. The little totOy in the meantime, was running about shaking his head and squealing.
''Unable to find her enemies, the great brute, after again looking the ground over carefully, sauntered off into the bush, her little one following by her side.
"Suddenly Kongoni's head appeared above a clump of bushes. He hustled up to the scene of the conflict, secured both of my rifles, and came running toward the spot where I had disappeared over the bank. Before he arrived, however, I diverted his course by shouting, and as I descended the tree he came up.
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 249
"By losing his head he had almost caused us to lose our lives, and he knew too well that he was to blame. His face bore an expression of fear and shame combined, and we stood gazing at each other without saying a word. Finally, he fell to his knees and, kissing my hand, sobbed: 'Master, forgive me. I will never do it again. I have always been faithful to you until to-day, so if you will forgive me I swear by Allah that I will never, never again desert you.'
"Undoubtedly the elephant had taught him a lesson, and I felt so thankful that we both had escaped that I took him at his word, so after severely reprimanding him and fining him twenty rupees from his salary, I returned to camp, picking up the other boys en route."
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA
WHILE it is true that I knew nothing of forestry, the government was also aware of the fact, so I felt that I had not accepted, under false pretences, the position of forester," said a former occupant of the West Kenia Forest Station.
"My superior at Nairobi had told me that my chief duty would be to watch for forest fires and to extinguish any that occurred. He also instructed me to hire a gang of Kikuyu natives and cut a trail up the south side of Mount Kenia to timber-line. I was working on this trail when my friend Brown, whom I had asked to come up and visit me, arrived, and we planned to go high up on the mountain and do some exploring after the trail was finished and the men had been discharged.
"We two 'trekked' to an altitude of thirteen thousand seven hundred feet and pitched our tent. On the morning of the third day at our
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 251
alpine camp I arose rather late and found that Brown had left camp. The teapot near the smouldering fire showed that he had had breakfast. 'Probably stepped out to shoot some game for our larder,' I thought, as I brushed the coals together and started to prepare my morning meal.
"Having finished my breakfast, I picked up my Ithaca shotgun, camera, and barometer, that hung from one of the tent-poles, and strolled up on a high ridge back of the camp. From here a fine view could be had. Small green lakes fed by tiny rivulets that trickled over the rocks, great drifts of snow, and constantly changing scenery kept my eyes busy.
"One thinks of Africa as a land of jungle and extreme heat, and, as I stood there gazing at scenery such as I had seen in Alaska and in northwestern Canada, I could scarcely believe that I was standing on the equator; nevertheless, 'the line' does run over the top of the mountain.
"The hand of the barometer pointed to fifteen thousand feet, and from that point refused to record a higher altitude, although it was supposed to register as high as twenty thousand feet.
252 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
From this point a great snow-bank rose gradually for several hundred yards and then formed a high, steep bank dangerous to climb for fear of starting a snowslide. For half a mile the drift extended eastward and away from the mountain peak. I saw that by crossing it to the far end and then turning back I could reach the north side of the peak on top of the steep, dangerous bank.
"The glare from the sun on the drift was very intense, but it seemed no more dazzling than I had found it under similar circumstances in America. For most of the way the snow was soft and I sank to my shoe tops, but after I had turned back toward the mountain I found a tract about a hundred yards wide where, for some unaccountable reason, the snow was packed hard. Even when I jumped on it my feet left no impression.
"I proceeded until I had passed two thirds of the way around the mountain peak. The mass of cUfifs and jagged rocks rose to a total height of seventeen thousand two hundred feet above sea-level; now they were not more than seven hundred feet above me, therefore I must have ascended to an altitude of sixteen thousand five
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 253
hundred feet. To the right, half a mile away, was a round-topped mountain of snow of unknown depth. In many places it had cracked open, leaving great crevasses, which showed that the snow was at least fifty feet deep.
*'From where I stood, on the snow ridge that connected the snow mountain with the peak, the drift sloped downward toward the north end of the mountain half a mile; beyond this I could not see. If I could get down it would be a shorter way to camp than to retrace my steps, so I decided to make the attempt.
''I had gone about half-way when I discovered that the snow-field terminated in an abrupt wall several hundred feet high. On reaching it I dared not go close enough to the edge to make a more thorough investigation for fear the snow cornice might break and precipitate me to the bottom.
"Where the snow met the bluff of the peak there seemed to be a break through which one might descend to the valley, so I walked over to it and followed along the base of the cliff for some distance. The drift became steeper and steeper as I proceeded. I was within about seventy-five feet of the wall when suddenly my
254 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
feet flew out from under me and I found myself sliding downward.
"None of the snow above was moving, but a great mass below had given way and was hurrying down the mountainside at a terrific rate. Unless I could check myself I should be carried over the brink of the wall and into the valley below, I knew not how many hundred feet.
'* Frantically, I tried to dig my heels into the snow but could not stop. I had fallen just beyond reach of the rocks but managed to roll over a couple of times, and, seeing a projection a short distance below, I seized it as I was passing and held on until the snow had slipped out from under me.
"Being at the extreme upper edge of the slide, only a few inches of the surface had given way, so, after the excitement was over and I had scrambled to my feet, I found myself standing on the drift while the slide poured over the edge of the wall with a sound like escaping steam.
"Regaining my somewhat startled wits, I began to wonder how to get out of my predicament. To attempt to pass around the mountain as originally planned now seemed impossible.
and should I try to retrace my steps I might start another sHde and this time lose my life.
*'It was about four o'clock. In another hour a crust would begin to form and by ten o'clock, or half past at the latest, it would be hard enough to bear my weight; and then, of course, there would be no danger of snowslides. So, a prisoner of the snow, I decided to remain there until the elements should let me escape.
"Holding tightly to the rocks, I began, gently at first, to tramp the snow and in a few minutes had made a hard, comfortable footing. Contrary to general belief, the African twilight is quite as long as any twilight. Slowly the shadows of the peaks, over which the sun was sinking, lengthened and at last darkness fell.
"One by one the stars came out between the fleecy clouds. As the air grew chilly the clouds descended and by eight o'clock enveloped me in a mist that shrouded the 'arctic' scenery for half an hour. Finally, the mist disappeared and I saw the clouds floating far below and a clear sky above.
"Now, for the first time, I began to have trouble with my eyes. They ached, then they burned, and in half an hour it seemed as though
a bundle of quill toothpicks was being thrust into them. I rubbed them with snow and closed my lids, but when I opened them again the agony was excruciating. A thick smoke seemed to obscure the view; then, for the first time, I realised that I was becoming snow-blind.
"How fooHsh I had been not to blacken my face with a piece of burnt wood before leaving camp, but when I started I had no intention of climbing high, and, as I have said, after the snow was reached the glare from the drifts seemed no more intense than I had found it many times before.
"What if I should become totally blind! Here I was, marooned four miles from camp and on the opposite side of the mountain. Brown would never think of looking for me here.
"One thing was sure: I must get away and try to work out on the big drift to the east of the peak before I completely lost my sight. This drift was visible from a long distance to any one approaching from the south, so if Brown should come he could easily see me on the snow a mile away.
"Of course there was some danger of stumbling into one of the many crevasses I had
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 257
passed on the way up, but I knew this could not happen unless my sight became so poor that I could not follow my tracks back.
*'From time to time I kept testing the crust, now forming rapidly, and about ten o'clock considered it firm enough to support my weight.
"While my tracks, made in the afternoon, were somewhat obliterated by the melting of the snow, they were still visible. By moving slowly and straining my eyes it was, at first, not diflS-cult to follow them. Every few steps the crust gave way, but it was hard enough to prevent a slide. So, keeping close to the base of the clifiF, I finally reached the spot where I had crossed the drift and first struck the rocks.
"Every minute it was becoming more and more difficult to follow the trail; my eyesight was failing fast. Gradually, I was obliged to lean over farther and farther, until at last I dropped to my knees and crawled along. Even then it was hard to see the tracks, and finally I gave up and began feeling my way along.
"My hands became numb from cold and my knees ached, so I was forced to stop frequently to warm up and rest. The bank was almost level now, and shortly I began to descend and
258 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
knew that the ridge had been passed. I was crawhng out on the great drift to the east of the mountain and nearing the packed-snow area where no tracks had been left. There was Httle chance of crossing it with the expectation of finding the trail on the other side.
*'It was slow, tedious work, groping along in the darkness and feeling out each frozen footprint. My hands were sore from shuffling over the rough snow, so I put my camera in a pocket of my hunting-coat and, slipping my left hand into the leather case, used it as a shield while sliding along. Every few minutes the shotgun that swung from my shoulders worked forward and I had to stop to adjust it.
"So hour after hour I crept along fifteen or twenty feet at a time, then stopped to rest. The tracks were becoming more and more shallow; evidently the hard snow was not far off. Two more spells of crawling, two more rest halts, and then, search as hard as I could, not another footprint was found; they were not there to find.
"This tract must be crossed regardless of consequences. I stood erect and, stepping out boldly, tried to walk in as straight a course as
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 259
possible. Only a short distance had been traversed when the drift seemed to descend more rapidly than I had anticipated. A few more steps and it was so steep that there was danger of slipping. Was it possible that I had so soon wandered from my course? It must be so, for certainly I had not passed over such a grade that afternoon.
"I turned and, dropping on my hands and knees, started to climb back, but slipped and fell upon my face and then began to slide. Rolling over on my back I tried to dig my heels into the hard crust. This swayed my body around, and the next instant I was scooting over the crust head down. Then the stock of my gun cut through the crust and retarded my progress enough to swing me back until I lay in an upright position, but the next instant the stock lost its grip and once more I descended head foremost.
*'Spinning round and round in this manner, first to one side, then to the other, I whizzed over the snow until the air whistled in my ears, and I became so dazed that I could scarcely tell when I was right side up and when not.
"The uppermost thought in my mind was:
260 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
'Where am I going to land,—would it be at the bottom of some deep crevasse or out on a harmless tract of snow?
'* Gradually my speed began to slacken, for I was nearing the foot of the incline. Working the shotgun strap over my shoulder, I gripped the gun-barrels in my left hand, seized the pistol-grip in the other, and throwing the stock of the gun under my right arm, I bore down on it with all my weight. The sharp rubber heelplate cut through the crust and finally brought me to a full stop.
"Where could I be? The drift on which I had been travelling when I fell extended on eastward, fully half a mile beyond the hard snow I had attempted to cross. I could not have wandered that far before losing my way, therefore I must have gone too far to the right and tobogganed down the very snowbank that I had circled during the afternoon. In other words, I had taken a short cut to the exact position I was seeking—the middle of the drift where I had first stepped upon the snow.
"There was nothing to do now but to wait for Brown to come, provided he did come. I had lost all count of time but felt that it must
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 261
be long after midnight. How penetrating the chilly air was, and how my eyes ached, now that there was nothing to occupy my attention! The rocks could not be very far away, for occasionally the shrill cry of a restless rock hy-rax floated up from below. Once I heard elephants trumpeting in the heather three miles away.
*'And so the weary minutes formed the hours until suddenly I thought that I heard a bird singing; yes, it was a bird, the twittering of a sunbird. Oh, what a welcome sound was that heralder of dawn!
"If Brown could only strike my trail at once he would be here in a few hours. I waited until I thought that he might be within hearing, then at intervals of about half a minute fired three shots—the universal signal of distress. The echoes roared back from the mountain peak as eagerly I listened for an answer, but it did not come. I waited another hour, then fired three more shots, but still no reply.
''An inventory of my cartridge-belt showed nine cartridges left. The third signal of three shots failed also to bring an answer, so, discouraged and weak from hunger and lack of
262 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
sleep, I started on, feeling with my shotgun before taking a step. Every fifteen minutes I stopped and fired a single shot. In this way I must have travelled for an hour and then fired another shot. The echo from the mountain peak came from behind me, so I knew that I had turned too far to the left. Facing about, I had taken but a few steps when far oflF in the distance came the unmistakable report of a rifle. I leaped into the air from joy and began shouting and waving my hands, but on second thought realised that Brown was yet too far off to see me.
"Fifteen minutes later I fired my last cartridge and received a reply from very near, and then I heard Brown shout:
'"What in thunder are you doing up there? If you think I'm coming up after you you're jolly well mistaken.'
"'I can't come down; I'm snow-blind,' I shouted back.
"'Where have you been all this time.^^' he inquired as he came up.
"'Wandering about on the snow all night; and I took a fine toboggan slide to wind up with!' I answered.
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 263
You look it. You're as white as a sheet. Here, take a hoot of this; and here's a sandwich. I thought you would need something when I found you.'
"'How did you find me? What made you think I was up here?' I inquired.
"'Well,' he began 'you remember that you had said you wanted to come up here, so, when you didn't appear last night and I saw that the barometer was missing, I knew you must have gone for the snow, as we have taken altitudes at lower levels. Soon I struck your tracks on the ridge back there and managed to keep them fairly well until I heard your shouts, and then I started on a run.'
"He led me back to camp, and after three days in the tent my sight gradually returned, and then we packed up and descended to the forest station."
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES
WHEN our party arrived at Nimule, my first act was to send some letters to America, and as I approached the post-oflSce I found the following warning posted on the door:
Nimule, 16th November, 1909. It is with deep regret that the commissioner of the Nile District has to report the murder of Mr. Buccura, a big-game hunter, by the natives of the Lado Enclave at Katurunga, seven hours' march N. W. of Dufili, on the 8th inst.
Hunters and sportsmen are warned of the apparent truculence of these particular natives and are cautioned against them.
(Signed) R. D. Anderson,
Com. Nile District.
It was only the week before this report reached Nimule that Frank Barrett had started into this very country to hunt ivory and to trade with the natives.
On reaching his destination and utterly ignorant of danger, he began a brisk trade with the blacks. They appeared to be very friendly. Nearly every day they brought him milk, fruit, and sweet potatoes. But one morning they arrived at his camp earlier than usual, and by ten o'clock fully a hundred natives had assembled. Such a throng made Barrett somewhat suspicious, but they all seemed in good spirits, and some of them made a few trifling exchanges.
After a time they formed a wide circle and began dancing and singing. Barrett did not suspect treachery until he realised that they were gradually closing in upon him. Trying not to betray any nervousness, he carelessly picked up his rifle and began wiping it with his handkerchief; finally he sat down in front of the tent, with the rifle resting across his knees.
Presently one of his porters came up and asked to have his injured foot examined. As Barrett leaned forward a black rushed up from behind and snatched his gun; then the treacherous crowd leaped upon the white man and bore him to the ground. In a few moments they had tied his hands and fastened one end of a ten-
266 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
foot rope about his neck. Seeing their master a prisoner, Barrett's porters bolted into the brush; two of them were struck down with clubs and spears.
Barrett was then made to rise and walk. Three men, who carried his shotgun, elephant rifle, and repeater, walked beside him and frequently threatened him. A fourth man led him by the rope along a well-beaten trail.
As he plodded along, a captive of villainous savages, Barrett wondered what would be the outcome. That death would eventually end his misery he had little doubt; but in what form.^ That was the question uppermost in his mind. He thought of the many methods of torture that savage brains can devise, and he wondered which one of them it would be his fate to draw.
Barrett hoped that some of his porters had escaped and that they would succeed in passing through the treacherous country safely and in bringing help. But when he realised that that would take a week at least he knew that he must find some way to outwit his captors. He could not speak their language, and therefore he could not threaten them with what would
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 267
happen when the British soldiers learned of his death.
At about six o'clock, after travelling some fifteen miles, Barrett and his escort arrived at a village. The people swarmed out to see him. He was led through an opening in the brush fence and taken before the chief.
The chief ordered that he be taken to a grass hut. Then Barrett was given a supper of boiled mutton and sweet potatoes. With his feet tied and his hands bound together in front of him, he spent the night lying on a bed of dried grass. His arms and legs ached badly and he slept but little. When day dawned two women brought him a breakfast of boiled bananas and mutton and relieved the guards who had kept watch all night at the entrance of the hut.
After breakfast two other guards escorted Barrett to the centre of the village, where, under a large tree, the chief and a number of head men were seated in a circle. Barrett's captors placed him before the chief. The villagers formed a wide circle on the outside; whenever they pressed forward too far guards with sticks severely beat them.
268 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
The chief sat on a stool, with his feet on a grass mat. A leopard skin was tied about his loins, and from his right shoulder was draped a blue silk sash that was tied at the waist on the left side. His air was important and he took full charge of the ceremony.
Barrett was untied and his trial—for such it seemed to be—^began. What law or laws he was charged with violating he could not make out. The trial lasted two days; the men who had seized him were the chief witnesses and gave their testimony both by word and by action, dramatically rehearsing the incidents of his capture.
He was well fed and given water whenever by signs he indicated that he was thirsty. This treatment puzzled him. Was he to receive a mild sentence or were the savages preparing him for some horrible end?
During the first part of the trial Barrett paid close attention, in the hope of gaining some idea of the charge that was made against him, but, failing in this, he began to think of some way to escape. So far throughout his imprisonment he had tried to maintain an air of unconcern, in order to make his captors believe that he
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 269
thought himself in no great danger and perhaps cause them to relax their vigilance.
There was small hope of escape from the hut in which he spent the nights. His guards bound his hands and feet and, moreover, kept watch with his guns outside. On the third morning they freed only his legs. After that they tied a bark rope ten feet long round his neck and led him outside before a throng of shouting men, women, and children. He thought that the death sentence had been pronounced and that the crowd had gathered to witness his execution.
The guards led him through the shouting, jeering throng, out of the village, and down a trail. After a time the people who had followed began to turn back. Barrett knew then that, for the present at least, no harm was coming to him; for if he were to be killed the villagers would certainly wish to be present.
All that day Barrett and his guards travelled northward. They stopped for the midday meal at one village and at nightfall reached another one. There Barrett's guards turned him over to new guards, who took the rifles and watched the hut in which he lay bound. For two more
270 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
days the white man was kept moving at the rate of about fifteen or twenty miles a day. The apparent object of all this travel was to exhibit him to the people; at every village there was a crowd collected that followed for several miles, jeering and taunting the prisoner.
On the evening of the third day Barrett was placed in a hut that was evidently a storehouse, for piled against the sides were heaps of sweet potatoes and husked corn that had lately been harvested; here and there were gmss baskets and huge earthen pots filled with meal and tempting sweet potatoes. Large pieces had been chipped from the rims of several jars, and the edges were rough and jagged. It occurred to Barrett that he could saw the rope from his bound hands on the edges of the broken crockery.
After a supper of boiled seeds that reminded him of a flaxseed poultice the guards, as usual, tied his feet together and bound his hands in front of him.
It was after midnight before the villagers stopped their singing and dancing, a nightly performance. Barrett could hear the guards moving about outside, but they had ceased talking and evidently were becoming sleepy.
HIS GUARDS BOUND HIS HANDS AND FEET
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Carefully he crawled on hands and knees until he reached the pots; then he felt about for one with a sharp, broken rim. By sitting down and dragging the jar over his feet he got it between his knees and, gripping it tight, began to saw the rope on the rough edges of the broken part. At first he worked slowly for fear of making a noise, but he found that he could bear down quite hard without producing any sound.
From time to time he twisted his little fingers round to find out what progress he was making; he was delighted at the rapidity with which the dry bark yielded. At intervals he stopped to listen for the guards. In fifteen or twenty minutes his hands suddenly dropped on each side of the pot with a jerk; the rope had parted. In ten minutes more he had untied his feet, and was at least "fighting free."
His first move was to crawl to a pile of sweet potatoes; from it he selected four large ones and tucked them into the front of his shirt; then he crept to the entrance of the hut and peeped out. The darkness inside made it easy to see into the starlit night.
One of the guards sat leaning against the
272 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
side of the hut, asleep or dozing; the elephant rifle stood by his side. The other guard was about ten feet away, with his back to the hut. Barrett cautiously reached out and drew the rifle to him. For a long time the active sentry walked back and forth past the entrance; occasionally he stopped and gazed about. Barrett, crouching in the shadow inside, waited for him to come within reach.
It was fully half an hour before he came close to the door and, turning, stood with his back toward the entrance, not six feet away. Instantly Barrett sprang forward and dealt him a stunning blow over the head with the rifle. He sank to the ground like a stone, and the repeater fell from his hands. Barrett snatched it up, wheeled about, and found that the other man had been awakened by the scuffle and was on his knees fumbling about for his missing weapon. Barrett swung at him, but the guard dodged the blow and darted behind the hut.
Barrett was half-way to the entrance of the kraal before the frightened savage regained his wits and began to yell. As Barrett pulled away the brush that at night always blocks
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the entrance of the kraal he glanced back and saw the villagers swarming from their huts. He fired a shot in their direction, in order to hold them in check, and in a few seconds more cleared the opening and started down the trail. The war drums and shouts of the excited savages spurred him to top speed.
For fully a mile he kept the course; then he turned ofiF into the brush and paused to get his breath. The blacks had stopped shouting, but the war drums were still beating, and Barrett knew that the trails must be swarming with pursuers.
During the preceding days of travel he had carefully observed the direction in which he was being taken and had learned that the general course was north and parallel to the Nile, which lay to the west. He now had hope of reaching the river within two or three days and of intercepting the regular mail-boat that plied once a week between Butiaba and Nimule. Once out of the hostile country, he would soon fall in with friendly "Shenzies," who would surely give him assistance.
He climbed a tree and got the points of the compass from the southern cross; then he
274 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
struck out again, moving cautiously. Wherever it was possible, he followed game trails and disused paths. His rifle was cocked and ready for instant use, but he had determined to fire it only as a last resort; he meant to husband the four remaining cartridges for an emergency.
At first he skulked along like a hunted animal, stopping to scrutinise every dark object; but as he proceeded farther and farther he gained courage and travelled faster. When dawn broke, he judged that he was fifteen miles from his captors.
He spent the day in a dense papyrus swamp, and ventured into the open only long enough to gather a little fire-wood. When darkness set in he built a fire in the thick green papyrus, roasted and ate two sweet potatoes, and then, making sure of his bearings, again struck out.
The second night's travel was without incident. He came upon two villages but circled them safely. By daylight he had covered another fifteen or twenty miles and knew now that he must be near friendly natives. But he thought it wise to keep in hiding for another day at least.
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 275
From the edge of the ten-foot elephant-grass where he hid, he saw plenty of hartebeest and water-buck. Although he longed for fresh meat, he dared not risk a shot at the animals. Late in the afternoon he was awakened by the voices of women who were evidently gathering wood near by. As soon as it was dark enough he cooked his last sweet potatoes, and when he had eaten them he struck out once more on his journey.
That night's travel was the hardest he had experienced. There were many lagoons and swamps of papyrus, and in order to get round one of them he had to tramp fully five miles out of his way. When morning came he felt sure that he had gone less than ten miles in a direct line.
As soon as the sun rose he climbed a tree and saw a small banana grove about a mile away. He was hungry, and the good luck he had had so far made him bold. He was walking somewhat carelessly along a trail toward the grove when, in a sharp bend, he came face to face with a woman carrying several gourds of milk. A boy about ten years old was walking behind her.
276 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Instantly Barrett covered the woman with the rifle. The frightened creature dropped the gourds and began to sob; the boy turned and bolted down the trail.
A moment later the woman spoke, and Barrett recognised a friendly tongue. At once he explained his situation, and the woman turned and walked with him down the path. Suddenly the war dri\ms began beating; the boy had given the alarm. Terrifying as the sound had once been, it was now to Barrett the sweetest music.
In a remarkably short time the warriors, armed with spears and big shields, appeared; but when they saw Barrett returning with the woman, who threw up her hands and shouted to them, they stopped. In a few minutes more Barrett was telling his story to the chief. In an hour the white man was eating the first substantial meal that he had had in three days.
He rested until noon and then set out with a guide for the Nile, which was distant only a short day's march. Soon after dark that evening he reached a village on the bank of the river, and stayed there until the mail-boat arrived, two days later, and took him aboard.
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 277
On arriving at Nimule, Barrett found, as he had expected, that most of his porters had arrived safely. They had found the bodies of two of their companions in the brush and had spread a report that he also had been killed. Twelve of his men never returned and undoubtedly were killed by the savages.
CORNERED BY BABOONS
THE Roosevelt African expedition encountered many baboons. We found them in troops of hundreds frequenting both the rocky country and the bush-veldt. As soon as an ape caught sight of us he gave the alarm by uttering a warning bark; at once the whole army would scurry off to the cliffs. Without showing the slightest fear of falling, they would perch a hundred feet or more above our heads, with their tails hanging over the edge of the cliff in an extremely ludicrous manner. It was interesting to see a mother bounding from rock to rock with her young one clinging to her breast or perched on her back. When she finally reached the cliffs she would sit in a most human manner and hold her offspring in her arms.
We found their footprints in the mud along the waterways and pools and in the sand and dirt. As bands of the animals frequented the same general locality until they had cause to
CORNERED BY BABOONS 279
leave, they wore well-defined trails about the base of the cliffs and in the thick jungle along the streams.
While we were passing through Uganda on our way to the lake country, I left camp one afternoon to set a line of traps for small mammals. A deep pool of clear water tempted me. I undressed and, leaving my clothes, bag of traps, and rifle on the high bank, plunged in for a swim. Finally, tiring of what was a rare diversion in this generally waterless tract of Central Africa, I climbed out. Scrambling up the bank, I poked my head over the edge and found myself face to face with a huge baboon. The animal was standing beside my belongings. Evidently he had just discovered them. I have often wondered what he would have done with my clothes had I not disturbed him. Upon seeing me he burst into a disconcerting guffaw and then wheeled about and scurried away.
The troop, of which he seemed to be the leader, was following close behind; when he gave the alarm they took the cue and stampeded. I watched them bound over the hundred yards of open country, cross the creek.
280 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and clamber up a tree that grew at the foot of a perpendicular bank. From there they ran out on a limb and jumped to the ground. The stream of dropping baboons looked like an animated cataract. The instant they struck the ground they were hidden by the tall grass, but I caught sight of them again as they paused for a few seconds at an opening a little farther on to look back and give me a derisive bark.
Although we heard that baboons would sometimes attack a person, there was only one authentic case that came to our notice of baboons having actually killed a person. The father of one of Colonel Roosevelt's trackers had been killed by baboons. His body was horribly mangled and torn; near by was a dead ape pierced with a spear, so probably the attack was not unprovoked.
An Englishman who was the owner of a large estate in British East Africa once had a narrow escape from baboons. It was his habit to rise early and take a long ride before breakfast. At daylight one morning he mounted his horse and, throwing his rifle across the saddle in front of him, started out on a tour of inspection. He had travelled possibly three miles without seeing
CORNERED BY BABOONS 281
more than the usual number of zebras, harte-beests, wildebeests, and Grant's and Thomson's gazelles, when suddenly, upon issuing from a bit of brush-veldt, he came to the edge of a deep ravine through which, during the rainy season, a stream had flowed.
A much-worn and broken sandstone cliff that varied from five to fifty feet in height capped the top of the gorge on both sides. The steep banks were strewn thickly with boulders and great masses of rock that had broken from their foundations and rolled down the hillside. Here and there were bushes and small trees, and in the bottom, some two hundred feet below, the dry creek bed was filled with foliage.
The beautiful sunrise, the magnificent scenery, and the clear, crisp air led the Englishman to tie his horse to a tree some distance from the cliff and to sit down by a bush overlooking the canon.
Suddenly he saw a slight movement among the rocks far down the ravine on the opposite side of the gorge. Through his binoculars he recognised the animal as a baboon. Then appeared another and another, until the cliff seemed to be alive with the creatures.
282 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
To the Englishman, baboons were fascinating animals. So from pure curiosity he stepped behind the bush and awaited their coming. Stopping now and then to turn over a stone in search of mice and insects, while the young ones frisked and capered about like children in a frolic, the baboons worked their way slowly along through the rocks. Closer and closer they came until they were nearly opposite him.
For fully half an hour he watched them playing and feeding; the antics of the young ones were so amusing that several times he nearly betrayed his presence by laughing aloud.
A young baboon was busy overturning stones when a mischievous companion sneaked up behind and grabbed it by the tail and the two engaged in a friendly tussle. Then off they went over the rocks, and as they passed through the troop other youngsters joined in the chase, which ended in a grand rough-and-tumble scrimmage.
No sooner had this scuffle subsided and the participants returned to their respective mothers than a young baboon would start something going in another section of the throng.
During one of these scenes an accident hap-
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pened to one of the youngsters that involved the EngKshman in the performance.
Two young baboons were engaged in a struggle on the opposite side of the gorge. Suddenly they broke away; the one who had been getting the worst of the struggle turned quickly and started to run. At that moment a third animal rushed up and headed it off. Seeing that its escape was blocked from that quarter, the little fellow again turned and tried to dodge past its first antagonist. The somewhat larger and stronger animal was too quick for it, however, and the two came together violently on the very brink of the thirty-foot precipice.
The force of the impact sent the young ape toppKng over the edge of the cliff. Its little arms reached out in a vain effort to find a grip and the next instant it was falhng through the air to the jagged rocks below.
There was a faint thud as the little body struck; then it lay motionless.
The Englishman snatched his rifle and, running along the edge of the cHff, found a place to descend. The instant he appeared, the troop caught sight of him and bounded up into the high rocks, where they sat chattering and scold-
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ing, unaware of the accident that had happened to one of their number.
Soon he was standing by the side of the young baboon. A hasty examination showed that no bones had been broken by the fall. The Englishman picked it up and, carrying it to a pool of water in the bottom of the ravine, bathed its head. In a few moments it had so far regained consciousness that it sat up and looked about in a stupid manner.
Just what to do with it was a question. As it was in no condition to take care of itself, the Englishman decided to take it home and care for it until it had recovered enough to be given its liberty.
He removed his belt, and, after cutting a hole in the strap with a knife, he buckled it about the little baboon's neck and started off.
Everything went well until he was almost at the top of the cliff. Then his prisoner suddenly gave an ear-piercing scream and leaped from his arms. But he had a firm grip on the strap and so, when the baboon struck the ground and started off, he brought it up with a sudden jerk. There it stood for a second, gazing into the man's face. Then it drew back its lips, tugged
CORNERED BY BABOONS 285
violently at the tether, and began to scream at the top of its lungs. The Englishman attempted to comfort the youngster, but the more he tried, the louder it screamed.
The other baboons now worked themselves into a frenzy. Suddenly the whole troop came streaming down from the clifiF. That they were actually charging did not enter the man's mind.
"Well," he thought, "if those animals think they can take care of this little fellow, I will give them the chance."
He unbuckled the strap, and off the youngster bounded over the rocks toward the onrush-ing baboons.
One that was evidently its mother ran up. The little one threw its arms about her body and was borne off, clinging to her under-side.
It was natural to suppose, now that she had regained her baby, the other baboons would be satisfied. But no! On they came, as furious and excited as ever.
When the huge *'dog" baboon that was leading the charge showed no inclination to halt, the Englishman realised his danger. He saw that he stood no chance against a hundred or more of the infuriated creatures, each one of
S86 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
which had canine teeth as long and as sharp as those of a mastiff dog.
It was fully a hundred feet to the top of the cliff. There was nothing for him to do except to look for a place in which to hide.
At intervals the soft, sandstone ledge had cracked and split open and the action of the weather, together with the gradual settling of the rock, had caused the fissures to spread into varying widths. A V-shaped recess, not more than three feet wide at the entrance and running back into the rocks some fifteen feet, was the nearest available refuge that he could find. The baboons, widely scattered when they first began charging, concentrated as they drew near. When the Englishman ducked into the crevice, cocked his rifle, and stood waiting to meet their onslaught, they formed a solid mass of screaming, howling demons. For a few seconds they disappeared from view; the next instant they came bounding over the rocks hke a pack of famished wolves.
When they were within ten feet of the opening, the EngHshman fired. They jumped aside and one of them rolled down the hill. The others scattered and ducked out of sight. But soon
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they began to reappear from behind the rocks; they stood raihng and bawHng. The bedlam of noises seemed to come from the very walls themselves, and the drums of the man's ears seemed on the point of bursting.
Suddenly sand and dirt began to shower down from overhead. Looking up, he was horrified to discover that baboons were swarming on the rocks above him. On either side, along the opening, two rows of hideous faces showed themselves. Now and then an animal too closely pressed by those behind would spring to the opposite side to keep itself from falling into the fissure. The grotesque figures jumping back and forth were like caricatures of boys playing at leap-frog. One particularly inquisitive baboon, which, perhaps, had so far been robbed of a view of the captive, could not restrain its curiosity, so it reached forward, seized a companion by the scruff of the neck, and hauled the animal back out of the way.
The Englishman knew that if any one of the animals should muster courage to jump down, or to rush in from the front, the other baboons would immediately fly to its assistance. With the idea of intimidating them, he raised
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his rifle and swept it along the Hne of heads. But the agile creatures were too quick; they all dodged back without being struck.
Then the baboons in front charged, and one of them, either intentionally, or from being crowded by those behind it, actually gained the entrance to the crevice. Just in time the Englishman turned his rifle on it.
The troop scrambled away but immediately came back and stood guard at the entrance. With only three more cartridges left, the prisoner thought it advisable to hold his fire.
In front of the crevice the animals were jumping up and down on all fours. Now and then a ferocious beast would rush up to a bush or a small tree, grasp it, and shake it furiously.
When the animals behind slowly and unconsciously crowded the others forward, the Englishman would move back until they drew dangerously near. Then he would lunge forward and let out a piercing yell, and they would tumble over each other in a wild scramble to safety. But in a few seconds they would be back again, as thick and pugnacious as ever.
The baboons overhead were far more aggressive than the others; they kept stretching their
CORNERED BY BABOONS 289
long, skinny arms down at the man until they were frightened back by a swing of the rifle. Almost invariably the baboons in front took advantage of these feints to make another sally. What with the troop on the roof and the troop at the front door, the Englishman was fully occupied for more than an hour.
At last the baboons began to lose interest; one by one they left the throng and began hunting about in the rocks for food. Occasionally one would come tearing back to resume hostilities, but these sudden outbursts of passion were short-lived; soon the animal would again disappear.
A solitary old female, lacking two toes on her left front foot and with the scars of many battles on her face, was the last to leave. She was trying to persuade the others not to give up the fight; she turned and chattered to them. But finally she, too, lost heart, and followed the others down through the rocks and into the fringe of trees to the bottom of the gully.
When the animals were out of sight the Englishman crawled from his refuge and quickly climbed to the top of the cliff. Then he mounted his horse and returned to the house, thoroughly
290 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
convinced that the best thing to do under all circumstances is to mind your own business and to let nature take its course.
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS
SOON after the British took over British East Africa a large nuraber of EngHshmen emigrated to the new colony and took up homesteads. Among this number was a family consisting of father, mother, Fritz a boy of eighteen, and a second son of fourteen. They settled on a beautiful strip of veldt at the west side of the Mwa Hills.
Naturally, the first duty of a settler is to build a suitable farmhouse, and, as the owner of the new farm was a carpenter by trade, this task was made much easier than it is to most homesteaders. Labour, with the exception of the unskilled and slow natives, was expensive and hard to get, and, as the family was of limited means, every member helped in building the house.
But let Fritz tell the story as he told it to me:
"It was Saturday afternoon, and we had
all been working hard that week. Father and
mother mixed the mud mortar and laid the
292 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
stones for the foundation of the house, while my brother and I, with the stone-boat and a span of oxen, hauled the stones from a cliff a half mile away.
*'We had made four trips that day and were well tired out, for it was no easy task prying up the heavy stones and rolling them down to where the boat stood at the edge of the veldt. The sun had been beating down upon us as only a tropical sun can shine, and the perspiration soaked our clothes and caught the rising dust and dirt, so that when the afternoon was over we were two tired and grimy boys. We had been trying hard to take out another full load of stones before dark, but I soon saw it would be impossible.
''As my brother, who was not very strong, appeared somewhat overcome by the heat and the hard work, I told him that he might return to the tent—our temporary home—and I would put the half load on the stone-boat and follow.
"By the time I had finished loading the boat Jim had disappeared, and I started for the oxen, grazing on the veldt several hundred yards away. I yoked them up to the boat just as the sun went down behind the hills and, with a
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 293
crack of the big bull-whip, started them toward home. They needed no guiding when once headed toward the kraal, and, as their normal gait was not much more than a mile and a half an hour, I seated myself on the stones and put in the time gazing at the scenery.
"About half-way between the quarry and our tent was a mass of rocks and boulders on the hillside, many of them the size of a house. These crags were the home of a little band of klipspringers that I had discovered soon after our arrival in the country, and we had decided to protect them as much as possible, for it was a pleasure to watch them scampering about the rocks. For want of something better to do, I began to scan the crags in hope of seeing some of the tiny antelope at play. And, sure enough, there they were, eight of them, some feeding quietly in the grass-plots among the rocks, others standing like statues on the tops of boulders, gazing at me.
" Suddenly two of them took to their feet and bounded up the rocks with remarkable agility and the rest quickly followed. When well in the cliffs they stopped on points of vantage and looked down at something a little to their right.
294 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"I knew that they had not taken fright at me, for many times they had allowed the oxen to pass within a hundred yards without paying the slightest attention to the team, so I began to search for the cause of their alarm.
"I was not long in discovering it, for suddenly a lioness appeared among the rocks, then another and another, until, in all, four lionesses and one fine, shaggy, black-maned lion had come into view, all slowly sauntering out of the rocks for an evening's hunt. Their actions showed plainly that they had seen the bullocks, for every few seconds one or another of them would stop and gaze at us, while the oxen, innocent of any danger, plodded onward.
"To hurry them was almost certain to provoke an attack, especially if the lions were in the least hungry, so I simply let the animals jog along at their leisure. As soon as the lions emerged from the rocks they followed along parallel with me but a little behind and about three hundred yards distant. Although they seemed in no hurry, they were slowly overtaking the team.
"The wind was blowing from them toward me, but the lions' scent had been carried behind
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 295
the oxen, so that they did not catch it. Suddenly, however, one of the Uonesses crouched low and began to creep toward the team in true catlike fashion, and an instant later a second one followed her example. I then realised that they meant trouble, but I had no time to reflect, for at that moment one of the oxen stopped short, threw up his head, and sniffed the air; then, getting the scent, they both broke into an awkward, swinging shuflBe for the kraal.
"Over the rough, uneven ground we tore— bumpety-bump, I clung to the stones to keep from being thrown off and tightly gripped the big bull-whip, my only weapon of defence. There was no use in trying to guide or control the oxen; in fact, I had no idea of doing so, even if I could, for under the circumstances they could not get back to the kraal any too soon to suit me, even if they did run away. All that I could do was to cling to the stone-boat and await the lions' attack.
"It was a short race. Those who have seen a lion capture its prey know too well what little chance there would be for a runaway team of oxen hitched to a loaded stone-boat.
296 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"The foremost lioness charged from right angles, and when within fifteen feet of the boat sprang into the air and landed squarely on the shoulders of the near bullock, dug her hind claws into his side, threw her front paws over his back, and buried her teeth in his neck. The poor creature went to the ground as if shot and, rolling over on his side, bawled in the most pitiful manner. By this time a second honess had rushed in from behind, and I turned just as she was about to spring—at me, to all appearances; but she leaped clear over my head and landed squarely upon the back of the bullock already down.
"The fall of the wounded bullock brought the stone-boat to a halt, and the frantic struggles of its frightened companion broke the yoke. Away he went over the veldt just as the third lioness came charging up. She, too, was coming straight for me; but, seeing the loose ox that had veered off, she changed her course for him, and as she passed me not ten feet away, I brought the bull-whip over her back with all my force. Without altering her course or slackening her speed in the least, she turned her head and showed her contempt by snarling as she shot
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 297
past. A second more and she had overtaken her prey and pulled it to the ground.
*'The two other lionesses had killed their bullock, and for the first time I realised that they were likely at any moment to attack me; so I jumped from the stone-boat and bolted for home as fast as I could run. I had gone but a few steps when I looked back and saw the black and shaggy-maned lion coming behind at a terrific pace. There was no mistake this time; he surely was after me, for there were no cattle in the line of his charge.
''It was useless for me to try to outrun him, and to continue would only give him courage. Realising this, I turned and faced the brute, and as he came to within a hundred feet of me I cracked the bull-whip as loud as I could. This had the effect of stopping him at fifteen paces from me. And there we stood, facing each other like two gladiators, the lion lashing his tail, wrinkling his nose, and snarling, while I kept cracking the whip in his very face and backing off slowly.
"The big cat seemed to lack the courage to follow up his attack but stood there threatening me until I had gained several paces on him.
298 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Then he crouched low, his shoulder-blades protruding above his back, and slunk off to the right in an effort to get behind me. I kept facing him, however, and, finding himself baffled, he stood for a second, then came for me like a shot, growling hoarsely, his jaws wide open.
'*At the very instant that he was about to spring the whip-lash all but cut him in the face, which again brought him to an erect position. Once more I began backing toward home, and again gained several yards before he came to his full senses. He was getting accustomed to the harmless crack of the bull-whip, and I knew that soon it would have no effect upon him.
"At his present rate of progress it would be but a few minutes before he would get within springing distance, and if once he sprang at me I should be as helpless as a mouse in the jaws of a cat.
"I was debating as to whether I should make a rush at him in an attempt to intimidate him when I heard a shot from behind me. The lion fell to the ground mortally wounded, but raised himself upon his forefeet and, growling savagely, began to bite at his side.
"Instantly I turned to run and saw father.
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 299
some three hundred yards away, spring from a kneeling position, snatch from the ground beside him a second rifle, and start toward me. We ran for each other at the top of our speed, and as we met father handed me a rifle, and I turned back to make war upon my enemies.
"At the sound of the shot the two lionesses had left their kill and were slowly sauntering off, stopping occasionally to look back at us. The other, however, was still tearing away at the dead bullock. We ran up to within a hundred yards of her, and while I drew bead on her father began shooting at the two farther away.
"My first shot went wild, but as the lioness turned to run I caught her with my second bullet back of the shoulders but too high to be fatal. Instantly she wheeled and came for us, grunting and growling in a most awe-inspiring manner. Father in the meantime had got in two shots at his lionesses and had wounded one, but, seeing my lioness charging, he also began shooting at her. The bullets seemed to have no effect whatever, for although we could see that we were hitting her, she never slackened her speed. On she came until within about sixty yards.
300 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
when she slowed down, her head sank to the ground, and she fell dead.
"Instantly we turned our rifles upon father's wounded lioness. She was more than three hundred yards away by this time, and making toward a clump of thick thorn-bushes. Before she reached it, however, a bullet from father's rifle struck her in the hind leg. She disappeared in the thicket, badly wounded.
*'The back of the black-maned lion had been injured by the first shot fired, and during the fight with the other two he had been growling and snarling and trying hard to reach us, but we saw that there was no danger to be feared from him.
"Father suggested that, since he had tried his best to make a meal of me, it was my right to finish him; so I advanced to close range and planted a ball in his heart. Even then it was several seconds before he threw up his head, gave several gasps, and fell dead.
"A wounded lion in a bush is a dangerous adversary, even in broad daylight, and in the dusk of the evening a man would be foolhardy indeed to attack one, so we decided to let that one remain imtil morning.
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 301
"It was then that I learned how father chanced to appear on the scene at the critical moment. My brother, on leaving me, instead of going directly home, had stopped at the edge of the rocks to rest. He had seen one of the lions come out of the cliff and had hurried home to give the alarm.
"We skinned the two lions that night and found the third one dead in the thicket the following morning. Although we watched at the bullock carcasses that afternoon and the next morning, hoping that the lioness that we had seen escape, as well as the fifth one, which, during the thick of the fight, I had lost sight of and which probably went back into the rocks, might return to the body, but they disappointed us. We were, however, quite satisfied with three out of the five."
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