Words or phrases in italics are enclosed beetwee underscores, such as italic.
[Drawing: . . .] indicates a hand-drawn Illustration
Hunting Adventures in the Big Game Country
JOHN T. McCUTCHEON
Cartoonist of the Chicago Tribune
Illustrated with Photographs and Cartoons by the Author
[Photograph: By courtesy of W.D. Boyce. One Morning's Bag]
Indianapolis The Bobbs-Merrill Company Publishers
Copyright 1910 The Tribune Company, Chicago
Copyright 1910 The Bobbs-Merrill Company
Press of Braunworth & Co. Bookbinders and Printers Brooklyn, N.Y.
TO THOSE ADVENTUROUS SOULS WHO RESENT THE RESTRAINT OF THE BEATEN PATH THESE OBSERVATIONS OF AN AMATEUR ARE DEDICATED
This collection of African stories has no pretentious purpose. It is merely the record of a most delightful hunting trip into those fascinating regions along the Equator, where one may still have "thrilling adventures" and live in a story-book atmosphere, where the "roar of the lion" and the "crack of the rifle" are part of the every-day life, and where in a few months one may store up enough material to keep the memory pleasantly occupied all the rest of a lifetime. The stories are descriptive of a four-and-a-half months' trip in the big game country and pretend to no more serious purpose than merely to relate the experiences of a self-confessed amateur under such conditions.
JOHN T. McCUTCHEON
CHAPTER ONE Page The Preparation for Departure. Experiences with Willing Friends and Advisers 1
CHAPTER TWO The First Half of the Voyage. From Naples to the Red Sea, with a Few Side-Lights on Indian Ocean Travel 13
CHAPTER THREE The Island of Mombasa, with the Jungles of Equatorial Africa "Only a Few Blocks Away." A Story of the World's Champion Man-Eating Lions 28
CHAPTER FOUR On the Edge of the Athi Plains, Face to Face with Herds of Wild Game. Up in a Balloon at Nairobi 43
CHAPTER FIVE Into the Heart of the Big Game Country with a Retinue of More Than One Hundred Natives. A Safari and What It Is 65
CHAPTER SIX A Lion Drive. With a Rhino in Range Some One Shouts "Simba" and I Get My First Glimpse of a Wild Lion. Three Shots and Out 82
CHAPTER SEVEN On the Tana River, the Home of the Rhino. The Timid are Frightened, the Dangerous Killed, and Others Photographed. Moving Pictures of a Rhino Charge 105
CHAPTER EIGHT Meeting Colonel Roosevelt in the Uttermost Outpost of Semi-Civilization. He Talks of Many Things, Hears that he has Been Reported Dead, and Promptly Plans an Elephant Hunt 123
CHAPTER NINE The Colonel Reads Macaulay's "Essays," Discourses on Many Subjects with Great Frankness, Declines a Drink of Scotch Whisky, and Kills Three Elephants 141
CHAPTER TEN Elephant Hunting Not an Occasion for Lightsome Merrymaking. Five Hundred Thousand Acres of Forest in Which the Kenia Elephant Lives, Wanders and Brings Up His Children 164
CHAPTER ELEVEN Nine Days Without Seeing an Elephant. The Roosevelt Party Departs and We March for the Mountains on Our Big Elephant Hunt. The Policeman of the Plains 184
CHAPTER TWELVE "Twas the Day Before Christmas." Photographing a Charging Elephant, Cornering a Wounded Elephant in a River Jungle Growth. A Thrilling Charge. Hassan's Courage 201
CHAPTER THIRTEEN In the Swamps of the Guas Ngishu. Beating for Lions We Came Upon a Strange and Fascinating Wild Beast, Which Became Attached to Our Party. The Little Wanderobo Dog 214
CHAPTER FOURTEEN Who's Who in Jungleland. The Hartebeest and the Wildebeest, the Amusing Giraffe and the Ubiquitous Zebra, the Lovely Gazelle and the Gentle Impalla 233
CHAPTER FIFTEEN Some Natural History in Which it is Revealed that a Sing-Sing Waterbuck is Not a Singing Topi, and that a Topi is Not a Species of Head-dress 251
CHAPTER SIXTEEN In the Tall Grass of the Mount Elgon Country. A Narrow Escape from a Long-Horned Rhino. A Thanksgiving Dinner and a Visit to a Native Village 269
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Up and Down the Mountain Side from the Ketosh Village to the Great Cave of Bats. A Dramatic Episode with the Finding of a Black Baby as a Climax 291
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Electric Lights, Motor-Cars and Fifteen Varieties of Wild Game. Chasing Lions Across the Country in a Carriage 313
CHAPTER NINETEEN The Last Word in Lion Hunting. Methods of Trailing, Ensnaring and Otherwise Outwitting the King of Beasts. A Chapter of Adventures 325
CHAPTER TWENTY Abdullah the Cook and Some Interesting Gastronomic Experiences. Thirteen Tribes Represented in the Safari. Abdi's Story of His Uncle and the Lions 341
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Back Home from Africa. Ninety Days on the Way Through India, Java, China, Manila and Japan. Three Chow Dogs and a Final Series of Amusing Adventures 360
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Ways and Means. What to Take and What Not to Take. Information for Those that Wish, Intend or Hope to Hunt in the African Highlands 384
THE PREPARATION FOR DEPARTURE. EXPERIENCES WITH WILLING FRIENDS AND ADVISERS
Ever since I can remember, almost, I have cherished a modest ambition to hunt lions and elephants. At an early age, or, to be more exact, at about that age which finds most boys wondering whether they would rather be Indian fighters or sailors, I ran across a copy of Stanley's Through the Dark Continent. It was full of fascinating adventures. I thrilled at the accounts which spoke in terms of easy familiarity of "express" rifles and "elephant" guns, and in my vivid but misguided imagination, I pictured an elephant gun as a sort of cannon—a huge, unwieldy arquebus—that fired a ponderous shell. The old woodcuts of daring hunters and charging lions inspired me with unrest and longing—the longing to bid the farm farewell and start down the road for Africa. Africa! What a picture it conjured up in my fancy! Then, as even now, it symbolized a world of adventurous possibilities; and in my boyhood fancy, it lay away off there—somewhere—vaguely—beyond mountains and deserts and oceans, a vast, mysterious, unknown land, that swarmed with inviting dangers and alluring romance.
One by one my other youthful ambitions have been laid away. I have given up hope of ever being an Indian fighter out on the plains, because the pesky redskins have long since ceased to need my strong right arm to quell them. I also have yielded up my ambition to be a sailor, or rather, that branch of the profession in which I hoped to specialize—piracy—because, for some regretful reason, piracy has lost much of its charm in these days of great liners. There is no treasure to search for any more, and the golden age of the splendid clipper ships, with their immense spread of canvas, has given way to the unromantic age of the grimy steamer, about which there is so little to appeal to the imagination. Consequently, lion hunting is about the only thing left—except wars, and they are few and far between.
And so, after suffering this "lion-hunting" ambition to lie fallow for many years, I at last reached a day when it seemed possible to realize it. The chance came in a curiously unexpected way. Mr. Akeley, a man famed in African hunting exploits, was to deliver a talk before a little club to which I belonged. I went, and as a result of my thrilled interest in every word he said, I met him and talked with him and finally was asked to join a new African expedition that he had in prospect. With the party were to be Mrs. Akeley, with a record of fourteen months in the big game country, and Mr. Stephenson, a hunter with many years of experience in the wild places of the United States, Canada and Mexico. My hunting experience had been chiefly gained in my library, but for some strange reason, it did not seem incongruous that I should begin my real hunting in a lion and elephant country.
[Drawing: Getting Ready for Lion Shooting]
I had all the prowess of a Tartarin, and during the five months that elapsed before I actually set forth, I went about my daily work with a mind half dazed with the delicious consciousness that I was soon to become a lion hunter. I feared that modern methods might have taken away much of the old-time romance of the sport, but I felt certain that there was still to be something left in the way of excitement and adventure.
The succeeding pages of this book contain the chronicle of the nine delightful months that followed my departure from America.
In the middle of August Mr. Stephenson and I arrived in London. Mr. Akeley had ordered most of our equipment by letter, but there still remained many things to be done, and for a week or more we were busy from morning till night.
It is amazing how much stuff is required to outfit a party of four people for an African shooting expedition of several months' duration. First in importance come the rifles, then the tents and camp equipment, then the clothes and boots, then the medical supplies, and finally the food. Perhaps the food might be put first in importance, but just now, after a hearty dinner, it seems to be the least important detail.
Many men outfitting for an African campaign among wild animals secure their outfits in London. It is there, in modest little shops, that one gets the weapons that are known to sportsmen from one end of the world to the other—weapons designed expressly for the requirements of African shooting, and which have long stood the test of hard, practical service. For two days we haunted these famous gun-makers' shops, and for two days I made a magnificent attempt to look learnedly at things about which I knew little.
[Drawing: Practising in the Museum]
At last, after many hours of gun shopping, attended by the constant click of a taxicab meter, I assembled such an imposing arsenal that I was nervous whenever I thought about it. With such a battery it was a foregone conclusion that something, or somebody, was likely to get hurt. I hoped that it would be something, and not somebody.
The old-time "elephant gun" which shot an enormous ball and a staggering charge of black powder has given way to the modern double-barreled rifle, with its steel bullet and cordite powder. It is not half so heavy or clumsy as the old timers, but its power and penetration are tremendous. The largest of this modern type is the .650 cordite—that is, it shoots a bullet six hundred and fifty thousandths of an inch in diameter, and has a frightful recoil. This weapon is prohibitive on account of its recoil, and few, if any, sportsmen now care to carry one. The most popular type is the .450 and .475 cordite double-barreled ejector, hammerless rifles, and these are the ones that every elephant hunter should have.
We started out with the definite purpose of getting three .450s—one for Mr. Akeley, one for Mr. Stephenson, and one for myself; also three nine-millimeter (.375) Mannlichers and two .256 Mannlichers. What we really got were three .475 cordites, two nine-millimeter Mannlichers, one eight-millimeter Mauser, and two .256 Mannlichers. We were switched off the .450s because a government regulation forbids the use of that caliber in Uganda, although it is permitted in British East Africa, and so we played safe by getting the .475s. This rifle is a heavy gun that carries a bullet large enough to jolt a fixed star and recoil enough to put one's starboard shoulder in the hospital for a day or so. Theoretically, the sportsman uses this weapon in close quarters, and with a bullet placed according to expert advice sees the charging lion, rhino or elephant turn a back somersault on his way to kingdom come. It has a tremendous impact and will usually stop an animal even if the bullet does not kill it. The bullets of a smaller rifle may kill the animal, but not stop it at once. An elephant or lion, with a small bullet in its heart, may still charge for fifty or one hundred yards before it falls. Hence the necessity for a rifle that will shock as well as penetrate.
[Drawing: Advice from a Cheerful Stranger]
Several experienced African lion hunters strongly advise taking a "paradox," which in their parlance is affectionately called a "cripple-stopper." It looks like what one would suppose an elephant gun to look like. Its weight is staggering, and it shoots a solid ball, backed up by a fearful charge of cordite. They use it under the following conditions: Suppose that a big animal has been wounded and not instantly killed. It at once assumes the aggressive, and is savage beyond belief. The pain of the wound infuriates it and its one object in life is to get at the man who shot it. It charges in a well-nigh irresistible rush, and no ordinary bullet can stop it unless placed in one or two small vital spots. Under the circumstances the hunter may not be able to hold his rifle steady enough to hit these aforesaid spots. That is when the paradox comes in. The hunter points it in a general way in the direction of the oncoming beast, pulls the trigger and hopes for the best. The paradox bullet hits with the force of a sledge hammer, and stuns everything within a quarter of a mile, and the hunter turns several back somersaults from the recoil and fades into bruised unconsciousness.
We decided not to get the paradox, preferring to trust to hitting the small vital spots rather than transport the weapon by hand through long tropical marches.
The nine-millimeter rifles were said to be large enough for nearly all purposes, but not reassuring in extremely close quarters. The .256 Mannlichers are splendid for long range shooting, as they carry a small bore bullet and have enormous penetrating power.
The presumption, therefore, was that we should first shoot the lion at long range with the .256, then at a shorter range with the nine-millimeter, then at close range with the .475 cordite, and then perhaps fervently wish that we had the paradox or a balloon.
After getting our arsenal, we then had to get the cartridges, all done up in tin boxes of a weight not exceeding sixty pounds, that being the limit of weight which the African porter is expected to carry. There were several thousand rounds of ammunition, but this did not mean that several thousand lions were to be killed. Allowing for a fair percentage of misses, we calculated, if lucky, to get one or two lions.
After getting our rifles and ammunition under satisfactory headway, we then saw that our seventy-two "chop" boxes of food were sure to be ready in time to catch our steamer at Southampton.
And yet these preliminary details did not half conclude our shopping preliminaries in London. There were camping rugs, blankets, cork mattresses, pillows and pillow cases, bed bags, towels, lanterns, mosquito boots, whetstones, hunting and skinning knives, khaki helmets, pocket tapes to measure trophies, Pasteur anti-venomous serum, hypodermic syringes, chairs, tables, cots, puttees, sweaters, raincoats, Jaeger flannels, socks and pajamas, cholera belts, Burberry hunting clothes, and lots of other little odds and ends that seemed to be necessary.
The clothes were put up in air-proof tin uniform cases, small enough to be easily carried by a porter and secure enough to keep out the millions of ants that were expected to seek habitation in them.
[Drawing: Part of the Equipment]
Most of our equipment, especially the food supplies, had been ordered by letter, and these we found to be practically ready. The remaining necessities, guns, ammunition, camera supplies, medical supplies, clothes, helmets, and so on, we assembled after two days of prodigious hustling. There was nothing then to be done except to hope that all our mountainous mass of equipment would be safely installed on the steamer for Mombasa. This steamer, the Adolph Woermann, sailed from Hamburg on the fourteenth of August, was due at Southampton on the eighteenth and at Naples on the thirtieth. To avoid transporting the hundred cases of supplies overland to Naples, it was necessary to get them to Southampton on the eighteenth. It was a close shave, for only by sending them down by passenger train on that morning were they able to reach Southampton. Fortunately our hopes were fulfilled, and at last we received word that they were on board and were careening down toward Naples, where we expected to join them on the thirtieth.
[Drawing: Studying the Lion's Vital Spots]
After disposing of this important preliminary, we then had time to visit the zoo at South Kensington and the British museum of natural history, where we carefully studied many of the animals that we hoped to meet later under less formal conditions. We picked out the vital spots, as seen from all angles, and nothing then remained to be done but to get down to British East Africa with our rifles and see whether we could hit those vital spots.
Mr. Akeley had an elaborate moving picture machine and we planned to get some excellent pictures of charging animals. The lion, rhino or other subject was to be allowed to charge within a few feet of the camera and then with a crack of our trusty rifles he was supposed to stop. We seemed safe in assuming, even without exaggeration, that this would be exciting.
It was at least that.
At last we said farewell to London, a one-sided ceremony, stopped at Rheims to see the aviators, joined the Akeleys at Paris, and after touching a few of the high spots in Europe, arrived in Naples in ample time to catch our boat for Mombasa.
THE FIRST HALF OF THE VOYAGE. FROM NAPLES TO THE RED SEA, WITH A FEW SIDE LIGHTS ON INDIAN OCEAN TRAVEL
Lion hunting had not been fraught with any great hardships or dangers up to this time. The Mediterranean was as smooth as a mill-pond, the Suez Canal was free from any tempestuous rolling, and the Red Sea was placid and hot. After some days we were in the Indian Ocean, plowing lazily along and counting the hours until we reached Mombasa. Perhaps after that the life of a lion hunter would be less tranquil and calm.
The Adolph Woermann was a six-thousand-three-hundred-ton ship, three years old, and so heavily laden with guns and ammunition and steel rails for the Tanga Railway that it would hardly roll in a hurricane. There were about sixty first-class passengers on board and a fair number in the second class. These passengers represented a dozen or so different nationalities, and were bound for all sorts of places in East, Central, and South Africa. Some were government officials going out to their stations, some were army officers, some were professional hunters, and some were private hunters going out "for" to shoot.
There were also a number of women on board and some children. I don't know how many children there were, but in the early morning there seemed to be a great number.
These Indian Ocean steamers are usually filled with an interesting lot of passengers. At first you may only speculate as to who and what they are and whither they are bound, but as the days go by you get acquainted with many of them and find out who nearly everybody is and all about him. On this steamer there were several interesting people. First in station and importance was Sir Percy Girouard, the newly appointed governor of British East Africa, who was going out to Nairobi to take his position. Sir Percy is a splendid type of man, only about forty-two years old, but with a career that has been filled with brilliant achievements. He was born in Canada and was knighted in 1900. He looks as Colonel Roosevelt looked ten years ago, and, in spite of a firm, definite personality of great strength, is also courteous and kindly. He has recently been the governor of northern Nigeria, and before that time served in South Africa and the Soudan. It was of him that Lord Kitchener said "the Soudan Railway would never have been built without his services."
The new governor was accompanied by two staff officers, one a Scotchman and the other an Irishman, and both of them with the clean, healthy look of the young British army officer. There would be a big reception at Mombasa, no doubt, with bands a-playing and fireworks popping, when the ship arrived with the new executive.
[Photograph: By courtesy of W.D. Boyce. "Crossing the Line" Ceremonies]
[Photograph: Mr. Stephenson, Mr. and Mrs. Akeley and Mr. McCutcheon. Courtesy of Boyce Balloonagraph Expedition]
[Drawing: Before and After Outfitting]
There were also several officials with high-sounding titles who were going out to their stations in German East Africa. These gentlemen were mostly accompanied by wives and babies and between them they imparted a spirited scene of domesticity to the life on shipboard. The effect of a man wheeling a baby carriage about the deck was to make one think of some peaceful place far from the deck of a steamer.
Little Tim was the life of the ship. He was a little boy aged eighteen months, who began life at Sombra, in Nyassaland, British Central Africa. Just now he was returning from England with his father and mother. Little Tim had curly hair, looked something like a brownie, and was brimming over with energy and curiosity every moment that he was awake. If left alone five minutes he was quite likely to try to climb up the rigging. Consequently he was never left alone, and the decks were constantly echoing with a fond mother's voice begging him not to "do that," or to "come right here, Tim." One of Tim's chief diversions was to divest himself of all but his two nearest articles of wear and sit in the scuppers with the water turned on. A crowd of passengers was usually grouped around him and watched his manoeuvers with intense interest. He was probably photographed a hundred times and envied by everybody on board. It was so fearfully hot in the Red Sea that to be seated in running water with almost no clothes on seemed about the nicest possible way to pass the time.
[Drawing: Little Tim]
There was a professional elephant hunter on board. He was a quiet, reserved sort of man, pleasant, and not at all bloodthirsty in appearance. He had spent twenty years shooting in Africa, and had killed three hundred elephants. On his last trip, during which he spent nearly four years in the Congo, he secured about two and one-half tons of ivory. This great quantity of tusks, worth nearly five dollars a pound, brought him over twenty thousand dollars, after paying ten per cent. to the Congo government. The Belgians place no limit upon the number of elephants one may shoot, just so they get their rake-off. In British territory, however, sportsmen are limited to only two elephants a year to those holding licenses to shoot. Our elephant hunter friend was now on his way back to shoot some more.
[Drawing: The Elephant Hunter and His Bag]
There was another interesting character on board who caused many of us to stop and think. He was a young British army officer who was mauled by a lioness several months ago in Somaliland. He now walked with a decided limp and was likely to lose his commission in the army because of physical infirmities. He was cheerful, pleasant, and looked hopefully forward to a time when he could have another go at a lion. This is the way the thing happened: Last March he was shooting in Somaliland and ran across a lioness. He shot her, but failed to disable her. She immediately charged, chewed up his leg, arm and shoulder, and was then killed by his Somali gunbearer. He was days from any help. He dressed his own wounds and the natives tried to carry him to the nearest settlement. Finally his bandages were exhausted, the natives deserted, and it was only after frightful suffering that he reached help. In three weeks blood poisoning set in, as is usual after the foul teeth of a lion have entered the flesh, and for several months he was close to death. Now he was up and about, cheerful and sunny, but a serious object lesson to the lion hunters bound for the lair of the lion.
In the smoking-room of the Adolph Woermann was a bronze bust of Mr. Woermann presented by himself. Whether he meant to perpetuate his own memory is not vital to the story. The amusing feature lies in the fact that some irreverent passenger, whose soul was dead to the sacredness of art, put a rough slouch hat on Mr. Woermann one night, with side-splitting results. Mr. W. is a man with a strong, intelligent German face, something like that of Prince Henry, and in the statue appears with bare neck and shoulders. The addition of a rakish slouch hat produced a startling effect, greatly detracting from the strictly artistic, but adding much to the interest of the bust. It looked very much as though he had been ashore at Aden and had come back on board feeling the way a man does when he wants his hat on the side of his head. Still, what can a shipowner expect who puts a nude bust of himself in his own ship?
[Drawing: Having Fun with Mr. Woermann]
[Drawing: An African Hair-Cut]
The ship's barber was the Associated Press of the ship's company, and his shop was the Park Row of the vessel. He had plenty of things to talk about and more than enough words to express them. Every vague rumor that floated about was sure to find lodgment in the barber shop, just as a piece of driftwood finally reaches the beach. He knew all the secrets of the voyage and told them freely.
One day I went down to have my hair trimmed. He asked if I'd have it done African style. "How's that?" I inquired. "Shaved," said he, and "No," said I. A number of the Germans on board were adopting the African style of hair-cut, and the effect was something depressing. Every bump that had lain dormant under a mat of hair at once assumed startling proportions, and red ears that were retiring suddenly stuck out from the pale white scalp like immense flappers. A devotee of this school of tonsorial art had a peeled look that did not commend him to favorable mention in artistic circles. But the flies, they loved it, so it was an ill wind that blew no good.
The Red Sea has a well-earned reputation of being hot. We expected a certain amount of sultriness, but not in such lavish prodigality as it was delivered. The first day out from Suez found the passengers peeling off unnecessary clothes, and the next day found the men sleeping out on deck. There wasn't much sleeping. The band concert lasted until ten-thirty, then the three Germans who were trying to drink all the beer on board gave a nightly saengerfest that lasted until one o'clock, and then the men who wash down the decks appeared at four. Between one and four it was too hot to sleep, so that there wasn't much restful repose on the ship until we got out of the Red Sea.
[Drawing: We Slept on Deck in the Red Sea]
Down at the end of the Red Sea are the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. In the middle of the straits is the island of Perim, a sun-baked, bare and uninviting chunk of land that has great strategic value and little else. It absolutely commands the entrance to the Red Sea, and, naturally, is British. Nearly all strategic points in the East are British, from Gibraltar to Singapore. A lighthouse, a signal station, and a small detachment of troops are the sole points of interest in Perim, and as one rides past one breathes a fervent prayer of thanksgiving that he is not one of the summer colony on Perim.
They tell a funny story about an English officer who was sent to Perim to command the detachment. At the end of six months an official order was sent for his transfer, because no one is expected to last longer than six months without going crazy or committing suicide. To the great surprise of the war office a letter came back stating that the officer was quite contented at Perim, that he liked the peace and quiet of the place, and begged that he be given leave to remain another six months. The war office was amazed, and it gladly gave him the extension. At the end of a year the same exchange of letters occurred and again he was given the extension.
I don't know how long this continued, but in the end the war office discovered that the officer had been in London having a good time while a sergeant-major attended to the sending of the biannual letter. I suppose the officer divided his pay with the sergeant-major. If he did not he was a most ungrateful man.
The Adolph Woermann is a German ship and is one of the best ones that go down the east coast. Its passengers go to the British ports in British East Africa, to the German ports in German East Africa, and to several other ports in South Africa. Consequently the passengers are about equally divided between the English and the Germans, with an occasional Portuguese bound for Delagoa Bay or Mozambique.
When we first went aboard our party of four desired to secure a table by ourselves. We were unsuccessful, however, and found it shared by a peaceful old gentleman with whiskers. By crossing with gold the palm of the chief steward, the old gentleman was shifted to a seat on the first officer's right. Later we discovered that he was Sir Thomas Scanlon, the first premier of South Africa, the man who gave Cecil Rhodes his start.
There were many interesting elements which made the cruise of the Woermann unusual. Mr. Boyce and his party of six were on board and were on their way to photograph East Africa. They took moving pictures of the various deck sports, also a bird's-eye picture of the ship, taken from a camera suspended by a number of box kites, and also gave two evenings of cinematograph entertainment.
There were also poker games, bridge games, and other forms of seaside sports, all of which contributed to the gaiety of life in the Indian Ocean. In the evening one might have imagined oneself at a London music-hall, in the daytime at the Olympian games, and in the early morning out on the farm. There were a number of chickens on board and each rooster seemed obliged to salute the dawn with a fanfare of crowing. They belonged to the governor and were going out to East Africa to found a colony of chickens. Some day, years hence, the proud descendents of these chickens will boast that their ancestors came over on the Woermann, just as some people boast about their ancestors on the Mayflower.
[Drawing: Mauled by a Lion]
When we crossed the equator, a committee of strong-arm men baptized those of the passengers who had never before crossed the line. Those who had crossed the line entered into the fun of the occasion with much spirit and enthusiasm.
On the hottest day of the trip, just as we left Suez, when the mercury was sputtering from the heat, we heard that the north pole had been discovered. It cooled us off considerably for a while.
THE ISLAND OF MOMBASA, WITH THE JUNGLES OF EQUATORIAL AFRICA "ONLY A FEW BLOCKS AWAY." A STORY OF THE WORLD'S CHAMPION MAN-EATING LIONS
In this voyage of the Woermann there were about twenty Englishmen and thirty Germans in the first class, not including women, and children. There was practically no communication between the two nationalities, which seemed deeply significant in these days when there is so much talk of war between England and Germany. Each went his way without so much as a "good morning" or a guten abend. And it was not a case of unfamiliarity with the languages, either, that caused this mutual restraint, for most of the Germans speak English. It was simply an evidence that at the present time there is decidedly bad feeling between the two races, and if it is a correct barometer of conditions in Europe, there is certain to be war one of these days. On the Woermann, we only hoped that it would not break out while the weather was as hot as it was at that time.
The Germans are not addicted to deck sports while voyaging about, and it is quite unusual to find on German ships anything in the way of deck competition. The German, while resting, prefers to play cards, or sing, or sit in his long easy chair with the children playing about. The Englishman likes to compete in feats of strength and takes to deck sports as a duck takes to water. I don't know who started it, but some one organized deck sports on the Woermann, and after we left Aden the sound of battle raged without cessation. Some of the competitions were amusing. For instance, there was the cockfight. Two men, with hands and knees hobbled with a stick and stout rope, seat themselves inside a circle, and the game is for each one to try to put the other outside the circle. Neither can use his hands.
[Drawing: The Cock Fight]
It is like wrestling in a sitting position with both hands tied, the mode of attack being to topple over one's opponent and then bunt him out of the circle. There is considerable skill in the game and a fearful lot of hard work. By the time the victor has won, the seat of the trousers of each of the two contending heroes has cleaned the deck until it shines—the deck, not the trousers.
In a similar way the deck is benefited by the "are you there" game. Two men are blindfolded, armed with long paper clubs, and then lie at full length on the deck, with left hands clasped. One then says, "Are you there?" and when the other answers, "I am," he makes a wild swat at where he thinks the other's head to be. Of course, when the man says "I am," he immediately gets his head as far away from where it was when he spoke as is possible while clasping his opponent's hand. The "Are you there" man makes a wild swing and lands some place with a prodigious thump. He usually strikes the deck and seldom hits the head of the other man. If one of them hits the other's head three times he wins. In the meantime the deck has been thoroughly massaged by the two recumbent heroes as they have moved back and forth in their various offensive and defensive manoeuvers.
[Drawing: "Are You There?"]
[Photograph: By courtesy of W.D. Boyce. A Study in Mombasa Shadows]
[Photograph: By courtesy of W.D. Boyce. Mombasa Is a Pretty Place]
[Photograph: Transportation in Mombasa]
[Drawing: The Spar and Pillow Fight]
The pillow fight on the spar is the most fun. Two gladiators armed with pillows sit astride a spar and try to knock each other off. It requires a good deal of knack to keep your balance while some one is pounding you with a large pillow. You are not allowed to touch the spar with your hands, hence the difficulty of holding a difficult position. When a man begins to waver the other redoubles his attack, and slowly at first, but surely, the defeated gladiator tumbles off the spar into a canvas stretched several feet below. It is lots of fun, especially for the spectator and the winner.
Then, of course, there were other feats of intellectual and physical prowess in the Woermann competition, such as threading the needle, where you run across the deck, thread a needle held by a woman, and then drag her back to the starting point. The woman usually, in the excitement of the last spirited rush, falls over and is bodily dragged several yards, squealing wildly and waving a couple of much agitated deck shoes, and so forth.
Similar to this contest is the one where the gentleman dashes across the deck with several other equally dashing gentlemen, kneels at the feet of a woman who ties his necktie and then lights his cigarette. The game is to see who can do this the quickest and get back to the starting place first. If you have ever tried to light a cigarette in a terrible hurry and on a windy deck, you will appreciate the elements of uncertainty in the game.
These deck sports served to amuse and divert during the six days on the Indian Ocean, and then the ship's chart said that we were almost at Mombasa. The theoretical stage of the lion hunt was nearly over and it was now a matter of only a few days until we should be up against the "real thing." I sometimes wondered how I should act with a hostile lion in front of me—whether I would become panic-stricken or whether my nerve would hold true. There is lots of food for reverie when one is going against big game for the first time.
[Drawing: Chalking the Pig's Eye]
We landed at Mombasa September sixteenth, seventeen days out from Naples.
Mombasa is a little island about two by three miles in extent. It is riotous with brilliant vegetation, and, as seen after a long sea voyage through the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, it looks heavenly except for the heat. Hundreds of great baobab trees with huge, bottle-like trunks and hundreds of broad spreading mango trees give an effect of tropical luxuriance that is hardly to be excelled in beauty anywhere in the East. Large ships that stop at the island usually wind their course through a narrow channel and land their passengers and freight at the dock at Kilindini, a mile and a half from the old Portuguese town of Mombasa, where all the life of the island is centered. There are many relics of the old days around the town of Mombasa and the port of Kilindini, but since the British have been in possession a brisk air of progress and enterprise is evident everywhere. Young men and young women in tennis flannels, and other typical symptoms of British occupation are constantly seen, and one entirely forgets that one is several thousand miles from home and only a few blocks from the jungles of equatorial Africa. We dreaded Mombasa before we arrived, but were soon agreeably disappointed to find it not only beautiful and interesting, but also pleasantly cool and full of most hospitable social life.
When our ship anchored off Kilindini there was a great crowd assembled on the pier. There were many smart looking boats, manned with uniformed natives, that at once came out to the ship, and we knew that the town was en fete to welcome the newly appointed governor, Sir Percy Girouard.
He and his staff landed in full uniform. There were addresses of welcome at the pier, a great deal of cheering and considerable photographing. Then the rest of the passengers went ashore and spent several hours at the custom house. All personal luggage was passed through, and we embarked on a little train for Mombasa. The next day we registered our firearms and had Smith, Mackenzie and Company do the rest. This firm is ubiquitous in Mombasa and Zanzibar. They attend to everything for you, and relieve you from much worry, vexation and rupees. They pay your customs duties, get your mountains of stuff on the train for Nairobi, and all you have to do is to pay them a commission and look pleasant. The customs duty is ten per cent. on everything you have, and the commission is five per cent. But in a hot climate, where one is apt to feel lazy, the price is cheap.
Thanks to the governor, our party of four was invited to go to Nairobi on his special train. It left Mombasa on the morning of the nineteenth of September, and at once began to climb toward the plateau on which Nairobi is situated, three hundred and twenty-seven miles away. We had dreaded the railway ride through the lowlands along the coast, for that district has a bad reputation for fever and all such ills. But again we were pleasantly disappointed. The country was beautiful and interesting, and at four o'clock in the afternoon we arrived at Voi, a spot that is synonymous with human ailments. It is one of the famous ill health resorts of Africa, but on this occasion it was on its good behavior. We stopped four hours, inspected everything in sight, and at eight o'clock the special began to climb toward the plateau of East Africa. At nine o'clock we stopped at Tsavo, a place made famous by the two man-eating lions whose terrible depredations have been so vividly described by Colonel Patterson in his book, The Man Eaters of Tsavo. These two lions absolutely stopped all work on the railroad for a period of several weeks. They were daring beyond belief, and seemed to have no fear of human beings. For a time all efforts to kill them were in vain. Twenty-eight native workmen were eaten by them, and doubtless many more were unrecorded victims of their activity. The whole country was terrorized until finally, after many futile attempts, they were at last killed.
No book on Africa seems complete unless this incident is mentioned somewhere within its pages.
We looked out at Tsavo with devouring interest. All was still, with the dead silence of a tropical night. Then the train steamed on and we had several hours in a berth to think the matter over. In the early hours of morning, we stopped at Simba, the "Place of Lions," where the station-master has many lion scares even now. In the cold darkness of the night we bundled up in thick clothes and went forward to sit on the observation seat of the engine. Slowly the eastern skies became gray, then pink, and finally day broke through heavy masses of clouds. It was intensely cold. In the faint light we could see shadowy figures of animals creeping home after their night's hunting. A huge cheetah bounded along the track in front of us. A troop of giraffes slowly ambled away from the track. A gaunt hyena loped off into the scrub near the side of the railroad and then, as daylight became brighter, we found ourselves in the midst of thousands of wild animals. Zebras, hartebeests, Grant's gazelles, Thompson's gazelles, impalla, giraffes, wildebeests, and many other antelope species cantered off and stood to watch the train as it swept past them. It was a wonderful ride, perhaps the most novel railway ride to be found any place in the world. On each side of the Uganda Railroad there is a strip of land, narrow on the north and wide on the south, in which game is protected from the sportsman, and consequently the animals have learned to regard these strips as sanctuary. There were many tales of lions as we rode along, and the imagination pictured a slinking lion in every patch of reeds along the way. I heard one lion story that makes the man-eaters of Tsavo seem like vegetarians. It was told to me by a gentleman high in the government service—a man of unimpeachable veracity. He says the story is absolutely true, but refused to swear to it.
Once upon a time, so the story goes, there was a caravan of slaves moving through the jungles of Africa. The slave-drivers were cruel and they chained the poor savages together in bunches of ten. Each slave wore an iron ring around his neck and the chain passed through this ring and on to the rest of the ten. For days and weeks and months they marched along, their chains clanking and their shoulders bending beneath the heavy weight. From time to time the slave-drivers would jog them along with a few lashes from a four-cornered "hippo" hide kiboko, or whip. Quite naturally the life was far from pleasant to the chain-gang and they watched eagerly for a chance to escape. Finally one dark night, when the sentinels were asleep, a bunch of ten succeeded in creeping away into the darkness. They were unarmed and chained from neck to neck, one to another. For several days they made their way steadily toward the coast. All seemed well. They ate fruit and nuts and herbs and began to see visions of a pleasant arrival at the coast.
[Drawing: They Made Their Way Steadily Toward the Coast]
But, alas! Their hopes were soon to be dispelled. One night a deep rumbling roar was heard in the jungle through which they were picking their unanimous way. A shudder ran through the slaves. "Simba," they whispered in terror. A little while later there was another rumble, this time much closer. They speedily became more frightened. Here they were, ten days' march from the coast, unarmed, and quite defenseless against a lion.
Presently the lion appeared, his cruel, hungry eyes gleaming through the night. They were frozen with horror, as slowly, slowly, slowly the great animal crept toward them with his tail sibilantly lashing above his back. They were now thoroughly alarmed and realized to the utmost that the lion's intentions were open to grave suspicion. Breathlessly they waited, or perhaps they tried to climb trees, but being chained together they could not climb more than one tree. And there was not a single tree big enough to hold more than nine of them. The record of the story is now obscure, but the horrid tale goes on to relate that the lion gave a frightful roar and leaped upon the tenth man, biting him to death in a single snap. The dilemma of the others is obvious. They knew better than to disturb a lion while it is eating. To do so would be to court sudden death. So they sat still and watched the beast slowly and greedily devour their comrade. Having finished his meal the great beast, surfeited with food, slowly moved off into the jungle.
[Drawing: The Lion's Intentions Were Open to Grave Suspicions]
Immediately the nine remaining slaves took to their heels, dragging the empty ring and chain of the late number ten. All night long they ran until finally they became exhausted and fell asleep. In the afternoon they again resumed their march, hopeful once more. But alas! again.
Along about supper-time they heard the distant roar of a lion. Presently it sounded nearer and soon the gleaming eyes of the lion appeared once more among the jungle grass. Once again they were frozen with horror as the hungry beast devoured the last man in the row—number nine. Again they sat helpless while the man-eater slowly finished his supper, and again they were overjoyed to see him depart from their midst. As soon as the last vestige of his tail had disappeared from view they scrambled up and hiked briskly toward the coast, nine days away.
[Drawing: While the Man-Eater Finished His Supper]
They were now thoroughly alarmed, and almost dreaded the supper hour. The next night the lion caught up with them again and proceeded to devour number eight. He then peacefully ambled away, leaving another empty ring.
The next night there was a spirited contest to see which end of the chain should be last, but a vote was taken and it was decided six to one in favor of continuing in their original formation. The one who voted against was eaten that night and the remaining six, with the four empty rings clanking behind them, resumed their mournful march to the coast, six days away.
[Drawing: Two to One]
For five nights after this, the lion caught up with them and diminished their number by five. Finally there was only one left and the coast was a full day's march away. Could he make it? It looked like a desperate chance, but he still had hopes. He noticed with pleasure that the lion was becoming fat and probably could not travel fast. But he also noticed with displeasure that he had forty feet of chain and nine heavy iron neck rings to lug along and that extra weight naturally greatly handicapped him. It was a thrilling race—the coast only one day away and life or death the prize! Who can imagine the feelings of the poor slave? But with a stout heart he struggled on through poisonous morasses, and pushed his way through snaky creepers. The afternoon sun slowly sank toward the western horizon and—
The locomotive at this point of the story screeched loudly. The wheels grated on the track and my official friend leaped off the cow-catcher.
"Here!" I shouted, "what's the finish of that story?"
"I'll tell you the rest the next time I see you," he sang out, and so I don't know just how the story ended.
ON THE EDGE OF THE ATHI PLAINS, FACE TO FACE WITH GREAT HERDS OF WILD GAME. UP IN A BALLOON AT NAIROBI
Before Colonel Roosevelt drew the eyes of the world on British East Africa Nairobi was practically unheard of. The British colonial office knew where it was and a fair number of English sportsmen had visited it in the last six or eight years. Perhaps twenty-five or thirty Americans had been in Nairobi on their way to the rich game fields that lie in all directions from the town, but beyond these few outsiders the place was unknown. Now it is decidedly on the map, thanks to our gallant and picturesque Theodore. It has been mentioned in book and magazine to a degree that nearly everybody can tell in a general way where and what it is, even if he can not pronounce it.
Before coming to Nairobi I had read a lot about it, and yet when I reached the place it seemed as though the descriptions had failed to prepare me for what I saw. We arrived under unusual conditions. Files of native soldiers were lined up on the platform of the station to welcome the new governor, and the whole white population of the town, several hundred in number, were massed in front of the building. The roofs and trees were filled with natives and the broad open space beyond the station was fringed with pony carts, bullock carts, rickshaws, cameras, and some hotel 'buses. Several thousand people, mostly East Indians and natives, were among those present. Lord Delamere, who has adopted East Africa as his home, and who owns a hundred thousand acres or so of game preserves, read an address of welcome, and Sir Percy, in white uniform and helmet, responded with a speech that struck a popular note. There were dozens of cameras snapping and the whole effect was distinctly festive in appearance.
[Drawing: In the Back Yard of Nairobi]
[Photograph: By courtesy of W.D. Boyce. Dressed to Kill]
[Photograph: Courtesy of Boyce Balloonagraph Expedition. The Balloon Ascension]
[Photograph: Courtesy of Boyce Balloonagraph Expedition. The Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi]
The town lies on the edge of the Athi Plains, a broad sweep of sun-bleached grass veldt many miles in extent. From almost any part of the town one may look out on plains where great herds of wild game are constantly in sight. In an hour's leisurely walk from the station a man with a gun can get hartebeest, zebra, Grant's gazelle, Thompson's gazelle, impalla, and probably wildebeest. One can not possibly count the number of animals that feed contentedly within sight of the town of Nairobi, and it is difficult to think that one is not looking out upon a collection of domesticated game. Sometimes, as happened two nights before we reached Nairobi, a lion will chase a herd of zebra and the latter in fright will tear through the town, destroying gardens and fences and flowers in a mad stampede. We met one man who goes out ten minutes from town every other day and kills a kongoni (hartebeest) as food for his dogs. If you were disposed to do so you could kill dozens every day with little effort and almost no diminution of the visible supply.
Nairobi is new and unattractive. There is one long main thoroughfare, quite wide and fringed with trees, along which at wide intervals are the substantial looking stone building of the Bank of India, the business houses, the hotels, and numbers of cheap corrugated iron, one-story shacks used for government purposes. A native barracks with low iron houses and some more little iron houses used for medical experiments and still some more for use as native hospitals are encountered as one takes the half-mile ride from the station to the hotel. A big square filled with large trees marks the park, and a number of rather pretentious one-story buildings display signs that tell you where you may buy almost anything, from a suit of clothes to a magazine rifle.
[Drawing: The Main Street Is a Busy Place]
Goanese, East Indian, and European shops are scattered at intervals along this one long, wide street. Rickshaws, pedestrians, bullock carts, horsemen, and heavily burdened porters are passing constantly back and forth, almost always in the middle of the street. Bicycles, one or two motorcycles, and a couple of automobiles are occasionally to be seen. The aspect of the town suggests the activity of a new frontier place where everybody is busy. At one end the long street loses itself in the broad Athi Plains, at the other it climbs up over some low hills and enters the residence district on higher ground. Here the hills are generously covered with a straggly growth of tall, ungraceful trees, among which, almost hidden from view, are the widely scattered bungalows of the white population.
[Photograph: An Embo Apollo]
[Photograph: The Askari Patrols the Camp]
Branching off from the main street are side streets, some of them thronged with East Indian bazaars, about which may be found all the phases of life of an Indian city. Still beyond and parallel with the one main street are sparsely settled streets which look ragged with their tin shacks and scattered gardens.
Nairobi is not a beautiful place, but it is new and busy, and the people who live there are working wonders in changing a bad location into what some day will be a pretty place. It is over five thousand feet high, healthy, and cold at night. Away off in the hills a mile or more from town is Government House, where the governor lives, and near by is the club and a new European hospital, looking out over a sweep of country that on clear days includes Kilima-Njaro, over a hundred miles to the southeast, and Mount Kenia, a hundred miles northeast.
You are still in civilization in Nairobi. Anything you want you may buy at some of the shops, and almost anything you may want to eat or drink may easily be had. There are weekly newspapers, churches, clubs, hotels, and nearly all the by-products of civilization. One could live in Nairobi, only a few miles from the equator, wear summer clothes at noon and winter clothes at night, keep well, and not miss many of the luxuries of life. The telegraph puts you in immediate touch with the whole wide world, and on the thirtieth of September you can read the Chicago Tribune of August thirty-first.
At present the chief revenue of the government is derived from shooting parties, and the officials are doing all they can to encourage the coming of sportsmen. Each man who comes to shoot must pay two hundred and fifty dollars for his license as well as employ at least thirty natives for his transport. He must buy supplies, pay ten per cent. import and export tax, and in many other ways spend money which goes toward paying the expenses of government. The government also is encouraging various agricultural and stock raising experiments, but these have not yet passed the experimental stage. Almost anything may be grown in British East Africa, but before agriculture can be made to pay the vast herds of wild game must either be exterminated or driven away. No fence will keep out a herd of zebra, and in one rush a field of grain is ruined by these giant herds. Experiments have failed satisfactorily to domesticate the zebra, and so he remains a menace to agriculture and a nuisance in all respects except as adding a picturesque note to the landscape.
Colonel Roosevelt, in a recent speech in Nairobi, spoke of British East Africa as a land of enormous possibilities and promise, but in talks with many men here I found that little money has been made by those who have gone into agriculture in a large way. Drought and predatory herds of game have introduced an element of uncertainty which has made agriculture, as at present developed, unsatisfactory.
Colonel Roosevelt has become a popular idol in East Africa. Everywhere one meets Englishmen who express the greatest admiration for him. He has shrewdly analyzed conditions as they now exist and has picked out the weak spots in the government. For many years prior to the arrival of Sir Percy Girouard the country has been administered by weak executives, and its progress has been greatly retarded thereby. The last governor was kind, but inefficient, and some months ago was sent to the West Indies, where he is officially buried. Roosevelt came, sized up the situation, and made a speech at a big banquet in Nairobi. Nearly two hundred white men in evening clothes were there. They came from all parts of East Africa, and listened with admiration to the plain truths that Theodore Roosevelt told them in the manner of a Dutch uncle. Since then he has owned the country and could be elected to any office within the gift of the people. He talked for over an hour, and it must have been a great speech, if one may judge by the enthusiastic comments I have heard about it. When an Englishman gets enthusiastic about a speech by an American it must be a pretty good speech.
Newland and Tarlton is the firm that outfits most shooting parties that start out from Nairobi. They do all the preliminary work and relieve you of most of the worry. If you wish them to do so, they will get your complete outfit, so you need not bring anything with you but a suitcase. They will get your guns, your tents, your food supplies, your mules, your head-man, your cook, your gunbearers, your askaris (native soldiers), your interpreter, your ammunition, and your porters. They will have the whole outfit ready for you by the time you arrive in Nairobi. When you arrive in British East Africa, a-shooting bent, you will hear of Newland and Tarlton so often that you will think they own the country.
Mr. Newland met us in Mombasa, and through his agents sent all of our London equipment of tents and guns and ammunition and food up to Nairobi. When we arrived in Nairobi he had our porters ready, together with tent boys, gunbearers, and all the other members of our safari, and in three days we were ready to march. The firm has systematized methods so much that it is simple for them to do what would be matters of endless worry to the stranger. In course of time you pay the price, and in our case it seemed reasonable, when one considers the work and worry involved. Most English sportsmen come out in October and November, after which time the shooting is at its height. Two years ago there were sixty safaris, or shooting expeditions, sent out from Nairobi. When we left, late in September, there were about thirty.
[Photograph: By courtesy of W.D. Boyce. The Great White Way in Nairobi]
[Photograph: By courtesy of W.D. Boyce The Busiest Place in Nairobi]
[Photograph: Umbrella Acacias]
[Drawing: The New Governor Looks Something Like Roosevelt]
Each party must have from thirty to a couple of hundred camp attendants, depending upon the number of white men in the party. Each white man, requires, roughly, thirty natives to take care of him. In our party of four white people we had one hundred and eighteen. One would presume that the game would speedily be exterminated, yet it is said that the game is constantly increasing. After one day's ride on the railway it would be hard to conceive of game being more plentiful than it was while we were there. Mr. Roosevelt carried nearly three hundred men with him, collected a great quantity of game, and necessarily spent a great deal of money. It is said that the expenses of his expedition approached ten thousand dollars a month, but the chances are that this figure is much more than the actual figure.
At the time of our arrival there was a shortage in the porter supply, and we were obliged to take out men from a number of different tribes. Swahili porters are considered the best, but there are not enough to go round, so we had to take Swahilis, Bagandas, Kikuyus, Kavirondos, Lumbwas, Minyamwezis, and a lot more of assorted races. Each porter carries sixty pounds on his head, and when the whole outfit is on the trail it looks like a procession of much importance.
The Norfolk Hotel is the chief rendezvous of Nairobi. In the course of the afternoon nearly all the white men on hunting bent show up at the hotel and patronize the bar. They come in wonderful hunting regalia and in all the wonderful splendor of the Britisher when he is afield. There is nearly always a great coming and going of men riding up, and of rickshaws arriving and departing. Usually several tired sportsmen are stretched out on the veranda of the long one-storied building, reading the ancient London papers that are lying about. Professional guides, arrayed in picturesque Buffalo Bill outfits, with spurs and hunting-knives and slouch hats, are among those present, and amateur sportsmen in crisp khaki and sun helmets and new puttees swagger back and forth to the bar. There is no denying the fact that there is considerable drinking in Nairobi. There was as much before we got there as there was after we got there, however. After the arrival of the European steamer at Mombasa business is brisk for several days as the different parties sally forth for the wilds.
[Drawing: At the Norfolk Hotel Bar]
On our ship there were four different parties. A young American from Boston, who has been spending several years doing archaeological work in Crete, accompanied by a young English cavalry officer, were starting out for a six-weeks' shoot south of the railway and near Victoria Nyanza.
Two professional ivory hunters were starting for German East Africa by way of the lake. Mr. Boyce and his African balloonograph party of seven white men were preparing for the photographing expedition in the Sotik, and our party of four was making final preparations for our march. Consequently there was much hurrying about, and Newland and Tarlton's warehouse was the center of throngs of waiting porters and the scene of intense activity as each party sorted and assembled its mountains of supplies.
Seager and Wormald got off first, going by train to Kijabe, where they were to begin their ten days' march in the Sotik. Here they were to try their luck for two or three weeks and then march back, preparatory to starting home.
The professional ivory hunters were slow in starting. There was delay in getting mules. One of them had shot three hundred elephants in the Belgian Congo during the last four years, and it was suspected he had been poaching. The other had been caught by the Belgian authorities on his last trip, lost all his ivory and guns by confiscation, but was ready to make another try. The ivory game is a rich one and there are always venturesome men who are willing to take chances with the law in getting the prizes.
The Boyce party with its two balloons and its great number of box kites and its moving picture equipment and its twenty-nine cameras and its vast equipment was slow in starting, but it expected to get away on September twenty-fourth, the day after we left. They planned to fill their balloon in Nairobi and tow it at the end of a special train as far as Kijabe, where they were to strike inland from the railway. They were encamped on a hill overlooking the city, with their two hundred and thirty porters ready for the field and their balloon ready to make the first ascension ever attempted in East Africa.
Throngs of natives squatted about, watching the final preparations, and doubtless wondered what the strange, swaying object was. On the evening of the twenty-second the party gave a moving picture show at one of the clubs for the benefit of St. Andrew's church. A great crowd of fashionably dressed people turned out and saw the motion picture records of events which they had seen in life only a couple of days before. There were moving pictures of the arrival of the governor's special train, his march through the city, and many other events that were fresh in the minds of the audience. There were also motion pictures taken on the ship that brought us down from Naples to Mombasa, and it was most interesting to see our fellow passengers and friends reproduced before us in their various athletic activities while on shipboard. Mr. Boyce gave an afternoon show for children, an evening show for grown-ups, and was to give another for the natives the following night. The charities of Nairobi were much richer because of Mr. Boyce and his African Balloonograph Expedition.
While in Nairobi we visited the little station where experiments are being made in the "sleeping sickness." An intelligent young English doctor is conducting the investigations and great hopes are entertained of much new information about that most mysterious ailment that has swept whole colonies of blacks away in the last few years.
In many little bottles were specimens of the deadly tsetse fly that causes all the infection. And the most deadly of all was the small one whose distinguishing characteristic was its wings, which crossed over its back. These we were told to look out for and to avoid them, if possible. They occur only in certain districts and live in the deep shade, near water. They also are day-biting insects, who do their biting only between eleven o'clock in the morning and five o'clock in the afternoon.
In the station there were a number of monkeys, upon which the fly was being tried. They were in various stages of the disease, but it seemed impossible to tell whether their illness was due to the sleeping sickness germ or was due to tick fever, a common malady among monkeys. In one of the rooms of the laboratory there were natives holding little cages of tsetse flies against the monkeys, which were pinioned to the floor by the natives. The screened cages were held close to the stomach of the helpless monkey, and little apertures in the screen permitted the fly to settle upon and bite the animal.
There are certain wide belts of land in Africa called the "tsetse fly belts," where horses, mules and cattle can not live. These districts have been known for a number of years, long before the sleeping sickness became known. In the case of animals, the danger could be minimized by keeping the animals out of those belts, but in the case of humans the same can not be done. One infected native from a sleeping sickness district can carry the disease from one end of the country to the other, and when once it breaks out the newly infected district is doomed. Consequently the British authorities are greatly alarmed, for by means of this deadly fly the whole population of East Africa might be wiped out if no remedy is discovered. It has not yet been absolutely proven that East Africa is a "white man's country," and in the end it may be necessary for him to give up hope of making it more than a place of temporary residence and exploration.
We were also shown some ticks. They are the pests of Africa. They exist nearly every place and carry a particularly malicious germ that gives one "tick fever." It is not a deadly fever, but it is recurrent and weakening. There are all kinds of ticks, from little red ones no bigger than a grain of pepper to big fat ones the size of a finger-nail, that are exactly the color of the ground. They seem to have immortal life, for they can exist for a long time without food. Doctor Ward told us of some that he had put in a box, where they lived four years without food or water. He also told us of one that was sent to the British museum, put on a card with a pin through it, and lived over two years in this condition. It is assumed, however, that it sustained fatal injuries, because after a two years' fight against its wound it finally succumbed.
We were told to avoid old camping grounds while on safari, because these spots were usually much infested with ticks waiting for new camping parties. Wild game is always covered with ticks and carries them all over the land. As you walk through the grass in the game country the ticks cling to your clothes and immediately seek for an opening where they may establish closer relations with you. Some animals, like the rhino and the eland, have tick birds that sit upon their backs and eat the ticks. The egrets police the eland and capture all predatory ticks, while the rhino usually has half a dozen little tick birds sitting upon him.
However, we were starting out in a day or so, and in a few days expected to learn a lot more about ticks than we then knew.
It is supposed to require a certain amount of nerve to go lion shooting. It is also supposed to require an additional amount to face an angry rhino or to attempt to get African buffalo. The last-named creature is a vindictive, crafty beast that is feared by old African hunters more than they fear any other animal. In consequence of these dangers we decided that it might be well to give our nerves a thorough test before going out with them. If they were not in good condition it would be well to know of it before rather than after going up against a strange and hostile lion.
That is why we went up in the balloon in Nairobi. The balloon was one of the two Boyce balloons and had never been tried. It was small, of twelve thousand cubic feet capacity, as compared with the seventy thousand foot balloons that do the racing. It was also being tried at an altitude of over five thousand feet under uncertain wind and heat conditions, and so the element of uncertainty was aggravated. We felt that if we could go up in a new balloon of a small size it might demonstrate whether we should later go up a tree or stand pat against a charging menagerie.
There was a great crowd gathered on the hill where this balloon was being inflated. Since five o'clock in the morning the gas had been generating in the wooden tanks, and from these was being conducted by a cloth tube to the mouth of the balloon. The natives squatted wonderingly about in a circle, mystified and excited. At three o'clock the balloon was over half filled and was swaying savagely at its anchorage. A strong wind was blowing, and Mr. Lawrence, who had charge of the ascension, was apprehensive. He feared to fill the balloon to its capacity lest the expansion of the gas due to the hot sun should explode it.
At half past three the basket was attached and it looked small—about the size of a large bushel basket, three feet in diameter and three feet deep. The balloon, heavily laden with sand-bags, was lightened until it could almost rise, and in this condition was led across to an open spot sufficiently far from the nearest trees. The crowd thronged up pop-eyed and quivering with excitement. Then there was a long wait until the wind had died down a bit, which it did after a while. The eventful moment had arrived, and Mr. Stephenson, of our party, climbed into the basket. He is only six feet five inches in height and weighs only two hundred and thirty pounds. He had on a pair of heavy hunting boots, for we were leaving for the hunting grounds immediately after the ascension. One by one the restraining bags of sand were taken off, but still the balloon sat on the ground without any inclination to do otherwise.
A wave of disappointment spread over the crowd. Suddenly a brilliant inspiration struck the gallant aeronaut. He took off one of his heavy hunting boots and cast it overboard. The balloon arose a foot or two and then sagged back to earth. Then the other boot was cast over and the balloon rose several feet, swaying and whipping savagely over the heads of the crowd. The wind was now blowing pretty hard, and when the wire was run out the balloon started almost horizontally for the nearest tree, rising slightly.
[Drawing: Throwing Out Ballast]
The wire was stopped at once and the balloon thus suddenly restrained, changed its horizontal course to an upward one. At about sixty feet up the wire was again paid out and the balloon made a dash for the trees again. Once more the balloon was stopped and rose to a height of one hundred and fifty feet, where it swayed about with the pleasant face of Stephenson looking over the edge of the basket. He had to sit down, as there was not room to stand. The ascension seemed a failure with the handicap of two hundred and thirty pounds, and so the balloon was reeled down to the earth again. It was not a great ascension, but the amateur aeronaut had gained the distinction of making the first balloon ascension ever made in East Africa. He would have gone higher if his shoes had been heavier.
To me fell the next chance, and I knew that my one hundred and forty pounds would not seriously handicap the balloon. Once more there was a long wait until the wind died down, and all of a sudden the cylinder of wire was released and the ground sank hundreds of feet below me. The horizon widened and the whole vast plain of the African highlands stretched out with an ever-widening horizon. New mountain peaks rose far away and native villages with ant-like people moving about appeared in unexpected quarters. Away below, the crowd of people looked like little insects as they gazed up at the balloon. Grasping the ropes that led from the basket to the balloon, I stood and waved at them and could hear the shouts come up from a thousand feet below.
I was not frightened. There was no sensation of motion as long as the balloon was ascending. Aside from looking at the wonderful scene that opened out before me, I believe I thought chiefly about where I should land in case the wire broke. The balloon would undoubtedly go many miles before descending, and five miles in any direction would lead me into a primitive jungle or veldt. A hundred miles would take me into almost unexplored districts in some directions, where the natives would greet me as some supernatural being. Perhaps I might be greeted as a god and—just in the midst of these reflections they began to reel in the balloon. The sudden stopping was not pleasant, for then the balloon began to sway. Slowly the earth came nearer and the wind howled through the rigging and the partly filled bag flapped and thundered. The wire, about as thick as a piano wire, looked frail, but at last after a slow and tedious descent a safe landing was made amid the wondering natives. Cameras clicked and the moving picture machine worked busily as the balloon was secured to earth again.
To Mrs. Akeley of our party fell the next chance to go up. As she was lifted into the basket the feminine population of Nairobi gazed in wonder that a woman should dare venture up in a balloon. The cameras clicked some more, somebody shook hands with her, and it began to look quite like a leave-taking. Just when all was ready the wind sprang up savagely and an ascension seemed inexpedient. There was a long wait and still the wind continued in gusts. At last it was determined that we might as well settle down for better conditions, so Mrs. Akeley was lifted out and we waited impatiently for the wind to die down.
At last it died down, all was hurriedly prepared for the ascension, and Mrs. Akeley took her place again in the basket. In an instant the balloon shot up a couple of hundred feet and was held there for a moment. The wind once more sprang up and the balloon was drawn down amid the cheers of the crowd. She had been the first woman to make an ascension in British East Africa, if not in all of Africa.
We then mounted our mules and rode out on the open plains. Several hours before, our entire camp had moved and we were to join them at a prearranged spot out on the Athi Plains. All our preliminary worries were over and at last we were actually started. At six o'clock, far across the country we saw the gleaming lights of our camp-fires and the green tents that were to be our homes for many weeks to come. Enormous herds of hartebeest and wildebeest were on each side, and countless zebras. That night two of us heard the first bark of the zebra, and we thought it must be the bark of distant dogs. It was one of our first surprises to learn that zebras bark instead of neigh.
INTO THE HEART OF THE BIG GAME COUNTRY WITH A RETINUE OF MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED NATIVES. A SAFARI AND WHAT IT IS
When I first expressed my intention of going to East Africa to shoot big game some of my friends remarked, in surprise: "Why, I didn't know that you were so bloodthirsty!" They seemed to think that the primary object of such an expedition was to slay animals, none of which had done anything to me, and that to wish to embark in any such project was an evidence of bloodthirstiness. I tried to explain that I had no particular grudge against any of the African fauna, and that the thing I chiefly desired to do was to get out in the open, far from the picture post-card, and enjoy experiences which could not help being wonderful and strange and perhaps exciting.
The shooting of animals merely for the sake of killing them is, of course, not an elevating sport, but the by-products of big game hunting in Africa are among the most delightful and inspiring of all experiences. For weeks or months you live a nomadic tent life amid surroundings so different from what you are accustomed to that one is both mentally and physically rejuvenated. You are among strange and savage people, in strange and savage lands, and always threatened by strange and savage animals. The life is new and the scenery new. There is adventure and novelty in every day of such a life, and it is that phase of it that has the most insistent appeal. It is the call of the wild to which the pre-Adamite monkey in our nature responds.
Even if one never used his rifle one would still enjoy life on safari. Safari is an Arabic word meaning expedition as it is understood in that country. If you go on any sort of a trip you are on safari. It need not be a shooting trip.
Of course everybody who has read the magazines of the last year has been more or less familiarized with African hunting. He has read of the amount of game that the authors have killed and of the narrow escapes that they have had.
He also has read about expeditions into districts with strange names, but naturally these names have meant nothing to him. I know that I read reams of African stuff about big game shooting and about safari, yet in spite of all that, I remained in the dark as to many details of such a life. I wanted to know what kind of money or trade stuff the hunter carried; what sort of things he had to eat each day; what he wore, and how he got from place to place. Most writers have a way of saying: "We equipped our safari in Nairobi and made seven marches to such and such a place, where we ran into some excellent eland." All the important small details are thus left out, and the reader remains in ignorance of what the tent boy does, who skins the game that is killed, and what sort of a cook stove they use.
The purpose of this chapter is to tell something about the little things that happen on safari. First of all, at the risk of repeating what has been written so often before, I will say a few words about the personnel of a safari, such as the one I was with.
There were four white people in our expedition—Mr. and Mrs. Akeley, Mr. Stephenson, and myself. Mr. Akeley's chief object was to get a group of five elephants for the American Museum of Natural History and incidentally secure photographic and moving picture records of animal life. Both he and Mrs. Akeley had been in Africa before and knew the country as thoroughly perhaps as any who has ever been there. Mr. Akeley undoubtedly is the foremost taxidermist of the world, and his work is famous wherever African animal life has been studied. Mr. Stephenson went for the experience in African shooting, and I for that experience and any other sort that might turn up.
To supply an expedition of four white people, we had one head-man, whose duty it was to run the safari—that is, to get us where we wanted to go. The success and pleasure of the safari depends almost wholly upon the head-man. If he is weak, the discipline of the camp will disappear and all sorts of annoyances will steadily increase. If he is strong, everything will run smoothly.
[Drawing: The Cook—A Toto—The Head-Man]
Our head-man was a young Somali, named Abdi. For several years he was with Mr. McMillan of Juja farm, and he spoke English well and knew the requirements of white men. He was strikingly handsome, efficient, and ruled the native porters firmly and kindly. Each day we patted ourselves on the back because of Abdi.
[Photograph: By courtesy of W.D. Boyce. It Is Tropical Along the Athi River]
[Photograph: Hippos in the Tana River]
[Photograph: Our Camp Down on the Tana]
Second in the list came our four gunbearers, all Somalis, they being considered the best gunbearers. The duty of the gunbearer is always to be with you when you are hunting, to carry your gun, and to have it in your hand the instant it is needed. Then there were four second gunbearers, who came along just behind the first gunbearers. The second men were, in our case, selected from the native porters, and were subject to the orders of the first gunbearer. The first gunbearer carries your field-glasses and your light, long-range rifle; the second gunbearer carries your camera, your water bottle, and your heavy cordite double-barreled rifle. In close quarters, as in a lion fight, the first gunbearer crouches at your elbow, hands the big rifle to you; you fire, and he immediately takes the rifle and places in your hands the other rifle, ready for firing. By the time you have fired this one the first is again ready, and in this way you always have a loaded rifle ready for use. There frequently is no time for turning around, and so the first gunbearer is at your elbow with the barrel of one rifle pressed against your right leg that you may know that he is there. Sometimes they run away, but the Somali gunbearers are the most fearless and trustworthy, and seldom desert in time of need. The gunbearer has instructions never to fire unless his master is disarmed and down before the charge of a beast. When an animal is killed the gunbearers skin it and care for the trophy. Usually when on a shooting jaunt of several hours from camp several porters go along to carry home the game.
Third in the social scale came the askaris—armed natives in uniforms who guard the camp at night. One or more patrol the camp all night long, keep up the fires and scare away any marauding lion or hyena that may approach the camp. We had four askaris, one of whom was the noisiest man I have ever heard. He reminded me of a congressman when congress is not in session.
[Drawing: Gunbearer—Askari—Tent Boy—Porter]
Then came the cook, who is always quite an important member of the community, because much of the pleasure of the safari depends upon him. Our cook was one that the Akeleys had on their former trip. His name was Abdullah, he had a jovial face and a beaming smile, cooked well, and was funny to look at. He wore a slouch hat with a red band around it, a khaki suit and heavy shoes. When on the march he carried his shoes and when in camp he wore a blue jersey and a polka-dotted apron which took the place of trousers. He was good-natured, which atoned somewhat for his slowness. The suggestion may be made that he might not have been slow, but that our appetites might have been so fast that he seemed slow.
The cook usually picks out a likely porter to help him, or a toto, which means "little boy" in Swahili. There are always a lot of boys who go along, unofficially, just for the fun and the food of the trip. They are not hired, but go as stowaways, and for the first few days out remain much in the background. Gradually they appear more and more until all chance of their being sent back has disappeared, and then they become established members of the party. They carry small loads and help brighten up the camp. Then there are the tent boys, personal servants of the white people. Each white person has his tent boy, who takes care of his tent, his bedding, his bath, his clothes, and all his personal effects. A good tent boy is a great feature on safari, for he relieves his master of all the little worries of life. The tent boys always wait on the table and do the family washing. They also see that the drinking water is boiled and filtered and that the water bottles are filled each evening.