We collected our Newmanii after rather a long hunt; and just at noon, when the heat of the day began to come on, we wandered down to the water for lunch. Here we found a good clear pool and drank. The boys began to make themselves comfortable by the water's edge; C. went to superintend the disposal of Billy's mule. Billy had sat down beneath the shade of the most hospitable of the bushes a hundred feet or so away, and was taking off her veil and gloves. I was carrying to her the lunch box. When I was about halfway from where the boys were drinking at the stream's edge to where she sat, a buffalo bull thrust his head from the bushes just the other side of her. His head was thrust up and forward, as he reached after some of the higher tender leaves on the bushes. So close was he that I could see plainly the drops glistening on his moist black nose. As for Billy, peacefully unwinding her long veil, she seemed fairly under the beast.
I had no weapon, and any moment might bring some word or some noise that would catch the animal's attention. Fortunately, for the moment, every one, relaxed in the first reaction after the long morning, was keeping silence. If the buffalo should look down, he could not fail to see Billy; and if he saw her, he would indubitably kill her.
As has been explained, snapping the fingers does not seem to reach the attention of wild animals. Therefore I snapped mine as vigorously as I knew how. Billy heard, looked toward me, turned in the direction of my gaze, and slowly sank prone against the ground. Some of the boys heard me also, and I could see the heads of all of them popping up in interest from the banks of the stream. My cautious but very frantic signals to lie low were understood: the heads dropped back. Mavrouki, a rifle in each hand, came worming his way toward me through the grass with incredible quickness and agility. A moment later he thrust the 405 Winchester into my hand.
This weapon, powerful and accurate as it is, the best of the lot for lions, was altogether too small for the tremendous brute before me. However, the Holland was in camp; and I was very glad in the circumstances to get this. The buffalo had browsed slowly forward into the clear, and was now taking the top off a small bush, and facing half away from us. It seemed to me quite the largest buffalo I had ever seen, though I should have been willing to have acknowledged at that moment that the circumstances had something to do with the estimate. However, later we found that the impression was correct. He was verily a giant of his kind. His height at the shoulder was five feet ten inches; and his build was even chunkier than the usual solid robust pattern of buffaloes. For example, his neck, just back of the horns, was two feet eight inches thick! He weighed not far from three thousand pounds.
Once the rifle was in my hands I lost the feeling of utter helplessness, and began to plan the best way out of the situation. As yet the beast was totally unconscious of our presence; but that could not continue long. There were too many men about. A chance current of air from any one of a half dozen directions could not fail to give him the scent. Then there would be lively doings. It was exceedingly desirable to deliver the first careful blow of the engagement while he was unaware. On the other hand, his present attitude-half away from me-was not favourable; nor, in my exposed position dared I move to a better place. There seemed nothing better than to wait; so wait we did. Mavrouki crouched close at my elbow, showing not the faintest indication of a desire to be anywhere but there.
The buffalo browsed for a minute or so; then swung slowly broadside on. So massive and low were the bosses of his horns that the brain shot was impossible. Therefore I aimed low in the shoulder. The shock of the bullet actually knocked that great beast off his feet! My respect for the hitting power of the 405 went up several notches. The only trouble was that he rebounded like a rubber ball. Without an instant's hesitation I gave him another in the same place. This brought him to his knees for an instant; but he was immediately afoot again. Billy had, with great good sense and courage, continued to lie absolutely flat within a few yards of the beast, Mavrouki and I had kept low, and C. and the men were out of sight. The buffalo therefore had seen none of his antagonists. He charged at a guess, and guessed wrong. As he went by I fired at his head, and, as we found out afterward, broke his jaw. A moment later C.'s great elephant gun roared from somewhere behind me as he fired by a glimpse through the brush at the charging animal. It was an excellent snapshot, and landed back of the ribs.
When the buffalo broke through the screen of brush I dashed after him, for I thought our only chance of avoiding danger lay in keeping close track of where that buffalo went. On the other side the bushes I found a little grassy opening, and then a small but dense thicket into which the animal had plunged. To my left, C. was running up, followed closely by Billy, who, with her usual good sense, had figured out the safest place to be immediately back of the guns. We came together at the thicket's edge.
The animal's movements could be plainly followed by the sound of his crashing. We heard him dash away some distance, pause, circle a bit to the right, and then come rushing back in our direction. Stooping low we peered into the darkness of the thicket. Suddenly we saw him, not a dozen yards away. He was still afoot, but very slow. I dropped the magazine of five shots into him as fast as I could work the lever. We later found all the bullet-holes in a spot as big as the palm of your hand. These successive heavy blows delivered all in the same place were too much for even his tremendous vitality; and slowly he sank on his side.
Most people have heard of Juja, the modern dwelling in the heart of an African wilderness, belonging to our own countryman, Mr. W. N. McMillan. If most people are as I was before I saw the place, they have considerable curiosity and no knowledge of what it is and how it looks.
We came to Juja at the end of a wide circle that had lasted three months, and was now bringing us back again toward our starting point. For five days we had been camped on top a high bluff at the junction of two rivers. When we moved we dropped down the bluff, crossed one river, and, after some searching, found our way up the other bluff. There we were on a vast plain bounded by mountains thirty miles away. A large white and unexpected sign told us we were on Juja Farm, and warned us that we should be careful of our fires in the long grass.
For an hour we plodded slowly along. Herds of zebra and hartebeeste drew aside before us, dark heavy wildebeeste-the gnu-stood in groups at a safe distance their heads low, looking exactly like our vanished bison; ghostlike bands of Thompson's gazelles glided away with their smooth regular motion. On the vast and treeless plains single small objects standing above the general uniformity took an exaggerated value; so that, before it emerged from the swirling heat mirage, a solitary tree might easily be mistaken for a group of buildings or a grove. Finally, however, we raised above the horizon a dark straight clump of trees. It danced in the mirage, and blurred and changed form, but it persisted. A strange patch of white kept appearing and disappearing again. This resolved itself into the side of a building. A spider-legged water tower appeared above the trees.
Gradually we drew up on these. A bit later we swung to the right around a close wire fence ten feet high, passed through a gate, and rode down a long slanting avenue of young trees. Between the trees were century plants and flowers, and a clipped border ran before them. The avenue ended before a low white bungalow, with shady verandas all about it, and vines. A formal flower garden lay immediately about it, and a very tall flag pole had been planted in front. A hundred feet away the garden dropped off steep to one of the deep river canyons.
Two white-robed Somalis appeared on the veranda to inform us that McMillan was off on safari. Our own boys approaching at this moment, we thereupon led them past the house, down another long avenue of trees and flowers, out into an open space with many buildings at its edges, past extensive stables, and through another gate to the open plains once more. Here we made camp. After lunch we went back to explore.
Juja is situated on the top of a high bluff overlooking a river. In all directions are tremendous grass plains. Donya Sabuk-the Mountain of Buffaloes-is the only landmark nearer than the dim mountains beyond the edge of the world, and that is a day's journey away. A rectangle of possibly forty acres has been enclosed on three sides by animal-proof wire fence. The fourth side is the edge of the bluff. Within this enclosure have been planted many trees, now of good size; a pretty garden with abundance of flowers, ornamental shrubs, a sundial, and lawns. In the river bottom land below the bluff is a very extensive vegetable and fruit garden, with cornfields, and experimental plantings of rubber, and the like. For the use of the people of Juja here are raised a great variety and abundance of vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Juja House, as has been said, stands back a hundred feet from a bend in the bluffs that permits a view straight up the river valley. It is surrounded by gardens and trees, and occupies all one end of the enclosed rectangle. Farther down and perched on the edge of a bluff, are several pretty little bungalows for the accommodation of the superintendent and his family, for the bachelors' mess, for the farm offices and dispensary, and for the dairy room, the ice-plant and the post-office and telegraph station. Back of and inland from this row on the edge of the cliff, and scattered widely in open space, are a large store stocked with everything on earth, the Somali quarters of low whitewashed buildings, the cattle corrals, the stables, wild animal cages, granaries, blacksmith and carpenter shops, wagon sheds and the like. Outside the enclosure, and a half mile away, are the conical grass huts that make up the native village. Below the cliff is a concrete dam, an electric light plant, a pumping plant and a few details of the sort.
Such is a relief map of Juja proper. Four miles away, and on another river, is Long Juja, a strictly utilitarian affair where grow ostriches, cattle, sheep, and various irrigated things in the bottom land. All the rest of the farm, or estate, or whatever one would call it, is open plain, with here and there a river bottom, or a trifle of brush cover. But never enough to constitute more than an isolated and lonesome patch.
Before leaving London we had received from McMillan earnest assurances that he kept open house, and that we must take advantage of his hospitality should we happen his way. Therefore when one of his white-robed Somalis approached us to inquire respectfully as to what we wanted for dinner, we yielded weakly to the temptation and told him. Then we marched us boldly to the house and took possession.
All around the house ran a veranda, shaded bamboo curtains and vines, furnished with the luxurious teakwood chairs of the tropics of which you can so extend the arms as to form two comfortable and elevated rests for your feet. Horns of various animals ornamented the walls. A megaphone and a huge terrestrial telescope on a tripod stood in one corner. Through the latter one could examine at favourable times the herds of game on the plains.
And inside-mind you, we were fresh from three months in the wilderness-we found rugs, pictures, wall paper, a pianola, many books, baths, beautiful white bedrooms with snowy mosquito curtains, electric lights, running water, and above all an atmosphere of homelike comfort. We fell into easy chairs, and seized books and magazines. The Somalis brought us trays with iced and fizzy drinks in thin glasses. When the time came we crossed the veranda in the rear to enter a spacious separate dining-room. The table was white with napery, glittering with silver and glass, bright with flowers. We ate leisurely of a well-served course dinner, ending with black coffee, shelled nuts, and candied fruit. Replete and satisfied we strolled back across the veranda to the main house. F. raised his hand.
"Hark!" he admonished us.
We held still. From the velvet darkness came the hurried petulant barking of zebra; three hyenas howled.
XXVII. A VISIT AT JUJA
Next day we left all this; and continued our march. About a month later, however, we encountered McMillan himself in Nairobi. I was just out from a very hard trip to the coast-Billy not with me-and wanted nothing so much as a few days' rest. McMillan's cordiality was not to be denied, however, so the very next day found us tucking ourselves into a buckboard behind four white Abyssinian mules. McMillan, some Somalis and Captain Duirs came along in another similar rig. Our driver was a Hottentot half-caste from South Africa. He had a flat face, a yellow skin, a quiet manner, and a competent hand. His name was Michael. At his feet crouched a small Kikuyu savage, in blanket ear ornaments and all the fixings, armed with a long lashed whip and raucous voice. At any given moment he was likely to hop out over the moving wheel, run forward, bat the off leading mule, and hop back again, all with the most extraordinary agility. He likewise hurled what sounded like very opprobrious epithets at such natives as did not get out the way quickly enough to suit him. The expression of his face, which was that of a person steeped in woe, never changed.
We rattled out of Nairobi at a great pace, and swung into the Fort Hall Road. This famous thoroughfare, one of the three or four made roads in all East Africa, is about sixty miles long. It is a strategic necessity but is used by thousands of natives on their way to see the sights of the great metropolis. As during the season there is no water for much of the distance, a great many pay for their curiosity with their lives. The road skirts the base of the hills, winding in and out of shallow canyons and about the edges of rounded hills. To the right one can see far out across the Athi Plains.
We met an almost unbroken succession of people. There were long pack trains of women, quite cheerful, bent over under the weight of firewood or vegetables, many with babies tucked away in the folds of their garments; mincing dandified warriors with poodle-dog hair, skewers in their ears, their jewelery brought to a high polish a fatuous expression of self-satisfaction on their faces, carrying each a section of sugarcane which they now used as a staff but would later devour for lunch; bearers, under convoy of straight soldierly red-sashed Sudanese, transporting Government goods; wild-eyed staring shenzis from the forest, with matted hair and goatskin garments, looking ready to bolt aside at the slightest alarm; coveys of marvellous and giggling damsels, their fine-grained skin anointed and shining with red oil, strung with beads and shells, very coquettish and sure of their feminine charm; naked small boys marching solemnly like their elders; camel trains from far-off Abyssinia or Somaliland under convoy of white-clad turbaned grave men of beautiful features; donkey safaris in charge of dirty degenerate looking East Indians carrying trade goods to some distant post-all these and many more, going one way or the other, drew one side, at the sight of our white faces, to let us pass.
About two o'clock we suddenly turned off from the road, apparently quite at random, down the long grassy interminable incline that dipped slowly down and slowly up again over great distance to form the Athi Plains. Along the road, with its endless swarm of humanity, we had seen no game, but after a half mile it began to appear. We encountered herds of zebra, kongoni, wildebeeste, and "Tommies" standing about or grazing, sometimes almost within range from the moving buckboard. After a time we made out the trees and water tower of Juja ahead; and by four o'clock had turned into the avenue of trees. Our approach had been seen. Tea was ready, and a great and hospitable table of bottles, ice, and siphons.
The next morning we inspected the stables, built of stone in a hollow square, like a fort, with box stalls opening directly into the courtyard and screened carefully against the deadly flies. The horses, beautiful creatures, were led forth each by his proud and anxious syce. We tried them all, and selected our mounts for the time of our stay. The syces were small black men, lean and well formed, accustomed to running afoot wherever their charges went, at walk, lope or gallop. Thus in a day they covered incredible distances over all sorts of country; but were always at hand to seize the bridle reins when the master wished to dismount. Like the rickshaw runners in Nairobi, they wore their hair clipped close around their bullet heads and seemed to have developed into a small compact hard type of their own. They ate and slept with their horses.
Just outside the courtyard of the stables a little barred window had been cut through. Near this were congregated a number of Kikuyu savages wrapped in their blankets, receiving each in turn a portion of cracked corn from a dusty white man behind the bars. They were a solemn, unsmiling, strange type of savage, and they performed all the manual work within the enclosure, squatting on their heels and pulling methodically but slowly at the weeds, digging with their pangas, carrying loads: to and fro, or solemnly pushing a lawn mower, blankets wrapped shamelessly about their necks. They were harried about by a red-faced beefy English gardener with a marvellous vocabulary of several native languages and a short hippo-hide whip. He talked himself absolutely purple in the face without, as far as my observation went, penetrating an inch below the surface. The Kikuyus went right on doing what they were already doing in exactly the same manner. Probably the purple Englishman was satisfied with that, but I am sure apoplexy of either the heat or thundering variety has him by now.
Before the store building squatted another group of savages. Perhaps in time one of the lot expected to buy something; or possibly they just sat. Nobody but a storekeeper would ever have time to find out. Such is the native way. The storekeeper in this case was named John. Besides being storekeeper, he had charge of the issuing of all the house supplies, and those for the white men's mess; he must do all the worrying about the upper class natives; he must occasionally kill a buck for the meat supply; and he must be prepared to take out any stray tenderfeet that happen along during McMillan's absence, and persuade them that they are mighty hunters. His domain was a fascinating place, for it contained everything from pianola parts to patent washstands. The next best equipped place of the kind I know of is the property room of a moving picture company.
We went to mail a letter, and found the postmaster to be a gentle-voiced, polite little Hindu, who greeted us smilingly, and attempted to conceal a work of art. We insisted; whereupon he deprecatingly drew forth a copy of a newspaper cartoon having to do with Colonel Roosevelt's visit. It was copied with mathematical exactness, and highly coloured in a manner to throw into profound melancholy the chauffeur of a coloured supplement press. We admired and praised; whereupon, still shyly, he produced more, and yet again more copies of the same cartoon. When we left, he was reseating himself to the painstaking valueless labour with which he filled his days. Three times a week such mail as Juja gets comes in via native runner. We saw the latter, a splendid figure, almost naked, loping easily, his little bundle held before him.
Down past the office and dispensary we strolled, by the comfortable, airy, white man's clubhouse. The headman of the native population passed us with a dignified salute; a fine upstanding deep-chested man, with a lofty air of fierce pride. He and his handful of soldiers alone of the natives, except the Somalis and syces, dwelt within the compound in a group of huts near the gate. There when off duty they might be seen polishing their arms, or chatting with their women. The latter were ladies of leisure, with wonderful chignons, much jewelery, and patterned Mericani wrapped gracefully about their pretty figures.
By the time we had seen all these things it was noon. We ate lunch. The various members of the party decided to do various things. I elected to go out with McMillan while he killed a wildebeeste, and I am very glad I did. It was a most astonishing performance.
You must imagine us driving out the gate in a buckboard behind four small but lively white Abyssinian mules. In the front seat were Michael, the Hottentot driver, and McMillan's Somali gunbearer. In the rear seat were McMillan and myself, while a small black syce perched precariously behind. Our rifles rested in a sling before us. So we jogged out on the road to Long Juju, examining with a critical eye the herds of game to right and left of us. The latter examined us, apparently, with an eye as critical. Finally, in a herd of zebra, we espied a lone wildebeeste.
The wildebeeste is the Jekyll and Hyde of the animal kingdom. His usual and familiar habit is that of a heavy, sluggish animal, like our vanished bison. He stands solid and inert, his head down; he plods slowly forward in single file, his horns swinging, each foot planted deliberately. In short, he is the personification of dignity, solid respectability, gravity of demeanour. But then all of a sudden, at any small interruption, he becomes the giddiest of created beings. Up goes his head and tail, he buck jumps, cavorts, gambols, kicks up his heels, bounds stiff-legged, and generally performs like an irresponsible infant. To see a whole herd at once of these grave and reverend seigneurs suddenly blow up into such light-headed capers goes far to destroy one's faith in the stability of institutions.
Also the wildebeeste is not misnamed. He is a conservative, and he sees no particular reason for allowing his curiosity to interfere with his preconceived beliefs. The latter are distrustful. Therefore he and his females and his young-I should say small-depart when one is yet far away. I say small, because I do not believe that any wildebeeste is ever young. They do not resemble calves, but are exact replicas of the big ones, just as Niobe's daughters are in nothing childlike, but merely smaller women.
When we caught sight of this lone wildebeeste among the zebra, I naturally expected that we would pull up the buckboard, descend, and approach to within some sort of long range. Then we would open fire. Barring luck, the wildebeeste would thereupon depart "wilder and beestier than ever," as John McCutcheon has it. Not at all! Michael, the Hottentot, turned the buckboard off the road, headed toward the distant quarry, and charged at full speed! Over stones we went that sent us feet into the air, down and out of shallow gullies that seemed as though they would jerk the pole from the vehicle with a grand rattlety-bang, every one hanging on for his life. I was entirely occupied with the state of my spinal column and the retention of my teeth, but McMillan must have been keeping his eye on the game. One peculiarity of the wildebeeste is that he cannot see behind him, and another is that he is curious. It would not require a very large bump of curiosity, however, to cause any animal to wonder what all the row was about. There could be no doubt that this animal would sooner or later stop for an instant to look for the purpose of seeing what was up in jungleland; and just before doing so he would, for a few steps, slow down from a gallop to a trot. McMillan was watching for this symptom.
"Now!" he yelled, when he saw it.
Instantly Michael threw his weight into the right rein and against the brake. We swerved so violently to the right and stopped so suddenly that I nearly landed on the broad prairies. The manoeuvre fetched us up broadside. The small black syce-and heaven knows how HE had managed to hang on-darted to the heads of the leading mules. At the same moment the wildebeeste turned, and stopped; but even before he had swung his head, McMillan had fired. It was extraordinarily good, quick work, the way he picked up the long range from the spurts of dust where the bullets hit. At the third or fourth shots he landed one. Immediately the beast was off again at a tearing run pursued by a rapid fusillade from the remaining shots. Then with a violent jerk and a wild yell we were off again.
This time, since the animal was wounded, he made for rougher country. And everywhere that wildebeeste went we too were sure to go. We hit or shaved boulders that ought to have smashed a wheel, we tore through thick brush regardless. Twice we charged unhesitatingly over apparent precipices. I do not know the name of the manufacturer of the buckboard. If I did, I should certainly recommend it here. Twice more we swerved to our broadside and cut loose the port batteries. Once more McMillan hit. Then, on the fourth "run," we gained perceptibly. The beast was weakening. When he came to a stumbling halt we were not over a hundred yards from him, and McMillan easily brought him down. We had chased him four or five miles, and McMillan had fired nineteen shots, of which two had hit. The rifle practice throughout had been remarkably good, and a treat to watch. Personally, besides the fun of attending the show, I got a mighty good afternoon's exercise.
We loaded the game aboard and jogged slowly back to the house, for the mules were pretty tired. We found a neighbour, Mr. Heatley of Kamiti Ranch who had "dropped down" twelve miles to see us. On account of a theft McMillan now had all the Somalis assembled for interrogation on the side verandas. The interrogation did not amount to much, but while it was going on the Sudanese headman and his askaris were quietly searching the boys' quarters. After a time they appeared. The suspected men had concealed nothing, but the searchers brought with them three of McMillan's shirts which they had found among the effects of another, and entirely unsuspected, boy named Abadie.
"How is this, Abadie?" demanded McMillan sternly.
Abadie hesitated. Then he evidently reflected that there is slight use in having a deity unless one makes use of him.
"Bwana," said he with an engaging air of belief and candour, "God must have put them there!"
That evening we planned a "general day" for the morrow. We took boys and buckboards and saddle-horses, beaters, shotguns, rifles, and revolvers, and we sallied forth for a grand and joyous time. The day from a sporting standpoint was entirely successful, the bag consisting of two waterbuck, a zebra, a big wart-hog, six hares, and six grouse. Personally I was a little hazy and uncertain. By evening the fever had me, and though I stayed at Juja for six days longer, it was as a patient to McMillan's unfailing kindness rather than as a participant in the life of the farm.
XXVIII. A RESIDENCE AT JUJA
A short time later, at about middle of the rainy season, McMillan left for a little fishing off Catalina Island. The latter is some fourteen thousand miles of travel from Juja. Before leaving on this flying trip, McMillan made us a gorgeous offer.
"If," said he, "you want to go it alone, you can go out and use Juja as long as you please."
This offer, or, rather, a portion of it, you may be sure, we accepted promptly. McMillan wanted in addition to leave us his servants; but to this we would not agree. Memba Sasa and Mahomet were, of course, members of our permanent staff. In addition to them we picked up another house boy, named Leyeye. He was a Masai. These proud and aristocratic savages rarely condescend to take service of any sort except as herders; but when they do they prove to be unusually efficient and intelligent. We had also a Somali cook, and six ordinary bearers to do general labour. This small safari we started off afoot for Juja. The whole lot cost us about what we would pay one Chinaman on the Pacific Coast.
Next day we ourselves drove out in the mule buckboard. The rains were on, and the road was very muddy. After the vital tropical fashion the grass was springing tall in the natural meadows and on the plains and the brief-lived white lilies and an abundance of ground flowers washed the slopes with colour. Beneath the grass covering, the entire surface of the ground was an inch or so deep in water. This was always most surprising, for, apparently, the whole country should have been high and dry. Certainly its level was that of a plateau rather than a bottom land; so that one seemed always to be travelling at an elevation. Nevertheless walking or riding we were continually splashing, and the only dry going outside the occasional rare "islands" of the slight undulations we found near the very edge of the bluffs above the rivers. There the drainage seemed sufficient to carry off the excess. Elsewhere the hardpan or bedrock must have been exceptionally level and near the top of the ground.
Nothing nor nobody seemed to mind this much. The game splashed around merrily, cropping at the tall grass; the natives slopped indifferently, and we ourselves soon became so accustomed to two or three inches of water and wet feet that after the first two days we never gave those phenomena a thought.
The world above at this season of the year was magnificent. The African heavens are always widely spacious, but now they seemed to have blown even vaster than usual. In the sweep of the vision four or five heavy black rainstorms would be trailing their skirts across an infinitely remote prospect; between them white piled scud clouds and cumuli sailed like ships; and from them reflected so brilliant a sunlight and behind all showed so dazzling a blue sky that the general impression was of a fine day. The rainstorms' gray veils slanted; tremendous patches of shadow lay becalmed on the plains; bright sunshine poured abundantly its warmth and yellow light.
So brilliant with both direct and reflected light and the values of contrast were the heavens, that when one happened to stand within one of the great shadows it became extraordinarily difficult to make out game on the plains. The pupils contracted to the brilliancy overhead. Often too, near sunset, the atmosphere would become suffused with a lurid saffron light that made everything unreal and ghastly. At such times the game seemed puzzled by the unusual aspect of things. The zebra especially would bark and stamp and stand their ground, and even come nearer out of sheer curiosity. I have thus been within fifty yards of them, right out in the open. At such times it was as though the sky, instead of rounding over in the usual shape, had been thrust up at the western horizon to the same incredible height as the zenith. In the space thus created were piled great clouds through which slanted broad bands of yellow light on a diminished world.
It rained with great suddenness on our devoted heads, and with a curious effect of metamorphoslng the entire universe. One moment all was clear and smiling, with the trifling exception of distant rain squalls that amounted to nothing in the general scheme. Then the horizon turned black, and with incredible swiftness the dark clouds materialized out of nothing, rolled high to the zenith like a wave, blotted out every last vestige of brightness. A heavy oppressive still darkness breathed over the earth. Then through the silence came a faraway soft drumming sound, barely to be heard. As we bent our ears to catch this it grew louder and louder, approaching at breakneck speed like a troop of horses. It became a roar fairly terrifying in its mercilessly continued crescendo. At last the deluge of rain burst actually as a relief.
And what a deluge! Facing it we found difficulty in breathing. In six seconds every stitch we wore was soaked through, and only the notebook, tobacco, and matches bestowed craftily in the crown of the cork helmet escaped. The visible world was dark and contracted. It seemed that nothing but rain could anywhere exist; as though this storm must fill all space to the horizon and beyond. Then it swept on and we found ourselves steaming in bright sunlight. The dry flat prairie (if this was the first shower for some time) had suddenly become a lake from the surface of which projected bushes and clumps of grass. Every game trail had become the water course of a swiftly running brook.
But most pleasant were the evenings at Juja, when, safe indoors, we sat and listened to the charge of the storm's wild horsemen, and the thunder of its drumming on the tin roof. The onslaughts were as fierce and abrupt as those of Cossacks, and swept by as suddenly. The roar died away in the distance, and we could then hear the steady musical dripping of waters.
Pleasant it was also to walk out from Juja in almost any direction. The compound, and the buildings and trees within it, soon dwindled in the distances of the great flat plain. Herds of game were always in sight, grazing, lying down, staring in our direction. The animals were incredibly numerous. Some days they were fairly tame, and others exceedingly wild, without any rhyme or reason. This shyness or the reverse seemed not to be individual to one herd; but to be practically universal. On a "wild day" everything was wild from the Lone Tree to Long Juju. It would be manifestly absurd to guess at the reason. Possibly the cause might be atmospheric or electrical; possibly days of nervousness might follow nights of unusual activity by the lions; one could invent a dozen possibilities. Perhaps the kongonis decided it.
At Juja we got to know the kongonis even better than we had before. They are comical, quizzical beasts, with long-nosed humorous faces, a singularly awkward construction, a shambling gait; but with altruistic dispositions and an ability to get over the ground at an extraordinary speed. Every move is a joke; their expression is always one of grieved but humorous astonishment. They quirk their heads sidewise or down and stare at an intruder with the most comical air of skeptical wonder. "Well, look who's here!" says the expression.
"Pooh!" says the kongoni himself, after a good look, "pooh! pooh!" with the most insulting inflection.
He is very numerous and very alert. One or more of a grazing herd are always perched as sentinels atop ant hills or similar small elevations. On the slightest intimation of danger they give the alarm, whereupon the herd makes off at once, gathering in all other miscellaneous game that may be in the vicinity. They will go out of their way to do this, as every African hunter knows. It immensely complicates matters; for the sportsman must not only stalk his quarry, but he must stalk each and every kongoni as well. Once, in another part of the country, C. and I saw a kongoni leave a band of its own species far down to our right, gallop toward us and across our front, pick up a herd of zebra we were trying to approach and make off with them to safety. We cursed that kongoni, but we admired him, for he deliberately ran out of safety into danger for the purpose of warning those zebra. So seriously do they take their job as policemen of the plains that it is very common for a lazy single animal of another species to graze in a herd of kongonis simply for the sake of protection. Wildebeeste are much given to this.
The kongoni progresses by a series of long high bounds. While in midair he half tucks up his feet, which gives him the appearance of an automatic toy. This gait looks deliberate, but is really quite fast, as the mounted sportsman discovers when he enters upon a vain pursuit. If the horse is an especially good one, so that the kongoni feels himself a trifle closely pressed, the latter stops bouncing and runs. Then he simply fades away into the distance.
These beasts are also given to chasing each other all over the landscape. When a gentleman kongoni conceives a dislike for another gentleman kongoni, he makes no concealment of his emotions, but marches up and prods him in the ribs. The ensuing battle is usually fought out very stubbornly with much feinting, parrying, clashing of the lyre-shaped horns; and a good deal of crafty circling for a favourable opening. As far as I was ever able to see not much real damage is inflicted; though I could well imagine that only skilful fence prevented unpleasant punctures in soft spots. After a time one or the other feels himself weakening. He dashes strongly in, wheels while his antagonist is braced, and makes off. The enemy pursues. Then, apparently, the chase is on for the rest of the day. The victor is not content merely to drive his rival out of the country; he wants to catch him. On that object he is very intent; about as intent as the other fellow is of getting away. I have seen two such beasts almost run over a dozen men who were making no effort to keep out of sight. Long after honour is satisfied, indeed, as it seems to me, long after the dictates of common decency would call a halt that persistent and single-minded pursuer bounds solemnly and conscientiously along in the wake of his disgusted rival.
These and the zebra and wildebeeste were at Juja the most conspicuous game animals. If they could not for the moment be seen from the veranda of the house itself, a short walk to the gate was sufficient to reveal many hundreds. Among them fed herds of the smaller Thompson's gazelle, or "Tommies." So small were they that only their heads could be seen above the tall grass as they ran.
To me there was never-ending fascination in walking out over those sloppy plains in search of adventure, and in the pleasure of watching the beasts. Scarcely less fascination haunted a stroll down the river canyons or along the tops of the bluffs above them. Here the country was broken into rocky escarpments in which were caves; was clothed with low and scattered brush; or was wooded in the bottom lands. Naturally an entirely different set of animals dwelt here; and in addition one was often treated to the romance of surprise. Herds of impalla haunted these edges; graceful creatures, trim and pretty with wide horns and beautiful glowing red coats. Sometimes they would venture out on the open plains, in a very compact band, ready to break back for cover at the slightest alarm; but generally fed inside the fringe of bushes. Once from the bluff above I saw a beautiful herd of over a hundred pacing decorously along the river bottom below me, single file, the oldest buck at the head, and the miscellaneous small buck bringing up the rear after the does. I shouted at them. Immediately the solemn procession broke. They began to leap, springing straight up into the air as though from a released spring, or diving forward and upward in long graceful bounds like dolphins at sea. These leaps were incredible. Several even jumped quite over the backs of others; and all without a semblance of effort.
Along the fringe of the river, too, dwelt the lordly waterbuck, magnificent and proud as the stags of Landseer; and the tiny steinbuck and duiker, no bigger than jack-rabbits, but perfect little deer for all that. The incredibly plebeian wart-hog rooted about; and down in the bottom lands were leopards. I knocked one off a rock one day. In the river itself dwelt hippopotamuses and crocodiles. One of the latter dragged under a yearling calf just below the house itself, and while we were there. Besides these were of course such affairs as hyenas and jackals, and great numbers of small game: hares, ducks, three kinds of grouse, guinea fowl, pigeons, quail, and jack snipe, not to speak of a variety of plover.
In the drier extents of dry grass atop the bluffs the dance birds were especially numerous; each with his dance ring nicely trodden out, each leaping and falling rhythmically for hours at a time. Toward sunset great flights of sand grouse swarmed across the yellowing sky from some distant feeding ground.
Near Juja I had one of the three experiences that especially impressed on my mind the abundance of African big game. I had stalked and wounded a wildebeeste across the N'derogo River, and had followed him a mile or so afoot, hoping to be able to put in a finishing shot. As sometimes happens the animal rather gained strength as time went on; so I signalled for my horse, mounted, and started out to run him down. After a quarter mile we began to pick up the game herds. Those directly in our course ran straight away; other herds on either side, seeing them running, came across in a slant to join them. Inside of a half mile I was driving before me literally thousands of head of game of several varieties. The dust rose in a choking cloud that fairly obscured the landscape, and the drumming of the hooves was like the stampeding of cattle. It was a wonderful sight.
On the plains of Juja, also, I had my one real African Adventure, when, as in the Sunday Supplements, I Stared Death in the Face-also everlasting disgrace and much derision. We were just returning to the farm after an afternoon's walk, and as we approached I began to look around for much needed meat. A herd of zebra stood in sight; so leaving Memba Sasa I began to stalk them. My usual weapon for this sort of thing was the Springfield, for which I carried extra cartridges in my belt. On this occasion, however, I traded with Memba Sasa for the 405, simply for the purpose of trying it out. At a few paces over three hundred yards I landed on the zebra, but did not knock him down. Then I set out to follow. It was a long job and took me far, for again and again he joined other zebra, when, of course, I could not tell one from t'other. My only expedient was to frighten the lot. There upon the uninjured ones would distance the one that was hurt. The latter kept his eye on me. Whenever I managed to get within reasonable distance, I put up the rear sight of the 405, and let drive. I heard every shot hit, and after each hit was more than a little astonished to see the zebra still on his feet, and still able to wobble on.* The fifth shot emptied the rifle. As I had no more cartridges for this arm, I approached to within sixty yards, and stopped to wait either for him to fall, or for a very distant Memba Sasa to come up with more cartridges. Then the zebra waked up. He put his ears back and came straight in my direction. This rush I took for a blind death flurry, and so dodged off to one side, thinking that he would of course go by me. Not at all! He swung around on the circle too, and made after me. I could see that his ears were back, eyes blazing, and his teeth snapping with rage. It was a malicious charge, and, as such, with due deliberation, I offer it to sportsman's annals. As I had no more cartridges I ran away as fast as I could go. Although I made rather better time than ever I had attained to before, it was evident that the zebra would catch me; and as the brute could paw, bite, and kick, I did not much care for the situation. Just as he had nearly reached me, and as I was trying to figure on what kind of a fight I could put up with a clubbed rifle barrel, he fell dead. To be killed by a lion is at least a dignified death; but to be mauled by a zebra!
I am sorry I did not try out this heavy-calibred rifle oftener at long range. It was a marvellously effective weapon at close quarters; but I have an idea-but only a tentative idea-that above three hundred yards its velocity is so reduced by air resistance against the big blunt bullet as greatly to impair its hitting powers.
We generally got back from our walks or rides just before dark to find the house gleaming with lights, a hot bath ready, and a tray of good wet drinks next the easy chairs. There, after changing our clothes, we sipped and read the papers-two months off the press, but fresh arrived for all that-until a white-robed, dignified figure appeared in the doorway to inform us that dinner was ready. Our ways were civilized and soft, then, until the morrow when once again, perhaps, we went forth into the African wilderness.
Juja is a place of startling contrasts-of naked savages clipping formal hedges, of windows opening from a perfectly appointed brilliantly lighted dining-room to a night whence float the lost wails of hyenas or the deep grumbling of lions, of cushioned luxurious chairs in reach of many books, but looking out on hills where the game herds feed, of comfortable beds with fine linen and soft blankets where one lies listening to the voices of an African night, or the weirder minor house noises whose origin and nature no man could guess, of tennis courts and summer houses, of lawns and hammocks, of sundials and clipped hedges separated only by a few strands of woven wire from fields identical with those in which roamed the cave men of the Pleistocene. But to Billy was reserved the most ridiculous contrast of all. Her bedroom opened to a veranda a few feet above a formal garden. This was a very formal garden, with a sundial, gravelled walks, bordered flower beds, and clipped border hedges. One night she heard a noise outside. Slipping on a warm wrap and seizing her trusty revolver she stole out on the veranda to investigate. She looked over the veranda rail. There just below her, trampling the flower beds, tracking the gravel walks, endangering the sundial, stood a hippopotamus!
We had neighbours six or seven miles away. At times they came down to spend the night and luxuriate in the comforts of civilization. They were a Lady A., and her nephew, and a young Scotch acquaintance the nephew had taken into partnership. They had built themselves circular houses of papyrus reeds with conical thatched roofs and earth floors, had purchased ox teams and gathered a dozen or so Kikuyus, and were engaged in breaking a farm in the wilderness. The life was rough and hard, and Lady A. and her nephew gently bred, but they seemed to be having quite cheerfully the time of their lives. The game furnished them meat, as it did all of us, and they hoped in time that their labours would make the land valuable and productive. Fascinating as was the life, it was also one of many deprivations. At Juja were a number of old copies of Life, the pretty girls in which so fascinated the young men that we broke the laws of propriety by presenting them, though they did not belong to us. C., the nephew, was of the finest type of young Englishman, clean cut, enthusiastic, good looking, with an air of engaging vitality and optimism. His partner, of his own age, was an insufferable youth. Brought up in some small Scottish valley, his outlook had never widened. Because he wanted to buy four oxen at a cheaper price, he tried desperately to abrogate quarantine regulations. If he had succeeded, he would have made a few rupees, but would have introduced disease in his neighbours' herds. This consideration did not affect him. He was much given to sneering at what he could not understand; and therefore, a great deal met with his disapproval. His reading had evidently brought him down only to about the middle sixties; and affairs at that date were to him still burning questions. Thus he would declaim vehemently over the Alabama claims.
"I blush with shame," he would cry, "when I think of England's attitude in that matter."
We pointed out that the dispute had been amicably settled by the best minds of the time, had passed between the covers of history, and had given way in immediate importance to several later topics.
"This vacillating policy," he swept on, "annoys me. For my part, I should like to see so firm a stand taken on all questions that in any part of the world, whenever a man, and wherever a man, said 'I am an Englishman? everybody else would draw back!'"
He was an incredible person. However, I was glad to see him; he and a few others of his kind have consoled me for a number of Americans I have met abroad. Lady A., with the tolerant philosophy of her class, seemed merely amused. I have often since wondered how this ill-assorted partnership turned out.
Two other neighbours of ours dropped in once or twice-twenty-six miles on bicycles, on which they could ride only a portion of the distance. They had some sort of a ranch up in the Ithanga Hills; and were two of the nicest fellows one would want to meet, brimful of energy, game for anything, and had so good a time always that the grumpiest fever could not prevent every one else having a good time too. Once they rode on their bicycles forty miles to Nairobi, danced half the night at a Government House ball, rode back in the early morning, and did an afternoon's plowing! They explained this feat by pointing out most convincingly that the ground was just right for plowing, but they did not want to miss the ball!
Occasionally a trim and dapper police official would drift in on horseback looking for native criminals; and once a safari came by. Twelve miles away was the famous Kamiti Farm of Heatly, where Roosevelt killed his buffalo; and once or twice Heatly himself, a fine chap, came to see us. Also just before I left with Duirs for a lion hunt on Kapiti, Lady Girouard, wife of the Governor, and her nephew and niece rode out for a hunt. In the African fashion, all these people brought their own personal servants. It makes entertaining easy. Nobody knows where all these boys sleep; but they manage to tuck away somewhere, and always show up after a mysterious system of their own whenever there is anything to be done.
We stayed at Juja a little over three weeks. Then most reluctantly said farewell and returned to Nairobi in preparation for a long trip to the south.
XXIX. CHAPTER THE LAST
With our return from Juja to Nairobi for a breathing space, this volume comes to a logical conclusion. In it I have tried to give a fairly comprehensive impression-it could hardly be a picture of so large a subject-of a portion of East Equatorial Africa, its animals, and its people. Those who are sufficiently interested will have an opportunity in a succeeding volume of wandering with us even farther afield. The low jungly coast region; the fierce desert of the Serengetti; the swift sullen rhinoceros-haunted stretches of the Tsavo; Nairobi, the strangest mixture of the twentieth centuries A.D. and B.C.; Mombasa with its wild, barbaric passionate ebb and flow of life, of colour, of throbbing sound, the great lions of the Kapiti Plains, the Thirst of the Loieta, the Masai spearmen, the long chase for the greater kudu; the wonderful, high unknown country beyond the Narossara and other affairs will there be detailed. If the reader of this volume happens to want more, there he will find it.
Most people are very much interested in how hot it gets in such tropics as we traversed. Unfortunately it is very difficult to tell them. Temperature tables have very little to do with the matter, for humidity varies greatly. On the Serengetti at lower reaches of the Guaso Nyero I have seen it above 110 degrees. It was hot, to be sure, but not exhaustingly so. On the other hand, at 90 or 95 degrees the low coast belt I have had the sweat run from me literally in streams; so that a muddy spot formed wherever I stood still. In the highlands, moreover, the nights were often extremely cold. I have recorded night temperatures as low as 40 at 7000 feet of elevation; and noon temperatures as low 65.
Of more importance than the actual or sensible temperature of the air is the power of the sun's rays. At all times of year this is practically constant; for the orb merely swings a few degrees north and south of the equator, and the extreme difference in time between its risings or settings is not more than twenty minutes. This power is also practically constant whatever the temperature of the air and is dangerous even on a cloudy day, when the heat waves are effectually screened off, but when the actinic rays are as active as ever. For this reason the protection of helmet and spine pad should never be omitted, no matter what the condition of the weather, between nine o'clock and four. A very brief exposure is likely to prove fatal. It should be added that some people stand these actinic rays better than others.
Such being the case, mere temperature tables could have little interest to the general reader. I append a few statistics, selected from many, and illustrative of the different conditions.
Locality. Elevation 6am noon 8pm Apparent conditions Coast —- 80 90 76 Very hot and sticky Isiola River 2900 65 94 84 Hot but not exhausting Tans River 3350 68 98 79 Hot but not exhausting Near Meru 5450 62 80 70 Very pleasant Serengetti Plains 2200 78 106 86 Hot and humid Narossara River 5450 54 89 69 Very pleasant Narossara Mts. 7400 42 80 50 Chilly Narossara Mts. 6450 40 62 52 Cold
GAME ANIMALS COLLECTED
Lion Bush pig Grant's gazelle Serval cat Baboon Thompson's gazelle Cheetah Colobus Gerenuk gazelle Black-backed jackal Hippopotamus Coke's hartebeests Silver jackal Rhinoceros Jackson's hartebeests Striped hyena Crocodile Neuman's hartebeests Spotted hyena Python Chandler's reedbuck Fennec fox Ward's zebra Bohur reedbuck Honey badger Grevy's zebra Beisa ox Aardewolf Notata gazelle Fringe-eared oryx Wart-hog Roberts' gazelle Duiker Waterbuck Klipspringer Harvey's duiker Sing-sing Dik-dik Greater kudu Oribi (3 varieties) Wildebeeste Lesser kudu Eland Roosevelt's wildebeests Sable antelope Roan antelope Buffalo Bushbuck Topi
Total, fifty-four kinds
GAME BIRDS COLLECTED
Marabout Gadwall Lesser bustard Egret European stork Guinea fowl Glossy ibis Quail Giant guinea fowl Egyptian goose Sand grouse Green pigeon White goose Francolin Blue pigeon English snipe Spur fowl Dove (2 species) Mallard duck Greater bustard
Total, twenty-two kinds
For the benefit of the sportsman and gun crank who want plain facts and no flapdoodle, the following statistics are offered. To the lay reader this inclusion will be incomprehensible; but I know my gun crank as I am one myself!
Army Springfield, model 1903 to take the 1906 cartridge, shooting the Spitzer sharp point bullet. Stocked to suit me by Ludwig Wundhammer, and fitted with Sheard gold bead front sight and Lyman aperture receiver sight. With this I did most my shooting, as the trajectory was remarkably good, and the killing power remarkable. Tried out both the old-fashioned soft point bullets and the sharp Spitzer bullets, but find the latter far the more effective. In fact the paralyzing shock given by the Spitzer is almost beyond belief. African animals are notably tenacious of life; but the Springfield dropped nearly half the animals dead with one shot; a most unusual record, as every sportsman will recognize. The bullets seemed on impact always to flatten slightly at the base, the point remaining intact-to spin widely on the axis, and to plunge off at an angle. This action of course depended on the high velocity. The requisite velocity, however seemed to keep up within all shooting ranges. A kongoni I killed at 638 paces (measured), and another at 566 paces both exhibited this action of the bullet. I mention these ranges because I have seen the statement in print that the remaining velocity beyond 350 yards would not be sufficient in this arm to prevent the bullet passing through cleanly. I should also hasten to add that I do not habitually shoot at game at the above ranges; but did so in these two instances for the precise purpose of testing the arm. Metal fouling did not bother me at all, though I had been led to expect trouble from it. The weapon was always cleaned with water so boiling hot that the heat of the barrel dried it. When occasionally flakes of metal fouling became visible a Marble brush always sufficed to remove enough of it. It was my habit to smear the bullets with mobilubricant before placing them in the magazine. This was not as much of a nuisance as it sounds. A small tin box about the size of a pill box lasted me the whole trip; and only once did I completely empty the magazine at one time. On my return I tested the rifle very thoroughly for accuracy. In spite of careful cleaning the barrel was in several places slightly corroded. For this the climate was responsible. The few small pittings, however, did not seem in any way to have affected the accuracy, as the rifle shot the following groups: 3-1/2 inches at 200 yards; 7-1/4 inches at 300 yards; and 11-1/2 inches at 500 yards.*
* It shot one five-shot 1-2/3 inch group at 200 yds., and several others at all distances less than the figures given, but I am convinced these must have been largely accidental.
These groups were not made from a machine rest, however; as none was available. The complete record with this arm for my whole stay in Africa was 307 hits out of 395 cartridges fired, representing 185 head of game killed. Most of this shooting was for meat and represented also all sorts of "varmints" as well.
The 405 Winchester. This weapon was sighted like the Springfield, and was constantly in the field as my second gun. For lions it could not be beaten; as it was very accurate, delivered a hard blow, and held five cartridges. Beyond 125 to 150 yards one had to begin to guess at distance, so for ordinary shooting I preferred the Springfield. In thick brush country, however, where one was likely to come suddenly on rhinoceroes, but where one wanted to be ready always for desirable smaller game, the Winchester was just the thing. It was short, handy, and reliable. One experience with a zebra 300-350 yards has made me question whether at long (hunting) ranges the remaining velocity of the big blunt nosed bullet is not seriously reduced; but as to that I have not enough data for a final conclusion. I have no doubt, however, that at such ranges, and beyond, the little Springfield has more shocking power. Of course at closer ranges the Winchester is by far the more powerful. I killed one rhinoceros with the 405, one buffalo and one hippo; but should consider it too light for an emergency gun against the larger dangerous animals, such as buffalo and rhinoceros. If one has time for extreme accuracy, and can pick the shot, it is plenty big; but I refer now to close quarters in a hurry. I had no trouble whatever with the mechanism of this arm; nor have I ever had trouble with any of the lever actions, although I have used them for many years. As regards speed of fire the controversy between the lever and bolt action advocates seems to me foolish in the extreme. Either action can be fired faster than it should be fired in the presence of game. It is my belief that any man, no matter how practised or how cool, can stampede himself beyond his best accuracy by pumping out his shots too rapidly. This is especially true in the face of charging dangerous game. So firmly do I believe this that I generally take the rifle from my shoulder between each shot. Even aimed rapid fire is of no great value as compared with better aimed slower fire. The first bullet delivers to an animal's nervous system about all the shock it can absorb. If the beast is not thereby knocked down and held down, subsequent shots can accomplish that desirable result only by reaching a vital spot or by tearing tissue. As an example of this I might instance a waterbuck into which I saw my companion empty five heavy 465 and double 500 bullets from cordite rifles before it fell! Thus if the game gets to its feet after the first shock, it is true that the hunter will often empty into it six or seven more bullets without apparent result, unless he aims carefully for a centrally vital point. It follows that therefore a second shot aimed with enough care to land it in that point is worth a lot more than a half dozen delivered in three or four seconds with only the accuracy necessary to group decently at very short range, even if all of them hit the beast. I am perfectly aware that this view will probably be disputed; but it is the result of considerable experience, close observation and real interest in the game. The whole record of the Winchester was 56 hits out of 70 cartridges fired; representing 27 head of game.
The 465 Holland & Holland double cordite rifle. This beautiful weapon, built and balanced like a fine hammerless shotgun, was fitted with open sights. It was of course essentially a close range emergency gun, but was capable of accurate work at a distance. I killed one buffalo dead with it, across a wide canyon, with the 300-yard leaf up on the back sight. Its game list however was limited to rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, buffaloes and crocodiles. The recoil in spite of its weight of twelve and one half pounds, was tremendous; but unnoticeable when I was shooting at any of these brutes. Its total record was 31 cartridges fired with 29 hits representing 13 head of game.
The conditions militating against marksmanship are often severe. Hard work in the tropics is not the most steadying regime in the world, and outside a man's nerves, he is often bothered by queer lights, and the effects of the mirage that swirls from the sun-heated plain. The ranges, too, are rather long. I took the trouble to pace out about every kill, and find that antelope in the plains averaged 245 yards; with a maximum of 638 yards, while antelope in covered country averaged 148 yards, with a maximum of 311.
APPENDIX IV. THE AMERICAN IN AFRICA
IN WHICH HE APPEARS AS DIFFERENT FROM THE ENGLISHMAN
It is always interesting to play the other fellow's game his way, and then, in light of experience, to see wherein our way and his way modify each other.
The above proposition here refers to camping. We do considerable of it in our country, especially in our North and West. After we have been at it for some time, we evolve a method of our own. The basis of that method is to do without; to GO LIGHT. At first even the best of us will carry too much plunder, but ten years of philosophy and rainstorms, trails and trials, will bring us to an irreducible minimum. A party of three will get along with two pack horses, say; or, on a harder trip, each will carry the necessities on his own back. To take just as little as is consistent with comfort is to play the game skilfully. Any article must pay in use for its transportation.
With this ideal deeply ingrained by the test of experience, the American camper is appalled by the caravan his British cousins consider necessary for a trip into the African back country. His said cousin has, perhaps, very kindly offered to have his outfit ready for him when he arrives. He does arrive to find from one hundred to one hundred and fifty men gathered as his personal attendants.
"Great Scot!" he cries, "I want to go camping; I don't want to invade anybody's territory. Why the army?"
He discovers that these are porters, to carry his effects.
"What effects?" he demands, bewildered. As far as he knows, he has two guns, some ammunition, and a black tin box, bought in London, and half-filled with extra clothes, a few medicines, a thermometer, and some little personal knick-knacks. He has been wondering what else he is going to put in to keep things from rattling about. Of course he expected besides these to take along a little plain grub, and some blankets, and a frying pan and kettle or so.
The English friend has known several Americans, so he explains patiently.
"I know this seems foolish to you," he says, "but you must remember you are under the equator and you must do things differently here. As long as you keep fit you are safe; but if you get run down a bit you'll go. You've got to do yourself well, down here, rather better than you have to in any other climate. You need all the comfort you can get; and you want to save yourself all you can."
This has a reasonable sound and the American does not yet know the game. Recovering from his first shock, he begins to look things over. There is a double tent, folding camp chair, folding easy chair, folding table, wash basin, bath tub, cot, mosquito curtains, clothes hangers; there are oil lanterns, oil carriers, two loads of mysterious cooking utensils and cook camp stuff; there is an open fly, which his friend explains is his dining tent; and there are from a dozen to twenty boxes standing in a row, each with its padlock. "I didn't go in for luxury," apologizes the English friend. "Of course we can easily add anything you want but I remember you wrote me that you wanted to travel light."
"What are those?" our American inquires, pointing to the locked boxes.
He learns that they are chop boxes, containing food and supplies. At this he rises on his hind legs and paws the air.
"Food!" he shrieks. "Why, man alive, I'm alone, and I am only going to be out three months! I can carry all I'll ever eat in three months in one of those boxes."
But the Englishman patiently explains. You cannot live on "bacon and beans" in this country, so to speak. You must do yourself rather well, you know, to keep in condition. And you cannot pack food in bags, it must be tinned. And then, of course, such things as your sparklet siphons and lime juice require careful packing-and your champagne.
"Champagne," breathes the American in awestricken tones.
"Exactly, dear boy, an absolute necessity. After a touch of sun there's nothing picks you up better than a mouthful of fizz. It's used as a medicine, not a drink, you understand."
The American reflects again that this is the other fellow's game, and that the other fellow has been playing it for some time, and that he ought to know. But he cannot yet see why the one hundred and fifty men. Again the Englishman explains. There is the Headman to run the show. Correct: we need him. Then there are four askaris. What are they? Native soldiers. No, you won't be fighting anything; but they keep the men going, and act as sort of sub-foremen in bossing the complicated work. Next is your cook, and your own valet and that of your horse. Also your two gunbearers.
"Hold on!" cries our friend. "I have only two guns, and I'm going to carry one myself."
But this, he learns, is quite impossible. It is never done. It is absolutely necessary, in this climate, to avoid all work.
That makes how many? Ten already, and there seem to be three tent loads, one bed load, one chair and table load, one lantern load, two miscellaneous loads, two cook loads, one personal box, and fifteen chop boxes-total twenty-six, plus the staff, as above, thirty-six. Why all the rest of the army?
Very simple: these thirty-six men have, according to regulation, seven tents, and certain personal effects, and they must have "potio" or a ration of one and a half pounds per diem. These things must be carried by more men.
"I see," murmurs the American, crushed, "and these more men have more tents and more potio, which must also be carried. It's like the House that Jack Built."
So our American concludes still once again that the other fellow knows his own game, and starts out. He learns he has what is called a "modest safari"; and spares a fleeting wonder as to what a really elaborate safari must be. The procession takes the field. He soon sees the value of the four askaris-the necessity of whom he has secretly doubted. Without their vigorous seconding the headman would have a hard time indeed. Also, when he observes the labour of tent-making, packing, washing, and general service performed by his tent boy, he abandons the notion that that individual could just as well take care of the horse as well, especially as the horse has to have all his grass cut and brought to him. At evening our friend has a hot bath, a long cool fizzly drink of lime juice and soda; he puts on the clean clothes laid out for him, assumes soft mosquito boots, and sits down to dinner. This is served to him in courses, and on enamel ware. Each course has its proper-sized plate and cutlery. He starts with soup, goes down through tinned whitebait or other fish, an entree, a roast, perhaps a curry, a sweet, and small coffee. He is certainly being "done well," and he enjoys the comfort of it.
There comes a time when he begins to wonder a little. It is all very pleasant, of course, and perhaps very necessary; they all tell him it is. But, after all, it is a little galling to the average man to think that of him. Your Englishman doesn't mind that; he enjoys being taken care of: but the sportsman of American training likes to stand on his own feet as far as he is able and conditions permit. Besides, it is expensive. Besides that, it is a confounded nuisance, especially when potio gives out and more must be sought, near or far. Then, if he is wise, he begins to do a little figuring on his own account.
My experience was very much as above. Three of us went out for eleven weeks with what was considered a very "modest" safari indeed. It comprised one hundred and eighteen men. My fifth and last trip, also with two companions, was for three months. Our personnel consisted, all told, forty men.
In essentials the Englishman is absolutely right. One cannot camp in Africa as one would at home. The experimenter would be dead in a month. In his application of that principle, however, he seems to the American point of view to overshoot. Let us examine his proposition in terms of the essentials-food, clothing, shelter. There is no doubt but that a man must keep in top condition as far as possible; and that, to do so, he must have plenty of good food. He can never do as we do on very hard trips at home: take a little tea, sugar, coffee, flour, salt, oatmeal. But on the other hand, he certainly does not need a five-course dinner every night, nor a complete battery of cutlery, napery and table ware to eat it from. Flour, sugar, oatmeal, tea and coffee, rice, beans, onions, curry, dried fruits, a little bacon, and some dehydrated vegetables will do him very well indeed-with what he can shoot. These will pack in waterproof bags very comfortably. In addition to feeding himself well, he finds he must not sleep next to the ground, he must have a hot bath every day, but never a cold one, and he must shelter himself with a double tent against the sun.
Those are the absolute necessities of the climate. In other words, if he carries a double tent, a cot, a folding bath; and gives a little attention to a properly balanced food supply, he has met the situation.
If, in addition, he takes canned goods, soda siphons, lime juice, easy chairs and all the rest of the paraphernalia, he is merely using a basic principle as an excuse to include sheer luxuries. In further extenuation of this he is apt to argue that porters are cheap, and that it costs but little more to carry these extra comforts. Against this argument, of course, I have nothing to say. It is the inalienable right of every man to carry all the luxuries he wants. My point is that the average American sportsman does not want them, and only takes them because he is overpersuaded that these things are not luxuries, but necessities. For, mark you, he could take the same things into the Sierras or the North-by paying; but he doesn't.
I repeat, it is the inalienable right of any man to travel as luxuriously as he pleases. But by the same token it is not his right to pretend that luxuries are necessities. That is to put himself into the same category with the man who always finds some other excuse for taking a drink than the simple one that he wants it.
The Englishman's point of view is that he objects to "pigging it," as he says. "Pigging it" means changing your home habits in any way. If you have been accustomed to eating your sardines after a meal, and somebody offers them to you first, that is "pigging it." In other words, as nearly as I can make out, "pigging it" does not so much mean doing things in an inadequate fashion as DOING THEM DIFFERENTLY. Therefore, the Englishman in the field likes to approximate as closely as may be his life in town, even if it takes one hundred and fifty men to do it. Which reduces the "pigging it" argument to an attempt at condemnation by calling names.
The American temperament, on the contrary, being more experimental and independent, prefers to build anew upon its essentials. Where the Englishman covers the situation blanket-wise with his old institutions, the American prefers to construct new institutions on the necessities of the case. He objects strongly to being taken care of too completely. He objects strongly to losing the keen enjoyment of overcoming difficulties and enduring hardships. The Englishman by habit and training has no such objections. He likes to be taken care of, financially, personally, and everlastingly. That is his ideal of life. If he can be taken care of better by employing three hundred porters and packing eight tin trunks of personal effects-as I have seen it done-he will so employ and take. That is all right: he likes it.
But the American does not like it. A good deal of the fun for him is in going light, in matching himself against his environment. It is no fun to him to carry his complete little civilization along with him, laboriously. If he must have cotton wool, let it be as little cotton wool as possible. He likes to be comfortable; but he likes to be comfortable with the minimum of means. Striking just the proper balance somehow adds to his interest in the game. And how he DOES object to that ever-recurring thought-that he is such a helpless mollusc that it requires a small regiment to get him safely around the country!
Both means are perfectly legitimate, of course; and neither view is open to criticism. All either man is justified in saying is that he, personally, wouldn't get much fun out of doing it the other way. As a matter of fact, human nature generally goes beyond its justifications and is prone to criticise. The Englishman waxes a trifle caustic on the subject of "pigging it"; and the American indulges in more than a bit of sarcasm on the subject of "being led about Africa like a dog on a string."
By some such roundabout mental process as the above the American comes to the conclusion that he need not necessarily adopt the other fellow's method of playing this game. His own method needs modification, but it will do. He ventures to leave out the tables and easy chair, takes a camp stool and eats off a chop box. To the best of his belief his health does not suffer from this. He gets on with a camper's allowance of plate, cup and cutlery, and so cuts out a load and a half of assorted kitchen utensils and table ware. He even does without a tablecloth and napkins! He discards the lime juice and siphons, and purchases a canvas evaporation bag to cool the water. He fires one gunbearer, and undertakes the formidable physical feat of carrying one of his rifles himself. And, above all, he modifies that grub list. The purchase of waterproof bags gets rid of a lot of tin: the staple groceries do quite as well as London fancy stuff. Golden syrup takes the place of all the miscellaneous jams, marmalades and other sweets. The canned goods go by the board. He lays in a stock of dried fruit. At the end, he is possessed of a grub list but little different from that of his Rocky Mountain trips. Some few items he has cut down; and some he has substituted; but bulk and weight are the same. For his three months' trip he has four or five chop boxes all told.
And then suddenly he finds that thus he has made a reduction all along the line. Tent load, two men; grub and kitchen, five men; personal, one man; bed, one man; miscellaneous, one or two. There is now no need for headmen and askaris to handle this little lot. Twenty more to carry food for the men-he is off with a quarter of the number of his first "modest safari."
You who are sportsmen and are not going to Africa, as is the case with most, will perhaps read this, because we are always interested in how the other fellow does it. To the few who are intending an exploration of the dark continent this concentration of a year's experience may be valuable. Remember to sleep off the ground, not to starve yourself, to protect yourself from the sun, to let negroes do all hard work but marching and hunting. Do these things your own way, using your common-sense on how to get at it. You'll be all right.
That, I conceive, covers the case. The remainder of your equipment has to do with camp affairs, and merely needs listing. The question here is not of the sort to get, but of what to take. The tents, cooking affairs, etc., are well adapted to the country. In selecting your tent, however, you will do very well to pick out one whose veranda fly reaches fairly to the ground, instead of stopping halfway.
1 tent and ground sheet 1 folding cot and cork mattress, 1 pillow, 3 single blankets 1 combined folding bath and ashstand ("X" brand) 1 camp stool 3 folding candle lanterns 1 gallon turpentine 3 lbs. alum 1 river rope Sail needles and twine 3 pangas (native tools for chopping and digging) Cook outfit (select these yourself, and cut out the extras) 2 axes (small) Plenty laundry soap Evaporation bag 2 pails 10 yards cotton cloth ("Mericani")
These things, your food, your porters' outfits and what trade goods you may need are quite sufficient. You will have all you want, and not too much. If you take care of yourself, you ought to keep in good health. Your small outfit permits greater mobility than does that of the English cousin, infinitely less nuisance and expense. Furthermore, you feel that once more you are "next to things," instead of "being led about Africa like a dog on a string."
APPENDIX V. THE AMERICAN IN AFRICA
WHAT HE SHOULD TAKE
Before going to Africa I read as many books as I could get hold of on the subject, some of them by Americans. In every case the authors have given a chapter detailing the necessary outfit. Invariably they have followed the Englishman's ideas almost absolutely. Nobody has ventured to modify those ideas in any essential manner. Some have deprecatingly ventured to remark that it is as well to leave out the tinned carfare-if you do not like carfare; but that is as far as they care to go. The lists are those of the firms who make a business of equipping caravans. The heads of such firms are generally old African travellers. They furnish the equipment their customers demand; and as English sportsmen generally all demand the same thing, the firms end by issuing a printed list of essentials for shooting parties in Africa, including carfare. Travellers follow the lists blindly, and later copy them verbatim into their books. Not one has thought to empty out the whole bag of tricks, to examine them in the light of reason, and to pick out what a man of American habits, as contrasted to one of English habits, would like to have. This cannot be done a priori; it requires the test of experience to determine how to meet, in our own way, the unusual demands of climate and conditions.
And please note, when the heads of these equipment firms, these old African travellers, take the field for themselves, they pay no attention whatever to their own printed lists of "essentials."
Now, premising that the English sportsman has, by many years' experience, worked out just what he likes to take into the field; and assuring you solemnly that his ideas are not in the least the ideas of American sportsman, let us see if we cannot do something for ourselves.
At present the American has either to take over in toto the English idea, which is not adapted to him, and is-TO HIM-a nuisance, or to go it blind, without experience except that acquired in a temperate climate, which is dangerous. I am not going to copy out the English list again, even for comparison. I have not the space; and if curious enough, you can find it in any book on modern African travel. Of course I realize well that few Americans go to Africa; but I also realize well that the sportsman is a crank, a wild and eager enthusiast over items of equipment anywhere. He-and I am thinking emphatically of him-would avidly devour the details of the proper outfit for the gentle art of hunting the totally extinct whiffenpoof.
Let us begin, first of all, with:
Personal Equipment Clothes. On the top of your head you must have a sun helmet. Get it of cork, not of pith. The latter has a habit of melting unobtrusively about your ears when it rains. A helmet in brush is the next noisiest thing to a circus band, so it is always well to have, also, a double terai. This is not something to eat. It is a wide felt hat, and then another wide felt hat on top of that. The vertical-rays-of-the-tropical-sun (pronounced as one word to save time after you have heard and said it a thousand times) are supposed to get tangled and lost somewhere between the two hats. It is not, however, a good contraption to go in all day when the sun is strong.
As underwear you want the lightest Jaeger wool. Doesn't sound well for tropics, but it is an essential. You will sweat enough anyway, even if you get down to a brass wire costume like the natives. It is when you stop in the shade, or the breeze, or the dusk of evening, that the trouble comes. A chill means trouble, SURE. Two extra suits are all you want. There is no earthly sense in bringing more. Your tent boy washes them out whenever he can lay hands on them-it is one of his harmless manias.
Your shirt should be of the thinnest brown flannel. Leather the shoulders, and part way down the upper arm, with chamois. This is to protect your precious garment against the thorns when you dive through them. On the back you have buttons sewed wherewith to attach a spine pad. Before I went to Africa I searched eagerly for information or illustration of a spine pad. I guessed what it must be for, and to an extent what it must be like, but all writers maintained a conservative reticence as to the thing itself. Here is the first authorized description. A spine pad is a quilted affair in consistency like the things you are supposed to lift hot flat-irons with. On the outside it is brown flannel, like the shirt; on the inside it is a gaudy orange colour. The latter is not for aesthetic effect, but to intercept actinic rays. It is eight or ten inches wide, is shaped to button close up under your collar, and extends halfway down your back. In addition it is well to wear a silk handkerchief around the neck; as the spine and back of the head seem to be the most vulnerable to the sun.
For breeches, suit yourself as to material. It will have to be very tough, and of fast colour. The best cut is the "semi-riding," loose at the knees, which should be well faced with soft leather, both for crawling, and to save the cloth in grass and low brush. One pair ought to last four months, roughly speaking. You will find a thin pair of ordinary khaki trousers very comfortable as a change for wear about camp. In passing I would call your attention to "shorts." Shorts are loose, bobbed off khaki breeches, like knee drawers. With them are worn puttees or leather leggings, and low boots. The knees are bare. They are much affected by young Englishmen. I observed them carefully at every opportunity, and my private opinion is that man has rarely managed to invent as idiotically unfitted a contraption for the purpose in hand. In a country teeming with poisonous insects, ticks, fever-bearing mosquitoes; in a country where vegetation is unusually well armed with thorns, spines and hooks, mostly poisonous; in a country where, oftener than in any other a man is called upon to get down on his hands and knees and crawl a few assorted abrading miles, it would seem an obvious necessity to protect one's bare skin as much as possible. The only reason given for these astonishing garments is that they are cooler and freer to walk in. That I can believe. But they allow ticks and other insects to crawl up, mosquitoes to bite, thorns to tear, and assorted troubles to enter. And I can vouch by experience that ordinary breeches are not uncomfortably hot or tight. Indeed, one does not get especially hot in the legs anyway. I noticed that none of the old-time hunters like Cuninghame or Judd wore shorts. The real reason is not that they are cool, but that they are picturesque. Common belief to the contrary, your average practical, matter-of-fact Englishman loves to dress up. I knew one engaged in farming-picturesque farming-in our own West, who used to appear at afternoon tea in a clean suit of blue overalls! It is a harmless amusement. Our own youths do it, also, substituting chaps for shorts, perhaps. I am not criticising the spirit in them; but merely trying to keep mistaken shorts off you.
For leg gear I found that nothing could beat our American combination of high-laced boots and heavy knit socks. Leather leggings are noisy, and the rolled puttees hot and binding. Have your boots ten or twelve inches high, with a flap to buckle over the tie of the laces, with soles of the mercury-impregnated leather called "elk hide," and with small Hungarian hobs. Your tent boy will grease these every day with "dubbin," of which you want a good supply. It is not my intention to offer free advertisements generally, but I wore one pair of boots all the time I was in Africa, through wet, heat, and long, long walking. They were in good condition when I gave them away finally, and had not started a stitch. They were made by that excellent craftsman, A. A. Cutter, of Eau Claire, Wis., and he deserves and is entirely welcome to this puff. Needless to remark, I have received no especial favours from Mr. Cutter.
Six pairs of woollen socks, knit by hand, if possible-will be enough. For evening, when you come in, I know nothing better than a pair of very high moosehide moccasins. They should, however, be provided with thin soles against the stray thorn, and should reach well above the ankle by way of defence against the fever mosquito. That festive insect carries on a surreptitious guerrilla warfare low down. The English "mosquito boot" is simply an affair like a riding boot, made of suede leather, with thin soles. It is most comfortable. My objection is that it is unsubstantial and goes to pieces in a very brief time even under ordinary evening wear about camp.
You will also want a coat. In American camping I have always maintained the coat is a useless garment. There one does his own work to a large extent. When at work or travel the coat is in the way. When in camp the sweater or buckskin shirt is handier, and more easily carried. In Africa, however, where the other fellow does most of the work, a coat is often very handy. Do not make the mistake of getting an unlined light-weight garment. When you want it at all, you want it warm and substantial. Stick on all the pockets possible, and have them button securely.
For wet weather there is nothing to equal a long and voluminous cape. Straps crossing the chest and around the waist permit one to throw it off the shoulders to shoot. It covers the hands, the rifle-most of the little horses or mules one gets out there. One can sleep in or on it, and it is a most effective garment against heavy winds. One suit of pajamas is enough, considering your tent boy's commendable mania for laundry work. Add handkerchiefs and you are fixed.
You will wear most of the above, and put what remains in your "officer's box." This is a thin steel, air-tight affair with a wooden bottom, and is the ticket for African work.
Sporting. Pick out your guns to suit yourself. You want a light one and a heavy one.
When I came to send out my ammunition, I was forced again to take the other fellow's experience. I was told by everybody that I should bring plenty, that it was better to have too much than too little, etc. I rather thought so myself, and accordingly shipped a trifle over 1,500 rounds of small bore cartridges. Unfortunately, I never got into the field with any of my numerous advisers on this point, so cannot state their methods from first-hand information. Inductive reasoning leads me to believe that they consider it unsportsmanlike to shoot at a standing animal at all, or at one running nearer than 250 yards. Furthermore, it is etiquette to continue firing until the last cloud of dust has died down on the distant horizon. Only thus can I conceive of getting rid of that amount of ammunition. In eight months of steady shooting, for example-shooting for trophies, as well as to feed a safari of fluctuating numbers, counting jackals, marabout and such small trash-I got away with 395 rounds of small bore ammunition and about 100 of large. This accounted for 225 kills. That should give one an idea. Figure out how many animals you are likely to want for ANY purpose, multiply by three, and bring that many cartridges.
To carry these cartridges I should adopt the English system of a stout leather belt on which you slip various sized pockets and loops to suit the occasion. Each unit has loops for ten cartridges. You rarely want more than that; and if you do, your gunbearer is supplied. In addition to the loops, you have leather pockets to carry your watch; your money, your matches and tobacco, your compass-anything you please. They are handy and safe. The tropical climate is too "sticky" to get much comfort, or anything else, out of ordinary pockets.
In addition, you supply your gunbearer with a cartridge belt, a leather or canvas carrying bag, water bottle for him and for yourself, a sheath knife and a whetstone. In the bag are your camera, tape line, the whetstone, field cleaners and lunch. You personally carry your field glasses, sun glasses, a knife, compass, matches, police whistle and notebook. The field glasses should not be more than six power; and if possible you should get the sort with detachable prisms. The prisms are apt to cloud in a tropical climate, and the non-detachable sort are almost impossible for a layman to clean. Hang these glasses around your neck by a strap only just long enough to permit you to raise them to your eyes. The best notebook is the "loose-leaf" sort. By means of this you can keep always a fresh leaf on top; and at night can transfer your day's notes to safe keeping in your tin box. The sun glasses should not be smoked or dark-you can do nothing with them-but of the new amberol, the sort that excludes the ultra-violet rays, but otherwise makes the world brighter and gayer. Spectacle frames of non-corrosive white metal, not steel, are the proper sort.
To clean your guns you must supply plenty of oil, and then some more. The East African gunbearer has a quite proper and gratifying, but most astonishing horror for a suspicion of rust; and to use oil any faster he would have to drink it.
Other Equipment. All this has taken much time to tell about, it has not done much toward filling up that tin box. Dump in your toilet effects and a bath towel, two or three scalpels for taxidermy, a ball of string, some safety-pins, a small tool kit, sewing materials, a flask of brandy, kodak films packed in tin, a boxed thermometer, an aneroid (if you are curious as to elevations), journal, tags for labelling trophies, a few yards of gun cloth, and the medicine kit.
The latter divides into two classes: for your men and for yourself. The men will suffer from certain well defined troubles: "tumbo," or overeating; diarrhaea, bronchial colds, fever and various small injuries. For "tumbo" you want a liberal supply of Epsom's salts; for diarrhaea you need chlorodyne; any good expectorant for the colds; quinine for the fever; permanganate and plenty of bandages for the injuries. With this lot you can do wonders. For yourself you need, or may need, in addition, a more elaborate lot: Laxative, quinine, phenacetin, bismuth and soda, bromide of ammonium, morphia, camphor-ice, and aspirin. A clinical thermometer for whites and one for blacks should be included. A tin of malted milk is not a bad thing to take as an emergency ration after fever.
By this time your tin box is fairly well provided. You may turn to general supplies.