The Land of Footprints
by Stewart Edward White
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The third safe method of killing a lion is nocturnal. You lay out a kill beneath a tree, and climb the tree. Or better, you hitch out a pig or donkey as live bait. When the lion comes to this free lunch, you try to see him; and, if you succeed in that, you try to shoot him. It is not easy to shoot at night; nor is it easy to see in the dark. Furthermore, lions only occasionally bother to come to bait. You may roost up that tree many nights before you get a chance. Once up, you have to stay up; for it is most decidedly not safe to go home after dark. The tropical night in the highlands is quite chilly. Branches seem to be quite as cramping and abrasive under the equator as in the temperate zones. Still, it is one method.

Another is to lay out a kill and visit it in the early morning. There is more to this, for you are afoot, must generally search out your beast in nearby cover, and can easily find any amount of excitement in the process.

The fourth way is to ride the lion. The hunter sees his quarry returning home across the plains, perhaps; or jumps it from some small bushy ravine. At once he spurs his horse in pursuit. The lion will run but a short distance before coming to a stop, for he is not particularly long either of wind or of patience. From this stand he almost invariably charges. The astute hunter, still mounted, turns and flees. When the lion gets tired of chasing, which he does in a very short time, the hunter faces about. At last the lion sits down in the grass, waiting for the game to develop. This is the time for the hunter to dismount and to take his shot. Quite likely he must now stand a charge afoot, and drop his beast before it gets to him.

This is real fun. It has many elements of safety, and many of danger.

To begin with, the hunter at this game generally has companions to back him: often he employs mounted Somalis to round the lion up and get it to stand. The charging lion is quite apt to make for the conspicuous mounted men-who can easily escape-ignoring the hunter afoot. As the game is largely played in the open, the movements of the beast are easily followed.

On the other hand, there is room for mistake. The hunter, for example, should never follow directly in the rear of his lion, but rather at a parallel course off the beast's flank. Then, if the lion stops suddenly, the man does not overrun before he can check his mount. He should never dismount nearer than a hundred and fifty yards from the embayed animal; and should never try to get off while the lion is moving in his direction. Then, too, a hard gallop is not conducive to the best of shooting. It is difficult to hold the front bead steady; and it is still more difficult to remember to wait, once the lion charges, until he has come near enough for a sure shot. A neglect in the inevitable excitement of the moment to remember these and a dozen other small matters may quite possibly cause trouble.

Two or three men together can make this one of the most exciting mounted games on earth; with enough of the give and take of real danger and battle to make it worth while. The hunter, however, who employs a dozen Somalis to ride the beast to a standstill, after which he goes to the front, has eliminated much of the thrill. Nor need that man's stay-at-home family feel any excessive uneasiness over Father Killing Lions in Africa.

The method that interested me more than any other is one exceedingly difficult to follow except under favourable circumstances. I refer to tracking them down afoot. This requires that your gunbearer should be an expert trailer, for, outside the fact that following a soft-padded animal over all sorts of ground is a very difficult thing to do, the hunter should be free to spy ahead. It is necessary also to possess much patience and to endure under many disappointments. But on the other hand there is in this sport a continuous keen thrill to be enjoyed in no other; and he who single handed tracks down and kills his lion thus, has well earned the title of shikari-the Hunter.

And the last method of all is to trust to the God of Chance. The secret of success is to be always ready to take instant advantage of what the moment offers.

An occasional hunting story is good in itself: and the following will also serve to illustrate what I have just been saying.

We were after that prize, the greater kudu, and in his pursuit had penetrated into some very rough country. Our hunting for the time being was over broad bench, perhaps four or five miles wide, below a range of mountains. The bench itself broke down in sheer cliffs some fifteen hundred feet, but one did not appreciate that fact unless he stood fairly on the edge of the precipice. To all intents and purposes we were on a rolling grassy plain, with low hills and cliffs, and a most beautiful little stream running down it beneath fine trees.

Up to now our hunting had gained us little beside information: that kudu had occasionally visited the region, that they had not been there for a month, and that the direction of their departure had been obscure. So we worked our way down the stream, trying out the possibilities. Of other game there seemed to be a fair supply: impalla, hartebeeste, zebra, eland, buffalo, wart-hog, sing-sing, and giraffe we had seen. I had secured a wonderful eland and a very fine impalla, and we had had a gorgeous close-quarters fight with a cheetah.* Now C. had gone out, a three weeks' journey, carrying to medical attendance a porter injured in the cheetah fracas. Billy and I were continuing the hunt alone.

* This animal quite disproved the assertion that cheetahs never assume the aggressive. He charged repeatedly.

We had marched two hours, and were pitching camp under a single tree near the edge of the bench. After seeing everything well under way, I took the Springfield and crossed the stream, which here ran in a deep canyon. My object was to see if I could get a sing-sing that had bounded away at our approach. I did not bother to take a gunbearer, because I did not expect to be gone five minutes.

The canyon proved unexpectedly deep and rough, and the stream up to my waist. When I had gained the top, I found grass growing patchily from six inches to two feet high; and small, scrubby trees from four to ten feet tall, spaced regularly, but very scattered. These little trees hardly formed cover, but their aggregation at sufficient distance limited the view.

The sing-sing had evidently found his way over the edge of the bench. I turned to go back to camp. A duiker-a small grass antelope-broke from a little patch of the taller grass, rushed, head down headlong after their fashion, suddenly changed his mind, and dashed back again. I stepped forward to see why he had changed his mind-and ran into two lions!

They were about thirty yards away, and sat there on their haunches, side by side, staring at me with expressionless yellow eyes. I stared back. The Springfield is a good little gun, and three times before I had been forced to shoot lions with it, but my real "lion gun" with which I had done best work was the 405 Winchester. The Springfield is too light for such game. Also there were two lions, very close. Also I was quite alone.

As the game stood, it hardly looked like my move; so I held still and waited. Presently one yawned, they looked at each other, turned quite leisurely, and began to move away at a walk.

This was a different matter. If I had fired while the two were facing me, I should probably have had them both to deal with. But now that their tails were turned toward me, I should very likely have to do with only the one: at the crack of the rifle the other would run the way he was headed. So I took a careful bead at the lioness and let drive.

My aim was to cripple the pelvic bone, but, unfortunately, just as I fired, the beast wriggled lithely sidewise to pass around a tuft of grass, so that the bullet inflicted merely a slight flesh wound on the rump. She whirled like a flash, and as she raised her head high to locate me, I had time to wish that the Springfield hit a trifle harder blow. Also I had time to throw another cartridge in the barrel.

The moment she saw me she dropped her head and charged. She was thoroughly angry and came very fast. I had just enough time to steady the gold bead on her chest and to pull trigger.

At the shot, to my great relief, she turned bottom up, and I saw her tail for an instant above the grass-an almost sure indication of a bad hit. She thrashed around, and made a tremendous hullabaloo of snarls and growls. I backed out slowly, my rifle ready. It was no place for me, for the grass was over knee high.

Once at a safe distance I blazed a tree with my hunting knife and departed for camp, well pleased to be out of it. At camp I ate lunch and had a smoke; then with Memba Sasa and Mavrouki returned to the scene of trouble. I had now the 405 Winchester, a light and handy weapon delivering a tremendous blow.

We found the place readily enough. My lioness had recovered from the first shock and had gone. I was very glad I had gone first.

The trail was not very plain, but it could be followed a foot or so at a time, with many faults and casts back. I walked a yard to one side while the men followed the spoor. Owing to the abundance of cover it was very nervous work, for the beast might be almost anywhere, and would certainly charge. We tried to keep a neutral zone around ourselves by tossing stones ahead of and on both sides of our line of advance. My own position was not bad, for I had the rifle ready in my hand, but the men were in danger. Of course I was protecting them as well as I could, but there was always a chance that the lioness might spring on them in such a manner that I would be unable to use my weapon. Once I suggested that as the work was dangerous, they could quit if they wanted to.

"Hapana!" they both refused indignantly.

We had proceeded thus for half a mile when to our relief, right ahead of us, sounded the commanding, rumbling half-roar, half-growl of the lion at bay.

Instantly Memba Sasa and Mavrouki dropped back to me. We all peered ahead. One of the boys made her out first, crouched under a bush thirty-two yards away. Even as I raised the rifle she saw us and charged. I caught her in the chest before she had come ten feet. The heavy bullet stopped her dead. Then she recovered and started forward slowly, very weak, but game to the last. Another shot finished her.

The remarkable point of this incident was the action of the little Springfield bullet. Evidently the very high velocity of this bullet from its shock to the nervous system had delivered a paralyzing blow sufficient to knock out the lioness for the time being. Its damage to tissue, however, was slight. Inasmuch as the initial shock did not cause immediate death, the lioness recovered sufficiently to be able, two hours later, to take the offensive. This point is of the greatest interest to the student of ballistics; but it is curious to even the ordinary reader.

That is a very typical example of finding lions by sheer chance. Generally a man is out looking for the smallest kind of game when he runs up against them. Now happened to follow an equally typical example of tracking.

The next day after the killing of the lioness Memba Sasa, Kongoni and I dropped off the bench, and hunted greater kudu on a series of terraces fifteen hundred feet below. All we found were two rhino, some sing-sing, a heard of impalla, and a tremendous thirst. In the meantime, Mavrouki had, under orders, scouted the foothills of the mountain range at the back. He reported none but old tracks of kudu, but said he had seen eight lions not far from our encounter of the day before.

Therefore, as soon next morning as we could see plainly, we again crossed the canyon and the waist-deep stream. I had with me all three of the gun men, and in addition two of the most courageous porters to help with the tracking and the looking.

About eight o'clock we found the first fresh pad mark plainly outlined in an isolated piece of soft earth. Immediately we began that most fascinating of games-trailing over difficult ground. In this we could all take part, for the tracks were some hours old, and the cover scanty. Very rarely could we make out more than three successive marks. Then we had to spy carefully for the slightest indication of direction. Kongoni in especial was wonderful at this, and time and again picked up a broken grass blade or the minutest inch-fraction of disturbed earth. We moved slowly, in long hesitations and castings about, and in swift little dashes forward of a few feet; and often we went astray on false scents, only to return finally to the last certain spot. In this manner we crossed the little plain with the scattered shrub trees and arrived at the edge of the low bluff above the stream bottom.

This bottom was well wooded along the immediate bank of the stream itself, fringed with low thick brush, and in the open spaces grown to the edges with high, green, coarse grass.

As soon as we had managed to follow without fault to this grass, our difficulties of trailing were at an end. The lions' heavy bodies had made distinct paths through the tangle. These paths went forward sinuously, sometimes separating one from the other, sometimes intertwining, sometimes combining into one for a short distance. We could not determine accurately the number of beasts that had made them.

"They have gone to drink water," said Memba Sasa.

We slipped along the twisting paths, alert for indications; came to the edge of the thicket, stooped through the fringe, and descended to the stream under the tall trees. The soft earth at the water's edge was covered with tracks, thickly overlaid one over the other. The boys felt of the earth, examined, even smelled, and came to the conclusion that the beasts must have watered about five o'clock. If so, they might be ten miles away, or as many rods.

We had difficulty in determining just where the party left this place, until finally Kongoni caught sight of suspicious indications over the way. The lions had crossed the stream. We did likewise, followed the trail out of the thicket, into the grass, below the little cliffs parallel to the stream, back into the thicket, across the river once more, up the other side, in the thicket for a quarter mile, then out into the grass on that side, and so on. They were evidently wandering, rather idly, up the general course of the stream. Certainly, unlike most cats, they did not mind getting their feet wet, for they crossed the stream four times.

At last the twining paths in the shoulder-high grass fanned out separately. We counted.

"You were right, Mavrouki," said I, "there were eight."

At the end of each path was a beaten-down little space where evidently the beasts had been lying down. With an exclamation the three gunbearers darted forward to investigate. The lairs were still warm! Their occupants had evidently made off only at our approach!

Not five minutes later we were halted by a low warning growl right ahead. We stopped. The boys squatted on their heels close to me, and we consulted in whispers.

Of course it would be sheer madness to attack eight lions in grass so high we could not see five feet in front of us. That went without saying. On the other hand, Mavrouki swore that he had yesterday seen no small cubs with the band, and our examination of the tracks made in soft earth seemed to bear him out. The chances were therefore that, unless themselves attacked or too close pressed, the lions would not attack us. By keeping just in their rear we might be able to urge them gently along until they should enter more open cover. Then we could see.

Therefore we gave the owner of that growl about five minutes to forget it, and then advanced very cautiously. We soon found where the objector had halted, and plainly read by the indications where he had stood for a moment or so, and then moved on. We slipped along after.

For five hours we hung at the heels of that band of lions, moving very slowly, perfectly willing to halt whenever they told us to, and going forward again only when we became convinced that they too had gone on. Except for the first half hour, we were never more than twenty or thirty yards from the nearest lion, and often much closer. Three or four times I saw slowly gliding yellow bodies just ahead of me, but in the circumstances it would have been sheer stark lunacy to have fired. Probably six or eight times-I did not count-we were commanded to stop, and we did stop.

It was very exciting work, but the men never faltered. Of course I went first, in case one of the beasts had the toothache or otherwise did not play up to our calculations on good nature. One or the other of the gunbearers was always just behind me. Only once was any comment made. Kongoni looked very closely into my face.

"There are very many lions," he remarked doubtfully.

"Very many lions," I agreed, as though assenting to a mere statement of fact.

Although I am convinced there was no real danger, as long as we stuck to our plan of campaign, nevertheless it was quite interesting to be for so long a period so near these great brutes. They led us for a mile or so along the course of the stream, sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other. Several times they emerged into better cover, and even into the open, but always ducked back into the thick again before we ourselves had followed their trail to the clear.

At noon we were halted by the usual growl just as we had reached the edge of the river. So we sat down on the banks and had lunch.

Finally our chance came. The trail led us, for the dozenth time, from the high grass into the thicket along the river. We ducked our heads to enter. Memba Sasa, next my shoulder, snapped his fingers violently. Following the direction of the brown arm that shot over my shoulder, I strained my eyes into the dimness of the thicket. At first I could see nothing at all, but at length a slight motion drew my eye. Then I made out the silhouette of a lion's head, facing us steadily. One of the rear guard had again turned to halt us, but this time where he and his surroundings could be seen.

Luckily I always use a Sheard gold bead sight, and even in the dimness of the tree-shaded thicket it showed up well. The beast was only forty yards away, so I fired at his head. He rolled over without a sound.

We took the usual great precautions in determining the genuineness of his demise, then carried him into the open. Strangely enough the bullet had gone so cleanly into his left eye that it had not even broken the edge of the eyelid; so that when skinned he did not show a mark. He was a very decent maned lion, three feet four inches at the shoulder, and nine feet long as he lay. We found that he had indeed been the rear guard, and that the rest, on the other side of the thicket, had made off at the shot. So in spite of the APPARENT danger of the situation, our calculations had worked out perfectly. Also we had enjoyed a half day's sport of an intensity quite impossible to be extracted from any other method of following the lion.

In trying to guess how any particular lions may act, however, you will find yourself often at fault. The lion is a very intelligent and crafty beast, and addicted to tricks. If you follow a lion to a small hill, it is well to go around that hill on the side opposite to that taken by your quarry. You are quite likely to meet him for he is clever enough thus to try to get in your rear. He will lie until you have actually passed him before breaking off. He will circle ahead, then back to confuse his trail. And when you catch sight of him in the distance, you would never suspect that he knew of your presence at all. He saunters slowly, apparently aimlessly, along pausing often, evidently too bored to take any interest in life. You wait quite breathlessly for him to pass behind cover. Then you are going to make a very rapid advance, and catch his leisurely retreat. But the moment old Leo does pass behind the cover, his appearance of idle stroller vanishes. In a dozen bounds he is gone.

That is what makes lion hunting delightful. There are some regions, very near settlements, where it is perhaps justifiable to poison these beasts. If you are a true sportsman you will confine your hound-hunting to those districts. Elsewhere, as far as playing fair with a noble beast is concerned, you may as well toss a coin to see which you shall take-your pack or a strychnine bottle.


We made our way slowly down the river. As the elevation dropped, the temperature rose. It was very hot indeed during the day, and in the evening the air was tepid and caressing, and musical with the hum of insects. We sat about quite comfortably in our pajamas, and took our fifteen grains of quinine per week against the fever.

The character of the jungle along the river changed imperceptibly, the dhum palms crowding out the other trees; until, at our last camp, were nothing but palms. The wind in them sounded variously like the patter or the gathering onrush of rain. On either side the country remained unchanged, however. The volcanic hills rolled away to the distant ranges. Everywhere grew sparsely the low thornbrush, opening sometimes into clear plains, closing sometimes into dense thickets. One morning we awoke to find that many supposedly sober-minded trees had burst into blossom fairly over night. They were red, and yellow and white that before were green, a truly gorgeous sight.

Then we turned sharp to the right and began to ascend a little tributary brook coming down the wide flats from a cleft in the hills. This was prettily named the Isiola, and, after the first mile or so, was not big enough to afford the luxury of a jungle of its own. Its banks were generally grassy and steep, its thickets few, and its little trees isolated in parklike spaces. To either side of it, and almost at its level, stretched plains, but plains grown with scattered brush and shrubs so that at a mile or two one's vista was closed. But for all its scant ten feet of width the Isiola stood upon its dignity as a stream. We discovered that when we tried to cross. The men floundered waist-deep on uncertain bottom; the syces received much unsympathetic comment for their handling of the animals, and we had to get Billy over by a melodramatic "bridge of life" with B., F., myself, and Memba Sasa in the title roles.

Then we pitched camp in the open on the other side, sent the horses back from the stream until after dark, in fear of the deadly tsetse fly, and prepared to enjoy a good exploration of the neighbourhood. Whereupon M'ganga rose up to his gaunt and terrific height of authority, stretched forth his bony arm at right angles, and uttered between eight and nine thousand commands in a high dynamic monotone without a single pause for breath. These, supplemented by about as many more, resulted in (a) a bridge across the stream, and (b) a banda.

A banda is a delightful African institution. It springs from nothing in about two hours, but it takes twenty boys with a vitriolic M'ganga back of them to bring it about. Some of them carry huge backloads of grass, or papyrus, or cat-tail rushes, as the case may be; others lug in poles of various lengths from where their comrades are cutting them by means of their panga. A panga, parenthetically, is the safari man's substitute for axe, shovel, pick, knife, sickle, lawn-mower, hammer, gatling gun, world's library of classics, higher mathematics, grand opera, and toothpicks. It looks rather like a machete with a very broad end and a slight curved back. A good man can do extraordinary things with it. Indeed, at this moment, two boys are with this apparently clumsy implement delicately peeling some of the small thorn trees, from the bared trunks of which they are stripping long bands of tough inner bark.

With these three raw materials-poles, withes, and grass-M'ganga and his men set to work. They planted their corner and end poles, they laid their rafters, they completed their framework, binding all with the tough withes; then deftly they thatched it with the grass. Almost before we had settled our own affairs, M'ganga was standing before us smiling. Gone now was his mien of high indignation and swirling energy.

"Banda naquisha," he informed us.

And we moved in our table and our canvas chairs; hung up our water bottles; Billy got out her fancy work. Nothing could be pleasanter nor more appropriate to the climate than this wide low arbour, open at either end to the breezes, thatched so thickly that the fierce sun could nowhere strike through.

The men had now settled down to a knowledge of what we were like; and things were going smoothly. At first the African porter will try it on to see just how easy you are likely to prove. If he makes up his mind that you really are easy, then you are in for infinite petty annoyance, and possibly open mutiny. Therefore, for a little while, it is necessary to be extremely vigilant, to insist on minute performance in all circumstances where later you might condone an omission. For the same reason punishment must be more frequent and more severe at the outset. It is all a matter of watching the temper of the men. If they are cheerful and willing, you are not nearly as particular as you would be were their spirit becoming sullen. Then the infraction is not so important in itself as an excuse for the punishment. For when your men get sulky, you watch vigilantly for the first and faintest EXCUSE to inflict punishment.

This game always seemed to me very fascinating, when played right. It is often played wrong. People do not look far enough. Because they see that punishment has a most salutary effect on morale, and is sometimes efficacious in getting things done that otherwise would lag, they jump to the conclusion that the only effective way to handle a safari is by penalties. By this I do not at all mean that they act savagely, or punish to brutal excess. Merely they hold rigidly to the letter of the work and the day's discipline. Because it is sometimes necessary to punish severely slight infractions when the men's tempers need sweetening, they ALWAYS punish slight infractions severely.

And in ordinary circumstances this method undoubtedly results in a very efficient safari. Things are done smartly, on time, with a snap. The day's march begins without delay; there is a minimum of straggling; on arrival the tents are immediately got up and the wood and water fetched. But in a tight place, men so handled by invariable rule are very apt to sit down apathetically, and put the whole thing up to the white man. When it comes time to help out they are not there. The contrast with a well-disposed safari cannot be appreciated by one who has not seen both.

The safari-man loves a master. He does not for a moment understand any well-meant but misplaced efforts on your part to lighten his work below the requirements of custom. Always he will beg you to ease up on him, to accord him favour; and always he will despise you if you yield. The relations of man to man, of man to work, are all long since established by immemorial distauri-custom-and it is not for you or him to change them lightly. If you know what he should or can do, and hold him rigidly to it, he will respect and follow you.

But in order to keep him up to the mark, it is not always advisable to light into him with a whip, necessary as the whip often is. If he is sullen, or inclined to make mischief, then that is the crying requirement. But if he is merely careless, or a little slow, or tired, you can handle him in other ways. Ridicule before his comrades is very effective: a sort of good-natured guying, I mean. "Ah! very tired!" uttered in the right tone of voice has brought many a loiterer to his feet as effectively as the kick some men feel must always be bestowed, and quite without anger, mind you! For days at a time we have kept our men travelling at good speed by commenting, as though by the way, after we had arrived in camp, on which tribe happened to come in at the head.

"Ah! Kavirondos came in first to-night," we would remark. "Last night the Monumwezis were ahead."

And once, actually, by this method we succeeded in working up such a feeling of rivalry that the Kikuyus, the unambitious, weak and despised Kikuyus, led the van!

But the first hint of insubordination, of intended insolence, of willful shirking must be met by instant authority. Occasionally, when the situation is of the quick and sharp variety, the white man may have to mix in the row himself. He must never hesitate an instant; for the only reason he alone can control so many is that he has always controlled them. F. had a very effective blow, or shove, which I found well worth adopting. It is delivered with the heel of the palm to the man's chin, and is more of a lifting, heaving shove than an actual blow. Its effect is immediately upsetting. Impertinence is best dealt with in this manner on the spot. Evidently intended slowness in coming when called is also best treated by a flick of the whip-and forgetfulness. And so with a half dozen others. But any more serious matter should be decided from the throne of the canvas chair, witness should be heard, judgment formally pronounced, and execution intrusted to the askaris or gunbearers.

It is, as I have said, a most interesting game. It demands three sorts of knowledge: first what a safari man is capable of doing; second, what he customarily should or should not do; third, an ability to read the actual intention or motive back of his actions. When you are able to punish or hold your hand on these principles, and not merely because things have or have not gone smoothly or right, then you are a good safari manager. There are mighty few of them.

As for punishment, that is quite simply the whip. The average writer on the country speaks of this with hushed voice and averted face as a necessity but as something to be deprecated and passed over as quickly as possible. He does this because he thinks he ought to. As a matter of fact, such an attitude is all poppycock. In the flogging of a white man, or a black who suffers from such a punishment in his soul as well as his body, this is all very well. But the safari man expects it, it doesn't hurt his feelings in the least, it is ancient custom. As well sentimentalize over necessary schoolboy punishment, or over father paddy-whacking little Willie when little Willie has been a bad boy. The chances are your porter will leap to his feet, crack his heels together and depart with a whoop of joy, grinning from ear to ear. Or he may draw himself up and salute you, military fashion, again with a grin. In any case his "soul" is not "scared" a little bit, and there is no sense in yourself feeling about it as though it were.

At another slant the justice you will dispense to your men differs from our own. Again this is because of the teaching long tradition has made part of their mental make-up. Our own belief is that it is better to let two guilty men go than to punish one innocent. With natives it is the other way about. If a crime is committed the guilty MUST be punished. Preferably he alone is to be dealt with; but in case it is impossible to identify him, then all the members of the first inclusive unit must be brought to account. This is the native way of doing things; is the only way the native understands; and is the only way that in his mind true justice is answered. Thus if a sheep is stolen, the thief must be caught and punished. Suppose, however it is known to what family the thief belongs, but the family refuses to disclose which of its members committed the theft: then each member must be punished for sheep stealing; or, if not the family, then the tribe must make restitution. But punishment MUST be inflicted.

There is an essential justice to recommend this, outside the fact that it has with the native all the solidity of accepted ethics, and it certainly helps to run the real criminal to earth. The innocent sometimes suffers innocently, but not very often; and our own records show that in that respect with us it is the same. This is not the place to argue the right or wrong of the matter from our own standpoint but to recognize the fact that it is right from theirs, and to act accordingly. Thus in cast of theft of meat, or something that cannot be traced, it is well to call up the witnesses, to prove the alibis, and then to place the issue squarely up to those that remain. There may be but two, or there may be a dozen.

"I know you did not all steal the meat," you must say, "but I know that one of you did. Unless I know which one that is by to-morrow morning, I will kiboko all of you. Bass!"

Perhaps occasionally you may have to kiboko the lot, in the full knowledge that most are innocent. That seems hard; and your heart will misgive you. Harden it. The "innocent" probably know perfectly well who the guilty man is. And the incident builds for the future.

I had intended nowhere to comment on the politics or policies of the country. Nothing is more silly than the casual visitor's snap judgments on how a country is run. Nevertheless, I may perhaps be pardoned for suggesting that the Government would strengthen its hand, and aid its few straggling settlers by adopting this native view of retributions. For instance, at present it is absolutely impossible to identify individual sheep and cattle stealers. They operate stealthily and at night. If the Government cannot identify the actual thief, it gives the matter up. As a consequence a great hardship is inflicted on the settler and an evil increases. If, however, the Government would hold the village, the district, or the tribe responsible, and exact just compensation from such units in every case, the evil would very suddenly come to an end. And the native's respect for the white man would climb in the scale.

Once the safari man gets confidence in his master, that confidence is complete. The white man's duties are in his mind clearly defined. His job is to see that the black man is fed, is watered, is taken care of in every way. The ordinary porter considers himself quite devoid of responsibility. He is also an improvident creature, for he drinks all his water when he gets thirsty, no matter how long and hot the journey before him; he eats his rations all up when he happens to get hungry, two days before next distribution time; he straggles outrageously at times and has to be rounded up; he works three months and, on a whim, deserts two days before the end of his journey, thus forfeiting all his wages. Once two porters came to us for money.

"What for?" asked C.

"To buy a sheep," said they.

For two months we had been shooting them all the game meat they could eat, but on this occasion two days had intervened since the last kill. If they had been on trading safari they would have had no meat at all. A sheep cost six rupees in that country, and they were getting but ten rupees a month as wages. In view of the circumstances, and for their own good, we refused. Another man once insisted on purchasing a cake of violet-scented soap for a rupee. Their chief idea of a wild time in Nairobi, after return from a long safari, is to SIT IN A CHAIR and drink tea. For this they pay exorbitantly at the Somali so-called "hotels." It is a strange sight. But then, I have seen cowboys off the range or lumberjacks from the river do equally extravagant and foolish things.

On the other hand they carry their loads well, they march tremendously, they know their camp duties and they do them. Under adverse circumstances they are good-natured. I remember C. and I, being belated and lost in a driving rain. We wandered until nearly midnight. The four or five men with us were loaded heavily with the meat and trophy of a roan. Certainly they must have been very tired; for only occasionally could we permit them to lay down their loads. Most of the time we were actually groping, over boulders, volcanic rocks, fallen trees and all sorts of tribulation. The men took it as a huge joke, and at every pause laughed consumedly.

In making up a safari one tries to mix in four or five tribes. This prevents concerted action in case of trouble, for no one tribe will help another. They vary both in tribal and individual characteristics, of course. For example, the Kikuyus are docile but mediocre porters; the Kavirondos strong carriers but turbulent and difficult to handle. You are very lucky if you happen on a camp jester, one of the sort that sings, shouts, or jokes while on the march. He is probably not much as a porter, but he is worth his wages nevertheless. He may or may not aspire to his giddy eminence. We had one droll-faced little Kavirondo whose very expression made one laugh, and whose rueful remarks on the harshness of his lot finally ended by being funny. His name got to be a catchword in camp.

"Mualo! Mualo!" the men would cry, as they heaved their burdens to their heads; and all day long their war cry would ring out, "Mualo!" followed by shrieks of laughter.

Of the other type was Sulimani, a big, one-eyed Monumwezi, who had a really keen wit coupled with an earnest, solemn manner. This man was no buffoon, however; and he was a good porter, always at or near the head of the procession. In the great jungle south of Kenia we came upon Cuninghame. When the head of our safari reached the spot Sulimani left the ranks and, his load still aloft danced solemnly in front of Cuninghame, chanting something in a loud tone of voice. Then with a final deep "Jambo!" to his old master he rejoined the safari. When the day had stretched to weariness and the men had fallen to a sullen plodding, Sulimani's vigorous song could always set the safari sticks tapping the sides of the chop boxes.

He carried part of the tent, and the next best men were entrusted with the cook outfit and our personal effects. It was a point of honour with these men to be the first in camp. The rear, the very extreme and straggling rear, was brought up by worthless porters with loads of cornmeal-and the weary askaris whose duty it was to keep astern and herd the lot in.


Early one morning-we were still on the Isiola-we set forth on our horses to ride across the rolling, brush-grown plain. Our intention was to proceed at right angles to our own little stream until we had reached the forest growth of another, which we could dimly make out eight or ten miles distant. Billy went with us, so there were four a-horseback. Behind us trudged the gunbearers, and the syces, and after them straggled a dozen or fifteen porters.

The sun was just up, and the air was only tepid as yet. From patches of high grass whirred and rocketed grouse of two sorts. They were so much like our own ruffed grouse and prairie chicken that I could with no effort imagine myself once more a boy in the coverts of the Middle West. Only before us we could see the stripes of trotting zebra disappearing; and catch the glint of light on the bayonets of the oryx. Two giraffes galumphed away to the right. Little grass antelope darted from clump to clump of grass. Once we saw gerenuk-oh, far away in an impossible distance. Of course we tried to stalk them; and as usual we failed. The gerenuk we had come to look upon as our Lesser Hoodoo.

The beast is a gazelle about as big as a black-tailed deer. His peculiarity is his excessively long neck, a good deal on the giraffe order. With it he crops browse above high tide mark of other animals, especially when as often happens he balances cleverly on his hind legs. By means of it also he can, with his body completely concealed, look over the top of ordinary cover and see you long before you have made out his inconspicuous little head. Then he departs. He seems to have a lamentable lack of healthy curiosity about you. In that respect he should take lessons from the kongoni. After that you can follow him as far as you please; you will get only glimpses at three or four hundred yards.

We remounted sadly and rode on. The surface of the ground was rather soft, scattered with round rocks the size of a man's head, and full of pig holes.

"Cheerful country to ride over at speed," remarked Billy. Later in the day we had occasion to remember that statement.

The plains led us ever on. First would be a band of scattered brush growing singly and in small clumps: then a little open prairie; then a narrow, long grass swale; then perhaps a low, long hill with small single trees and rough, volcanic footing. Ten thousand things kept us interested. Game was everywhere, feeding singly, in groups, in herds, game of all sizes and descriptions. The rounded ears of jackals pointed at us from the grass. Hundreds of birds balanced or fluttered about us, birds of all sizes from the big ground hornbill to the littlest hummers and sun birds. Overhead, across the wonderful variegated sky of Africa the broad-winged carrion hunters and birds of prey wheeled. In all our stay on the Isiola we had not seen a single rhino track, so we rode quite care free and happy.

Finally, across a glade, not over a hundred and fifty yards away, we saw a solitary bull oryx standing under a bush. B. wanted an oryx. We discussed this one idly. He looked to be a decent oryx, but nothing especial. However, he offered a very good shot; so B., after some hesitation, decided to take it. It proved to be by far the best specimen we shot, the horns measuring thirty-six and three fourths inches! Almost immediately after, two of the rather rare striped hyenas leaped from the grass and departed rapidly over the top of a hill. We opened fire, and F. dropped one of them. By the time these trophies were prepared, the sun had mounted high in the heavens, and it was getting hot.

Accordingly we abandoned that still distant river and swung away in a wide circle to return to camp.

Several minor adventures brought us to high noon and the heat of the day. B. had succeeded in drawing a prize, one of the Grevy's or mountain zebra. He and the gunbearers engaged themselves with that, while we sat under the rather scanty shade of a small thorn tree and had lunch. Here we had a favourable chance to observe that very common, but always wonderful phenomenon, the gathering of the carrion birds. Within five minutes after the stoop of the first vulture above the carcass, the sky immediately over that one spot was fairly darkened with them. They were as thick as midges-or as ducks used to be in California. All sizes were there from the little carrion crows to the great dignified vultures and marabouts and eagles. The small fry flopped and scolded, and rose and fell in a dense mass; the marabouts walked with dignified pace to and fro through the grass all about. As far as the eye could penetrate the blue, it could make out more and yet more of the great soarers stooping with half bent wings. Below we could see uncertainly through the shimmer of the mirage the bent forms of the men.

We ate and waited; and after a little we dozed. I was awakened suddenly by a tremendous rushing roar, like the sound of a not too distant waterfall. The group of men were plodding toward us carrying burdens. And like plummets the birds were dropping straight down from the heavens, spreading wide their wings at the last moment to check their speed. This made the roaring sound that had awakened me.

A wide spot in the shimmer showed black and struggling against the ground. I arose and walked over, meeting halfway B. and the men carrying the meat. It took me probably about two minutes to reach the place where the zebra had been killed. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the great birds were standing idly about; a dozen or so were flapping and scrambling in the centre. I stepped into view. With a mighty commotion they all took wing clumsily, awkwardly, reluctantly. A trampled, bloody space and the larger bones, picked absolutely clean, was all that remained! In less than two minutes the job had been done!

"You're certainly good workmen!" I exclaimed, "but I wonder how you all make a living!"

We started the men on to camp with the meat, and ourselves rested under the shade. The day had been a full and interesting one; but we considered it as finished. Remained only the hot journey back to camp.

After a half hour we mounted again and rode on slowly. The sun was very strong and a heavy shimmer clothed the plain. Through this shimmer we caught sight of something large and black and flapping. It looked like a crow-or, better, a scare-crow-crippled, half flying, half running, with waving wings or arms, now dwindling, now gigantic as the mirage caught it up or let it drop. As we watched, it developed, and we made it out to be a porter, clad in a long, ragged black overcoat, running zigzag through the bushes in our direction.

The moment we identified it we spurred our horses forward. As my horse leaped, Memba Sasa snatched the Springfield from my left hand and forced the 405 Winchester upon me. Clever Memba Sasa! He no more than we knew what was up, but shrewdly concluded that whatever it was it needed a heavy gun.

As we galloped to meet him, the porter stopped. We saw him to be a very long-legged, raggedy youth whom we had nicknamed the Marabout because of his exceedingly long, lean legs, the fact that his breeches were white, short and baggy, and because he kept his entire head shaved close. He called himself Fundi, which means The Expert, a sufficient indication of his confidence in himself.

He awaited us leaning on his safari stick, panting heavily, the sweat running off his face in splashes. "Simba!"* said he, and immediately set off on a long, easy lope ahead of us. We pulled down to a trot and followed him.

* Lion

At the end of a half mile we made out a man up a tree. Fundi, out of breath, stopped short and pointed to this man. The latter, as soon as he had seen us, commenced to scramble down. We spurred forward to find out where the lions had been last seen.

Then Billy covered herself with glory by seeing them first. She apprised us of that fact with some excitement. We saw the long, yellow bodies of two of them disappearing in the edge of the brush about three hundred yards away. With a wild whoop we tore after them at a dead run.

Then began a wild ride. Do you remember Billy's remark about the nature of the footing? Before long we closed in near enough to catch occasional glimpses of the beasts, bounding easily along. At that moment B.'s horse went down in a heap. None of us thought for a moment of pulling up. I looked back to see B. getting up again, and thought I caught fragments of encouraging-sounding language. Then my horse went down. I managed to hold my rifle clear, and to cling to the reins. Did you ever try to get on a somewhat demoralized horse in a frantic hurry, when all your friends were getting farther away every minute, and so lessening your chances of being in the fun? I began to understand perfectly B.'s remarks of a moment before. However, on I scrambled, and soon overtook the hunt.

We dodged in and out of bushes, and around and over holes. Every few moments we would catch a glimpse of one of those silently bounding lions, and then we would let out a yell. Also every few moments one or the other of us would go down in a heap, and would scramble up and curse, and remount hastily. Billy had better luck. She had no gun, and belonged a little in the rear anyway, but was coming along game as a badger for all that.

My own horse had the legs of the others quite easily, and for that reason I was ahead far enough to see the magnificent sight of five lions sideways on, all in a row, standing in the grass gazing at me with a sort of calm and impersonal dignity. I wheeled my horse immediately so as to be ready in case of a charge, and yelled to the others to hurry up. While I sat there, they moved slowly off one after the other, so that by the time the men had come, the lions had gone. We now had no difficulty in running into them again. Once more my better animal brought me to the lead, so that for the second time I drew up facing the lions, and at about one hundred yards range. One by one they began to leave as before, very leisurely and haughtily, until a single old maned fellow remained. He, however, sat there, his great round head peering over the top of the grass.

"Well," he seemed to say, "here I am, what do you intend to do about it?"

The others arrived, and we all dismounted. B. had not yet killed his lion, so the shot was his. Billy very coolly came up behind and held his horse. I should like here to remark that Billy is very terrified of spiders. F. and I stood at the ready, and B. sat down.

Riding fast an exciting mile or so, getting chucked on your head two or three times, and facing your first lion are none of them conducive to steady shooting. The first shot therefore went high, but the second hit the lion square in the chest, and he rolled over dead.

We all danced a little war dance, and congratulated B. and turned to get the meaning of a queer little gurgling gasp behind us. There was Fundi! That long-legged scarecrow, not content with running to get us and then back again, had trailed us the whole distance of our mad chase over broken ground at terrific speed in order to be in at the death. And he was just about all in at the death. He could barely gasp his breath, his eyes stuck out; he looked close to apoplexy.

"Bwana! bwana!" was all he could say. "Master! master!"

We shook hands with Fundi.

"My son," said I, "you're a true sport, and you'll surely get yours later."

He did not understand me, but he grinned. The gunbearers began to drift in, also completely pumped. They set up a feeble shout when they saw the dead lion. It was a good maned beast, three feet six inches at the shoulder, and nine feet long.

We left Fundi with the lion, instructing him to stay there until some of the other men came up. We remounted and pushed on slowly in hopes of coming on one of the others.

Here and there we rode, our courses interweaving, looking eagerly. And lo! through a tiny opening in the brush we espied one of those elusive gerenuk standing not over one hundred yards away. Whereupon I dismounted and did some of the worst shooting I perpetrated in Africa, for I let loose three times at him before I landed. But land I did, and there was one Lesser Hoodoo broken. Truly this was our day.

We measured him and started to prepare the trophy, when to us came Mavrouki and a porter, quite out of breath, but able to tell us that they had been scouting around and had seen two of the lions. Then, instead of leaving one up a tree to watch, both had come pell-mell to tell us all about it. We pointed this out to them, and called their attention to the fact that the brush was wide, that lions are not stationary objects, and that, unlike the leopard, they can change their spots quite readily. However, we remounted and went to take a look.

Of course there was nothing. So we rode on, rather aimlessly, weaving in and out of the bushes and open spaces. I think we were all a little tired from the long day and the excitement, and hence a bit listless. Suddenly we were fairly shaken out of our saddles by an angry roar just ahead. Usually a lion growls, low and thunderous, when he wants, to warn you that you have gone about far enough; but this one was angry all through at being followed about so much, and he just plain yelled at us.

He crouched near a bush forty yards away, and was switching his tail. I had heard that this was a sure premonition of an instant charge, but I had not before realized exactly what "switching the tail" meant. I had thought of it as a slow sweeping from side to side, after the manner of the domestic cat. This lion's tail was whirling perpendicularly from right to left, and from left to right with the speed and energy of a flail actuated by a particularly instantaneous kind of machinery. I could see only the outline of the head and this vigorous tail; but I took instant aim and let drive. The whole affair sank out of sight.

We made a detour around the dead lion without stopping to examine him, shouting to one of the men to stay and watch the carcass. Billy alone seemed uninfected with the now prevalent idea that we were likely to find lions almost anywhere. Her skepticism was justified. We found no more lions; but another miracle took place for all that. We ran across the second imbecile gerenuk, and B. collected it! These two were the only ones we ever got within decent shot of, and they sandwiched themselves neatly with lions. Truly, it WAS our day.

After a time we gave it up, and went back to measure and photograph our latest prize. It proved to be a male, maneless, two inches shorter than that killed by B., and three feet five and one half inches tall at the shoulder. My bullet had reached the brain just over the left eye.

Now, toward sunset, we headed definitely toward camp. The long shadows and beautiful lights of evening were falling across the hills far the other side the Isiola. A little breeze with a touch of coolness breathed down from distant unseen Kenia. We plodded on through the grass quite happily, noting the different animals coming out to the cool of the evening. The line of brush that marked the course of the Isiola came imperceptibly nearer until we could make out the white gleam of the porters' tents and wisps of smoke curling upward.

Then a small black mass disengaged itself from the camp and came slowly across the prairie in our direction. As it approached we made it out to be our Monumwezis, twenty strong. The news of the lions had reached them, and they were coming to meet us. They were huddled in a close knot, their heads inclined toward the centre. Each man carried upright a peeled white wand. They moved in absolute unison and rhythm, on a slanting zigzag in our direction: first three steps to the right, then three to the left, with a strong stamp of the foot between. Their bodies swayed together. Sulimani led them, dancing backward, his wand upheld.

"Sheeka!" he enunciated in a piercing half whistle.

And the swaying men responded in chorus, half hushed, rumbling, with strong aspiration.

"Goom zoop! goom zoop!"

When fifty yards from us, however, the formation broke and they rushed us with a yell. Our horses plunged in astonishment, and we had hard work to prevent their bolting, small blame to 'em! The men surrounded us, shaking our hands frantically. At once they appropriated everything we or our gunbearers carried. One who got left otherwise insisted on having Billy's parasol. Then we all broke for camp at full speed, yelling like fiends, firing our revolvers in the air. It was a grand entry, and a grand reception. The rest of the camp poured out with wild shouts. The dark forms thronged about us, teeth flashing, arms waving. And in the background, under the shadows of the trees were the Monumwezis, their formation regained, close gathered, heads bent, two steps swaying to the right-stamp! two steps swaying to the left-stamp!-the white wands gleaming, and the rumble of their lion song rolling in an undertone:

"Goom zoop! goom zoop!"


We took our hot baths and sat down to supper most gratefully, for we were tired. The long string of men, bearing each a log of wood, filed in from the darkness to add to our pile of fuel. Saa-sita and Shamba knelt and built the night fire. In a moment the little flame licked up through the carefully arranged structure. We finished the meal, and the boys whisked away the table.

Then out in the blackness beyond our little globe of light we became aware of a dull confusion, a rustling to and fro. Through the shadows the eye could guess at movement. The confusion steadied to a kind of rhythm, and into the circle of the fire came the group of Monumwezis. Again they were gathered together in a compact little mass; but now they were bent nearly double, and were stripped to the red blankets about their waists. Before them writhed Sulimani, close to earth, darting irregularly now to right, now to left, wriggling, spreading his arms abroad. He was repeating over and over two phrases; or rather the same phrase in two such different intonations that they seemed to convey quite separate meanings.

"Ka soompeele?" he cried with a strongly appealing interrogation.

"Ka soompeele!" he repeated with the downward inflection of decided affirmation.

And the bent men, their dark bodies gleaming in the firelight, stamping in rhythm every third step, chorused in a deep rumbling bass:

"Goom zoop! goom zoop!"

Thus they advanced; circled between us and the fire, and withdrew to the half darkness, where tirelessly they continued the same reiterations.

Hardly had they withdrawn when another group danced forward in their places. These were the Kikuyus. They had discarded completely their safari clothes, and now came forth dressed out in skins, in strips of white cloth, with feathers, shells and various ornaments. They carried white wands to represent spears, and they sang their tribal lion song. A soloist delivered the main argument in a high wavering minor and was followed by a deep rumbling emphatic chorus of repetition, strongly accented so that the sheer rhythm of it was most pronounced:

"An-gee a Ka ga An-gee a Ka ga An-gee a Ka ga Ki ya Ka ga Ka ga an gee ya!"

Solemnly and loftily, their eyes fixed straight before them they made the circle of the fire, passed before our chairs, and withdrew to the half light. There, a few paces from the stamping, crouching Monumwezis, they continued their performance.

The next to appear were the Wakambas. These were more histrionic. They too were unrecognizable as our porters, for they too had for the lion discarded their work-a-day garments in favour of savage. They produced a pantomime of the day's doings, very realistic indeed, ending with a half dozen of dark swaying bodies swinging and shuddering in the long grass as lions, while the "horses" wove in and out among the crouching forms, all done to the beat of rhythm. Past us swept the hunt, and in its turn melted into the half light.

The Kavirondos next appeared, the most fantastically caparisoned of the lot, fine big black men, their eyes rolling with excitement. They had captured our flag from its place before the big tent, and were rallied close about this, dancing fantastically. Before us they leaped and stamped and shook their spears and shouted out their full-voiced song, while the other three tribes danced each its specialty dimly in the background.

The dance thus begun lasted for fully two hours. Each tribe took a turn before us, only to give way to the next. We had leisure to notice minutiae, such as the ingenious tail one of the "lions" had constructed from a sweater. As time went on, the men worked themselves to a frenzy. From the serried ranks every once in a while one would break forth with a shriek to rush headlong into the fire, to beat the earth about him with his club, to rush over to shake one of us violently by the hand, or even to seize one of our feet between his two palms. Then with equal abruptness back he darted to regain his place among the dancers. Wilder and wilder became the movements, higher rose the voices. The mock lion hunt grew more realistic, and the slaughter on both sides something tremendous. Lower and lower crouched the Monumwezi, drawing apart with their deep "goom"; drawing suddenly to a common centre with the sharp "zoop!" Only the Kikuyus held their lofty bearing as they rolled forth their chant, but the mounting excitement showed in their tense muscles and the rolling of their eyes. The sweat glistened on naked black and bronze bodies. Among the Monumwezi to my astonishment I saw Memba Sasa, stripped like the rest, and dancing with all abandon. The firelight leaped high among the logs that eager hands cast on it; and the shadows it threw from the swirling, leaping figures wavered out into a great, calm darkness.

The night guard understood a little of the native languages, so he stood behind our chairs and told us in Swahili the meaning of some of the repeated phrases.

"This has been a glorious day; few safaris have had so glorious a day."

"The masters looked upon the fierce lions and did not run away."

"Brave men without other weapons will nevertheless kill with a knife."

"The masters' mothers must be brave women, the masters are so brave."

"The white woman went hunting, and so were many lions killed."

The last one pleased Billy. She felt that at last she was appreciated.

We sat there spellbound by the weird savagery of the spectacle-the great licking fire, the dancing, barbaric figures, the rise and fall of the rhythm, the dust and shuffle, the ebb and flow of the dance, the dim, half-guessed groups swaying in the darkness-and overhead the calm tropic night.

At last, fairly exhausted, they stopped. Some one gave a signal. The men all gathered in one group, uttered a final yell, very like a cheer, and dispersed.

We called up the heroes of the day-Fundi and his companion-and made a little speech, and bestowed appropriate reward. Then we turned in.


Fundi, as I have suggested, was built very much on the lines of the marabout stork. He was about twenty years old, carried himself very erect, and looked one straight in the eye. His total assets when he came to us were a pair of raggedy white breeches, very baggy, and an old mesh undershirt, ditto ditto. To this we added a jersey, a red blanket, and a water bottle. At the first opportunity he constructed himself a pair of rawhide sandals.

Throughout the first part of the trip he had applied himself to business and carried his load. He never made trouble. Then he and his companion saw five lions; and the chance Fundi had evidently long been awaiting came to his hand. He ran himself almost into coma, exhibited himself game, and so fell under our especial and distinguished notice. After participating whole-heartedly in the lion dance he and his companion were singled out for Our Distinguished Favour, to the extent of five rupees per. Thus far Fundi's history reads just like the history of any ordinary Captain of Industry.

Next morning, after the interesting ceremony of rewarding the worthy, we moved on to a new camp. When the line-up was called for, lo! there stood Fundi, without a load, but holding firmly my double-barrelled rifle. Evidently he had seized the chance of favour-and the rifle-and intended to be no longer a porter but a second gunbearer.

This looked interesting, so we said nothing. Fundi marched the day through very proudly. At evening he deposited the rifle in the proper place, and set to work with a will at raising the big tent.

The day following he tried it again. It worked. The third day he marched deliberately up past the syce to take his place near me. And the fourth day, as we were going hunting, Fundi calmly fell in with the rest. Nothing had been said, but Fundi had definitely grasped his chance to rise from the ranks. In this he differed from his companion in glory. That worthy citizen pocketed his five rupees and was never heard from again; I do not even remember his name nor how he looked.

I killed a buck of some sort, and Memba Sasa, as usual, stepped forward to attend to the trophy. But I stopped him.

"Fundi," said I, "if you are a gunbearer, prepare this beast."

He stepped up confidently and set to work. I watched him closely. He did it very well, without awkwardness, though he made one or two minor mistakes in method.

"Have you done this before?" I inquired.

"No, bwana."

"How did you learn to do it?"

"I have watched the gunbearers when I was a porter bringing in meat."*

* Except in the greatest emergencies a gunbearer would never think of carrying any sort of a burden.

This was pleasing, but it would never do, at this stage of the game, to let him think so, neither on his own account nor that of the real gunbearers.

"You will bring in meat today also," said I, for I was indeed a little shorthanded, "and you will learn how to make the top incision straighter."

When we had reached camp I handed him the Springfield.

"Clean this," I told him.

He departed with it, returning it after a time for my inspection. It looked all right. I catechized him on the method he had employed-for high velocities require very especial treatment-and found him letter perfect.

"You learned this also by watching?"

"Yes, bwana, I watched the gunbearers by the fire, evenings."

Evidently Fundi had been preparing for his chance.

Next day, as he walked alongside, I noticed that he had not removed the leather cap, or sight protector, that covers the end of the rifle and is fastened on by a leather thong. Immediately I called a halt.

"Fundi," said I, "do you know that the cover should be in your pocket? Suppose a rhinoceros jumps up very near at hand: how can you get time to unlace the thong and hand me the rifle?"

He thrust the rifle at me suddenly. In some magical fashion the sight cover had disappeared!

"I have thought of this," said he, "and I have tied the thong, so, in order that it come away with one pull; and I snatch it off, so, with my left hand while I am giving you the gun with my right hand. It seemed good to keep the cover on, for there are many branches, and the sight is very easy to injure."

Of course this was good sense, and most ingenious; Fundi bade fair to be quite a boy, but the native African is very easily spoiled. Therefore, although my inclination was strongly to praise him, I did nothing of the sort.

"A gunbearer carries the gun away from the branches," was my only comment.

Shortly after occurred an incident by way of deeper test. We were all riding rather idly along the easy slope below the foothills. The grass was short, so we thought we could see easily everything there was to be seen; but, as we passed some thirty yards from a small tree, an unexpected and unnecessary rhinoceros rose from an equally unexpected and unnecessary green hollow beneath the tree, and charged us. He made straight for Billy. Her mule, panic-stricken, froze with terror in spite of Billy's attack with a parasol. I spurred my own animal between her and the charging brute, with some vague idea of slipping off the other side as the rhino struck. F. and B. leaped from their own animals, and F., with a little.28 calibre rifle, took a hasty shot at the big brute. Now, of course a.28 calibre rifle would hardly injure a rhino, but the bullet happened to catch his right shoulder just as he was about to come down on his right foot. The shock tripped him up as neatly as though he had been upset by a rope. At the same instant Billy's mule came to its senses and bolted, whereupon I too jumped off. The whole thing took about two finger snaps of time. At the instant I hit the ground, Fundi passed the double rifle across the horse's back to me.

Note two things to the credit of Fundi: in the first place, he had not bolted; in the second place, instead of running up to the left side of my mount and perhaps colliding with and certainly confusing me, he had come up on the right side and passed the rifle to me ACROSS the horse. I do not know whether or not he had figured this out beforehand, but it was cleverly done.

The rhinoceros rolled over and over, like a shot rabbit, kicked for a moment, and came to his feet. We were now all ready for him, in battle array, but he had evidently had enough. He turned at right angles and trotted off, apparently-and probably-none the worse for the little bullet in his shoulder.

Fundi now began acquiring things that he supposed befitting to his dignity. The first of these matters was a faded fez, in which he stuck a long feather. From that he progressed in worldly wealth. How he got it all, on what credit, or with what hypnotic power, I do not know. Probably he hypothecated his wages, certainly he had his five rupees.

At any rate he started out with a ragged undershirt and a pair of white, baggy breeches. He entered Nairobi at the end of the trip with a cap, a neat khaki shirt, two water bottles, a cartridge belt, a sash with a tassel, a pair of spiral puttees, an old pair of shoes, and a personal private small boy, picked up en route from some of the savage tribes, to carry his cooking pot, make his fires, draw his water, and generally perform his lordly behests. This was indeed "more-than-oriental-splendour!"

From now on Fundi considered himself my second gunbearer. I had no use for him, but Fundi's development interested me, and I wanted to give him a chance. His main fault at first was eagerness. He had to be rapped pretty sharply and a good number of times before he discovered that he really must walk in the rear. His habit of calling my attention to perfectly obvious things I cured by liberal sarcasm. His intense desire to take his own line as perhaps opposed to mine when we were casting about on trail, I abated kindly but firmly with the toe of my boot. His evident but mistaken tendency to consider himself on an equality with Memba Sasa we both squelched by giving him the hard and dirty work to do. But his faults were never those of voluntary omission, and he came on surprisingly; in fact so surprisingly that he began to get quite cocky over it. Not that he was ever in the least aggressive or disrespectful or neglectful-it would have been easy to deal with that sort of thing-but he carried his head pretty high, and evidently began to have mental reservations. Fundi needed a little wholesome discipline. He was forgetting his porter days, and was rapidly coming to consider himself a full-fledged gunbearer.

The occasion soon arose. We were returning from a buffalo hunt and ran across two rhinoceroses, one of which carried a splendid horn. B. wanted a well developed specimen very much, so we took this chance. The approach was easy enough, and at seventy yards or so B. knocked her flat with a bullet from his.465 Holland. The beast was immediately afoot, but was as promptly smothered by shots from us all. So far the affair was very simple, but now came complication. The second rhinoceros refused to leave. We did not want to kill it, so we spent a lot of time and pains shooing it away. We showered rocks and clods of earth in his direction; we yelled sharply and whistled shrilly. The brute faced here and there, his pig eyes blinking, his snout upraised, trying to locate us, and declining to budge. At length he gave us up as hopeless, and trotted away slowly. We let him go, and when we thought he had quite departed, we approached to examine B.'s trophy.

Whereupon the other craftily returned; and charged us, snorting like an engine blowing off steam. This was a genuine premeditated charge, as opposed to a blind rush, and it is offered as a good example of the sort.

The rhinoceros had come fairly close before we got into action. He headed straight for F. and myself, with B. a little to one side. Things happened very quickly. F. and I each planted a heavy bullet in his head; while B. sent a lighter Winchester bullet into the ribs. The rhino went down in a heap eleven yards away, and one of us promptly shot him in the spine to finish him.

Personally I was entirely concentrated in the matter at hand-as is always the way in crises requiring action-and got very few impressions from anything outside. Nevertheless I imagined, subconsciously that I had heard four shots. F. and B. disclaimed more than one apiece, so I concluded myself mistaken, exchanged my heavy rifle with Fundi for the lighter Winchester, and we started for camp, leaving all the boys to attend to the dead rhinos. At camp I threw down the lever of my Winchester-and drew out an exploded shell!

Here was a double crime on Fundi's part. In the first place, he had fired the gun, a thing no bearer is supposed ever to do in any circumstances short of the disarmament and actual mauling of his master. Naturally this is so, for the white man must be able in an emergency to depend ABSOLUTELY on his second gun being loaded and ready for his need. In the second place, Fundi had given me an empty rifle to carry home. Such a weapon is worse than none in case of trouble; at least I could have gone up a tree in the latter case. I would have looked sweet snapping that old cartridge at anything dangerous!

Therefore after supper we stationed ourselves in a row before the fire, seated in our canvas chairs, and with due formality sent word that we wanted all the gunbearers. They came and stood before us. Memba Sasa erect, military, compact, looking us straight in the eye; Mavrouki slightly bent forward, his face alive with the little crafty, calculating smile peculiar to him; Simba, tall and suave, standing with much social ease; and Fundi, a trifle frightened, but uncertain as to whether or not he had been found out.

We stated the matter in a few words.

"Gunbearers, this man Fundi, when the rhinoceros charged, fired Winchi. Was this the work of a gunbearer?"

The three seasoned men looked at each other with shocked astonishment that such depravity could exist.

"And being frightened, he gave back Winchi with the exploded cartridge in her. Was that the work of a gunbearer?"

"No, bwana," said Fundi humbly.

"You, the gunbearers, have been called because we wish to know what should be done with this man Fundi."

It should be here explained that it is not customary to kiboko, or flog, men of the gunbearer class. They respect themselves and their calling, and would never stand that sort of punishment. When one blunders, a sarcastic scolding is generally sufficient; a more serious fault may be punished on the spot by the white man's fist; or a really bad dereliction may cause the man's instant degradation from the post. With this in mind we had called the council of gunbearers. Memba Sasa spoke.

"Bwana," said he, "this man is not a true gunbearer. He is no longer a true porter. He carries a gun in the field, like a gunbearer; and he knows much of the duty of gunbearer. Also he does not run away nor climb trees. But he carries in the meat; and he is not a real gunbearer. He is half porter and half gunbearer."

"What punishment shall he have?"

"Kiboko," said they.

"Thank you. Bass!"

They went, leaving Fundi. We surveyed him, quietly.

"You a gunbearer!" said we at last. "Memba Sasa says you are half gunbearer. He was wrong. You are all porter; and you know no more than they do. It is in our mind to put you back to carrying a load. If you do not wish to taste the kiboko, you can take a load to-morrow."

"The kiboko, bwana," pleaded Fundi, very abashed and humble.

"Furthermore," we added crushingly, "you did not even hit the rhinoceros!"

So with all ceremony he got the kiboko. The incident did him a lot of good, and toned down his exuberance somewhat. Nevertheless he still required a good deal of training, just as does a promising bird dog in its first season. Generally his faults were of over-eagerness. Indeed, once he got me thoroughly angry in face of another rhinoceros by dancing just out of reach with the heavy rifle, instead of sticking close to me where I could get at him. I temporarily forgot the rhino, and advanced on Fundi with the full intention of knocking his fool head off. Whereupon this six feet something of most superb and insolent pride wilted down to a small boy with his elbow before his face.

"Don't hit, bwana! Don't hit!" he begged.

The whole thing was so comical, especially with Memba Sasa standing by virtuous and scornful, that I had hard work to keep from laughing. Fortunately the rhinoceros behaved himself.

The proud moment of Fundi's life was when safari entered Nairobi at the end of the first expedition. He had gone forth with a load on his head, rags on his back, and his only glory was the self-assumed one of the name he had taken-Fundi, the Expert. He returned carrying a rifle, rigged from top to toe in new garments and fancy accoutrements, followed by a toro, or small boy, he had bought from some of the savage tribes to carry his blanket and cooking pot for him. To the friends who darted out to the line of march, he was gracious, but he held his head high, and had no time for mere persiflage.

I did not take Fundi on my second expedition, for I had no real use for a second gunbearer. Several times subsequently I saw him on the streets of Nairobi. Always he came up to greet me, and ask solicitously if I would not give him a job. This I was unable to do. When we paid off, I had made an addition to his porter's wages, and had written him a chit. This said that the boy had the makings of a gunbearer with further training. It would have been unfair to possible white employers to have said more. Fundi was, when I left the country, precisely in the position of any young man who tries to rise in the world. He would not again take a load as porter, and he was not yet skilled enough or known enough to pick up more than stray jobs as gunbearer. Before him was struggle and hard times, with a certainty of a highly considered profession if he won through. Behind him was steady work without outlets for ambition. It was distinctly up to him to prove whether he had done well to reach for ambition, or whether he would have done better in contentment with his old lot. And that is in essence a good deal like our own world isn't it?


Up to this time, save for a few Masai at the very beginning of our trip, we had seen no natives at all. Only lately, the night of the lion dance, one of the Wanderobo-the forest hunters-had drifted in to tell us of buffalo and to get some meat. He was a simple soul, small and capable, of a beautiful red-brown, with his hair done up in a tight, short queue. He wore three skewers about six inches long thrust through each of his ears, three strings of blue beads on his neck, a bracelet tight around his upper arm, a bangle around his ankle, a pair of rawhide sandals, and about a half yard of cotton cloth which he hung from one shoulder. As weapons he carried a round-headed, heavy club, or runga, and a long-bladed spear. He led us to buffalo, accepted a thirty-three cent blanket, and made fire with two sticks in about thirty seconds. The only other evidences of human life we had come across were a few beehives suspended in the trees. These were logs, bored hollow and stopped at either end. Some of them were very quaintly carved. They hung in the trees like strange fruits.

Now, however, after leaving the Isiola, we were to quit the game country and for days travel among the swarming millions of the jungle.

A few preliminary and entirely random observations may be permitted me by way of clearing the ground for a conception of these people. These observations do not pretend to be ethnological, nor even common logical.

The first thing for an American to realize is that our own negro population came mainly from the West Coast, and differed utterly from these peoples of the highlands in the East. Therefore one must first of all get rid of the mental image of our own negro "dressed up" in savage garb. Many of these tribes are not negro at all-the Somalis, the Nandi, and the Masai, for example-while others belong to the negroid and Nilotic races. Their colour is general cast more on the red-bronze than the black, though the Kavirondos and some others are black enough. The texture of their skin is very satiny and wonderful. This perfection is probably due to the constant anointing of the body with oils of various sorts. As a usual thing they are a fine lot physically. The southern Masai will average between six and seven feet in height, and are almost invariably well built. Of most tribes the physical development is remarkably strong and graceful; and a great many of the women will display a rounded, firm, high-breasted physique in marked contrast to the blacks of the lowlands. Of the different tribes possibly the Kikuyus are apt to count the most weakly and spindly examples: though some of these people, perhaps a majority, are well made.

Furthermore, the native differentiates himself still further in impression from our negro in his carriage and the mental attitude that lies behind it. Our people are trying to pattern themselves on white men, and succeed in giving a more or less shambling imitation thereof. The native has standards, ideas, and ideals that perfectly satisfy him, and that antedated the white man's coming by thousands of years. The consciousness of this reflects itself in his outward bearing. He does not shuffle; he is not either obsequious or impudent. Even when he acknowledges the white man's divinity and pays it appropriate respect, he does not lose the poise of his own well-worked-out attitude toward life and toward himself.

We are fond of calling these people primitive. In the world's standard of measurement they are primitive, very primitive indeed. But ordinarily by that term, we mean also undeveloped, embryonic. In that sense we are wrong. Instead of being at the very dawn of human development, these people are at the end-as far as they themselves are concerned. The original racial impulse that started them down the years toward development has fulfilled its duty and spent its force. They have worked out all their problems, established all their customs, arranged the world and its phenomena in a philosophy to their complete satisfaction. They have lived, ethnologists tell us, for thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, just as we find them to-day. From our standpoint that is in a hopeless intellectual darkness, for they know absolutely nothing of the most elementary subjects of knowledge. From their standpoint, however, they have reached the highest DESIRABLE pinnacle of human development. Nothing remains to be changed. Their customs, religions, and duties have been worked out and immutably established long ago; and nobody dreams of questioning either their wisdom or their imperative necessity. They are the conservatives of the world.

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