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AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
J. ALDEN LORING
FIELD NATURALIST TO THE ROOSEVELT AFRICAN EXPEDITION
MEMBER OF THE CAMP-FIRE CLUB OF AMERICA
WITH A FOREWORD BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
COPTRIGHT, 1914, BT
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Published September, 1914
SEP 16 1914
€"^01, A 3 803 7 9
The author of this little volume, Mr. J. Alden
Loring, is one of the three field naturalists who
accompanied me during the eleven months that
I spent in Africa, at the head of a scientific ex-
pedition sent out by the Smithsonian Institution.
In the following pages Mr. Loring has chronicled
many of the experiences that befell the expedi-
tion and its members, while some of the chap-
ters are devoted to the experiences of trust-
worthy travellers and big-game hunters whom
we met. What he describes as fact may unhes-
itatingly be accepted as such; and in the pref-
ace he clearly differentiates between the experi-
ences in which he records fact, and those in
which he tells stories merely founded on fact.
Oyster Bay, N. Y.,
September 19, 1913.
Because of its dangerous animals, and in
some localities, its dangerous natives, Africa is
probably the most lucrative country from which
to gather material for a book of this character.
From the time that we boarded the S. S. Ad-
miral, bound for Mombasa, we met English offi-
cers and settlers returning to their respective
posts or homes, who rehearsed exciting experi-
ences that at once convinced us that it would
be impossible to live long in Africa without
having at least one thrilling adventure.
The majority of these stories are literally
true. They are the experiences of the various
members of our party and of those of gentle-
men we met, whose word cannot be doubted.
The same can be said of the articles relating to
the habits of the animals. The last seven chap-
ters should not be accepted as actual fact. They
are so far based on fact, however, that they are
To the publishers of the following magazines,
in which these stories have previously appeared,
my thanks are due for the privilege of republish-
ing them in this form: Outing Magazine , Out-
door Life, Outdoor World and Recreation, The
American Boy, Boys' Life, St. Nicholas Maga-
zine, and The Youth's Companion,
J. Alden Loring.
OWEGO, N. Y.,
March 5, 1914.
A NARROW ESCAPE FROM AFRICAls
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE
MY FIRST LION
THE WAYS OF THE AFRICAN ELE-
CHASED BY AN OSTRICH
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT
*' jacking" animals
A FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT .
INTERESTING AFRICAN REPTILES
A FIGHT WITH HIPPOS .
WILD ANIMALS THAT I HAVE "et"
XVI A RACE WITH A RHINO . . .212
XVII IMPRISONED BY A COBRA . . 223
XVIII TREED BY AN ELEPHANT . . 232
XIX> SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA . 250
XX CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES . 264
XXI CORNERED BY BABOONS . . 278
XXII A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS . .291
I FIRED POINTBLANK INTO HER BREAST . . FrOtltispiece v
He had WRECKED SEVERAL GRASS HUTS . . . . 60 '
The grass parted as though a snow-plough were
being driven through it 96
The canoe was lifted high into the air . . . 188
It worked its triple set of fangs backward and for-
ward IN A vain effort TO BURY THEM IN MY HAND 230 /
Groping along and feeling out each frozen foot-
His guards bound his hands and feet . . . 270
The whip-lash all but cut him in the face . . 298 .
AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
A NARROW ESCAPE FROM AFRICAN BLACKS
FROM childhood the ambition of Mr. S.
had been to become an adventurer.
Before he had attained manhood he left
England to cast his lot with that sturdy, cou-
rageous class of men who make a business of
trading wch the natives and hunting elephants
in Africa. At the time that I met him he had
spent most of his life in South Africa, and a more
interesting person I have never seen.
He was a man of few words, quiet and un-
assuming. While he undoubtedly knew more
about the African animals than any living man,
I never heard him contradict a fellow sports-
man. When told of some extraordinary expe-
rience that seemed questionable, and asked to
express his opinion, he always began by saying:
*'My experience has been ..."
4 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Even in the days in which he visited Africa,
ivory hunters were so numerous that the large
"'tuskers" were soon killed out of the regions
where the natives had been pacified. This
made it necessary for the intrepid hunters to
seek new and inhospitable fields if they intended
to succeed. S. was one of the few men who was
willing to endure the hardships and accom-
panying dangers of such a trip.
He was a passenger on the Admiral, that car-
ried the Roosevelt African expedition from Na-
ples to Mombasa, and we whiled away many a
pleasant hour listening to his thrilling experi-
He started once, he said, with about twenty-
five Kafir boys to carry his outfit and trade
goods, on a trip into the then little-known re-
gion north of the Zambesi River. Elephants, it
was believed, had been little molested in that
section and the chances were good for finding
His objective point was somewhat of a ques-
tion. He was after ivory and intended to rely
more or less on the information he could gather
from the tribes he met. Finally, he began to
pass out of the region of friendly natives and to
A NARROW ESCAPE 5
draw near the line which in our country is
known as the ''frontier." Here the hunter was
warned of treacherous people ahead, but, as the
natives are naturally alarmists and live in con-
stant fear of attacks from each other, he placed
little credence in the report. S. always carried
a supply of trade goods, and believed that he
would have no trouble after he had presented
the various chiefs with presents and they found
that he had come to barter with them.
Each day's travel brought the party in con-
tact with strange tribes, who spoke unknown
tongues and from their actions showed that they
had never before seen a white man. As the
caravan drew near a village the people fled in
terror and stood off at a distance watching
and jabbering in their peculiar language. The
women and children were particularly timid and
refused to enter the camp until the confidence
of the men had been won.
With trifling gifts they were finally coaxed
near, and soon they lost their fear and became
sociable. They always carried their long, dan-
gerous-looking spears, however, which looked
suspicious. Never, after winning the confidence
of a tribe of savages, had S. known them to re-
6 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
tain their arms. He laid this exception to the
fact that these people were ignorant of the white
man's ways, and deemed it prudent to be always
prepared until they knew more of him.
One afternoon the traveller came to a chief's
village and, after paying his respects to the
potentate, made camp near by, enclosing it in
an elephant-grass stockade.
When everything was settled the chief sent
his visitor vegetables and native beer, and the
guest reciprocated with calico, beads, and salt.
Then he asked the chief to ferry his outfit across
a near-by stream in the morning, as the caravan
wished to proceed on its way without delay.
The old fellow seemed wilhng, but said as his
canoe was not then at the village he could not
acquiesce until he had sent for it, which would
take a day at least. In the meantime he wished
the hunter to shoot some game for his people,
promising to furnish a guide and helpers to bring
in the dead animals.
The following day several head of game were
killed and most of the meat was turned over to
the villagers, S. saving enough for himself and
As on the previous day, the natives gathered
A NARROW ESCAPE 7
at the camp, traded vegetables with the porters,
and seemed to be on the most friendly and so-
ciable terms. As the afternoon wore on they
began to disperse and by supper time not a per-
son was left; they had disappeared as though by
magic. They did not return in the evening,
either, which was most unusual, for an African
native is more nocturnal than he is diurnal.
While revolving the incidents of the day in his
mind, the white man remembered that there
were fewer women about the camp that after-
noon than there had been on the previous day,
which also looked suspicious. His porters, too,
seemed alarmed. They sat by their camp-fires
talking in undertones, and always carried their
spears or left them lying on the ground by their
sides, as though expecting an attack at any
The anxious hunter went to his tent early
that evening, and as he lay on his cot he won-
dered if, after all, the chief were playing a
treacherous game and bestowing gifts simply to
allay suspicion. He was so uneasy that he re-
moved only his shoes and put his rifle and
cartridge-belt close at hand.
Through the open tent front he watched his
8 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
porters, one by one, roll up in their blankets by
the dying embers of their camp-fires. Contrary
to the invariable rule so early in the evening, not
a sound came from the village. It was so quiet
one could almost hear oneself think, and, true
to the old saying, it proved to be "the calm
before the storm."
Suddenly a man slipped into the enclosure and
skulked toward the fire where two of the ser-
vants were sleeping. S. sprang from the cot,
snatched the rifle, and levelled it at the fellow,
but at the same instant saw that the black was
unarmed. He watched the native lean over and
shake the slumbering boys, and then the three
entered into conversation. The hunter heard
one of them say:
"We had better tell our master at once!"
"What is it, Charley.?" he asked.
The caller proved to be a boy who had been
hunting with them that morning and had been
given a liberal supply of meat. He had come
to inform his friends that the women had all
been sent from the village and he feared there
was going to be an attack.
If this were true there could be but one in-
terpretation: the chief meant mischief. Step-
A NARROW ESCAPE 9
ping back into the tent, S. slipped into his
shoes, buckled on his cartridge-belt, and, picking
up his rifle, ordered the men to put out the fires,
which they did by throwing dirt on them. The
camp was dark.
He was standing before the tent talking with
the men, when without the slightest warning the
flashes of several guns burst through the grass
fence. At the same time a shower of spears fell
into the stockade and some must have struck
A moment later the savages broke through
the enclosure and, howling like demons, rushed
upon the party. They outnumbered the white
men ten to one, and it would have been mad-
ness to attempt to resist them. S. shouted to
his boys to flee for their lives and, turning ran
toward the back of the '* kraal."
On reaching it he broke through and started
for a thicket. Suddenly he tripped and fell
and two men stumbled over him. They might
have been some of his own party escaping, but
if they were savages they must have thought
that he had fallen from a wound, so they kept
on after other victims.
The hunter scrambled to his feet, still clinging
10 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
to his rifle, and made for the ford of a sjtream
that he had crossed when entering the village.
He realised that his only hope of escape from
the country would be to travel south toward the
Zambesi, some five hundred miles away. Draw-
ing near the ford, the outcast was warned of
danger by hearing voices; the crafty old chief
had planned his attack well. Knowing that the
ford was the most likely route his victims would
take, should any succeed in escaping the first
attack, he had placed warriors to watch it and
cut down those who came that way.
S. turned and walked along the bank in the
opposite direction until he came to a deep pool.
Here he took off his clothes, made them and his
rifle into a bundle, fastened it to his head, and
swam the stream. While dressing he looked
back toward camp. The fires had been re-
kindled, and, amid the din of voices, he saw the
savages running hither and thither as they
fought for possession of the spoils.
Travelling southward all night, he came to a
stream early in the morning and, after crossing
it, lay down to rest and sleep. Suddenly he was
awakened by voices and, looking up, saw two
blacks on the opposite side of the river. Both
A NARROW ESCAPE 11
were armed with spears, one of which they car-
ried in the right hand ready for instant use.
It was an anxious few minutes for the unfor-
tunate hunter. He was in plain sight and dared
not move for fear of attracting their attention.
There he lay, expecting at any moment to be
discovered, and wondering if he would have to
shoot them to prevent their returning to the
village and giving the alarm. They were so in-
tent on looking for his footprints, which they
had for the time lost, that they did not see him,
and in their efforts to find them passed out of
sight. S. then jumped to his feet and, skulking
through the tall grass, managed to escape again.
Late in the afternoon he began to feel hungry,
for he had had nothing to eat since the evening
before. Game was not very abundant, but he
searched about for an antelope and finally came
across one, a solitary old wildebeest. After care-
fully manoeuvring he managed to sneak up be-
hind the only bush that afforded shelter. He
found that even then he was too far away to risk
one of the four cartridges that must last him
throughout the journey. He had abandoned all
hope of killing the animal when, as though de-
liberately wishing to sacrifice itself, it walked
12 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
slowly to within fifty yards of the bush, and the
trader dropped it with a bullet through the heart.
Fearing that his shot might have been heard
by his enemies, he quickly cut off some of the
meat and, returning to the tall grass, travelled
several miles before he dared build a fire and
cook a meal.
When he was again ready to move on, dark-
ness had fallen and the chilly, tropical night
seemed to penetrate to his bones. As nearly as
possible he followed the route over which he had
passed a few days before. Not far ahead was a
village in which he had been hospitably received.
He reached this village about midnight. A
boy was sleeping by a smouldering camp-fire.
The hunter's entrance awakened the lad, who
spoke to him, and their conversation roused two
of the villagers who appeared and also engaged
him in conversation.
Seated by the fire, his rifle lying on the
ground by his side, the white man was trying
to explain what had happened to him the night
before, when from a near-by hut he caught the
sound of some one loading a muzzle-loading gun.
Not wanting to appear alarmed by leaving so
soon, he finished his story as quickly as possible,
A NARROW ESCAPE 13
and was about to rise and move on when a
rustle from behind caused him to grab for his
rifle; but a savage grasped it from under his
hands and darted into the night.
At the same instant one of the natives threw
a bundle of grass on the fire. As it blazed up
the hunter naturally turned toward the hut in
which he had heard the gun being loaded, and
there, in the doorway, stood a man levelling a
rifle at him. S. snatched the piece of wilde-
beest meat and fled from the village. The man
did not shoot; he may have been unfamiliar
with firearms and have forgotten either to cap
or to cock the gun.
The outcast dashed out of the village and
down the trail as fast as his legs could carry
him, but apparently was not followed. His
position now was indeed perilous, for without
a rifle to kill meat he was dependent upon
the natives for food as soon as his supply was
exhausted. Throughout the gloomy night he
plodded along, tired and footsore, chilled and
disheartened. No wonder his thoughts reverted
to home and to his men, some of whom he knew
must not be far away following the same guide
that God, in his almighty wisdom, had placed in
14 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
the heavens to cheer and to guide such unfortu-
nate wretches as himself — the Southern Cross.
Where were Paul and Charley, his faithful gun
bearer and tent boy? Were they dead or alive?
those brave fellows who had shared his fate so
many years and who had borne with him the
burdens of hardship and danger when other men
of far more intelligence would have collapsed in
By daybreak he had placed many a mile
between himself and his enemies, so once more
he built a fire, cooked the last of his meat and
then slept until dark.
About noon of the following day he reached a
village the chief of which had, not many months
before, befriended a fellow elephant hunter who,
like himself, had fallen a victim to savage
treachery. It was some time before S. could
explain why he was travelling alone and without
a gun or food. Finally, he made the chief under-
stand. The old fellow was greatly alarmed, and
said that the traveller must move on at once, for,
if discovered, his presence would surely get the
chief into trouble with the tribe that had made
the attack, of which he was in great fear. The
black gave him food and a guide, and once more
A NARROW ESCAPE 15
he was cast out into the wilds to shift for himself
as best he could.
Two days later he stopped at another village
and asked for food and shelter. It was here
that he learned that several of his men were be-
ing sheltered in a village some distance away, so
he set out at once. On arriving he found Paul
and Charley, his two best men. They had had
a miraculous escape but had been able to make
their way southward as he had done, and here
they were, again united.
For over two weeks the party travelled to-
gether, stopping at various villages, where they
were hospitably received, given food, and sent
on their way. After a tiresome journey of over
five hundred miles they finally reached civilisa-
tion, bleeding from scratches and their clothes
a mass of rags, but, nevertheless, alive and
healthy and thankful for their escape.
HAVING had considerable experience in
hunting big game in Alaska, in north-
western Canada, and in western United
States, I joined the Roosevelt African expedi-
tion with the impression that we, who were all
experienced hunters and properly armed with
modern firearms, had little to fear. And I think
I am safe in saying that our entire party felt
much the same way. But after we had reached
Africa and heard of the number of men who had
been killed or mauled by lions and of the won-
derful vitality, quickness, and courage of these
beasts, we began to realise the danger.
The difference between our American "moun-
tain-lion" — cougar, panther, or puma, as it is
variously called — and the African animal is so
great that the name "lion" when applied to the
American species is a misnomer. The cougar
— the term used by many mammalogists — lacks
courage and even when wounded rarely charges.
Although I have camped and hunted in all the
Western States inhabited by this animal, the
nearest I ever came to seeing one was when I
found the tracks where, the night before, out of
curiosity, one had circled my camp. While this
statement undoubtedly proves that I am not
an authority on cougars, experienced hunters
agree that the animal is a coward and so noc-
turnal in its habits that rarely is one seen abroad
by day, unless it is driven from its hiding-place
with dogs and brought to bay.
The African lion, while nocturnal also, prowls
about often during the day, particularly in the
early morning and late in the afternoon. Most
of its prey, however, is killed at night and
after a ''kill" it is very noisy, while the cougar
is rarely heard. Two, three, and possibly five
cougars may sometimes be found together; but
African lions are found in troops of six, eight,
ten, and even fifteen or eighteen, although, of
course, they are more commonly seen singly or
Lions care little for the heavily wooded re-
gions. Their natural habitat is the veldt coun-
try, which corresponds to the prairies of our West,
the bush-veldt, that might be likened to the des-
18 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ert or chaparral country of southwestern Texas,
New Mexico, Arizona, and southern Colorado,
Nevada, and Cahfornia, or to the open-wooded
sections similar in a way to the '* cross timber"
of northeastern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and
Indian Territory. They do retreat to the true
jungle during the day when such tracts border
large areas of open country, where they have
been hunting during the night; but such regions
are too dense for good hunting, and as their
prey inhabits the open country, they are forced
to spend the greater part of their life on the
veldt, the bush-veldt, or on the desert.
During the last few hours of daylight, through-
out the night, and well into the morning — yes,
through the entire day, should it be cloudy or
rainy — they may be found abroad. They may
stay out later than usual in hot weather should
they be so unlucky as not to make a "kill"
before dawn, but as soon as they have gorged
themselves, or when the sun becomes unbearable,
they seek some place of refuge. This may be a
solitary thorn- tree with thick spreading limbs
that reach to the ground, the thick grass and
weeds bordering a swamp, or, in fact, any kind
of thicket large enough to afford shelter and pro-
tection from the sun. Here they remain until
late in the afternoon, and it is in such places that
the hunter is most liable to find them and from
there with his retinue of porters can drive them
into the open.
Lions were far more numerous than we had
expected and I well remember when Colonel
Roosevelt remarked to Sir Alfred Pease: "I do
hope that I shall be able to get a lion or a
lioness, it makes no difference which." Yet, in
all, he and Kermit bagged seventeen, and even I
— after a narrow escape from being mauled —
managed to kill one.
With the exception of crocodiles, lions kill
more people in Africa than all the so-called
dangerous animals combined. There are several
reasons for this: First, more sportsmen hunt
lions than other dangerous game. Second, they
are more numerous in close proximity to man
than other fierce animals. Third, when wounded
they do not hesitate to charge and rarely turn
back. Fourth, because some of them acquire
the man-eating habit.
The mortality among the natives from man-
eating lions is, of course, very great, but the
blacks alone are to blame. They are a simple,
20 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
child-like people who think of peril only when it
stares them in the face and forget it half an
hour later. They have no newspapers, it is true,
but they know as soon as a man-eating lion
appears in a vicinity, and they must appreciate
the danger, yet they roam about at night — the
greatest danger time — without weapons or lights.
They even sleep in the open or, at the best, in
low thorn-brush enclosures over which a lion can
easily spring. A single man-eating lion has
been known to kill more than thirty natives
within six weeks' or two months' time.
Few white men are killed by man-eaters, for
white men seldom venture far from civilisation
without firearms, and when on safari — outfit
and men — they sleep in tents, keep fires burning
at night and armed guards watching over the
In late December I was camped with a small
safari in the Ulucania Hills, two days' march
from Nairobi, and one morning discovered two
strange Kikuyus in camp. From the head man
I learned that they were members of a party of
men and women that was on its way to Nairobi.
About midnight they had been attacked by a
lion and had scattered. The two men had wan-
dered about for several hours but finally saw our
camp-fires, and came over to stay until morn-
ing. They did not know at the time whether
the lion had killed any one, and as we broke
camp and left about four o'clock that morning,
we never heard. Just before daylight we heard
the hoarse, guttural grunts of a lion back in the
hills a half mile from camp, so we supposed that
it must have been successful.
After a man-eater becomes known, the govern-
ment usually closes the roads in that section to
travellers and forbids the natives to visit the
region until the animal has been put to death.
Frequently there is a white hunter in the vicin-
ity who is glad of the chance to kill the brute,
and it is needless to say that the natives give
the hunter all the information and assistance
they can, for the death of a man-eater is received
by the blacks with much joy and celebration.
Very often the game warden at Nairobi is called
upon to exterminate a man-eater.
With a party of natives he goes to the scene
of the last tragedy, and if possible they track the
brute to a clump of bushes or tall grass to which
it has gone after its gruesome meal. The patch
is half surrounded by the blacks, who march
22 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
through, shouting, thrashing the brush with
clubs, and throwing stones in advance. If the
Hon is in the cover it is forced out at the other
end and killed by the waiting game warden. It
is a well-known fact that the very same party
of men whom a man-eater may have raided the
night before can in daylight drive it before
them like any ordinary lion.
This form of lion-hunting was the most suc-
cessful one employed in Africa prior to Mr. Paul
Rainey's original method of hunting them with
dogs. In two or three months he killed sixty-
three lions, and his discovery will be the means of
ridding the country of man-eaters much sooner
than has heretofore been possible, and conse-
quently it is bound to cut down the death-rate
Although we had several dogs on the Sotik
trip, they were continually running ahead and
scaring the animals, which deprived us of the
pleasure of watching them and studying their
habits, so the colonel ordered the dogs sent back.
Cuninghame at first remonstrated, arguing that
"the time might come when they could help us
out of a nasty mess," but our chief replied that
whatever mess we "got into" we would have to
''get out of" without the help of dogs, so the
canines went back that night. I must say that
I was glad when they disappeared, for only the
night before, while we were at dinner, one of
them had sneaked into my tent and devoured
three of my specimens. As they were the only
ones of their species that I had, we stopped off a
day on the return trip and trapped more, and
were repaid by discovering that it was a species
new to science.
A common method of hunting lions is to watch
at the body of an animal lately killed. At dusk
the hunter secretes himself in a brush enclosure,
or on a platform built amid the branches of a
near-by tree, and shoots the lions when they
Another way of hunting lions is to watch for
them with field-glasses from the top of a hill, the
best time being early in the morning or late in
the afternoon. After one has been "spotted"
with the binoculars the sportsman can ride it
down on horseback and when within shooting
distance dismount and fire. If the lion charges
the hunter can stand his ground and take the
charge, or if he is a little nervous, and doubtful
of his aim he has just cause to remount his horse
24 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and ride away. When the Hon gives up the
chase the sportsman can go back and continue
Experienced Enghsh hunters prefer attacking
lions from a distance. Of course if the ground
is such that by standing off two hundred yards
or more there is danger of the animal escaping,
they try to get closer. But they reason that the
farther away the animal is the less apt it will
be to charge and if it does charge there will be
more time to shoot.
While it is true that the nearer one is to a
lion the more liable it is to charge, close shooting
has its advantages in that one's aim is more
accurate and the bullets have greater penetra-
A young Englishman with whom we became
acquainted shortly after our arrival in Africa
was, a few months later, frightfully mauled by a
lion. He went hunting one afternoon and sud-
denly came upon a fine maned lion. At about
one hundred yards he opened fire, and the beast
charged. The hunter emptied his first rifle and
snatched his second gun from the gun bearer
just before the lion reached him. This rifle
chanced to be of a different make from any the
gun bearer had seen, and he had neglected to
throw back the safety catch. Before the hunter
could rectify the mistake the lion bowled him
over and knocked the rifle from his hands. The
gun bearer snatched it up and tried to fire.
Then, with wonderful courage and presence of
mind for an African native, he rushed to the
struggling pair and, holding the gun over his
master, shouted: '"Master, fix this gun; it won't
work!" The lion was chewing the man's left
arm, but he managed to reach out with his free
hand and throw oflf the safety catch, and the
gun bearer shot the animal through the head, x
The Englishman was badly mauled. He was
in the hospital for several weeks and nearly
succumbed to blood-poisoning, but finally es-
caped with a few ugly scars and a crippled left
It is a well-known fact among professional lion-
hunters that the lioness is more to be feared than
her mate. She is far more willing to charge
even though she may not be wounded. When a
pair of lions is found, the female, therefore, is the
one that old lion-hunters kill first.
A charging lion is, to my mind, the most noble
and at the same time the most awe-inspiring
26 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
sight imaginable. Contrary to general belief, a
lion does not bound toward its enemy; it scoots
or glides along over the ground with a speed sim-
ply remarkable for an animal so stocky and with
such short legs.
The true lion-hunter can always tell whether
a lion is actually charging or is simply trying to
escape even though it may be coming toward
him. When trying to escape, a lion lopes along
in an easy but not extremely rapid manner. But
when he gives his tail a flirt in the air and starts
toward you with his belly almost touching the
ground, his forefeet reaching out like those of a
pacing race-horse, his jaws half open, and, with
every step, emitting a deep, guttural growl
which strikes you in the chest and goes right
on through, then he is charging. Ninety-nine
times out of a hundred he will not stop unless
you kill him, so govern yourself accordingly.
If, when you start out lion-hunting, you think
the time will come when you will have to run,
stay at home, for, unless you have a companion
who can help you out of a scrape, should you
ever turn your back on a charging lion, that's the
beginning of your end. The best you can hope
to do is to postpone death for a few seconds and.
unless your rifle is empty, you had better stand
your ground and fight to the last.
But Mr. Lion is not a half bad fellow, after
all. Unless he happens to be a man-eater, and
then only at night when he is sure that you do
not see him and he knows that he has the ad-
vantage, he will not molest you if you treat
him with respect.
Should you be transporting stock through his
country, he may try to raid your camp some
night, and, if he is not successful the first time
you may find him somewhat persistent. Some-
times he will depart after once being fired at.
At other times he may annoy you for half the
night, and this is particularly true if he has a
few companions to assist him in the raid.
A very small percentage of the people that are
mauled by Uons in what the English term "acci-
dents" — that is, sportsmen on whom the tables
have been turned — are killed outright or even die
from the seriousness of their wounds. Most of
them succumb to blood-poisoning. Lion bites
when in the fleshy part of the body are usually
deep, and the tissues of the flesh are torn apart
to such an extent that treatment is difficult.
Unless a doctor is at hand, the worst form of
28 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
septic poisoning appears in a short time and the
patient is doomed. Our doctor attended three
cases of Hon mauUngs within twelve hours after
the accidents happened, and, though he was pro-
vided with the proper medicines and instru-
ments, two of the men died from blood-poisoning.
Our safari was so large and there were always
so many camp-fires burning at night that we
were not molested by lions. One night the
askariy or native ex-soldier who watched over
the camp and kept the fires burning when we
were in a lion country, woke us by firing his
rifle. I snatched my gun and ran out of the
tent. The askari was back by the grass hut
that the porters had built, as a protection
against lions, for the horses. He said that he
had shot at a lion that was prowling about the
camp. He watched it for some time, and, as it
circled around to the horse-shed, he supposed
that it intended to attack the animals, so he fired.
Several porters that ran from their tents saw
the beast, however, and they were confident that
it was a hyena.
While camp-fires are acknowledged to be the
best protection at night against lions, there are
many instances where these cats have scarcely
heeded them. Men have been carried off while
sleeping beside a brightly burning fire, and cattle
have been attacked within a circle of camp-fires.
Heller took care of the colonel's large animals,
so whenever an elephant, a hippopotamus, or a
rhinoceros was killed he would take his skin-
ning tools and enough men to carry his camping
outfit and go out to the place and camp until
his work was finished. Usually the porters re-
turned to the main camp the same day, leaving
him alone with his four native assistants. Sev-
eral times, while on these trips, lions, attracted
by the smell of flesh and blood, paid him visits
They would circle about his tent grunting,
growling, and purring, and if he was camped
near the skinned carcass of an animal he could
hear them fighting over it all night. But usu-
ally there is little danger from a lion that an-
nounces itself by grunting or growling. The
animals that are dangerous are those that are
never seen or heard until after they have
snatched a man and made away with him.
One night two lions came to call on Heller
when he was armed with only a shotgun and a
few shells of bird shot. He very wisely shut the
30 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
flap to the tent door and sat in silence listening
to them grunting and purring. They passed
around his tent several times while he and his
porters, who were in a near-by tent, kept per-
fectly quiet, and finally the cats departed.
Not far from Nairobi there lives an English-
man in one of the typical East African sheet-iron
bungalows. Several living-rooms lack connec-
tions, so in passing from one room to another it
is necessary to step out on the veranda and
walk to the door of the adjacent room.
One evening a guest for the night arrived and
left his wagon standing by the side of the veranda
opposite the door of the room that he was to
occupy. The two men talked well into the night,
and then the guest bade his host good night and
stepped out on the veranda. He had reached
his room, opened the door, and was standing on
the threshold, when a lion, that must have been
watching the men through the window, sprang
at him from behind the wagon. The beaSt mis-
calculated, however, for it failed to clear the
vehicle, fell upon the porch, and, sliding across
it, struck the door with such force that the guest
was sent sprawling to the matting and the door
closed safely behind him.
The rifles were in another part of the building,
and, as neither of the men dared to venture out
of his room, they had to content themselves
with shouting to each other through the parti-
tion and let the lion depart at his will, which he
did in a few hours' time.
In the N'Guasso Nyero country we met a
Boer who was travelling through the land trad-
ing cattle with the Masai. Not long before this
a Hon had crept up to his camp one night and
sprung at a sleeping ox driver. The boy was
covered with two pairs of blankets, and in its
haste to escape the lion made a hurried grab
and ran off with the blankets only.
In the same locality lions once chased a zebra
up to a settler's house and killed it within fifty
feet of his door-step. There were four or five
lions in the bunch, and, though the man used
up all of his ammunition trying to kill them or
frighten them away, he was compelled to lie in
bed most of the night listening to them. We
met the same man a few weeks after leaving
the region and he told us that he had come to
Nairobi to buy a horse to replace one that lions
had killed in broad daylight the day before and
within a stone's throw of his house and our old
32 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
One is somewhat disappointed on hearing his
first Hon in the African wilds. If he expects to
hear them roaring as they do in circuses or zo-
ological parks he will discover his mistake. In
the eleven months that we spent in Africa I do
not recall ever hearing a lion ''roar." Lion-
hunters told me that they sometimes do, but
rarely. Time and time again we heard lions at
a distance, but they gave only deep, guttural
grunts, first long and slowly uttered, then
shorter and shorter and quicker and quicker,
until they died away entirely. In fact, the
grunts were the deep, short notes that always
follow the inspiring roar of caged lions.
In British East Africa, the chief prey of lions
is the zebra, and most of them are killed at
night. The big cat creeps up to its horse-like
prey and with a sudden spring or a dash pounces
upon the victim's shoulder. Reaching over
with one fore paw, it seizes the creature's nose
and with a sudden wrench breaks the neck, or
causes the animal to tumble and the neck is
broken by the fall. Zebras are short-winded,
and they are so abundant that it is not diflScult
for a lion to secure a meal whenever he wishes
Next in abundance to the zebra is the harte-
beest, and these two animals, at the time of our
visit to Africa, were so common that they were
a pest to the settlers. They break through
barbed-wire fences and destroy the crops to
such an extent that the settlers welcome sports-
men. One settler said to me: *' While Colonel
Roosevelt's writings will be of great benefit to
us by encouraging other sportsmen to come
here and shoot the animals, on the other hand*
he has done us an injury by shooting the lions.
If the fifteen lions that your party has already
killed had been allowed to live, in a few months
they would have exterminated more game than
you will get during your entire trip." Another
settler argued that the shooting of lions was of
benefit, for, as he said, *'some of them might
become man-eaters and kill scores of natives."
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE
WHEN one passes into the Congo and
Uganda country of Africa the veldt
gives way to vast areas of what is
called ''elephant-grass." This grass grows not
only in the open level and fertile country, but
also in extremely stony regions and even in
the open thorn-tree groves.
When fully grown, elephant-grass varies in
height from five feet to ten feet, and some of
the stalks are as large as a bamboo fish-pole. The
natives utilise the stalks in making fences and
huts, while the blades of the grass are used for
thatching roofs and for the sides of the buildings.
Travelling for days and days through these
vast grass areas, where the only trails are those
made by elephants and other animals, is, indeed,
monotonous. The stalks tower some four or
five feet above your head, the tropical sun beats
down upon your back, and every breath of air
is shut out by the thick, stifling foliage.
By the last of January the grass is fully grown,
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 35
and a month later it is so dry that both the
whites and the natives set fire to it in order to
facihtate travel. When fired by the blacks the
chief of the district usually appoints a certain
day for the conflagration, that the people may
keep their stock enclosed and make ready for
the great event.
On entering the White Nile from Lake Albert
one evening about ten o'clock, we travelled all
night, all the next day, and at eleven o'clock
that evening came to a place that was eventu-
ally named ''Rhino Camp." It was pitch dark
and the native pilot felt uncertain of his bear-
ings, so we thought it unwise to unload the boats
until dawn should apprise us of our position;
therefore we spent the night on the tiny launch,
serenaded by lions, hippopotami or "hippos" as
they are commonly called, and elephants. In
the morning we found ourselves well located, so
the boats were beached and the duffel unloaded.
It was an attractive spot. The land rose
gradually from the shore; the bank was lined
with trees and bushes of various species, and an
open thorn-tree grove extended inland several
hundred yards, while beneath them the elephant-
grass was eight or ten feet high.
36 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
In a few hours the porters had cleared away a
large tract of grass and were busy pitching the
tents in the edge of the grove. When the camp
was finally settled it certainly was a picturesque
sight. Our line of dark-green tents were some
fifty yards from the river; back of them was a
cluster of heavy drill tents belonging to the tent
boys and gun bearers; then came the bee-hive-
shaped grass huts of the porters, making in all
quite a respectable village, with the elephant-
grass, which commenced at the very back of the
porters' domiciles, extending in one unbroken
mass as far as the eye could reach.
We remained here about three weeks and
made a fine collection, for the country was
very rich in animal life. Colonel Roosevelt and
Kermit had secured an exceptionally fine group
of white rhinoceroses, which Heller and his na-
tive skinners had spent days of arduous work in
preparing. These, by the way, aside from one or
two single specimens in various museums, were
the only ones of their kind in existence, and they,
together with the hundreds of birds and small
mammals that Doctor Mearns and I had col-
lected, made a collection that we valued at
fifty thousand dollars.
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 37
As time passed we saw dense clouds of smoke
rising from the opposite side of the Nile, some
twenty miles away, and we knew that the blacks
were beginning to fire the elephant-grass. One
afternoon smoke appeared far off in the distance
back of camp, and when night came we saw the
glow of the fire in the sky. A few nights later
there were several other glows in as many dif-
ferent directions, but none was nearer than
twenty miles, and as the wind was blowing away
from camp we felt that there was little danger.
I must admit, however, that from the time
the fires were first seen on our side of the river I
became nervous and kept a constant eye on them.
When burning at a great distance it is diflS-
cult to judge exactly how far away a fire really is,
and I doubt very much if any of us realised
how steadily the flames were creeping in upon us,
until one noon, while we were eating luncheon,
Kermit said to the colonel:
''Father, what are you looking at? You ap-
pear to be pondering over something."
The colonel made some casual reply, and it
occurred to me that he was watching and think-
ing of the same thing that occupied my mind —
the proximity of the fire — for from the open
38 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
tent front the smoke could be plainly seen belch-
ing into the horizon.
It was about three o'clock in the afternoon.
I was busy in my tent making up specimens and
the colonel was at work on his book, "African
Game Trails." Far off in the distance my ear
suddenly caught a faint, rumbling sound. I
dropped my tools, walked out back of the tents,
mounted an ant-hill, and stood gazing and
The fire was coming into camp; there was no
doubt of it; for far off to the northward came
the ominous sound — a deep, rumbling noise that
at times sounded like the roar of a distant
waterfall mingled now and then with a faint
explosion. A great cloud of smoke rolled up
over the vegetation and drifted off to the west,
partly obscuring the sun and giving it the ap-
pearance of a huge ball of fire. I hurried back
to the colonel's tent.
"Colonel, the fire is surely coming into camp,
you can already hear it," I said.
The colonel stopped writing and listened.
"By George, that's so. We must get busy at
once or our valuable collection and camp outfit
will be in ashes before the day closes. Get all
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 39
the tent boys, gun bearers, and porters together
immediately, and we will cut a path in the grass
and prepare to back-fire; that seems to be the
The day before the colonel had shot a white
rhinoceros or ''rhino" as they are generally
called, the last one wanted to complete the group,
and Cunlnghame, Heller, and about fifty of the
porters were some ten miles away, preparing the
skin and skeleton, which had cut down our force
I shouted to my tent boy. Tommy, and told
him to summon all the men in camp and gather
up the "pangas" — long-bladed knives that the
blacks use to cut grass and brush — axes, and
hatchets and any other tools that could be used.
Then gangs of workmen were distributed in a
half-circle around camp, from the Nile on one
side of camp to the water-line on the other, and
set to work cutting grass.
The idea was to clear a wide road through the
grass all the way round the camp, and after it
was completed to set fire to the outer side. The
new, weak fire would run out and consume the
fuel before the big blaze should approach near
enough to leap the gap and destroy the camp.
40 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
We made the tent boys and gun bearers each
a boss of every ten men. It was their duty to
watch the lazy fellows and keep them at work.
These gangs were placed far enough apart so as
not to interfere with each other, and in a few
minutes everything was working finely.
It was fully two hundred yards from the river
on one side of the camp to the Nile on the other,
and quick work was necessary to complete the
task before the fire should reach us. All but
the worthless blacks realised the danger. They
seemed to care little whether the camp burned,
although they must have known that their sup-
ply of food would go with it.
One fellow was found peacefully sleeping in
his hut long after the others were at work, and
he refused to come out until he was dragged out.
He gazed at the approaching fire, yawned, and
said, "Oh, the fire is a long way ofif; there is
no danger," and started back into the hut to
finish his siesta, but the rather rough treatment
that he received at the hands of one of the gun
bearers soon changed his mind and he joined
Despite the seriousness of our position it was
amusing to watch the tent boys and gun bearers
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 41
exhibit their newly vested authority. In fact,
the eagerness with which these "bosses" watched
for an opportunity to apply the whip, and the
alacrity with which they did it as soon as a man
showed symptoms of shirking, added much to
the rapid progress that was being made.
The colonel swung a panga as dexterously as
any one, and when he noticed a gang of men that
appeared to be backward in the work he strolled
over and put some of his ''progressive" spirit
The roar and crackle of the flames was becom-
ing louder and louder every minute, and it was
soon evident that our race with the fire would
be a close one and a fight to the finish.
Kermit walked out to look the situation over
and returned with the news that the blaze was
not more than two miles away and was bearing
down upon us a little quicker than a fast walk.
This report seemed to inspire the porters and
they worked more willingly.
About sundown Cuninghame and Heller came
in with the rhino skin and skeleton, and this gave
us fifty more men, who were at once put at work.
Cuninghame was somewhat puzzled at our
42 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"What are you doing, colonel?" he inquired.
"We are preparing to back-fire and save the
camp," was the colonel's reply.
"But you are liable to burn the camp with
the very fire you kindle. It is risky business,
for should the back-fire leap the gap and get in
behind us, the porters could never whip it out."
"Well, what shall we do? What would you
suggest?" asked the colonel.
"It seems to be the only way, but still there
is great danger of losing the camp by it."
"Well, I would much rather have the satis-
faction of burning up my own camp in an effort
to save it than to stand idle and watch a grass-
fire destroy it; so, unless you can suggest some
better method, there seems to be no alternative,"
was the colonel's answer. And so, as it was de-
cided to back-fire, the work was resumed with a
rush, for the flames kept drawing nearer.
It was the most spectacular fire I ever saw.
Great tongues of flame, driven by the erratic
breezes, leaped fifty and seventy-five feet into
the air and detached themselves for a fraction of
a second before flickering out. Others writhed
and twisted like huge serpents, then struck the
ground and with a hissing sound spread out over
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 43
the grass and licked it up as though it were gun-
powder. Loud explosions frequently occurred
as the big stalks filled with steam and burst.
But the strangest sight was the birds that gath-
ered to feed upon the victims of the fire. Hun-
dreds of marabou storks, vultures, eagles, hawks,
and kites flew a few rods in advance of the
flames and, poising in the air a few seconds,
pounced down upon a mouse, rat, or big grass-
hopper that had been driven from its retreat.
The path was not quite finished when night
fell and the fire was seen sweeping over the low
ridge only a quarter mile away. The dew — very
heavy at this season of the year — was falling
fast, and we realised that in a short time the grass
would be too wet to kindle. There was no al-
ternative but to touch it off at once and trust to
the porters being able to check its spreading
should it succeed in leaping back across the road
we were cutting.
A number of the men, armed with untrimmed
branches cut fresh from trees, were stationed
back of the road and the colonel gave the word.
We touched a match to a bundle of grass and
swept it along the outer margin of the clearing.
The wind was against us and the dew had
44 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
wetted the grass so that it would not ignite.
The big fire, however, had gained such headway
by being driven with the wind that the heat
dried the grass far in advance of the flames.
Time and again grass torches were appHed,
but each time, as we passed on to kindle other
spots, we looked back to see the blaze gradually
die down and finally flicker out entirely. With
anxious faces we gazed at each other, and we
wondered if, after all, our efforts would be fruit-
A large bundle of dry grass was then thrown
into a thick patch of withered foliage and the
torch applied. It blazed up briskly and in a
few minutes was a seething mass of flames.
Waiting only long enough to make sure that the
fire had actually started, we urged the men to
bring more grass, and in a few minutes a succes-
sion of fires were burning all along the line.
While the dew had hindered us in one respect
it had assisted us in another, for we found it
comparatively easy for the porters with the
branches to beat out any blaze that worked
around behind or succeeded in jumping the gap.
It surely was a relief to watch those little
blazes gradually growing larger and larger and
FIGHTING AN AFRICAN GRASS-FIRE 45
spreading from right to left, until they finally
melted into each other and became a solid line
of fire. Slowly but surely it crept out to meet
and check the flood of flame that threatened to
destroy the camp and its contents.
It took me back to my schoolboy days and to
the pictures of the prairie fires, with the Indians
and settlers, the buffaloes and the other animals
all rushing off together to escape a common
In this country, where animal life was so
abundant, I fully expected that the same scenes
would be enacted, so, when our fire had run out
several rods and the earth was cool enough, I
followed in its wake with my rifle. Not that I
wanted to kill any of the unfortunate creatures
that might have been trapped, but I thought
that perhaps a lion would appear, and in such
an event I might want a weapon of some kind.
Strange to say, the only animals to show them-
selves were the large yellow tree bats that took
the place of the vultures, eagles, and other birds
as soon as darkness fell.
The rival fires met about two hundred yards
from camp, and as the blazes came together there
was a spurt of flame into the air and then the
46 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
blaze died down and finally went out entirely.
Our camp was saved from a catastrophe that is
dreaded by all African travellers— an African
MY FIRST LION
WITHIN a day after our arrival in camp
our porters had given each member
of the Roosevelt African expedition a
name that corresponded with his duties. The
colonel was Bwana Macouba, "the big master";
Kermit, his son, was Bwana Macdogo, ''the son
of the big master"; Doctor Mearns was Bwana
Doctor o; Heller, who took care of all the large
specimens, was Bwana Engose, "the skin mas-
ter"; and I, whose duty it was to study the hab-
its and preserve the skins of small mammals,
most of which came under the head of rats and
mice, was given the undignified name of Bwana
Panya, "the mouse master."
In the eyes of these natives the position of
Bwana Panya was a most degrading one, for
they could not understand of what use the skins
of rats and mice could be to any one. They
thought that I was wasting my time when on
all sides there were herds of zebras, wildebeests,
hartebeests, and other game. Game was eny-
48 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ama (meat), and, as an African savage thinks
more of his stomach than of anything else, they
asked me why I did not do as the other masters
had done — ''kill something of value— something
that people could eat?"
The first gun bearer assigned me belonged to
the Masai tribe, a brave race of people that, as a
whole, despises work. This "boy" was an ex-
ception to the rule, but he stayed with me just
one day. When he found that, instead of shoot-
ing lions, leopards, elephants, and "rhinos," his
master collected rats and mice, his humiliation
was so deep that after the porters had called
him Panya (mouse) a few times he could stand
it no longer. That night he disappeared and I
never saw him again.
Evidently, our boys — African servants, por-
ters, and all others are called boys — thought that
I lacked the courage to attack dangerous game
and that I collected small mammals because it
was much safer work. And so I lived for several
months, despised, jeered at, and known only as
Bwana Panya, the mouse master. But sud-
denly, within the space of eight short seconds, I
retrieved my reputation, and Bwana Panya be-
came the hero of the camp.
MY FIRST LION 49
We were camped on the North N'Guasso
Nyero River, in what is known as the Sotik
country of British East Africa. About three
miles away was a Masai kraal, or village, a
circular enclosure of thorn brush against the
inside wall of which was a row of mud-daubed
The Masai are a pastoral people correspond-
ing to the Navajo Indians of our own Southwest.
They abhor work of any kind and subsist en-
tirely upon their droves of sheep and goats and
their herds of humpbacked cattle. Because of
the presence of lions, leopards, and hyenas, the
Masai keep their cattle inside the kraals at
night; during the day they drive them out to
feed, under guard of half-naked youths armed
with spears or bows and arrows.
Hardly a day passed that large herds of stock
were not driven to water near our camp; the
herdboys paid us visits and watched us work.
We came to know some of them well and, as they
were quiet and orderly and did not beg for
everything they saw, we rather enjoyed their
Lions were plentiful in the region. One day
a Masai, who had been frightfully bitten and
50 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
torn by one, came to camp to have our doctor
treat him. He and two other Masai had at-
tacked the Hon with spears. All three were
badly hurt; our visitor's two companions died
from their wounds. - The Masai's arms and legs
were severely bitten and there was a deep gash
on his back.
I was skinning specimens in front of my tent
one afternoon when a long-legged Masai herd-
boy, whom I recognised as a frequent visitor, ap-
peared, and stood watching me for some time.
Then in a low tone of voice he tried to converse.
I made a joking remark about my inability to
understand him, which, of course, he in his turn
failed to understand. Still, he went on talking,
and was so persistent that I soon became
convinced that he must have something impor-
tant to communicate. I called my tent boy,
Tommy, and told him to hunt up some of our
porters who understood the Masai language and
find out what the visitor had to say.
Tommy soon brought an interpreter, and I
learned that the herdboy had left his companion
watching a drove of sheep and goats and had
come to tell me that he had seen a pair of lions
feeding upon the body of a wildebeest. After
MY FIRST LION 51
gorging themselves on the flesh the Hons had
retreated to a thicket for the day.
It was then about three o'clock, and vainly I
tried to find out how far away the lions were,
but could only learn that it was "not far."
Past experience had taught me that to a Masai
"not far" meant a journey of from one to six
hours. Finally, I learned that by travelling fast
I could reach the lions half an hour before the
sun should set.
Colonel Roosevelt at the time was out hunt-
ing. I mounted my horse, took the herdboy,
and, with my gun bearer and several porters to
bring in the lions in case we were successful, at
once set out.
The Masai guide, who wore only a square piece
of goatskin tied at two corners and thrown over
his shoulders, was a bright-looking little fellow
about sixteen years old, well built and with ex-
ceptionally long legs. When we first started
out I doubted if he could keep up with my horse,
but after we had gone two miles the doubt was
dispelled. He not only kept pace with us but
usually he was several rods in advance, urging
us onward. Frequently he would wait for us,
and by sign-language tell us that we must hurry
52 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
or the lions would leave their retreat and start
out foraging before we arrived.
For eight miles that half-naked young savage,
with a spear in one hand, piloted us on a swift
trot over the plains without the slightest sign
of fatigue. Then his actions showed that we
were approaching the dangerous spot.
The sun had sunk low; in half an hour it
would drop behind the rocky hills on the border
of German East Africa. In the far distance I
caught sight of an animal that I took to be a
lion. As I thought it was one of those we were
after that had left its lair, I dismounted and,
after telling the boys to wait with my horse,
advanced on foot.
The country seemed alive with game. A
wart-hog with a litter of pigs appeared not
twenty yards away; bands of topi, hartebeests,
wildebeests, Thomson's gazelle, Grant's gazelle,
and zebras fed quietly or stared at me from
all sides ; and quarter of a mile away was a mam-
moth eland bull. I kept on until I was close
enough to see that the animal I was following
was not one of the lions, then I went back to
where the boys were waiting.
I found them clustered about a thorn-tree in
MY FIRST LION 53
the centre of a level, grassy tract, and as I came
up my gun bearer pointed to the tree and
whispered: ^'Hapa simba bebee, Bwana, The
lioness is there, master." At that moment one
of the porters, who was walking round the tree,
gave a sudden start and backed away. I knew
that he must have spied the lioness, although the
branches were so thick and extended so close to
the ground that at a distance the eye could not
The Masai herdboy's curiosity now got the
better of him, and he ventured within ten feet
of the tree and peeped in. Then he ran back
to me and, in a dramatic and realistic manner,
imitated the grimaces that the beast had made
I took a position that later proved to be
sixty-three paces from the tree.
Then, placing my second rifle on the ground by
my side, I knelt on one knee and ordered my
gun bearer to shoot a charge of buckshot into
the thicket in hope of driving the lioness into
the open. As she did not appear, he fired a
second shot, but still she remained hidden.
Then I shot two bullets from my rifle into the
tree without any result.
54 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Although I began to think that the imagina-
tion of the men had got the better of them, I
was determined to be on the safe side. It would
be unwise to empty the magazine of my rifle,
for the brute, if she were there, might take that
opportunity to charge out at me. I therefore
started to reload.
I had placed one cartridge in the magazine
and was about to insert another, that would give
me the full complement of five, when, with a
deep growl, the lioness sprang through the
thicket directly in front of me. Only her head
and fore quarters were visible as she paused
a few seconds, snarling viciously and looking
about. Realising that there was no time for
further reloading, I pressed the snap that sent
a cartridge into the rifle chamber, and threw
the rifle to my shoulder just as the tawny brute
whirled and charged for one of the porters off
to my right.
She had covered about thirty feet when my
first bullet caught her back of the fore shoulder
— too far back to strike her heart. She wheeled
about so suddenly that if her tail had been a
whip-lash it would have cracked in the air, and
with a savage, snarling growl came straight at me.
MY FIRST LION 55
For an instant I was undecided whether to
stand my ground or run. But I realised that it
would be useless to run for she would overtake
me in a few seconds, so I remained kneeling, to
meet the charge and take whatever punishment
she might give me.
It was the first wild lioness I had seen, and I
expected her to charge in great bounds, but, in-
stead, she glided along close to the ground. I
waited until she had covered possibly ten yards,
to see if she would change her pace, and as she
still came on at the same steady ghde I settled
myself for action.
It would be like shooting at a stationary ob-
ject that grew larger every second; but there
was now no time to lose, for she was coming
with the speed of an express-train and ''every
little movement had a meaning all its own."
I heard a rumbling growl at every step she
took, and my eye, focussed through the globe-
sight of the rifle, looked squarely at a light spot
on her breast through which I hoped to send
the bullet that would stop the mechanism that
worked those claw-armed paws and those pow-
erful, merciless jaws.
The rifle-sight covered the light chest spot
56 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
when I pressed the trigger, yet the snarhng crea-
ture did not even hesitate when the bullet struck
her. Once more I quickly took aim and pulled
the trigger, but still she came gliding, growling
Could it be that I was missing her? It seemed
impossible, for she was now not sixty feet away
and coming faster and faster. I thought of the
ugly wounds that I had helped dress on the man-
gled Masai and wondered how much of a maul-
ing I was about to receive.
Only one more cartridge remained. This I
jBred pointblank into the breast of the lioness
when she was within a rifle length, and then I
managed to tumble to one side as the tawny
streak shot past, just grazing my legs. The
glassy stare in her eyes told me she was almost
dead. Although the force of her charge carried
her ten feet beyond me, she lacked the strength
or the instinct to reach out with her paw and
seize me as she passed. I snatched the second
rifle from the ground and wheeled round just as
her hind quarters sank to the ground. But
there was no need for another bullet. She threw
her head in the air and, with ^ gasp, rolled over
on her side, dead.
MY FIRST LION 57
The boys came rushing up to congratulate
me, for it had been a close call. The Masai
herdboy danced about the lioness in great glee,
shouting, gesticulating, and rehearsing the inci-
dents of the exciting event.
As night was fast coming on and it would
soon be too dark to shoot, we lost no time in
examining our prize, but made off at once for
another thorn-tree beneath which the Masai
thought the lioness' mate had hidden. We
found the lair where the lion had spent the day,
but the beast must have been disturbed by my
shots for he had made his escape.
When we skinned the lioness we discovered
that all four of my shots had taken effect; the
three that I had fired when she was charging
were so close together on her chest that the
palm of my hand covered all three wounds.
One mushroom bullet had passed through her
heart and left the casing in it, yet she had had
the vitality to keep on. Then I knew what is
meant by the phrase, "the heart of a lion."
It was now dark, and as we plodded along
toward camp under a full moon and the South-
ern Cross the boys chanted the victorious hunt-
ing-song. The Masai walked by my side, jab-
58 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
bering incessantly as if I understood every word,
and again and again showed me how the Uoness
had looked and acted as she charged.
Three miles from camp we met a party, with
lanterns, that had been sent out by the head
man to guide us home. When my companions
shouted the news of our success they rushed up
to me and shook my hand. One fellow, as he
grasped my hand, exclaimed: ''Well done, Bwana
Panya! You are no longer Bwana Panya (the
mouse master) ; you are Bwana Simba (the lion
master) !" And from that moment I was known
to the entire party as Bwana Simba,
THE WAYS OF THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT
NOT many months ago a writer stated
that the various species of African ele-
phants were being exterminated and
in a few years would become totally extinct.
This may be true in the case of large bulls, ani-
mals carrying tusks of not less than sixty pounds
the pair, which is the minimum weight for their
lawful killing. Unless the law is changed, ele-
phants with tusks larger than this may be exter-
minated from those parts of Africa accessible to
white men, but there are large areas of country
*' inside" that have been little explored, where
big tuskers are yet found in considerable num-
Young bulls, cows, and calves are still plenti-
ful and always will be, for they have no commer-
cial value, are seldom molested by the natives,
and the danger of elephant hunting is so great
that few white men care to shoot many of them
for mere sport, even should the government per-
60 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
During my eleven months in Africa I must
have seen about two hundred elephants — not
many, it is true, when one realises that the
professional elephant hunter who knows the
best elephant country finds them in herds num-
bering into the thousands.
In regions where elephants are common they
cause considerable damage to the natives by
raiding the plantations — usually at night — and
feeding on sugar-cane, corn, and vegetables.
We passed through one section of country where
the people had constructed grass watch-houses
in the tops of trees, in which guards were sta-
tioned to look for elephants. As soon as a herd
was sighted an alarm was sounded and the peo-
ple gathered with drums, horns, and other racket-
making devices and frightened the elephants
A chief told us that the buffaloes also raided
the '"shambas" (gardens) and between the ele-
phants and the buffaloes the inhabitants of a
village were sometimes compelled to desert it
and settle in another locality.
Elephants become so bold that they tear down
huts and even kill people. Within two days'
march of Lake Albert we came to a village near
HE HAD WRECKED SEVERAL GRASS HUTS
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 61
which Hved a ''rogue" elephant that had ter-
rorised the people for weeks. He visited the
gardens nearly every night and had wrecked
several grass huts, destroyed crops, and had
killed one man.
No sooner had we passed through the usual
ceremony of greeting the chief of the district
than he appealed to Colonel Roosevelt to rid his
people of their pest. For several days prior to
our arrival the chief had stationed men to watch
the brute in anticipation of our coming, and he
told the colonel that a runner had just come in
with the news that the rogue was then resting
quietly in some elephant-grass less than half
a mile away. That any kind of an elephant
should take up its abode within hearing of
a village where the people were constantly
shouting, singing, and blowing horns seemed in-
Having killed all the elephants that were
needed for scientific purposes, the colonel was at
first loath to shoot the animal, but after an in-
terpreter had portrayed its true character, and
Cuninghame had explained that the natives ex-
pected white men to shoot such animals in re-
turn for the privilege of hunting in their coun-
62 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
try, and therefore would consider it a breach of
courtesy if he refused, he consented.
As the colonel, Kermit, their gun bearers, and
the guide left camp, the chief warned them that
the rogue was dangerous and would charge the
instant it saw them. The guide took them right
up to the animal before they saw it through the
tall grass, and at that moment it either spied or
scented them and charged. The colonel gave
it a bullet and just then Kermit fired. The ele-
phant stopped for a second and as it turned to
run a second bullet from the colonel's rifle struck
it back of the ear, and Kermit fired again. The
elephant fled through the tall grass, and the
hunters followed the trail for some distance and
finally came upon the mortally wounded rogue
standing in a clump of bushes. The colonel
worked round to one side and dropped the ani-
mal in its tracks with a bullet through the heart.
It measured ten feet and nine inches from the
sole of its front foot to its back and carried
tusks weighing one hundred and ten pounds.
The shots and the shouts of the guide and the
watchers were plainly heard in camp, and when
it became known that the elephant was dead
there was great rejoicing among the villagers.
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 63
In British East Africa we found elephants in-
habiting the jungle country about the base of
the mountain ranges and isolated mountains and
on the mountains themselves to an altitude of
over twelve thousand feet. Up to that level,
on Mount Kenia, their tracks were common.
In the lowlands of Uganda and the Congo they
frequented the immense tracts of elephant-grass
that grew to a height of ten feet, the small
strips of jungle along the rivers, and the open
thorn-tree groves, where they seemed to feed
In the thickly wooded countries the elephants
had travelled single file and had stepped in each
other's footprints. Sometimes deep holes had
been worn in the earth, and there were stretches
where these holes were full of water; so in fol-
lowing them we had to step over the puddles
from ridge to ridge. As the stride of an elephant
is much longer than that of a man, we found
travelling at times leg-stretching work.
While the trails themselves were wide and
well worn, strange to say the great brutes had
simply forced their way through the tangle
which closed in behind them, so we were kept
busy ducking under limbs, pushing brush away
64 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
from our faces, and climbing over logs. Wher-
ever a tree of not too great size obstructed the
way they had put their heads against it and
pushed it over, tearing up the roots on all sides.
While travelling they had reached up with
their trunks and broken oflF great limbs and
eaten the branches. We found that in some
instances they had carried or dragged the limbs
several hundred yards without eating them,
which gave the impression that it was done in a
spirit of playfulness. Again they had dug about
the roots of a tree with their tusks and then
pushed it over or pulled it down with their
trunks. And so all through the forests we found
trees that had been shoved down for one reason
or another, limbs lying here and there on the
ground, and roots that had been dug up to eat.
In one place where a large herd of elephants
had passed through an acacia grove to water at
the Nile the uprooted and torn-down trees ap-
peared as though a cyclone had swept over them.
The acacia tree is a species of thorn-tree with
spines three and four inches long. The thorns
produce a poisonous effect on the flesh, which
lasts for several days, yet the elephants fed ex-
t-ensively on them, thorns and all.
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 65
All through the jungle at the foot of big trees
were beds where elephants had kicked up the
dirt as they stood sleeping and swinging their
great feet, for an elephant sleeps while standing
and rarely lies down to rest.
One day we lost our way in the jungle at the
base of Mount Kenia; so, taking advantage of
the last hour of daylight, we went into camp
in a little vista scarcely large enough to accom-
modate our tents and through which ran a well-
worn elephant trail. The porters, who were
without tents, made bough shelters in the edge
of the timber, and after the customary dancing
and singing orgies they retired for the night, and
the camp-fires died down.
Camping in the middle of an elephant thor-
oughfare without knowing when the next street
parade will take place is conducive to insomnia;
so I lay awake until after midnight. I was
dozing oJ0F when suddenly the most unearthly
screech I ever heard started me from the cot
with a bound. It was a sort of bugle screech
that was immediately followed by another and
another, until the jungle seemed to be infested
with a new species of demon, each one trying
its utmost to outscream its competitors. The
66 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
effect would have made the inventor of a patent
hair restorer hang his head with shame.
Snatching my rifle, I rushed out of the tent
and stood Hstening. From the porters' shelter
low murmurings could be heard and through the
inky darkness I could see the camp-fires bright-
ening as the embers were scraped together and
kindling applied. In a few minutes the little
glade was aglow and through the flickering light
we saw the porters perched in the tops of the
For an hour the elephants circled about, now
trumpeting, now roaring or bellowing, and the
thought that they might stampede into camp
at any moment was not particularly comforting.
Finally, the rumpus died away as the herd
slowly went toward the mountain, the porters
came down from their perches, and once more
everything was serene.
The camp had just quieted down when a soli-
tary elephant began to serenade us. He almost
circled our tents, but finally left us by the lower
side, trumpeting loudly as he passed beyond
The following morning we packed up, found
the trail again, and were soon in the bamboo
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 67
belt, a stretch five miles wide that completely
circles Mount Kenia between the altitudes of
nine thousand and eleven thousand feet.
Travelling in the bamboo might be compared
to tramping through a field of giant rye or oats
from fifteen to fifty feet high. Elephant trails
sectioned and cross-sectioned each other in all
directions. The trails were so numerous that we
could travel in any direction, deviating but Ut-
tle from our true course.
Under the most favourable circumstances ele-
phant hunting is dangerous work, and in the
jungle, the thick bamboo, and the tall elephant-
grass this risk is multiplied ten times. One can
seldom see more than a few yards into the
thicket, and he is likely to overlook an elephant
standing a short distance away which on scent-
ing him is quite as liable to charge as not.
October and November are the best months
of the year to study elephants at close range in
the bamboo belts on the high mountains, for it is
then that the cows leave the lowlands to feed
upon the tender bamboo shoots and to bring
forth their young. As may be imagined, much
of interest can then be learned in a very short
time, for a big elephant with a small one is pro-
68 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
portionately peevish and a person can never
tell when this peevishness will suddenly be thrust
I must admit that a peculiar feeling always
passed over me whenever I heard a commotion
in the bamboos near by and the gun bearer fran-
tically seized the Ithaca shotgun from my hand
and replaced it with the cocked rifle. Every in-
stant I expected to see an elephant rush out, and
I wondered whether I had better shoot for the
heart through the chest, for the brain through
the head, or for camp through the bamboos, and
a feeling of reUef came over me when I discov-
ered that time that my elephants were simply
a troop of startled monkeys hurrying away.
When resting or sleeping, elephants stand
huddled together, but when they start out to
feed they scatter and the hunter can never tell
when or from what direction he will be charged
by an animal he has not seen. Colonel Roose-
velt had a narrow escape in this way when shoot-
ing one of his first elephants.
He and Cuninghame were trailing the animal,
and when within shooting distance the colonel
fired and wounded it, but killed it with his sec-
ond barrel. Before he could reload, another ele-
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 69
phant charged unexpectedly and would surely
have wounded or killed one or both of the hunt-
ers had not Cuninghame turned it aside with
both barrels of his heavy rifle. The dense jungle
prevented all chance of escape, and the brute
passed so close to the colonel that it could
have touched him with its trunk as it rushed
As soon as a shot is fired the herd will fre-
quently charge about, trumpeting and bellowing.
Even when an elephant is charging the hunter
cannot always fire as soon as he would like for
fear his bullet might strike a limb and deflect
from its course.
From these remarks it must not be taken
for granted that elephants always charge. On
scenting danger from afar they usually depart.
It is when surprised at close quarters that they
seem to lose their heads and rush about, prob-
ably trying to locate the trouble in order to
avoid it. Trumpeting, bellowing, and squeal-
ing, they tear first one way then another, and
should they catch sight of the hunter they are
then liable to charge him. Failing to find him,
they huddle together and the whole herd departs.
After one such experience it is only men with
70 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
iron nerve that care to continue the so-called
An elephant uses several original and effective
methods of exterminating its victims. It may
rush upon a man, seize him in its trunk, beat
him to death on the ground, and, before leav-
ing, tear up the foliage for yards about.
There are many instances of elephants liter-
ally tearing their victim to pieces. The story is
told of an English oflScial in Uganda who, on
noticing a safari passing, stepped to the door to
inquire of the head man the whereabout of his
master. In response, the black swung a human
arm before the official and replied that a few
days previous his master had been torn to pieces
by an elephant and that he had brought back the
arm as proof of his assertion.
Then, again, after knocking a man down an
elephant will often continue on its course without
stopping to learn how much damage it has done.
A hunter who was within close proximity of a
herd of elephants handed his rifle to the gun
bearer and started to climb a tree to look about.
At that moment an elephant charged from the
tall grass and made for the gun bearer. As the
man started to run, he threw up his arms, and in
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 71
some peculiar manner the elephant, in reaching
for him, snatched the rifle from his hand and
stopped to hammer it on the ground while the
black made good his escape.
Usually, though, after an elephant has knocked
a man down it kneels on him or, dropping to
its knees, probes him with its tusks. Mr. Carl
Akeley, who has visited Africa several times in
the interests of various American museums, was
nearly killed by an elephant in this manner.
His elephant charged at close range, knocked
him down, and kneeling, attempted to gore him.
He managed to grab the tusks in time to swing
his body between them before they descended,
and they passed harmlessly on each side. The
curled trunk, however, crushed his chest and
broke several ribs. When he regained con-
sciousness the elephant had gone and his boys
had deserted him. The boys finally returned
and carried him to camp and it was several
months before he fully recovered.
It is a strange fact that there are very few
cases of men being slightly mauled by an
elephant. They are either killed outright,
mortally wounded, or escape miraculously with
nothing more than a general shake-up and a
72 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
severe fright. In fact, when an elephant charges
one can never tell what will happen until it is all
At Nairobi we were introduced to a Russian
doctor who went over into the Congo a few weeks
in advance of our party. At Gondokoro we
again met him and he exhibited a shirt in which
was a long rent made by the tusks of an elephant.
The animal charged, he jumped aside, and the
tusks ripped the hole in his shirt. Continuing
its course, it overtook the gun bearer, knocked
him down, stepped on his head, and rushed on.
Unlike a lion, an elephant will usually bolt
when severely wounded. There are very few in-
stances where a lion, after once charging, has
been known to stop or turn aside unless it was
disabled. It continues so long as it can keep
on its feet and will sometimes kill a man while
gasping its last breath. But an elephant, when
mortally wounded, will often turn, and even
should it continue its charge and pass so close
that it could easily pick up its victim it fre-
quently rushes past without noticing him.
Very little is known of the breeding habits of
elephants or their manner of caring for their
young. A gentleman with whom we became
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 73
very well acquainted while on the Mount Kenia
trip was not a professional elephant hunter, nev-
ertheless he had killed several elephants on Kili-
manjaro. Once by mistake he shot and wounded
a cow elephant that ran some distance before
falling. On overtaking her he found that she
had fallen in a kneeling position. A little calf
was pinned under her knee by a leg that was
driven deep into the soft earth. A close exami-
nation of the route over which the old elephant
had passed failed to reveal any of the little one's
tracks. This, together with the fact that the
calf was not hitherto seen and the peculiar man-
ner in which it lay, might be taken as proof that
the mother was carrying it in her trunk or per-
haps resting it on her tusks, with her trunk
holding it in position.
Certainly a baby elephant cannot keep up
with its mother when escaping from danger, and
it is reasonable to suppose that an animal which
makes a specialty of carrying things in its trunk
and is intelligent enough to push down trees ten
inches in diameter and shove logs and stones
out of its path might, under certain circum-
stances, have the sense to carry off its young.
We were astonished to find elephants roaming
74 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
over the rocky ridges and the steep sides of ra-
vines, and it was really remarkable what rough
country they sometimes inhabited. I was once
searching about a steep, rocky, timber-covered
pinnacle at the lower edge of the heather belt on
Mount Kenia for a good place to set my mouse-
traps. In scrambling through the moss-covered
boulders I found many elephant tracks and
after some difficulty reached the summit to dis-
cover that a herd of elephants had preceded me.
Elephants can climb up the side of a mountain
so steep that the hunter, even by using the
shrubbery to aid him, has difficulty in following.
Way up in the heather belt, at an altitude of
twelve thousand feet, where in October half an
inch of ice formed in buckets of water standing
outside the tent at night, we found elephant
tracks common. In crossing the bogs — of which
there were many — the elephants usually sepa-
rated and came together again as soon as they
struck solid ground. Their feet left holes in the
muck from one to two feet deep. These holes
were full of water and grass had grown over
them; so we were constantly stumbling into
them, and the water spurted into our faces as we
fell forward and wallowed on all fours. I never
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 75
returned to camp after dark without being
drenched in this manner and soon learned to
get back before the sun went down.
From a long distance the hunter is often ap-
prised of the presence of elephants by the flocks
of white *' cow-herons" that usually keep them
company and feed on the hordes of insects that
the animals attract and disturb from the grass.
As he draws near he hears the breaking of
branches and the crash of faUing trees, but if
the animals are resting he may first be warned
of danger by a strong pungent odour, or he may
hear the rumble of their stomachs and other
sounds caused by the process of digestion.
The hearing of elephants is very acute, but in
regions inhabited by natives they become accus-
tomed to the human voice and scarcely heed it,
as already recounted in the case of the rogue
elephant killed by the colonel.
We were finishing our last day's march to Lake
Albert and passed a village where the people
were laughing, singing, and talking, while the
children romped at play. By the side of
the trail several blacks stood on the topmost
branches of a huge fallen tree, gazing intently at
some object in the elephant-grass. On mount-
76 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ing the limbs I saw a herd of about ten elephants
huddled together not more than three hundred
yards away. I was told that this herd had been
lingering in the vicinity for several weeks.
In regions little frequented by man the sound
of the human voice will alarm elephants as
quickly as the scent of a hunter. But they rely
more on their keen scent to warn them of dan-
ger than on either hearing or seeing. When ap-
proaching a herd the chief thought in an ele-
phant hunter's mind is the direction of the wind.
He first tries to make sure that the animals are
not scattered and that there are none to the
right or to the left that will catch his wind and
give the alarm. Often he sends his gun bearer
up a tree or to the top of an ant-hill to look
So long as the elephants' trunks are down
there is little danger, but, when he sees the
U-shaped curve of a proboscis waving in the
air over the top of the elephant-grass, he knows
that if its owner has not actually scented him, it
is at least suspicious of danger and is feeling for
his scent. Then, when another and another ap-
pears, he is certain that the warning has been
communicated to the whole herd and that trouble
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 77
is brewing beneath those heavy skins, which on
an adult animal will average an inch and a half
Many a man has Providence to thank for
creating so powerful a creature with a serious
defect — poor eyesight. I am not aware that
any ocuhst has examined the sight of an ele-
phant to determine how far it can see, but it is
certain that, so far as discovering a human be-
ing is concerned, its eyesight is not of much use
beyond fifty yards. Time and again men have
stood by the side of a tree, crouched by a bush,
or lain flat on an ant-hill while a herd of infuri-
ated elephants charged about only a few yards
While out hunting white rhinoceroses in the
Lado country on the White Nile, we came upon
a herd of nine elephants. When first seen they
were on a burnt tract about four hundred yards
away, but they gradually drew nearer until they
were within two hundred yards. We did not
wish to kill them, so rather than run the risk of a
charge and be compelled to shoot them we circled
them. From an ant-hill we watched the great
brutes for fifteen minutes and were in plain sight
all the time, yet they never detected us. An
78 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
antelope or a deer would have spied the dan-
ger the instant our heads appeared over the
A small flock of cow-herons accompanied the
herd, riding on the backs of the animals and then
flying to the ground and feeding in the grass until
the elephants had outdistanced them, when again
they launched into the air and overtook their
great hosts. The elephants paid so little heed
to the birds that it was quite evident the two
lived on most friendly terms.
There were several calves in the herd and they
trailed along in the rear and then galloped on to
overtake their parents. We circled them with-
out trouble and continued our hunt. On re-
turning several hours later, we found them in
almost the same position in which they had been
A few days later a herd of about fifty ele-
phants strolled to within a mile and a half of
camp and for over an hour we watched them
through the glasses. It was about ten o'clock
in the forenoon, so probably they were on their
way to water at the Nile. There were only
young bulls, cows, and calves in the herd. They
must have scented our camp, for very soon they
THE WAYS OF THE ELEPHANT 79
became suspicious and, after wandering about,
started back over the route they had come.
When in the open country they spread out
and walked abreast, but as soon as a thicket was
reached they dropped behind each other and fol-
lowed single file. They were constantly tossing
dirt and tussocks of grass on and over their
backs, fanning themselves with their immense
ears and at intervals extending them on each
side, which, through the field-glasses, presented
a most hideous appearance. As usual, a large
flock of cow-herons accompanied them and when
these birds lit on the back of an animal they
gave it the appearance of being a white-backed
Suddenly the launch that was to take us to
Nimule rounded a bend in the river and whistled.
The elephants turned sharply to the right and
ambled off at a rapid rate. A little calf some
distance in the rear did not hurry fast enough
to suit its mother, and I saw her stop and wait
until it came up and then drive it on ahead,
occasionally giving it a gentle tap with her
CHASED BY AN OSTRICH
PROBABLY the most amusing incident
that happened to any member of the
Roosevelt African expedition occurred to
me before we had been in Africa a week; I was
chased by an ostrich. The ostrich was not a
wild one, for the wild birds are far too cunning
to do anything so adventurous. We saw them
feeding in pairs and small groups on the veldt,
but they were too shy to be easily approached.
The ostrich that gave chase to me was a huge
bird that belonged to an English settler by the
name of Percival. It was a member of a fine
flock he had reared from eggs brought to him
by the natives. He valued the old birds at
four hundred dollars each.
At night Percival kept the ostriches in a
kraal (brush enclosure) and early each morn-
ing let them out to feed on grass, while a Kikuyu
boy stood guard. The native was armed with
an eight-foot pole, at the end of which was a
CHASED BY AN OSTRICH 81
wide crotch. This stick he used to protect him-
self when an ostrich became ill-tempered and
attacked him; he would push the fork against
the bird's neck and hold the creature off until
it became discouraged and was willing to "be
A cock ostrich when peevish has a disagreeable
habit of running up to a person, bowling him
over with a blow of its foot, and then dancing on
Unless a man has one of those forked poles
when he is attacked by an ostrich, he is likely
to be seriously injured by the bird's powerful
kicks. In such a case the best thing to do is to
lie flat on the ground and let yourself be trod-
den on. You may be pounded black and blue
and badly bruised, but even that is better than
having a fractured skull, broken ribs or limbs,
or great gashes cut in your flesh by the bird's
It is the duty of safari managers to warn
greenhorns of the danger from tame ostriches,
and as one of Percival's birds was noted for its
truculent disposition, our party had been prop-
Unpacking our outfit at Kapiti, where we
82 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
made the first camp, we remained there only
long enough to put things in working order and
then rode across the veldt for half a day to Sir
Alfred Pease's ranch.
All along the route we saw thousands of ani-
mals. It seemed impossible that in this age
there could be any spot on the earth where ani-
mal life was so abundant. Herds of zebras,
hartebeests, Thompson's gazelles, and wilde-
beests, in separate bands and sometimes min-
gled together in one great herd, were feeding on
The wildebeest is a remarkable animal. Some
herds are so shy that it is almost impossible to
stalk them. Others seem full of a spirit of play-
fulness and will caper about a hunter as if try-
ing to induce him to join them in a frolic.
Doctor Mearns was once pursuing, on horse-
back, a wounded animal when a herd of wilde-
beests joined in the chase and for half a mile
ran by his side, tossing their heads in the air
and bucking and kicking as if they were thor-
oughly enjoying the hunt.
It was the dry season, and as there was a
scarcity of water at Sir Alfred's place and his
shooting-box was too small to accommodate
CHASED BY AN OSTRICH 83
us all, Doctor Mearns and I and most of the
porters camped at Potha River, about four miles
Three quarters of a mile behind the camp
was Percival's place. In the evening of our
first day at Potha he came down and asked
us to visit him and see what a typical East
African ranch was like. On the way I noticed
numerous small earth mounds that looked as
if they had been thrown up by our Western
Now, my special work with the expedition
was collecting small mammals, and, naturally,
when I discovered these mounds I became in-
terested. Early the next morning I shouldered
a bag of steel traps and, with my gun bearer
carrying my rifle and shotgun, made for the spot
where I had seen the gopher workings the eve-
ning before. I wore a green shirt, which was
supposed to serve the double purpose of being
invisible to animals and of tempering the rays
of the powerful tropical sun.
We arrived at the spot, about four hundred
yards from Percival's house, and I began dig-
ging into a burrow with a long case-knife,
with the intention of setting a steel trap in
84 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
the underground passageway. The animals live
a subterranean life, and appear above ground
only when, in the course of their work, they
break through the surface in order to push out
the earth that they have excavated.
It was a gently rolling country, and the
only trees in sight were the scattering ones
along the edge of the river where our camp
I had set one trap and was on my knees
digging into another mound. My gun bearer,
wondering, no doubt, what new kind of white
man I could be, stood by, watching my ac-
tions. Glancing up from my work, I noticed
the Kikuyu boy driving the flock of ostriches
from the enclosure and starting them ofiF to
Presently I heard him shout, and I saw that
an enormous cock-bird had left the band and
was heading in our direction in a very signifi-
Of course I had a gun and a rifle with which
to protect myself, but the four hundred dollars
that I would have to pay if I shot the bird made
me reluctant to kill it.
I jumped to my feet and looked in some
CHASED BY AN OSTRICH 85
perplexity at the gun bearer. *'What shall we
do?" I said. "Run.?"
Although he could not understand English,
he must have known by my tone that I was
asking a question, and so he replied with the
only English word he knew:
I did not wait to pick up the bag of traps
but snatched the shotgun. The gun bearer
grabbed the rifle, and oflE we started. It was
fully half a mile over the gently rolling veldt
to camp, and it seemed that the great bird
would easily overhaul us before we could reach
it, but the thought of the four hundred dollars
stimulated me to my top speed. Yet I did not
dare to throw away the shotgun.
We had a lead of three hundred yards. At
intervals I looked back over my shoulder and
saw the ostrich swinging over the ground at a
graceful trot; his wings were half raised, and
at every step his body rose and sank as if it
were resting on springs.
A herd of about twenty-five wildebeests
were just ahead of us. When they saw us bear-
ing down on them they divided to let us pass.
Then they lined up on each side, about a hun-
86 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
dred yards away, and dashed along parallel
with us, tossing their heads, bucking and frisk-
ing, and evidently taking a deep interest in the
It was plain that the ostrich was not exerting
himself. Perhaps he thought it would be more
fun to run us down and tire us out than to end
the race by a sudden burst of speed. With
each stride his feet reached out like those of a
race-horse, and as he drew near I saw that his
bill was half open. With his extremely small
head mounted on his snakelike neck, his open
mouth gave him an idiotic appearance.
When he was within forty or fifty yards of us
he suddenly began surging back and forth, and
it seemed that I could read his thoughts:
"I've got you. You can't get away."
And he did have us. But the ridiculousness
of our position, together with a nearer view of
the green shirt that I wore, seemed to intox-
icate him with ecstasy; the foolish old bird
threw himself flat on the ground, lifted his
wings over his back, and began rocking from
side to side and twisting his head and neck
about as if he were ready to burst with laughter.
How long he continued to act so I do not
CHASED BY AN OSTRICH 87
know; I was too busy watching for the green
covers of the tents to loom up ahead. But I
do know that we put two hundred yards be-
tween us and the bird before he again started
after us. We were so near the camp that the
wildebeests had veered off and now stood watch-
ing from a safe distance the finish of the race.
When, at last, we came within shouting dis-
tance of the tents I tried to call, but I was so
thoroughly out of breath that I could hardly
make a sound. I turned to the gun bearer and
by signs made him understand that I wished
him to attract attention. He shouted long and
The porters came swarming from their tents,
and the uproar of laughter that broke from
the crowd still rings in my ears. Not one of
them offered to come to our assistance; they
just stood there and laughed. Cuninghame,
however, darted back into his tent and reap-
peared with a large towel. Running toward
us, he waved the towel in front of him as if to
flag the bird or to announce to us that the
race was over and that we had won the prize
of four hundred dollars.
As we entered the camp, amid the uproar-
88 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ious mirth of the child-Uke porters, the ostrich
trotted up to within twenty yards of the tents,
threw himself on the ground, and again repeated
the antics that he had gone through a few min-
utes before. Finally he tired of it, and rising,
began feeding about the veldt as if nothing had
happened. Soon his keeper appeared and drove
him back to the flock.
During the rest of the trip I was constantly
reminded of that experience and time and
again was obliged to tell the story. But what
wounded my sensitive feelings most was to
have Sir Alfred Pease ludicrously cartoon the
episode and ask me to inscribe beneath it my
feelings at the time and then to sign my name!
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT
)1 LL day the sun had been beating down
/-\ upon us, one hundred and ten degrees
strong. As I sat in my tent on the
shore of that wonderful Lake Albert which Sir
Samuel W. Baker discovered on March 14, 1864,
there was naught in the climate or the coun-
try to remind me of the winter they were having
back in York State save the gentle tinkling noise,
made by the myriads of frogs or toads, that
sounded like distant sleigh-bells.
We were due at Butiaba the day before but
were detained a day by waiting at the last camp
to secure the tusks and feet of an ugly old
"rogue" elephant that Colonel Roosevelt had
killed at the earnest solicitation of the natives.
The hunters had come upon the brute in the
tall grass, and, true to the chief's warning, it
charged the instant that it saw them and before
a shot had been fired.
As we marched into Butiaba we were met
by Captain Hutchison, who congratulated the
90 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
colonel on his recent feat, adding that escape
from a charging elephant of any kind, and par-
ticularly a "rogue," deserved congratulations,
as he could testify from a certain *' close call"
he once had in elephant hunting.
"Now, captain," spoke up the colonel, "I
feel sure that you have an interesting story to
relate; so please give it to us at once."
"Well, it was a bit awkward, I must admit,"
began the captain, "and so upset me that I
have never 'taken on' an elephant since.
"I had been out ivory hunting for some time,
and, while we found elephants, they were all
small animals or cows with calves. One morn-
ing we struck a bunch in which, judging from
the enormous track, there was an immense
tusker, well worth following. Sending word
back to camp for my men to pull stakes imme-
diately and come after us, for one is never sure
how many days he may have to follow a herd,
I struck out in pursuit of them.
"The tracks were made several hours before,
and evidently there were about twenty elephants
in the bunch. They were travelling at a good
rate, and we hoped that they would stop to
feed late in the afternoon.
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 91
"Elephants may look slow and clumsy in
captivity, but when they are walking at an
ordinary gait a person must step along at
almost a dog-trot in order to overhaul them.
It was about ten o'clock when we took the
'spoor' * and we knew that we were starting on
a journey of at least twenty miles. The trail
was not hard to keep, for a herd of twenty
elephants following single file through the ten-
foot elephant-grass makes more than a well-
"As they marched along they had amused
themselves by snatching a bunch of grass and
tossing it aside; then, as they had passed through
a grove of thorn-trees, they had broken off
limbs and dragged them a hundred yards or
more before dropping them. ' Several times one
had halted long enough to dig a hole in the
ground three or four feet in diameter with his
tusks, and then we saw where he had galloped
on to overtake his comrades. Once they gave
us an advantage by stopping for some time to
wallow in a water-hole, and as they emerged
they rubbed their bodies against the first trees
they passed, leaving the mud plastered ten feet
* A sign of any kind.
92 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
high on the bark. These and other signs, grow-
ing fresher and fresher all the time, told us that
we were slowly overtaking our game.
"About noon we surmised that, if the ele-
phants were still travelling, we must be within
five miles of them; but, as it was feeding time,
I thought it practical to send my best tracker
ahead to reconnoitre, while we followed more
slowly. In a short time he returned and re-
ported that he had overhauled the herd feed-
ing in a grove of thorn-trees, of which they are
particularly fond. They were breaking off the
branches, digging up the roots with their tusks,
and then pushing the trees over with their heads
or pulling them down with their trunks. Al-
though he had not seen the big fellow, there
was no doubt that it was somewhere in the
"By the time we had arrived they had
passed out of the grove and were again in the
elephant-grass, which, owing to its height and
density, made it impossible for us to see them.
Even when we mounted an ant-hill the growth
was so tall that we got only an occasional
glimpse of a back or of a few snake-like trunks
waving about in the air. The wind was scarcely
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 93
in our favour; so we circled them to a large tree,
and I sent one of the boys up to see if he could
locate the big tusker.
"We watched him for several minutes as
from his lofty perch he scanned the country.
Presently he pointed oflf to the right, and from
his signs we read that there were two tusk-
ers with good ivory, one rather small, but the
other the grandfather of all the elephants with
mighty tusks. I beckoned the man down, and
there, under the tree in whispered conversa-
tion, we planned the attack.
"Our prize was on the far side of the herd
and in such a position that, should we attempt
to stalk him, there would be risk of some of
the elephants catching the scent and giving the
alarm. Nothing could be done, therefore, but
to keep watch until he had worked around to a
more favourable position.
"Again the boy ascended the tree, and as
we lay upon the ground about the base we
could hear the elephants ripping up the grass.
It was probably half an hour before the boy
again descended and reported that the ele-
phants were working our way, and it would be
dangerous to remain there longer. So we took
94 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
up a new position on an unusually large ant-hill,
several hundred yards to the left, and awaited
"At last the long-looked-for time arrived, for
the tusker was on the outskirts of the herd,
and the wind was favourable. We circled to his
side and stealthily drew near — my gun bearer,
tracker, and myself — while the other boys re-
mained in the rear.
*'The tall grass prevented us from even
catching a glimpse of the beasts, but it was
easy to locate them by the noise they made
while feeding. My gun bearer assured me that
the brute I wanted was one of three not more
than fifty yards away.
"We held to the elephant trails, as no one
could penetrate that jungle of grass and travel
silently. Next to silence we had to watch the
^ind, for, once the animals caught our scent,
tney would either dash away or charge, prob-
ably the latter.
"So far our plans had worked out admirably;
the elephants, unconscious of our presence, were
still tearing up the grass directly in our front,
while my boys and myself proceeded inch by
inch and strained our eyes to catch sight of
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 95
the brutes. These boys had been my compan-'
ions on many an elephant hunt, and I had the
utmost confidence in them, knowing well that,
if it were necessary, they would not hesitate to
give up their lives to save mine.
"I don't care how many elephants a man
may have encountered, while he is sneaking
upon his game a feeling of uneasiness steals
over him until the critical moment arrives; then
things happen so quickly and his brain works
so rapidly that all sense of fear is for the mo-
*'With both hammers of my rifle raised, I
cautiously sneaked nearer and nearer, my faith-
ful boys following at my very heels. At last
we were within fifty feet of the elephant, and
as he moved toward me I could see the top of
the grass swaying violently from side to side.
Suddenly fate turned against us, for a shifting
current of air must have warned the brute of
danger, I saw a huge trunk rise above the
grass, heard a shrill, deafening trumpet, and
knew that the fight was on. The grass parted
as though a snow-plough were being driven
through it, and the next instant there loomed
up, not twenty feet away, a monster head with
96 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
wing-like ears protruding on either side like
the sails on a dhow. 'Two shiny tusks of ivory,
fully six feet long, were pointed at my chest,
and the towering trunk between them gave
the head a fiendish look not often found outside
of Hades. The other elephants took up the
trumpeting, and the uproar was appalling.
"My rifle was at my shoulder from the second
the brute began his charge, and the instant
that he hove in sight I fired both barrels point-
blank into his face. Without a second's hesi-
tation I reached back to my gun bearer for the
'450' and brought it to position. Immense
though the brute was, he looked three times his
normal size as I cast my eyes along the bar-
rels levelled at his head not five feet away. I
pressed one trigger, then the other, but there was
no report, and with a feeling of horror I real-
ised that my gun bearer, in the excitement of the
moment, had failed to raise the hammers.
'* Before I could lower the rifle from my
shoulder the brute was upon me! With a
scream of rage he twined his trunk about my
body and, lifting me high above his head,
"brandished me about in the air as though I
were a feather. Every instant I expected to be
THE GRASS PARTED AS THOUGH A SNOW-PLOUGH WERE
BEING DRIVEN THROUGH IT
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 97
hurled fifty feet or more through space, which
I welcomed as the only possible likelihood of
escape. But no; at that moment I struck the
ground with a thud. Three times I was lifted
high and brought crashing through the grass
to earth. The last time the elephant uncoiled
his trunk and left me lying there, stunned and
dazed and staring blankly into his wicked little
eyes, now hot with rage.
*'Then, dropping to his knees before me, he
knelt there hesitating, as though to give me
time to deliberate before the end should come.
But he did not keep me waiting long, for slowly
the two great tusks began descending. With
all my waning strength I threw my body snug
up against his bending knees, and the tusks
passed harmlessly over me, just grazing my
back, and tore great holes in the earth be-
yond. Again the ponderous head was raised,
and again his tusks bore down upon me and
probed deeply into the earth.
"Evidently the animal had been somewhat
bUnded by my shots, for, assuming that he had
done his work, he started to rise, and as he
did so the sudden thought came over me that
he would probably attempt to trample me to
98 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
death, the usual method that an elephant em-
ploys to obliterate an enemy. So, as he slowly
rose, in some unaccountable manner I managed
to scramble between his forefeet and, working
back, seized hold of his hind foot.
"Once more I felt the snake-like trunk being
wound around me; next I was being waved
about over the grass top — then the ground
seemed suddenly to rise and meet me, and I
lost consciousness. How many times I was
hammered on the ground I do not know.
"Three hours later I came to and found my-
self in camp and my boys dashing water into
my face. When I opened my eyes I saw the
gun bearer holding a smoking rifle in his hands.
He had just returned from the scene of my
mauling and brought in my rifles, one of which
he had attempted to unload and in some man-
ner had accidentally discharged. The explo-
sion had no doubt assisted to revive me.
"My men told me that my life was saved by
the quick action of my tracker, who appeared on
the scene with a spear at about the time that I
lost consciousness and, rushing in, plunged the
spear into the elephant's side. Leaving me,
the animal took after its new tormentor, but
MAULED BY AN ELEPHANT 99
the agile native, twisting and doubling in the
thick grass, managed finally to escape. The
elephant had devastated the grass, bushes, and
small trees in his search for the man and, for-
tunately, had not returned to me.
"While it is undoubtedly true that the na-
tive's action had much to do with saving me,
one reason why I was not dashed to death
Ues in the fact that an elephant's trunk is the
tenderest part of his body, and, being twined
about me, it received the brunt of the blow
each time that I struck the ground, and evi-
dently the pain kept the animal from using the
force necessary to kill me.
"As a result of that mauling, I was laid up
for six weeks before I was well enough to hob-
ble about again.
"That elephant may be alive at this present
moment, for all I know. My native attendants
were too terror-stricken over the outcome of the
hunt to give the brute any further attention
after I was mauled; so no one followed him up
to discover what damage my shots had done.
Judging from the amount of vigour that was
left in his great hulk at the time he put me to
sleep, he could not have been seriously wounded.
100 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"Well, as I have said, colonel," concluded
Captain Hutchison, "that hunt used up my
stock of courage, and I doubt if I shall ever
*take on' another elephant, unless in seK-
A NY one who has toured through the country
/"\ at night in an automobile with bright
headhghts must have noticed how bril-
liantly a stray cat's eyes shine when the lamps'
rays strike them squarely. The members of the
Roosevelt African expedition made use of this
fact to secure specimens of the nocturnal ani-
mals that otherwise could not have been so
The time was when deer were hunted in the
Adirondack Mountains in much the same man-
ner, but it has long since been stopped by law
on the ground that it was unsportsmanlike.
Be that as it may, ** jacking" animals in Africa
is an entirely different proposition, especially
when one's main object is to secure the speci-
mens for scientific purposes. We were there for
specimens, and it made no difference in what
manner they were procured so long as torture
was not resorted to.
102 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
So far as sport is concerned, there is very little
sport in collecting most specimens, anyhow; it
is not the killing of a creature that delights the
field naturalist, it is the specimen itself — the
knowledge that science has been enriched by
another skin and the hope that that skin will
be the means of adding a new species to the
world's nomenclature or that some new and
interesting fact will be revealed.
"Jacking" animals in a country where there
is no danger to the sportsman may be un-
sportsmanlike from an animal's point of view,
but ''jacking" animals at night in the land of
the rhinoceros and man-eating lion is not only
risky but many of our African acquaintances
pronounced it foolhardy.
We used an ordinary acetylene bicycle lamp
and never went out until it was pitch dark; in
fact, the blacker the night the better the chance
of success. On moonlight nights the light does
not penetrate so far and the animals can detect
danger more quickly.
Naivasha, where we did most of our night
hunting, is a hamlet of about a dozen houses
situated in a tract of country similar, in a way,
to the deserts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona,
"JACKING" ANIMALS 103
southern California, Colorado, and Utah. Every
night hyenas and jackals prowled about the
garbage piles, and as we lay in bed we could
hear them howling and barking and occasion-
ally also the deep, grunting moans of a lion in
the rocky hills a mile or so away.
Kermit Roosevelt originated this new form
of night hunting, and the first night he killed
The springhaas — Dutch for jumping hare —
is an animal about the size of a jack-rabbit
but shaped more like a wallaby or a kangaroo.
Its front legs are short, while its hind ones are
long and used for jumping. Its ears, too, are
long, like those of a kangaroo, and its move-
ments and mode of locomotion are almost iden-
tical. Its upper parts are red, or reddish, and
its under-parts whitish, while its tail — very long
— is well haired and has a ''brush" at the end.
The springhaas lives in colonies in holes in the
ground, like a prairie-dog, and each pair, or
family, has its individual burrow. It is truly
a nocturnal rodent — a gnawing animal — and if
ever seen in daylight it is just after a shower or
when the sky is deeply overcast.
Kermit's success spurred Doctor Mearns and
104 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
myself to try our luck. So one dark night
about nine o'clock we shouldered an Ithaca
shotgun and, with the bicycle lamp, sallied
We struck out across the quarter-mile, unin-
habited flat between the hotel and the railroad
station, intending then to turn to the right
toward the hills. Springhaas's burrows were
numerous and we had hope of finding a spring-
haas before we reached the station.
I walked ahead and carried the light, which I
kept casting about from side to side as we
slowly walked along. Not a word was spoken.
The lantern cast a V-shaped ray over the hard,
sandy, brush-covered flat.
Suddenly, out of the inky darkness, there
sprang, like magic, two balls of fire the size of
a five-cent piece and about three inches apart.
My heart gave a leap and for a few seconds I
stood petrified, forgetting entirely the object of
my presence. The next instant I came to my
senses and, turning to the doctor, whispered:
"There's one! Give me the gun quick! Here!
you take the lantern and hold it on him and
The doctor took the lamp and turned it again
"JACKING" ANIMALS 105
upon the fiery balls, which in my excitement I
had neglected to keep within the rays. Not
even the outline of the animal could be seen,
simply those two balls of fire. I had no idea
how far away the creature was. I raised the
gun to fire, but could not even see the barrels
much less the sight, so I pointed in that general
direction and pulled the trigger.
Not a breath of air stirred and the gun roared
like a cannon. Instantly the two glowing balls
disappeared and some animal let out an awful
yowl. Without waiting for the lamp, I ran at
top speed, leaving the doctor far in the rear.
As soon as I reached the spot where I judged the
animal should be, if my aim had been true, I
began to search about, but, having gazed for so
long into the glare, I could not see. Soon my
eyes became accustomed to the darkness and I
thought I saw a movement a little to the left.
Jumping to the spot, I gave a kick. Again
the creature began to yowl and started off,
but it had taken only a few steps when I
jumped on it and began shouting for the doctor.
What the thing was I could not tell. That
it was not a springhaas I felt certain, for it was
too large and its cries were not those of a jump-
106 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ing hare. Quickened by my cries and those of
the animal, the doctor soon came up with the
light, and found me waltzing about on the hurri-
cane-deck of a large grey fox, for all the world
a prototype of our American grey or "woods
grey" fox. Why it did not bite my legs I can-
not understand. We put it out of its misery
immediately and were greatly pleased with our
success so early in the hunt.
It would be a serious breach of a field natu-
ralist's etiquette not to mention that this fox
proved to be a new species, and was named by
Doctor Miller, of the National Museum, Otocyon
We both realised that killing animals in this
manner was all luck, and that in order to make
our aim true every time we must devise some
way of casting the light along the gun-barrels so
as to reveal the sight. After a little experi-
menting we found that by holding the lantern in
the left hand and resting the gun on our wrist
we could twist the lantern so that the rays would
strike the barrels and show the animal's eyes at
the same time. Aiming, then, was quite as easy
as in broad daylight.
Having but one lantern, it was now the doc-
"JACKING" ANIMALS 107
tor's turn to show his skill, so I carried the fox
while he prospected about for more eyes. We
had gone only a short distance when we "picked
up" a pair of eyes, and the doctor let fly and
shot a springhaas.
We did not get back to the hotel until after
midnight, and during the time killed four more
springhaas. This trip proved to be more of a
lesson than a hunt. We learned many things
of interest, and, although we missed several
shots, we always profited by the loss.
We found springhaas singly, in pairs, or in
groups of three to five, and sometimes several
pairs of eyes could be seen within the radius
of the lamp.
At first our eagerness to secure the animals
led us to shoot before we were within range, and
it was some time before we were able to judge
the distance accurately. Perhaps we would be
near enough the instant the light revealed the
animal. Sometimes the springhaas would be-
come suspicious; then we had to follow it about
the flat before we could get a shot.
After the novelty wore off and we saw that
we would easily secure all the specimens we re-
quired, we began to study the animals more
108 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and to see how near we really could approach
them. Rarely did we get so near that the whole
outline of the animal could be seen, but once or
twice one allowed us to walk within ten feet of
it. There it posed like a miniature kangaroo,
raising and dropping its head in a nervous,
jerky manner as though puzzled by the glare.
The dazzling light, of course, prevented the crea-
tures from seeing us behind the lamp, and, as we
made no more noise than possible, it was prob-
ably just as difScult for them to tell how far
away we were as it was for us to gauge their
distance from us.
It was a strange fact, that while the person
who held the lamp could easily see the eyes of
an animal when the light shone directly into
them, a companion standing by his side or look-
ing over his shoulder was usually unable to
distinguish a thing. Finally, however, our eyes
became so keen that when we missed a shot, we
could often see the faint side-light glimmer from
the eyes as the animal dashed away.
This ''jacking" was extremely interesting
from one point of view. We found that at night
the diurnal life had been replaced by an entirely
different fauna. For instance, during the day
"JACKING" ANIMALS 109
we did not see a single springhaas or a white-
tailed mongoose and only one fox, but while
"jacking," we killed several mongooses, six or
eight foxes, and a fine series of springhaas,
besides seeing many more of each.
Difficult as it might seem, it was not long
before we were able to tell the different species
of animals by their eyes and their actions. The
constant bobbing motion of the springhaas
identified them at once. The foxes would peer
at the light, then the glare was lost as they turned
their heads and looked away, but a second later
it appeared again. Then we would lose it en-
tirely; but by shifting the fight from right to
left or by advancing a few steps, we would again
pick up the eyes shining at us from another
quarter. The foxes were harder to approach
and were very restless, and sometimes we were
obliged to follow one about for half an hour
before we could get a shot.
We discovered springhaas and foxes living
amicably together. Foxes are perfectly able to
kill jumping hare and quite probably do at
times; nevertheless we " shone" the eyes of both
of these animals at the same time, showing that
they must have been standing within a few
110 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
yards, if not feet, of each other. We examined
the stomachs of all the foxes we killed and in-
variably found them filled to bursting point
with the queer insects erroneously called ''flying
ants." These insects live in holes in the ground,
and at this time of the year, on cloudy days and
after dark, emerge in a steady stream, so foxes
have little diOiculty supplying their wants.
Tin cans, pieces of tin, and pieces of glass
shone quite as brightly as animals' eyes, and
while they deceived us many times before we
had had much experience, we never blundered
to the extent of firing at them.
Mr. Cherry Kearton, England's famous na-
ture photographer, was working at Naivasha
at the time of our visit. He was anxious to get
a flash-light photograph of a springhaas and
I told him that I thought it might be accom-
He had an electrical, flash-light contrivance
rigged up on a pole with wires, batteries, and
buckles. This he strapped about the waist of
his assistant, Jimmy Clark, who, when every-
thing was in readiness, ignited the flash by press-
ing a button.
It took about half an hour to get Jimmy
"JACKING" ANIMALS 111
properly harnessed to the apparatus, and then
we started out. It was agreed that I should
carry the lamp and walk ahead and find a
springhaas, and when we got within fifteen feet
of it, Kearton, who was close by, should focus
the camera on the brute, give the signal to
Clark following behind, and he would then
press the button, explode the flash, and the
picture would be taken.
We had proceeded only a few yards when I
discovered the eyes of a springhaas about a
hundred feet away and called Kearton's atten-
tion to them. He made some reply that led
me to suppose that he, too, saw them, and we
began to stalk the animal. We had gone but
a few feet when Kearton knelt low over his
camera and began to focus. Puzzled at his
action, for we were too far away for a photo-
graph, I was about to remonstrate, when glanc-
ing down I saw the single glare of a piece of
tin not ten feet from the camera. Before I
could give the warning, Kearton had signalled to
Clark to press the button. There was a dull
roar and a blinding flash.
*'I have him! I have him!" shouted the ex-
lU AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
I stepped forward and turned the light full
in the face of an innocent-looking tin can.
In print it may not sound funny, but the elab-
orate preparations that had been made and the
stealth with which we stalked the supposed ani-
mal added to the ridiculousness of the situation,
and it was some time before we recovered our
composure. I met Kearton in New York three
years later and he still clung to the belief that
it was a concocted scheme.
Colonel Roosevelt went out with us one
night. He was greatly handicapped by poor
eyesight and missed several shots, but he soon
caught on to the trick and then had better luck.
As we groped about in the darkness, the
colonel with the gun, Doctor Mearns with a
gunny sack in which to put the game, and I
with the light, the party had all the earmarks
of a chicken-stealing outfit on a raid. When I
called the colonel's attention to our appearance
he laughed heartily and replied that he hoped
no reporters would see him and add another
crime to the already long list of which they have
Doctor Mearns and I were hunting one mid-
night along the base of a series of rocky hills
"JACKING" ANIMALS 113
about three miles from Naivasha. We were
after foxes and anything else but springhaas,
for we had long since collected a sufficient num-
ber of them.
Now and then the light would fall upon some
small ground-dwelling bird that allowed us to
approach almost within arm's length before it
flew, and several times we nearly caught one
in our hands.
Sometimes we would walk suddenly upon a
mouse or a rat which stopped and blinked at the
light and then scampered into a hole or into
a cluster of bushes.
Again, a tuft of grass, a hummock, a stone,
or a bit of wood, discovered at such a distance
that for the minute we could not tell whether
it was an animal or not, caused us to approach
cautiously in anxious expectation of adding
another species to our already large collection.
Far back in the hills, fully a mile away, came
the deep guttural moan of a Hon. Possibly he
had just made a ''kill" and was voicing his sat-
isfaction at the prospect of a full stomach; we
hoped so at least, for then we were in Uttle
danger from that particular Hon.
From right to left and back again the light
114 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
searched the open, brushy, and rock-strewn
country, trying to discover some specimen of
The lamp had just finished a half -circle to the
left and I had started to swing it back, when a
faint glimmer caught my eye. I held the lamp
steadily and looked again. Two fire balls, much
wider apart and quite different from anything
we had ever seen, stared at us.
"What's that.?" I asked.
"Go on," replied the doctor.
Cautiously and silently we approached. Larger
and larger grew the lights. My heart began to
bump against my ribs. , Now we were within
"Let him have it!" whispered the doctor.
"No," I said, "It's neither a springhaas nor
a fox; it's too large, it must be a lion."
"Give it to him, anyway," he replied.
"Not on your life! I'm not going to tackle a
lion in the dead of night with nothing but a shot-
gun and two loads of number four shot," I
"All right, then! Give me the gun, I'll shoot
him," said the doctor.
Just at that moment the lights flared up, and
"JACKING" ANIMALS 115
I then saw that our Hon's eyes were nothing
more than the dying embers of a Kikuyu native
Probably the blacks were clustered about five
or ten deep and at that moment were sleeping
the sleep of the just, oblivious of wild animals
or wild white men. Had I fired, I should un-
doubtedly have peppered a dozen or more of
them. It was a fortunate thing that I dis-
covered the mistake in time, for it costs some-
thing to shoot a native in Africa. One must not
only pay for those he wounds but all the near
relatives of a man he may kill expect payment.
After we returned to the hotel, we began to
figure. Based on the damage paid for such
suits, we came to the conclusion that that shot
would have cost each of us at least two dollars
and thirty cents.
A FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS
TO fully appreciate the danger of lion-
hunting, a person should visit the little
cemetery at Nairobi, British East Africa,
with some one who can show him the graves of
those unfortunate hunters who have been killed
by these mammoth cats. Gruesome though
such an experience may be, it serves as an ob-
ject-lesson to the green hunter who has just
arrived in the country, and proves to him the
need of being cautious, cool, and accurate in his
I feel safe in saying that inexperienced sports-
men do not at first realise the great danger of
lion-hunting. They take it for granted that
one or two well-placed bullets from a modern
high-power rifle are sufficient to stop the charge
of any so-called dangerous animal. Such is often
the case; but again several balls in vital spots
will fail to kill a lion before it has succeeded in
killing the hunter.
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 117
It is too often true that sportsmen who are
killed or are mortally wounded by lions have
placed their lives in jeopardy by following
wounded animals into thickets or into tall
grass, where the meeting is almost certain to be
at close range and unexpected. And yet many
an experienced lion-hunter has been mauled when
the conditions were such that an '* accident" —
as the English call a mauling — seemed impossi-
Some African tribes of natives do not hesitate
to attack lions with spears, even though they
know that usually it will result in the death or
serious injury of one or more of their party.
We were camped in the Sotik country, on
the North N'Guasso Nyero River, where lions
were abundant. One afternoon a young En-
glishman named Chapman, who was travelling
through the country selling and trading sheep
with the Masai tribe, camped near by. We
spent a pleasant evening together, and during
the course of our conversation he mentioned
that he had never shot a lion, but was anxious
for an opportunity. He showed us an anti-
quated single-shot rifle and asked if we thought
it powerful enough to do the work. We ex-
118 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
pressed a doubt. The following morning he
broke camp and moved over to a Masai village,
some twenty miles away.
About supper time two days later I stepped
to the tent door and, gazing across the veldt
opposite camp, saw a man leading a mule on
which was perched a very wabbly object resem-
bling a native. As they drew near I discovered
that it was Chapman's tent boy leading the ani-
mal, and that the wabbly object was a porter.
They slowly plodded into camp, and the tent
boy handed Doctor Mearns, our physician and
surgeon, a note from Chapman. The doctor
opened the letter and began reading, while the
injured man, his arms and legs bandaged in
pieces of cloth, was helped from the mule and
immediately sank to the ground.
The note told us that Chapman had attacked
a troop of lions in a thick brush and wounded
two of them, one of which had charged the
party and mauled the porter. The poor fellow
was badly injured. Both of his legs and arms
were bitten and scratched, and his thumb was
crushed. Doctor Mearns washed out and steril-
ised the wounds, then wrapped them in clean
bandages, and we made the man as comfortable
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 119
as we could. The tent boy was then sent back
to Chapman's camp with the mule.
At breakfast time the next morning, who
should appear but the same boy, this time riding
the mule. He carried another note from his
master saying that after the fight, the Masai
had attacked the lions and that two of the men
were badly mauled. He wanted the doctor to
come over as soon as possible and treat them.
The doctor left immediately and returned
late that evening, and this is the story he told:
"Chapman had camped near a Masai 'kraal,'
and, after selling the villagers a few sheep, he
asked them if they knew where there were any
lions. They took him to a thicket that even-
tually proved to be the lair of a troop of lions.
It was then late in the evening, so the English-
man decided to postpone his attack until the
"Soon after daylight Chapman returned with
his boys and a Masai spearman, and, sneaking
up to the thicket he saw two half -grown cubs
playing at the skirting. He opened fire and
wounded them, but they bolted out of sight
into the brush before they could be despatched.
He circled the brush patch several times, but
no AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
did not find them, so he determined to send in
the boys to drive them out — a dangerous under-
"Reluctantly the blacks entered the lair and
began shouting and beating the brush with
sticks. Chapman, on the outside, a few rods in
advance, waited for the lions to appear. Half
of the thicket had been driven over when a
beater found one of the lions, dead, and it was
dragged into the open. This discovery some-
what encouraged the men, and they returned to
the brush more willingly.
"There still remained about one hundred
yards of the thicket to be driven, yet so far
only two lions had been seen. Chapman was
beginning to think that the ones he had seen
the evening before must have escaped during
the night. Suddenly a large lioness stepped
from cover and calmly stood gazing at the
Englishman. As he raised his rifle and took
aim, two more lions appeared some distance
farther on. Chapman fired, and when the bul-
let struck the lioness she gave a deep, hoarse
growl and, wheeling about, charged him. The
distance between them was so short that he
did not have time to reload. The infuriated
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 121
beast was almost upon him when one of the
porters in the edge of the brush jumped from
cover directly in the path of the charging brute.
"The poor fellow discovered his mistake too
late, for, as he turned to run back, the lioness
reared, and, burying its teeth in the man's
shoulder, bore him to the earth. The man and
the cat tumbled about on the ground while
Chapman worked frantically to reload his rifle.
''At that moment the Masai spearman
bounded up to the struggling pair. Crouching
behind his rhinoceros-hide shield, he poised his
spear in the air and drove the steel shaft into
the lion's body. Growling savagely, the lion
dropped its victim and turned upon the Masai.
Chapman had reloaded by this time, and he
managed to shoot the animal through the
shoulder before it had a chance to maul the
"Chapman's narrow escape convinced him
that he had better not attack any more lions
with his single-shot rifle, so, after attending to
his wounded porter, he started back to camp.
He had gone only a short distance when he
met a party of Masai warriors who had been
attracted by the shooting. They were heavily
122 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
armed with their tribal weapon — spears. After
they heard what had taken place they wanted
Chapman to return with them and kill the other
lions, but he refused to go.
"The Masai were insistent. They said that
they would go whether he accompanied them
or not, so finally he gave his rifle to one of his
boys and sent him back with the natives while
he continued on with the wounded porter.
"On arriving at the lair the warriors took
positions on the outside of the thicket and sent
several men inside to drive out the lions. In a
few minutes the shouts of the beaters told that
a lion had been started, but the animal kept
closely under cover so there was no opportu-
nity to spear it. The beaters had worked along
to the end of the thicket, when suddenly a large,
black-maned lion rushed from the thicket within
a few yards of two warriors. Both men hurled
their spears at the animal. One of them missed
his mark, but the spear from the other struck
the lion in the flank and it turned and bounded
back to cover.
"The lion could be heard snarling, growling,
and thrashing about in the brush in an effort
to extract the spear from its side. From the
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 123
swaying of the bushes the Masai saw that the
animal was working its way into a dense part
of the thicket, so they thought it best to leave
it in hope that it would soon die from its wounds.
"The beaters worked around behind the
wounded lion, as they supposed, and again com-
menced to beat the brush for other lions. They
had not given the spearmen time to properly
distribute themselves since the last encounter,
however. Only one man had reached the far
side of the thicket when a deep, guttural growl
was heard. The next instant the wounded lion
bolted out of the brush close to the solitary
spearman and, catching sight of him, threw
up its tail and charged.
'*The Masai, crouching behind his shield, his
spear poised in the air, waited until the brute
was almost upon him, then with a gentle flirt
of his wrist he sent the keen-bladed weapon
into the lion's shoulder and out on the opposite
side, fully eighteen inches. The Hon struck the
uplifted shield and, reaching over it, seized the
man by the shoulder and the two sank to the
"Had the other spearmen been present to
follow up the attack, the man's life might have
IM AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
been saved. As it was, after he had once thrown
his weapon he was helpless, for these people
carry only one spear, relying upon their kins-
men for help when needed.
''A sixteen-year-old boy who chanced to be
tending cattle near by had been watching the
hunt and was only a few rods away when the
lion attacked the Masai. Seeing the plight his
comrade was in, he rushed to his assistance and,
with only a '' knob-stick "* for a weapon, began
beating the great cat on the head. Three blows
were sufficient to make the shaggy-maned crea-
ture leave the man he was mauling and spring
upon the brave little herder. Only a few mo-
ments elapsed before a score of spearmen arrived
and riddled the animal with spears, but the poor
little fellow had been mortally wounded."
Doctor Mearns made three trips from our
camp to the village in an effort to save the
lives of those two natives, but both of them died
of blood-poisoning. When the news reached
us that they were dead, the doctor said: "Lo-
ring, during my career as an army surgeon I
saw and heard of a great many cases of bravery,
but never have I known a boy so young to vol-
*A three-foot stick with a knob the size of a baseball at one end.
FATAL ENCOUNTER WITH LIONS 125
untarily enter a conflict which he must have
known meant certain death. It seems a pity-
that such an act of bravery should pass without
some recognition from a civiHsed people."
THE chief difference between the croco-
dile and the aUigator hes in the head,
the snout of the latter usually being
much longer and narrower than that of the
former. While there are no alligators in Africa,
there are both crocodiles and alligators in the
As we left Lake Albert and entered the Nile
we found crocodiles in considerable numbers.
As the steam-launch Kenia glided down-stream,
crocodiles slid from the bank into the water.
Frequently, while passing a narrow bay or round-
ing a sharp bend, we surprised one or more
at close range, and they swished their tails in
the air and scrambled into the river.
At ''Rhino Camp" they were very common,
and our party killed several during our three
weeks' stay. Colonel Roosevelt shot one from
which we took forty-eight eggs and Kermit
killed another that contained fifty-two eggs.
On a high bank of the Nile, about fifteen feet
from the papyrus, I discovered a crocodile's
nest with thirty-eight eggs and in the bushes
near by were the shells of several more eggs that
had been stolen and eaten by monitor lizards.
These nests were depressions in the ground.
The eggs, placed in layers, were so arranged as
to leave no doubt that the crocodile used her
forefeet in placing and covering them with the
earth and rubbish in which they were always
Several times I surprised a "croc" lying out
on the bank about a mile from one of our camps,
but it was so watchful that it managed to elude
me. One afternoon I crept stealthily to the
edge of the bank and, looking over, saw it bask-
ing in the sun with its jaws wide open — a
favourite attitude. As usual, it slid into the
water before I could aim and fire. I knew that
it would return soon, so I took a short hunt
and then came back. There it was again,
hauled out on the bank much farther than
usual, the tall grass concealing quite half of
its body. A brain shot, or one through the
spine, is the only sure medicine for a crocodile,
so, as its head was hidden, I was compelled to
128 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
aim at the middle of its back. At the sound
of the rifle it threw its head high in the air and
wriggled about so that my second shot missed
the brain and struck the jaw. The first shot
had severed its vertebra, however, and it soon
died. That night the body was carried away
by some animal.
A few days later another croc slid off the
bank, not far from the same place, but foolishly
rose to the surface a few yards away, giving me
time to shoot it through the brain with a ball
from my 32-40 Mounds ville three-barrel gun.
Turning on its side it sank at once and was not
Another wily old fellow lived in a channel
between the bank of the river and a papyrus
island fifty feet away. Time and again it man-
aged to escape me by scurrying into the water
before I could fire. The first time that we met
I came upon it so unexpectedly that it almost
turned a back somersault off the bank, as it
wheeled and plunged into the channel. After
that it would lie in the water, close to shore,
with only its eyes and tip of its nose above the
How many times that old villain escaped I
am ashamed to say, but one morning I crept up
behind a huge tree and, peeping through some
bushes, saw its eyes and nose. Through an
opening I carefully aimed and took off the top
of its skull. It sank instantly, and, as the water
was shallow, I tried to persuade my gun bearer
to wade in after it. He was afraid of being
nabbed by another croc, however, so it was left
to me to get the animal out. Armed with a long
pole, I waded into the shallow and fished about
until I found the body, while the gun bearer
stood on shore with my cocked rifle in case
another croc appeared. Finally, I managed to
drag the croc close enough for us to catch it
by the tail and haul it to the bank. It was a
small one, only nine feet long; in fact, of the
four crocs that I killed none was larger.
When we commenced to skin it the thing
thrashed and kicked as though it were alive, but
of course no animal whose brains had been
floating down the Nile for the past fifteen min-
utes could still be ahve. Nevertheless, it was
the Kveliest dead thing I ever attempted to take
the bark from. My gun bearer straddled and
tried to hold it, but it wrenched its tail about
and threw him several feet. Finally I managed,
130 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
after a half-hour's fight, to sHce off the few
pieces of skin I wanted.
While we were going down the Nile, on the
way to Nimule, my tent boy spied a crocodile
on the bank about fifty yards away. We had
passed before I saw it, and by the time I could
get my rifle it was hidden by a patch of grass.
Taking a quick aim into the tussock, I pulled
the trigger and had the satisfaction of seeing
the croc's jaws fly open and come together with
a snap, and as it did not leave the shore we knew
that he was hard hit.
To many people this may not sound commend-
able, but I am sure that my action will be in-
dorsed by every one who has visited the upper
Nile country and knows the true habits of these
reptiles. Crocodiles deserve no more sympathy
or protection than do tuberculosis or cancer
germs, for they are nothing more than a gigan-
tic parasite. Annually hundreds of natives are
carried off by these loathsome creatures, and,
knowing them as I do, I must confess that a
sort of fiendish glee overcame me whenever I
killed one. That our entire party shared much
the same opinion is proven by the fact that of
all the animals we killed during our eleven
months in the country, the crocodile was the
only one whose body or skin was not put to
some useful purpose.
While lions also prey on the natives, their
mode of attack and their entire life is so differ-
ent from that of a crocodile that their crimes
do not seem as repulsive. A lion will not hesi-
tate to risk its life in a fight for food and, in a
way, will give its victim a chance to protect
itself, but a croc shows no quarter; it drowns
its prey without endangering itself, and then
leaves the body in a hole, or on a ledge under
water, to be devoured at leisure. Instead of
enjoying life in an active, intelligent manner, as
most animals do, its only ambition is to bask in
the sun until hunger compels it to commit an-
other crime. Of what use is such a creature
either to itself or to the world at large, and why
did nature place such an animal on earth?
In the stomach of a crocodile killed by Kermit
Roosevelt were found the claws of a cheetah,
the hoofs of an impala, the bones of an eland,
and the shell plates of a river-turtle. Not
only do crocodiles slay wild animals, but they
prey extensively upon sheep, goats, donkeys,
horses, dogs, and cattle. Once a camel that had
132 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
gone to water to drink was grabbed by the nose
by a croc and hauled under the surface. There
is even an authentic record of a full-grown rhinoc-
eros being caught by the leg and dragged into
deep water and drowned, and the witness took
several photographs of the beast as it was
gradually pulled farther and farther toward its
When a crocodile discovers where the natives
gather at a watering-place, it lurks near by, com-
ing to the top only when compelled to breathe.
It may float on the surface, several rods away,
until a native approaches to fill a water-jar.
Instantly it dives, and, swimming under water,
is not seen again until it has grabbed him by
the legs, or the hand, and dragged him in. Per-
chance it will first strike its victim with its tail,
knock him off the bank, and then seize him; at all
events the result is the same.
Women and children are the chief victims,
because upon them rests the duty of providing
the household with water.
A Httle girl was given a gourd water-bottle
and sent to the river to fill it, but she never
returned. Through friends, with whom she
stopped to play en route, she was traced to the
watering-place, where the half-filled gourd was
found at the water's edge.
As our boats drew up to the landing at Nimule
I noticed women dipping up water with gourd
shells fastened to the ends of long poles, and
learned that such caution was necessary because
of the danger from crocodiles. Only a few days
before a woman had been seized and carried away
by a croc, and we were told that these animals
were particularly dangerous at this place.
A few years ago — and this is only one of
many similar instances — a boy seated on the
gunwale of a Soudan boat was dangling his feet
over the side. Suddenly a croc threw itself
out of the water, and, snatching the lad by the
legs, dragged him in. A native sailor saw the
tragedy and plunged in after the boy but was
unable to save him.
Two Boganda lads about ten years old were
fishing in a little estuary of the White Nile near
Nimule. Tiring of their unsuccessful efforts,
boy -like, they romped up and down the shore.
They were chasing each other close to the
water's edge when a croc's tail whipped around
and knocked one of them into the water. His
spunky companion grabbed him by the leg;
134 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
at the same instant the croc caught the boy's
arm. A few minutes' struggle and both boys
were slowly dragged farther out into the river,
and finally the rescuer was compelled to loose
his hold. A throng of natives gathered and wan-
dered along the bank seeking some clew of their
kinsman's whereabouts. Finally, the crowd dis-
persed without finding him, but two hours
later several women, returning to the village
with fire-wood and unconscious of what had
happened, passed the spot and heard faint cries
for help. They searched the neighbourhood, but
the voice was weak and came so irregularly
that they abandoned the hunt and went to the
village for assistance. Some two hundred peo-
ple assembled. By keeping quiet they finally
located the cries, which apparently came from
the bowels of the earth at the base of a big
tree growing at the water's edge. Several
women began digging about the roots, and in
time the earth gave way and they discovered a
cavity where the waves had undermined the
bank so that when the water receded a ledge
was left. On this ledge the boy was found.
He was some fifty yards from the spot where
he had first disappeared. After the crocodile
had held him under water until it supposed him
drowned it had carried him to the cavity and
left him for dead, but the lad had recovered
consciousness and was rescued before the brute
returned to make a meal of him.
The story is told of two natives who at-
tempted to cross the Nile in a leaky dugout
canoe. They had gone but a short distance
when they saw a crocodile floating on the sur-
face twenty rods away. It sank and came to
the top much nearer to them; again it went
down and this time reappeared only ten rods
from the canoe.
The natives are familiar with the habits of
these reptiles, and the canoemen realised from
its actions that it intended to attack them, so
they bent all their efforts toward reaching shore.
They were half-way across when the croc's head
burst from the water close to the stern and made
a lunge at the man in the back of the canoe.
The blacks had been shouting for help, and the
people who had gathered with spears and clubs
ran along the bank shouting and gesticulating.
Encouraged by the villagers and spurred by a
dexterous swing of the croc's tail that just missed
one of the men, the two paddled for shore with
136 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
all their might. A second blow and the reptile
struck the canoe on the side, keeled it over, and
it slowly filled with water. When it finally set-
tled back on an even keel only a few inches of
the gunwale were above the surface.
One of the men had lost his paddle and in the
excitement he tried to paddle with his hands,
giving the croc the very opportunity it sought,
of which it was quick to take advantage, for it
grabbed the man by the hand. The canoe cap-
sized and threw out the occupants.
In all dugout canoes there are several stays
that are used to spread the sides and keep them
in shape. To one of these the croc's victim
held with his free hand, while his companion
floundered to safety.
A score of blacks rushed into the water, and
while some snatched the canoe others grabbed
the struggling man and dragged him and the
writhing croc toward shore. As soon as the
creature appeared above water a dozen spears
were thrown into it, compelling it to loosen its
grip on the man, and he was dragged to the
bank beyond harm's way.
The croc, badly wounded, kept floundering
about and snapping at the spear shafts dangling
from its body. Finally, a native succeeded in
throwing a noosed grass rope about its head
and they all began to haul the big reptile ashore.
The brute fought desperately but was soon half-
way out of the water, and the people fell upon
it with clubs and spears and put it to death.
The native's arm was badly lacerated to the
shoulder- joint and was amputated by a doctor
from one of the near-by missions.
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT
WHILE Colonel Roosevelt was engaged
collecting a group of elephants on the
opposite side of Mount Kenia Doc-
tor Mearns and I had been instructed to ascend
the west slope as high as possible and make a
thorough biological survey at various altitudes.
Boga, a Kikuyu native, had heard of our
intention to climb the mountain, so, while we
were camped at Neri, he presented himself and
applied for the position of guide. He knew the
way? Oh, yes; he had been a member of the
Ross expedition that had ascended to the top
of the mountain a few years before; therefore
he had qualified as a guide.
One might ask: "But why should you need a
guide to show you the way to an isolated moun-
tain of jungle, bamboo, heather, rock, and snow
seventeen thousand two hundred feet high and
only thirty miles distant?" So far as not being
able to find the mountain was concerned, there
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 139
was no need. What we wished to avoid was cut-
ting our way through the jungle when we should
reach the actual base of the mountain, and, as
this man knew the trails, he could save us days
of arduous work and vexation, so we ''took him
on," to use an English expression.
Three hours' march from Neri brought us
to the end of what seemed to be a ''wood trail"
— used by the native women wood-carriers — in
the thick of a bit of jungle.
"Boga," said we, "you're a great guide.
You told us you knew the trail, and here, before
we are scarcely out of Neri, you've lost us on a
wood trail. We don't believe you have ever
been up Mount Kenia."
Boga's ingratiating smile spread from ear to
ear. ''Bwana (master), indeed I have been al-
most to the very top of the mountain, but you
see, Bwana, I went up from the opposite side. I
know nothing of the trails on this side," he
How like a native! Either through cunning-
ness or stupidness — it might have been either;
it might have been both — he had trapped us
into hiring him.
Among our hundred Kikuyu porters, who had
140 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
lived under the very shadow of the mountain
all their lives, there must be some one who knew
the right trail. But no; the snow-capped peak,
glistening in the sun, did not appeal to these
half-naked fellows. They were working for us
because their chiefs, in making the treaty with
the government, had agreed to furnish the
white men with porters when called upon, and
they were anxious for some excuse to turn back,
so none volunteered to act as guide.
"Very well," we said, *'we are going up
Mount Kenia, trail or no trail, so if you would
prefer to cut your way through the jungle or
stumble along with your heavy packs it makes
no difference to us," and we started on again.
Then it was that a porter suddenly remem-
bered that he knew the general direction — if
we crossed the gully beneath us we would soon
come out on a veldt and by skirting it for a
few miles we might strike the right trail. The
rascals! They knew the way well enough but
hoped to turn us back by declaring their inabil-
ity to act as guides.
We put the new guide at the head of the pro-
cession and in half an hour were out in the
open country once more. In the distance was a
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 141
Masai kraal (village) and we decided to get a
man there who could put us right again.
This fellow — a rather old man who carried a
spear — proved to be worse than the first guide,
for, after proceeding about five miles, he called
a halt just as we were about to enter another
dense jungle. He said that he was not sure
of the direction and wanted time to look for
the trail, so we seated ourselves in the shade of
the forest and awaited developments.
He kept us there for half an hour and then
returned with the discouraging news that he
could not find the trail. Once more he started
ofip in another direction, and that was the last
that we ever saw of him, for he deserted us slick
That the trail was to the north seemed rea-
sonable, so, with my gun bearer running by my
side, I put spurs to my horse and started off
to do a little scouting on my own account.
A mile and a half I rode over veldt, through
brush clumps, and then into the jungle, where,
for the most part, I followed elephant and rhino
Finally, I came to a stream about fifty feet
wide. Had it been early in the morning, before
142 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
the snow on the mountain top had commenced
to melt, I should have had no difficulty in ford-
ing it, but the sun had been beating down on
the drifts for hours, and the stream was con-
verted into a raging torrent that undermined
great boulders and sent them bumping over
the rocky bottom to find new resting-places far
I worked my way along the bank, looking for
a chance to cross, and finally came to a place
where the creek widened and the water was
shallow. Although the current ran swiftly, it
seemed to be the only near-by spot to ford and,
as we had already lost much valuable time, I
decided to make the attempt.
At the foot of the riffle the stream narrowed,
and there appeared to be an abrupt drop
in the river bed, for the water suddenly broke
into a succession of angry billows, three feet
high, that extended down the main channel,
like the waves that follow in the wake of a
Taking my rifle from my gun bearer and lay-
ing it across the saddle in front of me, I told
him to wait there until I should return and
then rode into the stream.
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 143
In addition to my hunting-coat with large
inside pockets, I wore hobnailed shoes, spurs,
and a belt filled with cartridges, from which
dangled my hunting-knife.
Lazarus, my hunting pony — so named be-
cause of his lack of flesh and general ansemic ap-
pearance — stepped fearlessly into the stream.
He was perfectly at home in the water and a
good swimmer; at least that was what I was
told when I purchased him.
The creek became deeper and deeper with
every step, and by the time I was in the middle
the water was dashing wildly against my ani-
mal's legs. I had reached the most dangerous
spot when my gun bearer shouted. The roar-
ing of the torrent drowned his words, so I turned
to look back.
At that instant Lazarus must have stepped
on and slipped from a large boulder, for sud-
denly he stumbled and fell upon his knees. He
fought bravely for a few seconds to regain his
footing, but the tumultuous water was more
than a match for him. He slipped, slid, and
floundered about, deluging me with water.
Nearer and nearer we bumped along toward
the end of the riffle and the rolling billows below
144 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
it. On the brink of the drop the faithful beast
made a frantic effort to save himself and did
manage to gain a footing for a few seconds; so
I turned his head up-stream.' It was too late,
however, for the instant that he raised his foot
the impact of the water against his chest swept
him from his feet, and we were carried into
I shall never forget the feeling that passed
over me as the ice-cold water crept up my
legs and slowly reached my thighs. I could not
withhold a gasp, and then suddenly the current
whisked the horse about and bore him into the
The spray dashed into the horse's face, terri-
fying and bewildering him. He pawed the
water with his forefeet and refused to swim.
Each time we headed toward shore, he received
the full force of the swells on the flank. He
rolled like a round-bottom boat, while I clung
to the saddle horn and swayed from side to side
in an effort to balance him, and also to prevent
being pitched oflf.
Two hundred yards below, in a sharp bend of
the stream, a mass of logs, limbs, and tree tops
had lodged, and the spray was boiling over this
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 145
drift pile with terrific force. I instantly real-
ised that if the horse should be carried against
it we would both be drawn under by the suc-
tion of the water.
Lazarus was hopelessly unseaworthy, that
was plain; so there was no alternative but to
desert him to his fate and try to save myself.
With all my strength I hurled my rifle toward
shore and saw it fall within a few feet of the
bank. Then I kicked my left foot from the
stirrup and tried to do likewise with the right
one, but it caught in some manner, and, struggle
as hard as I could, it would not free.
I imagined myself thrown from the horse and
dangling head down in the water, with my foot
fast to the saddle. This vision brought me to
my senses; it was no time to think, but to act.
Jerking my hunting-knife from its sheath, I
reached down, cut the stirrup strap that held
me prisoner to the horse, gave several vigor-
ous kicks, and finally the stirrup slid off my
Then it was that I must have lost my head.
Of course, I had no time to replace the knife in
its sheath, but, instead of tossing it ashore and
hunting it up afterward, as I might well have
146 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
done, I dropped it into the stream. Although
one cannot think of all these little details at
such a time, I always feel chagrined when I
recall the act.
Once free, I rolled off Lazarus' s back into the
ice-cold water, that less than an hour before had
probably formed part of a glacier or a snow-
bank high up on Mount Kenia. I had scarcely
left the animal when he rolled completely over,
and one of his feet hit me as I drifted away.
The left shore toward which I had floated,
was a perpendicular bank five feet high, and the
water that washed its sides was deep and run-
The instant that I faced the current the spa-
cious pockets of my hunting-coat filled with
water and acted as a drag, so I turned and
tried to swim down-stream and toward the op-
posite side. The swift current carried me to-
ward the cut bank, however, and my coat floated
about my head and shoulders, retarding me
worse than before, so once more I wheeled
about and stemmed the stream.
It was useless and wearing on my strength
to attempt to swim against the current; so I
devoted my energy to simply staying on the sur-
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 147
face, for the cut bank here ofiFered no chance for
a grip or a footing.
Each time that I sank into the trough of the
billows all view was hidden; then, as I rose upon
a crest, I saw my gun bearer running along the
bank. Finally I passed out of the billows into
the choppy waves, which splashed into my face
and choked me.
The heavy shoes and belt of cartridges seemed
to be doing their best to drag me down to a
watery grave. Trees and bushes shot past like
a moving panorama.
By this time the distance to the drift pile
had been reduced to a hundred yards, and as I
gazed toward it I saw, hanging over the water,
the top of a small tree from the roots of which
the water had washed the earth, causing it to
lean. This seemed my only hope.
By great exertion I swam to a point where
the rapid current would carry me within its
reach. Down, down, down, nearer and nearer
to death or salvation I drifted.
As I drew near the limb I tried to swim with
the stream, but once more the coat flopped
about my arms and I was able to work my
hands just enough to keep afloat. Finally,
148 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
only twenty feet separated me from the branch,
then fifteen, ten, five, and with all my strength
I threw myself out of the water and frantically
seized the limb.
It yielded until it could bear no more and,
as the current whipped my body about and my
pockets again filled with water, there was a
sudden jerk — the strain was too great on my
numbed fingers and the limb slipped from my
A feeling of despair swept over me as I looked
down at the spray, dashing over that pile of
logs and rubbish, and the swerving whirlpool
ready to suck me under.
Then suddenly I saw the end of a Hmb pro-
truding above the water about five feet from the
jam. The current swayed it from side to side
and I knew that it must be insecure, but it was
my last chance.
On nearing it I stemmed the current and
began to swim with all my fast-waning strength,
hoping thus partly to check my progress and
ease the shock to my arms and to the limb
when I should grab it.
Just as I was about to shoot past I seized it
in both hands and clung for dear life. The
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 149
limb was attached to a submerged log, one end
of which was lodged in the drift pile and the
other rested diagonally against the bank.
It bent almost double from the awful strain,
but I managed to keep my grip. At that mo-
ment my body was drawn under until my head
was so low in the water that the spray splashed
into my face. I felt a bar of some sort resting
across my back — I had been partly drawn under
the edge of the drift pile.
Feeling about, I finally found a resting-place
on a log for my feet, and by pushing, and pulling
at the same time with my hands, I wriggled my
body from side to side and managed to work
my head above the water.
A mass of roots protruded from the bank
almost within arm's reach. Again bracing my
feet against the log that had pinned me down,
I gave a vigorous push, threw myself toward
shore, and snatched the roots.
Under ordinary circumstances it would have
been easy to scramble out, but in my ex-
hausted condition, and with at least a bucket
and a half of water in my hunting-coat pockets,
I could scarcely drag myself from the stream.
At last, however, I managed to work my way
150 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
to the top of the bank and, leaning over, allowed
the water to drain from my coat; then labori-
ously crawled over the edge and up on the
When I looked about I saw my gun bearer
holding Lazarus by the bridle. As soon as I
had left him he had commenced swimming,
and after floating down-stream some distance
he struck a bar and waded back to the bank
from which he had started.
Undressing, I rubbed my numbed body and
ran up and down the shore until my blood
was again circulating freely. Then donning my
clothes once more — oh, they did feel so cold
and clung so tightly! — I walked along the bank,
found a suitable place to cross, and, plunging in,
swam over to the horse and man awaiting me.
The safari was awaiting my return, so after I
had related my experience we went into camp
for the night in a small opening in the jungle.
Early the following morning the head man
started out in quest of the trail, which eventu-
ally he found three miles to the east. While he
was away I went back to recover my rifle.
The stream was now a mere rivulet, and, after
locating the spot where the rifle should be, I
A BATTLE WITH A TORRENT 151
waded about in my stocking feet until I located
it and then went back to camp. After I had
given the gun a thorough overhauling and oiling
we continued our journey up the mountain.
CONSIDERING the length of time that
Central Africa has been "opened up"
to white men, together with the wonder-
fully large native population that has always
lived there, it is really astonishing that the
hippopotamus has not more rapidly decreased
in number. Of the three great African pachy-
derms — the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the
hippopotamus — the latter is, perhaps, the least
suspicious of danger, is not hard to kill, and,
being restricted to water, is easily found.
Seldom is the "hippo" — as it is generally
called by big-game hunters — found far from
water during the daytime. As soon as it be-
comes alarmed, or is wounded on land, it makes
for water and seeks protection in the dense
undergrowth in the shallows, or by diving and
remaining under until forced to come to the sur-
face to breathe. Even then the white hunter
can follow along the bank or from a boat can
" HIPPOS " 153
fire when the animal's head appears; while the
method of the natives is to chase it in one or
more canoes and with spears literally torture
it to death.
While more numerous in large waterways,
the hippo also inhabits small watercourses and
even small pools, and during the dry season is
forced to seek the deep, isolated pools that occur
in the semi-dry river beds, where it falls an easy
prey to the blacks.
The female hippo produces but one or two
young at a time, and probably does not breed
more than once in two years, if, in fact, as often
as that. As all of the large lakes and water-
ways have been traversed by explorers and
sportsmen for many years, one might naturally
conclude, after what has been said, that the
hippo would have been exterminated long ago.
The natural habitat of the hippo is the low-
land lakes and rivers and the deep, narrow
streams bordered with dense aquatic vegeta-
tion that extends some distance into the water.
Here it is that the hippo spends the day, hidden
in the weeds and papyrus, or floating leisurely
on the surface, or basking on the bank. Some-
times you will see him floating with only the
154 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
top of his back and head above the surface.
Again you find him with several of his com-
panions huddled together on a bar, or on an
island in midstream, or hauled out on shore
where he can plunge into the water at the
slightest sign of danger. As you watch him
lying there, apparently asleep, save for the sud-
den and violent spasmodic convulsion of his
thick skin as he rids himself of insect pests,
you might easily conclude that he is entirely
oflf his guard. Try to approach him in a boat
and, although you will be able to get within
rifle-range, you find that he is evidently sleep-
ing with one eye open, for suddenly, without the
slightest hesitation, he jumps to his feet and
into the water, followed by his companions.
Sinking out of sight, he swims so deep that not
even a ripple is left, but the rising bubbles from
expelled air mark his course and give you an
idea of his whereabouts. If you wait a few
minutes — usually not more than two if you
have not fired and badly frightened him — ^you
will see only his eyes and nostrils and hear a
loud, puffing sound as he appears, some fifty or
seventy-five yards away, to take a fresh breath
of air. If he sees you he remains in sight only
" HIPPOS " 155
long enough to fill his lungs and then sinks, but
if you have hidden yourself, he may stay in
sight for a minute or more before disappearing.
We were introduced to hippos at McMillan's
ranch, where, one evening, we walked through
the garden to the banks of the Athi River, at
this point not more than thirty-five feet wide
but having numerous enlargements of still, deep
water where hippos lived. At intervals along
the bank well-worn hippo paths led from the
river bank inland for several rods and then
dwindled out where the animals had diverged
to feed. Throughout the undergrowth directly
bordering the stream, for a distance of fifty
yards from shore, was a network of hippo trails.
It was at McMillan's ranch, not many years
ago, that the gardener, one moonlight evening,
was awakened in his little grass shack at the
border of the garden. He stepped to the door
and discovered a hippo feeding upon the veg-
etables he had so carefully cultivated and
guarded. An argument immediately took place
but was abruptly terminated by the hippo biting
off the man's head with a single snap of its jaws.
Now they have another gardener at McMillan's.
The gardens of villagers living near waters
156 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
inhabited by hippos suffer greatly from the
depredations of these animals, chiefly at night
when they break through the brush fences and
feed on corn, sugar-cane, and garden-truck. It
is then that the hippo is dangerous and is most
likely to resent being disturbed.
While rowing silently along one of these small
East African rivers a hunter will be startled by
a sudden rushing sound on the bank only a few
yards away, or possibly directly opposite him,
and the next instant a hippo pitches down a
steep, well-worn trail and plunges into the river,
sending the waves splashing against the side of
the craft and perhaps nearly capsizing it.
Again, if you keep a sharp lookout as you
round a bend you may catch a glimpse of a
hippo's head disappearing, and as you pass the
spot you will see the rank grass moving and
hear the rustle of the weeds as the animal seeks
Lake Naivasha was the second place where
we encountered these great animals. After two
days' march from the N'Guasso Nyero River
we went into camp close to the lake. While
the porters were putting up the tents, I walked
down to the shore. Peeping through an open-
ing in the papyrus, I saw two hippos floating
leisurely on the surface about two hundred
yards away. Every few seconds one of them
would open his great jaws and bring them to-
gether with a snap as he munched the succu-
lent lily-pads and stems.
The brush about the lake was very thick and
in some spots extended inland several hundred
yards. All through this growth were wide, well-
worn trails. Where the brush was so thick that
a person could not penetrate, the hippos had
forced their way, leaving a deep foot-path only,
and the branches had swung back into position
overhead so that to follow them one had to crawl
on hands and knees.
Near camp we found the bleached bones of a
half-grown hippo that had been killed by a
settler because, either for fun or in fits of ugli-
ness, it had persisted in chasing his cattle when-
ever they came down to the lake to drink.
At Lake Naivasha Colonel Roosevelt collected
most of the hippos that will some time comprise
the group in the National Museum at Wash-
ington. He went hunting several times before
I finally saw Cuninghame and three of the por-
ters in a boat towing a large hippo ashore. The
158 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
colonel and Kermit had run into a herd of
hippos and had wounded one of them, which
charged through the water. For a few seconds
it appeared as though the animal would reach
the boat and dump the occupants into the lake,
but the colonel's shots, fired into the brute's
open mouth, finally killed it and the rest of the
herd made off.
Frequently boats are upset or crushed be-
tween the jaws of a hippo, and the hunters are
drowned or seriously injured. There is, how-
ever, more danger from a hippo in the water
than from one on land, for when surprised on
land, in daylight, their chief thought seems to
be to get back to water as soon as possible.
After we left Lake Albert and entered the
White Nile we found hippos far more abundant
than in any other section of Africa we had
visited. During the two days' run down the
river to "Rhino Camp," and again after we left
the camp and were on the way down to Nimule,
we saw anywhere from a dozen to fifty hippos
They were found in ones, twos, and threes,
and sometimes as many as a dozen to fifteen
were seen at a time. Usually they were float-
ing on the surface with only part of their backs
and their heads visible, but often we saw them
standing in the shallow water, huddled together
on a bar or on an island, or lying in groups on
the bank sunning themselves.
Whenever we came suddenly upon them they
would scurry into deep water and sink out of
sight, but when there was a long stretch of
water and they were iSioating they could see
the boats in the distance and would raise their
great heads to get a better view. As we drew
near they disappeared, coming to the surface
once more some distance away.
Sometimes they would go down and come up
just as we were passing, not twenty feet away.
On seeing the boats their surprise was so great
that they often threw their bodies quite out of
water, and, falling back with a mighty splash
that sent huge waves washing against the craft,
disappeared, and were next seen several hundred
yards in the rear.
There is no doubt that we could have killed
twenty-five or thirty hippos on the way from
Lake Albert to ''Rhino Camp " and three
times as many during our two weeks' stay in
camp. The colonel and Kermit had killed all
160 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
that were wanted for specimens, however, so
they were not molested.
x\t "Rhino Camp" we heard them snorting
and bellowing at all times of the day and night,
but mostly after dark. The bellowing sounded
first like the noise produced by the exhaust of a
huge ocean liner and then ended with a cow-
In a little estuary of the Nile that was bor-
dered on the far side by a wide, dense growth
of papyrus, not seventy-five yards from camp,
there lived an old cow hippo. Nearly every
afternoon about five o'clock, she left the cover
and swam about in the open water, within easy
sight and hearing of the group of men and por-
ters who were watching. One evening the colonel
saw a young one standing on her back, just as
they were depicted in our old school-books.
One night I was awakened by two hippos
that were fighting just across the bay. I arose
and, walking to the tent opening, stood and
listened. The two monsters were bellowing
fiercely and floundering about in the thick weeds
and shallow water. Every few seconds I heard
a great splash as though they had reared up
and fallen back into the water. The conflict
" HIPPOS " 161
lasted about three minutes, then all was silent
for some time; but finally I heard a hippo bel-
low several rods down the river, and then came
the answering bellow of the victorious animal
in the papyrus opposite camp.
It is not at all unusual to find hippos with
their heads and bodies badly scarred from
wounds received while fighting.
Kermit and I tried to get some flash-hght
photographs of hippos, but we were new at
this kind of photography, and as we did not
have the time to experiment much we failed.
One afternoon while we were at work setting up
the camera, arranging the flash and the cord
that it was intended the hippo should run
against, when he came out on the bank at night
to feed— thereby opening the shutter, setting
off the flash, and taking his own picture — five
hippos appeared in the river opposite us, not
more than fifty feet away. They would poke
their heads out of water, puff, wiggle their
short, pink ears, and after a minute draw in a
long breath, close their nostrils, and then sink.
They remained in the vicinity for fully half an
hour, coming to the surface at intervals of
about two minutes and then sinking again.
162 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
We had our rifles ready in case one should
charge; they did not attempt to molest us, how-
e^^er, but simply seemed inquisitive. We were
unable to tell whether they fed on the vegeta-
tion at the bottom of the river, for they never
appeared with food in their mouths, although
they could easily have swallowed it before com-
ing to the surface.
During the early settlement of Africa, when
the mail was distributed along the Nile by
canoes, these animals were so abundant, and
so many of them were truculent, that the mail-
carriers were provided with large, water-tight
rubber bags in which the mail-sacks were tied.
These in turn were fastened to wooden floats by
long lengths of stout cord, so that when a canoe
was capsized by a hippo, the sacks could be easily
located and recovered without much difficulty.
An ugly old bull hippo which lived not far from
"Rhino Camp" was a terror to the natives.
It would lie in the edge of the papyrus and
charge out at passing boats. It had upset sev-
eral canoes and drowned one or more natives,
so the blacks appealed to the colonel to kill it,
but it wisely kept out of sight during our visit
in the vicinity.
" HIPPOS " 163
While rowing or paddling on the rivers and
lakes of Africa I was many times very close
to hippos, but always escaped being attacked.
Just why these animals, which are considered the
least dangerous of the three great African mam-
mals, should attack a craft is somewhat puzzling.
While a few of them, no doubt, do charge with
malice aforethought, even without first being
molested, from all accounts it would seem that
the greater number do so for sport, or lack of
It is seldom that a hippo actually demolishes
a boat or kills its occupants. The few that do
charge simply bump into a craft and knock a
hole in it with their snout, or rise beneath it and
turn it over, and then go on about their business,
if it can be said that a hippo has any business.
A few days before our arrival at Butiaba, on
Lake Albert, a hippo had attacked a small
steel boat and driven its tusks through the bot-
tom, sinking it at once.
Captain Hutchinson, of the Uganda Marine,
told me of an experience he had with a hippo
while hunting on Lake Albert. He had just
left the landing in a small wooden rowboat
and did not expect to see any hippos for some
164 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
time. Suddenly a hippo rose from the water
close astern, and, throwing its body into the air,
it fell on the boat, capsizing and sinking the
shell with its weight. The occupants were all
dumped into the lake, but as soon as the boat
reappeared they swam to it and finally managed
to reach the near-by shore. The hippo did not
return to the attack, however, and no damage
was done other than the battering in of the
stern of the craft. The danger arising from a
hippo capsizing a boat is not so much from the
hippo itself as it is from the chance of one of
the unfortunate crew being picked up by a
crocodile. Many casualties of this kind have
While out hunting crocodiles with the colonel
and Kermit near "Rhino Camp," one afternoon,
we suddenly cut across a little bay that was
completely hidden by the tall, thick papyrus,
and, as the boatmen allowed the boat to drift
with the current, the herd of five hippos that
was basking in tne sun at the far end of the
bay did not hear or see us until we were within
fifty feet of them. The surprise was mutual,
for, while the bay was not unknown to us and
we had expected to see crocodiles in it, we did
" HIPPOS " 165
not count on the hippos; but there they were,
hippos and crocs, cuddled up together in peace
Such a scrambhng and splashing as the
crowd made when we came into view deiBes
description. The crocs were out of sight in an
instant, but the bulky hippos almost reached
the boat before the water became deep enough
to submerge them.
Thinking if we pulled in alongside the papy-
rus and waited, some of the crocodiles might
come to the surface in a few minutes and give
us a shot, we ran the prow of the boat into the
weeds and watched. Three minutes must have
passed when, suddenly, the head of a hippo
appeared, not fifteen feet from our boat. He
gave one look and, throwing himself out of the
water, fell back and sank, and the next time he
came to the surface he was a hundred yards out
in the Nile. The animal must have been one
of the herd which, on seeing the boat block-
ing the entrance when we first appeared, had
rushed into the deep water and, fearing to dive
under our craft, had remained there in hope
that we would pass on, as no doubt he had before
seen hundreds of boats do.
166 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
On several occasions I saw hippos disappear
and later come up in the same place.
Where large beds of papyrus grew on com-
paratively solid ground hippos had made wide,
well-worn paths all through it, and all along
the river bank, in some places at intervals
of every fifty yards or so, hippo trails emerged
from the water and led inland, where the ani-
mals had come out at night to feed on the
vegetation. Of course, these trails were used
also by other animals that came to drink, but
that hippos travelled them extensively was
proven by our finding hippo tracks two and
three miles from water.
By being used generation after generation,
hippos had worn not trails but trenches ten feet
deep through the perpendicular clay-banks to
the water level. The sides of these trenches,
about three feet apart, were smooth and pol-
ished, caused by the animals' wet sides rubbing
against them. The only way such runs could
have been made was by constant use for years
while the Nile was rising and falling, until they
were finally worn level with the low-water mark.
While the hippo spends most of the day
snoozing in the papyrus, floating on the surface
of the water, or basking in the sun along the
bank, as soon as it becomes dark he takes to
the land to feed on grass and other vegetation.
In his meanderings along the bottom of the
river and as he comes to the surface amid dense
growths of aquatic plants he often becomes
tangled in them, and some of the leaves, stems,
and roots stick to his body. After he has been
on shore a short time his body dries and the
leaves and blades fall or are scraped off by the
bushes; so one will find water-plants strewn
wherever hippos have been wandering.
One would think that such a clumsy, short-
legged animal would not be able to move very
fast on land, and, in fact, they seldom do move
fast when not molested; but if they are fright-
ened they attain remarkable speed.
One night my tent boy awakened me and
said that a hippo was prowhng around back of
the porters' tents. The men had had no meat
for some time. Thinking that this would be a
good opportunity to supply them, without run-
ning a risk of losing the animal by its sinking,
as hippos do when shot in the water, I snatched
up my rifle and with Doctor Mearns started
after the brute. It was a moonlight night, and
168 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
we could see plainly for some distance; so,
clad in our pyjamas, we scoured the burned-
grass plain looking for the game, but did not
As before stated, the African natives are able
to kill hippos with spears. They also destroy
them with poisoned spears, and then patrol the
shore for days, waiting for the animal to die
and float to the surface, which it does from an
hour to three hours after death.
Captain Hutchinson tells of seeing the natives
of the Lake Albert region kill a hippo with
spears. They first attacked the animal in open
water, and it made into the papyrus and hid.
Finally it was driven out, whereupon it charged
a canoe and seized one of the natives by the
head. Other canoes were in reach, and before
it had time to decapitate the man so many
spears were driven into its body that it opened
its jaws and attacked another boat but was
killed before it could do more damage. Strange
as it may seem, the man escaped with no more
than a badly disfigured face but probably would
have died had he not received medical attention
from a British army surgeon.
Killing hippos in this manner is considered
" HIPPOS " 169
so dangerous that not many of the blacks are
wiUing to take the risk, which, no doubt, is one
of the reasons why hippos are still so abundant
in thickly populated native districts.
INTERESTING AFRICAN REPTILES
FROM the reader's standpoint a book on
African travel or African animals might
seem incomplete without a chapter on
snakes, yet, after reading these few lines, if you
feel disappointed, please do not blame me. I
have tried my best to make an interesting chap-
ter of a subject that to most people is "repul-
sively fascinating," but I may have failed for
lack of material.
Snakes there are in Africa — ^big, little, poison-
ous, and non-poisonous — but not nearly so many
as is generally supposed. One may be able to
gain some idea of their abundance when I say
that our- safari never numbered less than a hun-
dred porters and once reached three hundred
and sixty -five, and that, while every one of these
men was a collector of reptiles, our collection of
snakes at the end of eleven months did not
exceed a hundred specimens. In short, snakes
AFRICAN REPTILES 171
were not so common as in the southeastern part
of the United States.
The general interest in snakes is shown by
the great number of questions asked me, and I
might say the first one invariably is: "Did
you see many snakes?" Most people are pos-
sessed with a desire to learn something of this
group of truly wonderful animals, which in the
next breath they characterise as loathsome,
uncanny, and repulsive. This feeling is born
in man, civilised and uncivilised. Our porters
feared them and used as much caution in killing
a harmless species as they did when attacking a
poisonous one. They never brought us a snake
without exhibiting a certain amount of childish
heroism, and when a group of boys was seen
bringing in a snake one always knew that it was
dead, very much dead, and that its head, if it
had one, was pounded to a pulp.
In The Journal of the East African and Uganda
Natural History Society, Mr. C. W. Hobley
states that there are forty-one species of snakes
in British East Africa, of which ten are poison-
ous. There are several species of cobras that
eject a poisonous fluid at an enemy. When this
fluid gets into one's eyes it has no worse effect
172 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
than to render him partially blind for a few
hours. In speaking of these snakes Colonel
"One of the latter three times 'spat' or
ejected its poison at us, the poison coming from
the fangs like white films or threads to a dis-
tance of several feet."
Personally, I saw about a dozen snakes, and
none of these was poisonous. Doctor Mearns,
while hunting one day, stepped over a large
puff-adder lying in the tall grass, and his gun
bearer was about to follow his example when
the snake was discovered and killed. It was a
very thick-set, stubby beast, with a bulldog-look-
ing head and had enormous fangs. At Gondokoro
one of our porters, while arranging his blankets,
was struck on the hand by what he supposed to
be a small adder. The doctor attended him at
once, so he suffered no severe results, being able
to go about his business the next day.
Our party killed several pythons from ten
to thirteen feet long — not much of a snake when
compared to the pythons of India, which attain
a length Httle short of thirty feet. Like all of
these big snakes, they are not poisonous but
kill their prey by coiling about and crushing or
AFRICAN REPTILES 173
strangling it to death. In zoological parks I
have repeatedly seen a python kill an animal
by first seizing it in its mouth and, instead of
actually coiling about it, catch it in a bend or
angle of the body and crush it to death. An
Indian python about twenty-six feet long, in the
New York Zoological Park, lately devoured a pig
that weighed sixty pounds. There is httle doubt
that an African python twelve feet long might
swallow an animal weighing twenty pounds.
We usually found these big snakes near water,
where they were seen lying out on the rocks or
on the bank sunning themselves. Aside from
startling a person when he first sees or almost
steps on one, they are harmless creatures, and
when disturbed bolt for water and sink from
sight. Their food consists of small antelopes,
hares, monkeys, small mammals, and game-
birds such as guinea-fowls, spur-fowls, bustards,
Colonel Roosevelt had an amusing and inter-
esting experience with the first python he killed.
He and Judd were hunting along the bank of a
river when one of the gun bearers discovered a
python coiled under a tree. The colonel fired
and hit it through the back; the snake struck at
174 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
him with its open jaws and then came gUding
toward him. He stepped aside, and the snake
passed over the spot where he had been stand-
ing. A second shot killed it. The colonel does
not believe the python really meant to charge
him but is of the opinion that it was bewildered
and in trying to escape did not realise in what
direction it was making. It was twelve feet
In connection with the above remarks, it
might be well to chronicle the only and what
seemed to be authentic record that came to our
attention of an African python attacking a per-
son. Two small native lads were sent by their
master to the banks of a stream to cut grass
for stock. A few hours later they appeared,
staggering under the weight of the much-man-
gled body of a twelve-foot python. They said
that while one of them was on his knees cutting
grass in the underbrush he was suddenly seized
from behind by a python. The boy called to
his companion for aid, and the two finally man-
aged to kill the snake with their sickles before
it had seriously wounded them. The lad who
had been attacked exhibited a lacerated but-
tock where the snake had bitten him.
AFRICAN REPTILES 175
Undoubtedly the python saw only a part of
the boy's body in the grass and, being hungry
and mistaking the lad for a quadruped, seized
him on general food principles, not discovering
the mistake until too late.
A porter ran into camp one day with the news
that a large python was lying out on some
rocks by the side of a stream, not far away. I
snatched my shotgun and followed the boy. On
arriving at the place I found a snake, about
ten feet long, sunning himself on some rocks
on the opposite side of the river. There was
no ford nearer than two miles, so I contented
myself by giving the reptile a charge of buck-
shot from where I stood. The snake threw its
body high in the air, whipped about, and
plunged into the water. Three days later it
was found dead floating on the surface.
On another occasion, while "driving," I had
an experience that, for a second, sent a cold chill
over my body. Since I have mentioned "driv-
ing," may I ask the reader's indulgence long
enough to explain this most interesting and
exciting method of hunting, although it is en-
tirely foreign to the subject of reptiles.
The greater part of British East Africa is
176 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
plain and desert country. Here and there are
clusters and strips of bushes, while along the
streams, pools, swamps, and dry watercourses
are thick growths of underbrush and trees,
spoken of as ''dongas." During daytime all of
the nocturnal animals — lions, leopards, hyenas,
jackals, and many species of antelopes as well as
myriads of small creatures — take to these thick-
ets to rest and sleep, and for protection from
Selecting a "donga," the hunter stations his
porters at intervals of ten feet across one end
of the thicket. At a given signal they start
toward the other end, shouting, thrashing the
brush with sticks, and throwing stones and clubs
as they advance. The hunter, on the outskirt,
walks along a hundred yards or so ahead of
the beaters and shoots the game as it is driven
Anything from a lion to a hare is apt to burst
into view without a second's warning. Guinea-
fowls, spur-fowls, and other species of game-
birds rise above the brush and seek shelter
farther on. The true big-game hunter always
carries his heavy rifle and orders his men to pay
no attention to birds or small mammals; but we
AFRICAN REPTILES 177
were naturalists, and our porters had learned
that we wanted nearly everything, so they made
almost as much noise when they saw a dikdik
or a hare as they would had it been a lion.
Once there was an unusual outcry just as I was
in the act of shooting at a guinea-fowl. The
gun bearer snatched the Ithaca shotgun from
my hands and replaced it with the cocked rifle,
and I heard some great brute tearing through
the brush. The next instant a leopard bounded
past, but the openings were few and small; so
I did not get a shot.
Kermit Roosevelt, however, killed several
leopards in this manner, one of which charged a
porter and bit and scratched him severely before
it was finally killed.
These brush patches teemed with animal life,
so from the time that a drive began until the
porters had passed out into the open country
at the other end it was one continual round of
excitement. You never knew what kind of an
animal to expect next, and, no matter what ap-
peared, you usually had the wrong gun.
The porters also bagged their share of game,
for, while they were never allowed to carry guns,
they were experts at throwing clubs, and there
178 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
was never a drive made that they did not cut
down several guinea-fowls, spur-fowls, small
antelopes, or hares. Once I sent out a gang of
ten porters to find a secretary-bird that I had
winged with my rifle, and after chasing it some
distance had seen enter a "donga" a mile away.
They not only returned with the secretary-bird,
but with three hares, two spur-fowls, and a
guinea-fowl, all of which they had knocked down
with sticks as the game tried to escape.
But to return to snakes. We were driving
a small ''donga" bordering a stream in the
N'Guasso Nyero country and were having fine
luck. First three mongooses came out, but
they were so far away that my shots only
turned them back into the thicket. Next a
dikdik appeared, then a steinbuck, and a few
seconds later a flock of spur-fowls. I fired at
and wounded one of them, and it settled in the
brush under the ten-foot cut bank of the stream.
Hoping that the bird would again flush, I sent
my gun bearer down to drive it out. I was
walking through the tall grass on top of the
bank, when, on glancing down, I saw four feet
of python, another step and I would have
trodden on it. I leaped over it and at the
AFRICAN REPTILES 179
same instant shouted: ''Snake!" The python
fairly bounded over the bank and into the
water, almost colliding with the gun bearer, who
the next instant came rushing up to me, his
eyes bulging from their sockets. How long the
snake was I cannot truthfully say, but, as I saw
four feet of it and my gun bearer six, I figured
that it was either forty-six or sixty -four feet
It developed later that I had made a "double
shot" when I fired at the spur-fowl, for one
of the porters had strayed ahead of the line of
beaters and had been struck in the arm by one
of the spent shot. After the drive was over he
sought me for an explanation, at the same time
exhibiting the shot which he had picked out of
the skin. I told my tent boy to tell him that
if he had obeyed orders and kept in line he
would not have been shot. Although it was a
slight wound, I gave him thirty-three cents — a
rupee — and he went away quite jubilant.
Another interesting reptile that we found
very common in certain sections of Africa was
the horned or ''rhinoceros" chameleon. This
creg-ture is about eight inches long and has three
horns, an inch in length, protruding from the
180 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
top of its head. Its eyes work on the ball-and-
socket plan and roll about in a most comical
fashion. The eyes are independent of each
other and the animal can look in two direc-
tions at once without turning its head; it simply
holds one eye stationary and rolls the other for-
ward, backward, up, or down to suit its wishes.
Next to its eyes, its tongue is the most won-
derful part of its anatomy, being quite the length
of its body. In feeding it perches motionless
on a limb and waits for its prey to come within
reach. Should a fly or an insect light out of
range, it slowly and deliberately walks hand
over hand out on the limb, takes steady aim, and
with a lightning-like thrust its long tongue
darts from its mouth, and the fly is glued to the
gummy, club-shaped end and drawn into its
As one travels along a trail where the bushes
overlap, his head frequently comes in contact
with these queer creatures clinging to the
branches by their feet and their prehensile tails.
There they sit rolling their eyes about in oppo-
site directions in a most uncanny manner as
they survey the various members of the party.
Dangerous as the rhinoceros chameleon looks,
AFRICAN REPTILES 181
it is perfectly harmless and so listless that it
does not attempt to escape or even move when
discovered. Strange to say, the blacks had not
learned this and held them in great fear. As
soon as they discovered the nature of our work
they began to bring us specimens, and in a
short time there was a throng of people waiting
outside of the tent to be paid for the creatures
they had captured. Every one was anxious to
dispose of his prize as soon as possible, so that
he might hurry away for another; but they
brought in the specimens faster than we could
handle them, consequently the "congestion."
Whenever a new arrival appeared with a cha-
meleon, he caused a stampede by shouting a
warning and then thrust into the crowd the
branch to which the animal was clinging. The
throng immediately gave way, at the same time
fiercely upbraiding the man for so ruthlessly
endangering their lives, as they supposed.
As the natives had no idea why we wished
these animals, they thought that we must be
crazy, and the head man said they had told him
they thought we were collecting them to make
medicine of, and as soon as we left the country
there would be no more sleeping sickness.
182 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
In the Lado Enclave country there Hves a
lizard-Uke animal known as a monitor. These
lizards sometimes attain a length of four feet.
They are perfectly harmless so far as being
poisonous is concerned. Although one might
give a person a bad bite if he attempted to pick
it up ; at the slightest sign of danger they scurry
into the bushes or into the water, near which
they are usually found. They live in holes in
the ground and feed upon rats, mice, snakes,
other lizards, birds, and crocodile's eggs.
While digging a pit for garbage our porters
unearthed what we took to be a monitor's nest,
some three feet under ground. It contained
several leathery-skinned, dirty white eggs.
One afternoon I surprised a monitor looting a
crocodile's nest. The nest was on a high, sandy
bank close to the Nile, and the eggs had been
covered with dirt and rubbish by the old croco-
dile. On seeing me the monitor scurried over
the bank and into the river. I hid in some
brush near by and waited for the creature to
return. Within fifteen minutes I heard it
crawling out of the water and over the dry dead
rushes, and then it poked its head above the
steep bank and looked about. At first it acted
AFRICAN REPTILES 183
as if suspicious, but finally it gained confidence
and came boldly forward.
Crawling to the crocodile's nest, it picked up
an egg in its mouth and retreated to a clump
of bushes. I watched it take several eggs, and
each time it returned to the bushes, crushed
the egg between its jaws, then dropped it, and
lapped up the contents with its long forked
Finally I frightened it away, and, taking some
of the eggs from the nest, I arranged them in an
open spot near by, set up my camera, and to
the shutter attached a long string which ran to
a tree where I hid. In this manner I succeeded
in securing two excellent photographs of the
monitor with eggs in its mouth, probably the
only ones of the kind ever secured, although it
had been generally believed for years that moni-
tors ate crocodile's eggs.
This creature must be one of the crocodile's
worst enemies, for I found several nests that had
been robbed in this way, and Kermit Roosevelt
also discovered a monitor robbing a croc's nest
while the owner lay asleep only a few yards off.
A FIGHT WITH " HIPPOS "
BACK in the early days/' my friend
Bancroft began, "the mail that supplied
the garrisons in Central Africa was
brought by flat-bottom steamers up the Nile
from Khartoum to Gondokoro. From there
carriers transported it overland to Nimule, a
distance of one hundred and sixty miles. At
Nimule I received it and distributed it to the
army and trading posts along the White Nile
and in the region of Lake Albert. I always
made the trip by canoe.
"One spring morning I left Nimule with the
usual consignment of mail-sacks and began the
three-hundred-mile journey up the White Nile.
My water caravan consisted of two large native
dugout canoes, made each from a single log
and manned by four stalwart Baganda blacks.
"On both sides of the river for almost the
entire distance there were great areas of papy-
rus from fifteen feet to a mile wide. For miles
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 185
the dark-green tasselled stalks, ten feet tall,
swayed in the breeze like a gigantic field of
"Hippopotami were abundant and were
known frequently to upset native canoes. To
guard against losing the mail by such accidents,
the government suppUed me with water-tight
rubber bags. The sacks were placed in these
bags and there was a wooden float with seventy-
five feet of stout cord attached to each bag.
Thus we could easily recover the sacks in case
of a mishap.
"As we paddled slowly against the rapid cur-
rent of the muddy river, noisy fish-eagles with
white heads and tails circled overhead or settled
in the trees, sometimes not more than thirty
feet away. Myriads of cormorants and snake-
birds, perched in clusters along the banks,
stretched out their wings as if taking a sun-bath;
as we drew near they took flight or plunged
into the water. Occasionally we saw a troop
of baboons running along a high, stony bank,
playing with one another.
"Now and then we came upon a herd of
hippos. Some were floating leisurely on the sur-
face, others were huddled close together on a
186 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
bar or small island or lying asleep in the edge
of the papyrus. As we approached they lifted
their heads to gaze at us and then slowly took
to the water. In a few minutes they usually
appeared again some distance away. We paid
little attention to them unless we thought that
a hippo was coming to the surface close to one
of the boats. Then I would take the rifle and
stand guard until the danger was over.
"One day was quite like another. To break
the monotony and to furnish a little excitement
for the men, I occasionally took a shot at a
crocodile on the bank. We would then stop
long enough for the boys to wrench out the
teeth, which they either made into necklaces or
traded for food with the natives whose villages
"They were an interesting people, those jolly,
black-skinned villagers. As soon as we came in
sight of a town the inhabitants rushed from their
huts and followed along the bank, laughing and
joking with my men, and trying to persuade us to
land and barter. The women and children who
tended wickerwork fish-traps presented us with
specimens of their catch and were greatly pleased
with the trifling gifts we gave them in return.
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 187
"We had passed a village and were skimming
along close to the papyrus, when suddenly the
canoe shot across the mouth of a small estuary
that the high papyrus growth had completely
hidden. The other craft was following close
behind, and the two boats were in a position
to blockade the mouth of the little bay, when I
heard a terrific splashing of water. I turned
instantly and saw that we had surprised a
herd of about ten hippos in the edge of the
"Our sudden appearance had startled them,
and so strong was their instinct to seek refuge
in deep water that with one accord the entire
herd tumbled ofif the bank and came splashing
down upon us.
"I snatched my rifle and turned to fire.
There was no time to aim carefully for the
brutes were less than thirty feet away. So,
hoping that the noise and flash might split the
herd and cause the hippos to pass round us, I
simply pointed the weapon at the head of a
large bull and pulled the trigger.
"The struggling creatures did not swerve
from their course. When, however, they had
come so close that I could almost have touched
188 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
them with a paddle, they reached deeper water
and, sinking quickly, disappeared. The next
thing I knew, the canoe was lifted high into the
air, and we were dumped into the water.
''I struck on my back, and at the same
moment something hit me a terrific blow that
drove me beneath the surface. There I was
bumped and jostled about for what seemed an
age. When at last I came to the surface, I
saw that both the canoes were bottom side up
and that the men were floundering in the river.
A long, black arm shot out of the water in front
of me. I seized it with my left hand and swam
with the half-drowned boatman to the canoe,
where I supported him until he stopped choking
"Two men were clinging to the mail-sack
buoys and shouting for dear life. Another
fellow, hanging to the second canoe, was hold-
ing up a companion who had been stunned by
a glancing blow on the head when the canoe
fell back into the water. No one was seriously
"The natives in the village, attracted by the
rifle-shot and the shouts, could see our predic-
ament from the high bank. Some came to our
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 189
assistance in canoes; others ran along the bank
and added to the fright of my already terrified
boys by telling them that the place swarmed
with crocodiles. However true that may have
been, there was little danger from them now,
for the herd of floundering hippos must have
scared every crocodile away from that part of
"In a few minutes we were hauled into
canoes, and then, after recovering the mail-
sacks, we towed our canoes down to the village
and emptied them of water.
"Presently I saw numbers of natives emerg-
ing from their huts with long-bladed barbed
spears, and learned that they were going in
pursuit of the hippo I had wounded. One of
them had seen it enter a marshy strip of papy-
rus on the opposite side of the river. I tried
to persuade them that it would be foolhardy to
attempt such a thing without a rifle, and told
them that my rifle was at the bottom of the
river where the canoes had capsized. They
replied that they had often killed hippos with
spears and would show me how it was done.
"About a dozen canoes were launched. Each
one was manned by four paddlers, and by a
190 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
spearman who took a position in the bow.
In the bottom of each canoe was a bundle of
spears. To the shaft of one of the weapons
was tied about forty feet of rawhide rope; the
other end of the rope was fastened to a large
chunk of wood.
"With about two hundred of the villagers I
went to the high bank overlooking the scene.
The canoes divided and lined up about fifty
feet apart on each side of the spot where the
hippo had entered the papyrus. One canoe
landed some distance away and several men
started on a circuit to get behind the animal.
We could hear them thrashing about in the
reeds, but it was fully fifteen minutes before
they found the hippo and, by shouting, started
him toward the river.
"As soon as the beaters gave the alarm
the spearmen stood up in the bows of the ca-
noes, each with a spear poised above his head,
and waited breathlessly for the brute to show
"The crashing of the papyrus and the swaying
of the tasselled tops announced his coming; the
next second he broke from cover. Before he
could plunge into the river several of the barbed
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 191
spears were hurled into his body. Then, as
the men in the canoes hurriedly tossed the
wooden floats overboard, he disappeared be-
neath the surface. For a moment the floats
bobbed up and down; then, with a jerk that
pulled some of them under water, they started
"At first the hippo swam, or ran along the
bottom of the river so fast that the canoemen
could hardly keep up with him. He was so far
below the surface that he did not make a rip-
ple, and had it not been for the floats there
would have been no way of telling the crea-
"Some of the canoes followed close behind;
others hurried ahead of the buoys and kept
about twenty feet on either side of the spot
where the hippo would soon come to the sur-
face. Since enough of the buoyed spears had
been attached to the animal to mark his posi-
tion, the spearmen now armed themselves with
free lances; in the bow of each craft stood a
stalwart fellow ready to plunge a weapon into
the hippo the instant he appeared.
"At that point the river was about three hun-
dred yards wide. For some distance the animal
192 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
headed straight across; then the floats suddenly
turned to the right, down-stream. The canoe-
men quickly changed their course. Those on
the right side paddled vigorously for fear that
the beast was charging or that he might come
up under the canoes and capsize them.
"Just then his head appeared above water;
but when he saw the canoes he dived before
any one had time to throw a spear, and again
the floats moved down-stream at a rapid rate.
"The second time that the hippo rose, two
of the spearmen hit him, and as the spears
sank into the flesh the great brute threw him-
self into the air and fell back with a mighty
"The natives were now worked up to the
highest pitch of excitement. There seemed to
be no leader; every one was shouting orders,
and each canoe went wherever the fancy of its
crew took it. Whenever the hippo made a
sudden turn the paddlers would skilfully wheel
their craft and race off in another direction.
As a result, there were frequent collisions and
narrow escapes from upsetting.
"Each time the hippo appeared they sent
home several more spears. He fast became
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 193
exhausted; the time that he remained under
water and the distance that he travelled became
shorter with each successive dive. It seemed
strange that he endured the torture so long with-
out attacking the canoes.
"'Suddenly, while the boats were huddled
close together, the floats stopped. To the ex-
perienced hunters that must have been a signal
of approaching danger, for, as if by magic,
silence reigned, and some of the men began to
"Again the spears were poised in the air and
again the great head burst from the water in
front of the fleet. But this time, instead of
diving, the animal hurled itself at one of the
canoes. The beast's blunt muzzle struck the
craft amidships and tossed it into the air. It
landed squarely across a canoe near by, and both
"The other canoes raced to the rescue of the
ten men struggling in the water. The air was
filled with spears, but they seemed to have no
more effect on the animal than so many pin-
"In the din caused by the shouting of the men,
the bellowing of the infuriated beast, and the
194 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
splashing of the water, the hippo's head would
suddenly appear among the canoes. I heard
the crunching of wood as canoe after canoe was
crushed to pieces in the vice-like jaws. Men
were falling or jumping into the river to escape
the maddened monster. The sun, striking the
polished blades of the spears, shot flashes of
dazzling light across the water.
"I could not help admiring the wounded
brute which was fighting so courageously
against such tremendous odds. Its body so
bristled with swaying spears that it had the
appearance of a gigantic porcupine.
"In the confusion, things happened fast and
furiously. All at once I discovered that the
hippo had disappeared; the blacks, paddling
back and forth and scanning the water eagerly,
were searching for their missing comrades.
How many were drowned or killed I do not
know. Several of the canoes had been smashed
into kindling-wood, and most of the men who
had occupied them had been taken into the
other boats with the wounded.
"I noticed that the natives who had watched
the fight were leaving me and running along
the bank. Then I saw the floats some distance
A FIGHT WITH "HIPPOS" 195
below; they were moving slowly, merely drift-
ing along. Occasionally they would stop for
an instant and then start again, as if the object
to which they were attached was bumping over
the river bed.
"The canoemen finally left the wreckage and,
paddling down-stream, caught the buoys and
began to tow the dead hippo ashore. As soon
as the body reached shallow water the natives
waded in and pulled out the spears so that they
should not be bent or broken; then they fast-
ened ropes to the body and hauled it out on
the bank, where the task of cutting up the meat
"With my boys I went back to the scene of
our first encounter with the hippos and, by div-
ing, recovered my rifle and some of the cooking
utensils. After purchasing from the natives
enough food to last us until we reached the next
army post, we continued our journey with the
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE ''et"
NO matter how fastidious a man may be
before he becomes a "field natural-
ist," after he has kicked about the
country a few years, cooking his own meals
over a camp-fire and eating those served to
him by all classes, creeds, and nationalties, he
discovers that his stomach is really not so crit-
ical as he had once supposed it to be. Fresh
air, hard work, and plenty of outdoor exercise
give him an appetite that dulls his epicurean
sense and causes him to forget polished china-
ware, clean linen, good seasoning, and delicate
dishes. He may not relish improperly cooked
food, or meat the antiquity of which cannot
be questioned, still he finds himself eating it
with a relish that a few years before he would
have thought impossible. Such common cir-
cumstances as a caterpillar, a yellow-jacket, or
a horse-fly dropping suddenly into his soup, in-
stead of causing him to leave the meal in dis-
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 197
gust only disconcert him during the process of
As time goes on and he becomes more fa-
miUar with the hfe histories of the animals, he
discovers also that many of the beasts of the
fields and forests are far cleaner in their tastes
than our domesticated animals. For instance,
*'What Doesn't a Chicken Eat.^" would be a far
more appropriate subject for a church debating
society to argue after a chicken supper than be-
fore, and the same can be said of swine. But
should I send out an invitation to a banquet
and head the menu with a stew composed of
what are generally termed ''rats and mice,"
how many covers could I count'on.^ While rats
and mice are hardly proper to serve to one's
friends, so long as we eat rabbits and squirrels,
which belong to the same order, there is no rea-
son why we should not consider field and forest
rats and mice edible. They feed on fruits,
seeds, roots, grasses, vegetables, and bark, and
are exceedingly cleaner in their habits. The
meadow-mouse, or field-mouse, spends much of
its time cleaning itself with its tiny front feet,
and its living-rooms are as clean and sanitary as
they are in any house or hotel. This is not
198 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
only true of the meadow-mouse, but also of
most rodents that live in a fixed abode.
Our highest camp in British East Africa was
on Mount Kenia, at an altitude of thirteen thou-
sand seven hundred feet. Here Doctor Mearns
and I remained four days, Colonel Roosevelt,
in the meantime, having passed around to the
opposite side of the mountain to collect a group
of elephants for the Smithsonian Institution.
We were above the heavy timber and even
beyond the bamboo belt, but there were a few
patches of stunted heather here and there.
Although the equator crossed the mountain
peak a mile or so to the east, the nights were so
cold that half an inch of ice formed on buckets
of water standing outside the tent.
We had plenty of tinned food, but fresh meat
was scarce, which naturally increased our desire
for it. One or two small antelopes were seen
about the rocky ridges, but we failed to shoot
any. Our work consisted in collecting birds and
small mammals, and we found the latter well
represented by numerous species of rodents —
rats and mice.
The mountain hyrax — an animal somewhat
resembling a guinea-pig but the size of a wood-
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 199
chuck or ground-hog — was common in the cHffs
and rocks, and they helped to supply our larder.
From the time the camp-fire was kindled until
we left the locality four days later, the body of
every insectivorous and seed-eating bird, every
hyrax and every rat and mouse that we skinned,
was cleaned and thrown into a pot of boiling
At the expiration of a day the contents of
that pot had grown to wonderful, not to say
questionable, proportions, but diminished with
equal rapidity as each onslaught was made upon
it. Our stay was so limited and the locaUty
so valuable, from a naturalist's standpoint, that
we wasted no time waiting for meals. We ate
when we were hungry, regardless of each other's
society, and the last man to leave camp piled
faggots on the fire and the first one to return
rekindled it. In this manner our ''vaudeville
stew," as we learned to call it, was ready day
and night, and, unlike the traditional "watched
pot," it always boiled. In consequence, our
culinary duties were few, although, of course, it
took five times as long to cook meat at that
high altitude as it would in the lowlands. The
coffee-pot always stood near the fire, so a few
200 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
minutes only were necessary to bring it to a boil.
Then we would fish about in the pot with a fork
until we had captured the well-done bodies of
several rats or mice and three or four birds — •
varying in size from half a mouthful to three
mouthfuls — and begin our meal. The mice
and birds were the first to be exterminated, for
they were tender, juicy, and sweet, and, while
the variety of species might have caused a vari-
ety of flavours, there was not enough difference
to leave an impression that can now be ex-
plained. Doctor Mearns always declared with
emphasis, that our ''witches' pot" was the best
eating he had on the whole trip.
Since eating fried monkey, I have never
been able to look a new baby square in the
face, and it is with a feeling of dread that I
accept an invitation from a friend to call and
pass judgment upon the latest addition to his
Although there was plenty of monkey meat
to go around — in fact, there was ''some left
over" — I didn't eat much because my stupid
Swahili tent boy who cooked it had thought-
lessly failed to include some sort of strong dis-
infectant among his seasonings.
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 201
Parrots were really delicious eating, and we
made use of the body of every one we collected.
I seldom shot one without half expecting to see
a window open somewhere and hear an old maid's
voice reproaching me for the act.
In Uganda, while passing between Lake Vic-
toria and Lake Albert, Colonel Roosevelt killed
a rogue elephant that had been destroying the
gardens, tearing down the huts, and doing other
Our cook made soup from the trunk. It was
thick and dark-coloured, and, while the taste was
strong, I enjoyed it enough to ask for a second
dish. Of course, only a small portion of the
trunk was used and the excessive heat of Uganda
would not permit a second meal from it after
twenty-four hours. Not so with the blacks, how-
ever, for the following morning I was surprised
and amused to see one of our porters stalking
down the trail under the broiling sun with about
two feet of the trunk tied to his pack, the blood
and grease oozing out of it and flowing down the
sides of his load.
The morning following the rogue's death,
we went out with a number of the natives to
view the animal. After the tusks had been
202 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
chopped out and the trunk and feet amputated
for trophies and food, the blacks fell upon the
carcass with avidity. The heart is considered a
great delicacy, so, while some were busy hacking
oflf great chunks of meat others were cutting a
hole through the belly of the animal, and, this
having been accomplished, one of the men
worked his way in until he was half submerged.
How he managed to remain long enough to
secure the prize without being smothered is
more than I can explain. Finally, his comrades
hauled him out by the feet, and his appearance
as he emerged, dragging the animal's heart after
him, is better left to one's imagination.
Kermit Roosevelt once came upon a band of
blacks who for several days had been tracking
an elephant that they had shot and speared
with poison-tipped weapons. The animal finally
died, and, judging from the stench, which was
unbearable, must have been dead some time, yet
the natives were cutting off the meat in great
chunks and eating it raw.
Rhinoceros tongue and hippopotamus tail
soup were other dishes that were served us.
The former tasted not unlike beef's tongue;
that is, it so closely resembled tongue of some
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 203
sort as to be instantly recognised, though it was
too strong to be good.
Speaking generally, the game of British East
Africa does not compare with the meat of our
American game animals; for, with the excep-
tion of the eland and the hippo, it is dry, though
tender when young, and lacks the fat necessary
to give it the delicious, palatable flavour pos-
sessed by our deer, antelope, and mountain-sheep.
After we had skinned an animal and turned
the body over to them, our porters fought over
the division of the meat, and we soon dis-
covered that the only way to keep peace in
camp was to deal the meat out ourselves.
Many times I have cut off pieces of zebra meat
drying before their camp-fires and munched it
as I travelled along the trail. It made an excel-
lent substitute for gum, and, while sweet and
palatable, a small piece would last indefinitely.
Chew, chew, chew! It seemed as though one
would never be able to grind the mouthful fine
enough to be swallowed, and for half an hour
afterward my jaws ached as they did when I
had the mumps.
On the way to Africa we stopped twice at the
Azores and several places along the Suez Canal.
204 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
We naturalists, with an eye to swelling our col-
lection, made at once for the open country and
occupied our time collecting specimens. These
were deposited in a large-mouthed pickle bottle,
filled with alcohol, that the steward of the Ham-
burg had generously donated to our cause. By
the time we had reached Kapiti Plains the bot-
tle was packed with lizards, snakes, frogs, toads,
snails, grasshoppers, beetles, worms, and other
curious creatures that would have made the
inventor of the "Fifty-Seven Varieties" blush
with shame. On entering my tent I placed the
bottle in one corner and thought no more about
it. Imagine our surprise, on seating ourselves
at the supper table that evening, to discover the
specimen bottle occupying a conspicuous posi-
tion with other delicacies in the centre of the
table. My tent boy. Tommy, had discovered it
and, assuming it to be another strange concoc-
tion of the white man, had promptly given it the
place of honour to which he thought it entitled.
The uncanny suggestion undoubtedly would
have spoiled the appetite of most people, but
with us it only proved the source of a hearty
laugh, in which even the colonel joined, much
to the embarrassment of the well-meaning boy,
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 205
who for several days was the object of ridicule
by his associates.
At Rhino Camp, on the White Nile, some one
— I don't remember who — suggested that we try
scrambled crocodiles' eggs. While I cannot speak
for the rest of the party, I ate the eggs from pure
curiosity. Were they good? Well, being pressed
for an answer, I will say that they tasted about
as I should expect the best quality of sawdust
to taste if prepared properly.
The body of a monitor Hzard (described in a
previous chapter) was also added to our already
mixed bill of fare. The meat was white and
tasted like alligator meat that I have eaten in
Georgia, reminding us of fried fish.
As I have never been without food for more
than forty-eight hours, I cannot claim to have
been hungry; nevertheless, for six long weeks
I have lived on nothing but dried mountain -
sheep meat and tea. It kept me in good work-
ing condition but never satisfied my hunger.
No matter how much or how often I ate, there
was that continual gnawing in my stomach that
only fresh meat and good camp provender can
I have spent several seasons in the Athabasca
206 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Lake region of northwestern Canada, and on
one occasion went sheep hunting with a band
of Cree Indian half-breeds. By their stupidity
the sheep saw us before we were within range
and made their escape. We took up the trail,
and after following it over two high mountains
I gave up the chase and started back to camp
with an Indian boy.
While descending the mountain we shot a
half -grown marmot, or woodchuck, which, young
though it was, equalled in size our Eastern species.
As soon as we reached the timber, we halted,
built a fire, and roasted our prize, hide, fur,
and all. In half an hour there wasn't enough
left of that marmot to feed a sparrow. Let
me say that the only way to cook a wood-
chuck properly is to roast him whole on a stick
over a camp-fire, turning him from time to time
until he is well done. The skin keeps the fat
from broihng out, and enough sinks into the
flesh to make it tender and juicy.
The Cree Indians are a hospitable race, even
to the point of robbing themselves of their last
mouthful of food; but it always seemed to me
that they expect far more in return than they
give. An Indian has no set meal- time; he eats
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 207
when he is hungry, regardless of the time of
day or night, and no matter how lately he has
eaten. When food is plentiful he eats all the
time, and when his larder is exhausted he fasts
until hunger compels him to hunt. So long as
you will feed him, so long will he watch for the
smoke of your camp-fire and drop in at meal-
time. If you eat without inviting him to join
you he will take the hint in a short time, and
within half a day you will see him returning
from a hunt with his horse or his squaw loaded
down with venison or sheep meat.
I rode into a Cree camp one afternoon and, in
accordance with the custom of the country, was
asked to dismount and "eat." As I stepped
into the tepee and took a seat on a sheepskin
spread on the ground, an old squaw was bending
over a large pot hanging over the fire. Finally,
she placed a plate, knife, and fork before me
and began fishing about in the pot with a fork.
Piece after piece of meat she brought to the sur-
face and dropped again until she finally found
the right one, a hideous-looking beaver's head.
This she placed upon my plate and, pouring out
a cup of tea, bade me eat. Waiting for the
others to be served, and wondering what they
208 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
would draw, I gazed at the bulging eyes and
grinning teeth which seemed to carry a sort of
"go-to-it" expression. Next to the tail I had
been given the choicest morsel, so the other
members of the party contented themselves
with various pieces of the animal's anatomy. I
fell to with a will. The ** other Indians" seized
a piece of meat between their teeth and, while
they held it in one hand, sawed oflE a mouthful
with the other. Since then I have repeatedly
watched Indians eating in this manner, and, al-
though I have expected to see one shave off the
tip of his nose at any moment, up to date I am
unable to record such a disaster.
Having disposed of the muscular pieces of
flesh on the skull and sides of the jaws, I pushed
my plate away, thinking that the ordeal was
over. But no; I was reproached for being so
wasteful and was told that I had overlooked the
choicest parts, the eyes and brain. Did I eat
them? I did not.
A few weeks later this same band of Indians
tried to feed me on boiled wildcat, or Canadian
lynx, and I must say that, had I not seen the
milky-coloured water in which it had been
cooked, I might have tasted it at least.
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 209
During the early days, as a mark of great
respect, the Indians always brought the tails
of the beavers they trapped to the Hudson Bay
factor. A smoked beaver tail was given to our
party and was boiled. It was rich and sweet
and, while really enjoyable, was so blubbery —
more like marrow fat, in fact — that a few mouth-
fuls were sickening.
Moose nose is another Indian tidbit that I
have tasted in Alaska. It is crisp and insipid
and lacks a taste that tempts the palate.
Once, while a boy, camping on the bank of the
Susquehanna, near my home, Owego, New York,
I shot a pigeon and a crow, and, being anxious
to know how the latter tasted, cleaned and
picked them both before arriving in camp.
After boihng them for three hours, I served
them up, being careful that my camp compan-
ion did not get the pigeon. He sawed away on
it for a few seconds and then tasted it. The
uncomplimentary remarks that he made have
always led me to suspect that he did not think
the bird he was eating was the same species as
mine, and, not wishing to deceive him, I ad-
mitted the truth but made the mistake of giv-
ing him the Latin name, Corvus americanus, I
210 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
knew he had not studied Latin, but, neverthe-
less, the name and the taste were near enough for
him to guess the common term. He promptly
stalked to the brink of the river and, tossing the
body far out, spent the afternoon sullen and
silent. But the agility with which he came to,
hustled ofif his clothes and dived into the water
to recover that crow's body when we sighted
two visitors coming up the river proved be-
yond doubt that he considered the joke good
enough to be played on some one else.
Our friends soon arrived and, following the
demands of all boys' stomachs, asked for some-
thing to eat. Corvus americanus was once more
brought forth and divided equally among
them. Again I am unable to publish the com-
ments that were made when our guests discov-
ered the trick.
Ten years later, while stopping at a large es-
tate in Belgium, I was repaid for this deed in
my own coin, but instead of eating in ignorance,
the dish was prepared for my special benefit
and at no little trouble. The European rook
corresponds to our crow and in that section of
the country is considered a great delicacy. I
was told that thousands of them were killed
WILD ANIMALS I HAVE "ET" 211
annually, the meat being minced, mixed with
veal, and made into a sort of veal loaf. Had
I not known what I was eating at the time, I
surely should have pronounced it veal loaf. I
will add, however, that I am personally not
partial to veal loaf of this description.
A RACE WITH A "rHINO"
BRITISH EAST AFRICA has reason to
feel proud of the finely equipped narrow-
gauge railroad that connects Mombasa
with Lake Victoria, a distance of five hundred
and eighty-four miles. It is a toy railroad, to
be sure — so small, in fact, that three days had
passed before the Roosevelt African expedition's
outfit was transported from Kilindina to Kapiti.
But what can one expect of a railroad that was
only built to open up a savage country to civi-
lisation and which is operated at a yearly loss
of thousands of dollars to the government that
The tiny cars are drawn by wood-burning
Baldwin — American — locomotives that haul two
trains up and down the road every week. On
account of the destructive '"white ants" that
devour everything made of wood, sheet-iron
sleepers are used, and the road-bed — ballasted
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 213
with broken stone — is kept in repair by na-
tive labour under Indian overseers, usually
The ''division superintendents," as they are
called in America, are known in Africa as ''per-
manent-ways inspectors." They are usually
EngUshmen or Scotchmen. It is the duty of
these men to ride over the fifty miles or more
of railroad assigned to them and see that it is
kept in good repair.
On his trips the inspector uses a hand-car,
not the clumsy kind propelled with pump-
handles, that is common here, but a light car
equipped with a long seat that runs from side
to side through its centre. On this seat the
inspector sits while two barefoot negroes run
on the rails behind and push. A third man
rides as passenger until it is time for him to
relieve one of the other two.
On two occasions the inspector at Naivasha
let me accompany him on his trips. We would
be rolling along through a cut, and suddenly
ghde out on the veldt into the very midst of
a herd of zebras, hartebeests, or Thomson's
gazelles. The surprised creatures would bound
away in all directions or race along parallel
214 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
with us for half a mile or more. Or perhaps,
when we were coasting down a grade, we would
round a sharp curve and surprise a hyena or a
pair of jackals hunting mice in the tall grass.
Once, after passing through a bit of bush, we
ran right up to a secretary-bird that was stalk-
ing along beside the track. He raised his
wings, flapped them vigorously, and ran along
the ground, preparatory to taking flight, but
we were under such headway that we overtook
him and, as he launched into the air, I brought
him down with a charge of number four shot.
Now his skin is in one of the big cases in the
A few months later, when I was travelling in
a ''down train," I related this experience to an
inspector who was a fellow passenger.
"I can understand why a novice might
think such a trip interesting," he said. *'But
we get rather accustomed to adventures. I'll
tell you one of mine.
"There had been a heavy rain, and the road
south of Naivasha had suffered badly. I put
several extra gangs at work to repair the dam-
age and then went north to oversee the construc-
tion of a bridge that had been swept away. A
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 215
week had passed before I finally found time to
take a run south to inspect the grade repairing
that had been going on in the meantime. It
was about nineteen miles to the end of the
washed-out stretch, so we started early. The
boys, chanting a song as they skipped over the
rails, sent us along at a lively clip.
'' We had gone about eight miles and were
travelling through a bit of open bush-veldt
when we saw two rhinos standing near the
track ahead of us. In a low voice I ordered the
boys to stop and at the same moment applied
the brake. The car halted about fifty yards
from the brutes.
"A rhino is a stupid, unreliable creature and
his eyesight is so poor that when the wind is
in the right direction a person can walk within
fifty yards of him without fear of being seen.
"The rumbling of the wheels had attracted
the attention of these animals, and they stood
gazing at us. One of them walked slowly to-
ward us ; then it paused and sniflfed the air. They
were so near the track that it would have been
impossible for us to pass without provoking
an attack. We rolled the car back a few rods
and waited for them to go on, but they did not
216 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
seem inclined to move. Finally, one lay down
within twenty feet of the track.
"In the hope that if we retired from their
sight the rhinos would saunter off, I ordered
the boys to run the car into the bush. There
we left it, and I walked back to the skirting and
watched the brutes from ambush.
" I must have remained there twenty-five
minutes, but the rhinos did not change their
position. The delay was exasperating. Why
had I not brought my rifle? We should then
have had something with which to protect our-
selves, and I might have fired a few shots and
put them to flight.
"At last I had the boys bring up the car
again, and once more we moved forward, al-
though I had no clear plan in mind.
"When we were within a hundred yards of
the animals we halted and awaited develop-
ments. The rhino that had been lying down
rose, and stood looking in our direction; its
mate also showed signs of interest.
"We began to push the car ahead. Nearer
and nearer we came. The stupid creatures
simply stared at us until we were within fifty
yards of them. Then one puffed, snorted.
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 217
and began a series of comical, awkward bucks;
after that it ran about twenty-five yards and
stopped. The other stood still and continued
to stare at us.
"I ordered one of the boys to walk ahead
and try to drive it away from the track. Re-
luctantly he obeyed, much to the amusement
of his comrades. As the boy waved his arms
and shouted the rhino wheeled about and
rushed off after its companion. I jumped on
the car, shouted to the boys to push, and we
started rapidly down the track.
"Ahead there was a sharp bend. For most
of the way round the track ran through a cut
eight feet deep; at the farther end of the cut
it dropped down a steep grade. The rhinos
were cutting across this bend, and, although the
chance of meeting them again at the farther side
occurred to me, the possibility seemed remote.
"We were nearly out of the cut when a
great dark body suddenly came plunging over
the bank on our left. We all shouted, and the
rhino tried to turn, but its momentum was
too great; the animal lost its balance and came
rolling down the bank ahead of us.
"The boy who was riding with me jumped.
218 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and so did I. When we struck the ground and
turned to run the two men who had been
pushing the car were fully twenty feet ahead
of us, for they had taken to their heels the in-
stant the rhino appeared.
'*As the huge body of the brute rolled down
the bank and onto the track, the car struck it a
glancing blow on the side, then left the rails,
and ploughed into the bank. The rhino jumped
to its feet and, with a toss of its head, attacked
the car. Then, seeing us running up the track,
it came charging after us.
"The two boys ahead of me ran up the left
side to the top of the bank and I quickly fol-
lowed. The rhino kept on after the third boy,
who was dashing along the right-hand side of
the track. We shouted to him to climb the
bank, and he bounded up with the agility of a
cat. Below, in the cut, the animal rushed by
us, and it was only ten feet behind the boy when
he reached the top of the bank. The bank was
low at that point, and the clumsy animal, after
slipping and sliding back into the cut several
times, succeeded in scrambling up.
"Meanwhile, the boy had run some distance
along the top of the bank and thrown himself
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 219
flat on the ground. When the rhino reached
the top it ambled out on the veldt a few yards,
and, since it could not find its enemy, it stopped
and looked about.
"While the animal's back was turned the
two boys and I jumped down into the cut and
made for the upturned car. Hurriedly we lifted
it on the track. I told the boys to push it to
the top of the down grade and to wait there
for me. Then I climbed back to the bank
and looked about to see what had become of
my third assistant. On the veldt only thirty
yards from him, the rhino stood, snorting and
puffing, and turning first to one side and then
to the other. I watched my opportunity and
then waved to the boy several times; but he
was so occupied in watching the rhino that at
first he did not see me. Finally, however, he
jumped up, dashed for the bank, and leaped
into the cut.
"He was hardly on his feet when the brute
caught sight of him and again charged. The
boy bounded down the track toward us. The
rhino reached the top of the bank a hundred
feet behind him; it plunged down and contin-
ued the chase between the rails.
220 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
*' While the two boys and myself had ample
time to escape, I saw at once that the brute
would overtake the other man long before he
could reach the car, and, as we could not desert
him, we were forced to again take to the top
of the bank and the pursued boy once more
followed our example. The persistent rhino
lost considerable time scrambling up after him,
and again the two came tearing on toward us,
the boy now fifty yards in advance of his
"Now was our chance, for the boy would reach
the car at least fifty yards ahead of the rhino.
We darted back into the cut and slowly started
the car down the grade.
''The boy kept to the bank till he was abreast
of us; then he jumped down and joined the
other two boys in pushing the car. The rhino,
charging along the top of the bank, gained on
us rapidly. The bank now sloped toward the
track, and every step that our pursuer took
brought it nearer our level.
''I urged the boys to exert every bit of their
strength, and a few seconds later they jumped
aboard, for the car had attained such speed that
there was danger of their being left behind.
A RACE WITH A "RHINO" 221
"There was nothing we could do now except
to watch the brute thundering along between
the rails. Although the weight of all four men
caused the car to gain headway, the rhino was
drawing nearer every second. Faster and faster
we sped along, but still the animal gained until
it was only a few rods away.
"A short distance ahead was another sharp
curve, and round this we flew at breakneck
speed. We were going so fast that I feared
the car might leave the rails at any moment.
It was a choice of two evils, and we chose to
stay with the car as long as it remained on the
track. As we rounded the curve I was hor-
rified to see a gang of graders at work. They
saw us approaching. One of them cried out
in alarm, and the whole crowd flung their tools
aside and bolted into a near-by "donga."
"When I again looked back I saw that the
rhino had not gained on us in the last hundred
yards. As the steepest part of the grade was
before us, I knew that we had won the race.
Still the stupid brute kept doggedly on. In
half a minute more we had reached the steep
grade and began to leave our pursuer behind;
but it was not until we were a quarter of a
222 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
mile in the lead that we saw the rhino slacken
his speed and finally stop.
"Then I gently applied the brake, and we
continued slowly until we had reached the next
gang of workmen.
*'My one regret is that there was no motion-
picture man present to record our game of
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA
AS soon as Colonel Roosevelt announced
r^L tis intention to head a scientific expe-
dition into the wilds of Africa, a number
of journalists and nature photographers seized
upon the opportunity to precede him and mar-
ket their work while the interest in the Dark
Continent was a live one.
Among this class of adventurers were several
nature photographers from England and Amer-
ica. To be at the head of this profession requires
untold patience, almost supernatural coolness,
and the highest type of bravery. To-day the
photographer is creeping stealthily upon a doz-
ing rhinoceros, an African lion, or a buffalo, any
one of which big-game hunters consider a dan-
gerous adversary, even when pitted against mod-
In order to get unique photographs, some-
thing that will be in demand by publishers, the
nature photographer must provoke an attack
224 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
from his subject. As the beast dashes at him
he must take the charge with sullen indifference
and press the button at the critical moment,
leaving it to his armed companion to carry him
through in safety.
The next day you may find this same man
cooped in a little blind, with his camera trained
upon the carcass of a freshly killed bait, to which
he hopes some passing bird of prey or carnivo-
rous mammal will be lured.
It was while thus engaged that one of these
nature photographers had a thrilling experience
with a cobra, the most deadly of all poison-
ous snakes. At the time he was camped with
twenty porters at the south end of the Ulucania
Hills, a series of rocky ridges in which live lions,
leopards, hyenas, klipspringers, hyraxes, eagles,
vultures, and cobras and other species of snakes.
Looking over the grassy veldt bordering these
hills, one sees herds of zebras, hartebeests, wilde-
beests, bustards, secretary-birds, and ostriches.
On being fired at, the sound of the hunter's
rifle has scarcely died away when the vultures,
eagles, kites, and marabou storks begin to con-
gregate to feed upon the carcass of the victim.
Seizing upon this suggestion as a good oppor-
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA 225
tunity to secure rare photographs of the great
birds, one of the nature photographers killed a
hartebeest and had] his porters carry it to the
foot of a rocky ridge.
"I found a place where an oval-shaped slab
of rock rested on and overhung a great boulder,"
he said. "By draping the green canvas ground-
cloth of my tent over this rock and securing the
lower corners to the ground, I made a sort of
bhnd behind which I could hide. A few leafy
branches placed against the canvas gave the
structure a more natural appearance.
"Everything in readiness, I had my men put
the body of the hartebeest within fifty feet of
the blind, and then I sent them back to camp.
Crawling into the blind, I focussed my camera
upon the body through a slit cut in the canvas.
Although the vultures, storks, and eagles were
already beginning to gather in the air, I knew
that probably it would be some time before they
would congregate in suflBcient numbers to suit
"I fear that I was somewhat greedy in my
ambition. I did not care for a photograph of
two or three birds; what I wanted was a group
of fifty or more tearing away at the carcass
226 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and fighting with one another for the choice
*'I arranged my field-glasses, water-bottle,
and camera case in a crevice behind me and
leaned my rifle against the rocks by my side.
"For some time I amused myself by watching
the comical and awkward actions of the birds.
Eagles, vultures, and storks came from every
direction and circled about a few minutes, then
gracefully lighted on the ground near the car-
cass, where they stood eyeing the blind sus-
''Whenever a new arrival appeared an ag-
gressive bird would raise its wings over its back,
lower its head, and take several awkward hops
toward him. Occasionally fights took place,
but they were never serious and usually ended
by one of the birds taking wing and joining
another and more friendly group.
"Becoming sleepy and knowing that as soon
as the birds had gathered in sufiicient numbers
to suit my purpose their squabbles would
awaken me, I made a pillow of my rain-coat
and curled up in my cramped quarters for a
few minutes' snooze.
"'How long I slept is of little consequence. It
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA %n
might have been an hour; it might have been but
fifteen minutes. At any rate, I was awakened
by a peculiar grating sound, as of something
being dragged over the loose, fine gravel; in
fact, I became aware of the presence of some
creature before I was fully awake. When I did
come to my full senses I was horrified at dis-
covering an immense cobra stretched full length
at my feet.
"I reaUsed that the slightest move on my
part meant death; in fact, the mere opening of
my eyes had attracted the snake's attention, for
instantly it stopped and its sinister, beady eyes
stared at me from their lidless sockets.
"I have faced many dangers in the course of
my short time on earth, but heretofore it has
been in the open where I had the freedom of
my Hmbs and the power to use them. But
here I lay a captive at the mercy of the fangs
of the most gruesome of all creatures. For all
practical purposes I might just as well have
been charmed, for there was my rifle within easy
reach yet I dared not make a move to secure it.
"To prevent my limbs from shaking and be-
traying me, I set my muscles, locked my jaws,
and simply stared. So long as the cobra re-
228 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
mained in the confines of my small enlcosure it
was always within striking distance of me, and
I realised that my safety lay in either being
able to kill it or in waiting for it to depart.
''The minutes seemed like hours — they al-
ways do under such circumstances. Finally, the
snake turned to one side and began slowly to
crawl toward the opposite end of the blind,
where the ground-cloth failed to reach the
earth and there was space for it to get out. It
was within a foot of the opening when its head
struck the cloth, and, drawing back suddenly,
it paused for a few seconds, then, to my horror,
turned and slowly glided back toward me. Be-
fore it had covered half the distance, however,
it came in contact with the camera tripod and
began to slide up one of the legs.
"At this juncture I decided to try to reach my
rifle. While the reptile was fumbhng about the
camera I carefully reached out, but fate was
against me, for I had hardly moved when my
coat sleeve grated on the gravel. Slight though
the noise was, the cobra heard it, turned its
head toward me, and its hood began to inflate.
There it stood, quite a third of its body in
mid-air, swaying its head from side to side, its
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA 229
long, forked tongue darting in and out of its
*'My blood seemed to freeze; a cold sweat
covered my forehead and I was nearly petrified
from fear. Every instant I expected to see the
reptile's head dart forward and to feel its
deadly fangs enter my flesh. Had I moved
again, this would have happened. Finally,
the hood gradually contracted and the snake
dropped to the ground and continued its tour
"It moved around behind and out of my
sight, but I could trace its position by the
grating of Its body on the gravel. Soon I heard
it scuffling about at my feet and the next instant
felt its head hit them and its body begin to slide
over. That snake seemed to be a hundred feet
long, but, finally, it once more came into view,
its head held close to the ground.
"I had kept still for so long that my nerves
were almost shattered, and I was willing to
resort to desperate means in order to rid myself
of my captor.
"While I had been sleeping my helmet had
fallen from my head and had rolled to the
ground in front of me. Toward this the cobra
230 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
was making, and as soon as its head had dis-
appeared behind it my hand shot out and I
seized the snake by the neck. Springing to
my feet, I did not wait to go out by the regular
exit, but burst through the front of the bhnd,
tearing the canvas fastenings from the ground.
''Finding itself a captive, the snake instantly
twined about my waist, and I felt its hood try-
ing to expand in my grip. With jaws wide
open, it twisted its head about and worked its
triple set of fangs backward and forward in a
vain effort to bury them in my hand, while the
venom oozed from their points in drops.
''Fortunately, the cobra is not a constrictor
like the pythons and many other species of
snakes, so its grasp upon my body, while un-
comfortably tight, was not dangerous.
"It was evident that to dislodge the snake
was going to be no easy matter. Fearing to
lose my grip for even a second, I kept a steady
strain on its body and wondered what next to
do. Suddenly the cobra began to relax its hold
and I felt the coils slipping. Encouraged by
this, I pulled harder and again the coils gave
way, until I was holding the snake at arm's
length with only a single coil about my body.
IT WORKED ITS TRIPLE SET OF FANGS BACKWARD AND FORWARD IN A
VAIN EFFORT TO BURY THEM IN MY HAND
IMPRISONED BY A COBRA 231
"Holding the snake in one hand, I seized it
about the middle with the other, but the in-
stant the reptile felt itself grasped in another
place it struggled so hard that I was obliged
to again grip it with both hands about the neck.
"My strength was waning fast, but the sat-
isfaction of knowing that the cobra, too, was
becoming exhausted gave me courage. The
constant strain that I kept on it had weakened
it, so the next time I caught it in the middle it
made one feeble effort to contract, then the coil
gave way and slipped off my body entirely.
"Swinging the snake free from my body, I
waved it about my head and with all my
strength brought it down on a rock. Again and
again I whacked it over the boulder and finally
threw it as far as I could.
"Then rushing back to the bhnd, I returned
with my rifle, but I was so unnerved that the
bullets went wild and I was obliged to resort
to stones in order to kill the cobra, although
it was almost dead from the hammering I had
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT
CRITTENDEN left London because he
had to. His creditors pushed him so
vigorously that they made him uncom-
fortable, and, as his bank account was exhausted
because of his extravagant mode of living, he
sneaked up into Yorkshire and took a position
"I simply made up my mind," he said, ''that
home was no place for me until my debts were
paid, and, as my creditors still kept nagging me,
I remained in my new position just long enough
to lay by a few pounds and then booked on a
steamer for British East Africa and drifted up
here into the Congo to hunt ivory."
"How long have you been here?" I inquired.
''Not quite a year, and I'm going to stick it
out until my pile has been made and I can go
back and pay up."
"But isn't there some risk of your creditors
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 238
being cheated of their pay by the elephants? " I
ventured. ''Don't you consider it a Httle risky,
this prowKng about after five-ton monsters with
tusks that have gored scores of hunters, feet
that have stamped out many a man's Hfe, and a
trunk that acts Uke the tentacles of an octopus?
Isn't there a slight element of danger in ram-
ming about through the jungle, the bamboo,
and the tall elephant-grass, chasing such crea-
tures as these?"
"Certainly there is, but it's part of the game.
Every elephant hunter understands that, and
it is up to him to play a trump card every time
or else be euchred. But still there's no more
danger here in the wilds of Africa than there
would be in any large city.
"Take, for instance, the automobiles; they
are continually blowing their horns and tooting
their whistles, danger or no danger, and you get
so accustomed to them you become careless.
But when you hear an elephant trumpeting you
sit up and take notice. You can shoot an ele-
phant if he comes too close, but you can't shoot
a 'bally' chauffeur, can you.^ — so there you
"Did you ever have to shoot an elephant
234 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
chauffeur to keep from being run down?" I
''Did I! Being charged by elephants is such
a common occurrence to an ivory hunter that
he remembers only the dangerous charges. The
most thrilling escape that ever happened to me
occurred in the very country to which you are
"We had so far made a good kill of ivory.
One noon three of my trackers who had been
looking for fresh signs returned and told me
that, some five miles north, they had discovered
a watering-place on the Nile where elephants
came to drink.
" I took my gun bearer Kongoni — Swahah
for hartebeest — three trackers, my blankets, and
two days' grub and left at once.
**Late in the afternoon we arrived at the
spot. The earth along the bank near the water-
ing-place was trodden hard by huge feet, and,
after looking over the scene, I saw at once that
the elephants must have watered there the
"There was little use in trying to trail them
up that day, for they might be twenty miles
away, so we back-tracked a mile and went into
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 235
camp for the night, intending to take up the
fresh tracks in the morning should the animals
return that night.
"It must have been some time past midnight
when my gun bearer awakened me to say that
he heard the elephants coming. I, too, could
catch the faint sound of trumpeting, and as
time passed the trumpeting became louder and
more frequent, and finally we could hear the
animals bellowing. For over two hours the
noise continued and then gradually grew fainter
and fainter as the herd moved back into the
"We were up before the sun and after a
hearty breakfast, for we knew not when we
would get another square meal, hurried off to
"A faint glow in the east showed that the day
was dawning, and when it became light enough
to see clearly, we picked up the trail. It was
evidently an enormous herd, but the ground
was pounded so hard by its previous visits that
for the time we could gain no correct idea of its
true size. Kongoni said that there were a hun-
dred; one of my trackers doubled the number,
and I felt sure that he was nearer right.
236 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
**We followed the wide trail at a rapid rate
and hoped to overhaul them soon, for as they
had been feeding all night, they might halt
about ten o'clock to rest.
"Through patches of tall elephant-grass,
groves of thorn-trees, and then out into a some-
what barren open country the tracks led us.
On all sides were uprooted trees and great
branches that the animals had wrenched off
as they passed along.
"We had gone about five miles when we sud-
denly passed out of the elephant-grass, crossed
a dry, sandy creek bed, and came to a level piece
of ground about a mile wide. A fire had lately
swept the grass from this flat and at the far side
we could see a dense bush-veldt.
"The elephants were probably resting in that
bush-veldt, and, as there was no longer need for
professional trackers, the men were told to wait
at the edge of the clearing until they saw Kon-
goni and me enter the bush on the other side,
then to follow slowly so as to be near and ready
to assist in cutting out the ivory should we suc-
ceed in shooting a tusker.
"We had crossed the flat and were two hun-
dred yards from the timber when Kongoni
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 237
stopped; he said he could hear the elephants
feeding. A few seconds later the sound of
breaking branches and then the crash of a fall-
ing tree dispelled all doubt.
"We were discussing a course of procedure
when Kongoni caught me by the arm and, point-
ing toward the thicket, exclaimed:
'''Bwana, there's an elephant standing un-
der that thorn-tree!'
''Straining my eyes to the limit, it was im-
possible to discover the brute, but suddenly an-
other elephant appeared, and then another and
another, until in all some ten or fifteen animals
were in sight.
"'Hurry, Bwana,' said the gun bearer, 'they
are coming this way and we will be caught in
"Scattered here and there were small clusters
of bushes that had escaped the fire. Fifty
yards to our left stood a solitary tree. A hurri-
cane had taken out the top, leaving several large
limbs protruding from the upper part. Sixty
feet from this tree was an ant-hill six feet high;
a small patch of bushes grew just beyond, while
still farther on the Nile flowed placidly beneath
a perpendicular twenty -foot bank.
238 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"Moving slowly so as not to attract atten-
tion, we reached the tree and I placed my rifle
on the ground, intending that Kongoni should
hand it to me as soon as he had assisted me into
the limbs. He gave me the expected boost,
but when I turned and reached down for the
gun he was gone.
"'Kongoni! Kongoni!' I called in a low
tone. There was no response. Then Kongoni
was seen waving to me from a clump of bushes
a few rods off. The idiot! what had possessed
him to suddenly desert me in this manner?
There was no danger so long as we were hidden,
even if the herd was large and only two hundred
yards away, for an elephant's eyesight is so
poor that he cannot see a man much more than
fifty yards off.
"I should have descended the tree at once,
thrown the rifle strap over my shoulder, and
climbed back again, but I wasted so much time
trying to persuade Kongoni to return and hand
it to me, that when I did think of it the ele-
phants were dangerously close and I did not
dare make the attempt.
"It was a grand and wonderful sight; that
army of two hundred modern mammoths — left-
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 239
overs from antediluvian days — marching ma-
jestically toward us in one solid, unbroken mass,
their great ears waving back and forth as they
calmly fanned themselves. They were continu-
ally tearing up bunches of grass and tossing
them upon or over their backs ; the totos — young
ones — strolled along by the side of their mothers,
who frequently reached out their trunks and
appeared to fondle their offspring.
"How I yearned for my rifle, for there were
many big tuskers in the herd. Several of them
were within range and from my elevated posi-
tion there was a fine opportunity to bowl one
''Some of the animals walked right under my
tree and I held my breath lest they should look
up and discover me. Probably a third of the
herd had passed when several of them lifted
their trunks and waved them in the air; they
had caught our scent.
''One began to trumpet, and the others
quickly took up the alarm. Suddenly every
elephant in the herd seemed to have lost its
head, for they raced backward and forward
quite panic-stricken. In one wild dash the
advance-guard suddenly wheeled around and
240 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
started back toward the timber, the Httle totos
dodging about to prevent being trampled.
"Kongoni dared not hft his head for fear of
provoking an attack, so he crouched low, a
silent listener. Had he been able to see, there
would have been no trouble, for he would have
noticed that the stampeding elephants had
passed him, leaving a little toto in the rear, its
mother a few rods in advance. But two of
the brutes had torn by uncomfortably close to
him, which, together with the roaring and
trumpeting, struck terror to his heart, so in-
stead of holding his position, he broke cover
and bounded for my tree.
"As he burst through the brush he nearly
collided with the toto, which gave a peculiar
little squeal and dodged out of the man's way.
The mother had heard her child's cry and,
wheeling about, came to its rescue.
"Kongoni saw that he was trapped so he ran
for the ant-hill, dodged behind it, and stood
waiting. He did not have long to wait, how-
ever, for Mrs. Elephant soon reached the spot
and for a few seconds, in double-quick time, the
two raced around the clay pyramid.
** Thinking that she would surely catch the
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 241
boy, I was about to descend, grab my rifle, and
help him out of the scrape, when the elephant,
on the far side of the ant-hill, began tearing it
down with her tusks. I realised that now was
Kongoni's opportunity to escape. From the op-
posite side of the ant-hill he could not see what
was taking place, so I called out, *now is your
ciiance, run for the tree!'
'*With the ant-hill between him and the in-
furiated animal, he bounded toward me and, as
he reached the stub and began climbing up, I
leaned down and gave him a helping hand, and
the next instant he was safe in the branches.
''The elephant demolished that ant-hill as
completely as a stick of dynamite could have
wrecked it, and then stood over the ruins, sur-
prised, no doubt, at not finding her victim.
The moving branches and the scratching of our
bodies on the limbs must have betrayed our po-
sition, for she caught sight of us and bore down
on the tree.
''Before climbing the tree, which was fully
eight inches in diameter, it seemed impossible
that any elephant could push it over, but as I
looked down and saw her put her great head
against it, it was evident that she intended to
make the attempt.
242 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"There was a ripping, grinding sound and
the sod about the base began to heave; stub-
bornly the tenacious roots fought against sur-
rendering the burden that they had supported
for so many years. The five tons of flesh and
bones were more than a match for them, how-
ever, and slowly the tree began to descend. In-
stead of toppling over with a crash, the sinewy
tentacles eased its fall so gently that we were
given an opportunity to adjust our positions and
prepare for the worst.
"Even after the tree had attained an angle of
forty -five degrees, we stood on the trunk and
clung to the now almost perpendicular branches.
The elephant must have thought that it was
going over; she backed away for a second but,
seeing her mistake, again began to push, and
this time the tree slowly went down.
"As it struck the ground, the sudden loosen-
ing of the roots on one side caused it to roll
slightly which threw the gun bearer to the un-
derside and buried him beneath the branches.
At the same time I was brought to an upright
position and, jumping to the ground, started for
the small patch of bushes in which Kongoni
had first sought shelter.
"If I could only gain possession of the rifle
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 243
that Kongoni in his excitement had left some-
where in the brush, it might be possible to bring
our troubles to an abrupt termination. The
black rascal was to blame for our predicament
and it would serve him right if the elephant
gave him a chastising.
"Where was he now? Was he pinned help-
lessly beneath the limbs, or was he simply lying
there in the hope that he would escape punish-
ment and the infuriated beast would make me
the target for her revenge?
"'If he reasoned thus, he reasoned wisely, for
on looking back over my shoulder I saw the ele-
phant charging after me, her trunk curled up
between her tusks and her great ears extended
on both sides of her villainous-looking head.
"There had been no chance for me to recover
the rifle that had been left at the foot of the
tree, neither was there time to search for the
gun in the bushes; in fact, should I succeed in
reaching the shelter before she could overtake
me, under the circumstances it was all that
could be hoped for.
"Luck favoured me, and darting in with head
bent low and arms thrust out in the position
of a diver, I bolted through the tangle. The
244 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
crashing of brush resounded in my ears as I
turned sharply to the right, threw myself flat
on the ground, and lay there, panting and
''On she came and must have passed within
ten feet of my hiding-place, but I dared not
look up, for to show my pale face or move
might have attracted her attention.
''She rushed through the thicket and trum-
peted loudly at the other side, while my heart
hammered away as though it would break
through my ribs. From what I knew of the
habits of elephants, there was little possibility
of her leaving the locality until she had either
killed me or had demolished that clump of bushes
in her eflforts to find me.
"One thing was sure, the bushes were only
fit for temporary shelter, and it was a matter
of only a few minutes before I should be com-
pelled to leave them. A solitary tree growing
on the brink of the Nile seemed to be my only
hope, but one experience with a tree as an
'elephant escape' had not proven particularly
satisfactory, still there was no choice.
"These thoughts were suddenly dispelled
by another commotion in the brush; the 'old
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 245
woman' was coming back to make a more
thorough investigation. This time she charged
by to my right, and as soon as she had passed
I sprang to my feet and once more rushed on,
relying on the noise she was creating to drown
whatever racket I might make.
"As I broke through the cover and for an
instant glanced back, she was standing at the
far side of the brush patch looking in my di-
rection, but before two more steps could be
taken she was at me again.
"My eyes were riveted on that tree, and with
every jump I longed for postponement of the
silence that would tell me she had passed out
of the thicket and into the open. I could then
judge how much lead I had and what were my
chances for escape.
"Suddenly the crackling of limbs and the
swish of bushes ceased and the shuffling and dull
thud of feet on the gravelly earth was heard. A
hasty calculation placed me a little more than
half-way between the animal and the river,
still I did not look back. I could not look! I
did not want to see her, and yet in my mind's
eye I depicted her charging along behind as
plainly as though she had been in front, instead
of in my rear.
246 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
*'0n I rushed at top speed. The shuffling
grew louder and louder every second, for she was
fast overtaking me. But that tree grew nearer
and nearer with each step. Just then Kongoni
'''Pacey! pacey ! Bwana T ('Hurry! hurry!
Master!') and I knew that she must be crowd-
ing me closely. Even should I reach the tree
ahead of her, evidently there would not be time
to climb it before she twined her snake-like trunk
about my body and hurled me to the ground.
"What was beneath that bank.^^ Was it a
drop off of twenty feet to a mass of jagged
rocks or into the water? The elephant would
surely kill me if I did not make the jump, so
what was the difference? If the river was deep
and ran in flush with the bank, as from the top
of our perch in the tree it appeared to do, and
I could only outdistance my pursuer, there was
nothing to fear, for I was an expert swimmer.
"It certainly was a relief to see the water-line
creeping gradually toward shore over the horizon
of the bank, and as I rushed along I wondered
if the animal had gained such headway that she
would come tumbling down on top of me.
"A few more strides and the bank was
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 247
reached, and without a second's hesitation I
sprang into the air and shot through the twenty
feet of space into the swiftly running water.
The force of the fall drove me out of sight.
Turning quickly, I swam under water and down-
stream until lack of breath compelled me to
come to the surface.
"The elephant was standing on the bank
above, trumpeting loudly and blowing great
clouds of dust and ashes into the air. Now a
new peril presented itself — crocodiles. The Nile
swarmed with them, but on second thought I
remembered that they frequented sluggish water
and, as the current here ran fully six miles an
hour, there was, after all, not much danger
"Striking out for shore, I was soon so close
under the bank that the elephant was lost to
view. By continuing alongshore for a hundred
yards, the exposed roots of a tree were found,
and to these I clung until my breath had re-
turned. Swimming on down-stream to a point
where the bank was low, I climbed out into a
fringe of bushes and small trees.
"Working my way quietly through the foliage,
I went back part way and then cUmbed a tree
248 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
overlooking the country. The old elephant was
prowling along the top of the bluff, but just then
she turned and, shuffling over to the prostrate
tree, began breaking off the branches with her
trunk. I watched anxiously to see if she would
find the gun bearer, although I felt quite certain
that if he had not been injured he must have
taken advantage of his opportunity to make his
escape to a more secure hiding-place.
"After she had nearly stripped the tree of its
branches and scattered them over the ground,
she put her head against the trunk and pushed
it aside. But Kongoni was not there. The
little totOy in the meantime, was running about
shaking his head and squealing.
''Unable to find her enemies, the great brute,
after again looking the ground over carefully,
sauntered off into the bush, her little one follow-
ing by her side.
"Suddenly Kongoni's head appeared above a
clump of bushes. He hustled up to the scene
of the conflict, secured both of my rifles, and
came running toward the spot where I had dis-
appeared over the bank. Before he arrived,
however, I diverted his course by shouting, and
as I descended the tree he came up.
TREED BY AN ELEPHANT 249
"By losing his head he had almost caused us
to lose our lives, and he knew too well that he
was to blame. His face bore an expression of
fear and shame combined, and we stood gazing
at each other without saying a word. Finally,
he fell to his knees and, kissing my hand, sobbed:
'Master, forgive me. I will never do it again.
I have always been faithful to you until to-day,
so if you will forgive me I swear by Allah that
I will never, never again desert you.'
"Undoubtedly the elephant had taught him a
lesson, and I felt so thankful that we both had
escaped that I took him at his word, so after
severely reprimanding him and fining him twen-
ty rupees from his salary, I returned to camp,
picking up the other boys en route."
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA
WHILE it is true that I knew nothing
of forestry, the government was also
aware of the fact, so I felt that I had
not accepted, under false pretences, the position
of forester," said a former occupant of the West
Kenia Forest Station.
"My superior at Nairobi had told me that
my chief duty would be to watch for forest fires
and to extinguish any that occurred. He also
instructed me to hire a gang of Kikuyu natives
and cut a trail up the south side of Mount
Kenia to timber-line. I was working on this
trail when my friend Brown, whom I had
asked to come up and visit me, arrived, and we
planned to go high up on the mountain and
do some exploring after the trail was finished
and the men had been discharged.
"We two 'trekked' to an altitude of thirteen
thousand seven hundred feet and pitched our
tent. On the morning of the third day at our
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 251
alpine camp I arose rather late and found that
Brown had left camp. The teapot near the
smouldering fire showed that he had had break-
fast. 'Probably stepped out to shoot some
game for our larder,' I thought, as I brushed
the coals together and started to prepare my
"Having finished my breakfast, I picked up
my Ithaca shotgun, camera, and barometer,
that hung from one of the tent-poles, and strolled
up on a high ridge back of the camp. From
here a fine view could be had. Small green
lakes fed by tiny rivulets that trickled over
the rocks, great drifts of snow, and constantly
changing scenery kept my eyes busy.
"One thinks of Africa as a land of jungle and
extreme heat, and, as I stood there gazing at
scenery such as I had seen in Alaska and in
northwestern Canada, I could scarcely believe
that I was standing on the equator; neverthe-
less, 'the line' does run over the top of the
"The hand of the barometer pointed to fifteen
thousand feet, and from that point refused to
record a higher altitude, although it was sup-
posed to register as high as twenty thousand feet.
252 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
From this point a great snow-bank rose gradu-
ally for several hundred yards and then formed
a high, steep bank dangerous to climb for fear of
starting a snowslide. For half a mile the drift
extended eastward and away from the moun-
tain peak. I saw that by crossing it to the far
end and then turning back I could reach the
north side of the peak on top of the steep, dan-
"The glare from the sun on the drift was very
intense, but it seemed no more dazzling than I
had found it under similar circumstances in
America. For most of the way the snow was
soft and I sank to my shoe tops, but after I had
turned back toward the mountain I found a
tract about a hundred yards wide where, for some
unaccountable reason, the snow was packed hard.
Even when I jumped on it my feet left no im-
"I proceeded until I had passed two thirds
of the way around the mountain peak. The mass
of cUfifs and jagged rocks rose to a total height
of seventeen thousand two hundred feet above
sea-level; now they were not more than seven
hundred feet above me, therefore I must have
ascended to an altitude of sixteen thousand five
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 253
hundred feet. To the right, half a mile away,
was a round-topped mountain of snow of un-
known depth. In many places it had cracked
open, leaving great crevasses, which showed that
the snow was at least fifty feet deep.
*'From where I stood, on the snow ridge that
connected the snow mountain with the peak,
the drift sloped downward toward the north
end of the mountain half a mile; beyond this I
could not see. If I could get down it would be
a shorter way to camp than to retrace my steps,
so I decided to make the attempt.
''I had gone about half-way when I discov-
ered that the snow-field terminated in an abrupt
wall several hundred feet high. On reaching
it I dared not go close enough to the edge to
make a more thorough investigation for fear
the snow cornice might break and precipitate
me to the bottom.
"Where the snow met the bluff of the peak
there seemed to be a break through which one
might descend to the valley, so I walked over
to it and followed along the base of the cliff for
some distance. The drift became steeper and
steeper as I proceeded. I was within about
seventy-five feet of the wall when suddenly my
254 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
feet flew out from under me and I found my-
self sliding downward.
"None of the snow above was moving, but a
great mass below had given way and was hurry-
ing down the mountainside at a terrific rate.
Unless I could check myself I should be carried
over the brink of the wall and into the valley
below, I knew not how many hundred feet.
'* Frantically, I tried to dig my heels into the
snow but could not stop. I had fallen just
beyond reach of the rocks but managed to roll
over a couple of times, and, seeing a projection a
short distance below, I seized it as I was passing
and held on until the snow had slipped out from
"Being at the extreme upper edge of the
slide, only a few inches of the surface had given
way, so, after the excitement was over and I
had scrambled to my feet, I found myself stand-
ing on the drift while the slide poured over the
edge of the wall with a sound like escaping
"Regaining my somewhat startled wits, I be-
gan to wonder how to get out of my predica-
ment. To attempt to pass around the mountain
as originally planned now seemed impossible.
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 255
and should I try to retrace my steps I might
start another sHde and this time lose my life.
*'It was about four o'clock. In another hour
a crust would begin to form and by ten o'clock,
or half past at the latest, it would be hard
enough to bear my weight; and then, of course,
there would be no danger of snowslides. So, a
prisoner of the snow, I decided to remain there
until the elements should let me escape.
"Holding tightly to the rocks, I began, gently
at first, to tramp the snow and in a few min-
utes had made a hard, comfortable footing.
Contrary to general belief, the African twilight
is quite as long as any twilight. Slowly the
shadows of the peaks, over which the sun was
sinking, lengthened and at last darkness fell.
"One by one the stars came out between the
fleecy clouds. As the air grew chilly the clouds
descended and by eight o'clock enveloped me
in a mist that shrouded the 'arctic' scenery for
half an hour. Finally, the mist disappeared and
I saw the clouds floating far below and a clear
"Now, for the first time, I began to have
trouble with my eyes. They ached, then they
burned, and in half an hour it seemed as though
256 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
a bundle of quill toothpicks was being thrust
into them. I rubbed them with snow and closed
my lids, but when I opened them again the
agony was excruciating. A thick smoke seemed
to obscure the view; then, for the first time, I
realised that I was becoming snow-blind.
"How fooHsh I had been not to blacken my
face with a piece of burnt wood before leaving
camp, but when I started I had no intention of
climbing high, and, as I have said, after the
snow was reached the glare from the drifts
seemed no more intense than I had found it
many times before.
"What if I should become totally blind!
Here I was, marooned four miles from camp
and on the opposite side of the mountain.
Brown would never think of looking for me here.
"One thing was sure: I must get away and
try to work out on the big drift to the east of the
peak before I completely lost my sight. This
drift was visible from a long distance to any one
approaching from the south, so if Brown should
come he could easily see me on the snow a mile
"Of course there was some danger of stum-
bling into one of the many crevasses I had
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 257
passed on the way up, but I knew this could not
happen unless my sight became so poor that
I could not follow my tracks back.
*'From time to time I kept testing the crust,
now forming rapidly, and about ten o'clock con-
sidered it firm enough to support my weight.
"While my tracks, made in the afternoon,
were somewhat obliterated by the melting of the
snow, they were still visible. By moving slowly
and straining my eyes it was, at first, not diflS-
cult to follow them. Every few steps the crust
gave way, but it was hard enough to prevent a
slide. So, keeping close to the base of the clifiF,
I finally reached the spot where I had crossed
the drift and first struck the rocks.
"Every minute it was becoming more and
more difficult to follow the trail; my eyesight
was failing fast. Gradually, I was obliged to
lean over farther and farther, until at last I
dropped to my knees and crawled along. Even
then it was hard to see the tracks, and finally
I gave up and began feeling my way along.
"My hands became numb from cold and my
knees ached, so I was forced to stop frequently
to warm up and rest. The bank was almost
level now, and shortly I began to descend and
258 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
knew that the ridge had been passed. I was
crawhng out on the great drift to the east of
the mountain and nearing the packed-snow area
where no tracks had been left. There was Httle
chance of crossing it with the expectation of
finding the trail on the other side.
*'It was slow, tedious work, groping along in
the darkness and feeling out each frozen foot-
print. My hands were sore from shuffling over
the rough snow, so I put my camera in a pocket
of my hunting-coat and, slipping my left hand
into the leather case, used it as a shield while
sliding along. Every few minutes the shotgun
that swung from my shoulders worked forward
and I had to stop to adjust it.
"So hour after hour I crept along fifteen or
twenty feet at a time, then stopped to rest.
The tracks were becoming more and more shal-
low; evidently the hard snow was not far off.
Two more spells of crawling, two more rest
halts, and then, search as hard as I could, not
another footprint was found; they were not
there to find.
"This tract must be crossed regardless of
consequences. I stood erect and, stepping out
boldly, tried to walk in as straight a course as
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 259
possible. Only a short distance had been trav-
ersed when the drift seemed to descend more
rapidly than I had anticipated. A few more
steps and it was so steep that there was danger
of slipping. Was it possible that I had so soon
wandered from my course? It must be so, for
certainly I had not passed over such a grade
"I turned and, dropping on my hands and
knees, started to climb back, but slipped and
fell upon my face and then began to slide. Roll-
ing over on my back I tried to dig my heels
into the hard crust. This swayed my body
around, and the next instant I was scooting
over the crust head down. Then the stock of
my gun cut through the crust and retarded my
progress enough to swing me back until I lay
in an upright position, but the next instant the
stock lost its grip and once more I descended
*' Spinning round and round in this manner,
first to one side, then to the other, I whizzed
over the snow until the air whistled in my ears,
and I became so dazed that I could scarcely
tell when I was right side up and when not.
"The uppermost thought in my mind was:
260 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
'Where am I going to land, — would it be at
the bottom of some deep crevasse or out on a
harmless tract of snow?
'* Gradually my speed began to slacken, for
I was nearing the foot of the incline. Working
the shotgun strap over my shoulder, I gripped
the gun-barrels in my left hand, seized the
pistol-grip in the other, and throwing the stock
of the gun under my right arm, I bore down on
it with all my weight. The sharp rubber heel-
plate cut through the crust and finally brought
me to a full stop.
"Where could I be? The drift on which I
had been travelling when I fell extended on
eastward, fully half a mile beyond the hard
snow I had attempted to cross. I could not
have wandered that far before losing my way,
therefore I must have gone too far to the
right and tobogganed down the very snow-
bank that I had circled during the afternoon.
In other words, I had taken a short cut to the
exact position I was seeking — the middle of the
drift where I had first stepped upon the snow.
"There was nothing to do now but to wait
for Brown to come, provided he did come. I
had lost all count of time but felt that it must
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 261
be long after midnight. How penetrating the
chilly air was, and how my eyes ached, now
that there was nothing to occupy my attention!
The rocks could not be very far away, for oc-
casionally the shrill cry of a restless rock hy-
rax floated up from below. Once I heard ele-
phants trumpeting in the heather three miles
*'And so the weary minutes formed the hours
until suddenly I thought that I heard a bird
singing; yes, it was a bird, the twittering of a
sunbird. Oh, what a welcome sound was that
heralder of dawn!
"If Brown could only strike my trail at once
he would be here in a few hours. I waited until
I thought that he might be within hearing, then
at intervals of about half a minute fired three
shots — the universal signal of distress. The
echoes roared back from the mountain peak as
eagerly I listened for an answer, but it did not
come. I waited another hour, then fired three
more shots, but still no reply.
''An inventory of my cartridge-belt showed
nine cartridges left. The third signal of three
shots failed also to bring an answer, so, dis-
couraged and weak from hunger and lack of
262 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
sleep, I started on, feeling with my shotgun
before taking a step. Every fifteen minutes I
stopped and fired a single shot. In this way
I must have travelled for an hour and then
fired another shot. The echo from the moun-
tain peak came from behind me, so I knew that
I had turned too far to the left. Facing about,
I had taken but a few steps when far oflF in
the distance came the unmistakable report of a
rifle. I leaped into the air from joy and began
shouting and waving my hands, but on second
thought realised that Brown was yet too far
off to see me.
"Fifteen minutes later I fired my last car-
tridge and received a reply from very near, and
then I heard Brown shout:
'"What in thunder are you doing up there?
If you think I'm coming up after you you're
jolly well mistaken.'
"'I can't come down; I'm snow-blind,' I
"'Where have you been all this time.^^' he in-
quired as he came up.
"'Wandering about on the snow all night;
and I took a fine toboggan slide to wind up
with!' I answered.
SNOW-BLIND ON MOUNT KENIA 263
You look it. You're as white as a sheet.
Here, take a hoot of this; and here's a sandwich.
I thought you would need something when I
"'How did you find me? What made you
think I was up here?' I inquired.
"'Well,' he began 'you remember that you
had said you wanted to come up here, so, when
you didn't appear last night and I saw that the
barometer was missing, I knew you must have
gone for the snow, as we have taken altitudes at
lower levels. Soon I struck your tracks on the
ridge back there and managed to keep them
fairly well until I heard your shouts, and then
I started on a run.'
"He led me back to camp, and after three
days in the tent my sight gradually returned,
and then we packed up and descended to the
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES
WHEN our party arrived at Nimule, my
first act was to send some letters to
America, and as I approached the
post-oflSce I found the following warning posted
on the door:
Nimule, 16th November, 1909.
It is with deep regret that the commissioner
of the Nile District has to report the murder
of Mr. Buccura, a big-game hunter, by the
natives of the Lado Enclave at Katurunga,
seven hours' march N. W. of Dufili, on the 8th
Hunters and sportsmen are warned of the
apparent truculence of these particular natives
and are cautioned against them.
(Signed) R. D. Anderson,
Com. Nile District.
It was only the week before this report
reached Nimule that Frank Barrett had started
into this very country to hunt ivory and to
trade with the natives.
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES ^65
On reaching his destination and utterly igno-
rant of danger, he began a brisk trade with the
blacks. They appeared to be very friendly.
Nearly every day they brought him milk, fruit,
and sweet potatoes. But one morning they
arrived at his camp earlier than usual, and by
ten o'clock fully a hundred natives had assem-
bled. Such a throng made Barrett somewhat
suspicious, but they all seemed in good spirits,
and some of them made a few trifling exchanges.
After a time they formed a wide circle and
began dancing and singing. Barrett did not
suspect treachery until he realised that they
were gradually closing in upon him. Trying
not to betray any nervousness, he carelessly
picked up his rifle and began wiping it with
his handkerchief; finally he sat down in front
of the tent, with the rifle resting across his
Presently one of his porters came up and
asked to have his injured foot examined. As
Barrett leaned forward a black rushed up from
behind and snatched his gun; then the treacher-
ous crowd leaped upon the white man and bore
him to the ground. In a few moments they had
tied his hands and fastened one end of a ten-
266 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
foot rope about his neck. Seeing their master
a prisoner, Barrett's porters bolted into the
brush; two of them were struck down with clubs
Barrett was then made to rise and walk.
Three men, who carried his shotgun, elephant
rifle, and repeater, walked beside him and fre-
quently threatened him. A fourth man led
him by the rope along a well-beaten trail.
As he plodded along, a captive of villainous
savages, Barrett wondered what would be the
outcome. That death would eventually end
his misery he had little doubt; but in what
form.^ That was the question uppermost in his
mind. He thought of the many methods of tor-
ture that savage brains can devise, and he won-
dered which one of them it would be his fate
Barrett hoped that some of his porters had
escaped and that they would succeed in passing
through the treacherous country safely and in
bringing help. But when he realised that that
would take a week at least he knew that he
must find some way to outwit his captors. He
could not speak their language, and therefore
he could not threaten them with what would
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 267
happen when the British soldiers learned of his
At about six o'clock, after travelling some fif-
teen miles, Barrett and his escort arrived at a
village. The people swarmed out to see him.
He was led through an opening in the brush
fence and taken before the chief.
The chief ordered that he be taken to a grass
hut. Then Barrett was given a supper of boiled
mutton and sweet potatoes. With his feet tied
and his hands bound together in front of him,
he spent the night lying on a bed of dried
grass. His arms and legs ached badly and he
slept but little. When day dawned two women
brought him a breakfast of boiled bananas
and mutton and relieved the guards who had
kept watch all night at the entrance of the
After breakfast two other guards escorted
Barrett to the centre of the village, where,
under a large tree, the chief and a number of
head men were seated in a circle. Barrett's
captors placed him before the chief. The vil-
lagers formed a wide circle on the outside;
whenever they pressed forward too far guards
with sticks severely beat them.
268 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
The chief sat on a stool, with his feet on a
grass mat. A leopard skin was tied about his
loins, and from his right shoulder was draped
a blue silk sash that was tied at the waist on
the left side. His air was important and he
took full charge of the ceremony.
Barrett was untied and his trial — for such
it seemed to be — ^began. What law or laws he
was charged with violating he could not make
out. The trial lasted two days; the men who
had seized him were the chief witnesses and
gave their testimony both by word and by
action, dramatically rehearsing the incidents of
He was well fed and given water whenever
by signs he indicated that he was thirsty. This
treatment puzzled him. Was he to receive a
mild sentence or were the savages preparing
him for some horrible end?
During the first part of the trial Barrett paid
close attention, in the hope of gaining some idea
of the charge that was made against him, but,
failing in this, he began to think of some way to
escape. So far throughout his imprisonment
he had tried to maintain an air of unconcern,
in order to make his captors believe that he
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 269
thought himself in no great danger and perhaps
cause them to relax their vigilance.
There was small hope of escape from the
hut in which he spent the nights. His guards
bound his hands and feet and, moreover, kept
watch with his guns outside. On the third
morning they freed only his legs. After that
they tied a bark rope ten feet long round his
neck and led him outside before a throng of
shouting men, women, and children. He thought
that the death sentence had been pronounced
and that the crowd had gathered to witness
The guards led him through the shouting,
jeering throng, out of the village, and down a
trail. After a time the people who had fol-
lowed began to turn back. Barrett knew then
that, for the present at least, no harm was com-
ing to him; for if he were to be killed the vil-
lagers would certainly wish to be present.
All that day Barrett and his guards travelled
northward. They stopped for the midday meal
at one village and at nightfall reached another
one. There Barrett's guards turned him over
to new guards, who took the rifles and watched
the hut in which he lay bound. For two more
270 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
days the white man was kept moving at the
rate of about fifteen or twenty miles a day.
The apparent object of all this travel was to ex-
hibit him to the people; at every village there
was a crowd collected that followed for several
miles, jeering and taunting the prisoner.
On the evening of the third day Barrett was
placed in a hut that was evidently a storehouse,
for piled against the sides were heaps of sweet
potatoes and husked corn that had lately been
harvested; here and there were gmss baskets
and huge earthen pots filled with meal and
tempting sweet potatoes. Large pieces had been
chipped from the rims of several jars, and the
edges were rough and jagged. It occurred to
Barrett that he could saw the rope from his
bound hands on the edges of the broken crockery.
After a supper of boiled seeds that reminded
him of a flaxseed poultice the guards, as usual,
tied his feet together and bound his hands in
front of him.
It was after midnight before the villagers
stopped their singing and dancing, a nightly
performance. Barrett could hear the guards
moving about outside, but they had ceased
talking and evidently were becoming sleepy.
HIS GUARDS BOUND HIS HANDS AND FEET
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 271
Carefully he crawled on hands and knees until
he reached the pots; then he felt about for
one with a sharp, broken rim. By sitting down
and dragging the jar over his feet he got it
between his knees and, gripping it tight, began
to saw the rope on the rough edges of the
broken part. At first he worked slowly for
fear of making a noise, but he found that he
could bear down quite hard without producing
From time to time he twisted his little fingers
round to find out what progress he was making;
he was delighted at the rapidity with which
the dry bark yielded. At intervals he stopped
to listen for the guards. In fifteen or twenty
minutes his hands suddenly dropped on each
side of the pot with a jerk; the rope had parted.
In ten minutes more he had untied his feet,
and was at least "fighting free."
His first move was to crawl to a pile of sweet
potatoes; from it he selected four large ones
and tucked them into the front of his shirt;
then he crept to the entrance of the hut and
peeped out. The darkness inside made it easy
to see into the starlit night.
One of the guards sat leaning against the
272 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
side of the hut, asleep or dozing; the elephant
rifle stood by his side. The other guard was
about ten feet away, with his back to the hut.
Barrett cautiously reached out and drew the
rifle to him. For a long time the active sentry
walked back and forth past the entrance; occa-
sionally he stopped and gazed about. Barrett,
crouching in the shadow inside, waited for him
to come within reach.
It was fully half an hour before he came
close to the door and, turning, stood with his
back toward the entrance, not six feet away.
Instantly Barrett sprang forward and dealt
him a stunning blow over the head with the
rifle. He sank to the ground like a stone,
and the repeater fell from his hands. Barrett
snatched it up, wheeled about, and found that
the other man had been awakened by the
scuffle and was on his knees fumbling about
for his missing weapon. Barrett swung at him,
but the guard dodged the blow and darted be-
hind the hut.
Barrett was half-way to the entrance of the
kraal before the frightened savage regained his
wits and began to yell. As Barrett pulled
away the brush that at night always blocks
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 273
the entrance of the kraal he glanced back and
saw the villagers swarming from their huts.
He fired a shot in their direction, in order to
hold them in check, and in a few seconds more
cleared the opening and started down the trail.
The war drums and shouts of the excited sav-
ages spurred him to top speed.
For fully a mile he kept the course; then he
turned ofiF into the brush and paused to get his
breath. The blacks had stopped shouting, but
the war drums were still beating, and Barrett
knew that the trails must be swarming with
During the preceding days of travel he had
carefully observed the direction in which he
was being taken and had learned that the
general course was north and parallel to the
Nile, which lay to the west. He now had hope
of reaching the river within two or three days
and of intercepting the regular mail-boat that
plied once a week between Butiaba and Nimule.
Once out of the hostile country, he would soon
fall in with friendly "Shenzies," who would
surely give him assistance.
He climbed a tree and got the points of
the compass from the southern cross; then he
274 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
struck out again, moving cautiously. Wherever
it was possible, he followed game trails and
disused paths. His rifle was cocked and ready
for instant use, but he had determined to fire
it only as a last resort; he meant to husband
the four remaining cartridges for an emergency.
At first he skulked along like a hunted ani-
mal, stopping to scrutinise every dark object;
but as he proceeded farther and farther he
gained courage and travelled faster. When
dawn broke, he judged that he was fifteen miles
from his captors.
He spent the day in a dense papyrus swamp,
and ventured into the open only long enough
to gather a little fire-wood. When darkness
set in he built a fire in the thick green papy-
rus, roasted and ate two sweet potatoes, and
then, making sure of his bearings, again struck
The second night's travel was without inci-
dent. He came upon two villages but circled
them safely. By daylight he had covered an-
other fifteen or twenty miles and knew now
that he must be near friendly natives. But he
thought it wise to keep in hiding for another
day at least.
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 275
From the edge of the ten-foot elephant-grass
where he hid, he saw plenty of hartebeest and
water-buck. Although he longed for fresh meat,
he dared not risk a shot at the animals. Late
in the afternoon he was awakened by the
voices of women who were evidently gathering
wood near by. As soon as it was dark enough
he cooked his last sweet potatoes, and when he
had eaten them he struck out once more on
That night's travel was the hardest he had
experienced. There were many lagoons and
swamps of papyrus, and in order to get round
one of them he had to tramp fully five miles
out of his way. When morning came he felt
sure that he had gone less than ten miles in a
As soon as the sun rose he climbed a tree
and saw a small banana grove about a mile
away. He was hungry, and the good luck he
had had so far made him bold. He was walk-
ing somewhat carelessly along a trail toward
the grove when, in a sharp bend, he came face
to face with a woman carrying several gourds
of milk. A boy about ten years old was walk-
ing behind her.
276 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Instantly Barrett covered the woman with
the rifle. The frightened creature dropped the
gourds and began to sob; the boy turned and
bolted down the trail.
A moment later the woman spoke, and Bar-
rett recognised a friendly tongue. At once he
explained his situation, and the woman turned
and walked with him down the path. Suddenly
the war dri\ms began beating; the boy had
given the alarm. Terrifying as the sound had
once been, it was now to Barrett the sweetest
In a remarkably short time the warriors,
armed with spears and big shields, appeared;
but when they saw Barrett returning with the
woman, who threw up her hands and shouted
to them, they stopped. In a few minutes more
Barrett was telling his story to the chief. In
an hour the white man was eating the first
substantial meal that he had had in three days.
He rested until noon and then set out with
a guide for the Nile, which was distant only a
short day's march. Soon after dark that eve-
ning he reached a village on the bank of the
river, and stayed there until the mail-boat
arrived, two days later, and took him aboard.
CAPTURED BY AFRICAN SAVAGES 277
On arriving at Nimule, Barrett found, as he
had expected, that most of his porters had ar-
rived safely. They had found the bodies of
two of their companions in the brush and had
spread a report that he also had been killed.
Twelve of his men never returned and un-
doubtedly were killed by the savages.
CORNERED BY BABOONS
THE Roosevelt African expedition en-
countered many baboons. We found
them in troops of hundreds frequenting
both the rocky country and the bush- veldt. As
soon as an ape caught sight of us he gave the
alarm by uttering a warning bark; at once the
whole army would scurry off to the cliffs.
Without showing the slightest fear of falling,
they would perch a hundred feet or more above
our heads, with their tails hanging over the
edge of the cliff in an extremely ludicrous man-
ner. It was interesting to see a mother bound-
ing from rock to rock with her young one cling-
ing to her breast or perched on her back.
When she finally reached the cliffs she would
sit in a most human manner and hold her off-
spring in her arms.
We found their footprints in the mud along
the waterways and pools and in the sand and
dirt. As bands of the animals frequented the
same general locality until they had cause to
CORNERED BY BABOONS 279
leave, they wore well-defined trails about the
base of the cliffs and in the thick jungle along
While we were passing through Uganda on
our way to the lake country, I left camp one
afternoon to set a line of traps for small mam-
mals. A deep pool of clear water tempted
me. I undressed and, leaving my clothes, bag
of traps, and rifle on the high bank, plunged
in for a swim. Finally, tiring of what was a
rare diversion in this generally waterless tract
of Central Africa, I climbed out. Scrambling
up the bank, I poked my head over the edge
and found myself face to face with a huge
baboon. The animal was standing beside my
belongings. Evidently he had just discovered
them. I have often wondered what he would
have done with my clothes had I not disturbed
him. Upon seeing me he burst into a discon-
certing guffaw and then wheeled about and
The troop, of which he seemed to be the
leader, was following close behind; when he
gave the alarm they took the cue and stam-
peded. I watched them bound over the hun-
dred yards of open country, cross the creek.
280 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
and clamber up a tree that grew at the foot of
a perpendicular bank. From there they ran
out on a limb and jumped to the ground. The
stream of dropping baboons looked like an ani-
mated cataract. The instant they struck the
ground they were hidden by the tall grass, but
I caught sight of them again as they paused for
a few seconds at an opening a little farther on
to look back and give me a derisive bark.
Although we heard that baboons would some-
times attack a person, there was only one au-
thentic case that came to our notice of baboons
having actually killed a person. The father of
one of Colonel Roosevelt's trackers had been
killed by baboons. His body was horribly man-
gled and torn; near by was a dead ape pierced
with a spear, so probably the attack was not
An Englishman who was the owner of a large
estate in British East Africa once had a narrow
escape from baboons. It was his habit to rise
early and take a long ride before breakfast. At
daylight one morning he mounted his horse
and, throwing his rifle across the saddle in front
of him, started out on a tour of inspection. He
had travelled possibly three miles without seeing
CORNERED BY BABOONS 281
more than the usual number of zebras, harte-
beests, wildebeests, and Grant's and Thomson's
gazelles, when suddenly, upon issuing from a
bit of brush-veldt, he came to the edge of a
deep ravine through which, during the rainy
season, a stream had flowed.
A much -worn and broken sandstone cliff that
varied from five to fifty feet in height capped
the top of the gorge on both sides. The steep
banks were strewn thickly with boulders and
great masses of rock that had broken from their
foundations and rolled down the hillside. Here
and there were bushes and small trees, and in
the bottom, some two hundred feet below, the
dry creek bed was filled with foliage.
The beautiful sunrise, the magnificent scenery,
and the clear, crisp air led the Englishman to
tie his horse to a tree some distance from the
cliff and to sit down by a bush overlooking the
Suddenly he saw a slight movement among
the rocks far down the ravine on the opposite
side of the gorge. Through his binoculars he
recognised the animal as a baboon. Then ap-
peared another and another, until the cliff
seemed to be alive with the creatures.
282 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
To the Englishman, baboons were fascinating
animals. So from pure curiosity he stepped
behind the bush and awaited their coming.
Stopping now and then to turn over a stone in
search of mice and insects, while the young ones
frisked and capered about like children in a
frolic, the baboons worked their way slowly along
through the rocks. Closer and closer they came
until they were nearly opposite him.
For fully half an hour he watched them play-
ing and feeding; the antics of the young ones
were so amusing that several times he nearly
betrayed his presence by laughing aloud.
A young baboon was busy overturning stones
when a mischievous companion sneaked up be-
hind and grabbed it by the tail and the two en-
gaged in a friendly tussle. Then off they went
over the rocks, and as they passed through the
troop other youngsters joined in the chase,
which ended in a grand rough-and-tumble scrim-
No sooner had this scuffle subsided and the
participants returned to their respective moth-
ers than a young baboon would start something
going in another section of the throng.
During one of these scenes an accident hap-
CORNERED BY BABOONS 283
pened to one of the youngsters that involved
the EngKshman in the performance.
Two young baboons were engaged in a strug-
gle on the opposite side of the gorge. Suddenly
they broke away; the one who had been getting
the worst of the struggle turned quickly and
started to run. At that moment a third animal
rushed up and headed it off. Seeing that its
escape was blocked from that quarter, the lit-
tle fellow again turned and tried to dodge past
its first antagonist. The somewhat larger and
stronger animal was too quick for it, however,
and the two came together violently on the very
brink of the thirty -foot precipice.
The force of the impact sent the young ape
toppKng over the edge of the cliff. Its little
arms reached out in a vain effort to find a grip
and the next instant it was falhng through the
air to the jagged rocks below.
There was a faint thud as the little body
struck; then it lay motionless.
The Englishman snatched his rifle and, run-
ning along the edge of the cHff, found a place
to descend. The instant he appeared, the troop
caught sight of him and bounded up into the
high rocks, where they sat chattering and scold-
284 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
ing, unaware of the accident that had hap-
pened to one of their number.
Soon he was standing by the side of the
young baboon. A hasty examination showed
that no bones had been broken by the fall.
The Englishman picked it up and, carrying it
to a pool of water in the bottom of the ravine,
bathed its head. In a few moments it had so
far regained consciousness that it sat up and
looked about in a stupid manner.
Just what to do with it was a question. As
it was in no condition to take care of itself, the
Englishman decided to take it home and care
for it until it had recovered enough to be given
He removed his belt, and, after cutting a hole
in the strap with a knife, he buckled it about the
little baboon's neck and started off.
Everything went well until he was almost at
the top of the cliff. Then his prisoner suddenly
gave an ear-piercing scream and leaped from
his arms. But he had a firm grip on the strap
and so, when the baboon struck the ground and
started off, he brought it up with a sudden jerk.
There it stood for a second, gazing into the
man's face. Then it drew back its lips, tugged
CORNERED BY BABOONS 285
violently at the tether, and began to scream at
the top of its lungs. The Englishman attempted
to comfort the youngster, but the more he tried,
the louder it screamed.
The other baboons now worked themselves
into a frenzy. Suddenly the whole troop came
streaming down from the clifiF. That they were
actually charging did not enter the man's mind.
"Well," he thought, "if those animals think
they can take care of this little fellow, I will
give them the chance."
He unbuckled the strap, and off the young-
ster bounded over the rocks toward the onrush-
One that was evidently its mother ran up.
The little one threw its arms about her body
and was borne off, clinging to her under-side.
It was natural to suppose, now that she had
regained her baby, the other baboons would be
satisfied. But no! On they came, as furious
and excited as ever.
When the huge *'dog" baboon that was lead-
ing the charge showed no inclination to halt,
the Englishman realised his danger. He saw
that he stood no chance against a hundred or
more of the infuriated creatures, each one of
S86 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
which had canine teeth as long and as sharp as
those of a mastiff dog.
It was fully a hundred feet to the top of the
cliff. There was nothing for him to do except
to look for a place in which to hide.
At intervals the soft, sandstone ledge had
cracked and split open and the action of the
weather, together with the gradual settling of
the rock, had caused the fissures to spread into
varying widths. A V-shaped recess, not more
than three feet wide at the entrance and run-
ning back into the rocks some fifteen feet, was
the nearest available refuge that he could find.
The baboons, widely scattered when they first
began charging, concentrated as they drew near.
When the Englishman ducked into the crevice,
cocked his rifle, and stood waiting to meet their
onslaught, they formed a solid mass of screaming,
howling demons. For a few seconds they dis-
appeared from view; the next instant they came
bounding over the rocks hke a pack of famished
When they were within ten feet of the open-
ing, the EngHshman fired. They jumped aside
and one of them rolled down the hill. The oth-
ers scattered and ducked out of sight. But soon
CORNERED BY BABOONS 287
they began to reappear from behind the rocks;
they stood raihng and bawHng. The bedlam
of noises seemed to come from the very walls
themselves, and the drums of the man's ears
seemed on the point of bursting.
Suddenly sand and dirt began to shower
down from overhead. Looking up, he was hor-
rified to discover that baboons were swarm-
ing on the rocks above him. On either side,
along the opening, two rows of hideous faces
showed themselves. Now and then an animal
too closely pressed by those behind would
spring to the opposite side to keep itself from
falling into the fissure. The grotesque figures
jumping back and forth were like caricatures
of boys playing at leap-frog. One particularly
inquisitive baboon, which, perhaps, had so far
been robbed of a view of the captive, could not
restrain its curiosity, so it reached forward,
seized a companion by the scruff of the neck,
and hauled the animal back out of the way.
The Englishman knew that if any one of
the animals should muster courage to jump
down, or to rush in from the front, the other
baboons would immediately fly to its assistance.
With the idea of intimidating them, he raised
288 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
his rifle and swept it along the Hne of heads.
But the agile creatures were too quick; they all
dodged back without being struck.
Then the baboons in front charged, and one
of them, either intentionally, or from being
crowded by those behind it, actually gained
the entrance to the crevice. Just in time the
Englishman turned his rifle on it.
The troop scrambled away but immediately
came back and stood guard at the entrance.
With only three more cartridges left, the pris-
oner thought it advisable to hold his fire.
In front of the crevice the animals were
jumping up and down on all fours. Now and
then a ferocious beast would rush up to a bush
or a small tree, grasp it, and shake it furiously.
When the animals behind slowly and uncon-
sciously crowded the others forward, the En-
glishman would move back until they drew dan-
gerously near. Then he would lunge forward
and let out a piercing yell, and they would tum-
ble over each other in a wild scramble to safety.
But in a few seconds they would be back again,
as thick and pugnacious as ever.
The baboons overhead were far more aggres-
sive than the others; they kept stretching their
CORNERED BY BABOONS 289
long, skinny arms down at the man until they
were frightened back by a swing of the rifle.
Almost invariably the baboons in front took
advantage of these feints to make another sally.
What with the troop on the roof and the troop
at the front door, the Englishman was fully
occupied for more than an hour.
At last the baboons began to lose interest;
one by one they left the throng and began
hunting about in the rocks for food. Occa-
sionally one would come tearing back to resume
hostilities, but these sudden outbursts of pas-
sion were short-lived; soon the animal would
A solitary old female, lacking two toes on
her left front foot and with the scars of many
battles on her face, was the last to leave. She
was trying to persuade the others not to give
up the fight; she turned and chattered to them.
But finally she, too, lost heart, and followed the
others down through the rocks and into the
fringe of trees to the bottom of the gully.
When the animals were out of sight the En-
glishman crawled from his refuge and quickly
climbed to the top of the cliff. Then he mounted
his horse and returned to the house, thoroughly
290 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
convinced that the best thing to do under all
circumstances is to mind your own business
and to let nature take its course.
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS
SOON after the British took over British
East Africa a large nuraber of EngHshmen
emigrated to the new colony and took up
homesteads. Among this number was a family
consisting of father, mother, Fritz a boy of
eighteen, and a second son of fourteen. They
settled on a beautiful strip of veldt at the west
side of the Mwa Hills.
Naturally, the first duty of a settler is to build
a suitable farmhouse, and, as the owner of the
new farm was a carpenter by trade, this task
was made much easier than it is to most home-
steaders. Labour, with the exception of the
unskilled and slow natives, was expensive and
hard to get, and, as the family was of limited
means, every member helped in building the
But let Fritz tell the story as he told it to me:
"It was Saturday afternoon, and we had
all been working hard that week. Father and
mother mixed the mud mortar and laid the
292 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
stones for the foundation of the house, while
my brother and I, with the stone-boat and a
span of oxen, hauled the stones from a cliff a
half mile away.
*'We had made four trips that day and were
well tired out, for it was no easy task prying
up the heavy stones and rolling them down to
where the boat stood at the edge of the veldt.
The sun had been beating down upon us as
only a tropical sun can shine, and the perspira-
tion soaked our clothes and caught the rising
dust and dirt, so that when the afternoon was
over we were two tired and grimy boys. We
had been trying hard to take out another full
load of stones before dark, but I soon saw it
would be impossible.
''As my brother, who was not very strong,
appeared somewhat overcome by the heat and
the hard work, I told him that he might return
to the tent — our temporary home — and I would
put the half load on the stone-boat and follow.
"By the time I had finished loading the boat
Jim had disappeared, and I started for the
oxen, grazing on the veldt several hundred yards
away. I yoked them up to the boat just as the
sun went down behind the hills and, with a
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 293
crack of the big bull- whip, started them toward
home. They needed no guiding when once
headed toward the kraal, and, as their normal
gait was not much more than a mile and a half
an hour, I seated myself on the stones and put
in the time gazing at the scenery.
"About half-way between the quarry and
our tent was a mass of rocks and boulders on
the hillside, many of them the size of a house.
These crags were the home of a little band of
klipspringers that I had discovered soon after
our arrival in the country, and we had decided
to protect them as much as possible, for it was
a pleasure to watch them scampering about the
rocks. For want of something better to do, I
began to scan the crags in hope of seeing some
of the tiny antelope at play. And, sure enough,
there they were, eight of them, some feeding
quietly in the grass-plots among the rocks,
others standing like statues on the tops of
boulders, gazing at me.
" Suddenly two of them took to their feet and
bounded up the rocks with remarkable agility
and the rest quickly followed. When well in
the cliffs they stopped on points of vantage and
looked down at something a little to their right.
294 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"I knew that they had not taken fright at
me, for many times they had allowed the oxen
to pass within a hundred yards without paying
the slightest attention to the team, so I began
to search for the cause of their alarm.
"I was not long in discovering it, for suddenly
a lioness appeared among the rocks, then an-
other and another, until, in all, four lionesses
and one fine, shaggy, black-maned lion had
come into view, all slowly sauntering out of
the rocks for an evening's hunt. Their actions
showed plainly that they had seen the bullocks,
for every few seconds one or another of them
would stop and gaze at us, while the oxen,
innocent of any danger, plodded onward.
"To hurry them was almost certain to pro-
voke an attack, especially if the lions were in
the least hungry, so I simply let the animals
jog along at their leisure. As soon as the lions
emerged from the rocks they followed along
parallel with me but a little behind and about
three hundred yards distant. Although they
seemed in no hurry, they were slowly overtaking
"The wind was blowing from them toward
me, but the lions' scent had been carried behind
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 295
the oxen, so that they did not catch it. Sud-
denly, however, one of the Uonesses crouched
low and began to creep toward the team in
true catlike fashion, and an instant later a
second one followed her example. I then real-
ised that they meant trouble, but I had no time
to reflect, for at that moment one of the oxen
stopped short, threw up his head, and sniffed
the air; then, getting the scent, they both broke
into an awkward, swinging shuflBe for the
"Over the rough, uneven ground we tore —
bumpety-bump, I clung to the stones to keep
from being thrown off and tightly gripped the
big bull-whip, my only weapon of defence.
There was no use in trying to guide or control
the oxen; in fact, I had no idea of doing so,
even if I could, for under the circumstances they
could not get back to the kraal any too soon to
suit me, even if they did run away. All that I
could do was to cling to the stone-boat and await
the lions' attack.
"It was a short race. Those who have seen a
lion capture its prey know too well what little
chance there would be for a runaway team of
oxen hitched to a loaded stone-boat.
296 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
"The foremost lioness charged from right
angles, and when within fifteen feet of the boat
sprang into the air and landed squarely on the
shoulders of the near bullock, dug her hind
claws into his side, threw her front paws over
his back, and buried her teeth in his neck.
The poor creature went to the ground as if
shot and, rolling over on his side, bawled in
the most pitiful manner. By this time a second
honess had rushed in from behind, and I turned
just as she was about to spring — at me, to all
appearances; but she leaped clear over my
head and landed squarely upon the back of the
bullock already down.
"The fall of the wounded bullock brought the
stone-boat to a halt, and the frantic struggles
of its frightened companion broke the yoke.
Away he went over the veldt just as the third
lioness came charging up. She, too, was coming
straight for me; but, seeing the loose ox that
had veered off, she changed her course for him,
and as she passed me not ten feet away, I
brought the bull-whip over her back with all my
force. Without altering her course or slacken-
ing her speed in the least, she turned her head
and showed her contempt by snarling as she shot
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 297
past. A second more and she had overtaken
her prey and pulled it to the ground.
*'The two other lionesses had killed their
bullock, and for the first time I realised that
they were likely at any moment to attack me;
so I jumped from the stone-boat and bolted for
home as fast as I could run. I had gone but
a few steps when I looked back and saw the
black and shaggy-maned lion coming behind at
a terrific pace. There was no mistake this time;
he surely was after me, for there were no cattle
in the line of his charge.
''It was useless for me to try to outrun him,
and to continue would only give him courage.
Realising this, I turned and faced the brute,
and as he came to within a hundred feet of me I
cracked the bull- whip as loud as I could. This
had the effect of stopping him at fifteen paces
from me. And there we stood, facing each
other like two gladiators, the lion lashing his
tail, wrinkling his nose, and snarling, while I
kept cracking the whip in his very face and
backing off slowly.
"The big cat seemed to lack the courage to
follow up his attack but stood there threatening
me until I had gained several paces on him.
298 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
Then he crouched low, his shoulder-blades pro-
truding above his back, and slunk off to the
right in an effort to get behind me. I kept
facing him, however, and, finding himself baffled,
he stood for a second, then came for me like a
shot, growling hoarsely, his jaws wide open.
'*At the very instant that he was about to
spring the whip-lash all but cut him in the face,
which again brought him to an erect position.
Once more I began backing toward home, and
again gained several yards before he came to his
full senses. He was getting accustomed to the
harmless crack of the bull-whip, and I knew
that soon it would have no effect upon him.
"At his present rate of progress it would be
but a few minutes before he would get within
springing distance, and if once he sprang at me
I should be as helpless as a mouse in the jaws of
"I was debating as to whether I should make
a rush at him in an attempt to intimidate him
when I heard a shot from behind me. The lion
fell to the ground mortally wounded, but raised
himself upon his forefeet and, growling sav-
agely, began to bite at his side.
"Instantly I turned to run and saw father.
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 299
some three hundred yards away, spring from a
kneeling position, snatch from the ground beside
him a second rifle, and start toward me. We
ran for each other at the top of our speed, and
as we met father handed me a rifle, and I turned
back to make war upon my enemies.
"At the sound of the shot the two lionesses
had left their kill and were slowly sauntering
off, stopping occasionally to look back at us.
The other, however, was still tearing away at
the dead bullock. We ran up to within a hun-
dred yards of her, and while I drew bead on
her father began shooting at the two farther
"My first shot went wild, but as the lioness
turned to run I caught her with my second bul-
let back of the shoulders but too high to be
fatal. Instantly she wheeled and came for us,
grunting and growling in a most awe-inspiring
manner. Father in the meantime had got in two
shots at his lionesses and had wounded one, but,
seeing my lioness charging, he also began shoot-
ing at her. The bullets seemed to have no effect
whatever, for although we could see that we
were hitting her, she never slackened her speed.
On she came until within about sixty yards.
300 AFRICAN ADVENTURE STORIES
when she slowed down, her head sank to the
ground, and she fell dead.
"Instantly we turned our rifles upon father's
wounded lioness. She was more than three hun-
dred yards away by this time, and making to-
ward a clump of thick thorn-bushes. Before she
reached it, however, a bullet from father's rifle
struck her in the hind leg. She disappeared in
the thicket, badly wounded.
*'The back of the black-maned lion had been
injured by the first shot fired, and during the
fight with the other two he had been growling
and snarling and trying hard to reach us, but
we saw that there was no danger to be feared
"Father suggested that, since he had tried
his best to make a meal of me, it was my right
to finish him; so I advanced to close range and
planted a ball in his heart. Even then it was
several seconds before he threw up his head,
gave several gasps, and fell dead.
"A wounded lion in a bush is a dangerous
adversary, even in broad daylight, and in the
dusk of the evening a man would be foolhardy
indeed to attack one, so we decided to let that
one remain imtil morning.
A FIGHT WITH FIVE LIONS 301
"It was then that I learned how father
chanced to appear on the scene at the critical
moment. My brother, on leaving me, instead
of going directly home, had stopped at the edge
of the rocks to rest. He had seen one of the
lions come out of the cliff and had hurried
home to give the alarm.
"We skinned the two lions that night and
found the third one dead in the thicket the fol-
lowing morning. Although we watched at the
bullock carcasses that afternoon and the next
morning, hoping that the lioness that we had
seen escape, as well as the fifth one, which, dur-
ing the thick of the fight, I had lost sight of
and which probably went back into the rocks,
might return to the body, but they disappointed
us. We were, however, quite satisfied with three
out of the five."
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