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Other ast African Adventures 












First Edition.. October, 1907. 
Reprinted, November and December, 1907. 


IT is with feelings of the greatest diffidence that 
I place the following pages before the public ; but 
those of my friends who happen to have heard of 
my rather unique experiences in the wilds have so 
often urged me to write an account of my adventures, 
that after much hesitation I at last determined to 
do so. 

I have no doubt that many of my readers, who 
have perhaps never been very far away from civilisa- 
tion, will be inclined to think that some of the 
incidents are exaggerated. I can only assure them 
that I have toned down the facts rather than other- 
wise, and have endeavoured to write a perfectly 
plain and straightforward account of things as they 
actually happened. 

It must be remembered that at the time these 
events occurred, the conditions prevailing in British 
East Africa were very different from what they are 
to-day. The railway, which has modernised the aspect 


of the place and brought civilisation in its train, was 
then only in process of construction, and the country 
through which it was being built was still in its 
primitive savage state, as indeed, away from the 
railway, it still is. 

If this simple account of two years' work and play 
in the wilds should prove of any interest, or help 
even in a small way to call attention to the beautiful 
and valuable country which we possess on the 
Equator, I shall feel more than compensated for the 
trouble I have taken in writing it. 

I am much indebted to the Hon. Mrs. Cyril Ward, 
Sir Guilford Molesworth, K.C.I. E., Mr. T. J. 
Spooner and Mr. C. Rawson for their kindness in 
allowing me to reproduce photographs taken by 
them. My warmest thanks are also due to that 
veteran pioneer of Africa, Mr. F. C. Selous, for 
giving my little book so kindly an introduction 
to the public as is provided by the " Foreword " 
which he has been good enough to write. 

J. H. P. 

August, 1907. 


IT was some seven or eight years ago that I 
first read, in the pages of The Field newspaper, a 
brief account written by Col. J. H. Patterson, then 
an engineer engaged on the construction of the 
Uganda Railway, of the Tsavo man-eating lions. 

My own long experience of African hunting told 
me at once that every word in this thrilling narrative 
was absolutely true. Nay more : I knew that the 
author had told his story in a most modest manner, 
laying but little stress on the dangers he had run 
when sitting up at nights to try and compass the 
death of the terrible man-eaters, especially on that 
one occasion when whilst watching from a very light 
scaffolding, supported only by four rickety poles, he 
was himself stalked by one of the dread beasts. 
Fortunately he did not lose his nerve, and suc- 
ceeded in shooting the lion, just when it was on the 
point of springing upon him. But had this lion 
approached him from behind, I think it would pro- 


bably have added Col. Patterson to its long list 
of victims, for in my own experience I have known 
of three instances of men having been pulled from 
trees or huts built on platforms at a greater 
height from the ground than the crazy structure 
on which Col. Patterson was watching on that night 
of terrors. 

From the time of Herodotus until to-day, lion 
stories innumerable have been told and written. I 
have put some on record myself. But no lion story 
I have ever heard or read equals in its long- 
sustained and dramatic interest the story of the 
Tsavo man-eaters as told by Col. Patterson. A 
lion story is usually a tale of adventures, often very 
terrible and pathetic, which occupied but a few 
hours of one night ; but the tale of the Tsavo man- 
eaters is an epic of terrible tragedies spread out 
over several months, and only at last brought to 
an end by the resource and determination of one 

It was some years after I read the first account 
published of the Tsavo man-eaters that I made the 
acquaintance of President Roosevelt. I told him 
all I remembered about it, and he was so deeply 
interested in the story as he is in all true stories 
of the nature and characteristics of wild animals 
that he begged me to send him the short printed 
account as published in The Field. This I did ; 


and it was only in the last letter I received from 
him that, referring to this story, President Roose- 
velt wrote : " I think that the incident of the 
Uganda man-eating lions, described in those two 
articles you sent me, is the most remarkable 
account of which we have any record. It is a 
great pity that it should not be preserved in per- 
manent form." Well, I am now glad to think that 
it will be preserved in permanent form ; and I 
venture to assure Col. Patterson that President 
Roosevelt will be amongst the most interested 
readers of his book. 

It is probable that the chapters recounting the 
story of the Tsavo man-eating lions will be found 
more absorbing than the other portions of Col. 
Patterson's book ; but I think that most of his 
readers will agree with me that the whole volume is 
full of interest and information. The account given 
by Col. Patterson of how he overcame all the 
difficulties which confronted him in building a strong 
and permanent railway bridge across the Tsavo 
river makes excellent reading ; whilst the courage he 
displayed in attacking, single-handed, lions, 
rhinoceroses and other dangerous animals was sur- 
passed by the pluck, tact and determination he 
showed in quelling the formidable mutiny which 
once broke out amongst his native Indian workers. 

Finally, let me say that I have spent the best; 


part of two nights reading the proof-sheets of Col. 
Patterson's book, and I can assure him that the 
time passed like magic. My interest was held from 
the first page to the last, for I felt that every word 
I read was true. 

September 18, 1907. 





























A DAY ON THK N'hfNCr K>( AK I'M KNT 143 
































Heads of eight Lions shot by the Author in British East 

Africa Frontispiece 

Mombasa, from the Harbour I 

The Native Quarter, Mombasa 2 

" Well-wooded hills and slopes of the mainland " 3 

Yasco da Gama Street and Pillar 5 

"The best way to get there . . . was \^ gharri" 6 

" I pitched my tent under some shady palms " 7 

" Jesus Fort " 8 

" Kilindini is .... on the opposite side of the island" .... 10 

" The Place of Deep Waters " . it 

" A lucky shot brought down the huge bird " 14 

" I slept that night in a little palm hut " 15 

" This interminable nyika''' 17 

" The river crossed by means of a temporary bridge " .... 18 

Women of Uganda 19 

The Tent from which jemadar Ungan Singh was carried off . . 23 

" My own tent was pitched in an open clearing " 29 

" We shared a hut of palm leaves and boughs " 30 

" The camps of the workmen had also been surrounded by 

thorn fences " 31 

" Railhead Camp, with its two or three thousand workmen" . 33 
" The two wounded coolies were left where they lay, a piece 

of torn tent having fallen over them " 35 

"A luncheon served in the wilds, with occasionally a friend 

to share it " 43 



" It very soon became a great pet " 46 

" Heera Singh made a wild spring into the water to get clear 

of the falling stone " 47 

" The door which was to admit the lion " 62 

"When the trap was ready, I pitched a tent over it" 64 

" They found him stuck fast in the bushes of the l>oma .... 70 

" Perched on the top of water-tanks " 73 

" I took up my position in a crib made of sleepers" 77 

Whitehead on a Trolley at the exact spot where the Lion 

jumped upon him 79 

Abdullah and his two Wives 80 

A party of Wa Jamousi 83 

" His length from tip of nose to tip of tail was nine feet 

eight inches" 92 

Head of the first Man-Eater 93 

"The following evening I took up my position in this same 

tree " 99 

" He measured nine feet six inches from tip of nose to tip 

of tail, and stood three feet eleven and a half inches high " 102 

"The bridge over the Tsavo rapidly neared completion" ... 107 

" The heavy stones were swung into position " 108 

" The girder was run over its exact place " 109 

" And finally lowered gently into position " . 109 

" Very soon I had the satisfaction of seeing the first train 

cross the finished work" 110 

The completed Tsavo Bridge 1 1 1 

One of the Trolley Lines after the Flood 112 

Swahili Caravan Porters 118 

" The old caravan road which crossed the Tsavo at a ford " . . 119 

" Such was my cook, Mabruki " 120 

" The women . . . wear a long, brightly-coloured cloth " ... 121 

" The women attire themselves only in a short kilt " . ... 123 

" We arrived at M'Gogo's capital " 124 

' Making pombe in the hollowed-out stump of a tree" .... 125 

Wa Taita Men 127 

M'Kamba Woman 129 

" Until it joins the Athi River" 134 

"The banks of the Sabaki are lined with trees" 136 


" I caught sight of a fine waterbuck and successfully bowled 

him over" 144 

" A young one was lying down quite close to me " 145 

A Crocodile on the Sabaki 151 

" Beyond all doubt, the man-eaters' den ! " 1 56 

"\Vatchtheanimalscomedowntodrink" 159 

" The antelope swinging by his feet " 163 

Hippo Head 165 

" Slaves chained neck to neck as was the custom" , 172 

Hospital Tent at Voi where Mrs. O'Hara rested 176 

In the Bazaar at Kampala 179 

" The great Athi Plains " 180 

" First the earth surface has to be prepared " 182 

" Cuttings have to be made and hollows banked up" 183 

"Another gang drops the rails in their places" 185 

" It never moved again " 188 

" The trophy was well worth the pains I had taken to add 

it to my collection " 189 

Jackson's Hartebeeste and Zebra 191 

Waterbuck 192 

" Fortunately the brute fell dead after this final effort " .... 198 
" We managed to bring them in triumph to the camp " .... 211 
" I got near enough for a safe shot, which bowled the ante- 
lope over stone-dead" 215 

Wart-hog 217 

" A successful snapshot of an impala just after it had been shot " 225 

A Masai Chief 229 

Masai Warriors 231 

Masai Woman 232 

Masai Girls 233 

Masai Women 234 

N'derobbo Boy 235 

N'derobbo Boy, with Collabus Monkey 236 

N'derobbo Girl .... 237 

Wa Kikuyu 239 

Wa Wikuyu 240 

" The women of the Wa Kikuyu carry the heavy loads " . . . 241 

" Spooner's plucky servant, Imam Din" 277 



A Collection of Trophies 281 

" He was kept on view for several days, and then shot " . . . . 287 

Impala 288 

" I took a photograph of him standing beside his fine trophy" . 291 

" Succeeded in finishing him off without further trouble" . . . 294 

Steamer unloading at Kisumu, on Lake Victoria N van/a . . . 295 

The Grand Falls, Tana River 296 

Shimone, "The Place of Falling Water" (Eldama Ravine) . . 297 

Oryx 298 

Roan Antelope 299 

" An excellent, cheery fellow .... named Landaalu " . . . . 300 

Crossing a Stream on the Cook's Box 301 

Crossing the Angarua River 303 

Reedbuck 305 

The New Eland T. oryx pattersonitinits 313 

Thomson's Gazelle 316 

War Canoe on Lake Victoria Nyanza, near the Ripon Falls . . 319 

Preparing Breakfast in Camp 320 

View in the Kenya Province 324 

"A flying visit in a rickshaw to Kampala'' 325 

" Clad in long flowing cotton garments " 326 

Jinja 327 

" Rushing over the Ripon Falls" 328 

" The mighty river stretching away to the north amid en- 
chanting scenery" . 329 

\Va Kikuyu Warriors 338 

Map of British East Africa 339 





IT was towards noon on March i, 1898, that I 
first found myself entering the narrow and some- 
what dangerous harbour of Mombasa, on the east 
coast of Africa. The town lies on an island of the 
same name, separated from the mainland only by 
a very narrow channel, which forms the harbour ; 
and as our vessel steamed slowly in, close under the 
quaint old Portuguese fortress built over three 
hundred years ago, 1 was much struck with the 
strange beauty of the view which gradually opened 
out before me. Contrary to my anticipation, every - 



thing looked fresh and green, and an oriental 
glamour of enchantment seemed to hang over the 
island. The old town was bathed in brilliant sun- 
shine and reflected itself lazily on the motionless sea; 
its flat roofs and dazzlingly white walls peeped out 


dreamily between waving palms and lofty cocoanuts, 
huge baobabs and spreading mango trees ; and the 
darker background of well-wooded hills and slopes 
on the mainland formed a very effective setting to a 
beautiful and, to me, unexpected picture. 

The harbour was plentifully sprinkled with Arab 
dhows, in some of which, I believe, even at the 


present day, a few slaves are occasionally smuggled 
off to Persia and Arabia. It has always been a 
matter of great wonder to me how the navigators of 
these little vessels find their way from port to port, 
as they do, without the aid of either compass or 
sextant, and how they manage to weather the 


terrible storms that at certain seasons of the year 
suddenly visit eastern seas. I remember once coming 
across a dhow becalmed in the middle of the Indian 
Ocean, and its crew making signals of distress, our 
captain slowed down to investigate. There were 
four men on board, all nearly dead from thirst ; they 
had been without drink of any kind for several days 

B 2 


and had completely lost their bearings. After 
giving them some casks of water, we directed them 
to Muscat (the port they wished to make), and our 
vessel resumed its journey, leaving them still 
becalmed in the midst of that glassy sea. Whether 
they managed to reach their destination I never knew. 

As our steamer made its way to its anchorage, 
the romantic surroundings of the harbour of 
Mombasa conjured up visions of stirring adventures 
of the past, and recalled to my mind the many tales 
of reckless doings of pirates and slavers, which as a 
boy it had been my delight to read. I remembered 
that it was at this very place that in 1498 the great 
Vasco da Gama nearly lost his ship and life through 
the treachery of his Arab pilot, who plotted to 
wreck the vessel on the reef which bars more than 
half the entrance to the harbour. Luckily, this 
nefarious design was discovered in time, and the 
bold navigator promptly hanged the pilot, and 
w r ould also have sacked the town but for the timely 
submission and apologies of the Sultan. In the 
principal street of Mombasa appropriately called 
Vasco da Gama Street there still stands a 
curiously-shaped pillar which is said to have been 
erected by this great seaman in commemoration of 
his visit. 

Scarcely had the anchor been dropped, when, as 
if by magic, our vessel was surrounded by a fleet 


of small boats and " dug-outs " manned by crowds 
of shouting and gesticulating natives. After a short 
fight between some rival Swahili boatmen for my 
luggage and person, I found myself being vigor- 
ously rowed to the foot of the landing steps by the 
bahareen (sailors) who had been successful in the 


encounter. Now, my object in coming out to East 
Africa at this time was to take up a position to 
which I had been appointed by the Foreign Office 
on the construction staff of the Uganda Railway. 
As soon as I landed, therefore, I enquired 
from one of the Customs officials where the head- 
quarters of the railway were to be found, and 



was told that they were at a place called Kilindini, 
some three miles away, on the other side of the 
island. The best way to get there, I was further 
informed, was by gharri, which I found to be a 
small trolley, having two seats placed back to back 
under a little canopy and running on narrow rails 


which are laid through the principal street of the 
town. Accordingly, I secured one of these vehicles, 
which are pushed by two strapping Swahili boys, 
and was soon flying down the track, which once 
outside the town lay for the most part through 
dense groves of mango, baobab, banana and palm 
trees, with here and there brilliantly-coloured 


creepers hanging in luxuriant festoons from the 

On arrival at Kilindini, I made my way to the 
Railway Offices and was informed that I should be 
stationed inland and should receive further instruc- 
tions in the course of a day or two. Meanwhile I 


pitched my tent under some shady palms near the 
gharri line, and busied myself in exploring the island 
and in procuring the stores and the outfit necessary 
for a lengthy sojourn up-country. The town of 
Mombasa itself naturally occupied most of my 
attention. It is supposed to have been founded 
about A.D. 1000, but the discovery of ancient 


Egyptian idols, and of coins of the early Persian and 
Chinese dynasties, goes to show that it must at 
different ages have been settled by people of the 
very earliest civilisations. Coming to more modern 
times, it was held on and off from 1505 to 1729 by 
the Portuguese, a permanent memorial of whose 


occupation remains in the shape of the grim old 
fortress, built about 1593 on the site, it is believed, 
of a still older stronghold. These enterprising sea- 
rovers piously named it "Jesus Fort," and an 
inscription recording this is still to be seen over the 
main entrance. The Portuguese occupation of 


Mombasa was, however, not without its vicissitudes. 
From March 15, 1696, for example, the town was 
besieged for thirty-three consecutive months by a 
large fleet of Arab dhows, which completely sur- 
rounded the island. In spite of plague, treachery 
and famine, the little garrison held out valiantly in 
Jesus Fort, to which they had been forced to retire, 
until December 12, 1698, when the Arabs made a 
last determined attack and captured the citadel, 
putting the remnant of the defenders, both men and 
women, to the sword. It is pathetic to read that 
only two days later a large Portuguese fleet appeared 
off the harbour, bringing the long-looked-for rein- 
forcements. After this the Portuguese made several 
attempts to reconquer Mombasa, but were unsuc- 
cessful until 1728, when the town was stormed and 
captured by General Sampayo. The Arabs, how- 
ever, returned the next year in overwhelming 
numbers, and again drove the Portuguese out ; and 
although the latter made one more attempt in 1769 
to regain their lost supremacy, they did not 

The Arabs, as represented by the Sultan of 
Zanzibar, remain in nominal possession of Mombasa 
to the present day ; but in 1887 Seyid Bargash, the 
then Sultan of Zanzibar, gave for an annual rental 
a concession of his mainland territories to the British 
East Africa Association, which in 1888 was formed 




into the Imperial British East Africa Company. In 
1895 the Foreign Office took over control of the 
Company's possessions, and a Protectorate was 
proclaimed ; and ten years later the administration 
of the country was transferred to the Colonial Office. 
The last serious fighting on the island took place 


so recently as 1895-6, when a Swahili chief named 
M'baruk bin Rashed, who had three times previously 
risen in rebellion against the Sultan of Zanzibar, 
attempted to defy the British and to throw off their 
yoke. He was defeated on several occasions, how- 
ever, and was finally forced to flee southwards into 
German territory. Altogether, Mombasa has in 



the past well deserved its native name of Kisiwa 
M'vita, or "Isle of War"; but under the settled 
rule now obtaining, it is rapidly becoming a thriving 
and prosperous town, and as the port of entry for 
Uganda, it does a large forwarding trade with the 


interior and has several excellent stores where 
almost anything, from a needle to an anchor, may 
readily be obtained. 

Kilindini is, as I have said, on the opposite side 
of the island, and as its name " the place of deep 
waters" implies, has a much finer harbour than 
that possessed by Mombasa. The channel between 


the island and the mainland is here capable of 
giving commodious and safe anchorage to the very 
largest vessels, and as the jetty is directly connected 
with the Uganda Railway, Kilindini has now really 
become the principal port, being always used by 
the liners and heavier vessels. 

I had spent nearly a week in Mombasa, and was 
becoming very anxious to get my marching orders, 
when one morning I was delighted to receive an 
official letter instructing me to proceed to Tsavo, 
about one hundred and thirty-two miles from the 
coast, and to take charge of the construction of the 
section of the line at that place, which had just then 
been reached by railhead. I accordingly started at 
daylight next morning in a special train with 
Mr. Anderson, the Superintendent of Works, and 
Dr. McCulloch, the principal Medical Officer ; and 
as the country was in every way new to me, I found 
the journey a most interesting one. 

The island of Mombasa is separated from the 
mainland by the Strait of Macupa, and the railway 
crosses this by a bridge about three-quarters of a 
mile long, called the Salisbury Bridge, in honour of 
the great Minister for Foreign Affairs under whose 
direction the Uganda Railway scheme was under- 
taken. For twenty miles after reaching the main- 
land, our train wound steadily upwards through 
beautifully wooded, park - like country, and on 


looking back out of the carriage windows we could 
every now and again obtain lovely views of 
Mombasa and Kilindini, while beyond these the 
Indian Ocean sparkled in the glorious sunshine as 
far as the eye could see. The summit of the Rabai 
Hills having been reached, we entered on the 
expanse of the Taru Desert, a wilderness covered 
with poor scrub and stunted trees, and carpeted in 
the dry season with a layer of fine red dust. This 
dust is of a most penetrating character, and finds its 
way into everything in the carriage as the train 
passes along. From here onward game is more or 
less plentiful, but the animals are very difficult to 
see owing to the thick undergrowth in which they 
hide themselves. We managed, however, to catch 
sight of a few from the carriage windows, and also 
noticed some of the natives, the Wa Nyika, or 
"children of the wilderness." 

At Maungu, some eighty miles from the coast, we 
came to the end of this "desert," but almost the 
only difference to be noticed in the character of the 
country was that the colour of the dust had changed. 
As our train sped onwards through the level uplands 
\ve saw a fine ostrich striding along parallel with 
the line, as if having a race with us. Dr. McCulloch 
at once seized his rifle and by a lucky shot brought 
down the huge bird ; the next and greater difficulty, 
however, was to secure the prize. For a time the 


engine-driver took no notice of our signals and 
shouts, but at last we succeeded in attracting his 
attention, and the train was shunted back to where 
the ostrich had fallen. We found it to be an 
exceptionally fine specimen, and had to exert all 
our strength to drag it on board the train. 


Soon after this we reached Voi, about a hundred 
miles from the coast, and as this was the most 
important station on the line that we had yet come 
to, we made a short halt in order to inspect some 
construction work which was going on. On 
resuming our journey, we soon discovered that a 
pleasant change had occurred in the character of 


the landscape. From a place called N'dii, the 
railway runs for some miles through a beautifully 
wooded country, which looked all the more inviting 
after the deadly monotony of the wilderness through 
which we had just passed. To the south of us could 
be seen the N'dii range of mountains, the dwelling- 


place of the Wa Taita people, while on our right 
rose the rigid brow of the N'dungu Escarpment, 
which stretches away westwards for scores of miles. 
Here our journey was slow, as every now and 
again we stopped to inspect the permanent works in 
progress ; but eventually, towards dusk, we arrived 
at our destination, Tsavo. I slept that night in a 


little palm hut which had been built by some pre- 
vious traveller, and which was fortunately unoccupied 
for the time being. It was rather broken-down and 
dilapidated, not even possessing a door, and as I 
lay on my narrow camp bed I could see the stars 
twinkling through the roof. I little knew then 
what adventures awaited me in this neighbour- 


hood ; and if I had realised that at that very 
time two savage brutes were prowling round, 
seeking whom they might devour, I hardly think 
I should have slept so peacefully in my rickety 

Next morning I was up betimes, eager to make 
acquaintance with my new surroundings. My first 
impression on coming out of my hut was that I was 
hemmed in on all sides by a dense growth of im- 
penetrable jungle : and on scrambling to the top of 
a little hill close at hand, I found that the whole 
country as far as I could see was covered with low r , 
stunted trees, thick undergrowth and " wait-a-bit " 
thorns. The only clearing, indeed, appeared to be 
where the narrow track for the railway had been cut. 
This interminable nyika, or wilderness of whitish 
and leafless dwarf trees, presented a ghastly and sun- 
stricken appearance ; and here and there a ridge of 
dark-red heat-blistered rock jutted out above the 
jungle, and added by its rugged barrenness to the 
dreariness of the picture. Away to the north-east 


stretched the unbroken line of the N'dungu Escarp- 
ment, while far off to the south I could just catch a 
glimpse of the snow-capped top of towering Kilima 
N j'aro. The one redeeming feature of the neigh- 
bourhood was the river from which Tsavo takes its 
name. This is a swiftly-flowing stream, always cool 
and always running, the latter being an exceptional 


attribute in this part of East Africa ; and the fringe 
of lofty green trees along its banks formed a 
welcome relief to the general monotony of the 

When I had thus obtained a rough idea of the 
neighbourhood, I returned to my hut, and began in 
earnest to make preparations for my stay in this out- 
of-the-way place. The stores were unpacked, and 
my "boys" pitched my tent in a little clearing close 


to where I had slept the night before and not far 
from the main camp of the workmen. Railhead had 
at this time just reached the western side of the river, 
and some thousands of Indian coolies and other 
workmen were encamped there. As the line 


had to be pushed on with all speed, a diversion 
had been made and the river crossed by means 
of a temporary bridge. My principal work was 
to erect the permanent structure, and to complete 
all the other works for a distance of thirty miles 
on each side of Tsavo. I accordingly made a 
survey of what had to be done, and sent my 


requisition for labour, tools and material to the head- 
quarters at Kilindini. In a short time workmen and 
supplies came pouring in, and the noise of hammers 
and sledges, drilling and blasting, echoed merrily 

through the district. 


C 2 



UNFORTUNATELY this happy state of affairs did not 
continue for long, and our work was soon interrupted 
in a rude and startling manner. Two most voraci- 
ous and insatiable man-eating lions appeared upon 
the scene, and for over nine months waged an inter- 
mittent warfare against the railway and all those 
connected with it in the vicinity of Tsavo. This 
culminated in a perfect reign of terror in December, 
1898, when they actually succeeded in bringing the 
railway works to a complete standstill for about three 
weeks. At first they were not always successful in their 
efforts to carry off a victim, but as time went on they 
stopped at nothing and indeed braved any danger in 
order to obtain their favourite food. Their methods 
then became so uncanny, and their man-stalking so 
well-timed and so certain of success, that the work- 
men firmly believed that they were not real animals 
at all, but devils in lions' shape. Many a time the 


coolies solemnly assured me that it was absolutely 
useless to attempt to shoot them. They were quite 
convinced that the angry spirits of two departed 
native chiefs had taken this form in order to protest 
against a railway being made through their country, 
and by stopping its progress to avenge the insult 
thus shown to them. 

I had only been a few days at Tsavo when I first 
heard that these brutes had been seen in the neigh- 
bourhood. Shortly afterwards one or two coolies 
mysteriously disappeared, and I was told that they 
had been carried off by night from their tents and 
devoured by lions. At the time I did not credit 
this story, and was more inclined to believe that the 
unfortunate men had been the victims of foul play 
at the hands of some of their comrades. They 
were, as it happened, very good workmen, and had 
each saved a fair number of rupees, so I thought it 
quite likely that some scoundrels from the gangs 
had murdered them for the sake of their money. 
This suspicion, however, was very soon dispelled. 
About three weeks after my arrival, I was roused 
one morning about daybreak and told that one of 
my jemadars, a fine powerful Sikh named Ungan 
Singh, had been seized in his tent during the night, 
and dragged off and eaten. 

Naturally I lost no time in making an examina- 
tion of the place, and was soon convinced that the 


man had indeed been carried off by a lion, as its 
"pug" marks were plainly visible in the sand, while 
the furrows made by the heels of the victim showed 
the direction in which he had been dragged away. 
Moreover, the jemadar shared his tent with half a 
dozen other workmen, and one of his bedfellows 
had actually witnessed the occurrence. He graphic- 
ally described how, at about midnight, the lion 
suddenly put its head in at the open tent door and 
seized Ungan Singh who happened to be nearest 
the opening by the throat. The unfortunate 
fellow cried out " O0n? " (" Let go"), and threw 
his arms up round the lion's neck. The next 
moment he was gone, and his panic-stricken com- 
panions lay helpless, forced to listen to the terrible 
struggle which took place outside. Poor Ungan 
Singh must have died hard ; but what chance had 
he? As a coolie gravely remarked, " Was he not 
fighting with a lion ? " 

On hearing this dreadful story I at once set out 
to try to track the animal, and was accompanied by 
Captain Haslem, who happened to be staying at 
Tsavo at the time, and who, poor fellow, himself 
met with a tragic fate very shortly afterwards. We 
found it an easy matter to follow the route taken by 
the lion, as he appeared to have stopped several 
times before beginning his meal. Pools of blood 
marked these halting-places, where he doubtless 


indulged in the man-eaters' habit of licking the skin 
off so as to get at the fresh blood. (I have been 
led to believe that this is their custom from the 
appearance of two half-eaten bodies which I subse- 
quently rescued : the skin was gone in places, and 
the flesh looked dry, as if it had been sucked.) On 


reaching the spot where the body had been devoured, 
a dreadful spectacle presented itself. The ground 
all round was covered with blood and morsels of 
flesh and bones, but the unfortunate jemadars head 
had been left intact, save for the holes made by the 
lion's tusks on seizing him, and lay a short distance 
away from the other remains, the eyes staring wide 


open with a startled, horrified look in them. The 
place was considerably cut up, and on closer exami- 
nation we found that two lions had been there and 
had probably struggled for possession of the body. 
It was the most gruesome sight I had ever seen. 
We collected the remains as well as we could and 
heaped stones on them, the head with its fixed, 
terrified stare seeming to watch us all the time, for 
it we did not bury, but took back to camp for 
identification before the Medical Officer. 

Thus occurred my first experience of man-eating 
lions, and I vowed there and then that I would 
spare no pains to rid the neighbourhood of the 
brutes. I little knew the trouble that was in store 
for me, or how narrow were to be my own escapes 
from sharing poor Ungan Singh's fate. 

That same night I sat up in a tree close to the 
late jemadars tent, hoping that the lions would 
return to it for another victim. I was followed to 
my perch by a few of the. more terrified coolies, who 
begged to be allowed to sit up in the tree with me ; 
all the other workmen remained in their tents, but 
no more doors were left open. I had with me my 
303 and a 12 -bore shot gun, one barrel loaded with 
ball and the other with slug. Shortly after settling 
down to my vigil, my hopes of bagging one of the 
brutes were raised by the sound of their ominous 
roaring coming closer and closer. Presently this 


ceased, and quiet reigned for an hour or two. as 
lions always stalk their prey in complete silence. 
All at once, however, we heard a great uproar and 
frenzied cries coming from another camp about half 
a mile away ; we knew then that the lions had 
seized a victim there, and that we should see or 
hear nothing further of them that night. 

Next morning I found that one of the brutes had 
broken into a tent at Railhead Camp whence we had 
heard the commotion during the night and had made 
off with a poor wretch who was lying there asleep. 
After a night's rest, therefore, I took up my position 
in a suitable tree near this tent. I did not at all like 
the idea of walking the half-mile to the place after 
dark, but all the same I felt fairly safe, as one of my 
men carried a bright lamp close behind me. He in 
his turn was followed by another leading a goat, which 
I tied under my tree in the hope that the lion might be 
tempted to seize it instead of a coolie. A steady 
drizzle commenced shortly after I had settled down 
to my night of watching, and I was soon thoroughly 
chilled and wet. I stuck to my uncomfortable post, 
however, hoping to get a shot, but I well remember 
the feeling of impotent disappointment I experi- 
enced when about midnight I heard screams and 
cries and a heartrending shriek, which told me that 
the man-eaters had again eluded me and had claimed 
another victim elsewhere. 


At this time the various camps for the workmen 
were very scattered, so that the lions had a range of 
some eight miles on either side of Tsavo to work 
upon ; and as their tactics seemed to be to break into 
a different camp each night, it was most difficult to 
forestall them. They almost appeared, too, to have 
an extraordinary and uncanny faculty of finding out 
our plans beforehand, so that no matter in how 
likely or how tempting a spot we lay in wait for them, 
they invariably avoided that particular place and 
seized their victim for the night from some other 
camp. Hunting them by day, moreover, in such a 
dense wilderness as surrounded us, was an exceed- 
ingly tiring and really foolhardy undertaking. In a 
thick jungle of the kind round Tsavo the hunted 
animal has every chance against the hunter, as 
however careful the latter may be, a dead twig or 
something of the sort is sure to crackle just at the 
critical moment and so give the alarm. Still I never 
gave up hope of some day finding their lair, and 
accordingly continued to devote all my spare time to 
crawling about through the undergrowth. Many a 
time when attempting to force my way through this 
bewildering tangle I had to be released by my gun- 
bearer from the fast clutches of the " w r ait-a-bit " ; 
and often with immense pains I succeeded in tracing 
the lions to the river after they had seized a victim, 
only to lose the trail from there onwards, owing to 


the rocky nature of the ground which they seemed 
to be careful to choose in retreating to their den. 

At this early stage of the struggle, I am glad to 
say, the lions were not always successful in their 
efforts to capture a human being for their nightly 
meal, and one or two amusing incidents occurred to 
relieve the tension from which our nerves were 
beginning to suffer. On one occasion an enterpris- 
ing bunniah (Indian trader) was riding along on his 
donkey late one night, when suddenly a lion sprang 
out on him, knocking over both man and beast. 
The donkey was badly wounded, and the lion was 
just about to seize the trader, when in some way. or 
other his claws became entangled in a rope by which 
two empty oil tins were strung across the donkey's 
neck. The rattle and clatter made by these as he 
dragged them after him gave him such a fright that 
he turned tail and bolted off into the jungle, to the 
intense relief of the terrified bunniah, who quickly 
made his way up the nearest tree and remained there, 
shivering with fear, for the rest of the night. 

Shortly after this episode, a Greek contractor 
named Themistocles Pappadimitrini had an equally 
marvellous escape. He was sleeping peacefully in 
his tent one night, when a lion broke in, and seized 
and made off with the mattress on which he was 
lying. Though rudely awakened, the Greek was 
quite unhurt and suffered from nothing worse than a 


bad fright. This same man, however, met with a 
melancholy fate not long afterwards. He had been 
to the Kilima N 'jaro district to buy cattle, and on 
the return journey attempted to take a short cut 
across country to the railway, but perished miserably 
of thirst on the way. 

On another occasion fourteen coolies who slept 
together in a large tent were one night awakened by a 
lion suddenly jumping on to the tent and breaking 
through it. The brute landed with one claw on a 
coolie's shoulder, which was badly torn ; but instead 
of seizing the man himself, in his hurry he grabbed 
a large bag of rice which happened to be lying in the 
tent, and made off with it, dropping it in disgust 
some little distance away when he realised his 

These, however, were only the earlier efforts of 
the man-eaters. Later on, as will be seen, nothing 
flurried or frightened them in the least, and except 
as food they showed a complete contempt for human 
beings. Having once marked down a victim, they 
would allow nothing to deter them from securing 
him, whether he were protected by a thick fence, or 
inside a closed tent, or sitting round a brightly 
burning fire. Shots, shouting and firebrands they 
alike held in derision. 





ALL this time my own tent was pitched in an 
open clearing, unprotected by a fence of any kind 
round it. One night when the medical officer, Dr. 
Rose, was staying with me, we were awakened 
about midnight by hearing something tumbling 
about among the tent ropes, but on going out with a 
lantern we could discover nothing. Daylight, how- 
ever, plainly revealed the " pug " marks of a lion, 
so that on that occasion I fancy one or other of us 
had a narrow escape. Warned by this . experience, 


I at once arranged to move my quarters, and went 
to join forces with Dr. Brock, who had just arrived 
at Tsavo to take medical charge of the district. 
We shared a hut of palm leaves and boughs, which 
we had constructed on the eastern side of the river, 
close to the old caravan route leading to Uganda ; 


and we had it surrounded by a circular boma, or 
thorn fence, about seventy yards in diameter, well 
made and thick and high. Our personal servants 
also lived within the enclosure, and a bright fire 
was always kept up throughout the night. For the 
sake of coolness, Brock and I used to sit out under 
the verandah of this hut in the evenings ; but it was 


rather trying to our nerves to attempt to read 
or write there, as we never knew when a lion might 
spring over the boma, and be on us before we were 
aware. We therefore kept our rifles within easy 
reach, and cast many an anxious glance out into the 
inky darkness beyond the circle of the firelight. 



On one or two occasions, we found in the morning 
that the lions had come quite close to the fence ; 
but fortunately they never succeeded in getting 

By this time, too, the camps of the workmen had 
also been surrounded by thorn fences ; nevertheless 
the lions managed to jump over or to break through 


some one or other of these, and regularly every few 
nights a man was carried off, the reports of the 
disappearance of this or that workman coming in to 
me with painful frequency. So long, however, as 
Railhead Camp with its two or three thousand 
men, scattered over a wide area remained at 
Tsavo, the coolies appeared not to take much 
notice of the dreadful deaths of their comrades. 
Each man felt, I suppose, that as the man-eaters 
had such a large number of victims to choose from, 
the chances of their selecting him in particular were 
very small. But when the large camp moved ahead 
with the railway, matters altered considerably. I 
was then left with only some few hundred men to 
complete the permanent works ; and as all the 
remaining workmen were naturally camped to- 
gether, the attentions of the lions became more 
apparent and made a deeper impression. A regular 
panic consequently ensued, and it required all 
my powers of persuasion to induce the men to stay 
on. In fact, I succeeded in doing so only by 
allowing them to knock off all regular work until 
they had built exceptionally thick and high bonias 
round each camp. Within these enclosures fires 
were kept burning all night, and it was also the 
duty of the night-watchman to keep clattering half 
a dozen empty oil tins suspended from a convenient 
tree. These he manipulated by means of a long 




rope, while sitting in safety within his tent ; and the 
frightful noise thus produced was kept up at 
frequent intervals during the night in the hopes of 
terrifying away the man-eaters. In spite of all these 
precautions, however, the lions would not be denied, 
and men continued to disappear. 

When the railhead workmen moved on, their 
hospital camp was left behind. It stood rather 
apart from the other camps, in a clearing about 
three-quarters of a mile from my hut, but was 
protected by a good thick fence and to all appear- 
ance was quite secure. It seemed, however, as if 
barriers were of no avail against the "demons ", for 
before very long one of them found a weak spot in 
the boma and broke through. On this occasion the 
Hospital Assistant had a marvellous escape. Hear- 
ing a noise outside, he opened the door of his tent 
and was horrified to see a great lion standing a few 
yards away looking at him. The beast made a 
spring towards him, which gave the Assistant such a 
fright that he jumped backwards, and in doing so 
luckily upset a box containing medical stores. 
This crashed down with such a loud clatter of 
breaking glass that the lion was startled for the 
moment and made off to another part of the 
enclosure. Here, unfortunately, he was more suc- 
cessful, as he jumped on to and broke through a 
tent in which eight patients were lying. Two of 


them were badly wounded by his spring, while 
a third poor wretch was seized and dragged off 
bodily through the thorn fence. The two wounded 
coolies were left where they lay, a piece of torn tent 
having fallen over them ; and in this position the 
doctor and I found them on our arrival soon after 


dawn next morning. We at once decided to move 
the hospital closer to the main camp ; a fresh site 
was prepared, a stout hedge built round the 
enclosure, and all the patients were moved in before 

As I had heard that lions generally visit recently 

deserted camps, I decided to sit up all night in the 

D 2 


vacated boma in the hope of getting an opportunity 
of bagging one of them ; but in the middle of my 
lonely vigil I had the mortification of hearing shrieks 
and cries coming from the direction of the new 
hospital, telling me only too plainly that our 
dreaded foes had once more eluded me. Hurrying 
to the place at daylight I found that one of the lions 
had jumped over the newly erected fence and had 
carried off the hospital bhisti (water-carrier), and 
that several other coolies had been unwilling 
witnesses of the terrible scene which took place 
within the circle of light given by the big camp fire. 
The bhisti, it appears, had been lying on the floor, 
with his head towards the centre of the tent and his 
feet nearly touching the side. The lion managed to 
get its head in below the canvas, seized him by the 
foot and pulled him out. In desperation the un- 
fortunate water-carrier clutched hold of a heavy box 
in a vain attempt to prevent himself being carried 
off, and dragged it with him until he was forced to 
let go by its being stopped by the side of the tent. 
He then caught hold of a tent rope, and clung 
tightly to it until it broke. As soon as the lion 
managed to get him clear of the tent, he sprang at 
his throat and after a few vicious shakes the poor 
bhisti s agonising cries were silenced for ever. The 
brute then seized him in his mouth, like a huge cat 
with a mouse, and ran up and down the boma 


looking for a weak spot to break through. This he 
presently found and plunged into, dragging his 
victim with him and leaving shreds of torn cloth and 
flesh as ghastly evidences of his passage through 
the thorns. Dr. Brock and I were easily able to 
follow his track, and soon found the remains about 
four hundred yards away in the bush. There 
was the usual horrible sight. Very little was left 
of the unfortunate bhisti only the skull, the jaws, 
a few of the larger bones and a portion of the palm 
with one or two fingers attached. On one of these 
was a silver ring, and this, with the teeth (a relic 
much prized by certain castes), was sent to the 
man's widow in India. 

Again it was decided to move the hospital ; and 
again, before nightfall, the work was completed, 
including a still stronger and thicker boma. When 
the patients had been moved, I had a covered 
goods-wagon placed in a favourable position on a 
siding which ran close to the site which had just 
been abandoned, and in this Brock and I arranged 
to sit up that night. We left a couple of tents still 
standing within the enclosure, and also tied up a few 
cattle in it as bait for the lions, who had been seen 
in no less than three different places in the 
neighbourhood during the afternoon (April 23). 
Four miles from Tsavo they had attempted to seize 
a coolie who was walking along the line. Fortu- 


nately, however, he had just time to escape up a 
tree, where he remained, more dead than alive, 
until he was rescued by the Traffic Manager, who 
caught sight of him from a passing train. They 
next appeared close to Tsavo Station, and a couple 
of hours later some workmen saw one of the lions 
stalking Dr. Brock as he was returning about dusk 
from the hospital. 

In accordance with our plan, the doctor and I set 
out after dinner for the goods-wagon, which was 
about a mile away from our hut. In the light of 
subsequent events, we did a very foolish thing in 
taking up our position so late ; nevertheless, we 
reached our destination in safety, and settled down 
to our watch about ten o'clock. We had the lower 
half of the door of the wagon closed, while the 
upper half was left wide open for observation : and 
we faced, of course, in the direction of the abandoned 
bovia, which, however, we were unable to see in the 
inky darkness. For an hour or two everything was 
quiet, and the deadly silence was becoming very 
monotonous and oppressive, when suddenly, to our 
right, a dry twig snapped, and we knew that an 
animal of some sort was about. Soon afterwards 
we heard a dull thud, as if some heavy body had 
jumped over the boma. The cattle, too, became 
very uneasy, and we could hear them moving about 
restlessly. Then again came dead silence. 


At this juncture I proposed to my companion 
that I should get out of the wagon and lie on the 
ground close to it, as I could see better in that 
position should the lion come in our direction with 
his prey. Brock, however, persuaded me to remain 
where I was ; and a few seconds afterwards I was 
heartily glad that I had taken his advice, for at that 
very moment one of the man-eaters although we 
did not know it was quietly stalking us, and was 
even then almost within springing distance. Orders 
had been given for the entrance to the boma to be 
blocked up, and accordingly we were listening in 
the expectation of hearing the lion force his way 
out through the bushes with his prey. As a matter 
of fact, however, the doorway had not been properly 
closed, and while we were wondering what the lion 
could be doing inside the boma for so long, he was 
outside all the time, silently reconnoitring our 

Presently I fancied I saw something coming very 
stealthily towards us. I feared, however, to trust 
to my eyes, which by that time were strained by 
prolonged staring through the darkness, so under 
my breath I asked Brock whether he saw anything, 
at the same time covering the dark object as well as 
I could with my rifle. Brock did not answer ; he 
told me afterwards that he, too, thought he had seen 
something move, but was afraid to say so lest I 


should fire and it turn out to be nothing after all. 
After this there was intense silence again for a 
second or two, then with a sudden bound a huge 
body sprang at us. " The lion ! " I shouted, and we 
both fired almost simultaneously not a moment too 
soon, for in another second the brute would assuredly 
have landed inside the wagon. As it was, he 
must have swerved off in his spring, probably 
blinded by the flash and frightened by the noise of 
the double report which was increased a hundred- 
fold by the reverberation of the hollow iron roof of 
the truck. Had we not been very much on the 
alert, he would undoubtedly have got one of us, and 
we realised that we had had a very lucky and very 
narrow escape. The next morning we found Brock's 
bullet embedded in the sand close to a footprint ; it 
could not have missed the lion by more than an 
inch or two. Mine was nowhere to be found. 

Thus ended my first direct encounter with one of 
the man-eaters. 



DURING all this troublesome period the construc- 
tion of the railway had been going steadily forward 
and the first important piece of work which I 
had commenced on arrival was completed. This 
was the widening of a rock cutting through which 
the railway ran just before it reached the river. 
In the hurry of pushing on the laying of the line, 
just enough of the rock had originally been cut 
away to allow room for an engine to pass, and con- 
sequently any material which happened to project 
outside the wagons or trucks caught on the jagged 
faces of the cutting. I myself saw the door of a 
guard's van, which had been left ajar, smashed to 
atoms in this way ; and accordingly I put a gang of 
rock-drillers to work at once and soon had ample 
room made for all traffic to pass unimpeded. While 
this was going on, another gang of men were laying 
the foundations of a girder bridge which was to span 


a gully between this cutting and Tsavo Station. 
This would have taken too long to erect when rail- 
head was at the place, so a diversion had been made 
round it, the temporary track leading down almost 
to the bed of the nullah and up again on the further 
side. When the foundations and abutments were 
ready, the gully was spanned by an iron girder, the 
slopes leading up to it banked up on either side, and 
the permanent way laid on an easy grade. 

Then, also, a water supply had to be established ; 
and this meant some very pleasant work for me in 
taking levels up the banks of the river under the 
cool shade of the palms. While doing this, I often 
took my camp-kit with me, and a luncheon served 
in the wilds, with occasionally a friend to share it 
when a friend was available was delightful. On 
one occasion in particular, I went a long way up the 
river and was accompanied by a young member of 
my staff. The day had been exceedingly hot and 
we were both correspondingly tired when our work 
was finished, so my companion suggested that we 
should build a raft and float down-stream home. I 
was rather doubtful of the feasibility of the scheme, 
but nevertheless he decided to give it a trial. Set- 
ting to work with our axes, we soon had a raft built, 
lashing the poles together with the fibre which grows 
in abundance all over the district. When it was 
finished, we pushed it out of the little backwater 


where it had been constructed, and the young 
engineer jumped aboard. All went well until it got 
out into midstream, when much to my amusement 
it promptly toppled gracefully over. I helped my 
friend to scramble quickly up the bank out of reach 
of possible crocodiles, when, none the worse for 


[MR. c. RAWSON.] 


his ducking, he laughed as heartily as I at the 

Except for an occasional relaxation of this sort, 
every moment of my time was fully occupied. 
Superintending the various works and a hundred 
other duties kept me busy all day long, while my 


evenings were given up to settling disputes among 
the coolies, hearing reports and complaints from 
the various jemadars and workpeople, and in 
studying the Swahili language. Preparations, too, 
for the principal piece of work in the district the 
building of the railway bridge over the Tsavo river 
were going on apace. These involved much 
personal work on my part ; cross and oblique 
sections of the river had to be taken, the rate of the 
current and the volume of water at flood, mean, 
and low levels had to be found, and all the necessary 
calculations made. These having at length been 
completed, I marked out the positions for the 
abutments and piers, and the work of sinking their 
foundations was begun. The two centre piers in 
particular caused a great deal of trouble, as the 
river broke in several times, and had to be dammed 
up and pumped dry again before work could be 
resumed. Then we found we had to sink much 
deeper than we expected in order to reach a solid 
foundation. Indeed, the sinking went on and on, 
until I began to despair of finding one and was 
about to resort to pile-driving, when at last, to my 
relief, we struck solid rock on which the huge 
foundation-stones could be laid with perfect safety. 

Another great difficulty with which we had to 
contend was the absence of suitable stone in the 
neighbourhood. It was not that there was none to 


be found, for the whole district abounds in rock, 
but that it was so intensely hard as to be almost 
impossible to work, and a bridge built of it would 
have been very costly. I spent many a weary day 
trudging through the thorny wilderness vainly 
searching for suitable material, and was beginning 
to think that we should be forced to use iron columns 
for the piers, when one day I stumbled quite by 
accident on the very thing. Brock and I were out 
" pot- hunting," and hearing some guinea-fowl 
cackling among the bushes, I made a circuit half 
round them so that Brock, on getting in his shot, 
should drive them over in my direction. I eventually 
got into position on the edge of a deep ravine and 
knelt on one knee, crouching down among the ferns. 
There I had scarcely time to load when over flew a 
bird, which I missed badly ; and I did not have 
another chance, for Brock had got to work, and 
being a first-rate shot had quickly bagged a brace. 
Meanwhile I felt the ground very hard under my 
knee, and on examination found that the bank of 
the ravine was formed of stone, which extended for 
some distance, and which was exactly the kind of 
material for which I had long been fruitlessly 
searching. I was greatly delighted with my un- 
expected discovery, though at first I had grave 
misgivings about the distance to be traversed and 
the difficulty of transporting the stone across the 


intervening country. Indeed, I found in the end 
that the only way of getting the material to the 
place where it was wanted was by laying down a 
tram line right along the ravine, throwing a 
temporary bridge across the Tsavo, following the 
stream down and re-crossing it again close to the 
site of the permanent bridge. Accordingly, I set 

men to work at once to 
cut down the jungle and 
prepare a road on which 
to lay the double trolley 
line. One morning when 
they were thus engaged, 
a little paa a kind of very 
small antelope sprang out 


PET _" and round itself suddenly 

in the midst of a gang 

of coolies. Terrified and confused by the shouting 
of the men, it ran straight at Shere Shah, the 
jemadar, who promptly dropped a basket over it 
and held it fast. I happened to arrive just in time 
to save the graceful little animal's life, and took it 
home to my camp, where it very soon became a 
great pet. indeed, it grew so tame that it would 
jump upon my table at meal times and eat from my 

When the road for the trolley line was cleared, 
the next piece of work was the building of the two 


temporary bridges over the river. These we made 
in the roughest fashion out of palm trees and logs 
felled at the crossing places, and had a flood come 
down they would, of course, have both been swept 
away ; fortunately, however, this did not occur until 
the permanent work was completed. The whole of 


this feeding line was finished in a very short time, 
and trollies were soon plying backwards and 
forwards with loads of stone and sand, as we also 
discovered the latter in abundance and of good 
quality in the bed of the ravine. An amusing 
incident occurred one day when I was taking a 
photograph of an enormous block of stone which 


was being hauled across one of these temporary 
bridges. As the trolley with its heavy load required 
very careful manipulation, my head mason, Heera 
Singh, stood on the top of the stone to direct 
operations, while the overseer, Purshotam Hurjee, 
superintended the gangs of men who hauled the 
ropes at either end in order to steady it up and 
down the inclines. But we did not know that the 
stream had succeeded in washing away the founda- 
tions of one of the log supports ; and as the weight 
of the trolley with the stone came on the under- 
mined pier, the rails tilted up and over went the 
whole thing into the river, just as I snapped the 
picture. Heera Singh made a wild spring into the 
water to get clear of the falling stone, while 
Purshotam and the rest fled as if for their lives to 
the bank. It was altogether a most comical sight, 
and an extraordinary chance that at the very moment 
of the accident I should be taking a photograph of 
the operation. Fortunately, no one was injured in 
the slightest, and the stone was recovered undamaged 
with but little trouble. 

Not long after this occurrence my own labours 
were one day nearly brought to a sudden and un- 
pleasant end. I was travelling along in an empty 
trolley which, pushed by two sturdy Pathans, was 
returning to the quarry for sand. Presently we 
came to the sharp incline which led to the log bridge 


over the river. Here it was the custom of the men, 
instead of running- beside the trolley, to step on to 
it and to let its own momentum take it down the 
slope, moderating its speed when necessary by a 
brake in the shape of a pole, which one of them 
carried and by which the wheels could be locked. 
On this occasion, however, the pole was by some 
accident dropped overboard, and down the hill we 
flew without brake of any kind. Near the bridge 
there was a sharp curve in the line, where I was 
afraid the trolley would jump the rails ; still, I 
thought it was better to stick to it than to risk 
leaping off. A moment afterwards I felt myself 
flying head first over the edge of the bridge, just 
missing by a hair's breadth a projecting beam ; but 
luckily I landed on a sand bank at the side of the 


river, the heavy trolley falling clear of me with a 
dull thud close by. This accident, also, was happily 
unattended by injury to anyone. 



IT seemed fated that the building of the Tsavo 
Bridge should never be allowed to proceed in peace 
for any length of time. I have already described 
our troubles with the lions ; and no sooner did the 
beasts of prey appear to have deserted us, for the 
time being at any rate, than other troubles, no less 
serious, arose with the workmen themselves. After 
I had discovered the stone for the bridge, I sent 
down to the coast for gangs of masons to work and 
dress it. The men who were sent me for this 
purpose were mostly Pathans and were supposed to 
be expert workmen ; but I soon found that many 
of them had not the faintest notion of stone-cutting, 
and were simply ordinary coolies who had posed as 
masons in order to draw forty-five instead of twelve 
rupees a month. On discovering this fact, I imme- 
diately instituted a system of piece-work, and drew 
up a scale of pay which would enable the genuine 


mason to earn his forty-five rupees a month and 
a little more if he felt inclined and would cut down 
the impostors to about their proper pay as coolies. 
Now, as is often the case in this world, the impostors 
were greatly in the majority ; and accordingly they 
attempted to intimidate the remainder into coming 
down to their own standard as regards output of 
work, in the hope of thereby inducing me to 
abandon the piece-work system of payment. This, 
however, I had no intention of doing, as I knew 
that I had demanded only a perfectly fair amount 
of work from each man. 

These masons were continually having quarrels 
and fights amongst themselves, and I had frequently 
to go down to their camp to quell disturbances and 
to separate the Hindus from the Mohammedans. 
One particularly serious disturbance of this sort had 
a rather amusing sequel. I was sitting after dusk 
one evening at the door of my hut, when I heard a 
great commotion in the masons' camp, which lay 
only a few hundred yards away. Presently a 
jemadar came rushing up to me to say that the men 
were all fighting and murdering each other with 
sticks and stones. I ran back with him at once and 
succeeded in restoring order, but found seven badly 
injured men lying stretched out on the ground. 
These I had carried up to my own boma on charpoys 
(native beds) ; and Brock being away, I had to play 

E 2 


the doctor myself as best I could, stitching one and 
bandaging another and generally doing what was 
possible. There was one man, however, who 
groaned loudly and held a cloth over his face as 
if he were dying. On lifting this covering, I found 
him to be a certain mason called Karim Bux, who 
was well known to me as a prime mischief-maker 
among the men. I examined him carefully, but as 
I could discover nothing amiss, I concluded that he 
must have received some internal injury, and accord- 
ingly told him that I would send him to the hospital 
at Voi (about thirty miles down the line) to be 
attended to properly. He was then carried back to 
his camp, groaning grievously all the time. 

Scarcely had he been removed, when the head 
jemadar came and informed me that the man was 
not hurt at all, and that as a matter of fact he was 
the sole cause of the disturbance. He was now 
pretending to be badly injured, in order to escape the 
punishment which he knew he would receive if I 
discovered that he was the instigator of the trouble. 
On hearing this, I gave instructions that he was not 
to go to Voi in the special train with the others ; but 
I had not heard the last of him yet. About eleven 
o'clock that night I was called up and asked to go 
down to the masons' camp to see a man who was 
supposed to be dying. I at once pulled on my boots, 
got some brandy and ran down to the camp, where 


to my surprise and amusement I found that it was 
my friend Karim Bux who was at death's door. It 
was perfectly evident to me that he was only 
"foxing," but when he asked for dawa (medicine), 
I told him gravely that I would give him some very 
good dawa in the morning. 

Next day at noon when it was my custom to 
have evil-doers brought up for judgment I asked for 
Karim Bux, but was told that he was too ill to walk. 
I accordingly ordered him to be carried to my boma, 
and in a few moments he arrived in his charpoy, 
which was shouldered by four coolies who, I could 
see, knew quite well that he was only shamming. 
There were also a score or so of his friends hanging 
around, doubtless waiting in the expectation of 
seeing the "Sahib" hoodwinked. When the bed 
was placed on the ground near me, I lifted the 
blanket with which he had covered himself and 
thoroughly examined him, at the same time feeling 
him to make sure that he had no fever. He 
pretended to be desperately ill and again asked for 
dawa ; but having finally satisfied myself that it was 
as \.\\e jemadar had said pure budmashi (devilment) 
I told him that I was going to give him some very 
effective dawa, and carefully covered him up again, 
pulling the blanket over his head. I then got a big 
armful of shavings from a carpenter's bench which 
was close by, put them under the bed and set fire to 


them. As soon as the sham invalid felt the heat, he 
peeped over the edge of the blanket ; and when he 
saw the smoke and flame leaping up round him, he 
threw the blanket from him, sprang from the bed 
exclaiming " Beiman skaitan!" ("Unbelieving 
devil ! "), and fled like a deer to the entrance of 
my boma, pursued by a Sikh sepoy, who got in a 
couple of good whacks on his shoulders with a stout 
stick before he effected his escape. His amused 
comrades greeted me with shouts of " Shabash, 
Sahib!" ("Well done, sir!"), and I never had any 
further trouble with Karim Bux. He came back 
later in the day, with clasped hands imploring 
forgiveness, which I readily granted, as he was a 
clever workman. 

A few days after this incident I was returning 
home one morning from a tree in which I had been 
keeping watch for the man-eaters during the 
previous night. Coming unexpectedly on the 
quarry, I was amazed to find dead silence reigning 
and my rascals of workmen all stretched out in the 
shade under the trees taking it very easy some 
sleeping, some playing cards. I watched their pro- 
ceedings through the bushes for a little while, and 
then it occurred to me to give them a fright by 
firing my rifle over their heads. On the report 
being heard, the scene changed like magic : each 
man simply flew to his particular work, and hammers 


and chisels resounded merrily and energetically, 
where all had been silence a moment before. They 
thought, of course, that I was still some distance off 
and had not seen them, but to their consternation I 
shouted to them that they were too late, as I had 
been watching them for some time. I fined every 
man present heavily, besides summarily degrading 
the Headman, who had thus shown himself utterly 
unfit for his position. I then proceeded to my hut, 
but had scarcely arrived there when two of the 
scoundrels tottered up after me, bent almost double 
and calling Heaven to witness that I had shot them 
both in the back. In order to give a semblance of 
truth to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narra- 
tive, they had actually induced one of their fellow 
workmen to make a few holes like shot holes in their 
backs, and these were bleeding profusely. Unfortu- 
nately for them, however, I had been carrying a rifle 
and not a shot gun, and they had also forgotten to 
make corresponding holes in their clothing, so that 
all they achieved by this elaborate tissue of falsehood 
was to bring on themselves the derision of their 
comrades and the imposition of an extra fine. 

Shortly after this, when the masons realised that 
I intended to make each man do a fair day's work 
for his money, and would allow nothing to prevent 
this intention from being carried out, they came to 
the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to 


put me quietly out of the way. Accordingly they 
held a meeting one night, all being sworn to secrecy, 
and after a long palaver it was arranged that I was 
to be murdered next day when I made my usual 
visit to the quarry. My body was to be thrown 
into the jungle, where of course it would soon be 
devoured by wild beasts, and then they were to say 
that I had been killed and eaten by a lion. To this 
cheerful proposal every man present at the meeting 
agreed, and affixed his finger-mark to a long strip of 
paper as a binding token. Within an hour after the 
meeting had dispersed, however, I was aroused by 
one of the conspirators, who had crept into my camp 
to give me warning. I thanked him for his infor- 
mation, but determined to go to the quarry in the 
morning all the same, as at this stage of affairs I 
really did not believe that they were capable of 
carrying out such a diabolical scheme, and was 
rather inclined to think that the informant had been 
sent merely to frighten me. 

Accordingly the next morning (September 6) I 
started off as usual along the trolley line to the 
lonely quarry. As I reached a bend in the line, 
my head mason, Heera Singh, a very good man, 
crept cautiously out of the bushes and warned 
me not to proceed. On my asking him the reason, 
he said that he dared not tell, but that he and 
twenty other masons were not going to work that 


clay, as they were afraid of trouble at the quarry. 
At this I began to think that there was some- 
thing in the story I had heard overnight, but I 
laughingly assured him there would be no trouble 
and continued on my way. On my arrival at the 
quarry, everything seemed perfectly peaceful. 
All the men were working away busily, but after a 
moment or two I noticed stealthy side glances, and 
felt that there was something in the wind. As soon 
as I came up to the first gang of workmen, the 
jemadar, a treacherous-looking villain, informed me 
that the men working further up the ravine had 
refused to obey his orders, and asked me if I would 
go and see them. I felt at once that this was a 
device to lure me into the narrow part of the ravine, 
where, with gangs in front of me and behind me, 
there would be no escape ; still I thought I would 
see the adventure through, whatever came of it, so 
I accompanied the jemadar up the gully. When 
we got to the further gang, he went so far as to 
point out the two men who, he said, had refused to 
do what he told them I suppose he thought that 
as I was never to leave the place alive, it did not 
matter whom he complained of. I noted their 
names in my pocket-book in my usual manner, and 
turned to retrace my steps. Immediately a yell of 
rage was raised by the whole body of some sixty 
men, answered by a similar shout from those I had 


first passed, and who numbered about a hundred. 
Both groups of men, carrying crowbars and flourish- 
ing their heavy hammers, then closed in on me in 
the narrow part of the ravine. I stood still, waiting 
for them to act, and one man rushed at me, seizing 
both my wrists and shouting out that he was going 
to "be hung and shot for me '' rather a curious 
way of putting it, but that was his exact expression. 
I easily wrenched my arms free, and threw him 
from me ; but by this time I was closely hemmed 
in, and everywhere I looked I could see nothing 
but evil and murderous-looking faces. One burly 
brute, afraid to be the first to deal a blow, hurled 
the man next him at me ; and if he had succeeded 
in knocking me down, I am certain that I should 
never have got up again alive. As it was, however, 
I stepped quickly aside, and the man intended 
to knock me down was himself thrown violently 
against a rock, over which he fell heavily. 

This occasioned a moment's confusion, of which I 
quickly took advantage. I sprang on to the top of 
the rock, and before they had time to recover them- 
selves I had started haranguing them in Hindustani. 
The habit of obedience still held them, and fortun- 
ately they listened to what I had to say. I told them 
that I knew all about their plot to murder me, and 
that they could certainly do so if they wished ; but 
that if they did, many of them would assuredly be 


hanged for it, as the Sirkar (Government) would 
soon find out the truth and would disbelieve their 
story that I had been carried off by a lion. I said 
that I knew quite well that it was only one or two 
scoundrels among them who had induced them to 
behave so stupidly, and urged them not to allow 
themselves to be made fools of in this way. Even 
supposing they were to carry out their plan of killing 
me, would not another " Sahib " at once be set over 
them, and might he not be an even harder task- 
master ? They all knew that I was just and fair to 
the real worker ; it was only the scoundrels and 
shirkers who had anything to fear from me, and 
were upright, self-respecting Pathans going to allow 
themselves to be led away by men of that kind? 
Once having got them to listen to me, I felt a little 
more secure, and I accordingly went on to say that 
the discontented among them would be allowed to 
return at once to Mombasa, while if the others 
resumed work and I heard of no further plotting, I 
would take no notice of their foolish conduct. 
Finally I called upon those who were willing to 
return to work to hold up their hands, and instantly 
every hand in the crowd was raised. I then felt 
that for the moment the victory was mine, and after 
dismissing them, I jumped down from the rock and 
continued my rounds as if nothing had happened, 
measuring a stone here and there and commenting 


on the work done. They were still in a very un- 
certain and sullen mood, however, and not at all 
to be relied upon, so it was with feelings of great 
relief that an hour later I made my way back, safe 
and sound, to Tsavo. 

The danger was not yet past, unfortunately, for 
scarcely had I turned my back to go home when 
the mutiny broke out again, another meeting being 
held, and a fresh plot made to murder me during 
the night. Of this I was soon informed by my 
time-keeper, who also told me that he was afraid to 
go out and call the roll, as they had threatened to 
kill him also. At this further outrage I lost no 
time in telegraphing for the Railway Police, and 
also to the District Officer, Mr. Whitehead, who 
immediately marched his men twenty-five miles by 
road to my assistance. I have no doubt, indeed, 
that his prompt action alone saved me from being 
attacked that very night. Two or three days after- 
wards the Railway Police arrived and arrested the 
ringleaders in the mutiny, who were taken to 
Mombasa and tried before Mr. Crawford, the British 
Consul, when the full details of the plots to murder me 
were unfolded by one of them who turned Queen's 
evidence. All the scoundrels were found guilty and 
sentenced to various terms of imprisonment in the 
chain-gangs, and I was never again troubled with 
mutinous workmen. 



THE lions seemed to have got a bad fright the night 
Brock and I sat up in wait for them in the goods- 
wagon, for they kept away from Tsavo and did not 
molest us in any way for some considerable time 
not, in fact, until long after Brock had left me and 
gone on safari (a caravan journey) to Uganda. In 
this breathing space which they vouchsafed us, it 
occurred to me that should they renew their attacks, 
a trap would perhaps offer the best chance of getting 
at them, and that if I could construct one in which 
a couple of coolies might be used as bait without 
being subjected to any danger, the lions would be 
quite daring enough to enter it in search of them 
and thus be caught. I accordingly set to work at 
once, and in a short time managed to make a 
sufficiently strong trap out of wooden sleepers, 
tram-rails, pieces of telegraph wire, and a length of 
heavy chain. It was divided into two compart- 




ments one for the men and one for the lion. A 
sliding door at one end admitted the former, and 
once inside this compartment they were perfectly 
safe, as between them and the lion, if he entered 
the other, ran a cross wall of iron rails only three 
inches apart, and embedded both top and bottom in 


heavy wooden sleepers. The door which was to 
admit the lion was, of course, at the opposite end of 
the structure, but otherwise the whole thing was very 
much on the principle of the ordinary rat-trap, 
except that it was not necessary for the lion to seize 
the bait in order to send the door clattering down. 
This part of the contrivance was arranged in the 


following manner. A heavy chain was secured 
along the top part of the lion's doorway, the ends 
hanging down to the ground on either side of the 
opening ; and to these were fastened, strongly 
secured by stout wire, short lengths of rails placed 
about six inches apart. This made a sort of flexible 
door which could be packed into a small space when 
not in use, and which abutted against the top of the 
doorway when lifted up. The door was held in this 
position by a lever made of a piece of rail, which in 
turn was kept in its place by a wire fastened to one 
end and passing down to a spring concealed in the 
ground inside the cage. As soon as the lion entered 
sufficiently far into the trap, he would be bound to 
tread on the spring ; his weight on this would 
release the wire, and in an instant down would come 
the door behind him ; and he could not push it out 
in any way, as it fell into a groove between two 
rails firmly embedded in the ground. 

In making this trap, which cost us a lot of work, 
we were rather at a loss for want of tools to bore 
holes in the rails for the doorway, so as to enable 
them to be fastened by the wire to the chain. It 
occurred to me, however, that a hard-nosed bullet 
from my '303 would penetrate the iron, and on 
making the experiment I was glad to find that a 
hole was made as cleanly as if it had been punched 



When the trap was ready I pitched a tent over it 
in order further to deceive the lions, and built an 
exceedingly strong boma round it. One small 
entrance was made at the back of the enclosure for 
the men, which they were to close on going in by, 
pulling a bush after them ; and another entrance 


just in front of the door of the cage was left open 
for the lions. The wiseacres to whom I showed 
my invention were generally of the opinion that the 
man-eaters would be too cunning to walk into my 
parlour ; but, as will be seen later, their predictions 
proved false. For the first few nights I baited the 
trap myself, but nothing happened except that I had 


a very sleepless and uncomfortable time, and was 
badly bitten by mosquitoes. 

As a matter of fact, it was some months before 
the lions attacked us again, though from time to 
time we heard of their depredations in other 
quarters. Not long after our night in the goods- 
wagon, two men were carried off from railhead, 
while another was taken from a place called Engo- 
mani, about ten miles away. Within a very short 
time, this latter place was again visited by the 
brutes, two more men being seized, one of whom 
was killed and eaten, and the other so badly 
mauled that he died within a few days. As I 
have said, however, we at Tsavo enjoyed complete 
immunity from attack, and the coolies, believing 
that their dreaded foes had permanently deserted 
the district, resumed all their usual habits and occu- 
pations, and life in the camps returned to its normal 

At last we were suddenly startled out of this 
feeling of security. One dark night the familiar 
terror-sticken cries and screams awoke the camps, 
and we knew that the " demons" had returned and 
had commenced a new list of victims. On this 
occasion a number of men had been sleeping 
outside their tents for the sake of coolness, thinking, 
of course, that the lions had gone for good, when 
suddenly in the middle of the night one of the brutes 



was discovered forcing its way through the boma. 
The alarm was at once given, and sticks, stones and 
firebrands were hurled in the direction of the 
intruder. All was of no avail, however, for the 
lion burst into the midst of the terrified group, 
seized an unfortunate wretch amid the cries and 
shrieks of his companions, and dragged him off 
through the thick thorn fence. He was joined 
outside by the second lion, and so daring had the 
two brutes become that they did not trouble to carry 
their victim any further away, but devoured him 
within thirty yards of the tent where he had been 
seized. Although several shots were fired in their 
direction by the jemadar of the gang to which the 
coolie belonged, they took no notice of these and 
did not attempt to move until their horrible meal 
was finished. The few scattered fragments that 
remained of the body I would not allow to be 
buried at once, hoping that the lions would return 
to the spot the following night ; and on the chance 
of this I took up my station at nightfall in a con- 
venient tree. Nothing occurred to break the 
monotony of my watch, however, except that I had 
a visit from a hysena, and the next morning I 
learned that the lions had attacked another camp 
about two miles from Tsavo for by this time the 
camps were again scattered, as I had works in 
progress all up and down the line. There the 


man-eaters had been successful in obtaining a 
victim, whom, as in the previous instance, they 
devoured quite close to the camp. How they 
forced their way through the bomas without making 
a noise was, and still is, a mystery to me ; I should 
have thought that it was next to impossible for 
an animal to get through at all. Yet they con- 
tinually did so, and without a sound being heard. 

After this occurrence, I sat up every night for 
over a week near likely camps, but all in vain. 
Either the lions saw me and then went elsewhere, 
or else I was unlucky, for they took man after man 
from different places without ever once giving me a 
chance of a shot at them. This constant night 
watching was most dreary and fatiguing work, but I 
felt that it was a duty that had to be undertaken, as 
the men naturally looked to me for protection. In 
the whole of my life I have never experienced any- 
thing more nerve-shaking than to hear the deep 
roars of these dreadful monsters growing gradually 
nearer and nearer, and to know that some one 
or other of us was doomed to be their victim before 
morning dawned. Once they reached the vicinity of 
the camps, the roars completely ceased, and we 
knew that they were stalking for their prey. 
Shouts would then pass from camp to camp, 
" Khabar dar, bhaieon, shaitan ata " (" Beware, 
brothers, the devil is coming"), but the warning 

F 2 


cries would prove of no avail, and sooner or later 
agonising shrieks would break the silence and 
another man would be missing from roll-call next 

I was naturally very disheartened at being foiled 
in this way night after night, and was soon at 
my wits' end to know what to do ; it seemed 
as if the lions were really " devils " after all and 
bore a charmed life. As I have said before, track- 
ing them through the jungle was a hopeless task ; 
but as something had to be done to keep up the 
men's spirits, I spent many a weary day crawling on 
my hands and knees through the dense undergrowth 
of the exasperating wilderness around us. As a 
matter of fact, if I had come up with the lions 
on any of these expeditions, it was much more 
likely that they would have added me to their list 
of victims than that I should have succeeded in 
killing either of them, as everything would have 
been in their favour. About this time, too, I had 
many helpers, and several officers civil, naval and 
military came to Tsavo from the coast and sat up 
night after night in order to get a shot at our daring 
foes. All of us, however, met with the same lack of 
success, and the lions always seemed capable of 
avoiding the watchers, while succeeding at the same 
time in obtaining a victim. 

I have a very vivid recollection of one particular 


night when the brutes seized a man from the railway 
station and brought him close to my camp to 
devour. I could plainly hear them crunching the 
bones, and the sound of their dreadful purring filled 
the air and rang in my ears for days afterwards. 
The terrible thing was to feel so helpless ; it was 
useless to attempt to go out, as of course the poor 
fellow was dead, and in addition it was so pitch 
dark as to make it impossible to see anything. 
Some half a dozen workmen, who lived in a small 
enclosure close to mine, became so terrified on hear- 
ing the lions at their meal that they shouted and 
implored me to allow them to come inside my boma. 
This I willingly did, but soon afterwards I remem- 
bered that one man had been lying ill in their camp, 
and on making enquiry I found that they had 
callously left him behind alone. I immediately took 
some men with me to bring him to my boma, but on 
entering his tent I saw by the light of the lantern 
that the poor fellow was beyond need of safety. 
He had died of shock at being deserted by his 

From this time matters gradually became worse 
and worse. Hitherto, as a rule, only one of the 
man-eaters had made the attack and had done the 
foraging, while the other waited outside in the bush ; 
but now they began to change their tactics, entering 
the bomas together and each seizing a victim. In 

7 o 



this way two Swahili porters were killed during the 
last week of November, one being immediately 
carried off and devoured. The other was heard 
moaning for a long time, and when his terrified com- 
panions at last summoned up sufficient courage to go 
to his assistance, they found him stuck fast in the 


bushes of the boma, through which for once the lion 
had apparently 'been unable to drag him. He was 
still alive when I saw him next morning, but so 
terribly mauled that he died before he could be got 
to the hospital. 

Within a few days of this the two brutes made a 
most ferocious attack on the largest camp in the 


section, which for safety's sake was situated within a 
stone's throw of Tsavo Station and close to a 
Permanent Way Inspector's iron hut. Suddenly in 
the dead of night the two man-eaters burst in among 
the terrified workmen, and even from my boma, 
some distance away, 1 could plainly hear the panic- 
stricken shrieking of the coolies. Then followed 
cries of " They've taken him ; they've taken him," 
as the brutes carried off their unfortunate victim and 
began their horrible feast close beside the camp. 
The Inspector, Mr. Dalgairns, fired over fifty shots 
in the direction in which he heard the lions, but they 
were not to be frightened and calmly lay there until 
their meal was finished. After examining the spot 
in the morning, we at once set out to follow the 
brutes, Mr. Dalgairns feeling confident that he had 
wounded one of them, as there was a trail on the 
sand like that of the toes of a broken limb. After 
some careful stalking, we suddenly found ourselves 
in the vicinity of the lions, and were greeted with 
ominous growlings. Cautiously advancing and 
pushing the bushes aside, we saw in the gloom what 
we at first took to be a lion cub ; closer inspection, 
however, showed it to be the remains of the 
unfortunate coolie, which the man-eaters had 
evidently abandoned at our approach. The legs, 
one arm and half the body had been eaten, and it 
was the stiff fingers of the other arm trailing along 


the sand which had left the marks we had taken to 
be the trail of a wounded lion. By this time the 
beasts had retired far into the thick jungle where it 
was impossible to follow them, so we had the 
remains of the coolie buried and once more returned 
home disappointed. 

Now the bravest men in the world, much less the 
ordinary Indian coolie, will not stand constant 
terrors of this sort indefinitely. The whole district 
was by this time thoroughly panic-stricken, and I 
was not at all surprised, therefore, to find on my 
return to camp that same afternoon (December i) 
that the men had all struck work and were waiting 
to speak to me. When I sent for them, they flocked 
to my boma in a body and stated that they would 
not remain at Tsavo any longer for anything or any- 
body ; they had come from India on an agreement 
to work for the Government, not to supply food for 
either lions or "devils." No sooner had they 
delivered this ultimatum than a regular stampede 
took place. Some hundreds of them stopped the 
first passing train by throwing themselves on the 
rails in front of the engine, and then, swarming on 
to the trucks and throwing in their possessions 
anyhow, they fled from the accursed spot. 

After this the railway works were completely 
stopped ; and for the next three weeks practically 
nothing was done but build "lion-proof" huts for 




those workmen who had had sufficient courage to 
remain. It was a strange and amusing sight to see 
these shelters perched on the top of water-tanks, 


roofs and girders anywhere for safety while some 
even went so far as to dig pits inside their tents, into 
which they descended at night, covering the top over 
with heavy logs of wood. Every good-sized tree in 


the camp had as many beds lashed on to it as its 
branches would bear and sometimes more. I 
remember that one night when the camp was 
attacked, so many men swarmed on to one par- 
ticular tree that down it came with a crash, hurling 
its terror-stricken load of shrieking coolies close to 
the very lions they were trying to avoid. Fortu- 
nately for them, a victim had already been secured, 
and the brutes were too busy devouring him to pay 
attention to anything else. 



SOME little time before the flight of the workmen, 
I had written to Mr. Whitehead, the District Officer, 
asking him to come up and assist me in my cam- 
paign against the lions, and to bring with him any 
of his askaris (native soldiers) that he could spare. 
He replied accepting the invitation, and told me to 
expect him about dinner-time on December 2, which 
turned out to be the day after the exodus. His 
train was due at Tsavo about six o'clock in the 
evening, so I sent my "boy" up to the station to 
meet him and to help in carrying his baggage to the 
camp. In a very short time, however, the "boy" 
rushed back trembling with terror, and informed me 
that there was no sign of the train or of the railway 
staff, but that an enormous lion was standing on the 
station platform. This extraordinary story I did 
not believe in the least, as by this time the coolies 
never remarkable for bravery were in such a 


state of fright that if they caught sight of a hyaena, 
or a baboon, or even a dog, in the bush, they were 
sure to imagine it was a lion ; but I found out next 
day that it was an actual fact, and that both station- 
master and signalman had been obliged to take 
refuge from one of the man-eaters by locking them- 
selves in the station building. 

I waited some little time for Mr. Whitehead, but 
eventually, as he did not put in an appearance, I 
concluded that he must have postponed his journey 
until the next day, and so had my dinner in my 
customary solitary state. During the meal I heard a 
couple of shots, but paid no attention to them, as 
rifles were constantly being fired off in the neigh- 
bourhood of the camp. Later in the evening, I 
went out as usual to watch for our elusive foes, and 
took up my position in a crib made of sleepers 
which I had built on a big girder close to a camp 
which I thought was likely to be attacked. Soon 
after settling down at my post, I was surprised to 
hear the man-eaters growling and purring and 
crunching up bones about seventy yards from the 
crib. I could not understand what they had found 
to eat, as I had heard no commotion in the camps, 
and I knew by bitter experience that every meal the 
brutes obtained from us was announced by shrieks 
and uproar. The only conclusion I could come to 
was that they had pounced upon some poor un- 


suspecting native traveller. After a time I was able 
to make out their eyes glowing in the darkness, and 
I took as careful aim as was possible in the circum- 
stances and fired ; but the only notice they paid to 
the shot was to carry off whatever they were 
devouring and to retire quietly over a slight rise, 


which prevented me from seeing them. There they 
finished their meal at their ease. 

As soon as it was daylight, I got out of my crib 
and went towards the place where I had last heard 
them. On the way, whom should I meet but my 
missing guest, Mr. Whitehead, looking very pale 
and ill, and generally dishevelled. 


"Where on earth have you come from?" I 
exclaimed. " Why didn't you turn up to dinner last 
night ? " 

" A nice reception you give a fellow when you 
invite him to dinner," was his only reply. 

" Why, what's up ? " I asked. 

" That infernal lion of yours nearly did for me 
last night," said Whitehead. 

" Nonsense, you must have dreamed it ! " I cried 
in astonishment. 

For answer he turned round and showed me his 
back. " That's not much of a dream, is it ? " he 

His clothing was rent by one huge tear from the 
nape of the neck downwards, and on the flesh there 
were four great claw marks, showing red and angry 
through the torn cloth. Without further parley, I 
hurried him off to my tent, and bathed and dressed 
his wounds ; and when I had made him considerably 
more comfortable, I got from him the whole story 
of the events of the night. 

It appeared that his train was very late, so that it 
was quite dark when he arrived at Tsavo Station, 
from which the track to my camp lay through a 
small cutting. He was accompanied by Abdullah, 
his sergeant of askaris, who walked close behind 
him carrying a lighted lamp. All went well until 
they were about half-way through the gloomy 


cutting, when one of the lions suddenly jumped 
down upon them from the high bank, knocking 
Whitehead over like a ninepin, and tearing his back 
in the manner I had seen. Fortunately, however, 
he had his carbine with him, and instantly fired. 
The flash and the loud report must have dazed the 


lion for a second or two, enabling Whitehead to 
disengage himself; but the next instant the brute 
pounced like lightning on the unfortunate Abdullah, 
with whom he at once made off. All that the poor 
fellow could say was: "Eh, Bwana, simba" ("Oh, 
Master, a lion "). As the lion was dragging him over 
the bank, Whitehead fired again, but without effect, 




and the brute quickly disappeared into the darkness 
with his prey. It was, of course, this unfortunate 
man whom I had heard the lions devouring during 


the night. Whitehead himself had a marvellous 
escape ; his wounds were happily not very deep, and 
caused him little or no inconvenience afterwards. 
On the same day, December 3, the forces arrayed 


against the lions were further strengthened. Mr. 
Farquhar, the Superintendent of Police, arrived from 
the coast with a score of sepoys to assist in hunting 
down the man-eaters, whose fame had by this time 
spread far and wide, and the most elaborate pre- 
cautions were taken, his men being posted on the 
most convenient trees near every camp. Several 
other officials had also come up on leave to join in 
the chase, and each of these guarded a likely spot 
in the same way, Mr. Whitehead sharing my post 
inside the crib on the girder. Further, in spite of 
some chaff, my lion trap was put in thorough 
working order, and two of the sepoys were installed 
as bait. 

Our preparations were quite complete by night- 
fall, and we all took up our appointed positions. 
Nothing happened until about nine o'clock, when to 
my great satisfaction the intense stillness was 
suddenly broken by the noise of the door of the 
trap clattering down. "At last," I thought, "one 
at least of the brutes is done for." But the sequel 
was an ignominious one. 

The bait-sepoys had a lamp burning inside their 
part of the cage, and were each armed with a 
Martini rifle, with plenty of ammunition. They had 
also been given strict orders to shoot at once if a 
lion should enter the trap. Instead of doing so, 
however, they were so terrified when he rushed in 



and began to lash himself madly against the bars of 
the cage, that they completely lost their heads and 
were actually too unnerved to fire. Not for some 
minutes not, indeed, until Mr. Farquhar, whose 
post was close by, shouted at them and cheered 
them on did they at all recover themselves. Then 
when at last they did begin to fire, they fired with a 
vengeance anywhere, anyhow. Whitehead and I 
were at right angles to the direction in which they 
should have shot, and yet their bullets came whizzing 
all round us. Altogether they fired over a score of 
shots, and in the end succeeded only in blowing 
away one of the bars of the door, thus allowing our 
prize to make good his escape. How they failed to 
kill him several times over is, and always will be, a 
complete mystery to me, as they could have put the 
muzzles of their rifles absolutely touching his body. 
There was, indeed, some blood scattered about the 
trap, but it was small consolation to know that the 
brute, whose capture and death seemed so certain, 
had only been slightly wounded. 

Still we were not unduly dejected, and when 
morning came, a hunt was at once arranged. 
Accordingly we spent the greater part of the day on 
our hands and knees following the lions through 
the dense thickets of thorny jungle, but though we 
heard their growls from time to time, we never 
succeeded in actually coming up with them. Of the 


whole party, only Farquhar managed to catch a 
momentary glimpse of one as it bounded over a 
bush. Two days more were spent in the same 
manner, and with equal unsuccess ; and then 
Farquhar and his sepoys were obliged to return to 
the coast. Mr. Whitehead also departed for his 
district, and once again I was left alone with the 


G 2 



A DAY or two after the departure of my allies, 
as I was leaving my boma soon after dawn on 
December 9, I saw a Swahili running excitedly 
towards me, shouting out " Simba ! Simba / " (" Lion ! 
Lion ! "), and every now and again looking behind 
him as he ran. On questioning him I found that 
the lions had tried to snatch a man from the camp 
by the river, but being foiled in this had seized 
and killed one of the donkeys, and were at that 
moment busy devouring it not far off. Now was 
my chance ! 

I rushed for the heavy rifle which Farquhar had 
kindly left with me for use in case an opportunity 
such as this should arise, and, led by the Swahili, I 
started most carefully to stalk the lions, who, I 
devoutly hoped, were confining their attention 
strictly to their meal. I was getting on splendidly, 
and could just make out the outline of one of them 
through the dense bush, when unfortunately my 


guide snapped a rotten branch. The wily beast 
heard the noise, growled his defiance, and dis- 
appeared in a moment into a patch of even thicker 
jungle close by. In desperation at the thought of 
his escaping me once again, I crept hurriedly back 
to the camp, summoned the available workmen and 
told them to bring all the tom-toms, tin cans and 
other noisy instruments of any kind that could be 
found. As quickly as possible I posted them in 
a half-circle round the thicket, and gave the head 
jemadar instructions to start a simultaneous beating 
of the tom-toms and cans as soon as he judged that 
I had had time to get round to the other side. 
I then crept round by myself and soon found a 
good position and one which the lion was most 
likely to retreat past, as it was in the middle of a 
broad animal path leading straight from the place 
where he was concealed. I lay down behind 
a small ant hill, and waited expectantly. Very soon 
I heard a tremendous din being raised by the 
advancing line of coolies, and almost immediately, 
to my intense joy, out into the open path stepped 
a huge maneless lion. It was the first occasion 


during all these trying months upon which I had 
had a fair chance at one of these brutes, and my 
satisfaction at the prospect of bagging him was 

Slowly he advanced along the path, stopping 
every few seconds to look round. I was only 


partially concealed from view, and if his attention 
had not been so fully occupied by the noise behind 
him, he must have observed me. As he was 
oblivious to my presence, however, I let him 
approach to within about fifteen yards of me, 
and then covered him with my rifle. The moment 
I moved to do this, he caught sight of me, and 
seemed much astonished at my sudden appearance, 
for he stuck his forefeet into the ground, threw 
himself back on his haunches and growled savagely. 
As I covered his brain with my rifle, i felt that 
at last I had him absolutely at my mercy, but 
.... never trust an untried weapon ! I pulled 
the trigger, and to my horror heard the dull snap 
that tells of a misfire. 

Worse was to follow. I was so taken aback 
and disconcerted by this untoward accident that 
I entirely forgot to fire the left barrel, and 
lowered the rifle from my shoulder with the 
intention of reloading if I should be given time. 
Fortunately for me, the lion was so distracted 
by the terrific din and uproar of the coolies behind 
him that instead of springing on me, as might have 
been expected, he bounded aside into the jungle 
again. By this time I had collected my wits, and 
just as he jumped I let him have the left barrel. An 
answering angry growl told me that he had been hit ; 
but nevertheless he succeeded once more in getting 
clear away, for although I tracked him for some little 


distance, I eventually lost his trail in a rocky patch 
of ground. 

Bitterly did I anathematise the hour in which I 
had relied on a borrowed weapon, and in my disap- 
pointment and vexation I abused owner, maker, and 
rifle with fine impartiality. On extracting the un- 
exploded cartridge, I found that the needle had not 
struck home, the cap being only slightly dented ; so 
that the whole fault did indeed lie with the rifle, 
which I later returned to Farquhar with polite com- 
pliments. Seriously, however, my continued ill- 
luck was most exasperating ; and the result was that 
the Indians were more than ever confirmed in their 
belief that the lions were really evil spirits, proof 
against mortal weapons. Certainly, they did seem 
to bear charmed lives. 

After this dismal failure there was, of course, 
nothing to do but to return to camp. Before doing 
so, however, I proceeded to view the dead donkey, 
which I found to have been only slightly devoured 
at the quarters. It is a curious fact that lions always 
begin at the tail of their prey and eat upwards 
towards the head. As their meal had thus been 
interrupted evidently at the very beginning, I felt 
pretty sure that one or other of the brutes would 
return to the carcase at nightfall. Accordingly, as 
there was no tree of any kind close at hand, I had a 
staging erected some ten feet away from the body. 
This mac han was about twelve feet high and was 


composed of four poles stuck into the ground and 
inclined towards each other at the top, where a 
plank was lashed to serve as a seat. Further, as 
the nights were still pitch dark, I had the donkey's 
carcase secured by strong wires to a neighbouring 
stump, so that the lions might not be able to drag 
it away before I could get a shot at them. 

At sundown, therefore, I took up my position on 
my airy perch, and much to the disgust of my gun- 
bearer, Mahina, I decided to go alone. I would 
gladly have taken him with me, indeed, but he had 
a bad cough, and I was afraid lest he should make 
any involuntary noise or movement which might 
spoil all. Darkness fell almost immediately, and 
everything became extraordinarily still. The silence 
of an African jungle on a dark night needs to be 
experienced to be realised ; it is most impressive, 
especially when one is absolutely alone and isolated 
from one's fellow creatures, as I was then. The 
solitude and stillness, and the purpose of my vigil, 
all had their effect on me, and from a condition of 
strained expectancy I gradually fell into a dreamy 
mood which harmonised well with my surroundings. 
Suddenly I was startled out of my reverie by the 
snapping of a twig : and, straining my ears for a 
further sound, I fancied I could hear the rustling of 
a large body forcing its way through the bush. 
" The man-eater," I thought to myself; "surely 
to-night my luck will change and I shall bag 


one of the brutes." Profound silence again 
succeeded ; I sat on my eyrie like a statue, every 
nerve tense with excitement. Very soon, how- 
ever, all doubt as to the presence of the lion 
was dispelled. A deep long-drawn sigh sure 
sign of hunger came up from the bushes, and the 
rustling commenced again as he cautiously advanced. 
In a moment or two a sudden stop, followed by an 
angry growl, told me that my presence had been 
noticed ; and I began to fear that disappointment 
awaited me once more. 

But no ; matters quickly took an unexpected turn. 
The hunter became the hunted ; and instead of 
either making off or coming for the bait prepared 
for him, the lion began stealthily to stalk me ! For 
about two hours he horrified me by slowly creeping 
round and round my crazy structure, gradually 
edging his way nearer and nearer. Every moment 
I expected him to rush it ; and the staging had not 
been constructed with an eye to such a possibility. 
If one of the rather flimsy poles should break, or if 
the lion could spring the twelve feet which separated 
me from the ground . . . the thought was scarcely 
a pleasant one. I began to feel distinctly "creepy," 
and heartily repented my folly in having placed my- 
self in such a dangerous position. I kept perfectly 
still, however, hardly daring even to blink my eyes : 
but the long-continued strain was telling on my 
nerves, and my feelings may be better imagined than 


described when about midnight suddenly something 
came flop and struck me on the back of the head. 
For a moment I was so terrified that I nearly fell off 
the plank, as I thought that the lion had sprung on 
me from behind. Regaining my senses in a second or 
two, I realised that I had been hit by nothing more 
formidable than an owl, which had doubtless mis- 
taken me for the branch of a tree not a very 
alarming thing to happen in ordinary circumstances, 
I admit, but coming at the time it did, it almost 
paralysed me. The involuntary start which I could 
not help giving was immediately answered by a 
sinister growl from below. 

After this I again kept as still as I could, though 
absolutely trembling with excitement ; and in a 
short while I heard the lion begin to creep stealthily 
towards me. I could barely make out his form as 
he crouched among the whitish undergrowth ; but I 
saw enough for my purpose, and before he could 
come any nearer, I took careful aim and pulled the 
trigger. The sound of the shot was at once followed 
by a most terrific roar, and then I could hear him 
leaping about in all directions. I was no longer able 
to see him, however, as his first bound had taken 
him into the thick bush ; but to make assurance 
doubly sure, I kept blazing away in the direction in 
which I heard him plunging about. At length came 
a series of mighty groans, gradually subsiding into 
deep sighs, and finally ceasing altogether ; and I felt 


convinced that one of the "devils" who had so 
long harried us would trouble us no more. 

As soon as I ceased firing, a tumult of inquiring 
voices was borne across the dark jungle from the 
men in camp about a quarter of a mile away. I 
shouted back that I was safe and sound, and that 
one of the lions was dead : whereupon such a mighty 
cheer went up from all the camps as must have 
astonished the denizens of the jungle for miles 
around. Shortly I saw scores of lights twinkling 
through the bushes : every man in camp turned out, 
and with tom-toms beating and horns blowing came 
running to the scene. They surrounded my eyrie, 
and to my amazement prostrated themselves on the 
ground before me, saluting me with cries of " Maba- 
rak ! Mabarak!" which I believe means "blessed 
one " or " saviour." All the same, I refused to allow 
any search to be made that night for the body of 
the lion, in case his companion might be close by ; 
besides, it was possible that he might be still alive, 
and capable of making a last spring. Accordingly 
we all returned in triumph to the camp, where great 
rejoicings were kept up for the remainder of the 
night, the Swahili and other African natives 
celebrating the occasion by an especially wild and 
savage dance. 

For my part, I anxiously awaited the dawn ; and 
even before it was thoroughly light I was on my 
way to the eventful spot, as I could not completely 


persuade myself that even yet the "devil" might 
not have eluded me in some uncanny and mysterious 
way. Happily my fears proved groundless, and I 
was relieved to find that my luck after playing me 
so many exasperating tricks had really turned at 
last. I had scarcely traced the blood for more than 


a few paces when, on rounding a bush, I was startled 
to see a huge lion right in front of me, seemingly 
alive and crouching for a spring. On looking 
closer, however, I satisfied myself that he was 
really and truly stone-dead, whereupon my followers 
crowded round, laughed and danced and shouted 
with joy like children, and bore me in triumph 
shoulder-high round the dead body. These thanks- 


giving ceremonies being over, I examined the body 
and found that two bullets had taken effect one 
close behind the left shoulder, evidently penetrating 
the heart, and the other in the off hind leg. The 
prize was indeed one to be proud of; his length 
from tip of nose to tip of tail was nine feet eight 
inches, he stood three feet nine inches high, and it 
took eight men to carry him back to camp. The 
only blemish was that the skin was much scored by 
the boma thorns through which he had so often 
forced his way in carrying off his victims. 

The news of the death of one of the notorious 
man-eaters soon spread far and wide over the 
country : telegrams of congratulation came pouring 
in, and scores of people flocked from up and down 
the railway to see the skin for themselves. 




IT must not be imagined that with the death of 
this lion our troubles at Tsavo were at an end ; his 
companion was still at large, and very soon began 
to make us unpleasantly aware of the fact. Only a 
few nights elapsed before he made an attempt to 
get at the Permanent Way Inspector, climbing up 
the steps of his bungalow and prowling round the 
verandah. The Inspector, hearing the noise and 
thinking it was a drunken coolie, shouted angrily 
" Go away ! " but, fortunately for him, did not 
attempt to come out or to open the door. Thus 
disappointed in his attempt to obtain a meal of 
human flesh, the lion seized a couple of the In- 
spector's goats and devoured them there and then. 

On hearing of this occurrence, I determined to 
sit up the next night near the Inspector's bungalow. 
Fortunately there was a vacant iron shanty close at 
hand, with a convenient loophole in it for firing 


from ; and outside this I placed three full-grown 
goats as bait, tying them to a half-length of rail, 
weighing about 250 Ibs. The night passed un- 
eventfully until just before daybreak, when at last 
the lion turned up, pounced on one of the goats 
and made off with it, at the same time dragging 
away the others, rail and all. I fired several shots 
in his direction, but it was pitch dark and quite 
impossible to see anything, so I only succeeded in 
hitting one of the goats. I often longed for a flash- 
light on such occasions. 

Next morning I started off in pursuit and was 
joined by some others from the camp. I found 
that the trail of the goats and rail was easily- 
followed, and we soon came up, about a quarter 
of a mile away, to where the lion was still busy 
at his meal. He was concealed in some thick 
bush and growled angrily on hearing our approach ; 
finally, as we got closer, he suddenly made a 
charge, rushing through the bushes at a great 
pace. In an instant, every man of the party 
scrambled hastily up the nearest tree, with the 
exception of one of my assistants, Mr. Winkler, 
who stood steadily by me throughout. The 
brute, however, did not press his charge home : 
and on throwing stones into the bushes where 
we had last seen him, we guessed by the silence 
that he had slunk off. We therefore advanced 


cautiously, and on getting up to the place 
discovered that he had indeed escaped us, 
leaving two of the goats scarcely touched. 

Thinking that in all probability the lion would 
return as usual to finish his meal, I had a very 
strong scaffolding put up a few feet away from the 
dead goats, and took up my position on it before 
dark. On this occasion I brought my gun-bearer, 
Mahina, to take a turn at watching, as I was by 
this time worn out for want of sleep, having spent 
so many nights on the look-out. I was just dozing 
off comfortably when suddenly I felt my arm 
seized, and on looking up saw Mahina pointing 
in the direction of the goats. "S/ier/" ("Lion!") 
was all he whispered. I grasped my double 
smooth-bore, which I had charged with slug, and 
waited patiently. In a few moments I was 
rewarded, for as I watched the spot where I 
expected the lion to appear, there was a rustling 
among the bushes and I saw him stealthily emerge 
into the open and pass almost directly beneath 
us. I fired both barrels practically together into 
his shoulder, and to my joy could see him go 
down under the force of the blow. Quickly 
I reached for the magazine rifle, but before I 
could use it, he was out of sight among the bushes, 
and I had to fire after him quite at random. 
Nevertheless I was confident of getting him in 


the morning, and accordingly set out as soon as 
it was light. For over a mile there was no 
difficulty in following the blood-trail, and as he 
had rested several times I felt sure that he had 
been badly wounded. In the end, however, my 
hunt proved fruitless, for after a time the traces 
of blood ceased and the surface of the ground 
became rocky, so that I was no longer able to 
follow the spoor. 

About this time Sir Guilford Molesworth, 
K.C.I.E., late Consulting Engineer to the Govern- 
ment of India for State Railways, passed through 
Tsavo on a tour of inspection on behalf of the Foreign 
Office. After examining the bridge and other 
works and expressing his satisfaction, he took a 
number of photographs, one or two of which he 
has kindly allowed me to reproduce in this book. 
He thoroughly sympathised with us in all the trials 
we had endured from the man-eaters, and was 
delighted that one at least was dead. When he 
asked me if I expected to get the second lion soon, 
I well remember his half-doubting smile as I rather 
too confidently asserted that I hoped to bag him 
also in the course of a few days. 

As it happened, there was no sign of our enemy 
for about ten days after this, and we began to hope 
that he had died of his wounds in the bush. All 
the same we still took every precaution at night, 



and it was fortunate that we did so, as otherwise at 
least one more victim would have been added to the 
list. For on the night of December 27, I was sud- 
denly aroused by terrified shouts from my trolley 
men, who slept in a tree close outside my boma, to 
the effect that a lion was trying to get at them. It 
would have been madness to have gone out, as 
the moon was hidden by dense clouds and it was 
absolutely impossible to see anything more than a 
yard in front of one ; so all I could do was to fire off a 
few rounds just to frighten the brute away. This 
apparently had the desired effect, for the men were not 
further molested that night ; but the man-eater had 
evidently prowled about for some time, for we found 
in the morning that he had gone right into every 
one of their tents, and round the tree was a regular 
rin<r of his footmarks. 


The following evening I took up my position in this 
same tree, in the hope that he would make another 
attempt. The night began badly, as while climbing 
up to my perch I very nearly put my hand on a 
venomous snake which was lying coiled round one 
of the branches. As may be imagined, I came down 
again very quickly, but one of my men managed to 
despatch it with a long pole. Fortunately the night 
was clear and cloudless, and the moon made every- 
thing almost as bright as day. I kept watch until about 
2 a.m., when I roused Mahina to take his turn. For 


about an hour I slept peacefully with my back to the 
tree, and then woke suddenly with an uncanny feel- 
ing that something was wrong. Mahina, however, 
was on the alert, and had seen nothing ; and al- 
though I looked carefully round us on all sides, I too 
could discover nothing unusual. Only half satisfied, 
I was about to lie back again, when I fancied I saw 


something move a little way off among the low 
bushes. On gazing intently at the spot for a few 
seconds, I found I was not mistaken. It was the 
man-eater, cautiously stalking us. 

The ground was fairly open round our tree, with 
only a small bush every here and there ; and from 
our position it was a most fascinating sight to watch 
this great brute stealing stealthily round us, taking 

H 2 


advantage of every bit of cover as he came. His 
skill showed that he was an old hand at the terrible 
game of man-hunting : so I determined to run no 
undue risk of losing him this time. I accordingly 
waited until he got quite close about twenty yards 
away and then fired my '303 at his chest. I heard 
the bullet strike him, but unfortunately it had no 
knock-down effect, for with a fierce growl he turned 
and made off with great long bounds. Before he 
disappeared from sight, however, I- managed to have 
three more shots at him from the magazine rifle, and 
another growl told me that the last of these had 
also taken effect. 

We awaited daylight with impatience, and at the 
first glimmer of dawn we set out to hunt him clown. I 
took a native tracker with me, so that I was free to 
keep a good look-out, while Mahina followed imme- 
diately behind with a Martini carbine. Splashes of 
blood being plentiful, we were able to get along 
quickly ; and we had not proceeded more than a 
quarter of a mile through the jungle when suddenly 
a fierce warning growl was heard right in front of 
us. Looking cautiously through the bushes, I could 
see the man-eater glaring out in our direction, and 
showing his tusks in an angry snarl. I at once took 
careful aim and fired. Instantly he sprang out and 
made a most determined charge clown on us. I 
fired again and knocked him over ; but in a second 


he was up once more and coming for me as fast as 
lie could in his crippled condition. A third shot 
had no apparent effect, so I put out my hand for the 
Martini, hoping to stop him with it. To my dismay, 
however, it was not there. The terror of the sud- 
den charge had proved too much for Mahina, and 
both he and the carbine were by this time well on their 
way up a tree. In the circumstances there was 
nothing to do but follow suit, which I did without 
loss of time : and but for the fact that one of my shots 
had broken a hind leg, the brute would most certainly 
have had me. Even as it was, I had barely time to 
swing myself up out of his reach before he arrived at 
the foot of the tree. 

When the lion found he was too late, he started to 
limp back to the thicket ; but by this time I had 
seized the carbine from Mahina, and the first shot I 
fired from it seemed to give him his quietus, for he 
fell over and lay motionless. Rather foolishly, I at 
once scrambled down from the tree and walked up to- 
wards him. To my surprise and no little alarm 
he jumped up and attempted another charge. This 
time, however, a Martini bullet in the chest and 
another in the head finished him for good and all ; 
he dropped in his tracks not five yards away from 
me, and died gamely, biting savagely at a branch 
which had fallen to the ground. 

By this time all the workmen in camp, attracted 


by the sound of the firing, had arrived on the scene, 
and so great was their resentment against the brute 
who had killed such numbers of their comrades that 
it was only with the greatest difficulty that I could 
restrain them from tearing the dead body to pieces. 
Eventually, amid the wild rejoicings of the natives 


and coolies, I had the lion carried to my boma, which 
was close at hand. On examination we found no 
less than six bullet holes in the body, and embedded 
only a little way in the flesh of the back was the slug 
which I had fired into him from the scaffolding about 
ten days previously. He measured nine feet six- 
inches from tip of nose to tip of tail, and stood 


three feet eleven and a half inches high ; but, 
as in the case of his companion, the skin was 
disfigured by being deeply scored all over by the 
boma thorns. 

The news of the death of the second " devil " soon 
spread far and wide over the country, and natives 
actually travelled from up and down the line to have a 
look at my trophies and at the " devil-killer ", as they 
called me. Best of all, the coolies who had absconded 
came flocking back to Tsavo, and much to my relief 
work was resumed and we were never again troubled 
by man-eaters. It was amusing, indeed, to notice 
the change which took place in the attitude of the 
workmen towards me after I had killed the two 
lions. Instead of wishing to murder me, as they 
once did, they could not now do enough for me, and 
as a token of their gratitude they presented me with 
a beautiful silver bowl, as well as with a long poem 
\\ ritten in Hindustani describing all our trials and my 
ultimate victory. As the poem relates our troubles 
in somewhat quaint and biblical language, I have 
given a translation of it in the appendix. The bowl 
I shall always consider my most highly prized and 
hardest won trophy. The inscription on it reads as 
follows : 

SIR, We, your Overseer, Timekeepers, Mistaris 
and Workmen, present you with this bowl as a token 
of our gratitude to you for your bravery in killing 


two man-eating lions at great risk to your own life, 
thereby saving us from the fate of being devoured 
by these terrible monsters who nightly broke into 
our tents and took our fellow-workers from our side. 
In presenting you with this bowl, we all add our 
prayers for your long life, happiness and prosperity. 
We shall ever remain, Sir, Your grateful servants, 


Overseer and Clerk of Works, 
on behalf of your Workmen. 

Dated at Tsavo, January 30, 1899. 

Before I leave the subject of " the man-eaters of 
Tsavo," it may be of interest to mention that these two 
lions possess the distinction, probably unique among 
wild animals, of having been specifically referred to 
in the House of Lords by the Prime Minister of the 
day. Speaking of the difficulties which had been 
encountered in the construction of the Uganda 
Railway, the late Lord Salisbury said : 

" The whole of the works were put a stop to for 
three weeks because a party of man-eating lions 
appeared in the locality and conceived a most 
unfortunate taste for our porters. At last the 
labourers entirely declined to go on unless they were 
guarded by an iron entrenchment. Of course it is 
difficult to work a railway under these conditions, 
and until we found an enthusiastic sportsman to get 
rid of these lions, our enterprise was seriously 


Also, The Spectator of March 3, 1900, had an 
article entitled "The Lions that Stopped the 
Railway," from which the following extracts are 
taken : 

" The parallel to the story of the lions which 
stopped the rebuilding of Samaria must occur to 
everyone, and if the Samaritans had quarter as 
good cause for their fears as had the railway coolies, 
their wish to propitiate the local deities is easily 
understood. If the whole body of lion anecdote, 
from the days of the Assyrian Kings till the last 
year of the nineteenth century, were collated and 
brought together, it would not equal in tragedy or 
atrocity, in savageness or in sheer insolent contempt 
for man, armed or unarmed, white or black, the 
story of these two beasts. . . . 

" To what a distance the whole story carries us 
back, and how impossible it becomes to account for 
the survival of primitive man against this kind of 
foe ! For fire which has hitherto been regarded 
as his main safeguard against the carnivora these 
cared nothing. It is curious that the Tsavo lions 
were not killed by poison, for strychnine is easily 
used, and with effect. 1 Poison may have been used 
early in the history of man, for its powers are 
employed with strange skill by the men in the 
tropical forest, both in American and West Central 

1 I may mention that poison was tried, but without effect. The 
poisoned carcases of transport animals which had died from the bite 
of the tsetse fly were placed in likely spots, but the wily man-eaters 
would not touch them, and much preferred live men to dead donkeys. 


Africa. But there is no evidence that the old 
inhabitants of Europe, or of Assyria or Asia Minor, 
ever killed lions or wolves by this means. They 
looked to the King or chief, or some champion, to 
kill these monsters for them. It was not the sport 
but the duty of Kings, and was in itself a title to be 
a ruler of men. Theseus, who cleared the roads of 
beasts and robbers ; Hercules, the lion killer ; 
St. George, the dragon-slayer, and all the rest of 
their class owed to this their everlasting fame. 
From the story of the Tsavo River we can appre- 
ciate their. services to man even at this distance of 
time. When the jungle twinkled with hundreds of 
lamps, as the shout went on from camp to camp 
that the first lion was dead, as the hurrying crowds 
fell prostrate in the midnight forest, laying their 
heads on his feet, and the Africans danced savage 
and ceremonial dances of thanksgiving, Mr. Patter- 
son must have realised in no common way what it 
was to have been a hero and deliverer in the days 
when man was not yet undisputed lord of the 
creation, and might pass at any moment under the 
savage dominion of the beasts." 

Well had the two man-eaters earned all this 
fame; they had devoured between them no less than 
twenty-eight Indian coolies, in addition to scores of 
unfortunate African natives of whom no official 
record was kept. 




\ViiF.x all the excitement had died down and 
there was no longer any dread of the man-eaters, 
work went on briskly, and the bridge over the 
Tsavo rapidly neared completion. As the piers and 
abutments progressed in height, the question of 
how to lift the large stones into their positions had 
to be solved. We possessed no cranes for this 
purpose, so I set to work and improvised a shears 
made of a couple of thirty-foot rails. These were 
bolted together at the top, while the other ends 
were fixed at a distance of about ten feet apart in a 




large block of wood. This contrivance acted 
capitally, and by manipulation of ropes and pulleys 
the heavy stones were swung into position quickly 
and without difficulty, so that in a very short time 
the masonry of the bridge was completed. 

The next business w r as to span the sixty-foot 


distance between the piers with iron girders. As I 
had neither winches nor sufficient blocks and tackle 
to haul these over into position, I was driven to 
erect temporary piers in the middle of each span, 
built up crib-shape of wooden sleepers. Great 
wooden beams were stretched across from the stone 
piers to these cribs, and laid with rails ; and the 







girder was run over its exact place, while still on 
the trucks in which it had been brought up from 
the coast. It was next "jacked" up from the 
trucks, which were hauled away empty, the 
temporary bridge was dismantled, and the girder 
finally lowered gently into position. When the last 


girder was thus successfully placed, no time was lost 
in linking up the permanent way, and very soon I 
had the satisfaction of seeing the first train cross the 
finished work. 

Curiously enough, only a day or so after the 
bridge had been completed and the intermediate 
cribs cleared away, a tremendous rain-storm broke 


over the country. The river started to rise rapidly, 
soon flooding its banks and becoming a raging 
murky torrent, tearing up trees by the roots and 
whirling them along like straws. Steadily higher 
and higher rose the flood, and standing on my 
bridge, I watched expectantly for the two temporary 


trolley bridges which, it will be remembered, we 
had built across the stream in order to bring stone 
and sand to the main work to give way before the 
ever-rising volume of water. Nor had I long to 
w r ait ; for I soon caught sight of a solid mass of 
palm stems and railway sleepers sweeping with 
almost irresistible force round the bend of the river 



some little distance above the bridge. This I knew 
was the debris of the trolley crossing furthest up 
the river. On it came, and with it an additional 
bank of stormy-looking water. I held my breath 
for the space of a moment as it actually leaped at 
the second frail structure ; there was a dull thud and 


a rerrding and riving of timbers, and then the flood 
rolled on towards me, leaving not a vestige of the 
two bridges behind it. The impact, indeed, was so 
great that the rails were twisted round the broken 


tree-trunks as if they had been so much ordinary 
wire. The double tier of wreckage now swept 
forward, and hurled itself with a sullen plunge 


against the cutwaters of my stone piers. The shock 
was great, but to my immense satisfaction the 
bridge took it without a tremor, and I saw the 
remnant of the temporary crossings swirl through 
the great spans and quickly disappear on its journey 
to the ocean. I confess that I witnessed the whole 
occurrence with a thrill of pride. 

We were never long without excitement of some 
kind or another at Tsavo. When the camp was 
not being attacked by man-eating lions, it was 
visited by leopards, hyaenas, wild dogs, wild cats, 
and other inhabitants of the jungle around us. 
These animals did a great deal of damage to the 
herds of sheep and goats which were kept to supply 
the commissariat, and there was always great rejoic- 
ing when a capture was made in one of the many 
traps that were laid for them. Leopards especially 
are most destructive, often killing simply for pleasure 
and not for food : and I have always harboured 
animosity towards them since the night when one 
wantonly destroyed a whole herd of mine. I hap : 
pened at the time to have a flock of about thirty 
sheep and goats which I kept for food and for milk, 
and which were secured at sundown in a grass hut 
at one corner of my boma. One particularly dark 
night we were startled by a tremendous commotion 
in this shed, but as this was before the man-eaters 
were killed, no one dared stir out to investigate the 



cause of the disturbance. I naturally thought that 
the intruder was one of the "demons," but all I 
could do was to fire several shots in the direction of 
the hut, hoping to frighten him away. In spite of 
these, however, it was some time before the noise 
died down and everything became still again. As 
soon as it was dawn I went to the shed to see what 
had happened, and there, to my intense anger, I 
found every one of my sheep and goats lying 
stretched dead on the ground with its throat bitten 
through. A hole had been made through the frail 
wall of the shed, and I saw from this and from the 
tracks all found that the author of the wholesale 
slaughter had been a leopard. He had not eaten 
one of the flock, but had killed them all out of pure 
love of destruction. 

I hoped that he would return the next night to 
make a mea* ; and should he do so, I determined to 
have my revenge. I accordingly left the carcases 
exactly as they lay, and having a very powerful 
steel trap like an enormous rat-trap, and quite 
strong enough to hold a leopard if he should put 
his foot in it I placed this in the opening into the 
shed and secured it by a stout chain to a long stake 
driven into the ground outside. Darkness found 
everyone in my botna on the alert and listening 
anxiously to hear the noise the leopard would make 
the moment he was caught in the trap. Nor were 


we disappointed, for about midnight we heard the 
click of the powerful spring, followed immediately 
by frantic roaring and plunging. I had been sitting 
all evening with my rifle by my side and a lantern 
lighted, so I immediately rushed out, followed by the 
chankidar (watchman) carrying the lamp. As we 
approached the shed, the leopard made a frantic 
spring in our direction as far as the chain would 
allow him, and this so frightened the chaukidar that 
he fled in terror, leaving me in utter darkness. 
The night was as black as had been the previous one, 
and I could see absolutely nothing ; but I knew the 
general direction in which to fire and accordingly 
emptied my magazine at the beast. As far as I 
could make out, he kept dodging in and out through 
the broken wall of the goat-house ; but in a short 
time my shots evidently told, as his struggles ceased 
and all was still. I called out that he was dead, 
and at once everyone in the boma turned out, 
bringing all the lanterns in the place. With the 
others came my Indian overseer, who shouted that 
he too wanted revenge, as some of the goats had 
belonged to him. Whereupon he levelled his 
revolver at the dead leopard, and shutting his eyes 
tightly, fired four shots in rapid succession. Natur- 
ally not one of these touched the beast, but they 
caused considerable consternation amongst the on- 
lookers, who scattered rapidly to right and left 

I 2 


Next morning a party of starving Wa Kamba 
happened to be passing just as I was about to skin 
the leopard, and asked by means of signs to be 
allowed to do the job for me and then to take the 
meat. I of course assented to this proposal, and in 
a very few minutes the skin had been neatly taken 
off, and the famishing natives began a ravenous 
meal on the raw flesh. 

Wild dogs are also very destructive, and often 
caused great losses among our sheep and goats. 
Many a night have I listened to these animals 
hunting and harrying some poor creature of the 
wilds round my camp ; they never relinquish a 
chase, and will attack anything, man or beast, when 
really driven by hunger. I was at Tsavo Station 
one day unfortunately without my rifle when one 
of these dogs came up and stood within about 
thirty yards of me. He was a fine-looking beast, 
bigger than a collie, with jet-black hair and a 
white-tipped bushy tail. I was very sorry that I 
had not brought my rifle, as I badly wanted a 
specimen and never had another chance of obtain- 



I HAVE always been very keenly interested in the 
different native races of Africa, and consequently 
availed myself of every opportunity of studying their 
manners and customs. I had little scope for this at 
Tsavo, however, as the district around us was practic- 
ally uninhabited. Still there was of course a good 
number of Swahili among my workmen, together 
with a few Wa Kamba, Wa N'yam Wezi, and others, 
so I soon became more or less acquainted with 
the habits of these tribes. The Swahili live 
principally along the coast of British East Africa 
and at Zanzibar. They are a mixed race, being 
the descendants of Arab fathers and negro mothers. 
Their name is derived from the Arabic word sudhil, 
coast ; but it has also been said, by some who have 
found them scarcely so guileless as might have been 
expected, to be really a corruption of the words 
sawa kill, that is, " those who cheat all alike." How- 



ever that may be, the men are as a rule of splendid 
physique and well qualified for the calling that the 
majority of them follow, that of caravan porters. They 
are a careless, light-hearted, improvident people, and 
are very fond of all the good things of this world, 
enjoying them thoroughly whenever they get the 



chance. Their life is spent in journeying to and from 
the interior, carrying heavy loads of provisions and 
trade-goods on the one journey, and returning with 
similar loads of ivory or other products of the 
country. They are away for many months at a 
time on these expeditions, and consequently as 
they cannot spend money on the march they 


have a goodly number of rupees to draw on 
their return to Mombasa. These generally dis- 
appear with wonderful rapidity, and when no more 
fun can be bought, they join another caravan 
and begin a new safari to the Great Lakes, or 
even beyond. Many a time have I watched them 


trudging along the old caravan road which crossed 
the Tsavo at a ford about half a mile from the 
railway station : here a halt was always called, so 
that thev migfht wash and bathe in the cool waters 

s c> 

of the river. 

Nothing ever seems to damp the spirits of the 
Swahili porter. Be his life ever so hard, his load 


ever so heavy, the moment it is off his back and he 
has disposed of \\\s posko (food), he straightway for- 
gets all his troubles, and begins to laugh and sing 


and joke with his fellows as if he were the happiest 
and luckiest mortal alive. Such was my cook, 
Mabruki, and his merry laugh was quite infectious. 
I remember that one day he was opening a tin of 




biscuits for me, and not being able to pull off the 
under-licl with his fingers, he seized the flap in his 
magnificent teeth and tugged at it. I shouted to 
him to stop, thinking that he might break a tooth ; 
but he misunderstood my solicitude and gravely 
assured me that he would not spoil the tin ! 

The Swahili men wear a long white cotton 
garment, like a night-shirt, called a kanzu; the 
women who are too liberally endowed to be 
entirely graceful go about with bare arms and 
shoulders, and wear a long brightly-coloured cloth 
which they wind tightly round their bosoms and 
then allow to fall to the feet. All are followers of 
the Prophet, and their social customs are con- 
sequently much the same as those of any other 
Mohammedan race, though with a good admixture 
of savagedom. They have a happy knack of 
giving a nickname to every European with whom 
they have to do, such nickname generally making 
reference to something peculiar or striking in his 
habits, temper, or appearance. On the whole, they 
are a kindly, generous folk, whom one cannot help 

Of the many tribes which are to be seen about 
the railway on the way up from the coast, perhaps 
the most extraordinary-looking are the Wa Nyika, 
the people who inhabit the thorny nyika (wilder- 
ness) which borders on the Taru Desert. They 


are exceedingly ugly and of a low type. The men 
wear nothing in the way of dress but a scanty and 
very dirty cloth thrown over the shoulders, while 
the women attire themselves only in a short kilt 
which is tied round them very lowlat the waist. 


Both men and women adorn themselves with brass 
chains round the neck and coils of copper and iron 
wire round the arms. 

The nearest native inhabitants to Tsavo are the 
Wa Taita, who dwell in the mountains near N'dii, 
some thirty miles away. My work often took me 
to this place, and on one of my visits, finding 



myself with some spare time on my hands, I set 
out to pay a long" promised visit to the District 
Officer. A fairly good road ran from N'dii Station 
to his house at the foot of the mountains, about four 
miles away, and on my arrival I was not only most 
hospitably entertained but was also introduced to 

M'gogo, the Head Chief of the Wa Taita, who had 
just come in for a shauri (consultation) about 
some affair of State. The old fellow appeared 
delighted to meet me, and promptly invited me to 
his kraal, some way up the hills. I jumped at the 
prospect of seeing the Wa Taita at home, so 
presently off we started on our heavy climb, my 
Indian servant, Bhawal, coming with us. After a 


couple of hours' steady scramble up a steep and 
slippery goat-path, we arrived at M'gogo's capital, 
where I was at once introduced to his wives, who 
were busily engaged in making pombe (a native 
fermented drink) in the hollowed-out stump of a 


tree. I presented one of them with an orange for. 
her child, but she did not understand what it was, 
for on tasting it she made a wry face and would not 
eat it. Still she did not throw it away, but carefully 
put it into a bag with her other treasures doubtless 
for future investigation. As soon as the women 
saw Bhawal, however, he became the centre of 
attraction, and I was eclipsed. He happened to 


have on a new puggaree, with lots of gold work 
on it, and this took their fancy immensely ; they 
examined every line most carefully and went into 
ecstasies over it just as their European sisters 
would have done over the latest Parisian creation. 

We made a short halt for rest and refreshment, 
and then started again on our journey to the top of 
the hills. After a stiff climb for another two hours, 
part of it through a thick black forest, we emerged 
on the summit, where I found I was well rewarded 
for my trouble by the magnificent views we 
obtained on all sides. The great Kilima N'jaro 
stood out particularly well, and made a very effec- 
tive background to the fine panorama. I was 
surprised to find a number of well-fed cattle on the 
mountain top, but I fancy M'gogo thought I was 
casting an evil spell over them when he saw me 
taking photographs of them as they grazed 
peacefully on the sweet grass which covered the 

Like most other natives of Africa, the Wa Taita 
are exceedingly superstitious, and this failing is 
turned to good account by the all-powerful " witch- 
doctor " or "medicine-man." It is, for instance, an 
extraordinary sight to see the absolute faith with 
which a Ki Taita will blow the simba-dawa, or 
"lion medicine", to the four points of the compass 
before lying down to sleep in the open. This 


daw a which is, of course, obtainable only from 
the witch-doctor consists simply of a little black 
powder, usually carried in a tiny horn stuck through 
a slit in the ear; but the Ki Taita firmly believes 
that a few grains 
of this dust blown 
round him from 
the palm of the 
hand is a complete 
safeguard against 
raging lions seek- 
ing whom they 
may devour ; and 
after the blowing 
ceremony he will 
lie down to sleep in 
perfect confidence, 
even in the midst of 
a man-eater's dis- 
trict. In the nature 
of things, more- 
over, he never loses 

this touching faith in the efficacy of the witch- 
doctor's charm ; for if he is attacked by a lion, the 
brute sees to it that he does not live to become an 
unbeliever, while if he is not attacked, it is of 
course quite clear that it is to the daw a that he 
owes his immunity. 



For the rest, the Wa Taita are essentially a 
peace-loving and industrious people ; and, indeed, 
before the arrival of the British in the country, they 
hardly ever ventured down from their mountain 
fastnesses, owing to their dread of the warlike 
Masai. Each man has as many wives as he can 
afford to pay for in sheep or cattle ; he provides 
each spouse with a separate establishment, but the 
family huts are clustered together, and as a rule all 
live in perfect harmony. The most curious custom 
of the tribe is the filing of the front teeth into sharp 
points, which gives the whole face a most peculiar 
and rather diabolical expression. As usual, their 
ideas of costume are rather primitive ; the men 
sometimes wear a scrap of cloth round the loins, 
while the women content themselves with the same 
or with a short kilt. Both sexes adorn themselves 
with a great quantity of copper or iron wire coiled 
round their arms and legs, and smear their bodies 
all over with grease, the men adding red clay to the 
mixture. Many of the women also wear dozens of 
rows of beads, while their ears are hung with pieces 
of chain and other fantastic ornaments. The men 
always carry bows and poisoned arrows, as well as 
a seemie (a short, roughly-fashioned sword) hung on 
a leathern thong round the waist. A three-legged 
stool is also an important part of their equipment, 
and is slung on the shoulder when on the march. 


The next people met with on the road to the 
Great Lakes are the Wa Kamba, who inhabit the 
Ukambani province, and may be seen from M'toto 
Andei to the Athi River. They are a very large 
tribe, but have little cohesion, being- split up into 
many clans under chiefs 
who govern in a patri- 
archal kind of way. In 
appearance and dress 
or the want of it they 
are very like the Wa 
Taita, and they have the 
same custom of filing 
the front teeth. As a 
rule, too, they are a 
peace-loving people, 
though when driven to 
it by hunger they will 
commit very cruel and 
treacherous acts of 
wholesale murder. 
While the railway was 

being constructed, a severe famine occurred in their 
part of the country, when hundreds of them died of 
starvation. During this period they several times 
swooped clown on isolated railway maintenance gangs 
and utterly annihilated them, in order to obtain pos- 
session of the food which they knew would be stored 




in the camps. These attacks were always made by 
night. Like most other native races in East Africa, 
their only arms are the bow and poisoned arrow, 
but in the use of these primitive weapons they are 
specially expert. The arrow-head remains in the 
flesh when the shaft is withdrawn, and if the poison 
is fresh, paralysis and death very quickly follow, the 
skin round the wound turning yellow and mortifying 
within an hour or two. This deadly poison is 
obtained, I believe, by boiling down a particular 
root, the arrow-heads being clipped in the black, 
pitchy-looking essence which remains. I am glad to 
say, however, that owing to the establishment of 
several Mission Stations amongst them, the \Va 
Kamba are quickly becoming the most civilised 
natives in the country ; and the missionaries have 
adopted the sensible course of teaching the people 
husbandry and the practical arts and crafts of 
everyday life, in addition to caring for their spiritual 



DURING my stay at Tsavo I made many little 
excursions into the surrounding country, and used 
to go off on a short shooting and exploring expe- 
dition whenever I had the opportunity. I was 
especially anxious to bag a hippopotamus, so I 
made up my mind to try my luck on the banks of 
the Sabaki. Unfortunately, I possessed no heavy 
rifle, which is almost a necessity for hippo shooting, 
but it occurred to me to supply the deficiency by 
manufacturing a few cartridges for my smooth-bore. 
In these I had double charges of powder and a 
hardened bullet made of lead mixed with about 
an eighth part of tin. I well remember the anxiety 
with which I fired the first round of my home-made 
ammunition. As I more than half expected that 
the barrel would burst, I lashed the gun in the fork 
of a tree, tied a piece of string a hundred feet long- 
to the trigger, and then taking shelter behind a 

K 2 


friendly stump pulled off. To my great satisfac- 
tion the barrel stood the test perfectly. More than 
that, on trying the penetrative effect of my bullets, I 
found that they would smash through a steel plate 
an eighth of an inch thick at thirty yards' range. 
This was quite good enough for my purpose, and 
gave me great confidence in the weapon. All the 
same, I had a very narrow escape one day while 
manufacturing some of this ammunition. My plan 
was to remove the shot from the cartridge, put in 
the additional powder, and ram this well in before 
replacing the wad and putting in the bullet. I had 
clamped my refilling machine to my rough-hewn 
table, and was stamping the double charge of 
powder well down into the cartridge, when suddenly, 
for some unknown reason, the whole charge ex- 
ploded right into my face. Everything became 
pitch dark to me, and I groped my way about the 
little hut in agony of mind as well as of body, for I 
thought I had been blinded. I am thankful to say, 
however, that gleams of light soon began to return 
to my eyes, and in a few hours' time I was almost 
all right again and able to go on with my cartridge 

All my preparations having been made, I set out 
for the Sabaki, taking with me my Indian gun- 
bearer Mahina, my cook Mabruki, a bhisti (water- 
carrier), and a couple of natives to carry our odds 


and ends. On these occasions I usually took no 
tent, but bivouacked in the open. We took some 
bread and a few tinned provisions with us, but I 
could always depend upon getting a paa, guinea- 
fowl, partridge or rock-rabbit for the larder on the 
march. These rock-rabbits are more like big rats 
than rabbits, and are found in oreat numbers amon<r 

o o 

the rocks along the banks of the rivers. They are 
not at all bad eating, but the Swahili will not touch 
them. They call them tupu (shameless, naked 
things), owing to their lack of a tail, of which indeed 
they possess not even a vestige. 

Our route lay by the always interesting Tsavo 
River. Along the banks everything within reach of 
its moisture is delightfully fresh and green. Palms 
and other trees, festooned with brilliant flowering 
creepers, flourish along its course ; all kinds of 
monkeys chatter and jabber in the shade overhead 
as they swing themselves from branch to branch, 
while birds of the most gorgeous plumage flutter 
about, giving a very tropical aspect to the scene. 
On the other hand, if one is tempted to stray away 
from the river, be it only for a few yards, one comes 
immediately into the parched, thorny wilderness of 
stunted, leafless trees. Here the sun beats down 
pitilessly, and makes the nyika of the Tsavo valley 
almost intolerable. The river has its source at the 
foot of snow-crowned Kilima N'jaro, whence it 


flows for about eighty miles in a northerly direction 
until it joins the Athi River, about seven miles 
below Tsavo Station. From this point the united 
streams take the name of Sabaki and flow more or 
less eastwards until they reach the Indian Ocean at 
Malindi, some seventy miles north of Mombasa. 

A narrow and tortuous Masai warpath winds 
along its whole length, but although we followed 
this trail our journey was nevertheless a very slow 


one, owing to the overhanging branches and 
creepers, from which we had constantly to be dis- 
engaged. The march was full of interest, however, 
for it was not long before we came upon fresh tracks 
both of hippo and rhino. Every now and again, 
also, we caught glimpses of startled bush-buck and 
water-buck, while occasionally the sound of a splash 
in the water told of a wary crocodile. We had gone 
about half the distance to the Sabaki when we came 
upon an unexpected obstacle in the shape of a great 


J 35 

ridge of barren, rugged rock, about a hundred feet 
high, which extended for about a mile or so on both 
banks of the river. The sides of this gorge went 
sheer down into the water, and were quite im- 
possible to scale. I therefore determined to make 
a detour round it, but Mahina was confident that he 
could walk along in the river itself. I hinted mildly 
at the possibility of there being crocodiles under the 
rocky ledges. Mahina declared, however, that 
there was no clanger, and making a bundle of his 
lower garments, he tied it to his back and stepped 
into the water. For a few minutes all went well. 
Then, in an instant, he was lifted right off his feet 
by the rush of the water and whirled away. The 
river took a sharp bend in this gorge, and he was 
round it and out of our sight in no time, the last 
glimpse we caught of him showing him vainly trying 
to catch hold of an overhanging branch. Although 
we at once made all the haste we could to get round 
the ridge of rocks, it took us nearly half an hour to 
do it. I had almost given up hope of ever seeing 
Mahina again, and was much relieved, therefore, 
when we reached the river-side once more, to find 
him safe and sound, and little the worse for his 
adventure. Luckily he had been dashed up against 
a rushy bank, and had managed to scramble out 
with no more serious damage than a bruised shin. 
Eventually we arrived at the junction of the 




rivers and proceeded some way down the Sabaki, 
beside which the Tsavo looks very insignificant. 
Several islands are dotted about in mid-stream 
and are overgrown with tall reeds and rushes, 
in which hippo find capital covert all the year 


round. As with the Tsavo, the banks of the 
Sabaki are lined with trees of various kinds, 
affording most welcome shade from the heat of 
the sun : and skirting the river is a caravan road 
from the interior still used, I believe, for smug- 
gling slaves and ivory to the coast, where dhows 
are in readiness to convey them to Persia or Arabia. 


After an early dinner, which Mabruki soon got 
ready, I left my followers encamped in a safe 
boma a mile away from the river, and started 
out with Mahina to find a suitable tree, near a 
hippo " run ", in which to spend the night. 
Having some difficulty in finding a likely spot, 
we crossed to the other side of the river 
rather a risky thing to do on account of the 
number of crocodiles in it : we found a fairly 
shallow ford, however, and managed to get safely 
over. Here, on what was evidently an island 
during flood time, we found innumerable traces of 
both hippo and rhino in fact the difficulty was 
to decide which track was the best and freshest. 
At length I picked out a tree close to the river 
and commanding a stretch of sand which was all 
flattened down and looked as if at least one hippo 
rolled there regularly every night. 

As there was still about an hour before sundown, 
we did not take up our station at once, but pro- 
ceeded along the bank to see if any other game was 
about. We had not gone very far when Mahina, 
who was a little way ahead, signalled to me, and 
on joining him I saw a splendid-looking water- 
buck standing in a shallow pool of the river. It 
was the first time I had seen one of these fine 
antelope, and I was delighted with the sight. I 
might have got twenty yards or so nearer, but 


I thought I had better not risk moving, so I 
aimed at the shoulder and fired. The buck gave 
one leap into the air, and then turned and galloped 
quickly behind an island which completely hid 
him from view. We waited for him to clear the 
rushes at the other end of this island, but as he 
did not appear I got impatient and plunged into 
the river, regardless of crocodiles or anything 
else. On rounding the island, however, he was 
nowhere to be seen, and had evidently turned 
off while in the shelter of the reeds and so 
gained the opposite bank. I was keenly dis- 
appointed at my failure, for it was impossible to 
follow him up : to do so we should have had to 
make a long detour to get across the river, and 
by that time darkness would have set in. This 
incident shows the great drawback to the '303 
namely, that it has very little knock-down effect 
unless it strikes a vital part ; and even then, in 
a bush country, an animal may manage to go 
far enough to be lost. On the other hand, an 
animal wounded with a hard bullet is likely to 
make a speedy recovery, which is a great blessing. 

Mahina was even more upset at the escape of the 
buck than I was, and as we trudged back through 
the sand to our tree, he was full of gloomy forebod- 
ings of an unlucky night. By the light of a 
splendid full moon we settled ourselves on a great 


outspreading branch, and commenced our vigil. 
Soon the jungle around us began to be alive 
with its peculiar sounds a night bird would call, 
a crocodile shut his jaws with a snap, or a rhino 
or hippo crash through the bushes on its way to 
the water : now and again we could even hear 
the distant roar of the lion. Still there was nothing 
to be seen. 

After waiting for some considerable time, a 
great hippo at last made his appearance and 
came splashing along in our direction, but unfor- 
tunately took up his position behind a tree which, 
in the most tantalising way, completely hid him 
from view. Here he stood tooting and snorting 
and splashing about to his heart's content. For 
what seemed hours I watched for this ungainly 
creature to emerge from his covert, but as he 
seemed determined not to show himself I lost 
patience and made up my mind to go down after 
him. I therefore handed my rifle to Mahina to 
lower to me on reaching the ground, and began 
to descend carefully, holding on by the creepers 
which encircled the tree. To my intense vexation 
and disappointment, just as I was in this helpless 
condition, half-way to the ground, the great 
hippo suddenly came out from his shelter and 
calmly lumbered along right underneath me. I 
bitterly lamented my ill-luck and want of patience, 


for I could almost .have touched his broad back 
as he passed. It was under these exasperating- 
conditions that I saw a hippo for the first time, and 
without doubt he is the ugliest and most forbidding 
looking brute I have ever beheld. 

The moment the great beast had passed our tree, 
he scented us, snorted loudly, and dived into the 
bushes close by, smashing through them like a 
traction engine. In screwing myself round to 
watch him go, I broke the creepers by which I was 
holding on and landed on my back in the sand at 
the foot of the tree none the worse for my short 
drop, but considerably startled at the thought that 
the hippo might come back at any moment. I 
climbed up to my perch again without loss of time, 
but he was evidently as much frightened as I was, 
and returned no more. Shortly after this we saw- 
two rhino come down to the river to drink ; they 
were too far off for a shot, however, so I did not 
disturb them, and they gradually waddled up-stream 
out of sight. Then we heard the awe-inspiring- 
roar of a hungry lion close by, and presently 
another hippo gave forth his tooting challenge a 
little way down the river. As there seemed no 
likelihood of getting a shot at him from our tree, I 
made up my mind to stalk him on foot, so we both 
descended from our perch and made our way slowly- 
through the trees in the semi-darkness. There 


were numbers of animals about, and I am sure that 
neither of us felt very comfortable as we crept along 
in the direction of the splashing hippo ; for my own 
part I fancied every moment that I saw in front of 
me the form of a rhino or a lion ready to charge 
down upon us out of the shadow of the bush. 

In this manner, with nerves strung to the highest 
pitch, we reached the edge of the river in safety, 
only to find that we were again baulked by a small 
rush-covered island, on the other side of which our 
quarry could be heard. There was a good breeze 
blowing directly from him, however, so I thought 
the best thing to do was to attempt to get on to the 
island and to have a shot at him from there. 
Mahina, too, was eager for the fray, so we let our- 
selves quietly into the water, which here was quite 
shallow and reached only to our knees, and waded 
slowly across. On peering cautiously through the 
reeds at the corner of the island, I was surprised to 
find that I could see nothing of the hippo ; but I 
soon realised that I was looking too far ahead, for 
on lowering my eyes there he was, not twenty-five 
yards away, lying down in the shallow water, only 
half covered and practically facing us. His 
closeness to us made me rather anxious for our 
safety, more especially as just then he rose to his 
feet and gave forth the peculiar challenge or call 
which we had already heard so often during the 


night. All the same, as he raised his head, I fired 
at it. He whirled round, made a plunge forward, 
staggered and fell, and then lay quite still. To 
make assurance doubly sure, I gave him a couple 
more bullets as he lay, but we found afterwards 
that they were not needed, as my first shot had been 
a very lucky one and had penetrated the brain. 
We left him where he fell and got back to our 
perch, glad and relieved to be in safety once more. 
As soon as it was daylight we were joined by my 
own men and by several Wa Kamba, who had 
been hunting in the neighbourhood. The natives 
cut out the tusks of the hippo, which were rather 
good ones, and feasted ravenously on the flesh, 
while I turned my attention with gratitude to the 
hot coffee and cakes which Mabruki had meanwhile 



IMMEDIATELY after breakfast camp was struck, 
and accompanied by a few of the Wa Kamba, we 
started off for the N'dungu Escarpment a frown- 
ing ridge which runs for a great distance parallel to 
the Sabaki, some three or four miles from its 
northern bank. We had not gone very far before I 
caught sight of a fine water-buck and successfully 
bowled him over a good omen for the day, which 
put us all in excellent spirits. Mabruki cut off 
several strips of the tough meat and impaled them 
on a sharp stick to dry in the sun as he went along. 
I warned him that he had better be careful that a 
lion did not scent the meat, as if it did it would be 
sure to follow up and kill him. Of course I did not 
mean this seriously ; but Mabruki was a great 
glutton, and by no means courageous, so I wanted 
to frighten him. 

As we trudged along towards the hill, I heard a 



peculiar noise behind a small rising on our right, 
and on looking over the crest, I was delighted to 
see two beautiful giraffe feeding peacefully a little 


distance away and straining their long necks to get 
at the tops of some mimosa-like trees, while a young 
one was lying down in the grass quite close to me. 
For some time I remained concealed, watching the 


full-grown pair with great interest : they had evi- 
dently just come up from the river, and were slowly 
making their way back to their home on the escarp- 
ment. They seemed on the most affectionate terms, 
occasionally entwining their great long necks and 

TO ME." 

gently biting each other on the shoulders. Much 
as I should have liked to have added a giraffe to 
my collection of trophies, I left them undisturbed, 
as I think it a pity to shoot these rather rare and 
very harmless creatures, unless one is required for a 
special purpose. 

We pushed on, accordingly, towards the escarp- 


ment, for I was very impatient to get to the top and 
explore a place where I felt convinced no other 
white man had ever set foot. From the river the 
ground rose gently upwards to the foot of the ridge, 
and was covered more or less densely with stunted 
trees and bushes, and of course the inevitable 
" wait-a-bit " thorns. I was fortunate enough, 
however, to find a rhino path which afforded a fairly 
comfortable and open road, on which we could 
walk upright the greater part of the way. The 
climb up the escarpment itself was a stiff one, and 
had to be negotiated principally on all-fours, but on 
the way up I discovered that there was an enormous 
cleft some miles to the right which would probably 
have afforded an easier ascent. I had not time to 
explore it on this particular day, but I made a 
mental note to do so on some future occasion. 

After a two hours' journey from the river we sat 
panting on the summit after our scramble and sur- 
veyed the valley of the Tsavo, which lay spread out 
like a map about five hundred feet below us. Our 
home tents, the bridge, Tsavo Station and other 
buildings were plainly visible, and the railway itself, 
like a shining snake, could be seen for many miles 
winding its way through the parched wilderness. 
Having taken a few photographs of the scene, we 
turned and struck through the N'dungu Plateau. 
Here I found the same kind of nyika as that round 


Tsavo, the only difference being- that there were 
more green trees about. The country, moreover, 
was somewhat more open, and was intersected by 
hundreds of broad and well-beaten animal paths, 
along which we could walk upright in comfort. I was 
leading the way, followed closely by Mahina and 
Mabruki, when suddenly we almost walked upon a 
lion which was lying down at the side of the 
path and which had probably been asleep. It gave 
a fierce growl and at once bounded off through the 
bush ; but to Mabruki who doubtless recalled then 
the warning I had given him in fun earlier in the 
day the incident appeared so alarming that he flung 
down his stick-load of meat and fled for his life, 
much to the amusement of the others, even the 
usually silent Wa Kamba joining in the general 
laughter as they scrambled for the discarded meat. 
\Ve saw nothing more of the lion, though a few steps 
further on brought us to the remains of a zebra 


which he had recently killed and feasted on ; but 
after this Mabruki kept carefully in the rear. 
Curiously enough, only a short while later we 
had an exactly similar adventure with a rhino, as 
owing to the tortuous nature of the path, we walked 
rio-ht into it before we were aware. Like the 


lion, however, it was more frightened than we, and 
charged away from us through the jungle. 

For about two hours we pursued our journey into 

L 2 


the plateau, and saw and heard a wonderful variety 
of game, including- giraffe, rhino, bush-buck, the 
lesser kudu, zebra, wart - hog, baboons and 
monkeys, and any number of pact, the last being of 
a redder colour than those of the Tsavo valley. Of 
natives or of human habitations, however, we saw 
no signs, and indeed the whole region was so 
dry and waterless as to be quite uninhabitable. The 
animals that require water have to make a nightly 
journey to and from the Sabaki, which accounts for 
the thousands of animal paths leading from the 
plateau to the river. 

By this time we were all beginning to feel 
very tired, and the bkistis stock of water was 
running low. I therefore climbed the highest 
tree I could find in order to have a good look 
round, but absolutely nothing could I see in any 
direction but the same flat thorny wilderness, inter- 
spersed here and there with a few green trees ; 
not a landmark of any sort or kind as far as 
the eye could reach ; a most hopeless, terrible 
place should one be lost in it, with certain death 
either by thirst or by savage beasts staring one 
in the face. Clearly, then, the only thing to do 
was to return to the river ; and in order to accom- 
plish this before dark it was necessary that no time 
should be lost. But we had been winding in and 
out so much through the animal paths that it was no 


easy matter to say in which direction the Sabaki lay. 
First I consulted my Wa Kamba followers as to the 
route back ; they simply shook their heads. Then 
I asked Mahma, who pointed out a direction exactly 
opposite to that which I felt confident was the right 
one. Mabruki, of course, knew nothing, but volun- 
teered the helpful and cheering information that 
we were lost and would all be killed by lions. 
In these circumstances, I confirmed my own idea 
as to our way by comparing my watch and the 
sun, and gave the order to start at once. For 
two solid hours, however, we trudged along in 
the fearful heat without striking a single familiar 
object or landmark. Mabruki murmured loudly ; 
even Mahina expressed grave doubts as to whether 
the " Sahib " had taken the right direction ; only 
the Wa Kamba stalked along in re-assuring silence. 
For some time we had been following a broad 
white rhino path, and the great footmarks of one 
of these beasts were fresh and plainly visible in 
the dust. He had been travelling in the opposite 
direction to us, and I felt sure that he must have 
been returning from drinking in the river. I 
accordingly insisted on our keeping to this path, 
and very soon, to my great relief, we found that we 
were at the edge of the escarpment, a couple of 
miles away from the place where we had made the 
ascent. Here a halt was called ; a sheet was spread 


over some of the stunted trees, and under its shade 
we rested for half an hour, had some food, and drank 
the last of our water. After this we pushed on 
with renewed vigour, and arrived at the Sabaki 
in good time before sundown, having bagged a 
couple of guinea-fowl and a paa on the way to serve 
for dinner. After the long and fatiguing day my 
bathe in a clear shady pool was a real delight, but I 
might not have enjoyed it quite so much if I 
had known then of the terrible fate which awaited 
one of my followers in the same river the next clay. 
By the time I got back to camp supper was ready 
and fully appreciated. The tireless Mahina had 
also collected some dry grass for my bed, and I 
turned in at once, with my rifle handy, and slept the 
sleep of the just, regardless of all the wild beasts in 

At dawn Mabruki roused me with a cup of 
steaming hot coffee and some biscuits, and a start 
was at once made on our return journey to Tsavo. 
The place where we had struck the Sabaki the 
previous evening was some miles further down the 
stream than I had ever been before, so I decided to 
take advantage of the Masai trail along its bank 
until the Tsavo River was reached. I did not think 
we should meet with any further adventure on 
our way home, but in the wilds the unexpected is 
always happening. Shortly after we started one of 


the Wa Kamba went down to the river's edge 
to fill his calabash with water, when a crocodile 
suddenly rose up out of the stream, seized the poor 
fellow and in a moment had dragged him in. I was 
on ahead at the time and so did not witness the 
occurrence, but on hearing the cries of the others I 


ran back as quickly as possible too late, however, 
to see any sign of either crocodile or native. 
Mahina philosophically remarked that after all it was 
only a washenzi (savage), whose loss did not much 
matter ; and the other three Wa Kamba certainly 
did not appear to be affected by the incident, but 
calmly possessed themselves of their dead com- 
panion's bow and quiver of poisoned arrows, and 


of the stock of meat which he had left on the 

I have since learned that accidents of this kind 
are of fairly frequent occurrence along the banks of 
these rivers. On one occasion while I was in the 
country a British officer had a very lucky escape. 
He was filling his water bottle at the river, when 
one of these brutes caught him by the hand and 
attempted to draw him in. Fortunately one of his 
servants rushed to his assistance and managed to 
pull him out of the crocodile's clutches with the loss 
only of two of his fingers. 

As we made our way up the Sabaki, we 
discovered a beautiful waterfall about a hundred' 
and fifty feet high not a sheer drop, but a series 
of cascades. At this time the river was in low 
water, and the falls consequently did not look their 
best ; but in flood time they form a fine sight, and 
the thunder of the falling water can then be plainly 
heard at Tsavo, over seven miles away, when the 
wind is in the right direction. We crossed the 
river on the rocks at the head of these falls, and 
after some hours' hard marching reached camp 
without further incident. 



THERE were some rocky-looking hills lying to the 
south-west of Tsavo which I was particularly 
anxious to explore, so on one occasion when work 
had been stopped for the day owing to lack of 
material, I set off for them, accompanied by Mahina 
and a Punjaubi coolie, who was so stout that he 
went by the name of Moota (i.e. " Fattie "). In 
the course of my little excursions round Tsavo I 
gradually discovered that I was nearly always able 
to make my way to any required point of the 
compass by following certain well-defined animal 
paths, which I mapped out bit by bit during my 
explorations. On this occasion, for instance, as 
soon as we had crossed the river and had struck 
into the jungle, we were fortunate enough to find a 
rhino path leading in the right direction, which 
greatly facilitated our progress. As we were making 
our way along this path through the dry bed of a 


nullah, I happened to notice that the sandy bottom 
sparkled here and there where the sunbeams pene- 
trated the dense foliage. This at once filled my 
head with thoughts of precious stones, and as the 
spot looked likely enough, I started to dig vigorously 
at the gravel with my hunting knife. After a few 
minutes of this work, I came across what I at first 
took to be a magnificent diamond sparkling in the 
damp sand : it was about half an inch long, and its 
facets looked as if they had been cut by an 
Amsterdam expert. I tested the stone on my watch 
glass and found that it cut my initials quite easily, 
and though I knew that quartz would do this as 
well, it did not seem to me to have either the general 
appearance or angles of any quartz I had ever seen. 
For a moment or two I was greatly delighted with 
my discovery, and began to have rosy dreams of a 
diamond mine ; but I am sorry to say that on closer 
examination and testing I was forced to the con- 
clusion that my find was not a diamond, though 
unlike any other mineral I had ever come across. 

My hopes of rapidly becoming a millionaire having 
thus been dashed to the ground, we proceeded on 
our way, getting further and further into the depths 
of a gloomy forest. A little distance on, I noticed 
through a break in the trees a huge rhino standing 
in full view near the edge of a ravine. Unfor- 
tunately he caught sight of us as well, and before I 


could take aim, he snorted loudly and crashed off 
through the tangled undergrowth. As I followed up 
this ravine, walking stealthily along in the delightful 
shade of the overhanging palms, I observed on 
my left a little nullah which opened out of the 
main channel through a confused mass of jungle 
and creeper. Through this tangle there was a 
well-defined archway, doubtless made by the regular 
passage of rhino and hippo, so I decided to enter 
and explore what lay beyond. I had not gone very 
far when I came upon a big bay scooped out of the 
bank by the stream when in flood and carpeted with 
a deposit of fine, soft sand, in which were the 
indistinct tracks of numberless animals. In one 
corner of this bay, close under an overhanging tree, 
stood a little sandy hillock, and on looking over the 
top of this I saw on the other side a fearsome- 
looking cave which seemed to run back for a con- 
siderable distance under the rocky bank. Round 
the entrance and inside the cavern I was thunder- 
struck to find a number of human bones, with here 
and there a copper bangle such as the natives wear. 
Beyond all doubt, the man-eaters' den! In this 
manner, and quite by accident, I stumbled upon the 
lair of these once-dreaded " demons ", which I had 
spent so many days searching for through the 
exasperating and interminable jungle during the 
time when they terrorised Tsavo, I had no in- 

i 5 6 



clination to explore the gloomy depths of the 
interior, but thinking that there might possibly still 
be a lioness or cub inside, I fired a shot or two into 
the cavern through a hole in the roof. Save for a 
swarm of bats, nothing came out ; and after taking 
a photograph of the cave, I gladly left the horrible 


spot, thankful that the savage and insatiable brutes 
which once inhabited it were no longer at large. 

Retracing my steps to the main ravine, I continued 
my journey along it. After a little while I fancied 
I saw a hippo among some tall rushes growing on 
the bank, and quickly signed to Mahina and Moota 
to stay perfectly still. I then made a careful stalk, 
only to discover, after all my trouble, that my eyes 


had deceived me and made me imagine a black 
bank and a few rushes to be a living animal. We 
now left the bed of the ravine, and advanced along 
the top. This turned out to be a good move, for 
soon we heard the galloping of a herd of some 
animal or other across our front. I rushed round a 
corner in the path a few yards ahead, and crouching 
under the bushes saw a line of startled zebras 
flying past. This was the first time I had seen 
these beautifully marked animals in their wild state, 
so I selected the largest and fired, and as I was 
quite close to them he dropped in his tracks stone- 
dead. When I stood over the handsome creature I 
was positively sorry for having killed him. Not so 
Moota, however, who rushed up in ecstasy, and 
before I could stop him had cut his throat. This 
was done, as he remarked, " to make the meat 
lawful," for Moota was a devout follower of the 
Prophet, and no true Mohammedan will eat the 
flesh of any animal unless the throat has been cut 
at the proper place and the blood allowed to flow. 
This custom has often caused me great annoyance, 
for Mohammedan followers rush in so quickly when 
an animal is shot and cut the head off so short that 
it is afterwards quite useless as a trophy. 

By the time the zebra was skinned, darkness was 
fast approaching, so we selected a suitable tree in 
which to pass the night. Under it we built a 


goodly fire, made some tea, and roasted a couple 
of quails which I had shot early in the day and 
which proved simply delicious. We then betook 
ourselves to the branches at least, Mahina and I 
did ; Moota was afraid of nothing, and said he 
would sleep on the ground. He was not so full of 
courage later on, however, for about midnight a 
great rhino passed our way, winded us and snorted 
so loudly that Moota scrambled in abject terror up 
our tree. He was as nimble as a monkey for all his 
stoutness, and never ceased climbing until he was 
far above us. We both laughed heartily at his 
extraordinary haste to get out of danger, and 
Mahina chaffed him unmercifully. 

The rest of the night passed without incident, 
and in the early morning, while the boys were pre- 
paring breakfast, I strolled off towards the rocky- 
hills which I had seen from Tsavo, and which were 
now only about half a mile distant. I kept a sharp 
look-out for game, but came across nothing save 
here and there a paa and a few guinea-fowl, until, 
just as I was about half-way round the hill, I saw 
a fine leopard lying on a rocky ledge basking in 
the morning sun. But he was too quick for me, 
and made off before I could get a shot ; I had not 
approached noiselessly enough, and a leopard is too 
wary a beast to be caught napping. Unfortunately 
I had no more time at my disposal in which to 


explore these hills, as I was anxious to resume 
work at Tsavo as soon as possible ; so after 
breakfast we packed up the zebra skin and 
began to retrace our steps through the jungle. 
It was an intensely hot day, and we were all 


very glad when at length we reached the home 

Most of my little trips of this sort, however, were 
made in a northerly direction, towards the ever- 
interesting Athi or Sabaki rivers. After a long and 
tiring walk through the jungle what a pleasure it 
was to lie up in the friendly shelter of the rushes 


which line the banks, and watch the animals come 
down to drink, all unconscious of my presence. I 
took several photographs of scenes of this kind, but 
unfortunately many of the negatives were spoiled. 
Often, too, on a brilliant moonlight night have I sat 
on a rock out in the middle of the stream, near a 
favourite drinking place, waiting for a shot at what- 
ever fortune might send my way. How exaspera- 
ting it was, when the wind changed at the critical 
moment, and gave me away to the rhino or other 
animal I had sat there for hours patiently awaiting ! 
Occasionally I would get heartily tired of my weary 
vigil and would wade ashore through the warm 
water, to make my bed in the soft sand regardless 
of the snap, snap of the crocodiles which could 
plainly be heard from the deeper pools up and down 
the river. At the time, being new to the country, 
I did not realise the risks I ran ; but later on after 
my poor Wa Kamba follower had been seized and 
dragged under, as I have already described I 
learned to be much more cautious. 

The shortest way of reaching the Athi river from 
Tsavo was to strike through the jungle in a north- 
westerly direction, and here there was luckily a par- 
ticularly well-defined rhino path which I always 
made use of. I discovered it quite by accident on 
one occasion when I had asked some guests, who 
were staying with me at Tsavo, to spend a night on 


the banks of the river. As we were making our way 
slowly and painfully through the dense jungle, I came 
across this well-trodden path, which appeared to lead 
in the direction in which I wished to go, and as I 
felt convinced that at any rate it would bring us to 
the river somewhere, I followed it with confidence. 
Our progress was now easy, and the track led 
through fairly open glades where traces of bush- 
buck and water-buck were numerous ; indeed once or 
twice we caught glimpses of these animals as they 
bounded away to the shelter of the thicket, warned 
by the sound of our approach. In the end, as I 
anticipated, the old rhino path proved a true guide, 
for it struck the Athi at an ideal spot for a camping 
ground, where some lofty trees close to the bank of 
the river gave a most grateful and refreshing shade. 
We had a delightful picnic, and my guests greatly 
enjoyed their night in the open, although one of 
them got rather a bad fright from a rhino which 
suddenly snorted close to our camp, evidently very 
annoyed at our intrusion on his domain. 

In the morning they went off as soon as it was 
light to try their luck along the river, while I 
remained in camp to see to breakfast. After an 
hour or more, however, they all returned, empty- 
handed but very hungry ; so when they had settled 
down to rest after a hearty meal, I thought I 
would sally forth and see if I could not meet 



with better success. I had gone only a short 
distance up the right bank of the river, when I 
thought I observed a movement among the bushes 
ahead of me. On the alert, I stopped instantly, and 
the next moment was rewarded by seeing a splendid 
bush-buck advance from the water in a most stately 
manner. I could only make out his head and neck 
above the undergrowth, but as he was only some 
fifty yards off, I raised my rifle to my shoulder to 
fire. This movement at once caught his eye, and 
for the fraction of a second he stopped to gaze at 
me, thus giving me time to aim at where I supposed 
his shoulder to be. When I fired, he disappeared 
so suddenly and so completely that I felt sure that I 
had missed him, and that he had made off through 
the bush. I therefore re-loaded, and advanced care- 
fully with the intention of following up his trail ; but 
to my unbounded delight I came upon the buck 
stretched out dead in his tracks, with my bullet 
through his heart. I lost no time in getting back 
to camp, the antelope swinging by his feet from a 
branch borne by two sturdy coolies : and my unlucky 
friends were very much astonished when they saw 
the fine bag I had secured in so short a time. The 
animal was soon skinned and furnished us with 
a delicious roast for lunch ; and in the cool of the 
evening we made our way back to Tsavo without 
further adventure. 


Some little time after this, while one of these 
same friends (Mr. C. Rawson) happened to be again 
at Tsavo, we were sitting after dark under the 
verandah of my hut. I wanted something from my 
tent, and sent Meeanh, my Indian chaukidar, to 
fetch it. He was going off in the dark to do so, 


when I called him back and told him to take a 
lantern for fear of snakes. This he did, and as soon 
as he got to the door of the tent, which was only a 
dozen yards off, he called out frantically, " Art, 
Sahib, hurra saiip hai ! " (" Oh, Master, there is a 
big snake here ! ") 

"Where?" I shouted. 

M 2 


" Here by the bed," he cried. " Bring the gun, 

I seized the shot-gun, which I always kept 
handy, and rushed to the tent, where, by the light 
of the lantern, I saw a great red snake, about seven 
feet long, gazing at me from the side of my camp- 
bed. I instantly fired at him, cutting him clean in 
half with the shot ; the tail part remained where it 
was, but the head half quickly wriggled off and 
disappeared in the gloom of the tent. The trail of 
blood, however, enabled us to track it, and we 
eventually found the snake, still full of fight, under 
the edge of the ground-sheet. He made a last 
vicious dart at one of the men who had run up, but 
was quickly given the happy despatch by a blow on 
the head. Rawson now picked it up and brought 
it to the light. He then put his foot on the back 
of its head and with a stick forced open the jaws, 
when suddenly we saw two perfectly clear jets of 
poison spurt out from the fangs. An Indian baboo 
(clerk), who happened to be standing near, got the 
full benefit of this, and the poor man was so panic- 
stricken that in a second he had torn off every atom 
of his clothing. We were very much amused at 
this, as of course we knew that although the poison 
was exceedingly venomous, it could do no harm 
unless it penetrated a cut or open wound in the 
flesh. I never found out the name of this snake, 




which, as I have said, was of a dark brick-red 
colour all over ; and I only saw one other of the 
same kind all the time I was in East Africa. I 
came upon it suddenly one day when out shooting. 
It was evidently much startled, and stood erect, 
hissing venomously ; but I also was so much taken 
aback at its appearance that I did not think about 
shooting it until it had glided off and disappeared in 
the thick undergrowth. 

HI Pro HKAl). 



ALTHOUGH the jungle round Tsavo was a network 
of rhino paths I had never so far been successful 
in my efforts to obtain one of these animals, nor 
was my ambition yet to be realised. One day 
I was out exploring in the dense bush some six 
or seven miles away from camp, and found my 
progress more than usually slow, owing to the 
fact that I had to spend most of my time crawling 
on all-fours through the jungle. I was very pleased, 
therefore, to emerge suddenly on a broad and well- 
beaten track along which I could walk comfortably 
in an upright position. In this were some fresh 
rhino footprints which seemed barely an hour old, 
so I determined to follow them up. The roadway 
was beaten in places into a fine white dust by the 
passage of many heavy animals ; and as I pushed 
cautiously forward I fully expected to come face to 
face with a rhino at every corner I turned. After 


having gone a little way I fancied that I really did 
see one lying at the foot of a tree some distance 
ahead of me, but on approaching cautiously found 
that it was nothing more than a great brown heap 
of loose earth which one of the huge beasts had 
raised by rolling about on the soft ground. This, 
however, was evidently a resting-place which was 
regularly used, so I made up my mind to spend 
a night in the overhanging branches of the tree. 

The next afternoon, accordingly, Mahina and I 
made our way back to the place, and by dusk 
we were safely but uncomfortably perched among 
the branches directly over the path. We had 
scarcely been there an hour when to our delight 
we heard a great rhino plodding along the track 
in our direction. Unfortunately the moon had not 
yet risen, so I was unable to catch sight of the 
monster as he approached ; I knew, however, that 
there was light enough for me to see him when he 
emerged from the bushes into the little clearing 
round the foot of our tree. Nearer and nearer we 
heard him coming steadily on, and I had my rifle 
ready, pointing it in the direction in which I 
expected his head to appear. But, alas, just at that 
moment the wind veered round and blew straight 
from us towards the rhino, who scented us immedi- 
ately, gave a mighty snort and then dived madly 
away through the jungle. For some considerable 


time we could hear him crashing ponderously 
through everything that came in his way, and he 
must have gone a long distance before he recovered 
from his fright and slowed down to his usual pace. 
At any rate we neither heard nor saw anything 
more of him, and spent a wakeful and uncomfort- 
able night for nothing. 

My next attempt to bag a rhino took place some 
months later, on the banks of the Sabaki, and was 
scarcely more successful. I had come down from 
Tsavo in the afternoon, accompanied by Mahina, 
and finding a likely tree, within a few yards of the 
river and with fresh footprints under it, I at once 
decided to take up my position for the night in its 
branches. Mahina preferred to sit where he could 
take a comfortable nap, and wedged himself in a 
fork of the tree some little way below me, but still 
some eight or ten feet from the ground. It was a 
calm and perfect night, such as can be seen only 
in the tropics ; everything looked mysteriously 
beautiful in the glorious moonlight, and stood out 
like a picture looked at through a stereoscope. 
From my perch among the branches I watched 
first a water-buck come to drink in the river ; then 
a bush-buck ; later, a tiny paa emerged from the 
bushes and paused at every step with one graceful 
forefoot poised in the air thoroughly on the alert 
and looking round carefully and nervously for any 


trace of a possible enemy. At length it reached the 
brink of the river in safety, and stooped to drink. 
Just then I saw a jackal come up on its trail and 
begin carefully to stalk it, not even rustling a fallen 
leaf in its stealthy advance on the poor little 
antelope. All of a sudden, however, the jackal 
stopped dead for a second, and then made off out of 
sight as fast as ever he could go. I looked round 
to discover the cause of this hurried exit, and to my 
surprise saw a large and very beautiful leopard 
crouching down and moving noiselessly in the 
direction of our tree. At first I thought it must be 
stalking some animal on the ground below us, but I 
soon realised that it was Mahina that the brute was 
intent on. Whether, if left to himself, the leopard 
would actually have made a spring at my sleeping 
gun-bearer, I do not know ; but I had no intention 
of letting him have a chance of even attempting this, 
so I cautiously raised my rifle and levelled it at him. 
Absolutely noiseless as I was in doing this, he 
noticed it possibly a glint of moonlight on the 
barrel caught his eye and immediately disappeared 
into the bush before I could get in a shot. I at once 
woke Mahina and made him come up to more 
secure quarters beside me. 

For a long time after this nothing disturbed our 
peace, but at last the quarry I had hoped for made 
his appearance on the scene. Just below us there 


was an opening in the elephant grass which lined 
the river's edge, and through this the broad stream 
shone like silver in the moonlight. Without warning 
this gap was suddenly filled by a huge black mass 
a rhino making his way, very leisurely, out of the 
shallow water. On he came with a slow, ponderous 
tread, combining a certain stateliness with his 
awkward strides. Almost directly beneath us he 
halted and stood for an instant clearly exposed to 
our view. This was my opportunity ; I took care- 
ful aim at his shoulder and fired. Instantly, and 
with extraordinary rapidity, the huge beast whirled 
round like a peg-top, whereupon I fired again. This 
time I expected him to fall ; but instead of that 
I had the mortification of seeing him rush off into 
the jungle and of hearing him crash through it like 
a great steam-roller for several minutes. I consoled 
myself by thinking that he could not go far, as he 
was hard hit, and that I should easily find him when 
daylight arrived. Mahina, who was in a wild state 
of excitement over the burra janwar (great animal), 
was also of this opinion, and as there was no longer 
any reason for silence, he chatted to me about many 
strange and curious things until the grey dawn 
appeared. When we got down from our perch, we 
found the track of the wounded rhino clearly 
marked by great splashes of blood, and for a couple. 
of miles the spoor could thus be easily followed. 


At length, however, it got fainter and fainter, and 
finally ceased altogether, so that we had to abandon 
the search ; the ground round about was rocky, and 
there was no possibility of telling which way our 
quarry had gone. I was exceedingly sorry for this, 
as I did not like to leave him wounded ; but there 
was no help for it, so we struck out for home and 
arrived at Tsavo in the afternoon very tired, hungry 
and disappointed. 

Rhinos are extraordinary animals, and not in 
any way to be depended upon. One day they 
will sheer off on meeting a human being and make 
no attempt to attack ; the next day, for no apparent 
reason, they may execute a most determined charge. 
I was told for a fact by an official who had been 
long in the country that on one occasion while a gang 
of twenty-one slaves, chained neck to neck as was 
the custom, was being smuggled down to the coast 
and was proceeding in Indian file along a narrow 
path, a rhinoceros suddenly charged out at right 
angles to them, impaled the centre man on its 
horns and broke the necks of the remainder of the 
party by the suddenness of his rush. These huge 
beasts have a very keen sense of smell, but equally 
indifferent eyesight, and it is said that if a hunter 
will only stand perfectly still on meeting a rhino, 
it will pass him by without attempting to molest 
him. I feel bound to add, however, that I have 




so far failed to come across anybody who has 
actually tried the experiment. On the other hand, 
I have met one or two men who have been tossed 
on the horns of these animals, and they described 
it as a very painful proceeding. It generally means 
being a cripple for life, if one even succeeds in 


escaping death. Mr. B. Eastwood, the chief 
accountant of the Uganda Railway, once gave me 
a graphic description of his marvellous escape from 
an infuriated rhino. He was on leave at the time 
on a hunting expedition in the neighbourhood of 
Lake Baringo, about eighty miles north of the 
railway from Nakuru, and had shot and apparently 


killed a rhino. On walking up to it, however, 
the brute rose to its feet and literally fell on him, 
breaking four ribs and his right arm. Not content 
with this, it then stuck its horn through his thigh 
and tossed him over its back, repeating this operation 
once or twice. Finally, it lumbered off, leaving 
poor Eastwood helpless and fainting in the long grass 
where he had fallen. He was alone at the time, 
and it was not for some hours that he was found 
by his porters, who were only attracted to the spot 
by the numbers of vultures hovering about, waiting 
in their ghoulish manner for life to be extinct 
before beginning their meal. How he managed 
to live for the eight days after this which elapsed 
before a doctor could be got to him I cannot 
imagine ; but in the end he fortunately made a 
good recovery, the only sign of his terrible 
experience being the absence of his right arm, 
which had to be amputated. 



VERY shortly before I left Tsavo I went (on 
March 11, 1899) on inspection duty to Voi, which, 
as I have already mentioned, is about thirty miles 
on the Mombasa side of Tsavo. At this time it 
was a miserable, swampy spot, where fever, guinea- 
worm, and all kinds of horrible diseases were 
rampant ; but this state of affairs has now been 
completely altered by drainage and by clearing 
away the jungle. Dr. Rose was in medical charge 
of the place at the time of my visit, and as it was 
the good old custom to put up with any friend one 
came across towards nightfall, I made him my host 
when my day's work was over. We spent a very 
pleasant evening together, and naturally discussed 
all the local news. Amongst other things we 
chatted about the new road which was being con- 
structed from Voi to a rather important missionary 
station called Taveta, near Mount Kilima N'jaro, 

CH. xvi A WIDOW'S STORY 175 

and Dr. Rose mentioned that Mr. O'Hara (the 
engineer in charge of the road-making), with his 
wife and children, was encamped in the Wa Taita 
country, about twelve miles away from Voi. 

Early next morning I went out for a stroll with 
my shot-gun, but had not gone far from the doctor's 
tent when I saw in the distance four Swahili carrying 
something which looked like a stretcher along the 
newly-made road. Fearing that some accident had 
happened, I went quickly to meet them and called 
out to ask what they were carrying. They shouted 
back " Bwana " (" The master ") ; and when I asked 
what bwana, they replied "Bwana O'Hara." On 
enquiring what exactly had happened, they told me 
that during the night their master had been killed 
by a lion, and that his wife and children were 
following behind along the road. At this I directed 
the men to the hospital and told them where to find 
Dr. Rose, and without waiting to hear any further 
particulars hurried on as fast as possible to give 
what assistance I could to poor Mrs. O'Hara. 
Some considerable way back I met her toiling 
alone with an infant in her arms, while a little 


child held on to her skirt, utterly tired out with the 
long walk. I helped her to finish the distance to 
the doctor's tent ; she was so unstrung by her terrible 
night's experience and so exhausted by her trying 
march carrying the baby that she was scarcely able 


to speak. Dr. Rose at once did all he could both 
for her and for the children, the mother being- 
given a sleeping draught and made comfortable 
in one of the tents. When she appeared again 
late in the afternoon she was much refreshed, and 
was able to tell us the following dreadful story, 


which I shall give as nearly as possible in her own 

" We were all asleep in the tent, my husband 
and I in one bed and my two children in 
another. The baby was feverish and restless, so 
I got up to give her something to drink ; and 
as I was doing so, I heard what I thought was 
a lion walking round the tent. I at once woke 

xvi A WIDOW'S STORY 177 

my husband and told him I felt sure there was 
a lion about. He jumped up and went out, 
taking his gun with him. He looked round the 
outside of the tent, and spoke to the Swahili 
askari who was on sentry by the camp fire a little 
distance off. The askari said he had seen nothing 
about except a donkey, so my husband came in 
again, telling me not to worry as it was only a 
donkey that I had heard. 

" The night being very hot, my husband threw 
back the tent door and lay down again beside 
me. After a while I dozed off, but was sud- 
denly roused by a feeling as if the pillow were 
being pulled away from under my head. On 
looking round I found that my husband was 
gone. I jumped up and called him loudly, but 
got no answer. Just then I heard a noise among 
the boxes outside the door, so I rushed out and 
saw my poor husband lying between the boxes. 
I ran up to him and tried to lift him, but found 
I could not do so. I then called to the askari 
to come and help me, but he refused, saying 
that there was a lion standing beside me. I 
looked up and saw the huge beast glowering at 
me, not more than two yards away. At this 
moment the askari fired his rifle, and this fortun- 
ately frightened the lion, for it at once jumped off 
into the bush. 



''All four askaris then came forward and lifted 
my husband back on to the bed. He was quite 
dead. We had hardly got back into the tent before 
the lion returned and prowled about in front of the 
door, showing every intention of springing in to 
recover his prey. The askaris fired at him, but did 
no damage beyond frightening him away again for 
a moment or two. He soon came back and con- 
tinued to walk round the tent until daylight, growl- 
ing and purring, and it was only by firing 
through the tent every now and then that we kept 
him out. At daybreak he disappeared and I had 
my husband's body carried here, while I followed 
with the children until I met you." 

Such was Mrs. O'Hara's pitiful story. The 
only comfort we could give her was to assure her 
that her husband had died instantly and without 
pain ; for while she had been resting Dr. Rose had 
made a post-mortem examination of the body and 
had come to this conclusion. He found that 
O'Hara had evidently been lying on his back at 
the time, and that the lion, seizing his head in its 
mouth, had closed its long tusks through his temples 
until they met again in the brain. We buried him 
before nightfall in a peaceful spot close by, the 
doctor reading the funeral service, while I assisted 
in lowering the rude coffin into the grave. It was 
the saddest scene imaginable. The weeping widow, 




the wondering faces of the children, the gathering 
gloom of the closing evening, the dusky forms of a 
few natives who had gathered round all combined 
to make a most striking and solemn ending to a 
very terrible tragedy of real life. 

I am glad to say that within a few weeks' time 
the lion that was responsible for this tragedy was 
killed by a poisoned arrow, shot from a tree top by 
one of the Wa Taita. 



N 2 




MY work at Tsavo was finished in March, 1899, 
when I received instructions to proceed to railhead 
and take charge of a section of the work there. 
For many reasons I was sorry to say good-bye to 
Tsavo, where I had spent an eventful year ; but all 
the same I was very glad to be given this new post, 
as I knew that there would be a great deal of inter- 
esting work to be done and a constant change of 
camp and scene, as the line progressed onward to 
the interior. In good spirits, therefore, I set out 
for my new headquarters on March 28. By this 
time railhead had reached a place called Machakos 
Road, some two hundred and seventy-six miles 
from Mombasa and within a few miles of the 
great Athi Plains, the latter being treeless and 


waterless expanses, bare of everything except grass, 
which the great herds of game keep closely 
cropped. After leaving Tsavo, the character of the 
country remains unaltered for some considerable 
distance, the line continuing to run through the 
thorny nyika, and it is not until Makindu is reached 
about two hundred miles from the coast that a 
change is apparent. From this place, however, the 
journey lies through a fairly open and interesting 
tract of country, where game of all kinds abounds 
and can be seen grazing peacefully within a few 
hundred yards of the railway. On the way I was 
lucky enough to get some fine views of Kilima N'jaro, 
the whole mountain from base to summit standing 
out clearly and grandly, with the lofty peak of Kibo 
topping the fleecy clouds with its snowy head. 

At Machakos Road I found the country and the 
climate very different from that to which. I had 
grown accustomed at Tsavo. Here I could see for 
miles across stretches of beautiful, open downs, 
timbered here and there like an English park ; and 
it was a great relief to be able to overlook a wide 
tract of country and to feel that I was no longer 
hemmed in on' all sides by the interminable and 
depressing thorny wilderness. As Machakos Road 
is some four thousand feet higher above the sea 
level than Tsavo, the difference in temperature was 
also very marked, and the air felt fresh and cool 




compared with that of the sun-baked valley in which 
I had spent the previous year. 

My instructions were to hurry on the construc- 
tion of the line as fast as possible to Nairobi, the 
proposed headquarters of the Railway Administra- 


tion, which lay about fifty miles further on across 
the Athi Plains ; and I soon began to find plate- 
laying most interesting work. Everything has to 
move as if by clockwork. First the earth surface 
has to be prepared and rendered perfectly smooth 
and level ; cuttings have to be made and hollows 
banked up ; tunnels have to be bored through hills 





and bridges thrown across rivers. Then a line of 
coolies moves along, placing sleepers at regular 
intervals ; another gang drops the rails in their 
places ; yet another brings along the keys, fishplates, 
bolts and nuts ; while following these are the men 
who actually fix the rails on the sleepers and link up 
from one to another. Finally, the packing gang 
finishes the work by filling in earth and ballast under 
and around the steel sleepers to give them the 
necessary grip and rigidity. Some days we were 
able lo lay only a few yards, while on other days we 
might do over a mile ; all depended on the nature 
of the country we had to cover. On one occasion 
we succeeded in breaking the record for a day's 
platelaying, and were gratified at receiving a 
telegram of congratulation from the Railway Com- 
mittee at the Foreign Office. 

I made it my custom to take a walk each morning 
for some distance ahead of rails along the centre- 
line of the railway, in order to spy out the land and 
to form a rough estimate of the material that would 
be required in the way of sleepers, girders for 
temporary bridges, etc. It was necessary to do this 
in order to avoid undue delay taking place owing to 
shortage of material of any kind. About ten days 
after my arrival at Machakos Road I walked in this 
way for five or six miles ahead of the last-laid rail. 
It was rather unusual for me to go so far, and, as it 




happened, I was alone on this occasion, Mahina 
having been left behind in camp. About two miles 
away on my left, I noticed a dark-looking object, 
and thinking it was an ostrich I started off towards 
it. Very soon, however, I found that it was bigger 
game than an ostrich, and on getting still nearer 


made out the form of a great rhinoceros lying down. 
I continued to advance very cautiously, wriggling 
through the short grass until at length I got within 
fifty yards of where the huge beast was resting. 
Here I lay and watched him ; but after some little 
time he evidently suspected my presence, for rising 
to his feet, he looked straight in my direction and 


then proceeded to walk round me in a half-circle. 
The moment he got wind of me, he whipped round 
in his tracks like a cat and came for me in a bee- 
line. Hoping to turn him, I fired instantly ; but 
unfortunately my soft-nosed bullets merely annoyed 
him further, and had not the slightest effect on his 
thick hide. On seeing this, I flung myself down 
quite flat on the grass and threw my helmet some 
ten feet away in the hope that he would perceive it 
and vent his rage on it instead of me. On he 
thundered, while I scarcely dared to breathe. I 
could hear him snorting and rooting up the grass 
quite close to me, but luckily for me he did not 
catch sight of me and charged by a few yards to my 

As soon as he had passed me, my courage 
began to revive again, and I could not resist the 
temptation of sending a couple of bullets after him. 
These, however, simply cracked against his hide 
and splintered to pieces on it, sending the dry mud 
off in little clouds of dust. Their only real effect, 
indeed, was to make him still more angry. He stood 
stock-still for a moment, and then gored the ground 
most viciously and started off once more on the 
semi-circle round me. This proceeding terrified me 
more than ever, as I felt sure that he would come 
up-wind at me again, and I could scarcely hope to 
escape a second time. Unfortunately, my surmise 


proved correct, for directly he scented me, up went 
his nose in the air and down he charged like a 
battering-ram. I fairly pressed myself into the 
ground, as flat as ever I could, and luckily the grass 
was a few inches high. I felt the thud of his great 
feet pounding along, yet dared not move or look up 
lest he should see me. My heart was thumping like 
a steam hammer, and every moment I fully expected 
to find myself tossed into the air. Nearer and 
nearer came the heavy thudding, and I had quite 
given myself up for lost, when from my lying 
position I caught sight, out of the corner of my eye, 
of the infuriated beast rushing by. He had missed 
me again ! I never felt so relieved in my life, and 
assuredly did not attempt to annoy him further. 
He went off for good this time, and it was with 
great satisfaction that I watched him gradually dis- 
appear in the distance. I could not have believed 
it possible that these huge, ungainly-looking brutes 
could move so rapidly, and turn and twist in their 
tracks just like monkeys, had I not actually seen 
this one do so before my eyes. I f he had found me he 
would certainly have pounded me to atoms, as he was 
an old bull and in a most furious and vicious mood. 
One day when Dr. Brock and I were out shoot- 
ing, shortly after this incident and not far from 
where it occurred, we caught sight of two rhinos 
in a hollow some little distance from us, and 




commenced to stalk them, taking advantage of every 
fold of the ground in doing so and keeping about 
fifty yards apart in case of a charge. In that event 
one or other of us would be able to get in a broad- 
side shot, which would probably roll the beast over. 
Proceeding carefully in this manner, we managed to 


get within about sixty yards of them, and as it was 
my turn for a shot, I took aim at the larger of the 
two, just as it was moving its great head from one 
side to the other, wondering which of us it ought to 
attack. When at last it decided upon Brock, it 
gave me the chance I had been waiting for. I fired 
instantly at the hollow between neck and shoulder ; 
the brute dropped at once, and save for one or two 



convulsive kicks of its stumpy legs as it lay half on 
its back, it never moved again. The second rhino 
proved to be a well-grown youngster which showed 
considerable fight as we attempted to approach its 
fallen comrade. We did not want to kill it, and 
accordingly spent about two hours in shouting and 
throwing stones at it before at last we succeeded in 
driving it away. We then proceeded to skin our 
prize ; this, as may be imagined, proved rather a 
tough job, but we managed it in the end, and the 
trophy was well w r orth the pains I had taken to add 
it to my collection. 




SHORTLY after I took charge at railhead we entered 
the Kapiti Plain, which gradually merges into the 
Athi Plain, and, indeed, is hardly to be distinguished 
from the latter in the appearance or general charac- 
ter of the country. Together they form a great 
tract of rolling downs covered with grass, and inter- 
sected here and there by dry ravines, along the 
baked banks of which a few stunted trees the only 
ones to be seen struggle to keep themselves alive. 
In all this expanse there is absolutely no water in 
the dry season, except in the Athi River (some forty 
miles away) and in a few water-holes known only to 
the wild animals. The great feature of the un- 
dulating plains, however, and the one which gives 
them a never-failing interest, is the great abundance 
of game of almost every conceivable kind. Here 
I myself have seen lion, rhinoceros, leopard, eland, 
giraffe, zebra, wildebeeste, hartebeeste, waterbuck, 



wart-hog, Grant!, Thomsoni, impala, besides 
ostriches, greater and lesser bustard, marabout, and 
a host of other animals and birds too numerous to 
name ; while along the Athi and close to its banks 
may be found large numbers of hippo and crocodiles. 
At the time I was there, these great plains also 


formed the principal grazing ground for the immense 
herds of cattle owned by the Masai. I am very 
glad to say that the whole of this country on the 
south side of the railway as far as the boundary of 
German East Africa, from the Tsavo River on the 
east to the Kedong Valley on the west, is now a 
strictly protected Game Reserve ; and so long as 
this huge expanse is thus maintained as a sanctuary, 




there can be no danger of any of these species 
becoming extinct. 

While crossing this dry expanse, the greatest 
difficulty I had to contend with was the provision 
of sufficient water for the three thousand workmen 


employed about railhead, for not a drop could be 
obtained on the way, nor could we hope for any 
until we had got to the other side of the plain and 
had reached the Athi River, which could not be 
accomplished under a couple of months. As we 
progressed onwards into the waterless belt, this 
became a very serious matter indeed, as any break- 


down in the supply would have had the most 
disastrous consequences among so large a body of 
men working all day under the blazing sun of a 
tropical climate. Every day two trainloads of water 
in great tanks were brought up from the last stream 
we had passed, which, of course, daily fell further 
to the rear. This was a source of considerable 
delay, for the line was blocked all the time the 
water was being pumped into the tanks, and conse- 
quently no material for construction could come 
through ; and a good deal of time was also wasted, 
when the trains returned to railhead, in distributing 
the water to the workmen, who often quarrelled and 
fought in their eagerness to get at it. At first I had 
most of the tank-filling done by night, but on one 
occasion a lion came unpleasantly close to the men 
working the pump, and so night work had to 
be abandoned. The coolies themselves were so 
anxious, indeed, to get a plentiful supply of water, 
that once or twice some of the more daring spirits 
among them ventured to go out on to the plains in 
search of waterholes, which, by reason of the large 
herds of game, we knew must exist somewhere. 
The only result of these expeditions, however, was 
that three of these men never returned ; what befell 
them is not known to this day. 

When we had proceeded some distance across 
this dry land, and when I was experiencing to the 



full the disadvantage and delay caused by my tank 
trains, a native from some remote corner of the 
plains with nothing by way of dress but a small 
piece of cowhide thrown over his left shoulder- 
came to my tent door one day and squatted down 
on his heels in the native fashion. On being asked 
his business, " I have heard," he replied, "that the 
Great Master wants water ; I can show it to him." 
This was good news, if it could be relied upon ; so 
I questioned him closely, and ascertained that some 
time previously exactly how long ago I could not 
gather he had been in the locality on a raiding 
expedition and had succeeded in finding water. I 
asked if the place was far away, and got the reply 
in Swahili: " M'bali kidogo " (" A little distance"). 
Now, I had had experience of M^bali kidogo before ; 
it is like the Irishman's "mile and a bit." So I 
decided to start very early next morning on a search 
for this pond for such my informant described it 
to be. In the meantime the poor fellow, who 
appeared starving there was a sore famine among 
the natives of the district at the time was given 
food and drink, and made a ravenous meal. In the 
evening I had a long talk with him in broken 
Swahili round the camp fire, and obtained some 
insight into many of the strange and barbarous 
customs of the Masai, to which interesting tribe he 


In the morning I started off betimes, taking my 
303 rifle and being accompanied by Mahina with 
the 1 2 -bore shot-gun, and by another Indian carry- 
ing the necessary food and water. Our Masai 
guide, whose name we found to be Lungow, seemed 
to be quite certain of his way, and led us across the 
rolling plains more or less in the direction in which 
the railway was to run, but some miles to the right 
of its centre-line. The march was full of interest, 
for on the way we passed within easy range of herds 
of wildebeeste, hartebeeste, gazelle, and zebra. I 
was out strictly on business, however, and did not 
attempt a shot, reserving that pleasure for the 
homeward trip. Late in the forenoon we arrived at 
Lungow's pond a circular dip about eighty yards 
in diameter, which without doubt had contained 
water very recently, but which, as I expected to 
find, was now quite dry. A considerable number of 
bones lay scattered round it, whether of "kills" or 
of animals which had died of thirst I could not say. 
Our guide appeared very much upset when he found 
the pond empty, and gave vent to many exclama- 
tions in his peculiar language, in which the letter 
" r " rolled like a kettledrum. 

Our search for water having thus proved a failure, 
I determined to try my luck with the game. The 
Masai and the Indian were sent back to camp, 
while Mahina and I made a big detour from the 

o 2 


dried-up water-hole. Game abounded in all direc- 
tions, but the animals were much more shy than 
they had been in the morning, and it was in vain 
that I stalked if it can be called "stalking," when 
as a matter of fact one has to move in the open- 
splendid specimens of Thomson's and Grant's 
gazelle. I might have attempted a shot once or 
twice, but the probability was that owing to the 
long range it would have resulted only in a wound, 
and I think there is nothing so painful as to see an 
animal limping about in a crippled condition. In this 
fruitless manner we covered several miles, and I was 
beginning to think that we should have to return to 
camp without so much as firing a shot. Just then, 
however, I saw a herd of wildebeeste, and with much 
care managed to get within three hundred yards of 
them. I singled out the biggest head and waiting 
for a favourable moment, fired at him, dropping 
him at once. I ran up to the fallen beast, which 
appeared to be dying, and told Mahina to drive the 
hunting knife right through his heart so as to put 
him quickly out of all pain. As Mahina was not 
doing this as skilfully or as quickly as I thought it 
might be done, and seemed unable to pierce the 
tough hide, I handed him my rifle and took the 
knife in order to do it myself. Just as I raised the 
knife to strike, I was startled by the wildebeeste 
suddenly jumping to his feet. For a moment he 


stood looking at me in a dazed and tottery kind of 
way, and then to my amazement he turned and 
made off. At first he moved with such a shaky 
and uncertain gait that I felt confident that he could 
only go a few yards before dropping ; so, as I did 
not wish to disturb the other game around us by 
firing a second shot, I thought it best just to wait. 
To my utter astonishment, however, after he had 
staggered for about sixty yards he seemed to revive 
suddenly, broke into his ordinary gallop and quickly 
rejoined the herd. From that time I lost all trace 
of him, though I followed up for four or five 

The wildebeeste, in fact, is like Kipling's Fuzzy- 
Wuzzy "'e's generally shammin' when 'e's dead"; 
and my friend Rawson about this time had an 
experience very similar to mine, but attended with 
more serious results. He had knocked his wilde- 
beeste over in much the same way, and thought it 
was dead ; and as he was very keen on obtaining 
photographs of game, he took his stand-camera 
from the Indian who carried it and proceeded to 
focus it on the animal's head. When he was just 
about to take the picture, he was thunderstruck to 
see the wildebeeste jump up and come charging down 
upon him. He sprang quickly aside, and in an 
instant up went the camera into the air, followed 
the next moment by the unfortunate Indian, the 


wildebeeste having stuck its horn right through the 
man's thigh and tossed him over its back. Fortu- 
nately the brute fell dead after this final effort, 
leaving Rawson grateful for his escape. 

After abandoning the chase of my wildebeeste, we 
had not gone far on our ,way towards the home 


camp when I thought I observed something of a 
reddish colour moving in a patch of long grass, a 
good distance to our left front. I asked Mahina if 
he could make out what it was, but he was unable 
to do so, and before I could get my field-glasses to 
bear, the animal, whatever it was, had disappeared 
into the grass. I kept my eye on the spot, how- 


ever, and we gradually approached it. When we 
were about a hundred yards off, the reddish object 
again appeared ; and I saw that it was nothing less 
than the shaggy head of a lion peeping over the 
long grass. This time Mahina also saw what it was, 
and called out, "Dekko, Sahib, sher!" ("Look, 
Master, a lion ! "). I whispered to him to be quiet 
and to take no notice of him, while I tried my best 
to follow my own advice. So we kept on, edging up 
towards the beast, but apparently oblivious of his 
presence, as he lay there grimly watching us. As 
we drew nearer, I asked Mahina in a whisper if he 
felt equal to facing a charge from the sher if I 
should wound him. He answered simply that 
where I went, there would he go also ; and right 
well he kept his word. 

I watched the lion carefully out of the corner of 
my eye as we closed in. Every now and then he 
would disappear from view for a moment ; and it 
was a fascinating sight to see how he slowly raised 
his massive head above the top of the grass again 
and gazed calmly and steadily at us as we neared 
him. Unfortunately I could not distinguish the 
outline of his body, hidden as it was in the grassy 
thicket. I therefore circled cautiously round in 
order to see if the covert was sufficiently thin at 
the back to make a shoulder shot possible ; but as 
we moved, the lion also twisted round and so always 


kept his head full on us. When I had described 
a half-circle, I found that the grass was no thinner 
and that my chances of a shot had not improved. 
We were now within seventy yards of the lion, 
who appeared to take the greater interest in 
us the closer we approached. He had lost the 
sleepy look with which he had at first regarded 
us, and was now fully on the alert ; but still he 
did not give me the impression that he meant 
to charge, and no doubt if we had not provoked 
him, he would have allowed us to depart in peace. 
I, however, was bent on war, in spite of the risk 
which one must always run by attacking a lion 
at such close quarters on an open plain as flat as 
the palm of the hand ; so in a standing position 
I took careful aim at his head, and fired. The 
distance was, as I have said, a bare seventy yards ; 
yet I must confess to a disgraceful miss. More 
astonishing still, the beast made not the slightest 
movement did not even blink an eye, so far as 
I could see but continued his steadfast, questioning 
gaze. Again I took aim, this time for a spot below 
the tip of his nose, and again I fired with more 
success, the lion turning a complete somersault over 
his tail. I thought he was done for, but he 
instantly sprang to his feet again, and to my horror 
and astonishment was joined by a lioness whose 
presence we had never even thought of or suspected. 


Worse was still to follow, for to our dismay both 
made a most determined charge on us, bounding along 
at a great pace and roaring angrily as they came. 
Poor Mahina cried out, "Sahib, do sher ata hai /" 
(" Master, two lions are coming ! "), but I told him 
to stand stock-still and for his life not to make the 
slightest movement. In the twinkling of an eye the 
two beasts had covered about forty yards of the dis- 
tance towards us. As they did not show the least sign 
of stopping, I thought we had given the experiment 
of remaining absolutely motionless a fair trial, and 
was just about to raise the rifle to my shoulder as a 
last resort, when suddenly the wounded lion 
stopped, staggered, and fell to the ground. The 
lioness took a couple of bounds nearer to us, 
and then to my unmeasured relief turned to look 
round for her mate, who had by this time managed 
to get to his feet again. There they both stood, 
growling viciously and lashing their tails, for what 
appeared to me to be a succession of ages. The 
lioness then made up her mind to go back to the 
lion, and they both stood broadside on, with their 
heads close together and turned towards us, snarling 
in a most aggressive manner. Had either of us 
moved hand or foot just then, it would, I am 
convinced, have at once brought on another and 
probably a fatal charge. 

As the two great brutes stood in this position 


looking at us, I had, of course, a grand opportunity 
of dropping both, but I confess I did not feel equal 
to it at the moment. I could only devoutly hope 
that they would not renew their attack, and was 
only too thankful to let them depart in peace if they 
would, without any further hostility on my part. 
Just at this juncture the lion seemed to grow 
suddenly very weak. He staggered some ten yards 
back towards his lair, and then fell to the ground ; 
the lioness followed, and lay down beside him both 
still watching us, and growling savagely. After a 
few seconds the lion struggled to his feet again and 
retreated a little further, the lioness accompanying 
him until he fell once more. A third time the same 
thing took place, and at last I began to breathe more 
freely, as they had now reached the thicket from 
which they had originally emerged. Accordingly 
I took a shot at the lioness as she lay beside her 
mate, partly concealed in the long grass. I do not 
think I hit her, but anyhow she at once made off 
and bounded away at a great rate on emerging into 
the open. 

I sent a few bullets after her to speed her on her 
way, and then cautiously approached the wounded 
lion. He was stretched out at full length on his 
side, with his back towards me, but I could see by 
the heaving of his flanks that he was not yet dead, 
so I put a bullet through his spine. He never 


moved after this ; but for safety's sake, I made no 
attempt to go up to him for a few minutes, and then 
only after Mahina had planted a few stones on his 
body just to make sure that he was really dead. 

We both felt very pleased with ourselves as we 
stood over him and looked at his fine head, great 
paws, and long, clean, sharp tusks. He was a 
young, but full-grown lion in fine condition, and 
measured nine feet eight and a half inches from 
tip of nose to tip of tail. My last shot had entered 
the spine close to the shoulder, and had lodged 
in the body ; the first shot was a miss, as I have 
already said ; but the second had caught him on 
the forehead, right between the eyes. The bullet, 
however, instead of traversing the brain, had been 
turned downwards by the frontal bone, through 
which it crashed, finally lodging in the root of the 
tongue, the lead showing on both sides. I cut 
out the tongue and hung it up to dry, intending 
to keep it as a trophy ; but unfortunately a vulture 
swooped down when my back was turned, and 
carried it off. 

From the time I knocked the lion over until he 
first staggered and fell not more than a minute 
could have elapsed quite long enough, however, 
to have enabled him to cover the distance and to 
have seized one or other of us. Unquestionably we 
owed our lives to the fact that we both remained 


absolutely motionless ; and I cannot speak too 
highly of Mahina for the splendid way in which he 
stood the charge. Had he acted as did another 
gun-boy I know of, the affair might not have had so 
happy an ending. This gun-boy went out with 
Captain G - in this very neighbourhood, and not 
long after our adventure. G - came across a 
lion just as we did, and wounded it. It charged 
down on them, but instead of remaining absolutely 
still, the terrified gun-boy fled, with the result that 
the lion came furiously on, and poor G - met 
with a terrible death. 

While Mahina was scouring the neighbourhood 
in search of some natives to carry the skin back 
to camp, I took a good look round the place and 
found the half-eaten body of a zebra, which I 
noticed had been killed out in the open and then 
dragged into the long grass. The tracks told me, 
also, that all the work had been done by the lion, 
and this set me thinking of the lioness. I accord- 
ingly swept the plain with my glasses in the direc- 
tion in which she had bounded off, and after some 
searching I discovered her about a mile away, 
apparently lying down in the midst of a herd of 
hartebeeste, who grazed away without taking any 
notice of her. I felt much inclined to follow her up rf 
but I was afraid that if I did so the vultures that 
were already hovering around would settle on my 


lion and spoil the skin, for the destruction of which 
these ravenous birds are capable, even in the space 
of only a few minutes, is almost beyond belief. I 
accordingly returned to the dead beast and sat down 
astride of him. I had read that a frontal shot at a 
lion was a very risky one, and on carefully examin- 
ing the head it was easy to see the reason ; for owing 
to the sharp backward slope of the forehead it is 
almost impossible for a bullet fired in this manner to 
reach the brain. As there were lots of lions about 
in this district and as I wanted to bag some more, I 
set myself to think out a plan whereby the risk of a 
frontal shot might be got rid of. About a fortnight 
afterwards I had an opportunity of putting my 
scheme into practice, happily with most excellent 
results ; this, however, is another story, which will 
be told later on. 

I next commenced to skin my trophy and found it 
a very tough job to perform by myself. He proved 
to be a very fat'beast, so I knew that Mahina would 
make a few honest and well-earned rupees out of 
him, for Indians will give almost anything for lion 
fat, believing that it is an infallible cure for rheuma- 
tism and various other diseases. When at length 
the skinning process was completed, I waited 
impatiently for the return of Mahina, who had by 
this time been gone much longer than I expected. 
It is rather a nerve-shattering thing I am speaking 


for myself to remain absolutely alone for hours on 
a vast open plain beside the carcase of a dead 
lion, with vultures incessantly wheeling about 
above one, and with nothing to be seen or heard for 
miles around except wild animals. It was a great 
relief, therefore, when after a long wait I saw 
Mahina approaching with half-a-dozen practically 
naked natives in his train. It turned out that he 
had lost his way back to me, so that it was lucky he 
found me at all. We lost no time in getting back 
to camp, arriving there just at sundown, when my 
first business was to rub wood ashes into the skin 
and then stretch it on a portable frame which I had 
made a few days previously. The camp fire was a 
big one that night, and the graphic and highly 
coloured description which Mahina gave to the eager 
circle of listeners of the way in which we slew the 
lion would have made even " Bahram, that great 
Hunter," anxious for his fame. 



NOT long after this adventure the permanent way 
reached the boundary of the Kapiti Plains, where a 
station had to be built and where accordingly we 
took up our headquarters for a week or two. A 
few days after we had settled down in our new 
camp, a great caravan of some four thousand men 
arrived from the interior with luggage and loads of 
food for a Sikh regiment which was on its way 
down to the coast, after having been engaged in 
suppressing the mutiny of the Sudanese in Uganda. 
The majority of these porters were Basoga, but 
there were also fair numbers of Baganda (i.e. people 
of Uganda) and of the natives of Unyoro, and 
various other tribes. Of course none of these wild 
men of Central Africa had either seen or heard of a 
railway in all their lives, and they consequently 
displayed the liveliest curiosity in regard to it, 
crowding round one of the engines which happened 


to be standing at the station, and hazarding the 
wildest guesses as to its origin and use in a babel 
of curious native languages. I thought I would 
provide a little entertainment for them, so I stepped 
on to the footplate and blew off the steam, at the same 
time sounding the whistle. The effect was simply 
magical. The whole crowd first threw themselves 


flat on the ground howling with fear, and then 
with heads well down and arms well spread out 
they fled wildly in all directions ; nor did the 
stampede cease until I shut off steam and stopped 
the whistle. Then, their curiosity gradually over- 
powering them, very cautiously they began to 
return, approaching the locomotive stealthily as 
though it were some living monster of the jungle. 
Eventually, two of their chiefs summoned up 
courage enough to climb on to the engine, and 
afterwards thoroughly enjoyed a short run which 
I had to make down the line in order to bring 
up some construction material. 

Just after this caravan had moved on we were 
subjected to some torrential rain-storms, which 
transformed the whole plain into a quaking bog 
and stopped all railway work for the time being. 
Indeed, the effect of a heavy downpour of rain in 
this sun-baked district is extraordinary. The ground, 
which is of a black sub-soil, becomes a mass of thick 
mud in no time, and on attempting to do any walk- 


ing one slides and slips about in the slush in a most 
uncomfortable manner. Innocent-looking dongas. 

o o 

where half an hour previously not one drop of 
water was to be seen, become roaring torrents from 
bank to bank in an incredibly short time ; while for 
many hours or even a few days the rivers become 
absolutely impassable in this land of no bridges. 
On this account it is the custom of the wise traveller 
in these parts always to cross a river before camping, 
for otherwise a flood may come down and detain 
him and his caravan on the wrong side of the 
stream for perhaps a week. Of course when the 
rain ceases, the floods as quickly subside, the 
rivers and dongas dry up, and the country once 
more resumes its normal sun-cracked appearance. 

On leaving my tent one morning when work was 
at a standstill owing to the rain, I noticed a great 
herd of zebra about a couple of miles away on the 
north side of the railway. Now, it had long been 
my ambition to capture one of these animals alive ; 
so I said to myself, " Here is my chance ! " The 
men could do nothing owing to the rain, and the 
ground was very boggy, so I thought that if we 
could surround the herd judiciously and chase the 
zebra up and down from point to point through the 
heavy ground, some of them would soon get ex- 
hausted and we should then be able to catch them. I 
selected for the hunt a dozen fleet-footed Indians who 



were employed on the earth works, and who at once 
entered with great zest into the spirit of the scheme. 
After having partially surrounded the herd, the half- 
circle of coolies began to advance with wild shouts, 
whereupon the zebras galloped madly about from 
side to side, and then did just what we wished them 
to do made straight for an exceptionally boggy 
part of the ground, where they soon became more 
or less helpless. We singled out a few young ones 
and succeeded in running them to an absolute stand- 
still, when we threw them down and sat on their 
heads until the other men came up with ropes. In 
this way we captured no less than six : they were 
very wild and fractious, giving us a great deal of 
trouble in getting them along, but eventually \ve 
managed to bring them in triumph to the camp 
where they were firmly secured. The whole expe- 
dition lasted little more than a couple of hours. 

Three of the captured zebras I kept for myself, 
while the other three were given to the Surfacing 
Engineer, whose men had assisted in the hunt. 
Two of my three unfortunately died very shortly 
after ; but the third, a sturdy two-year-old, flourished 
splendidly. At first he was exceedingly vicious, 
biting and kicking everyone who approached him ; 
indeed, he once planted both his hind feet on my 
chest, but did me no serious damage beyond throw- 
ing me heavily to the ground. In time, however, 




he became very tame and domesticated, allowing 
himself to be led about by a rope and head collar, 
and would drink from a bucket and eat from my 
hand. He used to be left to graze picketed by a 
long rope to a stake in the ground ; but one after- 
noon on returning to camp I found, much to my 


annoyance, that he had disappeared. On making 
enquiry, I learned from my servants that a herd ot 
wild zebra had galloped close by, and that this had 
so excited him that he managed to tear the picket- 
ing peg out of the ground and so rejoin his brethren 
in freedom. 

Some few days after our successful sortie against 

P 2 


the zebra, the great caravan of Basoga porters re- 
turned from the coast on their way back to their 
own country ; but alas, with what a terrible difference 
in their appearance ! All their gaiety and light- 
heartedness was gone, and the poor fellows were in 
a pitiable state! A frightful epidemic of dysentery 
had broken out amongst them, doubtless caused by 
their having eaten food to which they were entirely 
unaccustomed, their simple diet in their own homes 
consisting almost entirely of bananas, from which 
they also make a most refreshing and stimulating 
drink. The ranks of the caravan were terribly deci- 
mated, and dozens of men were left dead or dying 
along the roadside after each march. It was a case 
of the survival of the fittest, as of course it was quite 
impossible for the whole caravan to halt in the 
wilderness where neither food nor water was to be 
had. There was only one European with the party, 
and although he worked like a slave he could do 
very little among such a number, while the Basoga 
themselves seemed quite indifferent to the sufferings 
of their comrades. Thirteen poor wretches fell out 
to die close to my tent ; they were in the most hope- 
less condition and far too weak to be able to do any- 
thing at all for themselves. As soon as I discovered 
them, I boiled a bucketful of water, added some 
tins of condensed milk and the greater part of a 
bottle of brandy to it, and fed them with the mix- 


ture. Their feeble cries for some of this nourish- 
ment were heartrending ; some could only whisper, 
" Bwana, Bwana" ("Master, Master "), and then 
open their mouths. One or two of them, indeed, 
could hardly do even this, and were so weak as to 
be unable to swallow the spoonful of milk which I 
put between their lips. In the end six proved to be 
beyond all help, and died that night ; but the re- 
maining seven I managed to nurse into complete 
recovery in about a fortnight's time. As our camp 
was moved on, they were brought along from place 
to place on the top of trucks, until finally they were 
well enough to resume their journey to Usoga, very 
grateful indeed for the care which we had taken of 

The day after I first found these stricken natives 
I had arranged to ride on my pony for some miles 
in advance of the railway, in order to make arrange- 
ments for the building of a temporary bridge over 
the Stony Athi River a tributary of the Athi, and 
so-called on account of the enormous numbers of 
stones in its bed and along its banks. I ordered 
my tent to follow me later in the day, and left 
directions for the care of the sick Basoga, as I knew 
I should be away all night. My road lay along the 
route taken by the home-returning caravan, and 
every hundred yards or so I passed the swollen 
corpse of some unfortunate porter who had fallen 


out and died by the wayside. Before very long I 
came up with the rearguard of this straggling army, 
and here I was witness of as unfeeling an act of 
barbarism as can well be imagined. A poor wretch, 
utterly unable to go a step further, rolled himself up 
in his scarlet blanket and lay down by the roadside 
to die ; whereupon one of his companions, coveting 
the highly-coloured and highly-prized article, turned 
back, seized one end of the blanket, and callously 
rolled the dying man out of it as one would unroll 
a bale of goods. This was too much for me, so I 
put spurs to my pony and galloped up to the 
scoundrel, making as if to thrash him with my 
kiboko, or whip made of rhinoceros hide. In a 
moment he put his hand on his knife and half 
drew it from its sheath, but on seeing me dis- 
mount and point my rifle at him, he desisted and 
tried to run away. I made it clear to him by signs, 
however, that I would fire if he did not at once go 
back and replace the blanket round his dying 
comrade. This he eventually did, though sullenly 
enough, and I then marched him in front of me to 
the main camp of the caravan, some little distance 
further on. Here I handed him over to the officer 
in charge, who, I am glad to say, had him soundly 
thrashed for his brutality and theft. 

After performing this little act of retributive 
justice, I pushed on towards the Stony Athi. On 


the way while still not far from the caravan camp 
I spied a Grant's gazelle in the distance, and by 
the aid of my glasses discovered that it was a fine- 
looking buck with a capital pair of horns. A few 
Basoga from the caravan had followed me, doubtless 
in the hope of obtaining meat, of which they are 


inordinately fond ; so, handing them my pony, I 
wriggled from tuft to tuft and crawled along in the 
folds of the ground until eventually I got near 
enough for a safe shot, which bowled the antelope 
over stone-dead. Scarcely had he dropped when 
the Basoga swooped down on him, ripped him open, 
and devoured huge chunks of the raw and still 


quivering flesh, lapping up the warm blood in the 
palms of their hands. In return for the meat which 
I gave them, two of them willingly agreed to go on 
with me and carry the head and haunch of the 
gazelle. When we had got very nearly to the place 
where I intended to camp for the night, a great 
wart-hog suddenly jumped up almost at my horse's 
feet, and as he had very fine and exceptionally long 
tusks, I dismounted at once and bagged him too. 
The Basoga were delighted at this, and promptly 
cut off the head ; but my own people, who arrived 
with my tent just at this juncture, and who were all 
good Mohammedans, were thoroughly disgusted at 
the sight of this very hideous-looking pig. 

I camped for the night on the banks of the Stony 
Athi, close to where the railway was to cross, and 
made my notes of what was necessary for the 
temporary bridge. At the time the river was abso- 
lutely dry, but I knew that it might at any moment 
become a roaring torrent if rain should set in ; it 
would therefore be necessary to span it with a 
forty-foot girder in order to prevent constant 
"washouts" during the rainy season. The next 
morning I started early on my return to railhead. 
On my way I had to pass the camp which the 
Basoga caravan had just left, but the spectacle of 
about a dozen newly-made graves which the hyaenas 
had already torn open caused me to put spurs to 




my horse and to gallop as fast as possible through 
the pestilential spot. When I had almost got back 
to railhead I happened to notice a huge serpent 
stretched out on the grass, warming himself, his 
skin of old gold and bright green sparkling bril- 
liantly in the sunshine. He appeared to take little 
notice of me as I cautiously approached, and was 
probably drowsy and sated with a heavy meal. I 
shot him through the head as he lay, and the 
muscular contortions after death throughout his 
long body gave me a very vivid idea of the 
tremendous squeezing power possessed by these 
reptiles. Skinning him was an easy process, but 
unfortunately his beautiful colouring soon disap- 
peared, the old gold turning to white and the 
bright green to lustreless black. 




IN spite of all our difficulties, rapid progress con- 
tinued to be made with the line. Each day railhead 
crept a mile or so further across the Plains, and on 
April 24 we reached the Stony Athi River, where our 
great camp was pitched for a few days while the 
temporary bridge was being thrown across the dry 
bed of the stream. Still another temporary bridge 
had to be arranged for the Athi itself, which was 
some eight miles further on, so I had to make 
one or two expeditions to this river in order to 
select a suitable place for the crossing and to make 
various other arrangements. On one of these 
occasions I was busy attending to the pitching of my 
tent after arriving at the Athi late in the evening, 
when on looking round I was very much surprised 
to see two European ladies sitting under the shade 
of some trees on the river bank. As I knew 
that this was anything but a safe place in which 


to rest, owing to the number of lions about, I went 
up to them to see if I could be of any assistance, 
and found that they were American missionaries 
journeying to their stations further inland. They 
were waiting for their camp equipment to arrive, 
but their porters had been considerably delayed 
by some very heavy rain, which of course made the 
roads bad and the tents about double their usual 
weight. The men of the party were expected 
every moment with the porters, but there was as 
yet no sign of the little caravan, and as a matter 
of fact it did not arrive until Jong after nightfall. 
In these circumstances it was perhaps a great 
blessing that I happened to be there ; and as 
the ladies were both very tired and hungry, I 
was glad to be able to place my tent at their dis- 
posal and to offer them as good a dinner as it 
was possible to provide in the wilds. It is indeed 
wonderful what dangers and hardships these deli- 
cately nurtured ladies will face cheerfully in order to 
carry out their self-appointed mission. 

When they had left next morning to resume their 
journey, I started out and made a search up and 
down the river for the proper position for my 
temporary bridge. After a thorough examination 
of all the possible situations, I chose the most 
suitable and pitched my tent close to it for a night 
or two while I made the necessary calculations for 


carrying out the work. The crossing on which I 
had decided had to be approached by a somewhat 
sharp curve in the line, and in laying this out with 
the theodolite I experienced considerable difficulty, 
as for some reason or other I could not make the 
last peg on the curve come anywhere near the 
tangent-point where the curve should link up 
with the straight. I repeated the whole operation 
time after time, but always with the same result. 
Eventually I came to the conclusion that there must 
be some mistake in the table of angles from which I 
had been working, so I started to work them out for 
myself and soon discovered a serious misprint. 
This being rectified in my calculations, I proceeded 
to lay out the curve again, when at last everything 
came out accurately and to my satisfaction. 

After I had pegged out this temporary diversion 
of the line, I thought I richly deserved a few hours' 
play, and accordingly determined to try my luck after 
lions up-stream towards the source of the Athi. 
The river which runs almost due north here, 
before taking a turn eastward to the Indian Ocean- 
forms part of the western boundary of the Athi 
Plains, and is fringed all along its course by a belt 
of thorny hardwood trees. In some places this 
fringe is quite narrow, while in others it is about a 
quarter of a mile wide, with grassy glades here and 
there among the trees. Every now and again, too, 


the stream itself widens out into a broad stretch of 
water, nearly always covered over with tall reeds 
and elephant grass, while along- the banks are 
frequent patches of stunted bushes, which struck me 
as very likely places for the king of beasts to sleep in 
after having drunk at the river. I had noticed that 
after having eaten and drunk well, a lion would 
throw himself down quite without caution in the 
first shady spot he came to ; of course- nothing 
except man ever disturbs him, and even of man the 
lions in this part of the country had as yet no fear, 
for they had rarely if ever been hunted previous to 
my time. 

As I felt rather tired after my morning's work, I 
decided to use my pony on this expedition, although 
as a rule I went on foot. Mahina and half-a-dozen 
natives to beat the belt of trees were to accompany 
me, and after a hasty lunch off we started up the left 
bank of the river. I walked for some distance at 
first, partly because the ground was very stony and 
partly because I thought a lion might suddenly 
bound out of some likely patches in front of the 
beaters ; but after having gone about six miles in 
this way without adventure of any kind, I decided 
to mount again. At this time the beaters were in 
line about a hundred yards behind me, shouting and 
halloing with all their might as they advanced 
through the scrub and undergrowth, while I rode 


well to the flank so as to be ready for any emergency. 
Just as the men got up to a rather thicker piece of 
jungle than usual, I fancied I saw a movement 
among the bushes and pulled up suddenly to watch 
the spot, but did not dismount. The next moment 
out bounded a lioness, who raced straight across the 
open strip into the next patch of jungle, quickly 
followed by another. Throwing myself off my pony, 
I seized my rifle to get a shot at the second lioness as 
she galloped past, and was just about to pull the 
trigger, when to my utter amazement out sprang a 
huge black-maned lion, making all haste after his 
mates. Before he could reach the further thicket, 
however, I fired, and had the satisfaction of hearing 
the deep growl that tells of a serious hit. 

The beaters and I now advanced with great care, 
taking advantage of every bit of cover and keeping 
a sharp look-out for the wounded animal as we crept 
from tree to tree. Fully a quarter of an hour must 
have elapsed in this slow yet exciting search, before 
one of the men, some fifty or sixty yards to my left, 
and a little ahead of the line, called out that he could 
see the lion awaiting our approach, with his head just 
visible in a large bed of rushes only a short distance 
in front of where I then was. Almost at the same 
moment I found blood marks left by the wounded 
animal, leading apparently to a kind of gap in the 
bank of the river, which had evidently been worn 


down by a rhino going to and fro to drink. I accord- 
ingly made for this with the greatest caution, order- 
ing all the men, except Mahina, to remain behind ; 
and as noiselessly as possible I slipped from cover to 
cover in my endeavour to obtain a peep over the 
bank. I saw that it was no use to attempt to climb 
a tree, as the overspreading foliage would have 
prevented me from obtaining any view ahead ; so I 
continued my slow advance with a fast-beating 
heart, not knowing where the huge brute was and 
expecting every moment that he would charge out 
at me over the bank from his reedy refuge. 
Emboldened to a certain extent, however, by the 
fact that up till then I had heard no movement on 
the part of my enemy, I crept steadily forward and 
at last, from the shelter of a friendly tree behind 
the bole of which I hid myself, I was able to look 
over the bank. And there, not twenty yards from 
me, crouched the lion luckily watching, not me, 
but the native who had first seen him and who had 
directed me to where he was. I raised my rifle very 
cautiously, without making the slightest sound, and 
steadying the barrel against the trunk of the tree 
and standing on tip-toe in order to get a better view, 
I fired plump at the side of his head. It was as 
if he had suddenly been hit with a sledge-hammer, 
for he fell over instantly and lay like a log. 

On my calling out that the lion was done for, the 


beaters came running up shouting with joy ; and 
although I warned them to be careful, as the two 
lionesses were probably still close at hand, they did 
not seem to care in the slightest and in a twinkling 
had the dead lion lifted from the reeds on to the dry 
bank. Before I allowed anything further to be done, 
however, I had the patch of rushes thoroughly 
beaten out : but as no traces of the lionesses could 
be found, we commenced to skin my fine trophy. 
When this was about half done, I decided to let 
Mahina finish the operation, while I went on ahead 
to try my luck either with more lions or with any 
other game that might come my way. I followed 
up the river almost to its source, but no more lions 
crossed my path. Once indeed I felt convinced 
that I saw one, and gave chase to it with all my 
might as it rushed through the long grass : but a 
nearer view showed me nothing more than a huge 
wart-hog. As I wanted the tusks, which I noticed 
were very fine ones, I fired but only badly hipped 
him : so I ran up as fast as I could and at ten 
yards fired again. This time I missed him entirely, 
and was puzzled to account for my failure until I 
looked at my back sight and found that by some 
accident it had got raised and that I had the 200- 
yards sight up. On rectifying this, another shot 
quickly put the wounded animal out of pain. 

Still my day's sport was not yet over. While 




rambling back through the trees, I caught sight of 
a graceful-looking antelope in the distance, and on 
cautiously approaching closer saw that it was an 
impala. My stalk was crowned with success, the 
beautiful animal being bagged without much trouble; 



and on reaching my prize I was delighted to find 
that its horns were much above the average. On 
another occasion I was fortunate enough to get a 
successful snapshot of an impala just after it had 
been shot by a friend, and the photograph gives a 
very good idea of what mine was like. 



As it was now growing late, I made all haste back 
to where I had left Mahina skinning the lion, but to 
my astonishment he was nowhere to be seen. I 
fired several shots and shouted myself hoarse, all 
without response ; and the only conclusion I could 
come to was that he had returned to the camp at the 
temporary bridge. I accordingly pushed on, reach- 
ing home long after dark ; and there I found Mahina 
safe and sound, with the lion's skin already pegged 
out to dry, so that I could not find it in my heart to give 
him the severe scolding he deserved for having 
returned without me. Next morning I packed up 
my trophies and returned to my work at railhead. 
On my way back I happened to meet one of the 
other engineers, who called out, " Hallo ! I hear 
you have got a fine line." 

My thoughts being full of my adventures of the 
day before, I answered : " Yes, I did ; but how on 
earth did you hear of it ? " 

" Oh ! " he said, " Reynolds told me." 

"Good heavens," I replied, "why, he left before 
I shot it." 

" Shot ? " he exclaimed, " whatever do you 
mean ? " 

" Didn't you say," I asked, "that you heard I 
had got a fine lion ? " 

" No, no," was his reply ; " a fine line for the tem- 
porary bridge over the river." 




We both laughed heartily at the misunderstanding, 
and when he saw my trophy, which was being carried 
by my man just behind me, he agreed that it was 
quite fine enough to monopolise my thoughts and 
prevent me from thinking of anything else. 

Q 2 



A FEW Masai may still be seen on the Athi Plains, 
but as a rule they keep away from the railway, the 
majority of the tribe being now settled on the 
Laikipia Plateau. Formerly they were by far the 
most powerful native race in East Africa, and when 
on the war-path were the terror of the whole country 
from the furthest limits of Uganda to Mombasa 
itself. Their numbers have latterly become greatly 
reduced through famine and small-pox, but the 
remnant of the tribe, more especially the men, are 
still a fine, lithe, clean-limbed people. While I was 
stationed in the Plains I managed to have an inter- 
view with the chief, Lenana, at one of his " royal 
residences," a kraal near Nairobi. He was affability 
itself, presenting me with a spear and shield as a 
memento of the occasion ; but he had the reputation 
of being a most wily old potentate, and I found this 
quite correct, as whenever he was asked an awkward 


question, he would nudge his Prime Minister and 
command him to answer for him. I managed to 
induce him and his wives and children to sit for their 
photograph, and they made a very fine group 
indeed ; but unfortunately the negative turned out 


very badly. I also got Lenana's nephew and a 
warrior to engage in combat with the spear and 
shield, and both made fine play with their long keen 
blades, which more than once penetrated the oppon- 
ent's shield. 

The Masai have a wonderfully well-organised 
military system. The warriors (elmorani] of the 


tribe must attend strictly to their duties, and are 
not allowed to marry or to smoke or to drink 
until after their term of active service is completed. 
Besides the spear and shield they generally carry 
a sword or knobkerrie, suspended from a raw-hide 
waist-belt ; and they certainly look very ferocious in 
their weird-looking head-dress when on the war- 
path. Once or twice I met detachments out on 
these expeditions, but they were always quite 
friendly to me, even though I was practically 
alone. Before the advent of British rule, however, 
sudden raids were constantly being made by them 
on the weaker tribes in the country ; and when a 
kraal was captured all the male defenders were 
instantly killed with the spear, while the women 
were put to death during the night with clubs. The 
Masai, indeed, never made slaves or took prisoners, 
and it was their proud boast that where a party of 
elmorani had passed, nothing of any kind was left 
alive. The object of these raids was, of course, to 
capture live stock, for the Masai are not an agri- 
cultural people and their wealth consists entirely in 
their herds of cattle, sheep and goats. Curiously 
enough they do not hunt game, although the country 
abounds with it, but live principally on beef and 
milk ; and it is also a common custom for them to 
drink daily a pint or so of blood taken from a live 
bullock. As they thus live entirely on cattle, and 




as cattle cannot thrive without good pasture, it is 
not unnatural to find that they have a great 
reverence for grass. They also worship a Supreme 


Being whom they call N'gai, but this term is 
also applied to anything which is beyond their 

Perhaps the most curious of the customs of the 



Masai is the extraction of the two front teeth from 
the lower jaw. It is said that this habit originated 
at a time when lockjaw was very prevalent amono- 
the tribe, and it was found that if these teeth 
were pulled out food could still be taken. This 

e xplanation 
seems scarcely 
sa tisfactory 
or sufficient, 
and I give it 
only for what 
it is worth : but 
whatever the 
reason for the 
custom, the ab- 
sence of these 
two teeth con- 
stitutes a most 
distinct ive 
i de nt i f ying 
mark. I re- 
member once 
being out with 

a Masai one day when we came across the bleached 
skull of a long defunct member of his tribe, of course 
easily recognisable as such by the absence of the 
proper teeth. The Masai at once plucked a hand- 
ful of grass, spat upon it, and then placed it very 





carefully within the skull ; this was done, he said, 
to avert evil from himself. The same man asked 
me among many other questions if my country was 
nearer to God than his. I am afraid I was unable 


conscientiously to answer him in the affirmative. 
Formerly the Masai used to spit in the face as a 
mark of great friendship, but nowadays like most 
other native races they have adopted our English 
fashion of shaking hands. 

Another very common custom amongst them is 




that of distorting the lobe of the ear by stretching 
it until it hangs down quite five or six inches. It is 
then pierced and decorated in various ways by 
sticking through it a piece of wood two or three 
inches in diameter, or a little round tin canister, and 
by hanging to it pieces of chain, rings, beads, or 


bunches of brass-headed nails, according to fancy. 
Nearly all the men wear little bells on their ankles 
to give notice of their approach, while the women 
are very fond of covering themselves with large 
quantities of iron or copper wire. Their limbs, 
indeed, are often almost completely encased with 
these rings, which I should think must be very 




heavy and uncomfortable : but no Masai woman 
considers herself a lady of fashion without them, 
and the more she possesses the higher does she 
stand in the social scale. 


As a rule, the Masai do not bury their dead, as 
they consider this custom to be prejudicial to the 
soil ; the bodies are simply carried some little 




distance from the village and left to be devoured 
by birds and wild beasts. The honour of burial 
is reserved only for a great chief, over whose 


remains a large mound is also raised. I came 
across one of these mounds one day near Tsavo 
and opened it very carefully, but found nothing : 
possibly I did not pursue my search deep enough 




into the earth. In general, the Masai are an up- 
right and honourable savage race, and it is a great 
pity that they are gradually dying out. 


More or less serfs of the Masai are the Wa 
N'derobbo, who, unlike their over-lords, are a race of 
hunters. They are seldom to be met with, however, 
as they hide away in caves and thickets, and keep 


constantly moving from place to place following the 
game. Not long ago I saw a few of them in the 
neighbourhood of the Eldama Ravine : but these 
were more or less civilised, and the girls, who were 
quite graceful, had abandoned the native undress 
costume for flowing white robes. 

In the district from Nairobi to the Kedong 
River, and in the Kenya Province, dwell the Wa 
Kikuyu, who are similar to the Masai in build, but 
not nearly so good-looking. Like the latter, they 
use the spear and shield, though of a different 
shape ; their principal weapon, however, is the bow 
and poisoned arrow. They also frequently carry 
a rudely made two-edged short sword in a sheath, 
which is slung round the waist by a belt of raw 
hide. Their front teeth are filed to a sharp point 
in the same manner as those of nearly all the 
other native tribes of East Africa, with the excep- 
tion of the Masai. They live in little villages 
composed of beehive huts and always situated in 
the very thickest patches of forest that they can 
find, and their cattle kraals are especially strongly 
built and carefully hidden. On one occasion I 
managed after a great deal of difficulty and crawling 
on all-fours to make my way into one of these 
kraals, and was much amazed to notice what labour 
and ingenuity had been expended on its construc- 
tion. Unlike the Masai, the Wa Kikuyu have a 


fairly good idea of agriculture, and grow crops 
of m'tama (a kind of native grain from which 


flour is made), sugar-cane, sweet potatoes, and 




The Wa Kikuyu have the reputation of being a 
very cowardly and treacherous people, and they 
have undoubtedly committed some very cruel deeds. 
A friend of mine, Captain Haslem, with whom I 
lived for a few months at Tsavo, was barbarously 


murdered by some members of this tribe. He left 
me to go up to the Kikuyu country in charge of 
the transport, and as he was keenly interested in 
finding out all about the tropical diseases from 
which the animals suffered, he made it his custom 
to dissect the bodies of those that died. The 
superstitious Wa Kikuyu were fully convinced that 




by this he bewitched their cattle, which at the time 
were dying in scores from rinderpest. So in- 
stigated no doubt by the all-powerful witch-doctor 
they treacherously killed him. For my part, 
however, I found them not nearly so black as they 


had been painted to me. I had about four hundred 
of them working at one thing or another at Nairobi 
and never had any trouble with them. On the 
contrary I found them well-behaved and intelligent 
and most anxious to learn. 

As is the case with all other African races, the 
women of the Wa Kikuyu do the manual labour of 



the village and carry the heavy loads for their lords 
and masters, the bundles being held in position on 
their back by a strap passing round the forehead. 

Notwithstanding this some of them are quite 
pleasant looking, and once they have overcome their 
fear of the European, do not object to being photo- 

Of the other tribes to be met with in this part 
of the world, the Kavirondo are the most interesting. 
They are an industrious, simple people, devoted 
to agriculture and hospitable in the extreme a 
little addicted to thieving, perhaps, but then that 
is scarcely considered a sin in the heart of Africa. 
They are clothed (to use Mark Twain's expression) 
in little but a smile, a bead or two here and there 
being considered ample raiment ; nevertheless they 
are modest in their ways and are on the whole 
about the best of the East African tribes. 



ON May 12 railhead reached the Athi River, 
where, as there was a great deal of miscellaneous 
work to be done, our headquarters remained 
established for some little time. One day not long 
after we had settled down in our new camp, I was 
joined quite unexpectedly by my friend Dr. Brock, 
who had shared the exciting adventure with me at 
Tsavo the night we were attacked in the goods- 
wagon by one of the man-eaters. Now Brock had 
so far not been fortunate enough to bag a lion, and 
was consequently most anxious to do so. Shortly 
after his arrival, accordingly, he suggested that we 
should go for a shooting expedition on the morrow, 
and that I should trot out for his benefit one of the 
local lions. Of course I said I should be delighted 
I was always ready for a hunt when it was 
possible for me to get away, and as just at the time 
we were " held up " by the Athi River, I could 

R 2 


manage a day off quite easily. So we made the 
usual preparations for a day's absence from camp 
filled our water-bottles with tea, put a loaf of bread 
and a tin of sardines in our haversacks, looked care- 
fully to our rifles and ammunition, and warned the 
"boys" who were to accompany us as beaters to be 
ready before dawn. I decided to make a very 
early start, as I knew that the most likely place for 
lions lay some distance away, and I wanted to get 
there if possible by daybreak. We should thus 
have a better chance of catching one of the lords 
of the plain as he returned from his nightly 
depredations to the kindly shelter of the tall grass 
and rushes which fringed the banks of the river. 
We therefore retired to rest early, and just as I was 
dozing off to sleep, one of my Indian servants, 
Roshan Khan, put his head through the slit at my 
tent door and asked leave to accompany the " Sahibs" 
in the morning so that he might see what shikar 
(hunting) was like. This request I sleepily granted, 
thinking that it could make little difference whether 
he came with us or stayed behind in camp. As 
things turned out, however, it made all the differ- 
ence in the world, for if he had not accompanied 
us, my shikar would in all probability have ended 
disastrously next day. He was a very dusky- 
coloured young Pathan about twenty years of age, 
lithe and active, and honest and pleasant-looking, 


as Pathans go. He had been my "boy" for some 
time and was much attached to me, besides having 
a touching faith in my prowess in shikar : probably, 
indeed, this was the reason why he stuck so close to 
me throughout the hunt. 

We breakfasted by candle light and managed to 
get several miles on our way towards the source 
of the Athi before dawn. As soon as it was 
thoroughly daylight, we extended in line, Dr. 
Brock, as the guest, being placed in the most likely 
position for a shot, while Roshan Khan followed 
close behind me with the day's provisions. In this 
order we trudged steadily forward for a couple of 
miles without coming across anything, though we 
advanced through many patches of rushes and long 
grass likely to conceal our expected quarry. It was 
most interesting and exciting work all the same, 
as we never knew but that a lion might the next 
moment jump up at our very feet. We had just 
beaten through a most hopeful-looking covert with- 
out success and had come out on to a beautiful open 
grassy glade which stretched away for some distance 
ahead of us, when I noticed a big herd of wilde- 
beeste browsing quietly some distance to our right. 
I knew that Brock also wanted a wildebeeste, so I 
whistled softly to him, and pointed out the weird- 
looking, bison-like antelopes. He came across at 
once and started off towards the herd, while I sat 


down to watch the proceedings. He made a 
beautiful stalk, which was rendered really very 
difficult by the open nature of the country, but 
still the wildebeeste quickly noticed his approach 
and kept steadily moving on, until at last they 
disappeared over one of the gentle rises which are 
such a feature of the Athi Plains. 

I still sat and waited, expecting every moment to 
hear the sound of Brock's rifle. Some time elapsed 
without a shot, however, and I was just about to 
follow him up and find out how things were going, 
when Roshan Khan suddenly exclaimed excitedly : 
" Dekko, Sahib, shenzi ata hain /" (" Look, Sahib, 
the savages are coming ! " ). I was not in the least 
alarmed at this somewhat startling announcement, 
as the Indians called all the natives of the interior 
of Africa shenzi, or savages ; and on looking 
round I saw five tall, slim Masai approaching in 
Indian file, each carrying a six-foot spear in 
his right hand. On coming nearer, the leader of 
the party eagerly asked in Swahili, "What does 
the Bwana Makubwa (" Great Master ") desire ? " 

" Simba" ("Lions"), said I. 

"Come," he replied, " I will show you many." 

This filled me with interest at once. " How far 
away are they ? " I asked. 

" M'bali kidogo " (" A little distance "), came the 
stereotyped reply. 


I immediately had a good look round for Brock, 
but could see no sign of him, so, in case the " many " 
lions should get away in the meantime, I told the 
Masai to lead the way, and off we started. 

As usual, the mbali kidogo proved a good distance 
over two miles in this case. Indeed, I began to 
get impatient at the long tramp, and called out to 
the Masai to know where his lions were ; but he 
vouchsafed me no answer and continued to walk 
steadily on, casting keen glances ahead. After a 
little I again asked, " Where are the lions ? " This 
time he extended his spear in a most dramatic 
manner, and pointing to a clump of trees just ahead, 
exclaimed : " Look, Master ; there are the lions." 
I looked, and at once caught sight of a lioness 
trotting off behind the bushes. I also saw some 
suspicious-looking thing at the foot of one of the big 
trees, but came to the conclusion that it was only 
a growth of some kind projecting from the trunk. 
I was soon to be undeceived, however, for as I 
started to run towards the trees in order to cut off 
the fast disappearing lioness from a stretch of rushes 
for which she was making, a low and sinister growl 
made me look closer at the object which had first 
aroused my suspicions. To my surprise and delight 
I saw that it was the head of a huge black-maned 
lion peering out from behind the trunk of the tree, 
which completely hid his body. I pulled up short 


and stared at him. Although he was not seventy 
yards away from me, yet owing to the nature of the 
background it was very difficult to make him out, 
especially as he kept his head perfectly still, gazing 
steadily at me. It was only when the great mouth 
opened in an angry snarl that I could see plainly 
what he really was. For a few seconds we stood 
thus and looked at each other ; then he growled 
again and made off after the lioness. As I could 
not get a fair shot at him from where I stood, I ran 
with all my might for a point of vantage from which 
I might have a better chance of bagging him as he 

Now by this time I had almost got beyond the 
surprise stage where lions were concerned ; yet I 
must admit that I was thoroughly startled and 
brought to a full stop in the middle of my race 
by seeing no less than four more lionesses jump up 
from the covert which the lion had just left. In the 
twinkling of an eye three of them had disappeared 
after their lord in long, low bounds, but the fourth 
stood broadside on, looking, not at me, but at my 
followers, who by this time were grouped together 
and talking and gesticulating excitedly. This gave 
me a splendid chance for a shoulder shot at about 
fifty yards' distance, so I knelt down at once and 
fired after taking careful aim. The lioness dis- 
appeared from sight instantly, and on looking over 


the top of the grass I saw that my shot had told, as 
she was on her back, clawing the air and growling 
viciously. As she looked to me to be done for, I 
shouted to some of the men to remain behind and 
watch her, wjiile I set off once more at a run to try 
to catch up the lion. I feared that the check with 
the lioness might have lost him to me altogether, 
but to my relief I soon caught sight of him again. 
He had not made off very quickly, and had probably 
stopped several times to see what I was up to ; 
indeed the men, who could see him all the time, 
afterwards told me that when he heard the growl of 
rage from the lioness after she was shot, he made 
quite a long halt, apparently deliberating whether he 
should return to her rescue. Evidently, however, 
he had decided that discretion was the better part of 
valour. Fortunately he was travelling leisurely, 
and I was delighted to find that I was gaining on 
him fast ; but I had still to run about two hundred 
yards at my best pace, which, at an altitude of more 
than 5,000 feet above sea-level, leaves one very 
breathless at the end of it. 

When the lion perceived me running towards 
him, he took up his station under a tree, where he 
was half hidden by some low bushes, above which 
only his head showed. Here he stood, watching 
my every movement and giving vent to his anger 
at my presence in low, threatening growls. I did 


not at all like the look of him, and if there had 
been another tree close by, I should certainly have 
scrambled up it into safety before attempting to fire. 
As a matter of fact, however, there was no shelter 
of any kind at hand ; so, as I meant to have a try 
for him at all costs, I sat down where I was, about 
sixty yards from him, and covered his great head 
with my rifle. I was so breathless after my run, 
and my arms were so shaky, that it was all I could 
do to keep the sight on the fierce-looking target ; 
and I thought to myself, as the rifle barrel wobbled 
about, " If I don't knock him over with the first 
shot, he will be out of these bushes and down on 
me like greased lightning and then I know what 
to expect." It was a most exciting moment, but in 
spite of the risk I would not have missed it for the 
world ; so, taking as steady an aim as was possible in 
the circumstances, I pulled the trigger. Instantly 
the shaggy head disappeared from view, and such a 
succession of angry roars and growls came up out 
of the bushes that I was fairly startled, and felt 
keenly anxious to finish him off before he could 
charge out and cover the short distance which 
separated us. I therefore fired half a dozen shots 
into the bushes at the spot where I imagined he lay, 
and soon the growling and commotion ceased, and 
all was still. I was confident the brute was dead, 
so I called up one of the men to stay and watch the 


place, while I again rushed off at full speed jump- 
ing over such rocks and bushes as came in my way 
to have a shot at a lioness that was still in sight. 

By this time my followers numbered about thirty 
men, as when one is hunting in these plains natives 
seem to spring from nowhere in the most mysterious 
manner, and attach themselves to one in the hope of 
obtaining some portion of the kill. By signal I 
ordered them to advance in line on the thicket in 
which the lioness had just taken refuge, while I took 
up my position on one side, so as to obtain a good 
shot when she broke covert. The line of natives 
shouting their native cries and striking their spears 
together soon disturbed her, and out she sprang 
into the open, making for a clump of rushes close 
to the river. Unfortunately she broke out at the 
most unfavourable spot from my point of view, as 
some of the natives masked my fire, and I had 
consequently to wait until she got almost to the 
edge of the rushes. Whether or not I hit her then 
I cannot say ; at any rate, she made good her 
escape into the reeds, where I decided to leave her 
until Brock should arrive. 

I now retraced my steps towards the spot where 
I had shot the lion, expecting, of course, to find the 
man I had told to watch him still on guard. To 
my intense vexation, however, I found that my 
sentry had deserted his post and had joined the 


other men of the party, having become frightened 
when left by himself. The result of his dis- 
obedience was that now I could not tell where lay 
the dead lion or, rather, the lion which I believed to 
be dead ; but I had no intention of losing so fine a 
trophy, so I began a systematic search, dividing the 
jungle into strips, and thus going over the whole 
place thoroughly. The task of finding him, however, 
was not so easy as might be thought ; the chase after 
the lioness had taken us some distance from where 
I had shot him, and as there were numbers of trees 
about similar to that under which he fell, it was 
really a very difficult matter to hit upon the right 
place. At last one of the men sang out joyfully that 
he had found the lion at the same time running 
away from the spot as hard as ever he could. A 
number of those nearest to him, both Indians and 
natives, had more courage or curiosity, and went up 
to have a look at the beast. I shouted to them as 
I hurried along to be careful and not to go too near, 
in case by any chance he might not be dead ; but 
they paid little heed to the warning, and by the 
time I got up, some half-dozen of them were 
gathered in a group at the lion's tail, gesticulating 
wildly and chattering each in his own language, and 
all very pleased and excited. On getting near I 
asked if the lion was dead, and was told that he 
was nearly so, but that he still breathed. He was 


lying at full length on his side, and when I saw him 
at close quarters I was more delighted than I can 
tell, for he was indeed a very fine specimen. For a 
moment or two I stood with the group of natives, 
admiring him. He still breathed regularly, as his 
flanks heaved with each respiration ; but as he lay 
absolutely still with all the men jabbering within a 
yard of him, I assumed that he was on the point of 
death and unable to rise. Possessed with this 
belief, I very foolishly allowed my curiosity to run 
away with my caution, and stepped round to have a 
look at his head. The moment I came into his 
view, however, he suddenly became possessed of a 
diabolical ferocity. With a great roar he sprang to 
his feet, as if he were quite unhurt ; his eyes blazed 
with fury, and his lips were drawn well back, 
exposing his tusks and teeth in a way I hope never 
to witness again. When this perilous situation so 
unexpectedly developed itself, I was not more than 
three paces away from him. 

The instant the lion rose, all the men fled as if 
the Evil One himself were after them, and made for 
the nearest trees with one exception, for as I took 
a step backwards, keeping my eye on the infuriated 
animal, I almost trod on Roshan Khan, who had 
still remained close behind me. Fortunately for 
me, I had approached the lion's head with my rifle 
ready, and as I stepped back I fired. The impact 


of the "303 bullet threw him back on his haunches 
just as he was in the act of springing, but in an 
instant he was up again and coming for me so 
quickly that I had not even time to raise my rifle to 
my shoulder, but fired point blank at him from my 
hip, delaying him for a second or so as before. He 
was up again like lightning, and again at the 
muzzle of my rifle ; and this time I thought that 
nothing on earth could save me, as I was almost 
within his clutches. Help came from an unexpected 
and unconscious quarter, for just at this critical 
moment Roshan Khan seemed all at once to realise 
the danger of the situation, and suddenly fled for 
his life, screaming and shrieking with all his might. 
Beyond all question this movement saved me, for the 
sight of something darting away from him diverted 
the lion's attention from me, and following his 
natural instinct, he gave chase instead to the yelling 

Roshan Khan having thus unwittingly rescued 
me from my perilous position, it now became my turn 
to do all I could to save him, if this were possible. 
In far less time than it takes to tell the story, I had 
swung round after the pursuing lion, levelled my 
rifle and fired ; but whether because of the speed at 
which he was going, or because of my over-anxiety 
to save my " boy ", I missed him completely, and 
saw the bullet raise the dust at the heels of a 


flying Masai. Like lightning I loaded again from 
the magazine, but now the lion was within a spring 
of his prey, and it seemed hopeless to expect to 
save poor Roshan Khan from his clutches. Just at 
this moment, however, the terrified youth caught 
sight of the brute over his left shoulder, and 
providentially made a quick swerve to the right. 
As the lion turned to follow him, he came broadside 
on to me, and just as he had Roshan Khan within 
striking distance and was about to seize him, he 
dropped in the middle of what would otherwise 
assuredly have been the fatal spring bowled over 
with a broken shoulder. This gave me time to run 
up and give him a final shot, and with a deep roar 
he fell back full length on the grass, stone-dead. 

I then looked round to see if Roshan Khan was 
all right, as I was not sure whether the lion had 
succeeded in mauling him or not. The sight that 
met my eyes turned tragedy into comedy in an 
instant, and made me roar with laughter; indeed, it 
was so utterly absurd that I threw myself down on 
the grass and rolled over and over, convulsed with 
uncontrollable mirth. For there was Roshan Khan, 
half-way up a thorn tree, earnestly bent on getting 
to the very topmost branch as quickly as ever he 
could climb ; not a moment, indeed, was he able 
to spare to cast a glance at what "was happening 
beneath. His puggaree had been torn off by one 


thorn, and waved gracefully in the breeze ; a fancy 
waistcoat adorned another spiky branch, and his 
long white cotton gown was torn to ribbons in his 
mad endeavour to put as great a distance as possible 
between himself and the dead lion. As soon as I 
could stop laughing, I called out to him to come 
down, but quite in vain. There was no stopping 
him, indeed, until he had reached the very top of 
the tree ; and even then he could scarcely be in- 
duced to come down again. Poor fellow, he had 
been thoroughly terrified, and little wonder. 

My followers now began to emerge from the 
shelter of the various trees and bushes where 
they had concealed themselves after their wild 
flight from the resuscitated lion, and crowded round 
his dead body in the highest spirits. The Masai, 
especially, seemed delighted at the way in which he 
had been defeated, and to my surprise and amuse- 
ment proved themselves excellent mimics, some 
three or four of them beginning at once to act the 
whole adventure. One played the part of the lion 
and jumped growling at a comrade, who immediately 
ran backwards just as I had done, shouting " Ta, 
Ta, Ta " and cracking his fingers to represent the 
rifle-shots. Finally the whole audience roared with 
delight when another bolted as fast as he could to 
Roshan Khan's tree with the pseudo lion roaring 
after him. At the end of these proceedings up came 


Brock, who had been attracted to the place by the 
sound of the firing. He was much astonished to 
see my fine dead lion lying stretched out, and his 
first remark was, " You are a lucky beggar ! " After- 
wards, when he heard the full story of the adventure, 
he rightly considered me even more lucky than he 
had first thought. 

Our next business was to go back to the lioness 
which I had first shot and left for dead. Like her 
mate, however, she was still very much alive when 
we reached her, so I stalked carefully up to a 
neighbouring tree, from whose shelter I gave her 
the finishing shot. We then left Mahina and the 
other men to skin the two beasts, and went on to 
the rushes where the second lioness had taken cover. 
Here all our efforts to turn her out failed, so we 
reluctantly abandoned the chase and were fated to 
see no more lions that day. 

Our only other adventure was with a stolid old 
rhino, who gave me rather a fright and induced Brock 
to indulge in some lively exercise. Separated by 
about a hundred yards or so, we were walking over 
the undulating ground a short distance from the river, 
when, on gaining the top of a gentle rise, I suddenly 
came upon the ungainly animal as it lay wallowing 
in a hollow. It jumped to its feet instantly and came 
for where I stood, and as I had no wish to shoot it, 
I made a dash for cover round the knoll. On reaching 



the top of the rise, the rhino winded my companion 
and at once changed its direction and made for him. 
Brock lost no time in putting on his best pace in 
an endeavour to reach the shelter of a tree which 
stood some distance off, while I sat down and 
watched the exciting race. I thought it would be 
a pretty close thing, but felt confident that Brock, 
who was very active, would manage to pull it off. 
When he got about half-way to the tree, however, 
he turned to see how far his pursuer was behind, and 
in doing so put his foot in a hole in the ground, and to 
my horror fell head over heels, his rifle flying from 
his grasp. I expected the great brute to be on him 
in a moment, but to my intense relief the old rhino 
stopped dead when he saw the catastrophe which 
had taken place, and then, failing (I suppose) to under- 
stand it, suddenly made off in the opposite direction 
as hard as he could go. In the meantime Brock had 
got to his feet again, and raced for dear life to the 
tree without ever looking round. It was a most 
comical sight, and I sat on the rise and for the 
second time that day laughed till my sides ached. 

After this we returned to the scene of my morn- 
ing's adventure, where we found that the invaluable 
Mahina had finished skinning the two lions. We 
accordingly made our way back to camp with our 
trophies, all of us, with perhaps the exception of 
Roshan Khan, well satisfied with the day's outing. 


Whenever afterwards I wanted to chaff this " boy ", 
I had only to ask whether he would like to come 
and see some more shikar. He would then look 
very solemn, shake his head emphatically and assure 
me " Kabhi nahin, Sahib " (" Never again, Sir "). 

s 2 



WHEN the Athi river had been bridged, the 
section of the line to Nairobi was pushed forward as 
rapidly as possible, and from dawn to dark we all 
exerted ourselves to the very utmost. One day 
(May 28) the weather was exceptionally hot, and I 
had been out in the broiling sun ever since daylight 
superintending the construction of banks and 
cuttings and the erection of temporary bridges. On 
returning to my hut, therefore, at about three o'clock 
in the afternoon, I threw myself into a long deck 
chair, too tired for anything beyond a long cool 
drink. Here I rested for an hour or so, amused by 
the bustle at the small wayside station we had just 
built, and idly watching our tiny construction engine 
forging its -way, with a great deal of clanking and 
puffing, up a steep gradient just across the river. 
It was touch-and-go whether it would manage to 
get its heavy load of rails and sleepers to the top of 


the incline or not, and I became so interested in the 
contest between steam and friction and gravity, 
that I did not notice that a visitor had approached 
and was standing quietly beside me. 

On hearing the usual salutation, however, I turned 
round and saw a lean and withered half-bred Masai, 
clothed in a very inadequate piece of wildebeeste hide 
which was merely slipped under the left arm and 
looped up in a knot over the right shoulder. He 
stood for a moment with the right hand held out on 
a level with his shoulder, the fingers extended and 
the palm turned towards me all indicating that he 
came on a friendly visit. I returned his salutation, 
and asked him what he wanted. Before answering, 
he dropped down on his heels, his old bones cracking 
as he did so. " I want to lead the Great Master to 
two lions," he said; " they have just killed a zebra 
and are now devouring it." On hearing this I 
straightway forgot that I had already done a hard 
day's work in the full blaze of an equatorial sun ; I 
forgot that I was tired and hungry ; in fact, I forgot 
everything that was not directly connected with the 
excitement of lion-hunting. Even the old savage 
at my feet grinned when he saw how keen I was 
about it.' I plied him with questions were they 
both lions or lionesses ? had they manes ? how far 
away were they? and so on. Naturally, to the last 
question he was bound to answer " fyrbali kidogo" 


Of course they were not far away ; nothing ever is 
to a native of East Africa. However, the upshot 
was that in a very few minutes I had a mule saddled, 
and with the old Masai as guide, started off accom- 
panied by my faithful Mahina and another coolie 
to help to bring home the skin if I should prove 
successful. I also left word for my friend Spooner, 
the District Engineer, who happened to be absent 
from camp just at the moment, that I had gone 
after two lions, but hoped to be back by nightfall. 

We travelled at a good pace, and within an hour 
had covered fully six miles ; still there was no sign 
of lions. On the way we were joined by some 
Wa Kamba, even more scantily attired than our 
guide, and soon a dispute arose between these 
hangers-on and the old Masai, who refused to allow 
them to accompany us, as he was afraid that they 
would seize all the zebra-meat that the lions had not 
already eaten. However, I told him not to bother, 
but to hurry up and show me the lions, and that I 
would look after him all right. Eventually, on 
getting to the low crest of one of the long swells in 
the ground, our guide extended a long skinny finger 
and said proudly, " Tazama, Bwana " (" See, 
Master"). I looked in the direction in which he 
pointed, and sure enough, about six hundred yards 
off were a lion and a lioness busily engaged on the 
carcase of a zebra. On using my field-glasses, I 


was amused to observe a jackal in attendance on 
the pair. Every now and then he would come too 
close to the zebra, when the lion would make a 
short rush at him and scare him away. The little 
jackal looked most ridiculous, scampering off before 
the huge beast with his tail well down ; but no 
sooner did the lion stop and return to his meal 
than he crept nearer again. The natives say, by 
the way, that a lion will eat every kind of animal- 
including even other lions except a jackal or a 
hyaena. I was also interested to notice the way in 
which the lion got at the flesh of the zebra ; he took 
a short run at the body, and putting his claws well 
into the skin, in this manner tore off great strips of 
the hide. 

While I was thus studying the picture, my 
followers became impatient at my inactivity, and 
coming up to the top of the rise, showed them- 
selves on the sky-line. The lions saw them at once, 
turning round and standing erect to stare at them. 
There was not an atom of cover to be seen, nor 
any chance of taking advantage of the rolling 
ground, for it did not slope in the required direction ; 
so I started to walk in the open in a sidelong 
direction towards the formidable-looking pair. They 
allowed me to come a hundred yards or so nearer 
them, and then the lioness bolted, the lion following 
her at a more leisurely trot. As soon as they left 


the body of the zebra, my African following made a 
rush for it, and began a fierce fight over the remains, 
so that I had to restore order and leave a coolie 
to see that our guide got the largest share, as he 
deserved. In the meantime the lion, hearing the 

7 o 

noise of the squabble, halted on the crest of the 
hill to take a deliberate look at me, and then dis- 
appeared over the brow. I jumped on to my mule 
and galloped as hard as I could after him, and 
luckily found the pair still in sight when I reached 
the top of the rise. As soon as they saw me 
following them up, the lioness took covert in some 
long grass that almost concealed her when she lay 
down, but the lion continued to move steadily away. 
Accordingly I made for a point which would bring 
me about two hundred yards to the right of the 
lioness, and which would leave a deep natural hollow 
between us, so as to give me a better chance, in the 
event of a charge, of bowling her over as she came 
up the rise towards me. I could plainly make out 
her light-coloured form in the grass, and took careful 
aim and fired. In an instant she was kicking on her 
back and tossing about, evidently hard hit ; in a few 
seconds more she lay perfectly still, and I saw that 
she was dead. 

I now turned my attention to the lion, who mean- 
while had disappeared over another rise. By this 
time Mahina and the other Indian, with three or 


four of the disappointed Wa Kamba, had come 
up, so we started off in a body in pursuit of him. I 
felt sure that he was lurking somewhere in the 
grass not far off, and I knew that I could depend 
upon the native eye to find him if he showed so 
much as the tip of his ear. Nor was I disappointed, 
for we had scarcely topped the next rise when one 
of the Wa Kamba spotted the dark brown head of 
the brute as he raised it for an instant above the 
grass in order to watch us. We pretended not to 
have seen him, however, and advanced to within two 
hundred yards or so, when, as he seemed to be 
getting uneasy, I thought it best to risk a shot even 
at this range. I put up the 2ooyards sight and the 
bullet fell short ; but the lion never moved. Raising 
the sight another fifty yards, I rested the rifle on 
Mahina's back for the next shot, and again missed ; 
fortunately, however, the lion still remained quiet. I 
then decided to put into practice the scheme I had 
thought out the day I sat astride the lion I had 
killed on the Kapiti Plain : so I told all my followers 
to move off to the right, taking the mule with them, 
and to make a half-circle round the animal, while 
I lay motionless in the grass and waited. The ruse 
succeeded admirably, for as the men moved round 
so did the lion, offering me at last a splendid shoulder 
shot. I took very careful, steady aim and fired, 
with the result that he rolled over and over, and 


then made one or two attempts to get up but failed. 
I then ran up to within a few yards of him, and 
helpless as he was with a bullet through both 
shoulders he was still game, and twisted round so 
as to face me, giving vent all the time to savage 
growls. A final shot laid him out, however, and 
we at once proceeded to skin him. While we were 
busy doing this, one of the Wa Kamba suddenly 
drew my attention to the fact that we were actually 
being stalked at that very moment by two other 
lions, who eventually approached to within five hun- 
dred yards' distance and then lay down to watch us 
skinning their dead brother, their big shaggy heads 
rising every now and again above the grass to give 
us a prolonged stare. At the time I little knew 
what a stirring adventure was in store for me next 
day while in pursuit of these same brutes. 

It was almost dark when the skinning process 
was finished, so without delay we started on our way 
back to camp, which was about seven miles off. The 
lioness I thought I should leave to be skinned the 
next day ; but the men I sent out to do the job on 
the morrow were unable to find any trace of her 
they probably missed the place where she lay, for I 
am sure that I killed her. It was a good two hours 
after night had fallen before we got anywhere near 
the railway, and the last few miles I was obliged to 
do by the guidance of the stars. Tramping over 


the plain on a pitch-dark night, with lions and rhino 
all about, was by no means pleasant work, and I 
heartily wished myself and my men safely back in 
camp. Indeed, I was beginning to think that I 
must have lost my bearings and was getting anxious 
about it, when to my relief I heard a rifle shot about 
half a mile ahead of us. I guessed at once that it was 
fired by my good friend Spooner in order to guide 
me, so I gave a reply signal ; and on getting to 
the top of the next rise, I saw the plain in front of 
me all twinkling with lights. When he found that 
I had not returned by nightfall, Spooner had 
become nervous about me, and fearing that I had 
met with some mishap, had come out with a number 
of the workmen in camp to search for me in the 
direction I had taken in the afternoon. He was 
delighted to find me safe and sound and with a 
lion's skin as a trophy, while I was equally glad 
to have his escort and company back to camp, 
which was still over a mile away. 

When we had settled down comfortably to dinner 
that night, I fired Spooner's sporting ardour by 
telling him of the fine pair of lions who had 
watched us skinning their companion, and we agreed 
at once to go out next day and try to bag them 
both. Spooner and I had often had many friendly 
arguments in regard to the comparative courage of 
the lion and the tiger, he holding the view that 



"Stripes" was the more formidable foe, while I, 
though admitting to the full the courage of the tiger, 
maintained from lively personal experience that the 
lion when once roused was unequalled for pluck and 
daring, and was in fact the most dangerous enemy 
one could meet with. He may at times slink off 
and not show fight ; but get him in the mood, or 
wound him, and only his death or yours will end 
the fray that, at least, was my experience of East 
African lions. I think that Spooner has now come 
round to my opinion, his conversion taking place the 
next day in a very melancholy manner. 



LONG after I had retired to rest that night I lay 
awake listening to roar answering roar in every 
direction round our camp, and realised that we were 
indeed in the midst of a favourite haunt of the king 
of beasts. It is one thing to hear a lion in captivity, 
when one knows he is safe behind iron bars ; but 
quite another to listen to him when he is ramping 
around in the vicinity of one's fragile tent, which 
with a single blow he could tear to pieces. Still, 
all this roaring was of good omen for the next 
day's sport. 

According to our over-night arrangement, we 
were up betimes in the morning, but as there was a 
great deal of work to be done before we could get 
away, it was quite midday before we made ready to 
start. I ought to mention before going further that 
as a rule Spooner declined my company on shooting 
trips, as he was convinced that I should get 


" scuppered " sooner or later if I persisted in going 
after lions with a " popgun," as he contemptuously 
termed my '303. Indeed, this was rather a bone of 
contention between us, he being a firm believer (and 
rightly) in a heavy weapon for big and dangerous 
game, while I always did my best to defend the 
303 which I was in the habit of using. On this 
occasion we effected a compromise for the day, I 
accepting the loan of his spare 12 -bore rifle as a 
second gun in case I should get to close quarters. 
But my experience has been that it is always a very 
dangerous thing to rely on a borrowed gun or rifle, 
unless it has precisely the same action as one's 
own ; and certainly in this instance it almost proved 

Having thus seen to our rifles and ammunition 
and taken care also that some brandy was put in the 
luncheon-basket in case of an accident, we set off 
early in the afternoon in Spooner's tonga, which is a 
two-wheeled cart with a hood over it. The party 
consisted of Spooner and myself, Spooner's Indian 
shikari Bhoota, my own gun-boy Mahina, and two 
other Indians, one of whom, Imam Din, rode in the 
tonga, while the other led a spare horse called 
" Blazeaway." Now it may seem a strange plan to 
go lion-hunting in a tonga, but there is no better 
way of getting about country like the Athi Plains, 
where so long as it is dry there is little or 


nothing to obstruct wheeled traffic. Once started, 
we rattled over the smooth expanse at a good rate, 
and on the way bagged a hartebeeste and a couple 
of gazelle, as fresh meat was badly needed in camp ; 
besides, they offered most tempting shots, for they 
stood stock-still gazing at us, struck no doubt by 
the npvel appearance of our conveyance. Next we 
came upon a herd of wildebeeste, and here we 
allowed Bhoota, who was a wary shikari and an old 
servant of Spooner's, to stalk a solitary bull. He 
was highly pleased at this favour, and did the job 

At last we reached the spot where I had seen the 
t\vo lions on the previous day a slight hollow, 
covered with long grass ; but there was now no 
trace of them to be discovered, so we moved further 
on and had another good beat round. After some 
little time the excitement began by our spying the 
black-tipped ears of a lioness projecting above the 
grass, and the next moment a very fine lion arose 
from beside her and gave us a full view of his grand 
head and mane. After staring fixedly at us in an 
inquiring sort of way as we slowly advanced upon 
them, they both turned and slowly trotted off, the 
lion stopping every now and again to gaze round in 
our direction. Very imposing and majestic he looked, 
too, as he thus turned his great shaggy head 
defiantly towards us, and Spooner had to admit 


that it was the finest sight he had ever seen. For 
a while we followed them on foot ; but rinding at 
length that they were getting away from us and 
would soon be lost to sight over a bit of rising 
ground, we jumped quickly into the tonga and 
galloped round the base of the knoll so as to cut 
off their retreat, the excitement of the rough and 
bumpy ride being intensified a hundredfold by the 
probability of our driving slap into the pair on 
rounding the rise. On getting to the other side, 
however, they were nowhere to be seen, so we 
drove on as hard as we could to the top, whence 
we caught sight of them about four hundred yards 
away. As there seemed to be no prospect of getting 
nearer we decided to open fire at this range, and 
at the third shot the lioness tumbled over to my 
303. At first I thought I had .done for her, as for 
a few minutes she lay on the ground kicking and 
struggling ; but in the end, although evidently 
badly hit, she rose to her feet and followed the 
lion, who had escaped uninjured, into some long 
grass from which we could not hope to dislodge 

As it was now late in the afternoon, and as there 
seemed no possibility of inducing the lions to 
leave the thicket in which they had concealed 
themselves, we turned back towards camp, intend- 
ing to come out again the next day to track the 


wounded lioness. I was now riding " Blazeaway " 
and was trotting along in advance of the tonga, 
when suddenly he shied badly at a hyaena, which 
sprang up out of the grass almost from beneath his 
feet and quickly scampered off. I pulled up for a 
moment and sat watching the hyaena's ungainly 
bounds, wondering whether he were worth a shot. 
Suddenly I felt " Blazeaway " trembling violently 
beneath me, and on looking over my left shoulder 
to discover the reason, I was startled to see two fine 
lions not more than a hundred yards away, evidently 
the pair which I had seen the day before and which 
we had really come in search of. They looked 
as if they meant to dispute our passage, for they 
came slowly towards me for about ten yards or so 
and then lay down, watching me steadily all the 
time. I called out to Spooner, " Here are the lions 
I told you about," and he whipped up the ponies 
and in a moment or two was beside me with the 

By this time I had seized my '303 and dis- 
mounted, so we at once commenced a cautious 
advance on the crouching lions, the arrangement 
being that Spooner was to take the right-hand one 
and I the other. We had got to within sixty 
yards' range without incident and were just about to 
sit down comfortably to " pot " them, when they 
suddenly surprised us by turning and bolting off. I 



managed, however, to put a bullet into the one I 
had marked just as he crested a bank, and he 
looked very grand as he reared up against the 
sky and clawed the air on feeling the lead. For a 
second or two he gave me the impression that he 
was about to charge ; but luckily he changed his 
mind and followed his companion, who had so far 
escaped scot free. I immediately mounted " Blaze- 
away " and galloped off in hot pursuit, and after 
about half a mile of very stiff going got up with 
them once more. Finding now that they could not 
get away, they halted, came to bay and then 
charged down upon me, the wounded lion leading. 
I had left my rifle behind, so all I could do was to 
turn and fly as fast as " Blazeaway " could go, 
praying inwardly the while that he would not put 
his foot into a hole. When the lions saw that they 
were unable to overtake me, they gave up the chase 
and lay down again, the wounded one being about 
two hundred yards in front of the other. At once 
I pulled up too, and then went back a little way, 
keeping a careful eye upon them ; and I continued 
these tactics of riding up and down at a respectful 
distance until Spooner came up with the rifles, when 
we renewed the attack. 

As a first measure I thought it advisable to dis- 
able the unhurt lion if possible, and, still using the 
303, I got him with the second shot at a range of 


about three hundred yards. He seemed badly hit, 
for he sprang into the air and apparently fell heavily. 
I then exchanged my -303 for Spooner's spare 12- 
bore rifle, and we turned our attention to the nearer 
lion, who all this time had been lying perfectly still, 
watching our movements closely, and evidently just 
waiting to be down upon us the moment we came 
within charging distance. He was never given this 
opportunity, however, for we did not approach 
nearer than ninety yards, when Spooner sat down 
comfortably and knocked him over quite dead with 
one shot from his '577, the bullet entering the left 
shoulder obliquely and passing through the heart. 

It was now dusk, and there was no time to be 
lost if we meant to bag the second lion as well. 
We therefore resumed our cautious advance, moving 
to the right as we went, so as to get behind us what 
light there was remaining. The lion of course 
twisted round in the grass in such a way as always 
to keep facing us, and looked very ferocious, so that 
I was convinced that unless he were entirely dis- 
abled by the first shot he would be down on us like 
a whirlwind. All the same, I felt confident that, 
even in this event, one of us would succeed in 
stopping him before he could do any damage ; 
but in this I was unfortunately to be proved 

Eventually we managed to get within eighty yards 

T 2 


of the enraged animal, I being about five yards 
to the left front of Spooner, who was followed 
by Bhoota at about the same distance to his right 
rear. By this time the lion was beside himself 
with fury, growling savagely and raising quite a 
cloud of dust by lashing his tail against the ground. 
It was clearly high time that we did something, 
so asking Spooner to fire, I dropped on one knee 
and waited. Nor was I kept long in suspense, for the 
moment Spooner's shot rang out, up jumped the lion 
and charged down in a bee-line for me, coming in 
long, low bounds at great speed. I fired the right 
barrel at about fifty yards, but apparently missed ; the 
left at about half that range, still without stopping 
effect. I knew then that there was no time to reload, 
so remained kneeling, expecting him to be on me the 
next moment. Suddenly, just as he was within a 
bound of me, he made a quick turn to my right. 
"Good heavens," I thought, "he is going for 
Spooner." I was wrong in this, however, for like a 
flash he passed Spooner also, and with a last tre- 
mendous bound seized Bhoota by the leg and rolled 
over and over with him for some yards in the 
impetus of the rush. Finally he stood over him 
and tried to seize him by the throat, which the 
brave fellow prevented by courageously stuffing 
his left arm right into the great jaws. Poor 
Bhoota ! By moving at the critical moment, he 


had diverted the lion's attention from me and 
had drawn the whole fury of the charge on to 

All this, of course, happened in only a second or 
two. In the short instant that intervened, I felt a 
cartridge thrust into my hand by Spooner's plucky 
servant, Imam Din, 
who had carried the 
1 2 -bore all day and 
who had stuck to me 
gallantly throughout 
the charge ; and 
shoving it in, I rushed 
as quickly as I could 
to Bhoota's rescue. 
Meanwhile, Spooner 

had got there before :< SPOONER'S PLUCKY SERVANT, IMAM 


me and when I came 

up actually had his left hand on the lion's flank, in a 
vain attempt to push him off Bhoota's prostrate 
body and so get at the heavy rifle which the poor 
fellow still stoutly clutched. The lion, however, was 
so busily engaged mauling Bhoota's arm that he paid 
not the slightest attention to Spooner's efforts. Un- 
fortunately, as he was facing straight in my direc- 
tion, I had to move up in full view of him, and the 
moment I reached his head, he stopped chewing 
the arm, though still holding it in his mouth, 
and threw himself back on his haunches, prepar- 


ing for a spring, at the same time curling back 
his lips and exposing his long tusks in a savage 
snarl. I knew then that I had not a moment 
to spare, so I threw the rifle up to my shoulder 
and pulled the trigger. Imagine my utter de- 
spair and horror when it did not go off! " Misfire 
again," I thought, and my heart almost stopped 
beating. As I took a step backwards, I felt it was 
all over now, for he would never give me time to 
extract the cartridge and load again. Still I took 
another step backwards, keeping my eyes fixed on 
the lion's, which were blazing with rage ; and in the 
middle of my third step, just as the brute was 
gathering himself for his spring, it suddenly struck 
me that in my haste and excitement, I had forgotten 
that I was using a borrowed rifle and had not pulled 
back the hammer (my own was hammerless). To 
do this and put a bullet through the lion's brain 
was then the work of a moment ; and he fell dead 
instantly right on the top of Bhoota. 

We did not lose a moment in rolling his great 
carcase off Bhoota's body and quickly forced open 
the jaws so as to disengage the mangled arm, 
which still remained in his mouth. By this time 
the poor shikari was in a fainting condition, and we 
flew to the tonga for the brandy flask which we had 
so providentially brought with us. On making a 
rough examination of the wounded man, we found 
that his left arm and right leg were both frightfully 


mauled, the latter being broken as well. He was 
lifted tenderly into the tonga how thankful we now 
were to have it with us ! and Spooner at once set 
off with him to camp and the doctor. 

Before following them home I made a hasty 
examination of the dead lion and found him to be a 
very good specimen in every way. I was particularly 
satisfied to see that one of the two shots I had fired 
as he charged down upon me had taken effect. 
The bullet had entered below the right eye, and 
only just missed the brain. Unfortunately it was a 
steel one which Spooner had unluckily brought in 
his ammunition bag by mistake ; still one would 
have thought that a shot of this kind, even with a 
hard bullet, would at least have checked the lion for 
the moment. As a matter of fact, however, it went 
clean through him without having the slightest 
stopping effect. My last bullet, which was of soft 


lead, had entered close to the right eye and 
embedded itself in the brain. By this time it had 
grown almost dark, so I left the two dead lions where 
they lay and rode for camp, which I was lucky 
enough to reach without further adventure or 
mishap. I may mention here that early next 
morning two other lions were found devouring the 
one we had first shot ; but they had not had time to 
do much damage, and the head, which I have had 
mounted, makes a very fine trophy indeed. The 
lion that mauled Bhoota was untouched. 


On my arrival in camp I found that everything 
that was possible was being done for poor Bhoota by 
Dr. McCulloch, the same who had travelled up with 
me to Tsavo and shot the ostrich from the train 
on my first arrival in the country, and who was 
luckily on the spot. His wounds had been skilfully 
dressed, the broken leg put in splints, and under the 
influence of a soothing draught the poor fellow was 
soon sleeping peacefully. At first we had great 
hope of saving both life and limb, and certainly for 
some days he seemed to be getting on as well 
as could be expected. The wounds, however, were 
very bad ones, especially those on the leg where the 
long tusks had met through and through the flesh, 
leaving over a dozen deep tooth marks ; the arm, 
though dreadfully mauled, soon healed. It was 
wonderful to notice how cheerfully the old shikari 
bore it all, and a pleasure to listen to his tale of 
how he would have his revenge on the whole tribe 
of lions as soon as he was able to get about again. 
But alas, his shikar was over. The leg got rapidly 
worse, and mortification setting in, it had to be 
amputated half way up the thigh. Dr. Winston 
Waters performed the operation most skilfully, and 
curiously enough the operating table was canopied 
with the skin of the lion which had been respon- 
sible for the injury. Bhoota made a good recovery 
from the operation, but seemed to lose heart when 
he found that he had only one leg left, as according 




to his ideas he had now but a poor chance of being 
allowed to enter Heaven. We did all that was 
possible for him, and Spooner especially could not 
have looked after a brother more tenderly ; but 
to our great sorrow he sank gradually, and died on 
July 19. 

The hunt which had such a disastrous sequel 
proved to be the last occasion on which I met a lion 
in the open, as we got out of the hunting country 
shortly afterwards and for the rest of my stay 
in East Africa I had too much work to do to be 
able to go any distance in search of big game. 

ioner. Bhoota. The Author. Imam Din.] 



TOWARDS the end of my stay in British East 
Africa, I dined one evening with Mr. Ryall, the 
Superintendent of the Police, in his inspection 
carriage on the railway. Poor Ryall ! I little 
thought then what a terrible fate was to overtake 
him only a few months later in that very carriage in 
which we dined. 

A man-eating lion had taken up his quarters at a 
little roadside station called Kimaa, and had devel- 
oped an extraordinary taste for the members of the 
railway staff. He was a most daring brute, quite 
indifferent as to whether he carried off the station- 
master, the signalman, or the pointsman ; and one 
night, in his efforts to obtain a meal, he actually 
climbed up on to the roof of the station buildings 
and tried to tear off the corrugated- iron sheets. At 
this the terrified baboo in charge of the telegraph 
instrument below sent the following laconic message 


to the Traffic Manager : " Lion fighting with 
station. Send urgent succour." Fortunately he 
was not victorious in his " fight with the station " ; 
but he tried so hard to get in that he cut his feet 
badly on the iron sheeting, leaving large blood- 
stains on the roof. Another night, however, he 
succeeded in carrying off the native driver of the 
pumping-engine, and soon afterwards added several 
other victims to his list. On one occasion an 
engine-driver arranged to sit up all night in a large 
iron water-tank in the hope of getting a shot at him, 
and had a loop-hole cut in the side of the tank from 
which to fire. But as so often happens, the hunter 
became the hunted ; the lion turned up in the 
middle of the night, overthrew the tank and 
actually tried to drag the driver out through the 
narrow circular hole in the top through which he 
had squeezed in. Fortunately the tank was just 
too deep for the brute to be able to reach the man 
at the bottom ; but the latter was naturally half 
paralysed with fear and had to crouch so low down 
as to be unable to take anything like proper aim. 
He fired, however, and succeeded in frightening 
the lion away for the time being. 

It was in a vain attempt to destroy this pest that 
poor Ryall met his tragic and untimely end. On 
June 6, 1900, he was travelling up in his inspection 
carriage from Makindu to Nairobi, accompanied by 


two friends, Mr. Huebner and Mr. Parenti. When 
they reached Kimaa, which is about two hundred 
and fifty miles from Mombasa, they were told that 
the man-eater had been seen close to the station 
only a short time before their train arrived, so 
they at once made up their minds to remain 
there for the night and endeavour to shoot him. 
Ryall's carriage was accordingly detached from 
the train and shunted into a siding close to the 
station, where, owing to the unfinished state ot 
the line, it did not stand perfectly level, but had 
a pronounced list to one side. In the afternoon 
the three friends went out to look for the lion, 
but finding no traces of him whatever, they re- 
turned to the carriage for dinner. Afterwards 
they all sat up on guard for some time ; but 
the only noticeable thing they saw was what 
they took to be two very bright and steady glow- 
worms. After events proved that these could have 
been nothing else than the eyes of the man-eater 
steadily watching them all the time and studying 
their every movement. The hour now growing late, 
and there being apparently no sign of the lion, 
Ryall persuaded his two friends to lie down, while 
he kept the first watch. Huebner occupied the high 
berth over the table on the one side of the carriage, 
the only other berth being on the opposite side of 
the compartment and lower down. This Ryall 


offered to Parenti, who declined it, saying that he 
would be quite comfortable on the floor ; and he 
accordingly lay down to sleep, with his feet towards 
the sliding door which gave admission to the 

It is supposed that Ryall, after watching for 
some considerable time, must have come to the 
conclusion that the lion was not going to make its 
appearance that night, for he lay down on the lower 
berth and dozed off. No sooner had he done 
so, doubtless, than the cunning man-eater began 
cautiously to stalk the three sleepers. In order to 
reach the little platform at the end of the carriage, 
he had to mount two very high steps from the 
railway line, but these he managed to negotiate 
successfully and in silence. The door from this 
platform into the carriage was a sliding one on 
wheels, which ran very easily on a brass runner ; 
and as it was probably not quite shut, or at any 
rate not secured in any way, it was an easy matter 
for the lion to thrust in a paw and shove it open. 
But owing to the tilt of the carriage and to his 
great extra weight on the one side, the door slid to 
and snapped into the lock the moment he got his 
body right in, thus leaving him shut up with the 
three sleeping men in the compartment. 

He sprang at once at Ryall, but in order to reach 
him had actually to plant his feet on Parenti, who, it 


will be remembered, was sleeping on the floor. At 
this moment Huebner was suddenly awakened by a 
loud cry, and on looking down from his berth was 
horrified to see an enormous lion standing with his 
hind feet on Parenti's body, while his forepaws 
rested on poor Ryall. Small wonder that he was 
panic-stricken at the sight. There was only one 
possible way of escape, and that was through the 
second sliding door communicating with the ser- 
vants' quarters, which was opposite to that by 
which the lion had entered. But in order to reach 
this door Huebner had literally to jump on to the 
man-eater's back, for its great bulk filled up all 
the space beneath his berth. It sounds scarcely 
credible, but it appears that in the excitement and 
horror of the moment he actually did this, and 
fortunately the lion was too busily engaged with 
his victim to pay any attention to him. So he 
managed to reach the door in safety ; but there, to 
his dismay, he found that it was held fast on the 
other side by the terrified coolies, who had been 
aroused by the disturbance caused by the lion's 
entrance. In utter desperation he made frantic 
efforts to open it, and exerting all his strength at 
last managed to pull it back sufficiently far to allow 
him to squeeze through, when the trembling coolies 
instantly tied it up again with their turbans. A 
moment afterwards a great crash was heard, and the 


whole carriage lurched violently to one side ; the 
lion had broken through one of the windows, carry- 
ing off poor Ryall with him. Being now released, 
Parenti lost no time in jumping through the win- 
dow on the opposite side of the carriage, and fled 
for refuge to one of the station buildings ; his 


escape was little short of miraculous, as the lion 
had been actually standing on him as he lay on the 
floor. The carriage itself was badly shattered, and 
the wood-work of the window had been broken to 
pieces by the passage of the lion as he sprang 
through with his victim in his mouth. 

All that can be hoped is that poor Ryall's death 



was instantaneous. His remains were found next 
morning about a quarter of a mile away in the 
bush, and were taken to Nairobi for burial. I am 
glad to be able to add that very shortly afterwards 
the terrible brute who was responsible for this 
awful tragedy was caught in an ingenious trap 
constructed by one of the railway staff. He was 
kept on view for several days, and then shot. 




ALTHOUGH the lion which caused poor Bhoota's 
death was the last I managed to shoot in East 
Africa, I saw several others afterwards while travel- 
ling up and down the line at different times on 
construction work. In particular, I remember one 
very curious incident which happened early on the 
morning of June 2, when I was travelling towards 
Nairobi, accompanied by Dr. McCulloch. The 
Doctor was going home on leave in the course of a 
few days, and was bemoaning to me his bad luck in 
never having shot or even seen a lion all the time he 
had been in the country. We were standing on the 
engine at the time, facing each other, he with his 
back to the north. 

" My dear Mac," I said, " it is because you don't 
look out for them." 

" Rubbish," he retorted ; " I do nothing else when 
I am out hunting." 


" Well," I replied, "are you really very anxious to 
shoot one before you go home ? " 

" I would rather get a lion than anything else in 
the world," was the emphatic reply. 

" Very good, then. Sultan," I called to the 
driver, "stop the engine." 

" Now, Mac," I continued, as the train was 
quickly brought to a standstill, " here's a chance 
for you. Just jump off and bag those two over 

He turned round in blank astonishment and 
could hardly believe his eyes when he saw two 
fine lions only about two hundred yards off, busily 
engaged in devouring a wildebeeste which they had 
evidently just killed. I had spotted them almost 
as soon as Mac had begun to talk of his bad luck, 
and had only waited to tell him until we got nearer, 
so as to give him a greater surprise. He was off 
the engine in a second and made directly for the 
two beasts. Just as he was about to fire one of 
them bolted, so I called out to him to shoot the 
other quickly before he too made good his escape. 
This one was looking at us over his shoulder with 
one paw on the dead wildebeeste, and while he 
stood in this attitude Mac dropped him with a 
bullet through the heart. Needless to say he was 
tremendously delighted with his success, and after 
the dead lion had been carried to the train and 



propped up against a carriage, I took a photograph 
of him standing beside his fine trophy. 

Three days after this incident railhead reached 
Nairobi, and I was given charge of the new 
division of the line. Nairobi was to be the head- 
quarters of the Railway Administration, so there 


was an immense amount of work to be done in 
converting an absolutely bare plain, three hundred 
and twenty-seven miles from the nearest place 
where even a nail could be purchased, into a 
busy railway centre. Roads and bridges had to 
be constructed, houses and work-shops built, turn- 

u 2 


tables and station quarters erected, a water supply 
laid on, and a hundred and one other things 
done which go to the making of a railway 
township. Wonderfully soon, however, the nucleus 
of the present town began to take shape, and 
a thriving "bazaar" sprang into existence with 
a mushroom-like growth. In this, however, a 
case or two of plague broke out before very 
long, so I gave the natives and Indians who 
inhabited it an hour's notice to clear out, and on 
my own responsibility promptly burned the whole 
place to the ground. For this somewhat arbitrary 
proceeding I was mildly called over the coals, as 
I expected ; but all the same it effectually stamped 
out the plague, which did not reappear during the 
time I was in the country. 

With a little persuasion I managed to induce 
several hundred of the Wa Kikuyu, in whose 
country we now were, to come and work at 
Nairobi, and very useful and capable they proved 
themselves after a little training. They frequently 
brought me in word that the shambas (plantations, 
gardens) at the back of the hill on which my camp 
was pitched were being destroyed by elephants, but 
unfortunately I could never spare time to go out in 
quest of them. On one occasion, however, I passed 
the news on to my friend, Dr. Winston Waters, 


with the result that he had a most exciting adven- 
ture with a big bull elephant. He set out in quest 
of the depredator, and, guided by a few of the Wa 
Kikuyu, soon came upon him hidden among some 
shady trees. Waters was a great believer in a 
close shot, so he stalked up to within a few yards 
of the animal and then fired his "577, aiming for 
the heart. The elephant responded by a prompt 
and determined charge, and although Waters 
quickly let him have the left barrel as well, it 
proved of no effect ; and on he came, screaming 
and trumpeting with rage. There was nothing for 
it, therefore, but to fly for dear life ; so down a 
path raced Waters for all he was worth, the ele- 
phant giving vigorous chase and gaining rapidly. 
In a few seconds matters began to look very 
serious for the sportsman, for the huge monster 
was almost on him ; but at the critical moment 
he stepped on to the false cover of a carefully- 
concealed game pit and disappeared from view as 
if by magic. This sudden descent of his enemy 
apparently into the bowels of the earth so startled 
the elephant that he stopped short in his career 
and made off into the jungle. As for Waters, 
he was luckily none the worse for his fall, as the 
pit was neither staked at the bottom nor very 
deep ; he soon scrambled out, and, following up 




the wounded elephant, succeeded in finishing him 
off" without further trouble. 

Towards the end of 1899 I left for England. A 
few days before I started all my Wa Kikuyu 
" children ", as they called themselves, came in 
a body and begged to be taken with me. I 
pictured to them the cold, wet climate of England 


and its great distance from their native land ; but 
they assured me that these were nothing to them, 
as they only wished to continue my " children " and 
to go. wherever I went. I could hardly imagine 
myself arriving in London with a body-guard of 
four hundred more or less naked savages, but it was 
only with difficulty that I persuaded them that they 
had better remain in their own country. The ever- 
faiihful Mahina, my "boy" Roshan Khan, my 




honest chankidar Meeanh, and a few other coolies 
who had been a long time with me, accompanied me 
to the coast, where they bade me a sorrowful 
farewell and left for India the day before I sailed 
on my homeward journey. 





DURING the early part of last year (1906) I 
revisited the scene of my former labours and adven- 
tures on a shooting trip. Unfortunately the train by 
which I travelled up from Mombasa reached Tsavo 
at midnight, but all the same I got out and prowled 
about as long as time would permit, half wondering 
every moment if the ghosts of the two man-eaters 
would spring at me out of the bushes. I wanted 
very much to spend a day or two in the old place, 
but my companions were anxious to push on as 
quickly as possible to better hunting-grounds. I 
took the trouble, however, to wake them out of 
their peaceful slumbers in order to point out to 
them, by the pale moonlight, the strength and 
beauty of the Tsavo bridge ; but I fear this delicate 
little attention was scarcely appreciated as it 
deserved. Naturally I could not expect them, or 


anyone else, to view the bridge quite from my point 
of view ; I looked on it as a child of mine, brought 
up through stress and danger and troubles of all 


kinds, but the ordinary traveller of course knows 
nothing of this and doubtless thinks it only a very 
commonplace and insignificant structure indeed. 
We spent a few days at Nairobi, now a flourish- 



ing town of some 6,000 inhabitants, supplied with 
every modern comfort and luxury, including a well 
laid-out race course ; and after a short trip to Lake 
Victoria Nyanza and Uganda, we made our way 

back to the Eldama Ravine, which lies some twenty 
miles north of Landiani Station in the province of 
Naivasha. Here we started in earnest on our bio- 


cyame expedition, which I am glad to say proved 
to be a most delightful and interesting one in every 
way. The country was lovely, and the climate 
cool and bracing. We all got a fair amount of 


sport, our bag- including rhino, hippo, waterbuck, 
reedbuck, hartebeeste, wildebeeste, ostrich, im- 
pala, oryx, roan antelope, etc. ; but for the present 
I must confine myself to a short account of how I 


was lucky enough to shoot a specimen of an 
entirely new race of eland. 

Our party of five, including one lady who rode 
and shot equally straight, left the Kldama Ravine 
on January 22, and trekked off in an easterly 
direction across the Laikipia Plateau. As the trail 
which we were to take was very little known and 




almost impossible to follow without a guide, Mr. 
Foaker, the District Officer at the Ravine, very 
kindly procured us a reliable man a young 


Uashin Gishu Masai named Uliagurma. But as he 
could not speak a word of Swahili, we had also to 
engage an interpreter, an excellent, cheery fellow of 
the same tribe named Landaalu ; and he in his turn 


possessed a kinsman who insisted on coming too, 
although he was no earthly use to us. Our route 
took us through the Solai Swamp, over the Multilo 
and Subu Ko Lultian ranges, and across many 
unexpected rivers and streamlets. On our first 


march I noticed that Uliagurma, our kirongozi 
(guide), was suffering extremely, though uncom- 
plainingly, from earache, so I told him to come lo 
me when we got to camp and I would see what I 
could do for him. Strange to say, my doctoring 
proved most successful, and Uliagurma was so 
grateful that he spread my fame as a " medicine- 


man " far and wide among the natives wherever we 
trekked. The consequence was that men, women 
and children in every state of disease and cripple- 
dom came and besieged our camps, begging for 
some of the magical dawa (medicine). I used to do 
what I could, and only hope I did not injure many 
of them ; but it was heartrending to see some of the 
quite hopeless cases I was expected to cure. 

After we had climbed the Subu Ko Lultian and 
got a footing on the plateau, we pitched our camp 
on the banks of the Angarua river, where we 
found a big Masai kraal, the inhabitants of which 
seemed much astonished at our sudden appear- 
ance in their neighbourhood. They were very 
friendly, however, and visited our camp in swarms 
an hour or so after our arrival. Riding my pony 
and accompanied by Landaalu as interpreter, and 
my gun-bearer Juma, I returned their call in the 
afternoon, when the cliuorani (warriors) gave for 
my entertainment an exhibition of the gymnastic 
exercises which they practise regularly in order 
more particularly to strengthen their legs and 
render them supple. After the performance I 
asked if there was any game about and was told 
that some might be found a few miles to the north 
of the kraal ; so I set out at once with Landaalu 
and Juma to try my luck. It was a perfect 
afternoon, and no sooner had I cleared the belt 


of scrub which grew round the kraal, when by the 
aid of my glasses I saw a herd of zebra and other 
game away in the distance, feeding peacefully 
on the rolling prairie. I made my way steadily 
towards them, and noticed as I went that a couple 


of eland were gradually drawing away from the rest 
of the herd. I marked these for my own, and care- 
fully noting the direction they were taking, I dis- 
mounted and made a detour round a rise so as to 
lie in wait for them and cut them off. My plan 
succeeded admirably, for the two fine animals 
continued to come straight towards me without 


suspicion, feeding quietly by the way. When they 
got to within eighty yards or so, I picked out the 
bigger head and was only waiting for him to make 
a slight turn before pulling the trigger, when bang 
went the heavy rifle of one of my companions about 
half a mile away. In an instant the two eland had 
bounded off, and I decided not to risk a shot, in the 
hope that they would soon settle down again and 
give me another chance. 

Mentally blessing my friend for firing at this 
untimely moment, I watched them make for a 
belt of wood about a mile further on, hoping 
against hope that they would remain on the near 
side of it. No such luck, however, for they 
plunged into it and were quickly swallowed up 
out of my sight. Running to my pony, which 
Landaalu had dexterously brought up, I galloped 
in the direction of the spot in the trees where 
the eland had disappeared ; but imagine my vexa- 
tion when I found that I had to pull up sharp 
on the edge of a nasty-looking swamp, which at 
first sight appeared too boggy and treacherous to 
attempt to cross. I rode up and down it without 
being able to find anything like a really safe crossing 
place, so in desperation I at last determined to take 
the risk of crossing it along an old rhino path where 
the reeds were flattened down. My pony floundered 
bravely through, and eventually succeeded in get- 


ting safely to the other side. I then made my way 
cautiously through the belt of trees, and was relieved 
to find that it was only half a mile or so broad. I 


dismounted as I neared the further side, and, tying 
my pony to a tree, crept quietly forward, expecting 
to see the eland not far off ; but to my disappoint- 
ment there was no trace of game of any kind on the 



whole wide stretch of country that met my view. I 
therefore tried another direction, and, taking a half 
turn to my left, made my way carefully through 
some open glades to the top of a little rise not 
far off. 

The sight that now met my eyes fairly took my 
breath away ; for there, not three hundred yards off 
and stalking placidly along at a slow walk, was a 
herd of fully a hundred eland of all ages and sizes. 
The rear of the column was brought up by a magni- 
ficent old bull, and my heart jumped for joy as I 
watched him from the shelter of the bushes behind 
which I lay concealed. The next thing to be done 
was to decide on a plan of attack, and this had to be 
thought of without loss of time, for the wind was 
blowing from me almost in the direction of the 
eland, who would certainly scent me very soon if 
I did not get away. Quickly noting the direc- 
tion in which they were moving, I saw that if 
all went well they ought to pass close to a little 
hillock about a mile or so off; and if I were very 
sharp about it, I thought I could make a circuit 
through the wood and be on this rise, in a good 
position for both wind and cover, before the 
herd could reach it. Accordingly I crept away 
with the object of finding my mount, but to my 
delight just behind me and well hidden stood 
the undefeated Landaalu, who in some mysterious 


way had followed me up, found the pony where I 
had left it tied to a tree, and brought it on to me. 
With a bright grin on his face he thrust the reins 
into my hand, and I was up and galloping off in an 

I soon discovered that I had further to go than 
I expected, for I was forced to make a big detour 
in order to keep out of sight of the herd ; but on 
halting once or twice and peeping through the trees 
I saw that all was going well and that they were 
still calmly moving on in the right direction. The 
last quarter of a mile had to be negotiated in 
the open, but I found that by lying flat down on 
my pony's back I was completely hidden from the 
advancing herd by an intervening swell in the 
ground. In this manner I managed to get un- 
observed to the lee of my hillock, where I dis- 
mounted, threw the reins over a stump, and crawled 
stealthily but as quickly as I could to the top. I 
was in great doubt as to whether I should be in 
time or not, but on peering, hatless, over the crest, 
I was overjoyed to find the whole herd just below 
me. One of the eland, not twenty yards off, saw 
me at once, and stood still to gaze at me in astonish- 
ment. It was a female, however, so I took no notice 
of her, but looked round to see if my great bull 
were anywhere near. Yes, there he was ; he had 
passed the spot where I lay, but was not more than 

x 2 


forty yards off, moving in the same leisurely fashion 
as when I first saw him. An instant later, he 
noticed the general alarm caused by my appearance, 
and stopped and turned half round to see what was 
the matter. This gave me my opportunity, so I 
fired, aiming behind the shoulder. The way in 
which he jumped and kicked on feeling the lead told 
me I had hit him hard, and I got two more bullets 
into him from the magazine of my '303 before he 
managed to gain the shelter of a neighbouring 
thicket and was lost to sight. In the meantime the 
whole herd had thundered off at full gallop, disap- 
pearing in a few minutes in a cloud of dust. 

I was confident that there would be little difficulty 
in finding the wounded eland, and on Landaalu 
coming up which, by the way, he did almost im- 
mediately, for he was a wonderful goer we started 
to make a rough search through the thicket. Owing 
to the growing darkness, however, we met with no 
success, so I decided to return to camp, which was 
many miles away, and to resume the quest at 
daybreak the following morning. It turned out that 
we were even further from home than I thought, 
and black night came upon us before we had covered 
a quarter of the distance. Fortunately the invalu- 
able Landaalu had discovered a good crossing over 
the swamp, so we were able to press on at a 
good pace without losing any time in overcoming 


the obstacle. After an hour or so of hard travelling, 
we were delighted to see a rocket go up, fired 
by my friends to guide us on our way. Such a 
sight is wonderfully cheering when one is far away 
from camp, trudging along in the inky darkness and 
none too certain of one's direction ; and a rocket 
equipment should invariably be carried by the 
traveller in the wilds. Several more were sent up 
before we got anywhere near camp, and I remarked 
to Landaalu that we must have gone a very long 
way after the eland. " Long way," he replied ; 
" why, Master, we have been to Baringo ! " This 
lake as a matter of fact was fully fifty miles away. 
When finally we arrived I fired the ardour of my 
companions by relating the adventures of the after- 
noon and telling them of the wonderful herd I had 
seen ; and it was at once agreed that we should stay 
where we were for a day or two in the hope of 
good sport being obtained. 

As soon as it was daylight the next morning I 
sent out a party of our porters with full instructions 
where to find my eland, which I was sure must 
be lying somewhere in the thicket close to the hill 
from where I had shot him ; and very shortly after- 
wards we ourselves made a start. After a couple of 
hours' travelling we were lucky enough to catch 
sight of a portion of the herd of eland, when 
we dismounted and stalked them carefully through 


the long grass. All of a sudden one popped up its 
head unexpectedly about fifty yards away. One of 
my companions immediately levelled his rifle at it, 
but from where I was I could see better than 
he that the head was a poor one, and so called 
out to him not to fire. The warning came too 
late, however, for at that moment he pulled the 
trigger. It was rather a difficult shot, too, as the 
body of the animal could not be seen very well owing 
to the height of the grass ; still, as the head 
instantly disappeared we hoped for the best and ran 
up to the place, but no trace of the eland could be 
found. Accordingly we pushed on again and after a 
little rested for a short time under the shade of some 
trees. We had gone about three miles after 
resuming our search for game, when one of the 
porters remembered that he had left the water-bottle 
he was carrying at the trees where we had halted, so 
he was sent back for it with strict injunctions to 
make haste and to rejoin us as quickly as possible. 
Curiously enough, this trifling incident proved quite 
providential ; for the porter (whose name was 
Sabaki), after recovering the water-bottle, found 
himself unable to trace us through the jungle and 
accordingly struck home for camp. On his way 
back he actually stumbled over the dead body of the 
eland which I had shot the previous day and which 
the search party I had sent out in the morning had 


failed to find. They were still looking for it close 
at hand, however, so Sabaki hailed them and they 
at once set to work to skin and cut up the animal, 
and then carried it to the camp. 

Meanwhile, of course, we knew nothing of all 
this, and continued our hunt for game. Shortly 
after noon we had a light lunch, and while 
we were eating it our guides, Uliagurma and 
Landaalu, discovered a bees' nest in a fallen tree 
and proceeded to try to extract the honey, of which 
the Masai are very fond. This interference was 
naturally strongly resented by the bees, and soon 
the semi-naked youths ran flying past us with the 
angry swarm in full pursuit. I laughed heartily at 
Landaalu, and chaffed him unmercifully for allowing 
himself, a Masai, to be put to flight by a few bees. 
This the jolly fellow took very good-humouredly, 
saying that if he only had a jacket like mine he would 
soon go and get the honey. I gave him my jacket 
at once, and a most comical figure he cut in it, as it 
was very short and he had practically nothing else 
on. When the nest was properly examined, however, 
it was found that the bees had eaten all the 
honey ; so after taking some photographs of our 
guides at work among the bees we all pro- 
ceeded homewards, reaching camp about dusk, 
with nothing to show for our long day's hunt. 

We were met by Sabaki, who was in a great 


state of excitement, and who started to explain 
in very bad Swahili how he had come across the 
dead eland. Misunderstanding what he said, I 
told my friend that Sabaki had found the eland 
which he had shot in the morning, and rejoiced 
heartily with him at this piece of good luck. On 
viewing the head, however, we could not under- 
stand it, as it was very much bigger than the 
one he had fired at ; and it was not till later 
in the evening when I visited Landaalu, curled 
up at the camp fire, that the mystery was ex- 
plained. He greeted me by saying that after all 
we had not gone to Baringo for nothing the 
previous day, and on my asking him what he 
meant he told me about the finding of the eland, 
taking it for granted that I knew it was mine. 
I quickly called up Sabaki and after some trouble 
got from him the whole story of how he had found 
the body close to my little hillock and near where 
my men were searching for it. So I broke the 
truth gently to my friend, who at once acknow- 
ledged my claim and congratulated me on my 
good fortune. 

How great this good fortune was I did not 
know till long after ; but even then, when I came 
to examine the head and skin carefully, I found 
that they both differed materially from those of 
any other eland that I had ever seen. For one 

THE NEW El.AND T. oryx pattencniaiuis. 
[From a photograph by Rowland Ward.] 


thing, there was no long tuft of hair on the 
forehead, while from the lower corner of each 
eye ran an incomplete white stripe similar to, 
though smaller than, those found in the giant 
eland. The sides of the forehead were of a 
reddish colour, and on the lower part of the face 
there was a much larger brown patch than is to 
be seen on the ordinary eland. The striping on 
the body was very slight, the chief markings being 
three lines across the withers. On my return to 
England in April, I sent the head to Rowland 
Ward's to be set up, and while there it was 
seen by Mr. R. Lydekker, F.R.S., of the British 
Museum, the well-known naturalist and specialist 
in big game, who wrote to tell me that it 
possessed great zoological interest, as showing the 
existence of a hitherto unknown race of eland. 
Mr. Lydekker also contributed the following notice 
describing the animal to The Field of September 29, 
1906 : 

" Considerable interest attaches to the head of an 
eland, killed by Colonel J. H. Patterson in Portu- 
guese 1 East Africa, and set up by Mr. Rowland 
Ward, on account of certain peculiarities in colouring 
and markings, which indicate a transition from the 
ordinary South African animal in the direction of 
the giant eland (Taurotragus derbianns) of the 

1 In error for " British." 


Bahr-el-Ghazal district and West Africa. In the 
striped variety {Taurotragus oryx livingstonianus] 
of the ordinary South African eland, the whole 
middle line of the face of the adult bull is uniformly 
dark, or even blackish-brown, with a tuft of long 
bushy hair on the forehead, and no white stripe 
from the lower angle of the eye. On the other 
hand, in the Sudani form of the giant eland (T. der- 
bianus gigas], as represented by a bull figured by 
Mr. Rothschild in Novitates Zoologicae for 1905, 
the upper part of the face has the hair rufous and 
shorter than in the ordinary eland, while from the 
lower angle of each eye a white stripe runs inwards 
and downwards, recalling the white chevron of the 
kuclu, although the two stripes do not meet in the 
middle line. 

"In Colonel Patterson's eland (which may well 
be designated T. oryx pattersoniamis) there is an 
incomplete white chevron similar to, although rather 
smaller than, the one found in the giant eland, while 
'only a narrow stripe in the middle line of the face, 
above and between the eyes, is dark-brown, the 
sides of the forehead being rufous. On the lower 
part of the face there is a larger dark-brown area 
than in the ordinary eland, although there is a 
rufous fawn-coloured patch on each side above 
the nostril. In both the latter respects Colonel 
Patterson's specimen recalls the giant eland, 
although it apparently lacks the dark white- 
bordered band on the side of the neck, characteristic 
of the latter. If all the elands from that part of 
Portuguese East Africa where Colonel Patterson's 


specimen was obtained turn out to be of the same 
type, there will be a strong presumption that the 
true and the giant eland, like the various local forms 
of giraffe and bonte-quagga, are only races of one 
and the same species. While, even if the present 
specimen be only a ' sport ' (which I consider un- 
likely), it will serve to show that the southern and 
northern elands are more nearly related than has 
hitherto been supposed." 

As my eland thus proved to be of some con- 
siderable scientific value, and as the authorities of 
the British Museum expressed a desire to possess 
its head, I gladly presented it to the Trustees, so 
that all sportsmen and naturalists might have an 
opportunity of seeing it at the Natural History 
Museum at South Kensington, where it now is. 






SPORTSMEN who think of visiting British East Africa on 
a shooting trip may be glad of a few general hints on 
points of interest and importance. 

The battery, to be sufficient for all needs, should consist 
of a '450 express, a '303 sporting rifle, and a 12-bore shot 
gun ; and I should consider 250 rounds of '450 (50 hard 
and 200 soft), 300 rounds of '303 (100 hard and 200 soft), 
and 500 12-bore shot cartridges of, say, the 6 and 8 sizes, 
sufficient for a three months' trip. Leather bandoliers to 
carry 50 each of these different cartridges would also prove 
very useful. 

A couple of hundred rockets of various colours should 
certainly be taken, as they are invaluable for signalling to 
and from camp after dark. These can be obtained so as to 
fire from a 12-bore shot gun or from a short pistol, and 



some should always be left with the camp neopara 
(Headman) for use as occasion requires. 

The rifles, cartridges, and rockets should be consigned to 
an agent in Mombasa, and sent off from London in tin- 
lined cases at least a month before the sportsman himself 
intends to start. It must be remembered that the Customs 


House at Mombasa charges a 10 per cent, duty on the 
value of all articles imported, so that the invoices should 
be preserved and produced for inspection. 

The hunter's kit should include a good pith sun-hat, 
a couple of suits of khaki, leather gaiters or a couple of 
pairs of puttees, wash-leather gloves to protect the hands 
from the sun, and two pairs of boots with hemp soles ; 
long Norwegian boots will also be found very useful. The 


usual underclothing worn in England is all that is 
required if the shooting is to be done in the highlands. A 
good warm overcoat will be much appreciated up-country 
in the cool of the evenings, and a light mackintosh for wet 
weather ought also to be included. For use in rocky or 
thorny country, a pair of knee and elbow pads will be 
found invaluable, and those who feel the sun should also 
provide themselves with a spine-protector. The latter is a 
most useful article of kit, for although the air may be pretty 
cool, the sun strikes down very fiercely towards midday. 
A well-filled medicine chest should of course not be 

A good field glass, a hunting and skinning knife or two, 
and a Kodak with about 200 films should also be carried. 
With regard to the last item, I should strongly advise all 
who intend to take photographs on their trip to pay a visit 
to Mr. W. D. Young on arriving at Nairobi. He is an 
enthusiastic photographer, and will gladly give advice to 
all as to light and time of exposure ; and as these are the 
two points which require most attention, hints from some 
one of experience in the country are most useful. I 
myself am much indebted to Mr. Young's kindly advice, 
and I am sure I should not have achieved much success in 
my pictures without it. I made it a practice on my last 
visit to the country to send him the exposed films for 
development whenever I reached a postal station, and I 
should recommend others to do the same, as films 
deteriorate rapidly on the voyage home ; indeed I had 
nearly four hundred spoiled in this way, taken when I was 
in the country in 1898-99. 

As regards camp equipment, all that need be taken out 
from England are a small double-fly tent, three Jaeger 
blankets, a collapsible bath, a Wolseley valise, and a good 
filter ; and even these can be obtained just as good locally. 
Chop boxes (food) and other necessary camp gear should be 


obtained at Mombasa or Nairobi, where the agents will 
put up just what is necessary ; personally, I found Messrs. 
Newland and Tarleton of the latter place very reliable. 
About a month before sailing from England a letter 
should be sent to the agents, stating the date of arrival and 
what porters, etc., will be required. The sportsman will 
then find everything ready for him, so that an immediate 
start may be made. 

Unless money is no object, I should not advise anyone 
to engage porters at Mombasa, as equally good men can 
be obtained at Nairobi, thus saving 20 rupees per head in 
return railway fares. It must be remembered that for 
transport work men are infinitely preferable to donkeys, 
as the latter are exasperatingly slow and troublesome, 
especially on rough ground or on crossing streams, where 
every load has to be unpacked, carried over, and then 
reloaded on the animal's back. The caravan for one 
sportsman if he intends going far from the railway is 
usually made up as follows, though the exact numbers 
depend upon many considerations : 

i Headman 50 rupees l per month. 

i Cook 35 

i Gun-bearer 20 

1 " Boy " (personal servant).. 20 

2 Asian's (armed porters)... 12 each. 
30 Porters 10 each. 

The porters are all registered, the Government taking a 
small fee for the registration ; and according to custom 
half the wages due for the whole trip are advanced to the 
men before a start is made. The sportsman is obliged to 
provide each porter with a jersey, blanket and water-bottle, 

1 The rupee in British East Africa is on the basis of 15 to the 
i sterling. 


while the gun-bearer and " boy " get a pair of boots in 
addition. A cotton shelter-tent and a cooking pot must 
also be furnished for every five men. 

The food for the caravan is mostly rice, of which the 
Headman gets two kibabas (a kibaba is about \\ Ib.) per 
day ; the cook, gun-bearer, " boy " and askaris one and a 
half kibabas, and the ordinary porters, one kibaba, each 
per day. 

It is the duty of the Headman to keep discipline on the 
safari (caravan journey), both in camp and on the march, 
and to see to the distribution and safety of the loads, the 
pitching and striking of camp, the issue of posho (food) to 
the porters, etc. He always brings up the rear of the 
caravan, and on him depends greatly the general comfort 
of the sportsman. For our trip at the beginning of 1906, 
we managed to secure a splendid neopara, and never had 
the least trouble with the porters all the time. His only 
drawback was that he could not speak English, but he told 
me when he left us that he was going to learn. Anybody 
securing him as Headman will be lucky ; I cannot 
remember his real name, but he was always known as 
M'zay, and could easily be found by this name at 

The cook is also an important member of the caravan, 
and a good one should be procured if possible. It is 
wonderful what an experienced native uipeshi (cook) can 
turn out in the way of a meal in a few minutes after camp 
is pitched. 

As gun-bearer, most hunters prefer a Somali. I have 
never tried one, but am told that they are inclined to be 
troublesome ; they certainly rate themselves very highly, 
and demand about four times as much wages as an equally 
good Swahili. 

In camp, the duties of the askaris are to keep up the fire 
and watch at night, and to pitch and strike the Bwanas 

Y 2 


(Master's) tent. On the march one leads the caravan, the 
other brings up the rear ; they give assistance in the event 
of any trouble with the loads, see that no desertions take 
place, allow no straggling, and generally do what they can 
to protect the caravan. They are each armed with an old 
snider rifle and 10 rounds of ball cartridge, and are gene- 


rally very dangerous men to their friends when they take 
it into their heads to fire their weapons. 

The ordinary porters will carry their 6o-lb. loads day in 
and day out without complaint, so long as they are well 
fed ; but stint them of their rice, and they at once become 
sulky mutineers. In addition to carrying the loads, they 
pitch and strike camp, procure firewood and water, and 
build grass huts if a stay of more than a day is intended to 
be made at one place. On the whole, the Swahili porter is 


one of the jolliest and most willing fellows in the world, 
and I have nothing but praise for him. 

It may be that our sportsman intends to confine his 
shooting trip to the neighbourhood of the railway ; in this 


case, the best plan is to hire one of the special carriages 
from the Traffic Manager of the Uganda Railway. These 
carriages, which have good sleeping, cooking, and bath 
accommodation, can be attached to almost any train, and 
moved from station to station or left standing in a siding 
at the directions of the hunter. This is the cheapest and 



most comfortable way of spending a short time in the 
country, as no tent, camp equipment, or regular porters are 
required ; and some quite good sport can be obtained into 
the bargain. 

Again, if the hunter intends shooting, say, in the Kenya 


Province, as many porters as he requires may be obtained 
from the official in charge at Fort Hall. The pay of the 
Kikuyu porter in such, circumstances is only t\vo annas 
a day, while he provides his own food ; neither is the 
sportsman asked to furnish him with a blanket, jersey, and 


water-bottle so long as he is not taken out of his own 
Province. Each Province is, in fact, governed as regards 
porters by its own special conditions, which can easily be 
ascertained on arrival in the country. 

There are various lines of steamers sailing to Mombasa- 
The steamers of the German East Africa Line {Deutsche 
Ost-Afrika Linie) sail from Marseilles or Naples. The 
voyage takes about eighteen days from Marseilles. The 


single fare (First-Class) is 42 IDS. The return is double 
the ordinary fare, less 10 per cent. The Messageries 
Maritimes, sailing from Marseilles, take about seventeen 
days. The First-Class fare from London is 45 ; return, 
available for two years, is 67 los. The British East 
Africa Line sails from London about once a month. The 
voyage takes longer by this route, but the fare is much 
cheaper, being only 20 First-Class ; while those who are 



not pressed for time would probably enjoy calling in at 
the various ports en route. 

Fairly good hotel accommodation can be had at both 
Mombasa and Nairobi. 

Before any shooting can be done it is necessary to take 


out a Game License (costing the sum of .50), which may 
be obtained without difficulty at either of these two centres. 
This license imposes an obligation on the sportsman to 
make a return before he leaves the country of every 
animal shot by him. By obtaining a special Game License, 



one bull buffalo, one bull eland, and one bull giraffe may 
be killed in addition to the animals covered by the ordinary 
license. A fee of 5 is charged for each of these bulls ; 
this must be paid in advance, and is forfeited whether the 
animals are afterwards killed or not. This fee of .15 in 


all is, of course, additional to the $O for the ordinary 

Fairly good maps of the country may be obtained at 
Stanford's, Long Acre, W.C., while the Game Laws and 
Regulations can be procured from the Colonial Office in 
Downing Street. 


Passenger trains leave Mombasa at 1 1 a.m. on Mondays, 
Wednesdays, and Fridays, and are timed to arrive at 
Nairobi at 11.15 next morning and at Kisumu (the railway 
terminus on Lake Victoria Nyanza) at 9 o'clock on the 
morning following. The First-Class return fares from 
Mombasa to Nairobi, Kisumu and Entebbe are 92, 164], 
and 213! rupees respectively. 

It is unnecessary to specify district by district where 
particular species of game are to be found, for the sports- 
man can easily learn this for himself and get the latest 
news of game movements on his arrival at Mombasa. As 
a matter of fact, the whole country abounds in game, and 
there cannot be lack of sport and trophies for the keen 
sliikari. The heads and skins should be very carefully 
sun-dried and packed in tin-lined cases with plenty of 
moth-killer for shipment home. For mounting his trophies 
the sportsman cannot do better, I think, than go to Rowland 
Ward of Piccadilly. I have had mine set up by this 
firm for years past, and have always found their work 

I consider that 400 should cover the entire cost of a 
three months' shooting trip to East Africa, including 
passage both ways. The frugal sportsman will doubtless 
do it on less, while the extravagant man will probably 
spend very much more. 

Should time be available, a trip to the Victoria Nyanza 
should certainly be made. The voyage round the Lake in 
one of the comfortable railway steamers takes about eight 
days, but the crossing to Entebbe, the official capital of 
Uganda, can be done in seventeen hours, though it usually 
takes twenty-seven, as at night the boats anchor for 
shelter under the lee of an island. The steamer remains 
long enough in Entebbe harbour to enable the energetic 
traveller to pay a flying visit in a rickshaw to Kampala, the 
native capital, some twenty-one miles off. I spent a most 


interesting day last year in this way, and had a chat with 
the boy King of Uganda, Daudi Chwa, at Mengo. He was 
then about nine years old, and very bright and intelligent- 
He made no objection to my taking his photograph, but it 
unfortunately turned out a failure. 

It is curious to find the Baganda (i.e., people of Uganda) 
highly civilised the majority are Christians surrounded 
as they are on all sides by nations of practically naked 
savages ; and it is a very interesting sight to watch them 
in the " bazaar " at Kampala, clad in long flowing cotton 
garments, and busily engaged in bartering the products of 
the country under the shade of tattered umbrellas. Un- 
fortunately the great scourge of the district round the 
shores of the Lake is the sleeping sickness, which in the 
past few years has carried off thousands of the natives, and 
has quite depopulated the islands, which were once densely 
inhabited. The disease is communicated by the bite of an 
infected fly, but happily this pest is only found in certain 
well-defined regions, so that if the traveller avoids these 
he is quite as safe, as regards sleeping sickness, as if he 
had remained in England. 

On the return journey from Entebbe, Jinja, a port on the 
north side of the Victoria Nyanza, is usually called at. 
This place is of great interest, as it is here that the Lake 
narrows into a breadth of only a few hundred yards, and, 
rushing over the Ripon Falls, forms the long-sought-for 
source of the Nile. The magnificent view of the mighty 
river stretching away to the north amid enchanting scenery 
is most inspiring, and one can well imagine how elated 
Speke must have felt when, after enduring countless hard- 
ships, he at last looked upon it and thus solved one of the 
great problems of the ancients. 


The following is a literal translation of the Hindustani 
poem referred to on p. 103: 


First must I speak to the praise and glory of God, who 
is infinite and incomprehensible, 

Who is without fault or error, who is the Life, though 
without body or breath. 

He has no relatives, nor father nor son, being himself 
incomparable and passionless. 

His is the knowledge of the known and of the unknown, 
and although without a tongue, yet does he speak in 
mighty tones. 

I, Roshan, came to this country of Africa, and did find 
it indeed a strange land ; 

Many rocks, mountains, and dense forests abounding in 
lions and leopards ; 

Also buffaloes, wolves, deer, rhinoceroses, elephants, 
camels, and all enemies of man ; 

Gorillas, ferocious monkeys that attack men, black 
baboons of giant size, spirits, and thousands of varieties of 
birds ; 

Wild horses, wild dogs, black snakes, and all animals 
that a hunter or sportsman could desire, 


The forests are so dark and dreadful that even the 
boldest warriors shrink from their awful depths. 

Now from the town of Mombasa, a railway line extends 
unto Uganda ; 

In the forests bordering on this line, there are found 
those lions called " man-eaters," and moreover these forests 
are full of thorns and prickly shrubs. 

Portions of this railway from Mombasa to Uganda are 
still being made, and here these lions fell on the workmen 
and destroyed them. 

Such was their habit, day and night, and hundreds of 
men fell victims to these savage creatures, whose very jaws 
were steeped in blood. 

Bones, flesh, skin and blood, they devoured all, and left 
not a trace behind them. 

Because of the fear of these demons some seven or eight 
hundred of the labourers deserted, and remained idle ; 

Some two or three hundred still remained, but they were 
haunted by this terrible dread, 

And because of fear for their lives, would sit in their 
huts, their hearts full of foreboding and terror. 

Everyone of them kept afire burning at night, and none 
dared to close his eyes in sleep ; yet would some of them 
be carried away to destruction. 

The lion's roar was such that the very earth would trem- 
ble at the sound, and where was the man who did not feel 
afraid ? 

On all sides arose weeping and wailing, and the people 
would sit and cry like cranes, complaining of the deeds of 
the lions. 

I, Roshan, chief of my people, also complained and 
prayed to God, the Prophet, and to our spiritual adviser. 

And now will I relate the story of the Engineer in 
charge of the line. 

He kept some ten or twenty goats, for the sake of their 
milk ; 


But one night a wild beast came, and destroyed them 
all, not one being left. 

And in the morning it was reported by the watch- 
man, who also stated that the man-eater was daily 
destroying the labourers and workmen, and doing great 
injury ; 

And they took the Engineer with them and showed him 
the footprints of the animal. 

And after seeing what the animal had done, the English- 
man spoke, and said, 

" For this damage the lion shall pay his life." 
And when night came he took his gun and in very 
truth destroyed the beast. 

Patterson Sahib is indeed a brave and valiant man, like 
unto those Persian heroes of old Rustem, Zal, Sohrab 
and Berzoor ; 

So brave is he, that the greatest warriors stood aghast 
at his action ; 

Tall in stature, young, most brave and of great strength 
is he. 

From the other side of the line came the noise and cries 
of those who complained that these savage beasts were 
eating and destroying men, 

For such has been the habit of lions from time 
immemorial, and groups of people have fallen victims to 
their fury. 

Those who were proud or boastful, have but sacrificed 
their lives uselessly ; 

But to-day Patterson Sahib will watch for the lion 

For the people have complained loudly, and the valiant 
one has gone forth with his gun into the forest. 

Soon after the people had retired at night to their tents, 
the fearless lion made his appearance ; 

Patterson Sahib loaded both barrels of his gun and went 
forth against him. 


He fired many times in succession and totally paralysed 
the animal. 

The lion roared like thunder as the bullets found their 
way to his heart. 

This Englishman, Patterson, is most brave, and is indeed 
the very essence of valour ; 

Lions do not fears lions, yet one glance from Patterson 
Sahib cowed the bravest of them. 

He fled, making for the forest, while the bullets followed 
hard after him ; 

So was this man-eater rendered helpless ; he lay down 
in despair, 

And after he had covered a chain's distance, the savage 
beast fell down, a corpse. 

Now the people, bearing lights in their hands, all ran to 
look at their dead enemy. 

But the Sahib said " Return, my children ; the night is 
dark, do not rush into danger." 

And in the morning all the people saw the lion lying 

And then the Sahib said, " Do not think of work to-day 
make holiday, enjoy and be merry." 

So the people had holiday and made merry with friends 
from whom they had been long parted, on account of the 
lion : 

And the absence of those who had run away was 
forgiven, and their money allowed them 

A generous action, comparable to the forgiveness of God 
and the Prophet to sinners and criminals on the day of 

Oh ! poet, leave this kind of simile, it is too deep for 
thee ; 

We mortals have the Devil, like unto a fierce lion, ever 
after us ; 

Oh ! Roshan, may God, the Prophet, and your spiritual 
adviser, safeguard you day and night ! 


One lion, however, remained, and for fear of him all went 
in dread ; 

Sixteen days passed, all being well, and everyone enjoyed 
a peaceful mind ; 

But again, on the seventeenth day, the lion appeared 
and remained from sunset to sunrise. 

He kept on roaming about in the neighbourhood like a 
general reconnoitring the enemy's position. 

On the following day the Sahib sent for the people 
and warned them all to be careful of their lives ; 

" Do not go out from the afternoon even until the 
following morning," he said. 

Now this was the night of SIiab-i-Kadr, a Muslim 
festival : 

And at night \vhen all had retired to rest, the lion came 
in a rage, 

And Patterson Sahib went forth into the field to 
meet him. 

And when he saw the beast, he fired quickly, bullet after 

The lion made a great uproar, and fled for his life, but 
the bullets nevertheless found a resting-place in his heart. 

And everyone began to shriek and groan in their uneasy 
sleep, jumping up in fear, when unexpectedly the roaring 
of the lion was heard. 

All thought of sleep was banished, and fear came in its 
place : 

And the Sahib gave emphatic orders that no one should 
go out, or roam about. 

And in the morning we followed the marks of blood 
that had flowed from the wounded animal, 

And some five or seven chains away, we found the lion, 
lying wounded and in great pain. 

And when the Sahib saw the animal he fired bullets 
incessantly ; 



But when the lion saw the Sahib, the savage animal, 
burning with rage and pain, 

Came by leaps and bounds close to the Sahib ; 

But here he was to meet his match in a brave Sahib who 
loaded his gun calmly, and fired again and again, killing 
the beast. 

All the Punjaubis assembled together and agreed that 
the Sahib was a man who appreciated and cared for others, 
so much so that he roamed about in the forests for our 
sake, in order to protect us. 

Previously, many Englishmen had come here to shoot 
but had been disappointed, 

Because the lion was very courageous and ferocious, 
and the Sahibs were afraid ; 

But for the sake of our lives, Patterson Sahib took 
all this trouble, risking his own life in the forest. 

So they collected many hundreds of rupees, and offered 
it as a present to the Sahib, because he had undergone 
such peril, in order to save our lives. 

Oh ! Roshan, all the people appeared before the Sahib 
saying, " You are our benefactor " ; 

But the Sahib declined to accept the present, not taking 
a pice of it. 

So then again the Punjaubis assembled, and consulted as 
to how the service that the Sahib had done them could 
most suitably be rewarded. 

And it was agreed to send all the money to England, in 
order that it might be converted into some suitable present, 

Which should bear an engraving of the two lions, and 
the name of the mistari^ head of the workmen. 

The present should be such, and so suitably decorated, 
as to be acceptable to Patterson Sahib ; 

In colour it should resemble moon and sun ; and that 
would indeed be a fit present, so that the Sahib would be 
pleased to accept it. 

1 Foreman-mason. 




Oh! Roshan, I hope that he will accept this present for 
shooting the lions, as some small reward for his 

My native home is at Chajanlat, in the thana of Domli, 
which is in the district of Jhelum, and I have related this 
story as it actually occurred. 

Patterson Sahib has left me, and I shall miss him as long 
as I live, and now 

Roshan must roam about in Africa, sad and regretful. 

Composed by Roshan itiistari, son of Kadur mistaii 
Bakhsh, native of the village of Chajanlat, Dakhli, Post 
Office Domli, district of Jhelum. Dated 29th January, 




Santa Barbara 



JUN? 19882, 

AIIG8 1988 

REIDAUG9 198810 

3 1205 00837 3191 


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