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First published in jg22 

(All rights reserved) 

To those who have allowed me to pillage 
their albums for photographs, let me here- 
with record my gratitude. To my fellow 
exiles generally in the Outposts, who have 
made life possible by that indispensable 
possession, a sense of humour, and to 
those of them who have passed out of 
man's sight in particular, 



This book does not purport to be a text-book 
on Nigeria : still less does it lay claim to any 
of the literary virtues. Of its very nature it could 
not, an' it would, command a large reading public. 
Let there be no misconception about that. It 
is not even meticulous in its accuracy, being 
written from memory— a West African memory 
at that — and unassisted by referenda. 

Chiefly for my own amusement, partly inspired 
by the time-honoured cliche at the " Scotch-Club " : 
" if only one took the trouble to write these things 
down, what amusing reading they would make ! " 
I set myself to jot down my experiences of ten 
years — it seemed a pity that they should all "go 
West," for they cover most parts of the Nigerian 

In doing so I found myself gradually writing 
what Boswell or Lander would have called a 
journal, but what I prefer to describe as a 
"small-chop" diary— that is to say, a collection 
of incidents, in more or less chronological order, 
written, as they would have been told, at the 
witching hour of small-chop, with scarce a 
camouflage of persons or localities. In these 
reminiscences questions of Administration have 
been left severely alone. 


44 But this is all very ordinary stuff which might 
have happened to anyone ! " it may be exclaimed. 
So much the better. It will then convey, I hope, 
a reasonable picture of the life of the average 
Political Officer in its essential features in this 
country as it was, is, and, in spite of the Railway 
and Political Memoranda, ever shall be. From 
it the newcomer may pick up a wrinkle or two 
between the lines : while the 44 old bird M may 
look backwards, and take it, as it is meant, not 

I shall probably be accused of 44 coming the 
old coaster " in my allusions to 44 those days," 
and 44 that time " ; but it must be remembered 
that men and things die and change out here 
with remarkable rapidity, and that 1918 is as 
far removed from 1908 in Nigeria as 1908 is from 
1838 in the civilized world. Nobody gets more 
irritable than I do with the prosy gentlemen who 
refer to the events of 44 nought four " and 44 nought 
six " and so on, as if they were speaking of some 
landmark in the Dark Ages, or an old vintage. 
And yet how many of those cheery bush-whackers 
we knew so recently as nought anything are alive 
to-day ! Not too many — certainly not 40 per 
cent, of the characters mentioned in this book — 
and those who are, if we may believe the West 
African Pocket-book, are so solely by virtue of 
the drinks they have not, and the quinine they 
have taken — in my own case some 21,000 grains ! 

Nigeria, 1921. 


Preface ..... 


. 7 


I. Bauchi .... 

. 15 

II. Bauchi {continued) 

. 24 

III. Bauchi {continued) 

. 39 

IV. Bauchi {continued) 

. 53 

V. Naraguta 

. 66 

VI. Bornu .... 

. 89 

VII. Bornu {continued) 

. 107 

VIII. Bornu {continued) 

. 121 

IX. Hors vCEuvres Varies 

. 151 

X. The Falaba 

. 168 


. 186 

XII. Ilorin .... 

. 212 



Appendix A. " Suli Yola " . . . 231 

Appendix B. Appreciation of the late 

W. B. Thomson . . 239 

Appendix C. Appreciation of the late 

P. A. Benton . . 242 

Appendix D. Sketch Map of Nigeria, 
showing Principal Routes 
Travelled . . Facing p. 244 



(S. H. P. Vereker) 


(K. V. Elphinstone) 


(W. P. Hewby) 




{M. C. Greene) 

BISALLA ..... 
W. B. THOMSON .... 


(P. de Putrvn) 


(W. P. Hewby) 















W. P. HEWBY, C.M.G. . . . .100 


(P. de Putron) 

A "FARIN GINDl" .... 108 

(P. de Putron) 


(P. de Putron) 

A KANURI WOMAN . . . .112 

(K. V. Elphinstone) 


(P. de Putron) 

MY (later de p.'s) trap . . .118 

(P. de Putron) 

"piccin" . . . . .124 

the start from geidam for gujba . .124 

ivories and foot of big elephant . . 138 

melbourne inman and " ivories " of rogue 

elephant ! . . . .138 

the ostrich farm . . . .142 

(P. de Putron) 


(P. de Putron) 



THE SUBMARINE . . . . .168 



NO. 1 BOAT IN TROUBLE . . . 170 

MORE TROUBLE ..... 176 


(Tht above seven photos by courtesy of the Daily Mirror) 

NIGER IDOLS . . . . .196 

(JD. Crocombe) 

A NUPE GIRL . . . . .198 

(K. V. Elphinstone) 


(S. M. Grier) 


(B. Sutherland) 


{B. Sutherland) 


DAYSPRING .... 202 

(B. Sutherland) 

JUJU ROCK ..... 202 

(B. Sutherland) 





(R. Sutherland) 


(A. H. Discombe) 


(A. H. Discombe) 


FETISHES ..... 224 

(A. H. Discombe) 

"pansy" and "adam". . . . 226 

{K. V. Elphinstone) 


(S. W. Walker) 


Probably nobody has ever left the bosom of 
his family more reluctantly and with less desire 
for " travel " than I did on Christmas Day, 1908. 
There was no dinner served on the restaurant 
train from Euston ; and the porter at Lime Street, 
when he heard that West Africa was my desti- 
nation, said " God 'elp you ! " 

I, with my spaniel " Peggy," was apparently 
the sole occupant of the North- Western Hotel 
that Christmas night, and as a special privilege 
she was allowed to share my bedroom. We were 
driven on Boxing Day by a stale-drunk cabman 
through a funereal Liverpool fog to the Wharf, 
and sailed on the Dakar (Captain Lawson) the 
same afternoon. At about the same moment a 
not un-remote relative of mine was paying the 
penalty of his recent adoption as Parliamentary 
candidate by kicking off a football, in a similar 
drizzle, in some purlieu of Croydon. I remember 
wondering which of us felt the brighter. 

There were only sixteen first-class passengers 

on board, and the voyage, but for a furious tossing 

in the Bay of Biscay, was uneventful. Stone, 1 

a subaltern with whom I afterwards travelled 

1 Now Brigadier-General. 



as far as Ibi, was the only other officer on board 
bound for Northern Nigeria. As there were no 
electric fans in those days, the cabins after Sierra 
Leone became not unlike ovens, in which one 
was gently fried. We made Forcados on the 
12th of January, and it was my luck that this 
should be the last steamer to stand off the Bar, 
and tranship her passengers and freights on to 
the branch boat. All subsequent boats passed 
over the Bar into Forcados harbour. On this 
occasion we lay off in a mist, while the branch 
boat hunted for us, to the melancholy accompani- 
ment of the bell-buoy on the Bar. We were 
then lowered in mammie chairs into surf-boats, 
and paddled, wet and dejected, to the branch 
boat, which in turn transferred us to the river 
stern-wheeler, Sarota, in almost pitch darkness 
at Burutu. 

The lights were not working, and our chop- 
boxes being in the hold, we had to go to bed 
empty but for a small tot of brandy, very kindly 
provided by a Roman Catholic missionary, who 
had come on board. These Fathers are noted 
for their hospitality, and their Mission is the 
most, if not the only, practical one in West Africa. 
The misery of the newly arrived exile at Burutu 
is a byword — and I will not enlarge on the dismal 
subject. It is from Burutu that some drunkards 
have dated their original fall. I had my share 
of misery, what with the attentions of the Customs, 
who relentlessly tore from one duty on cases of 
liquor, which turned out afterwards to have been 
broken, or broached, to vanishing point, the 



fi^'^ ; ■ ^ 



w X \ 



inability to find anything one wanted, and of 
course the usual difficulty with " boys." 

In this connection coming events did indeed 
cast their shadow before them when a German 
trader, who was travelling to Onitsha, said to 
me deprecatingly : " Vy vorry apout your poys ? 
I alvays bromise my poy von bound on arrival 
at Onidsha, and ven I gets there I kick him out 
vidout nothings." A scrap of paper, in fact. 

Stone, by the way, handed me over one of his 
boys, " Yaro," 1 who has been with me, off and 
on, as boy, cook, and finally courier, ever since. 

When we had managed to dig a few provisions, 
and odds and ends, out of the hold, we had a 
comparatively peaceful and comfortable voyage 
of six days, thanks largely to the kindness of 
Stone, without whom I should have been lost, 
for I was horribly green (witness my endeavours 
to fit a filter-candle into a sparklet-syphon) — as 
are most poor devils on their first arrival. 

Never did I make a bigger error than in suppos- 
ing that Lokoja would be the end of my troubles, 
and that I should there be met and instructed 
in my new path of life. Far from it. Not a 
soul met me, nobody knew anything about me, 
nor did anyone apparently care. It being 
Sunday, I was strongly advised not to disturb 
the " Cant. Mag." (I vaguely wondered whether 
this had any connection with Mag. Sulph.), as 
he was having a siesta, and was a liverish gentleman 
withal. He was, and his liver was not the only 
portion of him that was unduly swollen. Fortu- 

1 Since dead. 



nately Stone was good enough to get me made 
an hon. member of the W.A.F.F. 1 Mess. I spent 
ten days in the Beach Rest-house at Lokoja, 
going for my meals to the Mess, where I met, 
among others, Colonel Mackenzie (" Festive Mac "), 
in command, and, besides many others w T ho have 
since answered the call, Coghan, a friend and 
brother officer of my brother Guy. I was intro- 
duced to him in a curious way. I was walking 
across the polo ground with " Peggy," when I 
passed an officer who exclaimed : " Hallo, 
1 Bramble ' ! " Now, " Bramble " was " Peggy's " 
mother, and on inquiry the officer, who turned 
out to be Coghan, explained that he was in 
my brother's battery in Ireland, and knew 
" Bramble " well ! He and I used to knock a 
polo ball about together, this being my first 
introduction to that game of games. 

In those days every new Political Officer, on 
arrival at Lokoja, before leaving for his station, 
had to pass an examination in Revenue Suspense 
Account, i.e. the method by which tribute in 
kind is brought to account as cash. 

This exam puzzled the life out of me, as I 
think it did most people, till later on, when I was 
actually confronted with the real problem. One 
officer who sat for this exam with me got a Treasury 
clerk to do his papers for him, and then took an 
ignominious plough ! The Treasurer being the 
examiner, this is not without its humour. 

On the same day, Stone and I got our orders 
to proceed to Yola and Bauchi respectively. We 
1 West African Frontier Force. 


set forth together up the Benue in the Quail, a 
steel barge poled by eight men, and followed by 
two wooden canoes containing our loads. I should 
add that I was forced to spend a small fortune 
on provisions from the Niger Company, having 
left England with nothing but two cases of whisky 
and six of eatables. Information at home as to 
what one really required was singularly lacking 
in those days. Niagara, Nigeria, Algeria, and — 
I was going to say — Malaria were but faintly 
differentiated between. I was further hampered 
with thirty cases of ammunition for the troops 
at Bauchi, relative to which I never seemed to 
cease signing manifests. 

The journey, which lasted seventeen days, 
though teeming with interest to a novice, was a 
singularly unpleasant one, for the heat was typical 
of January by day, while the mosquitoes were 
unbearable by night. Try as I would, I could 
not keep them out of my net : and even the old 
stager, Stone, said he had never known them 
quite so bad. " Peggy " used to barge her way 
into my bed, which added to the discomfort. 

South of Abinsi we settled to give the polers 
a day's rest, and go shooting. I had, of course, 
never done any " beef " shooting before, and was 
naturally very excited. To my great delight I 
shot my first kob (" mariya "), and later four 
others — with five consecutive shots. I have never 
shot so well since ! It was unnecessarily greedy 
of me, I know : but I was young and ignorant, 
and anyhow there were no complaints by the 
polers, who made short work of the meat. Stone 


had bad luck, and we were both very exhausted 
when we got back to the barge. The only other 
shooting we had was at crocodiles, except aiming- 
drill at Stone's cook's mate, an amusing individual 
who thoroughly enjoyed dodging the little '22 
bore (dashed me by Coghan) with which we pre- 
tended to practise on him, as he ran with great 
sagging strides across the sandbanks on which 
we used to camp. 

We at length made Ibi, the poler's Portsmouth, 
where, not having seen women for seventeen days, 
our crew disappeared en bloc for twenty-four 
hours. Next day, having purchased a grey horse 
of sorts, and bade Stone a regretful good-bye, 
I crossed the river with my convoy, including a 
police escort for the boxes of ammunition, and 
made my preparations for a thirteen days' 
overland trek to Bauchi. 

At Giddan Sarkin Kudu I got a very fine kob, 
and marked the place down as a hunting ground 
to be thoroughly covered on my return journey. 
The road was a horribly bad one * — a mere bush 
path. On arrival at Wase the carriers, who had 
had an advance at Ibi to cover the whole journey, 
began the usual story that their money had 
finished, that they always rested two days at 
Wase : that " other Turawa 2 did this and that," 
etc. These pitiful tales might have made some 
impression upon me had it not been for the fact 
that / was equally upon the rocks in the matter 
of cash. 

Since closed down, as the official route to Bauchi. 
White men. 


The Government make it — or did make it then 
— delightfully impossible for a newly appointed 
officer to draw any money for a very long time 
after his arrival, though he might be actually 
entitled to one, or even two, months' salary. 
The various Treasurers looked at one stonily, 
and the following conversation, more or less, 
usually ensued : — 

Newly Appointed Officer. " Good morning ! Er — 
could you let me have my January pay ? " 

Treasurer. " Where is your L.P.C. ? " 

N.A. Officer. " I beg your pardon — my what ? " 

Treasurer. " Last Pay Certificate." 

N.A. Officer. " I'm afraid I still don't quite 
grasp . . ." 

Treasurer (bored). " Certificate showing the last time 
you drew pay." 

N.A. Officer. " But there is no last time : I have 
not even begun to draw any." 

Treasurer. " Well, I will wire the Treasurer Zungeru. 
You can call again in a day or two." 

In the meanwhile one is probably ordered off 
to one's station before the reply comes, and goes 
through the same farce at the next sub-treasury. 
In my own case the answer did come, but to the 
effect that " L.P.C. had been forwarded to 
Bauchi " ; and I had to be satisfied with " Local 
Allowance " * to date, i.e. ten days at 2s. It 
will be gathered therefore that the appeals of 
the carriers fell on very stony ground, and we 

1 Local Allowance was originally 5s. per diem ; it then 
dwindled, as living grew more expensive, by Is. each year 
to nil. It was at 2s. when I arrived. 


proceeded on our journey. I endeavoured, from 
now onwards, to assume the attitude of a man 
who had thousands to disgorge, an' he would, 
but was not going to be jockeyed. I had as a 
matter of fact some 10s. 6d. 

The man who carried " Peggy " in a box com- 
plained that she was always shifting about, and 
that he could carry her no further. Of this again 
I took no notice, and I soon found that the best 
remedy for these complaints is either to ignore 
or laugh at them. Nine times out of ten they 
are only a try on. 

But the source of far greater anxiety to me 
was the (genuine) lameness of one of the Police 
escort, Umoru, who was utterly unable to walk 
any further. It had been impressed upon me 
that any mishap to the ammunition would be 
visited on my head, if it transpired that I had 
omitted a single technical detail in respect of the 
guard ; and here I was one man short, and six 
days from the nearest station. I took therefore 
what seemed to me to be the only course, and 
mounted him on my horse, while I foot-slogged 
the rest of the journey ! Ingenuous me ! But I 
was rewarded years afterwards at Maiduguri, when 
Umoru — now re-enlisted in the W.A.F.F. — pre- 
sented himself at my house, reminded me of the 
incident, and begged me to accept two fowls and 
a calabash of eggs. Gratitude is a rara avis in 
this country, kindness being almost always looked 
upon as a sign of stupidity or softness (" lafiya " 1 ). 

1 The easy-going man is generally nicknamed by the Hausa 
" Mailafiya." 


On the thirteenth day I arrived at Bauchi — 
it being just two months and ten days since I 
left Liverpool. I was not sorry, for I was tired 
of trekking, and the carriers were in a riotous 
condition, chiefly due to losses at Cha-cha. 1 Bauchi 
was a restful, Palestinian-looking town, walled all 
round, and connected by a fine main road (made 
by the Hon. Oliver Howard, Resident, who had 
just died under tragic circumstances) to the 
European station. Captain Lewis had taken over, 
recently. Murphy Moran was O.C. Troops, 
Forbes the gunner, Bissell the Doctor, and Wight- 
wick, from whom I was to take over, the Assistant 
Resident, as we were then called. The last-named 
was particularly kind (I have forgiven him for 
inducting me to my new office with a book of 
G.S.O.'s !), and it has been my pleasurable lot 
either to hand over to, or take over from, him 
on several occasions since. A man who could put 
his fingers on essentials, and hand or take over 
easily and without fuss — not, as many I have 
known, like one old maid letting her house to 
another. My quarters consisted of a miserable 
bush hovel— its gloom ungladdened as yet by the 
half-crown dole — and in it I lived for the next 
sixteen months. 

1 The national game of chance. 


BAUCHI — continued 

We were a very happy family at Bauchi. We 
used to forgather at the " Scotch Club " (so 
called because everyone brought his own drinks) 
at about 6 p.m. This hour was generally sig- 
nalled by Forbes (" Hell-fire Jack ") roaring for 
his boy, and the cross-examination of his steward 
by Lewis 2 — better known as " Louise " — with 
monocle screwed in tight, and finger wagging, 
as it were the digit of destiny. 

" Allah Kai ! Last night this bottle was full ! " 

" Yes, Sah ! but for lunch " 

" Allah Kai ! You lie ! " 

This was a favourite expression of Louise, and 
from my office, which was below his living-room, 
I have often heard something like the following 
brisk conversation : 

" Allah Kai ! You have had your fingers in 
the jam ! " (or sugar). 

" No, Sah ! I tink de small boy " 

" Allah Kai ! You lie ! Call the small boy ! " 

" Small boy ! You have had your fingers in 
the jam." 

1 Killed in Gallipoli. He had been a subaltern in the 21st 
Lancers at Omdurman. 



" No, Sah ! I tink prafs de big boy " 

"Small boy! You lie ! Orderly! Kawo 
bulala ! " x 

The unfortunate small boy always got it in 
the neck in the end, and always frantically ap- 
pealed as a last resource for Momodu to be 
allowed to administer justice. Momodu was the 
interpreter, a soft-hearted, hideous little man, 
who wouldn't and couldn't hurt a fly. He is 
immortalized in the verse which Major Festing 2 
once telegraphed to Louise, after asking for and 
being peremptorily refused the services of Momodu. 
The lines ran, as far as I can remember, like 
this : 

Why unnecessary ire ? 

Hakka nan na buga waya : s 

Rather than that you should fret, 

You shall keep your marmoset. 

Keep your temper, little Loo, 

Likewise keep your Momodu. 

Poor peppery little Louise ! The warmest- 
hearted and most hospitable little gentleman that 
ever lived. He and Murphy Moran travelled home 
together that tour, and a stage or two from 
Ibi, in spite of Murphy's warnings, Louise took 
his own line of country (" short cut " he termed 
it) — with the result that he got badly bushed, 
and staggered into camp after a thirty mile 
trek in the last state of exhaustion. Murphy, 
who was genuinely concerned for him, stood at 
the door ready for him with a stiff whisky and 

1 " Bring a whip." 2 Killed in Gallipoli. 

3 " Thus I wire you." 


sparklet, and a face which evidently betrayed 
his anxiety. Louise gave him one steady look, 
then, raising the finger of fate, he said : " Murphy ! 
If you had so much as smiled, I would have 
shot you ! " Murphy subsequently sent us a rag 
diagram of Louise's peregrinations — each swamp, 
or tangle being labelled with the expletive sup- 
posed to have been used by Louise at every 
fresh misfortune. Thus : " Corpus Christi ! Bog." 
" Muckheap ! Ravine," etc. 

These two were admirable foils to one another. 
On a previous occasion on the same journey, 
when they were about to tackle a swollen river 
in a rickety Berthon canoe, there was an argu- 
ment as to whether they should cross together 
or singly, and, if singly, who should go first. 
The discussion became heated, and Murphy, with 
a twinkle in his eye, raised the question of 
seniority ! This was too much for Louise, who 
threw his cup of tea at him, and then said : 
" Now, Murphy, you may kill me ! " 

The latter, placidly wiping the Mazawattee from 
his bush-shirt, replied : " No, my dear horse, 
you are not worth it ! " They were the best 
of pals really, and their little tilts were the joy 
of the Scotch Club. 

About this time my cook, an impudent rasca. 
and useless at his job, thought fit to cut onions 
into strips, mix them with apricot jam, and then 
serve the lot up to me encased in an omelette. 
I had him up and inquired whether this was 
meant for a sweet or savoury omelette. The 
cook, who prided himself on his knowledge of 


culinary nomenclature, hesitated. I informed him 
that, if it was any comfort to him to know it, 
it did not in the least signify which it was, as 
in either case he could consider himself sacked. 
He cleared off, and went straight to Louise to 
complain, accompanied by my two boys, who 
felt it incumbent upon them to indulge in a 
sympathetic strike. I had already become more 
philosophic about such occurrences, and while 
I leisurely versified my bereavement, and sent 
it off to the Sporting Times, the cook was having 
a very rough ten minutes with Louise, who never 
did things by halves. " You lie ! I charge you 
with attempting to poison your master, and the 

two boys with aiding and abetting in that " 

but before he had finished the peroration " cookoo " 
had effaced himself for good and all, and the 
boys were humbly begging to be readmitted to 
the fold. Which they were — at a price. 

The chief amusement at Bauchi were occa- 
sional tennis, a ride round the town, ora" barewa " 
(Senegal gazelle) shoot. Every Saturday night 
Louise used to give a station dinner, followed 
by poker. A favourite dish of his was mutton 
chops, which I used to find infernally tough and 
pass surreptitiously under the table to " Peggy." 

In May, the Inspector-General, General Mor- 
land, 1 paid a visit with his Staff, including Colonel 
Strickland, 2 Jenkins, 3 and Pragnell. Louise put 

1 Later Commander-in-Chief, Rhine Army of Occupation. 

2 Later commanding Cork Division, and so incidentally 
adding to his already wide experience of Pagan tribes. 

3 Later Colonial Secretary, Barbados. 


up the dinner, I think. The General was an 
early bed-goer, and retired betimes to his quarters 
in Louise's bungalow, outside which we were 
dining. It had been impressed upon us that 
he was a light sleeper and that we should talk 
quietly and not disturb him. The conversation 
waxed convivial and louder no doubt than we 
realized — being punctuated periodically by one 
or other of us saying with owlish solemnity : 
" Hush ! We mustn't wake the General ! " 

Next morning at breakfast, the General ob- 
served to Louise drily, but not unkindly, " I 
much appreciate the efforts not to wake me last 
night ! " " A " Company got the efficiency prize 

" Peggy," who was standing the climate well, 
and never missed a meal, gave birth to four 
puppies in July. Three died, but the fourth, 
" Piccin," was a gem, and survived three further 
tours and four leaves with me. Of her more anon. 

As far as I can remember it was about now 
that Walter Wethered, 1 practically the pioneer 
of the Tin movement, arrived in the country. 
I say " practically " because the Niger Company 
had been established already for some time at 
Naraguta under Laws 2 and Archibold, two of 
the toughest and best ; while another gentle- 
man (who shall be nameless) who had sailed 
with Wethered, had short-headed the latter, and 
arrived in Bauchi alone. 

1 Died at Jos, 1914. 

2 Colonel II. W. Laws, C.M.G., D.S.O. (who was directly 
responsible for the blowing up of the Messines Ridge). 


Louise was away for the week-end, and this 
gentleman tried to bounce me into giving him 
an advance of £50 out of Treasury funds. The 
power of attorney, however, which he flourished 
off-handedly before me, being a joint one, I sug- 
gested that the matter should stand over till the 
arrival of Walter Wethered, who was pounding 
gallantly away on a bicycle not far behind. But 
for good reasons of his own our friend seemed 
as disinclined to wait for Wethered, as he was 
anxious to push on to Juga, where he had " busi- 
ness to attend to " (sic). I cashed him (privately) 
a cheque for £3, which was subsequently " re- 
ferred to drawer," and he passed lightly on his 

Next day Walter Wethered rolled in — a real 
good sportsman of the old school — well the other 
side of fifty, but full of life and good stories. 
He very soon explained how matters stood, made 
a singularly accurate forecast as to the fate of 
the cheque, and refunded me the cash on the 
spot. The meeting of Wethered, the nameless 
one, and Huddart x (Government Inspector of 
Mines) at Juga was, I believe, a very piquant 
affair ! 

The nameless one — no, he shall be called for 
convenience Weller — returned to Bauchi indignant, 
self-righteous, but unabashed, and made himself 
quite at home. He dashed me some topazes, 
but made no allusion to the cheque. At the 
Scotch Club he regaled us with his past achieve- 
ments, and very early on I saw Murphy prick 
1 Died in German East Africa. 


up his ears, and that alert look came into his 
eye which presaged danger for the unwary. 

Weller made his first slip when he spoke of 
" his brother in the cavalry." Murphy, in the 
language of the Courts, at once rose to cross- 
examine. " What was his regiment ? ' : Weller 
" really couldn't remember, it was so long ago, 
but he rather thought it was the Coldstream ! " 
I saw Murphy settle himself in his chair, and 
prepare for further fun. 

The second howler — or rather series of how- 
lers — was an unfortunate allusion to his expe- 
rience in Russia. Now Murphy was a much- 
travelled man. 

" Have you ever done the run from St. Peters- 
burg to Vladivostock ? " he inquired simply, puffing 
away at his pipe. 

" Often," replied the undaunted Weller. 

" How long did you take ? " pursued Murphy 

"Well," said Weller, "I couldn't really say 
now. I remember I got rather bored with the 

" Did you go via Smolensk ? " 

" Let me see, I do seem to remember an official 
of some sort calling for tickets at some such 

" Did you get a good view of Teheran ? " 

" Well, you know, I slept most of the time : 
I did not really look." 

" No," retorted Murphy quietly. " You get 
a better view of it, of course, in Persia ! " 

And so on. 


But your real liar has no sense of shame or 
defeat, and Weller made tracks for Ibi perfectly 
content with himself and the world — not before, 
however, he had palmed off on the colour- sergeant 
a case of inferior whisky under a false and fashion- 
able label, at a correspondingly false and fashion- 
able price, and taken a sovereign off the native 
gaoler in advance for two bottles of ditto which 
never materialized at all. 

His deeds of glory were in no way confined 
to Bauchi. I believe that at Ibi he disposed 
of such baubles as camp equipment, saddlery, 
crockery, etc. — paid for out of the coffers of his 
Syndicate — for a mere trifle — paid into the coffers 
of Weller — and finally distinguished himself by 
borrowing a horse from an officer up at the Lokoja 
Mess, and selling it to a trader the same day. 

One day an armourer-sergeant rolled up to 
my office. His carriers had evidently got out 
of hand on the road, and pulled his leg properly. 

" I wish," he said pompously, " to report these 
'ere labourers for intimidating of the populace, 
and creating terror in the villages. Might I ad- 
dress the labourers, sir ? " 

" Certainly," I replied, and had them lined up. 

" Ku jai " (sic) x he began, " Er — ku jai da 

kyaow (sic) " Pause, which I presumed was 

intended to render his next remarks more effec- 
tive. " Ku jai," he began again, " er — might I 
'ave an interpreter, sir ? " 

Sic transit gloria linguae ! 

1 He meant " Kun ji : Kun ji da kyau," which may be 
translated freely : " Look here now, just understand this ! " 



Walton, the Police officer, had a yarn about 
a similar sort of amateur linguist, who presented 
himself one day to register his rifle. " I 'ave 
'ere," he said, " a weapon, Martini 'Enery, by 
Mr. Martini 'Enery, Niger Company weapon." 
He was subsequently overheard in a partition 
of the Rest-house addressing affable but wine- 
inspired salutations to the passing ladies thus : 
" Sanu mata ! Sanu da kyaow (sic) ! Ka ji mata ! 
Ka ji dakyaow ! ' : His vocabulary carried him 
no further, apparently. But I am diverging. 
Louise and Murphy went on leave in August, 
the latter being relieved by Cecil Gibb, and 
Louise by Major (Brevet-Colonel) Augustus Mclin- 
tock, D.S.O. Mc intock, universally known by 
the natives as " Maidoronyaki," and by his friends 
as " The General," was one of the most notable 
characters in the country. A delightful Irishman, 
with a slight lisp and an inexhaustible supply 
of blarney, he would prove without effort that 
black was white, and then clinch the argument 
with " And that'th God'th truth ! " 

It was a pi asure to work under a man like 
the General, for he was big both in mind and 
body, without the flatulent self-importance as- 
sumed by so many in his position with far less 
justification. While he could mete out, if occa- 
sion demanded, a telling off which made itself 
felt, he was not above doing some real spade 
work himself; and I have known him at tax 
time sit at my table for three successive days 
helping to count thousands of pounds' worth of 
threepences and sixpences. 

"the general. 



This, by the way, was I believe actually the 
first year that we had taken the whole tax in 
cash, instead of a portion in mats and cowries. 
We had a store bulging with the latter, and from 
this I had paid off the General's one hundred odd 
carriers (vide p. 18, "Revenue Suspense Account"), 
without making any perceptible hole in it. They 
were an infernal nuisance, 5s. being roughly a 
donkey's load ; and it was a ridiculous spectacle 
to see the entire native staff assiduously counting 
a shilling ! x Cowries were no longer legal tender, 
and of course discountenanced, but even now 
the market folk cling to them, and conduct 
their petty transactions through their medium. 

The General was a devotee of the Turf, and 
racing held first place among the many things 
we had in common. Common interests are an 
invaluable asset in a lonely station. Having a 
boy called Mustapha, he backed the runner-up 
of the Cambridgeshire two years in succession ! 

He was not without his vanities. Every month 
he used to have his clothes, shirts, socks, etc., 
put out to air, and frequently would invite my 
inspection. " Very smart suit that ! " he would 
say, or : " Damned dadi 2 boots those, especially 
with the spats ! I can tell you I'm not by a 
long chalk the worst-dressed person at Goodwood — 
and that'th God'th truth!" Yet, with it all, 
he was one of the finest soldiers in the country. 
" I would follow that man through Hell ! " Murphy 
(himself a lion amongst men) once observed. 

1 1,600 to 2,000 cowries went to the shilling : 4,000 at the 
time of writing. 2 Hausa for " nice," or " chic." 


34 " PETER " 

One morning Malam Duguri, the General's 
gardener, came to me and asked permission to 
borrow my *22 rifle. " A beef," he said, was 
" humbugging the farm." I was about to send 
for the weapon, when it occurred to me to ask 
him what sort of beef it was that was causing 
the trouble. With an ill-suppressed chuckle he 
hastily withdrew from my office, whereupon I 
realized that he was referring to my little pet 
duiker (" gada "), and that the General had put 
him up to pulling my leg. 

The latter was devoted to animals, and if I 
rode to the town of an evening, my various pets 
used to play about round his chair till my return. 
" Peter," the duiker, was a great character, and 
used to follow the boys to the market, and pinch 
green food off the market women, much to their 
annoyance. It would eat anything that it was 
offered, and even stand up on its little hind 
legs and take a cigarette out of my mouth. It 
subsequently lived and thrived, worshipped by 
the ladies, at my home in England for three 

I have not mentioned, I think, that apart 
from my political duties, I was acting District 
Superintendent of Police * and Deputy Sheriff, 
Walton, the actual holder of those offices, being 
stationed for political reasons with the bulk of 
the detachment at Naraguta. In September it 
was my lot, as Deputy Sheriff, to carry out my 
first execution. The miscreant, acting on instruc- 
tions received — so he told the court in his de- 
1 Now Assistant Commissioner of Police. 


fence — from Allah during the night, had battered 
his mother's head in. 

On the day previous to the execution the 
General instructed me to inform the doomed 
man that the sentence would be carried out 
next morning, and to inquire whether he desired 
to make any sort of will or leave any message 
for his folk at home. I duly interviewed him 
through the medium of a scribe, and he replied 
as follows : 

" There only were three of us : my brother 
died last month, / killed the old woman, and 
you are going to kill me. What is the good of 
a will ? " 

Next morning, at half past seven, we repaired 
to the condemned cell, where the prisoner — cer- 
tainly the most unmoved individual present — 
greeted us with the usual " Zaki ! " His arms 
having been pinioned and the grizzly knot ad- 
justed, he was led up on to the scaffold, and, 
without a sign of flinching, dispatched into eternity. 
The General, chafing to be quit of the drab per- 
formance, shouted to the gaoler (whose name 
was Isaac) : " Jacob, my friend, that'th damned 
badly done ! I've a good mind to puth you 
through too ! " 

And here it may be observed that, however 
accurately the drop has been regulated, unless 
the knot is adjusted exactly behind the angle 
of the lower jaw, the noose will slip, and death 
will ensue from strangulation instead of dislocation. 1 

1 A distinction postulated by humanity, but not, as a 
matter of fact, by the wording of the death-sentence. 


These were comparatively primitive days ; the 
gallows was sometimes a tree ; and one had to 
test the drop and the rope, as best one could, 
with sacks of grain. All these are gruesome 
details, but anything which adds to the sum 
total of human knowledge is worth placing on 
record for the benefit of others who (oXolto) 
may be similarly placed one day. 

A second execution took place shortly after- 
wards, and on this occasion the wretch, who had 
shot his victim with a poisoned arrow, offered 
me, at the usual interview, £1,000 to desist from 
my sinister purpose on the morrow ! On in- 
quiries, I learnt from the scribe that the man 
possessed " ko toro " * and next morning justice 
took its course. He was on the verge of col- 
lapse when the bolt was released. 

Isaac, by the way, was not much in front of 
an illiterate, but at least a tryer. Inspecting 
the prison register one day, I came across the 
following three consecutive entries : 


Previous Occupation. 

Distinctive Marks. 



Same old pox marks 



Do. do. do. 



Not so much marked : 
scratch on belly 

One of the causes celebres of this year at 
Bauchi was the burglary, during a raging tornado, 
of the post office, and the subsequent confession 
and trial of one, Suli Yola. The full story was 
published in the May (1915) number of Black- 
1 Not even 3d. 

- i 


wood's Magazine, and I reproduce it in the form 
of an appendix (A) by the courtesy of the editor. 
In that article I did not give this gentleman 
credit for half his subsequent achievements, one 
of which landed him for good and all in Lokoja 
Gaol. Not quite for " good and all," for when 
I last passed through that station Beamish, who 
was then in charge, informed me, if I remember 
rightly, that he had escaped more than once 
since his incarceration. 

During one of these adventures it is reported 
that he was nabbed by a trader, and confined 
in a tank, upon the lid of which the night watch- 
man was bid to sit in ceaseless vigil. This 
stratagem, however, presented no difficulty to 
Suli, who soon put his juju on the watchman, 
and escaped from his predicament. (Suli's juju 
was a quack nostrum consisting almost entirely 
of one ingredient — namely, the sheer terror he 
inspired in all who crossed his path. Vide the 
episode of the Police sergeant-major in Appendix 
A.) Beamish kindly gave me a photo of this 
celebrity, 1 a copy of which I sent to Mr. Blackwood. 

It was at Bauchi that I first made the ac- 
quaintance of the General's small boy, Bisalla, 
the whitest (metaphorically speaking) native I 
have ever come across. He was rescued at the 
age of seven from a slave caravan up Chad way 
by Mr. Hewby, who passed him on to the General, 
and after the latter's tragic death he came into 

1 Greene, the Station-magistrate, has sinee informed me 
that Suli is now again a corporal in the W.A.F.F.'s ! and kindly 
supplied me with the photo reproduced in corroboration. 


my service, where he has been ever since. Having 
practically never known any father but the White- 
man, and only changed masters twice in fifteen 
years, he has been a singularly loyal and faithful 
servant ; and his visit to England with me in 
1912 — a severe test of a boy's susceptibilities — 
left him quite unspoilt. 

In October the General was relieved by Captain 
Charles Orr, 1 and proceeded via Nafada to take 
over Bornu from Mr. Hewby, who was due for 
leave. Pollard (who had taken over in April 
from Bissell, as Medical Officer), Gibb, and I rode 
out with him as far as the town wall. A guard of 
honour had been posted by Gibb on the town 
road, at which the General seemed very much 
moved, and we were accompanied by the Emir 
and his entourage. We then bade him a sor- 
rowful farewell, and Gibb and Pollard never saw 
him again. 

1 Now Colonial Secretary of Gibraltar. 


BAUCHI — continued 

Orr was as different from the General as two 
men could be. Whereas the General was im- 
pulsive, with not infrequent flashes of brilliance, 
Orr was methodical, and essentially sound. Any- 
one wishing to get a grip of what we are " driving 
at," and how we went about it from the day we 
took over from the Royal Niger Company, could 
not do better than study " the account of our 
stewardship," as Orr neatly terms it in his Making 
of Northern Nigeria* With a considerable experi- 
ence of secretariat work, he had had as rough a 
taste of the practical difficulties of administration 
as any man in the country when working single- 
handed as Resident in the early Zaria days. He 
had also given valuable assistance as a member 
of the Lands Committee in its investigation into 
the system of land tenure in Nigeria. 

In November Walton became seriously ill : in 
fact, his life was hanging in the balance, when 
Doctor Emlyn, of the Church Missionary Society, 
arrived and pulled him through. I was therefore 
instructed to proceed to Naraguta, and take over 
the Police, prisoners, office, and stores, and transfer 
them to Bauchi. When I arrived there after 
four perfect moonlight marches, Walton was con- 


valescent, and I spent a most enjoyable week 
with him. It was delightfully cold weather, the 
house was comfortable, with a good garden, and 
Walton knew how to do things well. What with 
putting the Police through their musketry, taking 
over the stores, and writing up the monthly 
accounts and vouchers, 1 I was kept fully occupied 
without being overworked. Wightwick also used to 
pay us periodical visits from his Bukuru fastnesses. 

Sir William (" Baba ") Wallace, 2 who was at 
that time acting as Governor for Sir Percy Girouard, 
was just completing a visit to the Niger Company 
Mine, when I arrived, and was due to leave the 
following day. Walton asked me to turn out a 
guard of honour for him on the Zungeru road. 

At 5.30 a.m. I rose, rode out with the men, 
and duly placed them in position. With teeth 
chattering with the early Plateau cold, I sat and 
waited for him. About seven o'clock Cocks, his 
private secretary, strolled up smoking a pipe. I 
asked him if Sir William was far behind. " More 
like two hours in front ! " quoth Cocks. " Baba 
is an early bird ! " I had to gallop ahead, and 
tamely inform Sir William what a fine guard he 
had missed ! I added that Captain Walton would 
be very sorry about this (I thought this was rather 
clever, as it shifted the responsibility from myself, 
and secured Walton a little cheap sympathy), and 
I remember his exact reply : 

1 Required in triplicate in those days. 

2 Died 1916. Vide also Imperial Library Series, British 
West Africa (Mockler Ferryman), p. 269. Also Vandeleur's 
Campaigning on the Nile and Niger. 


" Tell the laddie not to worry about guards, 
but to hurry up and get well ! " 

It was at cocktails the previous night with 
Baba that I first made the acquaintance of that 
best of bons gargons, Laws, manager of the Niger 
Company Mine, and chief consulting engineer to 
this, and later to most of the other companies. 
Tin was " in the air " just now, and at a dinner 
given by the last named I met Lush (who had 
come out to report on certain properties), Huddart, 
Walter Wethered and Molyneux (now established 
at Juga), and Maclaverty. But what a contrast 
was the lonely, picturesque, and peaceful Naraguta 
of that day to the pandemonium I found on my 
return next year ! 

During my stay I paid a flying visit to Ngel, 
in a futile effort to get a buffalo, and there enjoyed 
the unconscious hospitality of Carpenter, who was 
running an offshoot mine of the Niger Company. 
He was away on trek, and I camped in his quaint 
little grass house surrounded by cactus. On my 
return, I thought it wise to send " Peggy " back to 
Bauchi with the small boy, as another important 
domestic event was imminent ! I followed a day 
or two after with the Police and Walton's dogs 
and horses. 

One of these dogs rejoiced in the name of " Smut." 
He was an amorous beast, and had for the last three 
weeks been conducting a love-affair at Bukuru — 
a distance of seventeen miles, which he would think 
nothing of covering in the day and returning at 
nightfall. He was now consequently worn more 
into the resemblance of a toast-rack than a dog. 


I arrived at Bauchi on Boxing Day, having 
spent Christmas alone at Katsenawa. I found 
Orr down with fever, and Colonel Mackenzie 
(" Costive Mac ") looking after him — himself to 
die of blackwater fever only a month later at Yola. 

The compilation of the annual Police and Prison 
returns, without the aid of an inspector or a clerk 
(as one has now) in addition to my other work, 
had left me rather jaded after a continuous year 
in the office, and I was beginning to feel the effects. 
Orr now promised me that, if the M.O. would 
sanction a short extension of my tour, I might 
go off on a visit of inspection through the northern 
districts. Unfortunately I had a bad series of 
malarial ulcers, which lasted for a month ; and 
it was with some difficulty that I persuaded the 
M.O. to favour an extension. 

In the meanwhile nothing of particular interest 
occurred, bar the double execution on the same 
day of two wretches who had for a long time 
been waiting confirmation of sentence. Orr was 
still seedy, and retired after the first murderer 
had expiated his crime, leaving me to dispatch 
the second. 

Legion are the tales of executions in this coun- 
try, where it is in the very nature of things that 
comedy should link arms with tragedy. On one 
occasion in days of yore the story goes that the 
Police fell through the trap embracing the victim ; 
on another the rope broke, 1 and the should-have- 

1 I was a member of the Board of Inquiry into this affair. 
I remember reflecting that this was probably the only " in- 
quest " ever held as to how the victim came to be alive ! 



v ^ 




been deceased, when marched out for the second 
time a week later, together with a newly sen- 
tenced fellow prisoner, was heard explaining to 
his mate that there was only a bit of a jolt, and 
that last time he was back to lunch ! On yet 
another occasion a young Political Officer — new 
at the job, like myself, and horribly nervous — 
had made drops and tests and rehearsed the grim 
ordeal till he felt that nothing could go wrong. 
Nor did it, save for the noose, which, in a moment 
of temporary aberration, he had forgotten to put 
round the victim's neck ! Bathgate once witnessed 
the execution of an Asaba youth who burst into 
dance and song, the chorus of which ran : " Good- 
bye-oh ! I die-oh ! " ere he disappeared from 

On February 24th I handed over " Peggy," 
" Piccin," and " Peter " to Pollard, who was 
kind enough to take them home for me, and we 
set forth on our respective ways — Pollard for 
England, I on my northern tour via Gombe to 
Hashidu where I had to investigate a land dis- 
pute, and on to Karia Wudufa. 

I should explain that the latter town, situated 
in a corner bounded by Bauchi, Kano, and Warji, 
had sent to the General a very clear intimation 
that they would fight rather than pay tax. This 
tax was still outstanding. 

Orr instructed me to investigate the grievances 
of this town, and, if I deemed fit, to reduce the 
tax originally imposed. It not unnaturally 
occurred to me to inquire mentally : " But how 
about it if they (a) refuse to pay at all ; (b) rub 


in their refusal with the poisonous end of an 
arrow ? " As a corollary to this query arose the 
question of an escort. I must add that this town 
had already previously put up a fight against the 
Police in Howard's 2 time ; and that I further had 
fresh in my mind the recent ambush and murder of 
Van Rennen 2 in the next province, and the escape 
by the skin of his teeth from a desperate situation 
by Foulkes in my own. But, being young and 
ingenuous, and not wishing to incur the suspicion 
of timidity, I kept my own counsel and said 
nothing. It was of course the old problem — 
the sense of ridicule (in the event of force not 
proving to be justified) conflicting with discretion. 
I am wiser now. Cui bono the maxim and the 
•303, if one is going to put oneself within arrow 
range ? Be that as it may, I set out with a light 
heart, and keenly enthusiastic at the prospect 
of good shooting in the Ninghi hinterland. 

At Kefnn Iya, one of the stages of my trek to 
Gombe, I saw no less that seven hippopotami 
barging about a lake too deep to make shooting 
them profitable. A native of this town informed 
me that his grandfather used to squat in a bush 
by the river side of a night, and rip these mon- 
sters up the belly with a knife as they landed. 
He showed me the knife it w r as done with : a 
deadly weapon, but a brave man the wielder 
withal. Birds of all sorts were plentiful on this 
road, and I practically lived on them till my 
cartridges ran out. 

1 The Hon. Oliver Howard died at Bauchi, September 1908. 

2 Killed 1909. 


Having slept the night at Gombe, the seat of 
that Emir, I crossed the Gongola, and camped 
at Hashimiri. I here had to settle a dispute 
about farms between the Sarkin Hashimiri and 
the Sarkin Hashidu, two very grasping and semitic- 
looking gentlemen, who both appeared to be out 
for " something for nothing." Having patched 
up the palaver, I made them wring each other's 
hands ; but they looked as if they would far rather 
have wrung each other's necks. 1 

I proceeded thence north-west to the imposing 
town of Darazo, where the District Head met me, 
and did me handsomely — or rather his brother 
did, for the former was a dismal individual with 
a wry neck, who seemed to be unable or unwilling 
to open his mouth. I shot some fine marabout 
near here, and camped the next night in a tent 
in the bush. It was desperately hot at this time 
of year, and I simply stewed in the tent. That 
evening I struck a herd of hartebeest (" kanke "), 
and shot a very poor specimen. 

I now passed along the southern border of Kano 
Province. I was struck by the primitive appear- 
ance of the people, who had, so they told me, 
never seen a white man before. It was intensely 
hot, very rough going, and I felt far from fit. 

The next day or so brought me within a stage 
of Karia Wudufa, and I was informed here that 
that town was preparing to fight. I sent a 
message to the chief to say that I should camp at 
his town next day, and should expect wood, water, 

1 Pembleton recently informed me that he was still "settling" 
this palaver in 1921 ! 


and provisions (the usual courtesy extended to 
any stranger by the humblest hamlet). I received 
no reply, nor, next day on my arrival at the place, 
was there anyone to meet me. The Madaki, 
District Head of these parts, had erected a rough 
grass rumpah for me, and here I camped. Wood 
and water, etc., had to be obtained from neigh- 
bouring villages who were loyal to the Madaki. 

Karia Wudufa stood on a hill formed by tier 
upon tier of massive boulders, and honeycombed 
with caves. From one of these, about five o'clock 
that evening there emerged an elderly man, clad 
in a rough gown, who informed me that the town 
was divided into two parties, his own and the 
hostile faction under the chief. The present 
trouble, he said, w T as due to the chiefs of Manako 
and W r arji having levied an annual tax on this 
unhappily placed town, in addition to that claimed 
by Bauchi. I informed him that I had come to 
discuss this very matter, and if possible remedy 
it. He produced a few shillings collected from 
his own quarter as an earnest of good faith, and 
volunteered to take me to the sarki's compound, 
but warned me that, at any sign of force on my 
part, bees would be loosed upon me. 

Accompanied by this cheerful person, who called 
himself Sarkin Fada, and by my interpreter 
Jagaba, and with a revolver stuffed in my trouser 
pocket, I ascended the hill. I must confess at 
once that this was an obvious error on my part, 
for it was up to the chief to come and see me, and 
not to me to clamber up the rocks to see him. 

On arrival at the summit, and turning to the 


right, we came into the market, and there a far 
from reassuring spectacle presented itself to me. 
A crowd of nude, forbidding-looking natives were 
grouped together, with bows and arrows in their 
hands, and pots of what I rightly took to be 
strophanthus — a deadly poison — by their sides. 

There was no sign of greeting, and I had to open 
the conversation. I asked for their sarki, and was 
informed by a scowling ruffian that he was away 
on a visit. I then told them that I had come 
to discuss their grievances with them, but that 
I could not do so except through their chief, whom 
I knew to be concealing himself. They replied 
sullenly that if I would go away they would 
send some grain into Bauchi in lieu of tax. I 
declined this proposal, and informed them that 
their chief and elders must come, with the usual 
provisions, to my camp and discuss matters there. 
This suggestion was received in dead silence. 
With my back glued to the wall of a hut, and sweat- 
ing not a little, I remarked tentatively that " I 
did not wish to send for soldiers." (There was 
nothing on earth I wished to do so fervently at 
that moment !) A continued silence, however, 
showed me pretty clearly that the interview was 
at an end as far as they were concerned. I there- 
fore gave them till nine o'clock the next morning to 
come in or take the consequences, and proceeded 
on my return journey down the hill. 

My courage was at zero, and my skin like goose- 
flesh as I passed each crevice and cave on the 
return journey. I reached camp, however, with- 
out mishap. 


I have stated that I made an error in going to 
visit the folk of Karia Wudufa, instead of making 
them visit me. I now, in my naivete, made a 
second in not withdrawing to a friendly village, 
and insisting on the chief visiting me there. As 
it was, I thought such a step would be regarded 
as a sign of weakness by the natives and of " funk " 
by the Government ; so I decided to sleep where 
I was. Having no guard of any sort, the only 
precaution I could take was to post Jagaba and 
Rumfah to keep watch alternately at a point of 
vantage whence they could keep the town under 
observation, and to leave a lamp burning all night 
in my hut to give the impression that I was awake 
and on the alert. My camp, be it remembered, 
was almost within arrow range of the hill. 

Next morning some of the elders came in and 
offered in half-hearted fashion to compound with 
two goats and a sack of grain. I told them I 
had not come to bargain, but to discuss their 
troubles : and this I would only do with their 
chief, who they now said was sick. Being tired 
of their prevarications, I kept five of them as 
hostages, and sent the sixth back with my ulti- 
matum that, unless their chief complied with my 
previous demands, I should send for troops. He 
never returned, and next day I wrote for an escort. 

I now went down with a severe attack of dysen- 
tery, and was on my bed for three days in great 
pain and exhaustion. I was horribly short of 
food, and had no drugs of any sort bar quinine, 
while the sun simply sweltered through the thin 
grass roof. On the fourth day I received a letter 


from Duff, who was taking over from Orr, saying 
that he had applied to headquarters for sanction 
for the patrol. Feeling a little better, and not 
relishing the prospects of delay, as the lonely nights 
were getting on my nerves, I made my third error. 
I decided to take matters into my own hands. 

At five o'clock that evening I resolved to distrain 
on the grain supply of the town, and realize it 
to cover the tax due. Giving Rumfah (an ex- 
police sergeant, who had had a previous fight 
with this town) my # 450 double-barrel express, 
Jagaba my shot-gun, and myself armed with a 
•303 and a revolver, I paid my second visit to the 
town. Having posted my army of two on com- 
manding rocks, I summoned the Madaki's people 
and my labourers to come and carry the grain. 
The Sarkin Fada showed me where the bins 
(" rumbo ") were, and, as the inhabitants had 
retreated into their caves, operations proceeded 
smoothly enough. 

At 6.15 p.m. I descended half way down the 
hill to call my boy to bring me writing materials, 
as I was now rather pleased with myself, and in- 
tended to countermand the escort. No sooner, 
however, had I left the brow of the hill than I 
heard the ominous boom of the -450, which was 
immediately followed by the bark of the shot- 
gun, and simultaneously a volley of arrows whistled 
past me. Two hit and bent against the rock on 
which I stood, and another pierced the singlet 
of the cook's mate, who was standing at my side, 
carrying my ammunition. He was very disgusted ! 
He had volunteered, with the main eve for possible 



loot, but now indignantly ejaculated : " Haba, 
kai ! Wanan ba wasa ba ne ! " 1 

Shouting to my messengers and the rest to clear 
out at once, I emptied my magazine into the 
figures who were now swarming out of the caves 
and up the rocks. Sarkin Fada told me after- 
wards that I had killed one and wounded two of 
them, but this, I fancy, was " zuman baki." 2 
It anyhow had the effect of checking them, and 
we got back into camp without further molesta- 
tion. My act of impatience had of course only 
made matters worse, as I had now aggravated 
the enemy. Added to the delay which was in 
no way lessened, I had given them increased 
incentive for a night attack. 

I have admitted my mistakes, yet I think a 
good many other white men would have taken 
the same course, rather than lie down under the 
studied insolence of these rock-folk. 

On the 15th of March, Parker turned up with 
about forty men, and the Medical Officer, Bissell, 
who had relieved Pollard. I think I cannot do 
better here than quote from my rough diary as 
to the proceedings which ensued. 

March 15th. — Troops arrived and had breakfast, and, 
after warning the enemy to remove all their women, 
went up hill. Section posted behind hill and the rest 
round the summit at intervals. The Sarkin Fada went 
into a cave to call or pretend to call for surrender, and 
almost simultaneously five arrows whistled up from 
below, narrowly missing the sergeant-major. The foe 

1 " Fie ! This is not play at all ! " 
■ Said to please. 


were completely hidden and it was almost impossible to 
get a shot in. Meanwhile I got to work and carted their 
grain and beans away in baskets by labourers and men 
from friendly neighbouring villages. Periodically we got 
shots home, and in their turn they suddenly fired some 
arrows at my transport party as they went down with 
their loads, and frightened them so much that I had the 
utmost difficulty in getting them to come back. I then 
made them demolish as many houses as they could, and 
I fired all the grain I found. This took us till 3.30 p.m. 
and we were all hopelessly done up with heat of the broil- 
ing sun, the fire, and smoke, which a northerly breeze 
brought straight at us. I had not touched solids of any 
sort for five days, and could hardly stand. According to 
Sarkin Fada we had killed and wounded several of them, 
and I now asked Parker to cover my labourers' retreat 
and withdraw his troops till the next day. We hoped 
they might surrender, and all men, white and black, were 
tired and famished. In the evening Parker took out 
seven men and shot two more as they slunk out to get 
water, and intermittent sniping went on. I sent fre- 
quent messages to them, saying I would cease hostilities 
if they would come in, but they always refused, appa- 
rently feeling secure — as indeed they were — in their caves. 
It is difficult to know how to get at them. They still 
fire at any of the Madaki's men who go near them 
without an escort. 

March 16th. — Attacked the hill very early in the 
morning before breakfast. Unhappily, the Sarkin Fada, 
thinking the fact that he wore a gown would protect him, 
suddenly emerged from the caves, and was shot through 
an arm and a lung by the advancing troops. Bissell 
and I did all we could for him, and he admitted he had 
taken the risk against the advice of his followers. I 
got to work, carted out of the town all the grain I wanted 
with the aid of the friendly tribes, who put garlands 
round their heads for fear of getting shot, and fired all 
the rest. By twelve o'clock the town was in ruins, our 


eyes were bloodshot with smoke and dust, and I decided 
I had done all I could. I then asked Parker to with- 
draw troops, as we had harassed them pretty severely, 
and I have left them no grain, and they'll have to wait 
till October for the next crop ; moreover, they won't 
have anything like time to build again before the rains. 
I sent three of their elders back with a message that 
I should go on periodically bringing troops till I found 
they settled down peaceably on the plain. Not entirely 
satisfactory situation, but the best I could do — as I have 
not the time to sit down there indefinitely. I am inclined 
to believe the assurances given me by refugees that the 
spirit of the place is broken, and that they will never 
return again to their hill. I have sent their chief, who 
came in sullenly, into Bauchi with a warrant for trial. 


BAUCHI — continued 

" Parturiunt monies ! " it may perhaps be ex- 
claimed. But the mouse came forth, and settled 
on the plains never to return, which was the object 
we wished to attain. 

I now continued my journey, passing through 
the districts of Warji, Ari, Burra, and Ninghi. 
From Warji I sent back to inquire after the 
health of Sarkin Fada, who was still alive. The 
messenger took some opium and one or two other 
drugs. The former evidently gave relief, as the 
sick man sent to thank me, and asked for more. 
He also informed me that the rebel faction had 
already started building on the plains, and would 
never kick over the traces again. 

I found it necessary to arrest the Sarkin Ari 
on various charges of tampering with justice 
generally, and in particular of hearing cases on 
his own in camera, especially divorce suits, as 
a result of which the female party was invariably 
summarily added to his own seraglio. 

At Burra, during the night, a lion got into 
the town and carried off an unfortunate woman. 
The hills round these parts were swarming with 
leopards and hyenas, and at a village between 
Burra and Ninghi, a hyena sprang in over the 



sleeping forms of my boys and collared my goat. 
I can still hear the sickening scream it gave as 
it was torn from its tether, leaving — I could never 
discover how — its entire lower jaw behind. I 
was consequently reduced to drinking hot muddy 
water in lieu of tea — that luxury, and my last 
tin of milk, being finished at Karia Wudufa. 

The heat seemed to grow fiercer every day, 
and I had a perpetual headache, due no doubt 
to my trying to combine long treks with longer 
shoots, and never being really fit for either. I 
was by now well into the Ninghi Bush ; but, 
though I saw tracks galore of all sorts, I struck 
nothing in the flesh. At one place, in despera- 
tion, I organized a grand drive, without result, 
and it became clear that I had come at the wrong 
time of the year. 1 Mamuda, 2 Sarkin Ninghi, had 
certainly done his best for me. 

And here a few general observations on shoot- 
ing in Nigeria from an amateur's point of view 
may not be out of place. I hasten to state that, 
as far as I am concerned, I am an indifferent 
marksman both at the range and on safari ; my 
conclusions are therefore only to be taken for 
what they are worth, based as they are purely 
on my own personal experiences. 

The best time of year for shooting is about May 
or June, when the early rains have brought on 

1 Grier has since told me that he went on a similar tour 
there at about the same time in 1912, and got practically 
everything he wanted — which illustrates the glorious un- 
certainty of " safari ". 

2 Now an exile in llorin. 


the new grass, and when the beef no longer have 
to wander long distances into the bush in quest 
of food and water. Moreover, in the riverain 
tracts the grass, which, if it answers to burning 
at all, answers much later than elsewhere, is not 
thick and impenetrable as it is from August to 
March. (I have of course particular places in 
mind.) It is needless also to add that the damp 
ground makes tracking easier. 

Huntermen are for the most part ^independable — 
partly because they suspect that you have come 
to pry upon, or confiscate, their gear ; chiefly 
because they do not want to " give away " their 
own hunting grounds. Their information, bar 
what is self-obvious, must therefore be taken 
cum grano. Huntermen have often told me that 
there was no beef where they lived, simply because 
they thought that to say there was would be 
an admission of guilty knowledge, and that they 
would be " caught " for shooting. (The position 
of a hunterman is not clearly defined. In some 
provinces they are not allowed at all ; in others 
discouraged ; in others, again, only allowed to 
shoot on a permit.) Once a hunterman has put 
me on to the tracks of game, I make him follow 
instead of preceding me. The chances of his 
ruining a shoot by not spotting the quarry, when 
it is standing and looking at you, more than 
balances those of his seeing it before you do. 
This is not altogether his fault, as he is probably 
studying the ground, while you are looking all 
round. The occasions when he has gone gaily 
on, and given the alarm to a perfect target, before 


I could attract his attention ; or shouted " Gashi ! 
Gashi ! " x long after I had seen it, are more 
numerous than I care to remember. Except for 
the purpose of guiding one into a game area, 
and skinning, etc., afterwards, the " mai-harbe " 
is more nuisance than help. There are of course 

Shooting on Trek. — It has been worked out by- 
men who know something about it that for every 
male head of game one secures one treks fifty 
miles. I believe this to be no exaggeration. This 
is not like East Africa, where you take your 
choice of quarry at leisure. Here the problem 
is to find anything at all, and then think yourself 
lucky. Therefore you require everything in your 
favour — fitness, keenness, and freshness. If you 
have before you the average trek of sixteen miles, 
and you leave the road to go shooting, you never 
know where you will end up ; and, being probably 
already fatigued with the march, you are apt 
to be half-hearted, when the quarry begins lead- 
ing you south — your objective being north — and 
half-heartedness is fatal. 

It is something like hacking fifteen miles to 
a meet, and nursing your mount during the run, 
instead of letting it all out, because you have 
in mind the return journey, plus any extra mileage 
the distance covered in the run may involve. 
In this country you have got to " sweat blood," 
as the saying goes, and you don't want to add 
a wearisome trek to your peregrinations in the 
bush. Shooting expeditions should therefore start 
* 'Look! Look!'? 


from camp, whenever time permits, and not be 
interleaved with the trek. If one spies anything 
from the road it is a different thing from going 
off "on spec." I have perhaps made heavy 
weather about this ; but I have caused myself 
more gnashing of teeth, through becoming ex- 
hausted just when stamina was most required, 
or being put off following a wounded beef by 
the prospect of never making camp, than I care 
to confess. 

Arms. — I have found the *375 to be the ideal 
weapon. The "303 is not quite big enough, unless 
you are sufficiently close to make certain of a 
vital shot, while a '450, or bigger bore, I find 
too heavy, and personally I am put off by the 
recoil. The *375 (I am speaking of the B.S.A. 
Express, not the Manlicher) is light, and beauti- 
fully balanced. With it I have shot nearly every 
kind of big game from elephant downwards. 

Ammunition. — It is a much argued point whether 
one should use hard or soft-nosed bullets for the 
bigger animals, such as elephant, etc. The argu- 
ment in favour of the hard is that it will penetrate 
bone, whereas the soft may flatten itself, and 
have no effect. That against it is that it will 
go slick through a non-vital part, inflicting no 
appreciable damage, while a soft-nose will break 
up and play sufficient havoc with the guts to 
put the victim hors de combat. In the case of 
an elephant (" giwa "), rhinoceros (" mairiri "), or 
hippopotamus ("dorina"), I advocate the hard, in 
view of the hide as well as the bone. For a 
bush-cow (" bauna "), as the buffalo is commonly 


called here, I should always use soft-nose, as, 
in my opinion, the advantages more than counter- 
balance the objections. 1 

Position. — Chacun a son gout. Personally I do 
all my shooting standing. Kneeling is all very 
well, but the snap of a twig as one drops on the 
knee upsets the whole apple-cart. Moreover, having 
got safely into this position, you often find a 
maddening blade of grass just interfering with 
your view. 

Skinning, etc. — The neck skin should be severed 
well into the shoulder : you cannot cut it too 
far down. This is necessary to allow for shrink- 
age : also, a short neck looks hideous when set 
up. Every particle of flesh should be carefully 
cleaned from the skull and the mask (especially 
round the mouth and nose). The skull should 
then be buried in the ground for seven or eight 
days, and water constantly poured over it, till the 
insects have eaten it clean of everything but 
the bare bone. It should then be washed, and 
the horns, which will now slide off easily, rubbed 
inside and out with kerosene. (Some people prefer 
boiling their skulls, instead of burying them, 
but I find this is apt to make the bone over-soft ; 
and to warp the horns in the process.) 

As regards the mask, this cannot be taken 
in hand too quickly. It should be borne in mind 
that — especially in the wet weather — it is a race 
between the sun and the damp, and the damp 
generally wins. The mask, which should be cut 
vertically down the back of the neck, after thorough 

1 I believe that this opinion is not commonly held. 


cleaning, should be turned inside out, spread 
in the sun, and then treated with some sort of 
arsenical preparation for preference — failing that, 
wood-ash. Naphthaline is also a good preservative. 
Never leave it to the hunterman. He will either 
cut it down the front of the neck, which will 
mean the stitches showing when set up, or will 
drag the skull through without cutting the mask 
at all, and then proceed to stuff the mask with 
grass (probably damp) which he thinks is killing 
the germs, but which, as a matter of fact, will 
bring all the hair out in a couple of days ! I 
speak from bitter experience ! 

But, to return to my journey. Leaving Ninghi 
behind, I struck southwards through the region 
marked on the maps " Uninhabited Bush " — 
a just description. It was the most miserable 
trek I have ever done. We frequently lost our 
way ; the natives, who had never seen a white 
man before, if they did not run away, gave us 
very little assistance ; and to cap my trouble, 
Umoru, the small boy, became seriously ill, fre- 
quently being delirious. He had developed guinea- 
worm 1 at Warji, and the worm, enticed with 
water to protrude its head, had broken off so 
often that we despaired of ever getting rid of it. 
I made a rough stretcher of guinea-corn stalks, 
and on this he was carried, more dead than alive, 
for the rest of the journey into Bauchi. 

For days we plodded on through this desperate 
country, Yaro performing miracles of endurance, 
and at length, just six weeks from the day I had 
1 " Kunkunu." 


started, to my great relief I brought my long 
journey to a close. Orr arrived the same day 
from an equally strenuous and weary tour through 
the Dass and Angass country. He had fared a 
degree worse than I had — his small boy having 
died of small-pox during the trek. 

On April the 14th I left Bauchi en route for 
England. Parker, a great shikari, had told me 
where to look for beef. He had shot practically 
everything worth shooting in these parts, except 
a roan, when posted at Giddan Sarkin Kudu 
years before, during the British advance on Bauchi. 
Near Katagum I met a weird-looking bushman, 
who, seeing my rifle, ran forward and asked me 
what I most desired to shoot. I naturally replied 
a roan (" gwanke "). 

" Get up early," he said, " and wear this ! " 
Whereupon he presented me with a leather wristlet, 
or " kumbo," and disappeared. 

I took his advice, and the juju worked : for, 
at seven o'clock the next morning, I ran into a 
herd of roan ! They were as much taken by 
surprise as I was, and stampeded, with the result 
that I had to be content with a female. It is 
a further coincidence that I have never had such 
good shooting since as I enjoyed during that 
trek to Ibi with the kumbo on my wrist ! I shot 
two fine hartebeeste (" kanke "), a reedbuck 
(" kwantanrafi "), a kob (" mariya "), and most 
of the smaller fry. 

South of Wase I met Dix, who was proceeding 
to Bauchi to take over the Police. He had brought 
along with him two loads of provisions sent to 


me by friends from Fortnum and Mason. They 
had been repacked in two cases at Ibi, and one 
of these bore the legend : " Heidseck Dry Mono- 
pole." Taking the case at its face value, I invited 
Dix to split a small bottle with me, and we sat 
down on the hot dusty road, with mouths water- 
ing, while Yaro opened the box. Alas ! The 
only " small bottle " of any sort was one of eau- 
de-Cologne ! 

Dix, I found, had been on Crabbe's staff, with 
my eldest brother, in South Africa. I swopped 
a boy of mine for one of his. His turned out 
to be wanted by the Police : mine, I learnt after- 
wards, achieved celebrity for the satisfaction he 
gave the ladies of Bauchi. 

At Gerkawa I sold one of my horses to a police- 
man for £3 10s. He paid me a sovereign, and 
promised to send me the rest on pay day. Need- 
less to say, I have never seen the money (or the 
policeman) since. 

Nearing Ibi I met Captain Ruxton and wife 
(at whose hands I was afterwards to meet with 
so much kindness in Bornu), and had the privilege 
of sharing with that charming French lady a 
bottle of " Paris bonbons," which formed part 
of the Fortnum and Mason consignment. 

Having arrived at Ibi, I had hoped to have 
a bit of a loaf and some more shooting, as no 
barge was available. Next morning, however, 
Thompson — better known as " Wild Thompson," 
or "Tammie Tamsin " — put in an appearance 
hot-foot from Bornu via Yola in the poling barge 
Osprey, and announced his intention of pushing 



off the same day for Loko, whence he was to 
make forced marches overland, to get to Zungeru 
in time to sit for his exam for his Captain's step. 

We had lunch with Dr. Foy. The latter ordered 
his boy to fetch something, I forget what, in 
rather laborious Hausa. 

" I suppose, Foy," said Thompson, " if you 
really want anything done, you say it in English ? " 

" No," replied Foy, undefeated, " if I really 
want anything done, I get up and do it myself." 

Thompson's practical jokes and escapades were 
a byword in Nigeria. On one occasion he was 
asked by the Resident for an escort to convoy 
a safe across country. The Resident further ex- 
plained that the safe would be best mounted on 
four cross pieces, thus : — 

Thompson promptly filled in the diagram as 
under : — 




/ win ! 

H. C. T. 

and returned it ! 

He was never at a loss for repartee. I once 
happened to mention a friend of mine by name. 

" Oh, that ass ! " he interjected. 

14 Have you ever met the man ? " I asked him 


" No," said Thompson. 

" Then why call him an ass ? " 

" He must be an ass, or he wouldn't be out 
in this dam rotten country," was the retort. 

When I met him, his impending examination 
appeared to be weighing on his mind, and he 
was not so unruly as usual. 

We left Ibi that evening in the Osprey. Our 
cellar being rather depleted, Thompson suggested 
that, on sighting the next European, I should 
get on my bed and do the sick man, while he 
solicited a bottle of brandy. We were singularly 
unfortunate in our venture ! Shortly afterwards 
a barge hove into view, and I duly got on to my 
bed, while Thompson hailed the traveller. Sud- 
denly I heard a groan from Thompson, who 
informed me that we had "struck a snag." 1 
The traveller turned out to be a missionary, who 
not only appeared to possess just so much as, 
and no more than, the clothes he stood up in, 
but actually begged some tea off us ! 

The next barge we encountered Thompson took 
the precaution of scanning with his glasses, while 
I went through the same pantomime as before. 

" Another snag ! " he snapped, " it's Baker." 

Baker was an old W.A.F.F. bird, and not the 
sort to be had. Even the crocs left him severely 
alone, as he took his daily bath among them. 

The third and last barge we met nearing Loko, 
and it contained a third snag in the shape of 

1 A metaphor taken from the bumping of a barge, or 
steamer (generally just as the 'bosun has declared " No 
sounding ! ") on a sandbank or other submerged obstacle. 


Jimmy Finch. We all dined together that night 
at Loko, and though Thompson cunningly offered 
to "run the mess" (which was a euphemism for 
taking charge of Finch's chop-boxes), we got no 
more out of Finch than he did out of us. We 
shall renew our acquaintance with J. Finch in 
a later chapter. 

From Loko Thompson passed away to Zungeru, 
and, needless to say, arrived there too late for his 
exam ! Three days later I reached Lokoja, which 
place I found plunged in gloom, news having 
been just received of the death of King Edward. 

I spent the next two days in the depressing 
occupation of sitting for my Lower Standard 
Hausa Preliminary, which I managed to pass, 
and then embarked on the Valiant for Forcados. 
My companions were Bobbie Ellis, Gerald Uniacke, 
and Migeod. We reached Burutu in a thick fog, 
and clambered up the side of R.M.S. Nigeria 
(Captain Minto) at twelve o'clock midnight. There 
we found Laws already on board, which, with 
the purser, Mr. Fothergill, made our table com- 

The latter, whose nicety of diction and in- 
sistence on strict veracity was quite Johnsonian, 
was, so to speak, Chairman of Committee at the 
daily meal. The following is a sample of one 
of our debates : — 

Uniacke. " Very excellent, this wine of yours, Mr. 
Fothergill ! " 

Mr. F. " Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call it 

Migeod. " No. Just a wee bit full-bodied, perhaps." 



Mr. F. " Well, I am not quite with you there : I 
should be inclined to call it " 

Myself (thinking I am on a winner). " Exactly. 
Generous without being potent." 

Mr. F. " There again, I think if we were to say 
mellow . Now, thirty years ago ..." 

Laws (very bored). " Is it Canary, or palm-wine, any- 
way ? " (Cries of " Order ! Order ! ") 

Laws had a theory that a meal at midday 
brought on indigestion, and used to give lunch 
a miss ; till one day I found him eating chocolates 
in his cabin at 3 p.m., whereat he had to confess 
that indigestion was preferable to the pangs of 
hunger, and after that used to join us ! 

We made Plymouth in June 1910, the day 
after the running of the Epsom Derby, which 
had been won, we learnt from the pilot, by Lem- 
berg, which horse I had drawn in the ship sweep- 
stake. And " so home, to my great content." 


In the middle of November 1910, accompanied by 
"Piccin," but leaving old "Peg" behind, I sailed 
on my second venture by the Burutu (Captain 
Potter). As we left the dock in the usual Liverpool 
snowstorm, I felt little more cheerful than I 
had done two years previously. 

A mutual interest in a Ruff's Guide, from which 
I was endeavouring to extract comfort during 
the miseries of the Bay, hastened my acquaintance 
with John Radcliffe, whom I now met for the first 
time. We were to forgather later under much 
happier auspices at Ascot. 

Another fellow-traveller was one Cockburn, 
better known as " Rustibuckle," a well-known 
old joker on the Coast, who regaled us with his 
exploits in those regions from morning till night. 
He is credited with having, when dunned by a 
Coast solicitor, shouted : " Oh ! my wife and 
children ! " dived overboard, emerged from under 
the opposite side of the ship, and safely hidden 
himself in a coal lighter, till the legal gentleman 
had departed, assuming the defendant's death. 

Dick Bracken also was on board, and kept 
himself in good spirits in the Bay by recounting 
to me ghastly talcs of the sea, and playfully drawing 


my attention to a falling barometer, well knowing 
that I regarded the mere fact of being at sea at 
all as a crisis in itself. Why is it, by the way, 
that the artistes at a ship's concert invariably 
elect to sing about death and wrecks and pale 
hands ? And that the purser, when everyone 
else is yawning and dying to get away, must 
come forward and sing a dirge of seven verses 
" by special request ? " Which reminds me of 
a very tough miner I once travelled with, who 
spoke seldom, but always to the point. 

A jejune-looking missionary lady was squeaking 
out the somewhat stale information that " There 
was a green hill far away." 

" Well," commented he of the mines, " her 
husband won't be waking her up in bed to sing 
to him ! " 

After a voyage on the Empire as far as Lokoja, 
I received orders to report at Naraguta, travelling 
via Baro and railhead, much to my disgust, as I had 
hoped to go via Ibi, and get some good shooting. 

About this time some great mind had con- 
ceived the idea that it would be salutary for 
junior officers loafing in the provinces to be brought 
into touch with the Heads of Department (who did 
the real work, of course) at Zungeru. Accordingly, 
on arrival at Baro, Backwell and I were diverted 
by telegram to the capital, to be, as it were, pre- 
sented at Court. 

Having duly introduced ourselves to the Chief 
Secretary, we were instructed to call upon the 
Chief Justice, the Principal Medical Officer, the 
Attorney-General (I trust I have given them 


their small-chop order of seniority), and, later on, 
the new Governor, Sir Henry Hesketh Joudou 
Bell, K.C.M.G. Why the Treasurer, the Post- 
master-General, and the Officer Commanding 
Troops were omitted from this list of celebrities, 
we were neither informed, nor did we inquire. 
Not ours to reason why. These ceremonial visits 
were duly carried out. The P.M.O. 1 commonly 
known — whether on onomatopaeic principles or 
on account of his optimism, I know not — as 
" Tombstone," was as pleased with our visitation 
as we were with our two-mile walk, on about 
the hottest day of the year, to his bungalow on 
the hill. I fancy he thought we were patients 
who did not know any better. 

The interview with the Governor concluded, 
and having been presented with three different 
sets of warrants by the Cant. Mag., the 
Chief Transport Officer, and Public Works 
Department respectively, for a train which did 
not run, we were permitted to depart to our 
respective duties, chastened by our intercourse 
with the Great. These pilgrimages by " mere 
people " to the political Mecca were very soon, 
I believe, discontinued — possibly because they 
were found to be waste of that almost unlimited 
commodity, Government time. 

Having, as mentioned above, paid one futile 
visit to the station, we tried our luck again next 
day, and were successful in finding a Minna-bound 
train under steam. The stationmaster, his face 
swathed in bandages, and strumming " Rock of 
1 Dr. Thompstonc. 


Ages " ona guitar, informed us that he thought 
this was a pay-train, and that we could not possibly 
travel by it. But we decided that, possession 
being nine points, etc., we would board it, and that 
the authorities could eject us if necessary. This 
proved successful, and by nightfall we had com- 
pleted the long run of thirty-eight miles, thus 
maintaining the best traditions of that illustrious 

At Minna I encountered Herepath, who was 
almost in hysterics, having waited from 6 a.m. 
till 8 p.m. for our engine to take his horse-box 
to a siding and unload. He was now told it 
was too late ! 

Next day I reached Rigachikun, which was then 
railhead, and was there entertained to claret 
and cobras by Montague Porch, whose hobby 
at the time was to have his luncheon-table 
surrounded by deadly snakes. 

In an endeavour to do a double march from 
here, to avoid the entourage of the Governor, who 
was also proceeding to Naraguta, I got separated 
from my carriers, and was stranded for the night 
near Bongo Dorina without bed, food, or water. 
Two belated carriers had followed me with loads, 
one containing bars of soap, the other burgundy. 
I drank a bottle of the latter, and then tried to 
get what sleep I could lying on the two boxes, 
covered with my rain-coat. A miserable night, 
with no protection from the mosquitoes ; and 
it was not till noon the next day that I hit off 
my convoy again. 

I spent Christmas alone at Rahamma, and 


ran into the Governor's crowd next day at roadhead. 
Here I met Stobart, who had been a contemporary 
of mine at Winchester and a fellow -student with 
me in the " Doidge's " division of Horace and 
Aeschylus's Persae. How different from those 
the Horace and Percy of our present circumstance ! 
Fox was in charge of the escort, and Jimmy Finch, 
when his duties as croupier-in- chief to any passer- 
by who cared for a fling at Freeze-out, or Chemmy, 
or other empire-building undertaking of the sort 
permitted, was supervising the clearing of the 
Rigachikun-Naraguta road. 

These were cheery days during the tin boom. 

One seemed to be living in an irresponsible Bohemia, 

taking things as they came, unheeding of the future. 

As an example of the spirit of the times, Langslow- 

Cock recalls the accomplishment of the eccentric 

Waugh, who, having ridden from Liruein Kano 

to Naraguta in twenty-four hours, and possessing 

only the things he stood up in, invited the entire 

station to dine with him. Over that dinner 

(provided in toto, cook included, by the guests) 

presided the host — unabashed, and clad in Stobart's 

pyjamas ! Waugh had recently got into queer 

street for his drastic treatment of a certain village 

under the impression that he was beleaguered 

by several thousands of Pagans. The "siege" 

was " raised " by Gerald Uniacke. " I had 

intended," the latter subsequently told me with 

twinkling eye, "to take four dogarai with me," 

but I finally decided, in view of the gravity of 

the venture, to take sir, fully armed with turbans 

and sticks ! " 


Finch, with whom I stayed the night, was in 
great form. He asked me, after an exhaustive 
inquiry into the state of the Turf and the form 
of the " back-end " handicappers when I left 
England, what job I was taking over in the 
province. I replied that I thought I should be 
working in the Sarkin Yaki's District. 

" But that's my district, isn't it ? " said Finch. 

" Well, I presume you know best about that ! " 
I remarked. 

" No," replied Finch, " Sarkin Yaki will know 
best : we will send for him, and ask him " (!). 

An anecdote or two about mine host will further 
help the reader to appreciate the fact that Wild 
Thompson, with all his resource and wit, had 
indeed " struck a snag " at Loko. 1 

Finch had travelled up-country with a number 
of very green youths, hereafter known as the 
Boy Scouts, fresh, most of them, from the School 
of Mines. He impressed upon them at Rigachikun 
the dangers of the road, and volunteered, as an 
old hand, to divide them each night into watches. 
The watches were duly allocated, Finch arranging 
to take the final one from 4 to 6 a.m., when the 
party would hit the trail, as they say out West. 
" Now, boys," said the old stager, " keep a good 
watch, and whoever is on duty from 2 to 4 need 
not call me. I am used to these watches, and 
shall wake automatically." And so, night after 
night, these youths took their turn till 4 a.m., when, 
true to orders, the last relay turned in, while 
master James continued to hog it till dawn ! 
1 Vide Chapter IV. 


The story of the fortification of the " Valiant " 
is of course a well-known one : but in this case 
our friend, by over-acting his part, was hoist 
with his own petard. Affecting to have been hit 
by a poisoned arrow, he faintly appealed for 
whisky and soda. Here his fellow-conspirators 
sympathetically but firmly replied : " No, no, 
old thing ! Whisky would be fatal. No whisky 
to-night ! " 

A year or two afterwards, Finch was ordered 
to take over Pankshin, the headquarters of the 
Pagan Division, " Now, mind you ! " were his 
parting words to his friends, " I'm not going 
near those ruddy Pagans ! " 

In the early days in Bornu, Finch had been in 
charge of the Provincial Office, and used to work 
at a table side by side with the Resident, Mr. 
Hewby, who, being a man of few words, would 
give the simplest order in writing, thus : " Mr. 
A. R. Finch. Please hear this case," and so on. 
Finch could not fathom the " A.R." part of it 
(which stood of course for Assistant Resident), 
and one day, in desperation, he returned the chit 
with "A.R." erased, and " J.R." heavily under- 
lined, substituted in its stead ! 

To this same office came a clerk one day of 
the super-educated, must-do-the-proper-thing type, 
and told Finch that he proposed to christen his 
newborn son and heir " Silvanus." " Most suit- 
able," replied Finch, " it means ' bushman.' " 

He later introduced a pack of beagles and 
foxhounds to the Plateau, and used to hunt them 
with as much pomp as if it had been the Cottes- 


more. One day an ostrich was the quarry, and 
hounds soon took a strong line, and disappeared 
from view. Oaths and expletives gushed from 
the Master's lips (we were always afraid that 
he would have apoplexy on these occasions), as he 
informed the field that they had changed on to a 
hare, " he knew dam well." They had changed 
the line — not, however, in favour of a hare, but 
Langslow-Cock's ham, which they were found 
eating in the pantry with the utmost relish ! 

So much for this distinguished Political Officer, 
whom I must leave for the moment, paying out 
threepences beneath a large white umbrella bearing 
in bold block letters the legend : Stolen from 
J. Finch. 

My arrival at Naraguta was far from auspicious. 
The accommodation for the Political staff under 
normal circumstances was entirely inadequate, 
and the arrival of His Excellency made things 
worse than ever. My billet was a small tree, 
under which I was stranded till 6 p.m. with my 
seventy odd loads, till a miner took pity on me 
and let me share his hut. 

Dr. Gordon Hall, the Senior Medical Officer, 
was billeted on Bourke, now manager of the 
old Niger Company Mine, taken over by the 
Naraguta Tin Company, and there he remained 
for the next two months. 

The housing of Government officials was the 
laughing-stock of the mining fraternity. The 
natives, too, who are quick at drawing con- 
clusions, could not reconcile the miner lording 
it in a palatial residence with the "Judge" pigging 


it in a hut scarcely adequate for a horse or 

" Where is the Court sitting ? " a miner inquired 
one day. 

" This is the Court," I replied with as much 
dignity as I could assume from the magisterial 
packing case, which did duty as a chair, while 
the pigeons dropped their souvenirs on the table. 
" No, seriously, where is the Court ? v he went 
on. I murmured something facetious about the 
Central Criminal Court being closed for repairs, 
but the position was really rather invidious. 

My very first duty — the morning, in fact, after my 
arrival — was an unpleasant one. It was to execute 
a search-warrant on a European suspected of doing 
away with £200 of silver, part of a consignment 
of specie he was bringing up-country for a certain 
mining company. Any qualms I had, however, 
were at once put to rest by the suspect himself, 
who complacently handed me the keys, adding : 
" Would you like the cook to help you search ? 
I've hunted myself, and can find nothing " ! I, 
of course, found nothing either, but it seems 
fairly certain from what transpired afterwards, 
that he had sent the cash home by an accomplice 
(who, when the time came, declined to disgorge ! ). 
Anyhow, he took his instant dismissal from his 
employers without turning a hair. 

During the visit of His Excellency, John Radcliffe, 
who was doing chauffeur, bought from Stobart a 
likely-looking black horse, with a view to the 
coming Lagos races. He was a bad-tempered 
brute, with an incorrigible trick of rearing. With- 


out rhyme or reason he would get up on his hind 
legs, and often come over backwards. 

Having been dependent, when at Oxford, for 
my riding on such mounts as my friends — not 
entirely from charitable motives — were kind enough 
to give me, I had perforce accustomed myself 
to some very remarkable conveyances. One I 
remember used to sit down on the tram-lines at 
Carfax. Another would take its stance on Port 
Meadow and refuse to budge. (Ben Birbeck sat 
for a whole day on it once reading the Sportsman 
and smoking cigars.) Being accustomed therefore 
to rough rides at home, and my nerve, moreover, 
being better then than it is now, I offered to take 
care of this animal, whom we christened " Satan," 
till John left, and, incidentally, to try and break 
him of his vice. He was like a mad thing in his 
stable, and you could not get near him even to 
mount. I used to have to blindfold him, and 
then be thrown on to his back at a favourable 
moment. This, however, once accomplished, he 
used to behave like a lamb, and I never had the 
slightest trouble with him. In this respect he 
reminded me of a brute called " Lord Advocate," 
which I used to ride in the various 'Varsity steeple- 
chases. His lordship was literally unmanageable 
in the paddock, and it would take half an hour 
to get on his back. One day, however, it occurred 
to me that it might be the racing colours which 
irritated him, and I threw a great-coat over them. 
He instantly became sheep-like in his placidity. 
I was therefore able to assure John, not without 
a certain amount of self-congratulation, that the 

76 " SATAN " 

horse had got over this particular bad habit. 
John was not so sanguine. - 

I had been told off to accompany His Excellency 
back to roadhead, and in the afternoon we all turned 
out in our glad rags to join in the procession as 
far as the station boundary. John had asked me 
to ride " Satan," which I did, and all went well 
till young Sydney Kay, who had started late 
for the show, came tearing up behind, and, in doing 
so, barged into " Satan." From that moment 
he became uncontrollable, and acted up to his 
name. Getting up on his hind legs, he struck 
out with his forefeet ; jibbed ; then up facing 
west, and down again facing east ; and, hovering 
each time, as it were, on a pivot, in uncertainty 
whether he would land on his feet or on his back, 
repeated the performance thirty times at least in 
about as many seconds. I have never before 
or since 1 ridden such a fiend. 

At first I dropped the reins, and leaned forward 
along his neck to preserve the brute's balance 
which was every time in jeopardy — for I have 
never known a horse go up straighter without 
" coming over." Then, losing my temper, I struck 
him again and again between the ears, till my 
whip broke ; and finally I had to shout to Frankie 
Burton, the Governor's A.D.C., to ask His 
Excellency whether I might get on ahead. To 
this he agreed with alacrity, being as nervous 
about horses as he was about himself; and we 
went off on a mad career which never stopped 

1 I must withdraw this observation. I have since had 
a little affair with a horse called " Trifle." 


till we got into camp, both in a lather of a 

At dinner that night the Governor was kind 
enough to congratulate me on not having parted 
company with my mount : but his first question 
next morning was : " Frankie, where is that terrible 
horse ? " I had already considered it wise to go 
forward very early on the " terrible horse " to 
the next camp. Here I handed " Satan " over 
to John Radcliffe, wishing him joy of the brute, 
and returned to Naraguta. He afterwards told 
me that he had got a worm of huge dimensions 
out of the poor devil, which no doubt accounted 
largely for his vagaries. " Black Arrow," Mr. 
Hall Walker's great horse, used one day to win 
his race by a street, and another finish down the 
course, and the public generally condemned him as 
a rogue — though his owner maintained from the 
first that there must be something organically 
wrong with him. I heard the true explanation 
some years ago from a man I shared a fly with 
to Hurst Park Races. He told me that his brother 
had made a post-mortem on " Black Arrow," and 
discovered that the horse only had one small 
lung (which my informant had had preserved 
in a bottle as a curio). So that, far from being 
a rogue, he was probably the gamest horse that 
ever lived. Curiously enough, I have before me 
an extract from " Rapier's Notes," which reads 
as follows : — 

I have not heard what caused " Irish Mail's " death. 
Possibly he had long suffered from some ailment which 
would have accounted for the various disappointments 


he occasioned if one had known of it. Horses are some- 
times blamed for shiftiness when the cause of their 
failures is physical disability or infirmity. 

Colonel (now General) Cunliffe took him over 
from John, and started to train him for various 
races at Lagos. Within the first few days, however, 
he fell to savaging his groom in such an alarming 
manner that Cunliffe was constrained to seize the 
first weapon that came to his hand, which happened 
to be a polo boot, and biff " Satan " over the 
head with it, unfortunately fatally damaging 
one eye. " Satan had a little fit of temper the 
other day," he wrote to John — or words to that 
effect — " for which I had to chastise him. He 
is now fit and well — but will run under the name 
of ' Cyclops ' " (!). 

It had now been settled to shift headquarters 
from Bauchi to Naraguta, and I was detailed, 
besides carrying on the office as best I could, to 
supervise the building of the new station on the 
site selected, a bleak hill about a mile from where 
I was living. The type of houses chosen was 
unsuitable, being far too clumsy and full of doors 
and windows, and I came in for a good deal of 
chaff from my mining friends as they passed of a 
morning. " Good morning, Mr. Heath Robinson ! " 
" Ah ! That's the idea ! If the rain blows in at 
the front, it blows out at the back ! ' : " You've 
forgotten to put a window in the roof, haven't 
you ? " were among the many quips I had thrown 
at me, as I walked gloomily about with my one 
skilled artisan, facetiously known as " the other 


mason." But I did not mind this, as I was only 
acting on instructions, and was not the architect. 
Moreover, profiting by the defects in these buildings, 
I managed, when the time came, to make a very 
nice little shanty for myself. 

Jaunts out to Tin Areas, the Anglo- Continental 
property, Bourke's hospitable mine, and the 
Niger Company's palace at Tudun Wada, all 
helped to make up for the worry and overwork 
involved in trying to carry on practically single- 
handed in the office, and also do " foreman of 
works " on the new station. When I compared 
the work I was doing, and the pittance I was 
drawing, with the life of ease led by the numerous 
gentlemen who drew anything from £60 to £110 
per month, and knew as much about tin as I did, 
it made me melancholy. One weird bird, who 
used to gallop about in a red shirt, vouchsafed 
us the information, when slightly in his cups, 
that his syndicate had sent him out to prospect 
for the " bacilli " of tin ! 

In March, I think it was, considerable fuss was 
made over the tour through these parts of the 
unctuous E. D. Morel. His path — I could never 
make out why — was strewn with roses, and he 
was lavishly entertained wherever he went. He 
got a home-truth or two, however, from one 
individual, a foreman on the road-construction, 
who observed to him with refreshing candour : 
11 Well, now, let's get down to it, Mr. Morel ; I 
suppose you're out 'ere on the make same as most 
of us ? ' : He of course wrote the inevitable book : 
this has become almost a solemn obligation on 


anyone who has roamed the high-roads of Nigeria 
for a few weeks. 

At length the Staff, offices, etc., and last but 
not least Gordon Hall (!), were safely established 
in their respective leaking quarters on the hill. 
No sooner was this effected than Mr. Gowers was 
posted to the province, and arrived almost simul- 
taneously with the Acting Governor, Mr. Temple, 
C.M.G., on tour. And then Gowers called for 
the Bukuru files ! Now, during the mining 
influx, change of stations, and general pande- 
monium, I am afraid these archives had been 
sadly neglected. Enter Stobart into my shanty, 
in a state of consternation, and carrying a box con- 
taining — white ants ! " Shall I tell him that " 

he began. " Had it been anyone else but Gowers," 
I chipped in, "I am afraid I should have given 
you some very immoral advice ! But from 
what I know of him, the truth will be, on the 
whole, the least dangerous course ! " And it was 
— accused getting off with an admonition. 

A race-meeting was held in the Governor's 
honour. Finch won the first four races off the 
reel on two horses of Gowers'. He was a bit late 
getting to the post for the fifth, and in cantering 
down his horse put his foot in a hole, and gave 
Finch a toss. We were all lined up on fidgeting 
horses, chafing to be off, when Finch, standing 
in front of us, elected to give us an address on his 
misfortune. Being on the Governor's horse, 
who was now showing signs of temper, I shouted : 
" Cut all that out, for God's sake, Finch ! and let's 
get started ! " But, as the flag dropped, my 


unruly chestnut, instead of going forward with 
the rest, backed slowly towards the prospecting 
pits near Bourke's yard, and took no part in the 
race, which was won by another chestnut. The 
winner was at first mistaken for the Governor's 
animal, and he came in for some premature con- 
gratulations as a consequence, while I still hovered 
over the catacombs ! 

In the Open Native Race, Finch's small boy 
came in a good second, and attributed his narrow 
defeat to having lost his whip at the critical 
moment. " Rot ! " said James to the hapless 
youth, " what the devil should you want a whip 
for ? " Five minutes afterwards someone twitted 
Finch for losing the fifth race by a neck. " Damn 
it ! " he replied indignantly, " couldn't you see 
I had dropped my bl-st-d whip ! " 

Next evening I gave a sort of house-warmer 
in my new shanty on the hill. " Lawyer " Berkeley, 
Fox, Finch, Dix, Stobart, Radcliffe, and Dick 
Corfield 1 made up the party ; and the conversation 
developed into a heated controversy on racing topics. 
Arguments were freely raised as to what was first, 
second, and third, in such and such a race in such 
and such a year ; bets were made on the coming 
" Liverpool " : everybody backed his own know- 
ledge against everybody else's : and, in the rare 
pauses for breath, Finch was heard droning that 
" he didn't care: he knew 'Drogheda' had won 
in '97, because he was on his way home at the 
time from Egypt " ; as further " proof " " he had 

1 For his life vide Richard Corfield of Somaliland, by Prevost 



been left a ' parcel ' by some relative that year, 
and had thrown a fruit jelly at the head of some- 
body he disliked, to show his independence." The 
party finally broke up, and, as Dix mounted his 
horse, still arguing some point or other, the beast 
got up on its hind legs, and Dix, not letting this 
trivial diversion interfere in the least with his 
oration, slid gently down its back, and continued 
the argument as if no interruption had occurred. 

The " morning after the night before " I found 
the table littered with illegible chits purporting 
to record immense wagers, some won and lost, 
others hanging in the balance, and which I doubt 
being ever remembered by the contracting parties. 

This same morning, feeling far from scholarly, I 
was examined and passed in the Lower Standard 
Hausa Final by His Excellency, who left with his 
Staff in the afternoon. 

It cannot have been more than a day or two 
after this that I came to the office at about 8 
a.m., and found that a box, which should have 
contained £200 in silver, had been removed from 
the strong-room, 1 and £27 odd abstracted. The 
rifled box was lying on the window-sill of the 
office. The guard were arrested, and admitted 
that they had taken over sixteen boxes, whereas 
there were now only fifteen in the strong-room. 
I had on the night before the occurrence asked 
the O.C. Troops, in the usual way, to " relieve 
the present guard," but, by an oversight, he had 
replaced them with a single, instead of a double 
guard. Having technically neglected the Govern- 
1 A mud building without a door ! 


ment Standing Order, which lays down that " the 
officer applying for a guard must satisfy himself 
that the correct guard has been supplied " or 
words to that effect, I was called upon to make 
good the money. The guard, on the other hand, 
who were obviously concerned in the robbery, 
and were sentenced by a court of inquiry to various 
terms of imprisonment, were subsequently granted 
King's pardon on Coronation Day. So that was 
that : or, Latine redditum, Sors Nigeriana. 

Gall 1 now took over the province, just as the 
excess of demand over supply of grain, created 
by the huge influx of mining labourers, boys, and 
camp-followers from other provinces, was beginning 
to create an acute situation verging on famine. 

This class of native were all dependent on guinea- 
corn as their staple diet, while the Pagans only 
cultivated " atcha," and only enough for them- 
selves at that. Guinea-corn had therefore to be 
imported by the hundreds of tons from Sokoto, 
Kano, Bauchi, and elsewhere. I had a constant 
stream of camels, bullocks, and donkeys coming 
and going, which had to be subsisted, and have 
their burdens weighed ; and more often than not 
I would be working up to eight and nine o'clock 
at night, in order to keep abreast of the con- 
signments, and not delay the unfortunate owners, 
who did not relish these trips to the cold and 
rainy Plateau, apart from the mortality among 
their stock. 

Large batches of these wretches had been dis- 
patched by Gerald Uniacke from Liruein Kano. 

1 Died 1920. 


In reply to a memo of mine making various sug- 
gestions for their comfort on the next trip, and 
giving details of final payments due on their return, 
I received a letter, heavily edged with black, 
containing three words : " They never return" 

But it is only fair to say that the managers of 
the various mines would always make things 
easy for me, and assist me in every way. Langley, 
of the Niger Company, and Crichton out Juga way 
were particularly helpful to me, when I found 
myself landed with more grain than I could dispose 
of. Had it not been for this — and I think I can 
honestly say that I never had an unpleasant word 
with any " tin-opener " I came in contact with — 
the work would have been quite beyond one 
man. Bills of exchange, deposit accounts, cheques, 
etc., all helped to complicate and increase the work 
of the local sub-treasury. As it was, the cheery 
company and good-natured banter of people who 
did not take life too seriously rubbed the rough 
edges off one's difficulties. " Don't let me disturb 
you," said Kent, dropping in one day. " My 
business won't take five minutes : I only just want 
you to give this watchman of mine a couple of 
years, and cash me a draft for fifty quid." l 

On the Coronation Day already alluded to, a 
guard of honour turned out under Bobbie Ellis ; 
and Colonel Judd, a very military and patriotic 
gentleman, decked in full regimentals, took the 
salute. Gall had all the Europeans up to his 
house after the ceremony, and entertained them 

1 The Government cashed the cheques of a miner long 
before it took a similar risk with its own officers ! 


very generously. I learned from one miner that 
he, in common with many others, was labouring 
under the delusion that all Government officials 
drew an entertaining allowance, and that even 
the smallest of small-chop parties was charged 
up to that fund ! Certainly if ever there was 
a case where such an allowance would have been 
really justified, it was in the case of the Resident 
Naraguta of that day. 

A race-meeting of sorts was held in the after- 
noon, but the principal affair was a luncheon at 
the " Club." I fancy it was after this banquet 
that dear old Walter Wethered, intending to down 
a glass of creme-de-menthe, inadvertently picked 
up a glass containing toothpicks, took a gulp, 
turned blue, and nearly choked ! 

At about four o'clock a thunderstorm broke 
with terrific violence (probably part of the same 
great storm which swept Epsom Downs about 
then, causing several fatalities among the Summer 
Meeting crowd), and that good sportsman Judd 
and I w r ere riding back up the hill, when a hideous 
flash of lightning, followed by a thunderclap of 
corresponding immensity, blinded me for the 
moment, and drove my horse nearly mad. When 
I looked round Judd was on the ground. Whether 
his horse had shied at the thunder and deposited 
him on mother earth, or whether the festivities 
of the " Club " were beginning to react upon the 
gallant Colonel, I do not know ; but with great 
presence of mind I ran him in to Gordon Hall's 
house, tactfully saying : "A brandy and soda 
for the Colonel ! He has been struck by light- 


ning i " Having partaken of this restorative, the 
patient went to his house and retired to bed. 

That night the Colonel had invited a large party 
to dinner and cards, and a case of champagne 
had been duly laid in for the occasion. Allured 
by the convivial clatter of knives and forks and the 
popping of corks, he rose from his sick-bed and 
announced that he felt better. 

" No, no ! " cried a dozen voices, " you must 
lie down, Colonel ! We appreciate your distress 
at not being able to perform the duties of host, 
but being struck by lightning is a serious thing !" 
Judd retired again crestfallen, not without 
one eye having roved towards the spot where 
Jules Mumm, his Extra Dry, stood stacked in 
imposing array. 

The evening wore on, and somebody called for 
a final bottle. 

" None lib, sah ! " the boy replied. " All done 
finish ! " 

" But I've counted them, and I know there's 
one left ! " cried the thirsty one. 

A search-warrant, so to speak, was forthwith 
issued, and the premises scoured, with the result 
that the missing wee bottle was discovered, empty 
and its earthly task performed, beneath the Colonel's 

The following day Kent, who had been staying 
with me for the festivities, returned to his mine, 
and I cracked up with fever. This grew worse, 
and I became very ill. I was in severe pain in- 
ternally, but the most maddening feature of my 
malady was a headache which lasted continuously 


for nine days and nights, and defied all McKinney's 
tireless efforts to defeat it. I cannot help think- 
ing that the lightning may have had something 
to do with it — for I certainly felt very queer at 
the time- — in which case I have perhaps treated 
the Colonel's mishap with undue levity ! Be that 
as it may, I was invalided from Naraguta, having 
handed over to Wightwick, and left about the 
middle of July. 

I was not altogether sorry, for the overwork 
was beginning to tell, and I felt ready for a rest, 
though I had only done seven months. Foulkes, 
who had been transferred to that province, accom- 
panied me as far as Zaria, where I entrained, 
and proceeded to Burutu, via Baro and Lokoja, 
on the Valiant. George Browne, in the Political, 
and J. O. Greenwood, in the Police, familiarly 
styled " Jog," were also en route home, and sailed 
with me on the Burutu (Captain Potter) from 

Jog was a weird fellow, and very powerful. 
He had done most things, and been to most places. 
He could quote from Gladstone 1 and Chamberlain 
by the yard, and, beneath a rough and devil- 
may-care exterior, he concealed a great deal of 
character, wit, and conversance with literature. 
He was alternately maudlin and brimming over 
with exuberance. 

1 Especially the passage on Ireland, which he would recite 
with gestures : " What we wish is that where there has been 
despair there shall be hope (high note), where there has been 
distrust there shall be confidence, where there has been aliena- 
tion and hate (deep bass) we shall have sown the seeds of 
deep affection between man and man ! " 


Browne shared a cabin with him, and used to 
report progress to me at breakfast. 

" How is Jog to-day ? v I would ask. 

" Quite cheerful this morning : says he thinks 
he will live through the voyage ! " 

Another time : 

" A relapse this morning : he has a large ginger- 
ale in one hand, w r hile, with the other over his 
heart, he is announcing his approaching dissolu- 
tion ! " 

Then Jog would appear, and indignantly declare 
that he w r as going to report his steward to the 
skipper. He had apparently rung the bell for 
the former and informed him gravely that he 
was dying ; whereupon the steward had equally 
gravely handed him the — well, something quite 
irrelevant ! 

George Browne would periodically be awakened 
by a sock-suspender being dangled over his nose 
from the top bunk to the stentorian accompani- 
ment of " And a half seven ! No sounding ! " 

Poor Jog ! He went to Strathpeffer that leave, 
never to come South again. 

" My mates are a poor, funereal lot," he wrote 
me a fortnight before he died. "I pass among 
them with here a quip from Gladstone, and there 
one of my own drawing-room tales, but fail to 
raise a smile, though they are most of them a 
lung better off than I am." 

We could do with a few more of that sort out 
here — superior to the conventions of life, and ready 
to welcome death with a jest on his lips. 



New Year's Day 1912 saw me once again 
accompanied by the faithful " Piccin," trailing with 
reluctant step up the gangway of the Nigeria 
(Captain Davis). My cabin had earned previous 
distinction, having been occupied by Joe Chamber- 
lain at the Coronation Review at Spithead in 1901. 
My usual gloom was in no way dispelled when, 
on the fringe of the Bay, the good ship developed 
" engine trouble," and on two occasions we were 
adrift with " Out of Control " signals flying. But, 
as Jimmy Somerville said, it " all counted towards 

At Lagos I received orders for Nassarawa, to 
which province I omitted in the last chapter to 
mention I had been instructed to transfer just 
prior to my illness at Naraguta. With Gordon 
Hall I proceeded on the Sultan to Lokoja, where 
I had the pleasure of meeting Brocklebank. 

" B-bank," as he was generally called, had been 
in the W.A.F.F.'s and also the Political Service, 
and was now a director of the London Kano 
Trading Company. It had been in his mind for 
some time to start a paper somewhat, as far as 
I can remember, on the lines of West Africa — that 
journal founded later on, and so ably edited by 


Mr. Cartwright. The offices and plant were to be 
erected at Lokoja, and he selected, or was going 
to select, a site the day I left. He did me the 
honour of asking me to consider undertaking the 
editorship. I did give the matter considerable 
reflection, as this sort of work has always appealed 
to me ever since my novitiate at a guinea per 
thousand words on the staff of a certain 
tangerine-hued journal, but the idea never mate- 

On arrival in the Osprey at Loko, I received a 
wire from Major Larry more, Resident of Nassa- 
rawa Province, telling me that I had been diverted 
to Bornu, and advising me to proceed overland 
via Bauchi. The General, enfin, had been as good 
as his word, for he had always promised to get me 
up to Bornu if he could. 

On a rag of a horse — the only one I could hire — 
I set forth on a trek which was to take thirty-seven 
days, practically slap across the Protectorate from 
south-west to north-east. " Piccin " accomplished 
this journey, as had her mother from Ibi to Bauchi, 
in a box. The tedious pilgrimage had this merit, 
that at intervals of every four days one passed 
through a Government station of some sort, viz. 
Keffi, Jemaa, Bukuru, and Naraguta, Bauchi, 
Gombe, Nafada, and Gujba. 1 

At Keffi I made the acquaintance of Parsons, 
the M.O., whom I promised to send some notes on 
building, based on my unhappy experiences re- 
counted in the last chapter (!) for a book he was 
compiling. 2 , 

1 Vide map. 2 A Hausa Phrase-Book (Humphrey Milford). 


Thence, via Jemaa, to Bukuru, where I burst 

n upon a riotous board being held by Stobart, 

Wightwick, Dix, and Finch — the last-named with 

his head shaved and almost enveloped in a huge 

stick-up collar, which rendered him grotesque. 

At Naraguta I picked up my old grey horse of 
last tour, and passed on to Bauchi, and thence to 
Gombe, where I found Lonsdale. 

He had arranged to smoke a leopard out of its 
lair that evening, but though we spent an hour 
there waiting with guns in hand, the leopard did 
not, as they say of rent in the Political Memoranda, 
" emerge." 

Crossing the Gongola, I pursued my hot journey 
to Nafada, where I picked up a hunterman, who 
accompanied me for the rest of the way to Maidu- 
guri. Again I could not resist the temptation to 
combine shooting with trekking, and though I 
did secure a decent male roan, it was all I got, 
and I had to pay for it with a severe go of 
dysentery. I disregarded this for some time, but 
at Limlin I collapsed and could go no further. I 
wrote to the General, asking him to send out a 

A weird youth, answering — more or less — to the 
name of Sainsbury, who was at Jajel, intercepted 
my note, and galloped out to visit me. He was 
too much preoccupied with the record time in 
which his horse had completed the eighteen miles 
to be seriously interested in my illness. A whirl- 
wind youth, who had done, at the age of twenty- 
three, what nobody but a superman could have 
accomplished in under forty-four years. For this 


reason I hesitate to attempt to set forth a complete 
list of his achievements lest I fail to do him full 
justice. Among other things, however, he could 
shoot crown-birds on the wing with his revolver : 
he had walked, on dry land, across the Alo Lake 
in August ; and had been told off specially, when 
cattle-ranching in Australia, to sit astride the 
stockade and shoot any wild horse that showed 
signs of so much as laying one ear back stone 
dead through the forehead. 1 

It was no doubt the echo of those days out 
West which prompted him, at the annual board 
on cash and stamps, to have his office surrounded 
by a W.A.F.F. guard, and sit at his table with 
revolver cocked, and ready for the slightest sign 
of outside interference. 

His treatise on horse-breeding in Bornu would 
have been immortal had the authorities appre- 
ciated it sufficiently to have it published. The 
province was indeed lucky to enjoy the services of 
so versatile an officer. 

Sainsbury left that evening, and, about mid- 
night, just as I was getting off to sleep under the 
soothing influence of opium, Dr. Thompson arrived. 
This, in itself, annoyed me, but when he removed 
the indignant " Piccin " from her chair at my 
side, I fear I became rude. The climax was 
reached when he insisted on taking me right 
through to Maiduguri, instead of heeding my 
fervent entreaties for a halt at Jajel. I am afraid 
I sulked, and barely deigned to reply to his 

1 Thus, times without number, saving the life of the 
attendant engaged in handling the brutes inside the stockades. 


periodical inquiries as to how I felt. We have 
often laughed about it since, for we were very 
soon to become firm and intimate friends. 

The General was very seedy at the time, and it 
was not till several days later, when I was myself 
more or less recovered, that I paid him a call. I 
have already described this charming man. He 
told me that he was putting me on to Assessment 
work under W. B. Thomson, 1 as delightful a 
Scotsman as the General was Irishman. 

" Tamsie," as we called him, had been collecting 
a mass of invaluable detail as to the respective 
incomes of the various classes of taxpayer, classi- 
fying and tabulating the information, and finally 
submitting a practical scheme for levying the 
income tax on a 10 per cent, basis. George 
Seccombe 2 (" Judgie Dumboa " 3 ), from whom I 
was to take over, had experimented with the 
scheme in certain districts, and this had been 
sanctioned, and was to become fully operative for 
the current year. 

Mr. Hewby tells a story which will appeal to 
those who appreciated the General's blarney. 
Tamsie had submitted a valuable, but necessarily 
dry, list of the various incomes arrived at, and it 
was up to the General to make some recommenda- 
tion as to each proposal. Having exhausted the 

1 The Editor of West Africa has courteously allowed me 
to reproduce in Appendix B a (quite inadequate) appreciation 
of Tamsie which I wrote in that paper after his tragic loss 
on s.s. Umjeni. 

2 Prisoner of war at the time of writing. 

3 So called because he was stationed for some time at 


usual " I concur," " Quite right," " I presume 
you have carefully verified this," etc., and be- 
coming very bored with the pages of statistics 
it was necessary to comment upon, he at length 
came to an entry which he felt it would be safe 
to jump upon for a change. The entry was : 
"Gauta 1 . . . 10s." Opposite this the General 
minuted : " Seems high." Later on, in the course 
of taking over, Mr. Hewby came across these 
papers, and remarked : " Do you know what 
gauta is, General ? " 

" Yeth," replied the General like lightning, " it 
workth out at ten bob." 

" Do you know what gauta is ? " repeated Hewby 

" Well," said the General, now at bay, " ath a 
matter of fact I don't ! " 

" Then what the devil do you say it seems high 
for ? " 

" Becauthe damned well it doeth theem high ! " 
was the retort, which admitted of no further 

As another example of bluff I recall an occasion 
when the General, by way of airing an assumed 
familiarity with the new Land Registration Ordi- 
nance, which was then in its prime, Greek to most 
people, and entirely inapplicable to most provinces, 
inquired glibly of a number of Village Heads, who 
had brought their tax in : " Well, are they all 
well ? " Yes, they were all well, said interpreter 
Maina. " And all their people well ? " Yeth, all 
their prople were well. " And all got their Ther- 
1 A native form of tomato. 




tificateth of Occupanthy ? " 2 (!) I furtively clutched 
the General's arm, and gently protested that this 
was rather premature. " Well, perhapth we will 
defer that quethtion till later on," he said mag- 
nanimously as he bade them good-bye — and that 
evening inquired of me: " What are thethe damned 
thertificateth, anyway ? " 

As a result of this drudgery of Thomson's, Bornu 
can probably claim to be the only province that 
paid as early as 1912 — or ever paid, I think — the 
full estimated 10 per cent, income tax. 

The next two months were like a nightmare to 
me. I was in a more or less chronic state of 
dysentery, the Bornu heat was at its zenith — the 
thermometer frequently registering 115° in the 
shade — and the dust and flies unbearable. I have 
always maintained that these flies were the worst 
feature of Bornu. I remember one evening 
George, who had a four-wheeled buckboard and 
was a superb whip, taking me out for a drive to 
get a breath of air. We got " a breath of air " 
all right, but it was actually hotter than the sur- 
rounding atmosphere, and we had to turn back ! 

I was practically living on ipecac, and opium, 
and it seemed doubtful if I should weather a tour. 
The strangeness of the Kanuri people, language, 
and climate all tended to increase my nostalgia 
for Hausaland. A fan-boy was indispensable, and 
the General, during his attacks of asthma, used to 
employ two. 

1 The Certificate of Occupancy has now practically super- 
seded the Koran and the " Local Authority " Mahomet 
(vide Chapter X). 


In April, with the increasing heat, the General 
was seedy again, and eventually became seriously 
ill. One morning, at about 5.30, being still on 
the sick list myself, his boy, Musa, put his great 
moon-shaped face in through my mosquito-net, 
and muttered : " My massa do walka foolish, and 
do talka foolish, and no man fit do nothing ! " 
I hastened across to the General's bungalow in 
my pyjamas, and there found him fully dressed, 
but quite delirious, as the boy had attempted to 
explain. I had a desperate time with him till 
Thompson came across to my relief, and neither 
George nor I will ever forget the awful business 
it was in that sweltering heat, taking it in turn 
with the doctor to nurse him. He soon picked 
up, however, and was quite well again by the time 
his old W.A.F.F. friend, Colonel Strickland, 1 arrived 
on a tour of inspection. The latter came to lunch 
with me, and expressed his views freely on the 
heat ! 

After many a cheery little dinner and sing-song 
on Tamsie's dulcitone, George went home, and 
Tamsie to Geidam ; while, from now onwards, 
with few intervals, I spent my entire time eternally 
trekking, mapping, and assessing. 

In May, Thompson, accompanied Knox 2 and 
Fairlie, 3 both Captains in the W.A.F.F., on a 
patrol into the Burra country, and we were left 
without a doctor. I had almost immediately to 
leave assessing the Uje District and return to 

1 Now Brigadier-General. 

2 Reported missing in France. 

3 Killed in France. 


the station, as Ash, 1 the subaltern, was down 
with dysentery 2 and Sainsbury with jaundice. 

During this period I became very intimate 
with the General, who talked to me a great deal 
about his affairs. He had a rooted presentiment 
that he would not live to the age of fifty, and the 
uncertainty of his future movements after handing 
over to Hewby seemed to get on his mind and 
aggravate his depression. 

He often used to send for me of an evening, 
and we would walk round the gaol, etc. The 
gaoler, Tokosi, was almost as great a character 
as the General. One evening, on the General 
asking his usual question as to the health and 
behaviour of the prisoners, Tokosi replied : " Except 
only Idirisu." 

" And what'th the matter with him ? " queried 
the General. 

" Well, sir, he practises wickedness too much ! " 
said Tokosi, presumably meaning that he was out 
of hand. 

" And he'th not the only one I know ! " remarked 
the General, having a dig at Tokosi 's partiality 
for " Old Tom." 

i; Please, sir," rejoined poor old Tokosi, " when 
you speak to me, I don't know whether to laugh 
or cry ! " 

The annual board on Prison Stores was always 
an event of grave anxiety and strain to Tokosi. 
One item : " Hanging Rope . . . nine yards" had 

1 Killed in France. 

2 Maiduguri's medical return of dysentery passed all previous 
records this year. 


been misread and entered from time immemorial 
by Tokosi as " Hanging Rope . . . nine years" 

" But why nine years ? " I once asked him. 

" Because," he replied in a dreadful state of 
muddle and the sweat pouring down his face, " it 
was entered in Major Ellis's time, nine years ago." 

Three years later I asked the same question, and 
received the same reply ! 

The " Mark System " also presented great diffi- 
culties to Tokosi, who used to say with horror : 
" Oh, we can't have marks knocked off ; it would 
humbug the books too much. They must all have 
full marks." 

About the middle of June the General left, the 
idea being that, having met and handed over to 
Mr. Hewby at Katagum, he should proceed to 
Naraguta. The meeting, however, was not des- 
tined to take place. On the day of his departure 
he had tea w r ith me, and at six o'clock bade me 
good-bye. He was evidently suffering from great 
emotion, for the tears were in his eyes, and when 
Ash rode up, as if to accompany him part of the 
way, he waved him back, and calling out " God 
bless you all ! " cantered away. 

At Magumeri he became very ill, and there 
Moiser, who was on his way in to treat Sainsbury, 
found him. He got better, and as soon as he 
was fit to travel Moiser returned with him to the 
next camp, Busugua. Here he seemed compara- 
tively well, ate a hearty meal, and went on ahead 
in the cool of the evening to Ngubala. Being 
apparently restless and uncomfortable with the 
journey, he halted at the market half way, and 

m & 


• "Amico Amici Desiderantes" • 

to the memory of 

Major Augustus M- Cuntock, d.s.o. 


West African Frontier Force, and a First Class 
Resident Bornu Province, Northern Nigeria 
Ihnn m $™ December I^^ATSESKflSKmE^TyROHElREiAHa 

The 4~ son of ColG. Perry M?€lintock, O.L. 
Died oh 24™ June V-H2 at Ngubala Borhu Province 

This tablet has been raised ry his friends. 





took- — or rather thought he was taking — the drug 
he had been in the habit of swallowing for sleep- 
lessness. Unhappily he took the wrong one, and 
by the time he reached Ngubala at 4 a.m. he was 
a dying man. He lingered on till 6 p.m., when he 
expired quite peacefully. During transitory flashes 
of consciousness his Irish humour did not desert 

Through that long spell Moiser had one of the 
grimmest and most wearying vigils 1 a man could 
well have ; and now, on the top of this, he set 
himself, by trekking night and day incessantly, 
to bring the body into Maiduguri for burial. This 
he accomplished — four dreary stages — in thirty- 
six hours. Ash's fatigue party had prepared a 
grave in the little cemetery where lie Overweg, 
Boyd Alexander, and others who have given their 
lives to this sinister country. Ash gave him a 
military funeral. Benton, who had recently 
arrived, read the service as Senior Political Officer, 
and at the conclusion the General's own boy, Biri, 
an ex-bugler, sounded the Last Post. The spec- 
tacle was as impressive as it was sad. I shall 
never forget it. 

A mural tablet was erected over the School in 
his memory by his many friends, inscribed as 
shown in the facsimile. 

Benton having taken over the office from the 
Sainsbury youth, the latter was ordered to put in 
a month or two at Geidam, and then go on leave. 

1 The full details of this sad occurrence, which it is not 
necessary to record, were given me both by Moiser and 
Bisalla, who is still with me. 

100 W. P. HEWBY 

Having a number of private bullocks, or donkeys, 
at his disposal, this amiable young man pressed 
me to let him take home for me some of my 
shooting trophies, and so save me the trouble 
and expense of extra transport. There was no 
real necessity for this, but at length I surrendered 
to his solicitations, and handed over to him the 
skull and mask of the roan I had shot at Nafada, 
and which I valued rather highly. Ten months 
later, on arrival at Kano, en route home myself, 
Eric Douglas, of the London Kano Trading Com- 
pany, informed me that there was a box lying in 
his store stamped with my name, which had been 
there for nearly a year. Did I know anything 
about it ? I went and opened the box, and found 
it to contain the roan trophies, moth-eaten and 
ruined, which I had handed under pressure to my 
obliging friend to take home the previous June ! 

Mr. W. P. Hewby, C.M.G., reached Maiduguri 
at the end of the month, and, after assessing Masu 
and Magumeri Districts, I was called in to see 
him — for the first time. I do not presume to do 
justice to the portrayal of a man who came into 
the country before I came into the world and 
whose name 1 was known even in the parts about 
Tripoli, but this much I will say : never did per- 
sonality inspire greater loyalty or respect. His 
caustic tongue — and it could be caustic ! — con- 
cealed the warmest of hearts ; his bearing was 
formidable — almost arrogant — but only calculated 

1 Having been at Ibi for some time in the Royal Niger 
Company days, his name was corrupted by the natives into 
" Mustafa " or " Mista Ibi." 


BORNU 101 

to discomfit those for whose consciences discom- 
fiture was salubrious. I have never known him 
pay a direct compliment — it was not in his line — 
but he could convey his appreciation in a way 
which appealed to the instinct of the recipient 
as the encomia of a more unctuous personage 
could never have done. Palmam qui meruit ferat. 
Though to others it may be ordained some day 
to perfect the millennium in Bornu, with the 
elaboration of Ministerial Responsibility, an in- 
corruptible Native Administration, and other 
respectable fetishes, those who were privileged 
to work under Mr. Hewby will never forget who 
it was who did the real spade-work. 

It was only the other day that I learned from 
Mr. Hewby a little incident, the humour of which 
greatly pleases my fancy. The General had just 
arrived in Bornu for the first time to take up his 
duties as Resident. Well known as a soldier to 
the natives, and having but recently relinquished 
his office of Commandant, he was met by a depu- 
tation of chiefs, who timidly expressed a hope 
that a regime of militarism would not supersede 
the sympathetic administration of Mista Ibi. To 
which the General made answer that " we must 
hope for the best ! " A more guarded reply than 
that given by one Rehoboam under somewhat 
similar circumstances. 

One little idiosyncrasy I may mention before 
passing on. Hewby was one of the most upright 
men on a horse I have ever met, and always rode 
at a pace which was neither a trot nor a canter, 
but a sort of amble which made it almost impossible 


to keep abreast of him. It made you wonder 
whether he was trying to shake you off, or whether 
there was something wrong with your own pace ! 
From this time onward I continued to assess 
district after district, till the whole division had 
been completed. During my continuous pere- 
grinations I only met two classes of Kanuri — the 
spoiler and the spoiled. The bigger the man the 
greater the spoiler, and vice versa (or " visa versa," 
as George Seccombe hath it in his Assessment 
Reports). An Ajia would not think it beneath 
him to dismount on the road and make the humblest 
wayside farmer disgorge threepence, or less, if he 
had it on him. The farmer, for his part, would 
take this imposition as a matter of course ; nor would 
he give a thank-you if, having witnessed the affair, 
one had set oneself to give him redress. He would 
simply deny that he had parted with anything 
and deliberately obstruct the course of justice in 
his own interest ! For it is almost useless trying 
to help the oppressed, because the oppressed 
themselves only recognize two classes of mortal : 
the big man who, by the law of " Right is Might," 
is entitled to pinch anything he can — and is a 
fool if he doesn't ; and the little man, who was 
ordained by fate to be robbed — and is a fool if he 
kicks against the pricks and complains to the 
white man, thereby storing up a worse hell for 
himself afterwards than if he had kept his mouth 

I once quoted an example of " Kanuri-ism " in 
an official report which amused Tamsie. One of 
the Shehu's many opportunist brothers, hereinafter 

BORNU 103 

named Bello, 1 once " fined " a peasant eighteen 
shillings for saluting the Medical Officer. " I am 
your master," said Bello. Had the victim been 
fined double the amount for not saluting the white 
man he would have paid up with the same glorious 
complaisance ! 

The peasant Kanuri is fair game, not only in 
the eyes of others, but in his own. 

One day two of these unfortunates were walking 
past the Native Hospital with their loads. Out 
stepped a trio of Hausa patients. " Ah, here 
come two Kanuri," said one of them; "we will 
take their loads." Which they proceeded to do, 
nemine contradicente, as they might have unloaded 
donkeys. " Not guilty ! " was their plea in Court ; 
" they were only Kanuri ! " 

The Sarakuna, of course, knew their peasantry, 
and filled their pockets accordingly. There was 
only one honest native in Bornu — the late el Imaum. 
But, big or little, the Kanuri were all desperate 
liars — some clever, the majority transparent and 

As an example of the former I may quote the 
late-lamented Sanda Laminomi, District Head of 
Magumeri, a handsome and attractive old rogue, 
of very independent disposition, who, if I upbraided 
him too freely, used to shout : " Dani duwo ! " 2 
He had been escorting me round his district, and 
was getting very bored with me and my (to him) 
quite unnecessary anxiety to locate and map all 
his tax-units. In due course I asked him to 
conduct me to Ardoram, a unit on the far edge 
1 Vide p. 130. 2 " That'll do ! Leave off ! " 


of his district. Having arrived and plotted it 
into my map, I bade him good-bye, and departed 
to the next district. Several months afterwards 
I had occasion to revisit this particular unit, and 
on reaching our objective I exclaimed : " But this 
is not Ardoram ! " 

" Yes, it is," replied Sanda's messenger. 

" But," I said, " Sanda himself took me to 
Ardoram, and it was quite a different place ! " 

" That is so," explained the trembling messenger ; 
" but, when we reached that town, Sanda was tired, 
the way was long, and night was upon us, where- 
fore Sanda said : c We will tell the Judge that this is 
Ardoram ! ' " 

The average Kanuri lie was so involved, profitless, 
and generally devoid of beginning or end, that it 
was waste of time to attempt to disentangle it. 
Benton, whose gentle bearing was most misleading 
to the unsuspicious, claims two — and only two — 
triumphs over Kanuri-ism during his ten years' 
sojourn among the stupide mendaces, to adapt a 
phrase. I will relate them in his own words : 

A man came in to complain of extortion. According 
to his yarn an unknown man had come to his village 
at ten o'clock at night, awakened him and told him there 
was an European on the road some distance off who 
was camping in the bush and wanted ten pots full of 
water. Not unnaturally the villager paid him 10s. to 
go away and get the water elsewhere. After waiting 
a fortnight so as to ensure that there should be no 
possible chance of catching the offender, he came in and 
laid his complaint. As it happened I was not very busy 
that morning, and I saw a chance of a little amusement. 
I asked him as casually as I could, " Did vou believe 

BORNU 105 

this story of there being an European in the vicinity ? " 
He considered the question carefully and with true 
Kanuri cunning spotted the catch. He would not answer 
the question at first, thought perhaps he had overestimated 
the importance of his loss, and on reflection hardly liked 
to trouble me further about the matter. I lit a pipe 
and said to Nyako, 1 " Go on, rout it out of him ! " With 
a sardonic smile, old camel-face got down to it. After 
many useless evasions and an interrogatory of about 
ten minutes, the man sulkily replied, " No, I did not 
believe there was an European there." "Then why 
did you pay the man ten shillings ? " said I. In a 
despairing voice and with an imploring look at Nyako 
and me, he replied, "As a matter of fact, I was 
lying ; I did believe there was an European there." 
With a fine assumption of virtuous indignation I then 
demanded in a voice of thunder, " Then what the blazes 
do you mean by refusing hospitality to a white man ? " 
Screams of delight from ot 77o'AAot, who had edged round 
the corner of the office to hear the fun. Of course we 
never caught the culprit ; with a fortnight's start it was 
not likely we should. 

Some thieves visited the station one night, but were 
disturbed and fled, leaving some clothes behind them, 
partly their own and partly stolen ones. Later on they 
were arrested in the town under suspicious circumstances 
and were brought up to me for preliminary examination. 
A gown and trousers which were among the clothes left 
behind were said, on rather doubtful evidence, to belong 
to one of the thieves. He, however, stoutly denied that 
they were his. I asked him where he was on the night 
in question. He said he was sleeping in his house with 
his wife. I remanded him and sent for the wife. Like 
a dutiful spouse she swore blind that her husband had 
never left her side on that night, when by a peculiar 
coincidence she had suffered from insomnia ! I cross- 

1 Benton's interpreter. 

106 CAUGHT ! 

questioned her at great length but without avail. With 
a weary sigh, I said to Nyako, " I fear she's defeated 
us." The woman grasped the meaning of my remark 
quick enough, though of course she could not under- 
stand the words. A complacent look passed over her 
face as I told her she could go. Just as she was leaving 
the office, I called to Nyako, " Tell her she had better 
take her husband's things out of that pile in this corner 
there." The woman went straight to the heap and picked 
out the suspected gown and trousers. A delighted grin 
spread itself over Nyako's face. She saw her mistake 
instantly, burst into tears, and called Allah to witness 
that none of the things belonged to her husband. But 
it was too late. I thought at the time, and still think, 
that my little ruse was quite legitimate, but McClintock 
was tender-hearted, thought it was hardly playing the 
game, and the thief was not convicted. 


BORNU— continued 

At Ngabarawa, in Magumeri District, I shot a 
fine Senegal hartebeest ; and another at Ngubala, 
which, being only wounded in the first instance, 
was chased to a standstill by " Jinks," a bitch 
which George had handed over to me, and 
" Piccin." Poor little " Piccin " was lost after 
this, and eventually found curled up, in her effort 
to get cool, round a chatty (!) in the rest-house 
we had left that morning. 

From Busugua I passed to Gusumala District, 
where to my intense satisfaction I shot a Dama 
gazelle (" far in gindi "). There are only two 
other places in Nigeria, 1 I believe, where these 
are found, namely, Lake Chad, where they arc 
" forbidden fruit," and Borgo. I doubt if any 
white man had ever been to that corner of Gusu- 
mala before, and, for my own part, I never want 
to go there again, for the burrs, or " kerangia," 
were unbearable. I looked more like a glorified 
thistle than anything else after my day's shooting. 

Thence to Kanembu District, where I pitched 
my camp at Kukawa, the old capital and burying- 
place of the Shehus and Kauwa in turn. From 

1 And outside Nigeria, only rarely in Senegal and Gambia 
(H. N. Thompson). 



here on October 19th I paid my first visit to Lake 
Chad. I slept under some trees half way, and 
was driven by the mosquitoes into my mosquito- 
net for the night at 5.30, without daring to have 
any food passed in ! Next morning, after passing 
animals of every sort and kind enjoying the 
sanctity of the Reserve, and positively obtruding 
their immunity upon me, I made the Lake at 
nine o'clock. After a bath in its fetid waters, 
I sat in a reed canoe, ate fresh fish speared by the 
Budumas and a tin of logan-berries, gave thanks 
to the Lord that I had seen Chad, and got away 
as fast as I could. Chad is the lodestar of every 
Nigerian traveller ; and the Editor of the Sporting 
Times was kind enough to publish a little outburst 
I submitted to that paper under the influence of 
the moment, which ended thus : — 

The Greeks from their sepulchres rise and are glad : 
And are shouting : " Thalassa ! " with thee to Lake Chad. 

Had those warriors accompanied me one stanza 
further, and joined me in my slimy bath, they 
would have retreated disillusioned by double 
parasangs to their graves, and remained there ! 

Having completed a lengthy report on the land- 
tenure peculiar to Kanembu, and gradually work- 
ing my way through Mongonu, Marte, and Kon- 
duga, where I had some very exciting rounding 
up of Shuwa and Beleni stock, I arrived back 
at Maiduguri a day or two before Christmas. I 
had only seen one white man during five and 
a half months' travel, and, my temper having 
been sorely tried by the evasions of the Shuwa 



BORNU 109 

Arabs, whose one visible object in life was to 
make a convenience of British territory in the 
wet season and of German in the dry, but to settle 
their liabilities with neither, I was heartily glad 
to be back again. 1 

Knox had been relieved as O.C. Troops by 
Aubin, a very musical officer, who enlivened our 
Christmas dinner in Benton's bungalow with dance 
and song. Thompson had gone home, and I 
missed the jaunt with him down to the " Dirimari," 
or Leper Camp, which was one of his great hobbies, 
and afforded me a lot of quiet amusement. The 
wrangling between two lepers as to who was the 
" headman " of the " row " (both having about 
two months to live) ; indignant women shaking 
their stumps of fists at Thompson because he 
had handed over their children to foster-mothers 2 ; 
the escapes and returns, etc., were all a fruitful 
source of interest. 

After a rest of about a fortnight I sallied forth 
again to assess my last district, Marghi 3 and 
Chibok. 4 Marghi was an independent State, 
administered al this time temporarily by one of 
the Shehu's " kachellas," one of the stupidest 
and most dishonest men it has ever been my lot 

1 I have since been assured by Bornu scholars that these 
Arabs are (a) " the only class that really ought to count in 
Bornu," (b) " quite good fellows." I may have misjudged 

2 It is a curious fact that these lepers used to intermarry ; 
and their children, weaned after a fortnight, grew up entirely 
free from the disease. 

8 Vide Notes on Nigerian Tribes and Emirates p. 271 (O. 

4 Vide ibid., p. 86. 


to deal with. The Marghis, on the other hand, 
were a pleasant relief after the Kanuris. Truculent 
and quick-tempered, they were at the same time 
hard workers, intelligent, and absolutely straight- 
forward. It was a ticklish proposition applying 
the Thomson assessment scheme to these raw 
pagans, and a matter of speculation how they 
would receive it. As a matter of fact there was 
not the slightest trouble as far as the Marghis 
were concerned, and it was not till I tackled the 
Chibok sub-district that I met with opposition. 

The Chiboks were a most unsatisfactory crowd 
to handle. Of an evening they would come to 
me in a state more or less of intoxication, cheerfully 
tell me they quite grasped what I wanted, and 
say they would pay anything I liked to demand. 
In the morning, however, when I returned their 
call, either they would vanish, or the few who 
were left would be so befogged with snuff that 
I could get no sense out of them. After some 
days of this parleying without getting any for- 
warder, I had to intimate to them pretty clearly 
that I should be constrained to reintroduce them 
to the troops (who under Wolseley had already 
dislodged them from their fastnesses on Chibok 
Hill *) if they did not give my staff facilities for 
making the census, and collecting the data I 

In the meantime I undertook a very arduous 

trek along the Yola-Bornu boundary eastward to 

the Cameroon border, having received instructions 

to elucidate a territorial dispute in co-operation 

1 The siege of Chibok is an old and well-known story. 

BORNU 111 

with Acland from the Yola side. He, however, 
was taken ill, and I had to make my investigations 

I returned to Chibok in time to witness the 
obsequies of an old man, whose age I was informed 
on good authority was 126. The people quoted 
the various historical landmarks by which they 
had arrived at this calculation. 

One of them tickled me immensely. Seven 
years ago, they told me, when he was " only 
119 " (sic), the " Judgie Dumboa " 1 had had 
him deported from his own village to Chibok, as 
being a turbulent character and a danger to the 
community ! 

A solemn lying-in-state was held : the venerable 
patriarch was decked in a pair of dirty red trousers, 
and his young widow, aged eighty, set to fan 
his mortal remains, while the crowd drank " pito," 
and danced round them. At dusk a grave was 
prepared, and the senior " elder " chanted a 
drunken dirge, as the deceased was lowered into 
his last resting-place. At intervals the dirge would 
die away to a sort of murmured incantation, 
while the elder performed what I took to be 
analogous to our own rite of " earth to earth " 
— for, after our own fashion, he dropped something 
into the grave three times. As a matter of fact 
I learnt afterwards that it was not earth but 
thorns, and the interpretation of his mumblings 
was somewhat as follows : " God put a fence 
between you and us : your days are finished, 
and with them vanish many secrets of the past : 
1 George Seccombe. 


rest behind the fence in peace, and do not return 
to disturb us ! " Laying the ghost, in fact. 

My hint about troops had been effectual in the 
case of Chibok village itself, and one or two 
others ; but the remaining units gradually got 
quite out of hand, and I therefore reluctantly 
sent in for an escort to help me enforce orders. 
I received word back that Lieut. Crosbie and 
thirty-five rank and file were being shortly 
dispatched from Maiduguri. To my surprise and 
gratification, a few days afterwards, who should 
turn up but Dudley Crosbie, an old schoolmate 
of mine both at Winchester and at Jack le 
Fleming's cramming establishment at Tonbridge ! 

After much bucking about old days, we pro- 
ceeded to round up the recalcitrant villages with 
the usual unsatisfactory results. The inhabitants 
would neither parley, nor come to terms, nor 
fight. They simply effaced themselves, and left 
us to collar sufficient grain to cover the tax due 
in each case, plus a salutary fine. We realized 
this grain at the current price of Is. per 8 saas. 1 
At only one village did we meet with stout resis- 
tance, and this was in the shape of an old lady, 
who used the most shocking language, and 
resolutely declined to be dislodged from her settee 
of cornstalks, to which she glued herself tenaciously 
till she was pulled off, when it was found that 
she had been sitting upon some twenty quivers 
and one hundred odd poisoned arrows. These 
were destroyed, to her intense indignation. 

1 1 saa ss 25 lbs. (circ.) a very different price to that of 
the famine year of 1913-14, when at Geidam 1 saa fetched 8s. ! 


BORNU 113 

There had been some unrest along the East Marghi- 
German boundary ; and Crosbie had been asked 
by Mr. Hewby to return by that route, and show 
himself with the troops. On arrival at Mulgwe 
news was brought to me of a robbery of donkeys 
by some ruffians at Mudube, a town right up 
against the German border. 

An extract from my diary on the action taken 
by us may not be without interest. 

I was met by the Native Court, who informed me 
that the mburma of Mudube was " wanted " for the 
theft of four donkeys, and that repeated summonses 
during the last two months to appear at their court 
had been disregarded by him : and any attempt to arrest 
was frustrated by his slipping across the boundary, which 
he had done periodically with the donkeys. 

2. I therefore asked Lieut. Crosbie to push on with 
me to Mudube in the rather forlorn hope of surrounding 
and surprising the town, and then arresting the delinquent. 
The chance of our succeeding in this depended on the 
fact that when I visited Mulgwe ten days previously, I 
had sent Musa to Mudube to get information as to the 
farming, population, migrations, etc., and I therefore 
hoped that by sending Musa on slightly in advance again 
on this occasion, to engage the mburma in conversation, 
we might disarm his suspicion, and close in upon him 
before he was aware of our presence. 

3. We started for Mudube accordingly at 1.30, taking 
the Native Court with us. On arriving within twenty 
minutes of the town, Musa went on ahead, and Lieut. 
Crosbie sent ten men (accompanied by Malam Kachella 
for purposes of identification) to flank the north and 
west of the town, while he proceeded himself with the 
remainder of the troops to line the river on the east and 
south in order to intercept the mburma, should he try 
to escape to German soil. The labourers, camp-followers, 



etc., were ordered to remain behind with Courier 

4. Meanwhile Musa called the mburma, and told him 
that I should be visiting his town, and should require 
a rumpah under the big tree adjacent to his compound. 
They went towards the tree, when Musa said in Hausa 
to Malam Kachella, who had now come up, " This is 
the man." Malam Kachella started to speak to him, 
and at that moment the mburma caught sight of the 
soldiers, and made to run away. Malam Kachella imme- 
diately closed with him, but the man broke loose, leaving 
his cloth behind, jumped a fence, ran into a house, and 
seized a spear. He then made for the river, stopping to 
hurl the spear at Malam Kachella — whereupon Musa 
threw his spear at him. The man picked it up, and 
hurled it at Musa, luckily missing him. By this time 
they were within fifty yards of the boundary, and the 
troops now opened fire, and killed him. 

5. Meanwhile, two of the mburma's party were letting 
fly arrows at Mr. Crosbie's men in the river-bed, who 
succeeded in killing one, the other escaping wounded into 
German territory. Nothing further occurred, except for 
a half-hearted advance of about twenty fugitives armed 
with spears in the direction of the carriers — but these 
were easily turned by Idrisa firing a shot from his carbine. 
We then pitched camp, and food was brought by the 
very few inhabitants who had not run away. Three 
donkeys were found in the mburma's quarters, and these 
were duly handed over by the Native Court to the victim 
of the robbery : so that our object was doubly achieved, 
and a lesson taught to these people, of which the robbers 
of Isge may well take note, namely, that though they 
live right on the edge of the river, this boundary is not 
an infallible means of escape from the consequences of 
their depredations. 

6. It was a prompt performance on the part of Crosbie, 
and the whole arrangement exactly timed so as to effect 
a thorough surprise— no easy matter in a country where 

BORNU 115 

news travels so rapidly, and especially where sanctuary 
is a matter of two hundred yards away. 

As an illustration of the cheery habits of the 
good people of Mudube, I may mention, en passant, 
that in one of the huts near which we slept that 
night we found a man (who had presumably 
annoyed some neighbour) lying with an iron spike 
through his brain. On his body, peacefully 
sleeping, was curled up a pie dog ! 

From Mudube we made tracks for Mainta 
Maleri — a long trek of thirty odd miles through 
waterless bush. We decided to go our ways, 
each taking one side of the road, have a shoot, 
and join up again later at a certain pool, about 
which our guide told us. The guide decamped, 
and we failed to find either the pool or each other 
that night ! 

After shooting a roan about ten o'clock, I 
worked my way back to the road, and eventually 
struck the main body of our convoy. Having 
fired off my rifle several times to let Crosbie know 
where we were, I then moved slowly forward. 
At 6 p.m., being beat to the world, and not having 
seen water since the early morning, I decided to 
camp for the night. A sparklet syphon half full 
was all I had left in the way of liquor. This I 
gulped down, and turned in. The labourers, etc., 
were nearly mad with thirst, and we had not the 
faintest idea where we were, or how far from the 
nearest water. 

At 2 a.m. some nomad Fulani strayed through 
our camp, and one of them volunteered to guide 

116 " BUSHED " 

us to Mainta Maleri, where, to my great relief, 
we arrived at nine o'clock next morning, and 
found Crosbie tattered, begrimed, and in the last 
stages of exhaustion. He had somehow wandered 
into German territory, struck a small hamlet, 
and, regardless of consequences, drunk a huge 
draught of filthy stagnant water — fortunately with 
no evil effects. From there he had been con- 
ducted to Mainta Maleri, and reached it about 
the same time as myself. He had shot a fine 
reed-buck during his wanderings. Thence we 
passed through Konduga District, and back once 
more to Maiduguri. 

I omitted to mention, that from Marghi I had 
written to Mr. Hewby, " having the honour to 
remind him that my tour expired on the 3rd prox. 
(March) " ; to which I received the characteristic 
reply : " Yes, but you write as if you had to 
catch a particular train — which as far as I know 
is not the case." I now received another little 
rebuff, the quiet humour of which amply compen- 
sated for the shock to my vanity. In my report 
on Marghi I had shouted " Heureka ! " and 
announced that I had traced the connection 
between the Huyam River and a small mysterious 
stream running into Alo Lake — " a feature," I 
wrote, " hitherto undiscovered." To which the 
Caustic One, in a marginal comment : " Except 
by me in 1904.— W. P. #." 

George had now arrived, and was to relieve me. 
George was a great little person. I found him 
enveloped in maps, plans, and harness. A large 
brandy and soda was by his side, his hair was 

BORNU 117 

slightly on end, and he was engaged on the com- 
pilation of a one over a million map of the pro- 
vince. " Look here, Harry, I ask you ! " he cried 
as I walked in, " on the top of this map, which is 
the devil's own sweat, Hewby has told me to have 
two plans of the station ready for to-morrow's 
mail. It simply can't be done, and (helping 
himself to another wee brandy) I'm damned if 
I do it ! " " Quite right, George," I replied, 
" you keep your end up ! " 

Next morning at about six o'clock, peering 
out from my house in the fort, I descried 
George puffing and blowing, and laden with survey 
paraphernalia. " Sanu, George ! " I called ; " up 
betimes ! What's afoot ? " 

" No, don't humbug me, for goodness' sake, 
Harry ! " he replied, " I've got to get these two 
damned plans off for Hewby by to-day's mail ! " 
Hewby, like Parnell, could always get the 
last ounce out of his men, because, like Parnell, 
he never asked them to do what he would not 
have done himself. George, like Tom Davitt, 
Kickham, and Pat Egan, had forgotten his over- 
night threats. 1 

Polo had been started at Maiduguri for the 
first time, and the Lake Chad Polo Club formed. 
George, who had got it going, had the best horses 
and was far the best player. There not being 
enough Europeans, some of the most promising 
native N.C.O.'s were mounted and taught the 
game — as far as we, ourselves only learners, could 
teach them ; and, from that time forward, polo 
1 I promised George (but not on oath !) not to publish this. 


flourished. Even if there were only one or two 
white men available, Pa Benton made a practice, 
and a very good one too, of keeping the game 
going regularly two or three times a week. The 
natives, though they called it " aiki," got as keen 
on it as we were. Later on we had great matches 
— Black v. White, which aroused keen enthusiasm. 
The former had the best eye, and hit the hardest, 
but lacked the brain-play and combination ; so 
that the sides were pretty even. 

By the end of March I had completed a tour 
of fifteen very strenuous months, incessantly 
trekking, and having slept at over three hundred 
different towns all told ; and I felt too thoroughly 
weary to face the long twenty-four days' journey 
back to Kano on a horse. So I bought George's 
spare light trap and horse for £25, and trusted 
to being able to re-sell it at Kano. 

The road between Geidam and Maiduguri was 
appallingly sandy, and the going so severe a strain 
on the horse, that one could only go at walking 
pace most of the way. After Geidam, however, 
it got a bit better, and also, as a relief horse, I 
bought the famous " Danda," 1 whom I put 
straight between the shafts, and drove without 
any breaking ! 

The trek to Kano via Katagum was uneventful, 
save for an encounter with a wounded wart-hog, 
whose onslaught Bisalla bravely received with a 

1 A piebald, who subsequently must have covered almost 
all the possible mileage in the Protectorate. I used to drive 
him to the polo-ground, ride him in two ehukkers, and then 
drive him back ! 



BORNU 119 

spear. He cantered the whole of those twenty- 
four days behind my trap on his sturdy little 
horse with a dropped hip ! 

At Debbe I fell in with a French Medical 
Officer from the Territoire Militaire, and we had 
an amusing little dinner, at which we were joined 
by Cook, of the M.I. The latter had had a 
strenuous shoot in the afternoon sun, and developed 
a proportionate thirst. Towards the end of the 
meal he turned to the Frenchman, and somewhat 
startled us by asking : 

" When are you going to have a king ? " 

" Ah, mais qu'est-ce que vous dites la, 
M'sieur ? " politely replied our guest. 

" My dear old bird," persisted Cook, " it's no 
good, you've got to have a king ! " 

" Mais 5a, par exemple, ca ne s'arrangera pas 
sans qu " 

" Look here, it's got to come, I tell you ! And 
the sooner the better ! " And in this he persisted 
till he became somnolent, and finally slept. 

" Monsieur est tres fatigue," I lamely tried 
to explain to my French friend, " il ne veut pas 
dire serieusement que " 

" Ah, mais pas de qoui, c'est entendu, Mon- 
sieur ! Sans doute le soleil " 

" Parfaitement ! " I replied, grasping the straw. 
Monsieur and I had many a laugh about this 
afterwards when we came to know each other 
better, as we did when we renewed our acquaintance 
later on in the ship. 

At Zaria I met the accommodating Sainsbury, 
sold him my trap, and thanked him in a few 


well-chosen words for his kindness in taking my 
roan-head as far as Kano. 1 He received it very- 
kindly, and did not allow it to worry him at all. 
Early in May I reached Lagos, and embarked, 
together with " Piccin " and Bisalla, whom I 
had settled to take to England, on the Akabo 
(Captain Davis). We reached England at the 
end of May, and Bisalla got his first introduction 
to the eccentricities of the white man's life in 
that country during our stay for two or three 
days at Plymouth as guests of my brother Claude 
on his ship, H.M.S. Powerful, which happened to 
be at this port. Any homesickness he might have 
been suffering from at first was quickly dispelled 
by the cheery naval atmosphere, and a present 
from my brother of a suit of navy blue made by 
the ship's tailor. 

1 Vide p. 100. 

BORNU — continued 

Bisalla, during his five months' stay in England, 
had seen and done many things. He had fallen 
out of a motor unscathed ; he had been cautioned 
by the village constable for riding a bicycle without 
his hands between two passing motor-vans to 
the public danger, and accused by the same 
official of arson — in that he had set fire to a certain 
gate with a certain explosive, to wit, a squib. 
The former charge he had parried airily with the 
defence that the alleged danger was entirely his 
own, the latter with a request to be handed the 
Koran. The logic of the first, and the significance 
of the second, having entirely baffled the earnest 
constable, the charges were not proceeded with. 

He had watched aeroplanes with the utmost 
unconcern, and caddied on all the local links, as 
if it had been his vocation from birth. 1 He had 
seen a circus, the only indication as to his attitude 
to which was his remark that he supposed the clown 
who slowly took off fourteen pairs of socks in suc- 
cession, was an Emir, and an aggrieved comment 

1 He distinguished himself his first time out on the links. 
I had called to my opponent inquiring his score, and received 
the reply " Three ! " Whereat voice from Bisalla : " Haba ! 
Fudu ! " 



to the effect that the emergency net, spread beneath 
the acrobats in their trapeze act, was a " fool 
thing," since it prevented them from hurting 
themselves, and so rendered the performance point- 
less. The horse that harnessed itself, the elephants 
who " passed chop," and the sea-lions who juggled 
with lighted candles he accepted as mere white 
men's freaks. 

He had also been to church, and observed 
afterwards that he had paid threepence both at 
the church and at the circus, but whereas one was 
good value, the other was " kurdin banza." * 

For my own part I kept up my Hausa, and found 
it not unpleasant to be able to shout : " Boy, 
do this or that," in the same jolly old way, instead 
of ringing the bell and asking Emily " if she would 
mind just bringing my boots," etc. As I have 
said in a previous chapter, no " girman kai " 2 
ensued, and, in fact, he has scarcely ever alluded 
to his English trip since, except when the subject 
has been raised by me. 

Which things having been accomplished, as 
Caesar says, we embarked on board the A^am? 
(Captain Harrison) and sailed again on Octo- 
ber 15th. This was the first time I had travelled 
on one of the new boats, and calling at La Pellice 
and Teneriffe was also a fresh experience. It 
was on this voyage, in case there is anyone in 
Gath who knoweth it not, that a gentleman who 
shall be nameless boldly inscribed himself upon 

1 Waste of money. 2 Swollen head. 

3 This boat was afterwards captured by the German raider 

BORNU 123 

the bath list for " Wednesdays and Fridays only," 
whereupon others instantly took courage, and their 
pens, and wrote down likewise. 

B-bank was on board, and hastening out to 
Kano for a stay of one week, to return in record 
time by a series of boats, via, I think, Dakar 
and Barcelona ! I arranged to buy a light pony- 
trap from him on arrival at Kano — mainly to save 
" Piccin " that weary trek of twenty-four days in 
a box. Alas ! she was not destined to reach 
Kano. Being very seedy, I was sleeping on a 
settee in the boat-train with " Piccin " curled up by 
my side. I was suddenly awakened by Bisalla, who 
had gallantly fought his way along the whole length 
of the train and was asking me whether " Piccin " 
was with me, as an Arab had seen a white man's 
dog on the line. A sickening feeling came over 
me as I realized, after a futile search, that she 
must have fallen from the train — how, I never 

I was too ill to do much myself, but on arrival 
at Zungeru, Sheriff, the Traffic Superintendent, 
promised to send a trolley back down the line, 
and I left Bisalla behind to go with it. I also 
offered rewards, and wired to everybody who 
could possibly assist me, without avail. All I 
ever learnt was that a clerk had seen her running 
along the line, and, greedy for the reward, had 
given violent chase, instead of gently calling 
her. Being a terribly sensitive bitch, she had 
diverged into the bush, and that was the last that 
was ever heard of her. 

No one who has never become entirely dependent 


on a dog for company for months at a stretch in 
the lonely, depressing outposts of Beyond can 
possibly realize what a shock this loss was to me. 
Only half an hour or so before the tragedy, Mrs. 
Guggisburg, who had seen me sitting on the edge 
of my seat to make room for " Piccin " to get 
comfortable, had chaffed me with the remark, 
" I believe you'd do more for that dog than you 
would for a woman." 

For three tours and as many leaves she had 
been my devoted little companion, and the thought 
of her probable fate made me quite sick. Even 
now I hate to dwell on it. How I missed the 
sweet cold nose pushed through the mosquito- 
net begging me to get up of a morning, and the 
secret plots and plans for the day's hunting whis- 
pered into the ears of " Jinks." For many a day 
afterwards I would instinctively put aside the 
" cutleg " bones, and then, with a chill, remember. 
It was indeed with a heavy heart that I set out 
in my trap for Bornu. 

At Katagum I found Francis and Wightwick. 
The former, having just arrived and taken over, 
had been suddenly ordered to hand over again to 
Wightwick, and return to Zaria. These changes 
of mind on the part of the powers that be, were 
quite the order of the day. The little matter of 
cost of extra transport over a few hundreds of 
miles, wear and tear of kit, and losses in swamp 
and river, were a subject of supreme unconcern 
to the " O.C. Dispositions " at Aiki Square. 1 

1 So called because all the real work is done there (vide 
Chapter V). 



BORNU 125 

As for the waste of time, as I have said before, 
the supply of Government time is — like Lux — 

The following tour, for instance, the officer whom 
I had relieved at Numan had been there exactly 
ten days when he was recalled to Bauchi, and had 
to return over the two hundred and forty or so 
miles which he had traversed from Bauchi — in 
other words, a waste of thirty-two days all told 
on the road. During the same year an officer 
who had served the previous tour in Sokoto x 
and left a quantity of kit there, on arrival back 
in the country found himself posted to Benin 
City, 1 whither it was proposed that he should 

transfer the said kit at his own : but my lips 

are sealed on matters controversial ! 

We all dined with Francis that night, and of 
that party three of us were destined to sail on the 
Falaba on her last voyage — Francis, myself, and 
Silcock, who was drowned. At dinner I thought 
I behaved like a perfect gentleman, but Francis 
has since told a story about a bull terrier and 
Bombay duck, from which it appears that I said 
— but it is his story, not mine, so I will not retail 
it. I do not care for Bombay duck, and there's 
an end of it. 

Near Juwor I came across a very fine wart- 
hog, and leaving the trap in charge of a labourer, 
I went off after it and secured it. On my return 
I found that the labourer had let go of the reins, 
and " Danda " had careered off the whole way 
to Jawa, the next camp. The wonderful part 

1 Vide map. 


about it was, that despite the badness and narrow- 
ness of the track, the trap was undamaged. 

At Geidam I found George Seccombe, from whom 
I took over again, Hastings, Sainsbury, and Davis 
the doctor. There was real good polo, under the 
aegis of the M.I., Lane x and Longbourne 1 being 
experts, and Drummond 2 almost international 
form. They were not there long, however, being 
relieved by Lambert 1 and Austin, and the new 
company. The troops, after their prolonged spell 
at Geidam, had nearly all had eye trouble of some 
sort, caused by the dust and sand which is so trying 
a feature of Bornu. 

There was excellent shooting round the station, 
and one night I shot a couple of bush-pig and 
placed them as bait for hyena. Lambert, Davis, 
and I arranged to have dinner at the edge of the 
" fadama," and then quietly take up our posi- 
tions and wait for the quarry. We had a most 
cheery dinner, and then took our places near the 
carcasses 81 arranged. After about half an hour's 
waiting I could stick it no longer, and suggested 
in a whisper to my somnolent companions that 
we should give it up. This was carried unani- 
mously. Examining the bait, we found that while 
we had been having our chop, the hyenas had 
had theirs, and made a very sorry spectacle of 
the pigs. 

George, Davis, and I had great fun of an evening 
with the guinea-fowl and duck, though the latter 
were very expensive in cartridges. 

Christmas night was a very riotous affair. The 
1 Killed in France. 2 Killed in Gallipoli. 

BORNU 127 

accomplished Sainsbury challenged us all to shoot 
threepenny -bits in the moonlight with revolvers, 
did step dances, and finally rode his horse " Digma " 
(previously warned off the polo ground for mis- 
behaviour) up the steps and through Hastings's 
bungalow. The last rite I remember performing 
that evening was pouring beer down one end of 
a hunting horn while George endeavoured to blow 
calls up the other. 

Next morning George departed for Maiduguri 
with his trap, his dogs, his horses, and everything 
else that was his for the more edifying occupation 
of sweating up Hausa, while Hastings departed 
to Kano for his Higher Standard, and home. 

A few days after I left for Gujba, along one 
of the worst and most waterless roads I have ever 
traversed. Very welcome was the hospitality pro- 
vided for me by Hopkinson, generally known as 
"Hoppy," on my arrival. He left next day to 
assess the parts about Biu. -. 

An extract from his subsequent assessment 
report I cannot refrain from quoting for the 
guidance of those to come. " After my messen- 
gers had duly assessed and collected the tax . . . 
they were murdered " ! The italics are mine ; 
the exclamation was Tamsie's when he read the 

I had some most enjoyable shooting in the 
fadama near Gujba, including guinea-fowl, mara- 
bout, reed-buck, and " derri " (Senegal hartebeest). 
Of an evening I was entertained by the local 
c magic " man, who circumscribed himself with 
cobras, swallowed needles, and laid eggs. 


From Gujba I diverged to Dumboa, and after 
a short sojourn there arrived in Maiduguri. Hewby 
had left for good, and Tamsie reigned in his stead. 
I have already done the latter less than justice 
in the appreciation to which I referred in Chap- 
ter VI ; but, as I do not wish to be fulsome, I 
leave it at that, save to add that he was the whitest 
man, the soundest officer, and my greatest friend 
in the country. 

The country was in the grip of famine. 

It had rained twice during the year 1913 : 
grain at Geidam had risen to as much as 8s. per 
saa : the population, normally dependent on the 
millet crop for their daily bread, were starving 
and dying like flies. Wholesale migration was 
the order of the day, and famished peasants were 
breaking up the very ant-heaps in a frenzied 
endeavour to avail themselves of the granaries 
of the ants. 

Tamsie was at his wits' end how to cope with 
the state of affairs, when salvation suddenly pre- 
sented itself. He afterwards gave me credit for 
the idea, but I always thought the brain-wave 
occurred to us both over one of his gin and kola 

It was an open secret that the sarakuna and 
" big men " of Bornu made a practice of hoarding 
immense quantities of corn in their compounds, 
not, like Joseph, from any forethought for the 
future, but simply as a token of wealth, much as 
the rich man nearer home likes to boast a fine 
cellar or expensive pictures. 

It was now suggested to the Shehu that these 

BORNU 129 

noblemen should disgorge their stores, and week 
by week take turns to put upon the markets a 
supply sufficient to meet the essential requirements 
of the station and the neighbourhood. Then when 
the 1914 crop was harvested, and the grain market 
normal again, a proportion of the tax due from the 
fertile districts round Gujba and Marghi should 
be levied in the shape of " zakka " * instead of 
cash, and these magnates given their choice of 
taking a settlement in money if grain was cheap, 
or in kind if it was dear. They were on a winner, 
so to speak, in either case, since at the worst they 
would be getting new grain for old. 

As soon as they grasped how they stood they 
welcomed the scheme with fervour. There was 
only one thing against it — another failure, but this 
was very unlikely. Moreover, the malamai happily 
prophesied a year of plenty. The scheme was 
acted upon, a careful account kept, and the situa- 
tion more or less saved. I say more or less, because 
even so the price was severe, and the demand 
still far exceeded the supply. Every Wednesday 
the Shehu stocked a specially erected barricade 
with grain for the paupers of Shehuri and Maidu- 
guri, and horrible scenes ensued when the women 
swarmed round and fought and clawed each other 
for every handful doled out. Till late at night 
children could be seen scouring the sand for such 
particles of grain as might have fallen by the 

It may give some idea of the difficulties with 

1 Originally a " tithe " of grain for religious or charitable 



which we were faced if I reproduce here some 
notes on a report I had to submit upon the pecula- 
tions of a chief whom (in the hopes that he has 
now mended his ways) we will call Bello. 

2. The total amount of grain which appears definitely 
levied but almost entirely unpaid for, is 12,394, which 
put at the minimum value of 6d. per saa (N.B. — Corn is 
now at Is.) represents a cash total of £309 17s. Over 
and beyond this £98 3s. 9d. in cash was collected from 
the talakawa under various pretexts. This I consider to 
be a moderate and minimum statement of Bello's liabili- 
ties, a host of other complaints outside the list under 
examination having been brought to my notice, but not 
sufficiently supported by evidence to warrant active 

3. As far as the grain is concerned, Bello himself is 
undoubtedly the principal : but was probably backed 
throughout by his elder brother, whose generous assis- 
tance in putting his granaries at the former's disposal was 
not entirely disinterested. Taking advantage between 
them of the order to supply 3,000 saas to the leper camp, 
they arranged for the grain to be stored at the Shehu's 
palace ; and whereas 3,000 saas were certainly delivered 
and £100 paid to Bello in settlement by the Beit-el-Mal, 
nobody knows what became of the money, or the exact 
amount of grain actually stored, except the storekeeper, 
Bello and his brother. Whatever the latter's exact share 
of the spoils may have been, it was palpably obvious 
that extortion was going on, and if he did not know it 
he ought to have done. 

4. As for the part played by Bello's boys themselves, 
in some cases they appear to have been hoodwinked by 
Bello as to the contributions allotted to the respective 
towns. E.g. in the case of Go, whereas he informed the 
Resident the amount was 300 saas, he instructed his boy 
Maikurgum to collect 700. In other cases the amount 
tallied with the list submitted to the Resident, and the 

BORNU 131 

boys forced up the levy on their own. The unfortunates 
who could not produce sufficient grain to satisfy Bello's 
greed, were made to supply animal transport, while 
those who could produce neither had to make good in 

5. The cash extorted went partly to Bello direct, but 
for the most part were connived at by him as reasonable 
remuneration to the boys for their trouble in collecting 
the corn. The countless cases given in all their detail 
would fill pages, but a few of the methods by which cash 
was raised may be quoted, as illustrating the credulity 
of the helpless Kanuri. Bello, but in most cases his boy, 
would appear and say : — 

(a) The grain was found on unloading to be short, 

and a small contribution would square the defi- 

(b) Owing to the market corn having arrived late, the 

Resident was angry, and there would be trouble 
for the talakawa unless they paid so much for 
Bello to intercede. 

(c) Abba Bello was coming to camp, but could be 

persuaded for £l to camp elsewhere. 

(d) As they possessed no bullocks to carry the corn, 

the cash equivalent would meet the case. 

(e) On payment of so much the saas should be measured 

in " economic sized drums " ! 
Etc., etc. 

There were other cases, quite unconnected with the 
delivery of grain, in which these boys arrogated to them- 
selves the r6le of itinerant judges, and fined one man 
15s. for assault, another £2 for bush-burning, and another 
18s. for saluting the Medical Officer in the presence of 

6. The Kanuri is ready to buy peace with his Ajia at 
any price, and as explained in Resident Bornu's Quarterly 
Report, owing to the conduct of the Shehu it was neces- 


sary, with the district already disorganized and harassed 
by Bello's rogues, to assure the talakawa in the course 
of collecting information that they should not be dragged 
in to give evidence, and therefore it has not been found 
possible to secure the conviction of all the fifteen odd 
boys concerned. Fortunately, however, a clear case 
was proved by voluntary witnesses against the principal 
offender and chief Wakil, Kachella Kaura, whose crime 
was but one of a series, obvious but not proven, and an 
exemplary sentence of two years' imprisonment was 
passed. Guilt on a minor scale having also been brought 
home to one Maikurgum, whose defence was that the 4s. 
pocketed from the V. Head of Go was a " fatherly 
dash " or earnest of goodwill. Unfortunately, at least 
six other parental contributions of a similar nature are 
pretty well known to have been paid over in other towns 
to this importunate " son." 

7. For the reasons given it is necessary to deal with 
the affair administratively, and it is not easy to recom- 
mend what is the most satisfactory course to pursue. 
It is a disgusting reflection that the one district of all 
others which could have been depended on to meet the 
demands of most of the population of Bornu, should 
have been exploited by Bello for his own ends, and the 
peasantry hunted and bled till they were driven to con- 
cealing the existence of grain, instead of pushing its dis- 
tribution. The result is impossible prices and hunger. 
It is an easy matter, however, to depose Ajias, but not 
so to replace them : and Bello's record in Yajua has not 
hitherto been an entirely bad one. Such an opportunity 
for filling his pockets would have been unfailingly seized 
by any other Ajia in his shoes. At the same time his 
immediate return to the district would be highly im- 
politic, since it would be regarded by the Shehu as a 
triumphant vindication of his repeated assertions that 
the district cannot get on without Bello, and by the 
talakawa as a fresh proof of the futility of the weak com- 
plaining against the strong. If there is no grave objec- 

BORNU 133 

tion, I would suggest that a respectable representative 
of the Shehu (if one can be found) be put in as temporary 
Wakil for four months, assessment postponed for a similar 
period, and Bello confined to Maiduguri, where more 
direct contact with Headquarters and proximity to the 
Political staff may teach him a sense of the difference 
between meum and tuum. He might then return chas- 
tened to the collection of his taxes. 

8. The return of the boys to renew their misdemeanours, 
with the added zest of having " bluffed the judge," is 
out of the question, and they should be entirely replaced 
on Bello 's return if he is allowed to do so. If it is im- 
pressed upon them that at any moment evidence may 
crop up, which shall entail their arrest, and trial by 
Government or Native Court, they may find it wise to 
remove themselves to other spheres, and so rid Shehuri 
of a crowd of vagabonds. 

9. As to the grain and cash extorted, the statement 
given of which, as pointed out in paragraph 2, is a very 
lenient estimate, I would suggest that Bello refund the 
largest proportion that his salary will allow in cash, and 
the remainder in grain, up to two-thirds of the total 
amount ; and that his brother, who has been so anxious 
to help him throughout, should assist him further by 
refunding the remaining one -third. 

It was in connection with this famine that I 
had the luck of a lifetime. I have said that 
wholesale migration was going on. The bulk 
of the agricultural classes were drifting towards 
the fertile districts to the north in the precincts 
of Chad. This terrain afforded great possibilities 
for irrigated crops, and cotton, tobacco, indigo, 
etc., already flourished in spasmodic patches 
north and east of Mongonu. It may be 
wondered, therefore, why it was only the pros- 
pect of starvation that had driven the farming 


population to fall back upon such attractive 

For one thing the mosquito made life unbear- 
able there. But there was another scourge, which 
not only frightened the farmer personally, but 
made farming a rank speculation instead of an 
investment, namely, elephants. Rejoicing in the 
immunity they enjoyed, 1 these mammals crashed 
about at pleasure, trampled any farms they hap- 
pened to encounter into obliteration, and generally 
put an effective check on any agricultural enter- 
prise within a radius of, say, eight miles from 

This had frequently been the subject of comment 
by officers touring Kanembu, but, be it confessed, 
I used to regard this rather as the protest of the 
thwarted shikari than a disinterested appeal on 
behalf of the native. A personal visit to this 
area, however, very soon proved to me that, if 
anything, the damage done by these elephants 
had been understated. The piling of the Pelion 
of famine on the Ossa of elephantine piracy now 
made it more than ever imperative that some 
action should be taken to protect the native, 
and strong representations were made to Head- 
quarters. Only a few days previously a rogue 
elephant, not content with wiping out a cotton 
farm, had caught the cultivator and crushed him 
to pulp with its knees. 

To my joy Sir Frederick Lugard gave sanction 
for the killing of one elephant. Tamsie was on 
tour, and I persuaded Pa Benton to keep the 
1 Vide Chapter VII. 

BORNU 135 

precious news for the former's ears only — for I 
feared that some of the W.A.F.F. sportsmen 
might claim a lien on the expedition. Pa, in for- 
warding the letter, added that " Mr. Langa Langa 
was available for this purpose." Tamsie, who did 
not care twopence about shooting, replied that, 
" if I could make it convenient," I might go — and 
I did, post haste ! 

At the camp before Mongonu my dear boys 
succeeded in getting the flannel round the pull- 
through wedged firmly in the barrel of my rifle ; 
and, without a word to me, engaged a blacksmith 
to force and burn it out with a red-hot iron bar. 
And this was the weapon * on which I was to be 
dependent for my elephant ! The language I 
used was quite unreproducible. 

As a result of this little episode, it was with 
some misgiving that, on March 13th at 4.30 a.m. 
I sallied forth from Kauwa, accompanied by my 
boy Bella and the local hunterman. At 11 a.m. 
we were still prowling about some five miles from 
Chad, without success. Thanking the hunterman 
for nothing, and turning my back on him with 
the oath I keep specially for huntermen, I began 
to make tracks for home. I had barely been 
twenty minutes on the return journey when the 
latter dashed up to me, and said that he had sighted 
our quarry. 

I turned and followed him into open country, 
noticing with some uneasiness that, beyond patches 
of grass about waist high, there was not a single 

1 I had discarded the -303 in favour of the -375 B.S.A. 
Express this tour. 


bit of cover in the shape of tree or scrub. Nothing 
presented itself for miles around but very light 
grass and the uncouth " tumpafia " plant. More- 
over, I was dog tired, the sun was at its zenith, 
and conditions generally unfavourable for tackling 
an elephant. 

Suddenly my guide pointed to a vague colourless- 
looking mass, which so fused itself in its surround- 
ings that at first I could not discern it at all. As 
I got nearer and had a look through my glasses, 
it took shape, and assumed the proportions of a 
huge elephant — the sentinel, as it transpired, of 
a herd of seven. Advancing still nearer I was 
struck by the apparently diminutive size of the 
tusks, and murmured to the hunterman, " They 
are only piccins ! " He assured me that this 
was far from the case, and I did not then fully 
appreciate how great a portion of the tusk is 
of course concealed by the lips and embedded in 
the head. Besides, the Chad elephants are colossal 
brutes, and their bulk naturally dwarfs their tusks 
by comparison. 

I was now within about 120 yards, crawling on 
my hands and knees in a small patch of grass. 
I asked the hunterman whether I dare try and get 
any nearer, for I was very exhausted, having 
been over seven hours on the move, and wanted 
everything in my favour. He knew very little 
Hausa, however, and I evidently did not convey 
to him what I wanted to know. He merely got 
very excited, and began the usual " Gashi ! 
Gashi ! " 1 

1 Vide Chapter IV. 

BORNU 137 

Being afraid that he would lose his head and 
give the whole show away, I got into a kneeling 
posture, and drew a bead on the big bull, who was 
slightly in advance of the herd, which stood in 
crescent formation on my right front. I fired, 
and — whether it was exhaustion that made my 
hand shake, or a blade of grass that obscured 
my vision x I do not know — apparently missed 
the whole target ! I could have torn my hair out 
by the roots, or committed any other form of 

Throwing up their heads they ambled off, and 
disappeared in a depression of the ground, to 
reappear shortly afterwards in an almost identical 
position on my left flank. I was now at a dis- 
advantage. They were much closer together — 
and so harder to distinguish — suspicious, and on 
the move. Worst of all, I was to windward of 
them. Not daring to delay matters, lest they 
should clear off — or do something disagreeable — I 
waited till the big bull showed his head in front 
again, and took a steady aim (standing this time) 
between the eye and the ear. The bullet struck 
home, and he dropped stone dead, and never 
moved again. 

I was not, however, immediately permitted to 
go and sing Nunc Dimittis over the dead, for the 
living now engaged my attention unpleasantly. 
While five of the company dashed off, the seventh 
turned and came swaying towards me, its great 
ears flapping like a glorified spaniel's in the breeze. 
Clutching my arm the hunterman cried : " Mugu ! 
1 Vide Chapter IV, 


Mugu ! Fada gareshi ! Halbe mana, da sauri ! " x 
I mumbled something feeble about the " Governor 
only agreeing for one elephant," but this observa- 
tion he clearly did not consider adequate to the 
emergency, for he shouted more and more violently 
horrible prophecies about death and " teeth." 

Obviously the brute — an old but undergrown 
little devil with half a tusk missing — meant mis- 
chief, so I emptied a magazine into him as hard 
as I could. Five shots all found their mark in 
his head, but not in a vital spot, and he still came 
on. At twenty yards or so he stopped and stag- 
gered, and a bullet through the knee-cap brought 
him to earth. It was a great and picturesque 
sight as he rolled over with all four legs in the 
air. I gave him a coup de grace, and then went 
off to see Number One. 

I was still struck with the hugeness of the frame 
in proportion to the tusks, but was satisfied that 
he was no piccin ! As a matter of fact, the two 
ivories, when weighed later, turned the scale 
at 61 lb. and 60 lb. 2 respectively, which is Row- 
land Ward's biggest but one for Northern Nigeria ; 
while the circumference of the forefoot before 
preservation 3 was within an inch of his largest 
from any part of the world, 4 though of course 
there may be others larger which have not passed 

1 " A rogue ! A rogue ! A palaverer : shoot quickly ! " 

2 The smaller pair weighed 47 lb. and 38 lb. : Melbourne 
Inman sold them for me to Messrs. Nidd, billiard-ball makers. 
From them I gave him a set of balls with which he has made 
two breaks of over 500. 

3 I.e. 66| inches. There is considerable shrinkage, however. 

4 Records of Big Game, Fourth Edition, 

(Geidam "croc." in foreground.) 


BORNU 139 

through his hands. My three little nieces could 
stand inside it quite comfortably. As for the 
ears, I propped one up, and it afforded me excellent 
shelter ! 

I now left the spoils and went off to find my 
convoy, whom I had ordered to follow along the 
Kauwa-Seyoram road, where I picked them up 
about one o'clock. On our return to the scene 
of action, a bizarre and almost pathetic spectacle 
met our gaze. Over the corpse of the smaller 
elephant, mounting guard as it were at some 
solemn lying-in-state, stood two of its erstwhile 
mates, mute and absolutely motionless. Silent 
as carven images they faced us, giving no indica- 
tion as to whether their feelings were those of 
mere curiosity, sullen defiance, or abject sorrow. 
Almost as much in deference to the mourners as 
by way of precaution, I retreated to a distance 
where I could watch the wake in sympathy and 

But news in the Dark Continent travels like 
lightning — especially news of meat in famine time 
— and within half an hour the horizon was dotted 
with black figures who swarmed like mosquitoes 
to the prospective banquet. Forming a huge 
human semicircle, they converged on the silent 
watchers, brandishing sticks and knives, yelling 
songs of triumph, and ever increasing in number. 
The mourners raised their heads, gave one look 
of pained surprise, as if shocked at the desecration 
of the dead, and then trundled off towards Chad. 

Then ensued pandemonium. While the hunter- 
man got to work with his knife on those portions 


of the prey which interested me — namely, the 
tusks, ears, feet, and tails — the oncoming masses 
of famished humanity fell upon the carrion. Two 
old women actually fought each other inside 
one carcass over a scrap of raw gut which both 
claimed. Howls of exultation, mingled with the 
curses of the body-snatcher, rent the miasmic 
air of Chad. At nine o'clock at night the hunter- 
man had not even nearly completed his task, 
and, leaving him with instructions to load four 
bullocks with the trophies when ready, I returned 
to Kauwa. I was too overtired to sleep much, 
and in the morning was attacked by my old dysen- 
teric symptoms, which the terrible March heat 

At 3 p.m. next day the hunterman returned 
with the bullocks laden with what smelt not unlike 
putrid cheese. When I say that long after these 
relics had been treated with preservatives, and 
familiarity had killed all sense of smell in me, 1 
the authorities at Reading Station (where I had 
stored them temporarily) wrote requesting me to 
remove them instantly from the station premises, 
and, if possible, from the town, some slight con- 
ception may be had of their perfume in the glory 
of their freshness ! Even now my mother affects 
to have an attack of faintness when she passes 
the ear of the big elephant, fitted as a table to seat 
five ! 

Not least interesting of my mementoes is the 

1 They were placed for safe custody in the Rest-house 
where I slept, every night, between Maiduguri and Kano — 
a journey of twenty-four days ! 

BORNU 141 

hard-nosed bullet, which, after passing through 
the brain of the first victim, was recovered from 
a back tooth. Proudly, but far from fit, I returned 
to Maiduguri. 

In May or thereabouts Von Raben passed 
through en route for Mora. He was the German 
Resident, or equivalent thereof, a good sportsman, 
thoroughly British in his point of view, and a 
gentleman in the best sense of the word. We 
initiated him into the excitement of polo, with 
which he was much impressed, and the same 
evening Tamsie gave a dinner-party at which we 
were charmed by the vivacity and camaraderie of 
our guest. 

Next morning he asked, and was allowed, to be 
present at an interview with the Shehu and the 
Shuwa sheikhs who had just been summoned to a 
ceremonial meeting. Being not unlike Hewby in 
face and general appearance, I took the oppor- 
tunity of having a dig at the chief sheikh, telling 
him that this was a German " Mista Ibi " (this 
was a pre-war statement, and therefore not action- 
able !) who would be watching them closely from 
the German side when they did their annual 
dodge from British to German pastures ! 

Next day he left us — not before he had invited 
us all to visit him at Mora in August, when the 
river would be high, and his abundant store of 
good fare would have found its way up there. 
Sure enough we presented ourselves in August, 
but not alas ! as welcome guests. The last of 
all the enemy to surrender, from beginning to end 
he conducted himself as a gallant and worthy 


foe. His kinsmen on the Western front were as 
different from him in the rules of chivalry as the 
assassin from the Crusader. 

The Political Officer has grown accustomed to 
being made a jack-of -all-trades, and I therefore 
showed no surprise when I had the supervision 
of an ostrich-farm added to my countless duties. 
The farm was about as successful as most State- 
run enterprises. French experts having failed 
under favourable circumstances in the north, it 
was not likely that an amateur was going to achieve 
success. At any rate, I got through a " plucking " 
without accident. But the net dividend amassed 
from this venture from start to finish was one egg, 
excavated from the body of a dead ostrich, which 
I converted to my own use, and to the entertain- 
ment of my friends, in the shape of buttered eggs 
for four days ! 

Time passed uneventfully (God knows it was to 
be eventful enough later !) with polo the chief 
attraction, and de Putron, who, when he first 
came, could barely sit a horse, an almost first- 
class exponent of the game. Polo days generally 
ended with a little tete-a-tete dinner with Tamsie, 
whose conversation was as stimulating as his 

De P. had built a real good house, with fly-proof 
office and mosquito-proof sleeping-room, but was 
transferred to Geidam before he could enjoy the 
benefits of it, which therefore accrued to me. 

At the end of July I was posted to Geidam in 
my turn to relieve de P. On my way there I 
stopped at Burgo, and to my great satisfaction 


(Designed by de P. and completed by Autbor.) 

BORNU 143 

shot a good male " farin gindi," also a " derri " 
of fair size. 

On reaching Geidam, I found that Captain 
Ruxton had arrived with his wife, to take over 
the province. They had driven in a four-wheeled 
trap from Kano, but their second pair had given 
trouble, and they were not looking forward to the 
sandy stretch from Geidam to Maiduguri. I lent 
them one of my single trappers, but he started 
kicking his companion, so I had to remove him. 

Next day, August 7th, came the momentous 
announcement by Poldhu, from the French wireless 
station at Fort Lamy via Maine, that Germany 
had declared war on France, and England on Ger- 
many. " I have the honour and joy," ran the 
message from the Commandant at Maine, " to 
inform you that war has been declared. I call 
God and Right to the success of our arms. Vive 
la France ! Vive VAngleterre ! " 

The station was agog with the news — very dis- 
tressing news for poor Mrs. Ruxton, on top of such 
an exacting journey, with all her nearest and dearest 
upon the scene of the life and death struggle — and 
everybody asked each other questions and made 
suggestions (for the most part futile), and the air 
generally was electrified with excitement and un- 
certainty. Even the Shuwa Patrol 1 was momen- 
tarily forgotten. 

It had scarcely come home to us that the removal 
of the not specially interesting heir of a doddering 
emperor by an obscure Serb, news of which had 

1 Any officer then on the Bornu staff will appreciate the 
significance of this observation. 

144 WAR ! 

vaguely been conveyed to these outposts in news- 
papers five weeks old by the time they arrived, 
was to be made even an ostensible casus belli, let 
alone to ignite a world conflagration. Rather had 
it been regarded by those of us who had troubled 
about the incident at all as one of the regular 
" silly season " assassinations which are fashionable 
in that part of the world. Even now we scarcely 
connected it with the bombshell which had fallen 
amongst us. The British mind, unlike the Conti- 
nental, is astonishingly unreceptive, and does not 
put two and two together, unless it is forced to. 

As it was, as soon as it was grasped that war 
was a fait accompli, those on the spot put on their 
armour, so to speak, and sallied forth, just as if 
it were to a jolly old pagan scrap instead of Arma- 
geddon, with the one idea which characterized 
most of the earlier Cameroon operations, namely, 
of having " a good show " — such small items as 
co-operation, intelligence, or maps being considered 
of secondary importance. We muddled through, 
of course, as we always have, and always shall, 
in spite — or rather because — of the mathematical 
precision with which the foe gambles on forcing 
the future to fit in with his time-tables, instead of, 
as we do, adapting his time-tables to circumstances. 
Nevertheless, it cost us some of the best lives in 
the country. 1 

Ruxton immediately hurried off to Maiduguri, 
leaving orders for Foulkes (then in charge of 

1 Wickham and Sherlock were killed at Tepe : Henry 
Seymour and Macdonell severely wounded there. Aubin, 
Maclear, Pucklc, and Brown lost their lives at Garua. 

BORNU 145 

Geidam Division) and myself to follow at intervals. 
Lane and an advance party of M.I. raced me almost 
camp for camp to Maiduguri, and never did old 
" Danda " serve me better. On arrival at Maidu- 
guri I found that Fox and Lees had already pushed 
on towards Mora, the new German capital of the 
Northern Cameroons ; and there was a strong 
rumour current that three white Germans and two 
hundred rank and file were advancing on Maidu- 
guri. We were all sworn in to the Land Contingent 
by Ruxton that afternoon, and in the evening he 
sent for me and ordered me to proceed with dis- 
patches the same night to Fox, who was entrenched 
near Konduga. 

I was beat to the world after my trek from 
Magumeri that morning — I had only had short 
snatches of sleep all the way from Geidam — but 
Tamsie provided me with a meal and two fresh 
horses, and off I went. I made Fox's camp at 
about 5 a.m., to learn that all was serene, and 
that the rumoured oncoming hordes were not 
Huns but a party of harmless Syrian traders bound 
from Dikoa to Shehuri. I do not think I have 
ever been quite so tired in my life as I was that 
day, and at lunch with Wightwick I dropped off 
to sleep in the act of putting some soup to my 
mouth ! Fraser, the doctor, whom I was not to 
see again alive, opened some " medical comfort " 
champagne, but, as is sometimes the case with 
this drug, owing to being kept too long in bottle, 1 
it was all corked ! 

1 I am an advocate of the constant circulation and renewal 
of this excellent drug ! 



I returned to Maiduguri next day, and received 
orders to tour the Marghi- Cameroon border as 
Intelligence Officer, and to arrange for supplies 
for the column under Vinen and Marwood advancing 
from Nafada. I had also to take with me for the 
Yola column 150 donkeys laden with grain as far 
as Chibok, and there hand it over to an officer 
from the Yola side. The rains were at their height, 
and getting the donkeys through breast-high 
swamps was a heartbreaking performance. It 
must have been no doubt during one of these in- 
voluntary ablutions that I contracted the chill 
which shortly after nearly cost me my life. 

Maina, the new District Head of Marghi, was 
one of the most efficient natives I have ever 
had to do business with, and a refreshing con- 
trast to his predecessor, Amadu Kago. He 
made every arrangement, and in a very short 
time had collected the supplies required for the 

At Gumsuri I felt seedy, and at Chibok went 
down with fever, which grew rapidly worse. Think- 
ing I was in for merely a severe go of malaria, I 
called for more quinine — and was unconcernedly 
informed by my boys that it " done finish." I 
might as well have been deprived of my bed. I 
was six days from Maiduguri — there was no doctor 
there in any case, and the bearer of a note I sent 
in to Benton ran away en route. I dispatched 
another runner to Maina on the off-chance that 
he might have a grain or two of quinine, and he 
sent me four tabloids floating in a bottle of scent — 
no doubt as a delicate compliment ! Needs must 

BORNU 147 

when the devil drives, so I took a couple, and 
was violently sick. 

My temperature having been 104° for three 
days, and hearing that a second doctor, Pearson, 
had joined the Mora column, I sent a runner to 
Fraser asking if he could possibly take a short 
cut through East Marghi to my assistance. Un- 
happily he was killed the day my note arrived. I 
had been daily expecting the officer from Yola 
to take over the grain, thinking he might be able 
to do something for me, but this was a false hope, 
as only native police turned up. 

I was now very ill indeed, my temperature 
hovering below and over 105°, and I suffered from 
a delirium of a night which always took the same 
form, namely, the disordered fancy that every 
time I turned over I had to turn those cursed 
three hundred bags of grain over with me, counting 
them one by one. On one occasion I had such 
a violent attack of shivering that I was reduced 
to borrowing some stinking old blankets from the 
chief of Chibok, piled them over me, and made 
the boys light a fire in my hut. The rain used to 
dribble through the roof into the bed, and the 
misery of the thing was untold. When one is 
buried in the bush and quite alone, one needs to 
be perfectly fit : illness combined with solitude 
accentuates both. 

One day the horse-boy burst in and announced 
that the Germans had left their station at Mubi, 
a stage or two away, and were within one camp 
of Chibok. This was pleasant hearing in my con- 
dition ; but I was too ill to stir myself. Happily 


it turned out to be one of many false alarms. 
Meanwhile, I had had a letter from Vereker, 
attached to the Yola column, announcing the 
reverses at Garua and Tepe, and what little spirits 
I had left sank to zero. 

On the tenth day of my illness I learned that 
Moiser, the M.O. to Vinen's column, had reached 
Gumsuri and got news of my predicament. He 
was suffering from sciatica himself, and wrote 
telling me to come in to Gumsuri in the hammock 
which he sent with his letter. He had, of course, 
no idea how bad I was, as he had not been in 
communication with Maiduguri. I replied that I 
could not possibly travel, and sent him "Danda" 
and the trap in case he could get to me. 

That night he arrived, and, I shall always think, 
saved my life. I was stone deaf with the quinine 
which Pearson had got through to me, and wasted 
away to skin and bones. Moiser very cleverly 
put two and two together, and soon spotted what 
the trouble was — an incipient abscess on the liver. 
Chaytor arrived next day, and all was in readiness 
for an operation. Happily, however, my malady 
responded to that then comparatively new but 
priceless drug, emetin, and my temperature fell 
a little every day. Moiser's good company and 
confidence-inspiring treatment did the rest, and 
I was soon on the road to recovery and Maiduguri. 

At Masuba I actually developed an appetite, 
and told Bisalla to get out a tin of sausages, which 
were duly set all sizzling on the breakfast table 
between Moiser and myself. 

" Hurry up and bring the eggs, boy ! " said the 

BORNU 149 

former, as he helped himself lavishly to " sauseg," 
and at that moment the eggs arrived. 

" Ah, there are your eggs ! " said Moiser, trans- 
ferring to his plate the last sausage. 

My jaw dropped. " I don't think I quite fancy 
eggs — er — neat ! " I murmured feebly. 

" Well, have a little toast with them," replied 
Moiser cheerily, as he patted some mustard on a 
particularly attractive-looking piece of sausage. 

" I — well, you see " I began. 

Suddenly Moiser tumbled to the situation. 
" My dear old thing ! " he said, " you didn't think 
I was going to let you eat sausages in your con- 
dition, did you ? " 

But I had to be pacified with a baby bottle at 
eleven o'clock. 

And so to Maiduguri once more, where Mrs. 
Ruxton insisted on providing me with every 
meal for a fortnight of my convalescence. What 
a difference a woman can make to a station, for 
better — or for worse ! The trim little earthenware 
jugs and bowls, spotless serviettes, appetizing little 
dishes, and good red wine would have reconciled 
me to a perpetual period of convalescence ! Every 
day I said I could not dream of letting her cater 
for me any more, and every day I succumbed 
to the temptation of the good things which arrived 
on the tray, and allowed her to feed me for "just 
one more day ! " When I did revert to my own 
cook, Haji, who really was not a bad performer 
in his way, I am afraid the comparison made me 
behave very harshly and unfairly to him. 

Neither I, nor indeed any of us whose lot was 


cast in those parts at this time, can be sufficiently 
grateful for the many little kindnesses received 
at the hands of Mrs. Ruxton. Never did woman 
conceal her own anxieties in those months of grave 
crisis for France more bravely, or show more un- 
selfish consideration for others. 

I was invalided as a matter of course, and left 
for Kano via Hadeijah early in October — a journey 
of some twenty-six days without seeing a white 
man. So fit was I by the time I reached Kano, 
where I was held up for ten days waiting for the 
next mail-train, that I protested indignantly — 
but in vain- — at being sent home. 

Sending Bisalla with my horses and trap back 
to Moiser, to w T hom I had sold the latter, 
I reluctantly embarked on the train — a fellow- 
passenger being the German prisoner who had 
attempted to blow up H.M.S. Cumberland. I 
caught the Burutu 1 (Captain Potter) at Lagos, 
and we sailed packed like sardines, three and four 
in a cabin — one of my stable-mates being Bath- 
gate, with whom I was destined to be doubled up 
on the ill-fated Falaba, of which more in a later 

1 Sunk in collision, November 1918. 



Small Chop is a stimulant as necessary to the 
jaded appetite of the Nigerian exile as the kola- 
nut to the carrier, or strychnine to the failing 
heart. It is acceptable at any hour of the 
twenty-four. I remember Stone, on the river 
trip described in Chapter I, would seize a knife, 
and make a salad of sardines and raw onion-chips 
at eleven in the morning, and Bertram Wood 
would passionately demand buttered eggs and 
Heinz's tomato ketchup in his sleep. Even so 
has the fancy moved me at this point to ginger 
up the flagging interest of the reader with a few 
anecdotal hors d'ceuvres, served haphazard, ere 
they slip my quinine-logged memory. [How not 
to set about a Small-Chop party, by the way, 
is to tell the boy to " pass " Small Chop — as did 
one parsimonious officer — and to receive the 
reply that the cook has gone to town with the 
key of the yam store !] 

The following bonne bonche shall have pride of 
place on the platter. I had freshly taken up my 
duties in a fashionable division of the Southern 
Provinces ; and the local Chief, having ignored 
my existence for ten days or so, had then sent me 
up a verbal message inquiring when I was going 



down to see him. Calling up a " number-man," 
I mildly asked him if it was customary here for 
the Political Officer to go and pay his respects 
to the Bale, or the other way round. The number- 
man gave his stomach some much needed ventila- 
tion by flapping his one and only jumper gently 
up and down, and appeared to be at a loss. 
" Prafs," he observed, after a pause, "he no 
savvy you be gentleman, but tink you only 
A.D.O." A stroke of diplomacy which would 
have been less elephantine had not a mere A.D.O. 
been sorting vouchers at the adjacent table. 

More artistic was the diplomacy of a clerk 
(rubesco referens) in my own distinguished 
department, who had been sentenced for larceny 
to six months' imprisonment. " In view of my 
recent transfer," he wrote to his Cape Coast 
inamorata, " from Political to Prisons Department, 
I shall be extending for a further six months. 
There are several others due before me, and the 
roster is adhered to far more strictly in this 
Department." " Adhering to the roster " is ex- 
tremely happy. 

I am undecided whether the native is more 
delightful in his tact or in his frankness. 

Of the latter school was one, Dan Baba, who, 
when questioned by me on my return from tour 
why he had taken a second lot of dog-chop money 
from the doctor, when I had already made pro- 
vision, replied : " Ambani — na ki-ne ? " (" Does 
a man refuse what he is offered ? ") 

Candour on the part of a native in many cases 
conceals a barb, howbeit all unconscious. 


Not long ago, we were examining certain police- 
constables in Lower Standard English, and, to 
test the vocabulary of one candidate about which 
we were doubtful, Phillips asked him : " Is this 
examination easy ? " 

" Yes ! " replied the weary police-constable, 
" for you" 

Again observe the brutal, though quite unin- 
tended shaft of another examinee. He had 
been describing the various " shows " he had 
been through in Sokoto and elsewhere as a 

" But you don't wear any medals for these 
scraps ? " 

" No, sah ! Dey no give medals : no white 
man catch wound " (!). 

Not lacking in candour was Audu Ibi, a 
bugler in " A " company, of whom I omitted 
to make honourable mention in my chapters on 
Bauchi. His previous calling in life, he obligingly 
informed us, was to stand behind trees on main 
routes and tap traders on the head, while his 
father robbed them. 

He was also a wag. One evening Murphy 
Moran and I laid a hyena trap. With the help 
of Audu, we set a *303 concealed in scrub, with 
the body of a monkey attached by string to the 
trigger-catch within six inches of the muzzle. 
If the affair should be successful the hyena could 
not escape being blown to bits ; and we were 
returning homewards, when Audu Ibi came run- 
ning up hot-foot. To Murphy's inquiries as to 
what was the matter, Audu, with immobile face, 


but twinkling eye, replied with a salute : " You 
have forgotten to sight the rifle ! M 

Not long previously Sir Percy Girouard had 
presented the Emir of Bauchi with a pair of 
bugles ; and the latter had obtained permission 
from Murphy for two of his varlets to undergo 
a course of training with the W.A.F.F. bugler. 
Some evenings later, Murphy and I were strolling 
along the Naraguta road, when heartrending cries 
and lamentations issued from the bush on our 
right. Investigations revealed Audu Ibi standing, 
whip in hand, over the prostrate forms of the 
Emir's would-be buglers, who were endeavouring 
to protect their nethermost parts with Sir Percy's 
bugles. Audu, questioned, explained in so many 
words that these were mere " preliminary 
lessons " (!) I may add that he informed me 
privately afterwards that what had really an- 
noyed him was the one trying to blow down the 
wrong end of the bugle, the other trying to inhale 
at the right one ! 

Murphy, by the way, was nicknamed by his 
men " Bahagu " (" The Left-hand man "). As 
he played tennis, racquets, and all the ordinary 
games with his right hand, I could not understand 
the sobriquet, until Audu lightened my darkness 
thus : — " If you had had your face smacked 
by Bahagu as hard and as often as I have, you 
would understand ! " 

Murphy apparently led with his left ! 

Two episodes of historical importance as show- 
ing how bit by bit we built the Empire are related 
by a character already mentioned in these pages. 


(He has obdurately rejected my periodical exhorta- 
tions that he should give the world the benefit of 
his thirty years' experience of joy and sorrow 
in West Africa ; and it is the duty of the Govern- 
ment to subpoena him to do so.) 

" I was sent out down the Coast in November '99 
to engage the details of the first native ' civil 
staff ' authorized for Northern Nigeria, and after 
an interesting experience, staying a week or more 
in each colony, I arrived in the New Year on the 
Niger with some scores of t all sorts, 5 and more 
to follow. 

" The task of weeding out the crowds of appli- 
cants, with their curious and diverse credentials, 
had been considerable. At Accra, the only testi- 
monial produced by one of the candidates for a 
clerkship in the Government Service of Northern 
Nigeria was a paper certifying that the bearer, 
A. K., had been ' dismissed from school for 
furnication ' (sic). 

" Having, at Lagos, to go off arid meet the 
newly arriving High Commissioner, and report 
progress, I mentioned the foregoing unsuccessful 
application to His Excellency, who, chuckling 
heavily, queried : * Well, did you ask him what 
he had been doing since ? ' " 

"On arrival at Lokoja I was posted to a district 
on the Benue, and we proceeded up there by 
canoe. On the morning after arrival, I got busy 
having the flag hoisted and the proclamation read. 
By breakfast time I had already dealt with the 
first application for the white man's justice. 

" A man rushed into my office, brandishing a 


sword in one hand, and in the other a voluminous 
pair of crimson plush trousers. It appeared that, 
on going unexpectedly into his house, he had 
found his wife being embraced by a gentleman, 
who immediately fled, leaving this property 
behind him. Having calmed his excitement, I 
pointed out to the complainant that, if he retained 
the articles until the owner came to claim them, 
he would be doing a wise thing ; while, if the 
owner never did claim them, he, the complainant, 
would not be doing so badly out of it : and that 
any recrudescence of Don Juanism would no doubt 
receive substantial justice at the hands of the 
native Chief. He went away apparently satisfied." 

Talking of justice, it is a little difficult to pre- 
serve the customary dignity of the Bench, when 
accused, pulled up for contradicting himself, 
announces : " Your Warship ! I am all topsy- 
torvy to-day ! " as occurred in my Court once ; 
or, to the question Guilty, or Not Guilty ? with 
a sweeping bow replies : " Nevertheless," and 
sticks to that plea, as happened recently, to the 
confusion of Judge Pickwoad. 

And here I cannot resist the temptation to 
repeat Bathgate's immortal story of " Nevertheless." 

It was a Wild West concert, and the M.C. had 
proclaimed that Miss Hetty Sorrel would sing 
"White Wings." "Miss Hetty Sorrel," came a 

rasping voice from the back tier, " is a ! " 

" Nevertheless," announced the M.C, after the 
hubbub had subsided and the six-shooters been 
re-holstcred, " Miss Hetty Sorrel will sing ' White 
Wings ' ! " 


Of the adaptability of men to circumstance the 
following illustration is educative. 

We were on Native Administration Estimates. 
The Resident was a conscientious and memo- 
respecting officer, who was careful, when making 
indents for the N.A., from a steam-roller down 
to a piece of india-rubber, on all occasions to 
preface the application with the pious formula : 
" The Emir requests, etc." Which is very 
right and proper — for is it not an earnest of 
Indirect Rule ? 

Solemnly we tackled item after item " in con- 
sultation with the Emir and notables." Head 
I evoked the most lively and enlightened interest 
on the part of His Majesty, and it was not entirely 
without a struggle that we passed this Head as 
it stood, and proceeded to items of more ephemeral 
and less personal significance. 

Resident. " And does the Emir think 25 messengers 
at £1 would be good ? " 

Answer. " Da alberkachinka sarkin duniya zaki ! " 
(Which may be roughly translated, " Yes.") 

Resident. " Now, malams. Last year there were 20 
district malamai. This year we shall be making fresh 
counts, closer assessments — does the Emir think 25 
would be good ? " 

Answer (after a slight pause, during which the Emir 
is recalled to consciousness by a ceremonial dig in the 
ribs administered by the Waziri). " Da alberkachinka 
sarkin duniya zaki ! " (For translation vide supra.) 

Resident. " And Haruna market overseer — I see 
his wages are 30s." 

Emir (brightly, and with a view to neutralizing any 
impression which may have been created by the Waziri's 
action). " Ah ! I think Haruna should be raised 10s." 


Resident. " Oh, welJ, but — I don't think Haruna 
has very much work to do, has he ? " 

Emir (instantly, and finally dispersing any lingering 
suspicions as to his attentiveness). " Ah, to ! Let us 
cut him 10s., then ! " 

And with a weary sigh the earnest Resident 
passed to Works Recurrent. 

Equally strict in the observance of Colonial Office 
Rules and Regulations, but from different motives, 
was a Political Officer, by name MacTopper. 

MacTopper was annoyed generally with the 
Powers that Be : in particular they had in a 
recent M.P. spelt his name with one " p." He 
sought revenge. Now the Powers that Be, are 
in a strong position — for they have, what Mac- 
Topper was determined to have, the last word. 
For a month or more he kept his own counsel ; 
and then one day he " had the honour to apply, 
in accordance with Colonial Office Regulation, 

No. of 1-1-18, Cap. , to be allowed to 

spend part of his next leave out of England." 

Rung by rung his application was formally 
passed from Resident to Asst. Sec, to Chief Sec, 
to Lieut.-Governor. " Yes," minuted the L.G., 
" but please let Mr. MacTopper state where he 
wishes to spend it." Down the great ladder of 
officialdom to vile earth again came the M.P., and 
upon it with impious finger did MacTopper thus 
reply :— 


In Scotland. 

G. MacT. 

And that, we believe, was indeed the last word. 


Some of the good old crusted M.P.'s of Zungeru 
days contain much that is succulent. One little 
passage of arms between two great men I may be 
permitted to quote, for all the parties concerned 
have long since laid down their portfolios. The 
Postmaster-General, who in his youth had been 
called to the Bar, had crossed swords with the 
Attorney-General on some technical point. " I 
have yet to learn," minuted the A.-G. to His 
Excellency, "what are the qualifications of the 
P.M.G. to express an opinion on this matter." 
" The same," replied the P.M.G. on receiving the 
M.P., "astheA.G.'s — those of a briefless barrister." 

The quasi-literate species of native provides 
quite a fund of amusement. His effusions on 
paper are enormously entertaining — out of office 
hours. I say out of office hours, because the effort 
to elucidate the point of some of these epistles 
during a glut of work is rather irritating. 

Volumes could be filled with the sort of letters 
I mean. Lady Clifford has amassed a remarkably 
representative collection in Our Day on the Gold 
Coast. I could add to, but not improve upon them. 

Only yesterday I received a letter from an 
applicant begging to be allowed to 

put myself under your supremacy and control. I get 
no sence to control myself. 

Your Affectionate poor Fellow, 

John Gbadamosi. 
P.S. — I am even better than this testimonial. If you 
employ me your work will be more and more amen. 

One poor soul subscribed himself : " Your own 



Hermon Hodge once received, by the same 
mail, one letter addressed : " His Majesty, The 
Hermon Hodge," another : 

D. O. Hog, 


Circumlocution and hyperbole are as endemic 
in Africa as they are in India — or, for that matter, 
in the neighbourhood of Gray's Inn — and for 
the same reason, that the public letter-writer, like 
the lawyer, is paid by the folio, and spreads him- 
self accordingly. Of good healthy drivel, cover- 
ing howbeit a matter of vital importance to the 
writers, the following is an average example. 


, With most profoundly, we have the honour 
respectfully to approach your very worship. 

Sir, We native of Igbara woman greatly surprise 

to put before you and to explain to your kind and soleute 

Sir, We beg to ask you to give us your ears and with 
deep thoughts. 

Sir, We cetizens of the country and not denizens 

has the pleasure to acquaint with your kind favour to 
make you to understand for us, though we are ignorant 
and illeterate before you but not in this point, we want 
your help now. 

Sir, From our great grand Generation the fore parents 
we have our very native customary chop meantime is 
our drink which brings the strength to our husbands the 
farmers more and more, and gives chop to our country 
aboundantly which named the fruitful country. 

Sir, This our food describing is Guinea corn which 
yourself can identify same by given to your horse how 
powerful you real seeing in it ? 

Sir, We native woman when cooked this Guinea corn 
for drink and our native men as their customary drink, 


put in the calabash pot or bottle called Kolia with them 
to farm it gives them more power to work. 

Sir, This Guinea corn drink called Pito gives also 
strength to our old aged men and women who has no 
teeth and strength jaws to chew food is only their chop. 

Sir, This now we are not allowed to use our native 
fooding which will give us native and none natives 
cheapest food like formerly, all the coasters can witness 
that chops are not so cheap as before, owing to what sir, 
Owing to the lack of this Pito when the people cant get 
to their farms. 

Sir, This prohibition of our native chop Guinea corn 

by the Government or the Authority in charge our 

born country, we made to understand that it was the 

advise from the denizen chief of who is not our 

born land man, he has determined to turn our country 
upside down, but we natives beg your worship to regene- 
rate our country into former condition especial with 
our chop which is our drink, also. 

Sir, We wish to get this our denizen chief who is ruin our 
country in your court to let him know who he is in . 

Sir, We again beg to notice you that we shall soon 

want of plenty food if Railway business reach to our 

border therefore we need sufficient to help us in our farms 

that Guinea corn using in chopping and drinking as Pito. 

We are yours Obedient Maid Servants 












PI. Sir, We are more than this numbers. 



All of which might have been expressed in four 
words : " We want our beer." 

As with the young optimist who imagines that 
he has perfected his education with the attainment 
of Standard V (or VI, or whatever it is that they 
advertise in their " application,") so with a certain 
type of " convert " who is quite satisfied that to 
be baptized, and called Ezekiel or Luke, is the 
ultrius quo non of Christianity. 

An unassuming, hard-working little carpenter of 
my acquaintance had diffidently murmured to me 
one day that " to-morrow was Good Friday." 
In all innocence, and entirely ignorant of the 
stupendous fact that he had been baptized (for 
the sum of one shilling) in the River Osin, I asked 
him what Good Friday had to do with him, or 
his work, and received the meek rebuff : " Sake 
of my name be John." No doubts, no heart- 
searchings, no Higher Criticism for him. His 
name was John : and that was the alpha and 
omega of it. It reminded me of myself when 
I was ten years old, saying to my baby brother : 
" There goes a thoroughbred horse ! " and to 
his awe-struck question how I knew, replying, 
John-like : " 'cos it has a long tail." 

But optimism is not confined to the youth of 
Africa. A certain elderly commercial clerk, who 
took the bright view that half a loaf is better than 
no bread, gladdened his declining years by signing 
himself " Theophilus B. Cole, B.A. (failed)." * 

1 This is even more frank than the entry of a certain officer 
in the Nigerian Civil Service List to the effect that, among 
other achievements, he tk attended the Tropical Courses at 


Again, the A.D.O. at a Headquarter office 
had had an infinity of trouble with his accounts 
clerk, who had time after time messed up the 
cash book, omitted entries, and generally upset 
the office. " Is there anything you can do ? " he 
asked one day in despair. "Yes, sah!" came the 
radiant reply, " I keep wicket for the Gold Coast ! " 

The Railway Department, of course, abounds 
in hors d'ceuvres. Such appeals as the following 
are pathetically representative. 

... I have the honour to apply . . . for the post 
of chicket collector as a lamp-boy or guard or otherwise 
of work. ... If this application of mine be granted, 
I shall left my work undone immidiately . . . 

My first married woman which accompanied me to 
up Northern died in 1917. I married again in 1918 which 
since then she delivered male childs twice but they are 
died. The last one was in September 1920 after myself 
recovered from guinea-worm, which up to December last 
she seriously ill. On February last she resumed again, 
and consequently suggested by doctor that nothing but 
climate of Northern, not agreed with her health . . . 

URGENT. I have the honour to inform you that 
my room at Sabongeri is still unsteady. . . . There is no 
door, no kitchen, and a bathroom and the people I am 
using with is useless because they like not themselves. 
There is no key and padlocks supply if at all the room 
is well fixed, the wall is unlookable no whitewash and 
sealing . . . 

Imperial Institute — but did not sit for the examination " ; 
and quite as effective as that of another whose dearth of 
distinctions led him to insert " Member of several Boards 
of Survey." 


And this from a victim of the Great Retrench- 
ment : — 

With a poorest condition I was beg . . . since I was 
retrenched out from service . . . may this mine please 
your majesty and instruct my being resumes for God's 
sake. Dear Father look ! and Hear ! that chop Health 
are major for a foreigner in a strange Country. Mercy ! 
Mercy ! Mercy ! on me . . . 

Speaking of retrenchment, a wire from Dawson 
to a certain station-master, which ran thus : — 
" Retrench one porter from 19th inst. and advise 
me names of men retrenched," elicited this reply : — 
" Pointsman Sanusi now commenced to retrench- 
ing." To the consternation of the District Engineer, 
who had to fly to the scene by special trolley to 
investigate whether the retrenchment were of 
mere human clay, or of earth from the permanent 

The morals of some of the Menial Staff in the 
same Department are not, I am afraid, quite up 
to Standard V, as one might say. Whereof witness 
the following (from an injured cuckold ? ). 

This letter concerning yourself and who were 

the step father and mother of my wife, and I wish to 
convey this message to the prostitute who is living with 

you that I regret my leaving early having no chance 

to take the necessary steps with her as I had wish, and 

that am now difying her to come to and assume on 

my wife as she had done, nevertheless ... I shall surely 
see that she go in for her fraudulent tricks, so far as she 

said she was going to let her proceed to meet her 

doom there — the payment of what she worked for by 
ruin my house and induce my wife to do things which 
she had not practised. As for you, a common ignorant, 


I have not much to comment, but leaving you to God 
and your conscience to judge. So far as you are a clep- 
tomania, I know you have been destined to misfortunes 
which the railway will soon find out your games. 

Although my wife has confessed your inducement to 
her in many awful ways . . . yet I slide over them seeing 
that by your own hands you shall soon entrap yourself. 

You seems to forget that your father was only a Bell- 
ringer in our church St. George's Cathedral in Sa Leone, 
and that you were only a piece-tail, Brat with a tail shirt 
down to your knees assisting your father on his poor 
profession. A Mendi tribe besides — the most ungrateful 
nation in the world. . . . When I first married my wife 
you eat and drank (and ate) the same food that she pre- 
pared, not knowing that you were Judas. You cloth 
your wolf's face into a sheepskin and make our house 
your comfortable home, behold you were a canker worm ; 
but the Lord will surely revenge you for me. 

... I could scarcely believe that you had been bap- 
tized so far as your action shows that of an Infidele, a 
scaliwag, a dead conscience brute, a raw Pagan of the 
worst integrity and a cruel beast of the Viper and Tigris 
brand. Do not worry to write me as I require no explana- 
tion from you. 

. . . and have selected yourselves, and your 

doom is in the hands of . The 2s. 6d. she paid in 

Court will have a continue endurance with disgrace and 

It would be wise if you try and hide your secret, and 
if not show this letter to whosoever you like ; but do 

not forget what you did to who is now at , if 

you try me it will be your end. 

And this ! 

Even the quarters which I was supplied by Railway 
Officer to be sleeping in I never slept there once owing 
to the station-master are not telling me the exact time 
which the train due here, or how many train will run, 


so therefore I have to use my day and night in the office 
so that he may get chance to do what he like with my 
wife. On the 16th he again sent me to Ojuku, as soon 
as I left without any doubt he call the attention of my 
wife. ... I shall be much grateful if the I.T.O. may 
beg this man to put stop on this subject, as I never marry 
my wife for him but for my own purpose to avoid incon- 

Let me conclude with two reports against 
drivers : — 


I wish to report the vile manner in which Driver 
carried out shunting duties at this Station. This 

Driver is not in favour of the pointsman's flag, nor will 
he view the Shunters signals, but remains murmering 
within himself. He then furiously charged the wagons 
with gravity of his ill will to do so, until contents, palm 
pots were reduced to entire emptiness. 

Had I not been more active than smartness the wagon 
would have run to point of derailment. I trust the T.M. 
will kindle some warm instructions in the bosom of this 


I wish to report Driver working train 

refuse to stop at signal and try to run to main line on 
which train was standing. 

Luckily Pointsman Ojo, long service man, risk his life 
as hero, dashed to the tumbler and threw it over, think- 
ing to be killed. This Driver is providing of his full speed 

driving that people may say oh, it is Driver he can 

drive serious, oh we praise him. 

All simple folk — childishly ingenuous in their 
troubles and happiness, and not unlovable to 
those who understand them. 


Not of these, let me hasten to say, is the sort 
of jackanapes who, when the boat happens to 
be sailing on a Bank holiday, and you rush into 
the Post Office for an urgently required parcel 
of clothes, asks you whether you " are not aware 
that to-day is a dies non ; and the best I can do 
for you therefore is to wish you ' bon voyage ! ' " 

Nor, again, the sea-lawyer who, when called 
upon to pay his share of rates and taxes, holds 
mothers' meetings and circularizes his fellow- 
clowns to the effect that " the African Empire is 
at Steak, and the time has come to put our wheels 
to the shoulder." 

Nor (absit omen!) the Demosthenes Africanus 
who concludes his Philippic in the Negro World 

thus : — " until the world is made safe for 

Africans, and Africa — the fatherland — is restored 
to its pristine power and grandeur." 

If he wants his former pristine grandeur, he 
can have it — on the Bukuru Plateau (three days' 
run from Lagos, fare £12 (?), change at Zaria) ; 
and there, incidentally, he can effect radical 
economies by discarding his top-hat, and other 
emblems of modern white barbarity, in favour 
of the wardrobe of those parts, which can be 
comfortably carried, when not on duty, in an 
empty shaving-soap tin. The pristine power, by 
the way, which he so glibly invokes, would have 
probably incontinently sacrificed him, top-hat and 
all, over a slow fire. 

For such specimens as these neither the European 
nor the genuine native has any manner of time 
or use. 



On Friday, the 26th of March 1915, I witnessed 
Ally Sloper win the Grand National at Aintree. 
That afternoon at about six o'clock, after a violent 
game of squash racquets, I was swimming in the 
Adelphi baths : less than thirty-six hours afterwards 
I was swimming for my life in the St. George's 

My brothers, Claude and Leonard, came on to 
the tender on the 27th, to see me off on the 
F aloha's last voyage. " Remember," observed 
the former, a naval officer, when we boarded 
the Falaba, " this is not peace-time, and you 
cannot be too well prepared for emergencies. 
Let's have a look at your place in the boats." 
We went to the notice-board and there found 
posted up — the boat lists of the previous voyage ! 
We then repaired to my cabin, where Claude took 
down a cork jacket, put it round me, and then 
tied a knot in the correct place, so that in a crisis 
I should only have to throw the loop over my 
head instead of fumbling with the tapes. Nothing 
was further from my thoughts than that I should 
be called upon to take advantage of these pre- 
cautions — least of all that I should be enabled 
thereby to afford a certain amount of help to 


(By courtesy of tlie Daily Mirror.) 


(By courtesy of the Daily Mirror.) 


others in their difficulties. We sailed at 6 p.m. 
Bathgate was my stable companion again ; and, 
after a perfunctory meal and the exchange of 
a few gloomy remarks, we retired to rest 

A cold grey March sky greeted us on rising, 
and we spent the usual first morning out trying 
to kill time and keep warm. The passengers 
are always divided into two categories at this 
partic^ar period of the voyage — those who 
preserve a melancholy silence shunning their fellow- 
men, and those who assume an imitation, over- 
acted exuberance, supported, as a rule, by dry 
martini's. The latter procedure is generally 
known as " just having one." 

At about 12.15 I was sitting in the semicircular 
"lounge " at the top of the saloon stairs pretending 
to read a book, when a doctor called Maples 
came in and observed to a friend: "Come and 
look at the submarine ! " or words to that effect. 
Not wishing to have my leg pulled, but at the 
same time not proposing to take any risks, I 
affected to go on reading for a minute or two, 
and then casually strolled along the promenade 
deck aft. There I found a little knot of passengers 
leaning over the after taffrail, and peering out at 
a menacing object rapidly cleaving its way astern 
of us, and throwing up a jet of white foam either 
side of it. There was no doubt about it being a 
submarine : but there was some doubt among 
the onlookers as to whether it was a British or 
a German vessel. It must be remembered that 
the sink-at-sight programme had only just been 


announced, and that hitherto no passenger boat 
had been sunk. And the usual amiable British 
reluctance to anticipate trouble, till trouble 
announces itself, was not absent on this occasion. 1 
In my own mind there was no question about 
the submarine being a Hun, or about its sinister 
intention, judging from the indecent haste with 
which the wicked-looking craft raced towards us. 
Quite obviously it was not hurrying after us 
with the friendly information that we had dropped 
something overboard, or merely to cadge a piece 
of Benoist beef. Toiling in her wake there followed 
a smoking speck on the horizon, which turned out 
later to be a dens ex machina in the shape of a 
steam drifter. 

I returned to the lounge, and said to Bathgate, 
who was half dozing on a settee, that we were 
in for it all right. After a hasty glance at the 
now rapidly overhauling U boat, we retired to 
our cabin and picked up our lifebelts. I made 
some observation, I remember, about looking 
rather fools, to which Bathgate retorted : " Damn 
what we look like ! Our lives are at stake." When 
we reached the deck again the long grey beast 
was right abreast of us on the port side, flying, 
as some said, the German — others, the British 
ensign ; but more likely having substituted the 
former for the latter at the last moment. She 
was also flying certain flag signals of the purport 
of which I refrain, not being of the sea nautical, 
from venturing an interpretation. The com- 

1 Even had we been ordered to the boats, we should not 
have known which boats to stand to. 

(By courtesy of the Daily Mirror.) 

(By courtesy of the Daily Mirror.) 


mander shouted something which I did not catch, 
through a megaphone, while " second and third 
murderers," as they say in Macbeth, waggled a 
gun at us with unpleasant significance. 

It was at this point that I was able to help 
Bathgate and one or two others with the tapes 
of their cork jackets. 

Then the first catastrophe took place. No. 6 
boat (on the port side) nose-dived as it were from 
the heavens into the water, and the three occupants, 
according to their own evidence, went through 
the bottom ! 1 This was the harbinger of a series 
of untoward launching incidents such as I 
shall never forget. Something next attracted my 
attention on the starboard side, and I arrived in 
time to see No. 1 boat lying keel upwards in the 
water. Somebody had apparently let go one of 
the falls with a run, and most of the occupants 
must, I think, have been knocked insensible or 
drowned straightway. One wretch was clinging 
to a rope, and screaming : u Rescue ! " in the 
most blood-curdling tones. 

Crossing over to the port side again, I said to 
Bathgate, "These boats are not for us!" And 
I remember his fervent reply : " My heavens, 
no ! ,: Even as we spoke we saw yet a third 
boat — No. 2 it must have been — slowly sub- 
merging with its human cargo. As it sank almost 
flush with the surface it opened out, the occupants 
were discharged upon the face of the waters, and 
the gunwale floated away. Bressy, who was at 
our table, was one of this party ; and his story 
1 Vide Minutes, Q. 1175. 


is fully given in the minutes of the Board of 
Trade inquiry. 1 

We then saw No. 4 boat, crammed with 
passengers, slowly launched — Bishop and his 
wife being the last to get a place — and happily 
this was one of the (three) boats which survived 
the ordeal. The starboard jolly-boat and No. 3 
were the only others to stand up. I did not see 
what happened to No. 5 boat, but she fared no 
better than the rest. 

All the boats had now been launched, or 
smashed, bar the port gig, which was jammed in 
the davits, or for some reason not yet lowered. 
Bathgate and I went in search of the captain, 
whom we found on the port side of the saloon 
deck, waving his hand in an easterly direction, 
and shouting to boat No. 4 to head for the 
Bristol Channel. 

Bathgate asked him if there were any rafts 
on board, and he replied : " None. And I 
have been given five minutes to get you all 
off the ship." I asked him if he could signal 
to the German commander that some of us 
were still on board 2 — for the submarine had 
now manoeuvred ominously to starboard. I 
understood him to say that he could do 
so, but do not recollect his reply with any 
certainty. Almost immediately after this he 
sounded a long, vibrating blast on the siren — 

1 Vide Minutes, Q. 804 et seq. 

2 A futile suggestion in the light of subsequent German 
sea-chivalry : but these were early days, and the Hun had 
not as yet fully exposed his cornucopia of treachery. 


whether as a cry for help, or as a sort of Last 
Post for the doomed vessel, I am not clear. I 
only know that this weird and melancholy wail 
struck me as the death-rattle of a ship surrendering 
her soul, and made a more profound impression 
upon my mind than any other incident connected 
with that foul day's work. 

The drifter, which I have said was following 
in the wake of the submarine, was slowly drawing 
nearer, and my own course of action was resolved 
upon from the first — namely, to cut things as 
fine as was consistent with safety, and not to 
leave the ship until the drifter was as close, and 
the ensuing swim consequently as short, as 

As I stood amidship, calculating the distance 
from the Falaba to the drifter, which was now 
about a mile away on our starboard beam, 
Bathgate suddenly exclaimed : " Here comes the 
torpedo ! " There, sure enough, like a fish 
gyrating and churning up a trail of rainbow- 
coloured bubbles, it raced towards us, right through 
the midst of the struggling victims of No. 1 boat. 
Bathgate has since told me what I said at this 
crisis. My publisher has declined to reproduce 
it, though he agrees with me that it was perfectly 
suitable to the occasion, if not for print. A 
passenger on the lower deck, panic-stricken at 
Bathgate's warning (or my observations !) dashed 
for'ard screaming : " My God ! The guns ! 
The guns ! ' : and disappeared from view. I 
shouted to Bathgate to run forward, for we were 
standing exactly over the prospective point of 


impact, and he in his turn cried : " Grip hold 
of a stanchion ! " 

We were not a moment too soon. Almost as 
we did so the torpedo struck the ship fair and 
square slightly aft of amidships. A huge column 
of water shot into the air ; there was a resounding 
crash of crockery ! Doors, chairs, mail-bags, and 
every sort of jetsam were belched forth right and 
left ; and the ill-fated gig and its occupants were 
blown from the davits into the sea. The Falaba 
took an immediate list to starboard, and it now 
became only a question of how soon she would 
go to the bottom. 

Bathgate went off to look for a life-buoy, and 
I crossed over to the port side, where curiously 
enough were grouped three of our table companions 1 
— Francis, Goulden, and Trousdell. Francis was 
very angry and suggested that any of us who had 
rifles should get them up and have a final fling 
at the submarine crew, as we were " done in " 
anyhow. But by this heroic course, maddening 
as was the prospect of being drowned like rats 
without striking a blow, we should have lost more 
than we gained, and inevitably drawn down 
upon the boats which had stood up the full 
brutality of the Huns. 

The ship was now listing horribly, and the 
captain — I subsequently saw him striking out 
in the water, clad in his blue overcoat, with his 
left arm circled by a life-buoy — had realized that 
nothing more remained to be done. The vessel's 

1 The seventh — Silcock — I never saw throughout, and fancy 
he must have been drowned early on. 


hour was at hand, and I remarked to Trousdell : 
"It is time we were going." He replied : "It 
doesn't much matter what I do : I can't swim." 
He said this quite calmly, and it was like him, 
for any sort of fuss was foreign to his nature. I 
had got to know and admire him very much 
during the homeward voyage. I imagine that 
he went down with the ship, and it is to be hoped 
that it was all over quickly : for he was very 
delicate, and would never have stood the exposure 
in any case. 

Either Pearson or Lacon, 1 I forget which, had 
just started to slide down one of No. 4 falls, and 
I followed him. As he took the water I asked 

him if it was very cold. " Cold ? My God ! " he 

called back, but further immersion took his breath 
away. He was right. It was hellish cold ! And West 
Africans are quite the wrong sort of people to be 
thrown into water of that temperature in March. 

Personally, at no time enjoying good circulation, 
my hands went instantly as white as snow. As 
the ship, from where I was, assumed an aspect 
of relative comfort and stability, I shouted to 
Bathgate to throw me a rope so that I could stand 
by for a bit until she looked like settling. He 
threw a couple to me ; and that was the last view 
I had of those actually left on the liner. Among 
them were Goulden and Henderson, 2 neither of 

1 This officer afterwards had an interview with H.M. the 

2 Henderson had apparently first of all taken to the boats, 
but changed his mind (or been upset) and returned to the 
ship again. 


whom I ever saw again. I endeavoured to cling 
to a rope, but my fingers were so numb that I 
literally could not feel it in my hand. I there- 
fore decided to face my fate, swim round the 
bows of the ship, and strike out for the drifter, 
which was now about three-quarters of a mile 
away to starboard. 

For some reason I had not bothered to divest 
myself of any impedimenta, and was dressed exactly 
as I had been at the Grand National, spats and 
all ! My heavy great-coat, though it may have 
hampered my progress, undoubtedly kept in a 
good deal of body-warmth, and so modified the 
miseries of exposure. In less than five minutes 
from leaving the side of the ship I instinctively 
looked back, and saw the poor old Falaba poise 
herself on end, hover, and then dive stern-fore- 
most to her grave. It w T as a pathetic and 
almost human spectacle. One could not help 
feeling more than an impersonal pity for her, 
murdered as it were in cold blood, innocent, 
unarmed, and without a chance of defending 

The soul-piercing wails of those who but a few 
minutes before were cracking jokes and drinking 
beer careless of the future, and were now making 
their last distraught appeals to their Maker ; 
the gurgles of the drowning ; and the grey-looking 
corpses flopping and bobbing aimlessly past me, 
as inane and lifeless as the mammie-chairs, 
furniture, and casks with which they were inter- 
mingled, all added to the physical nausea caused 
by the roughness of the water. Foaming sea- 

(By courtesy of the Daily Mirror.) 


(By courtesy of the Daily Mirror.) 

(By courtesy of the Daily Mirror.) 


horses were chasing each other in endless succes- 
sion, and great green billows rose up like walls, 
struck one in the mouth, and then hurtled one 
into the trough again. Never, strangely enough, 
did it occur to me to nurse my resources and 
wait till I was picked up. I was obsessed with 
the idea that I must either make the trawler by 
my own exertions, or go under. 

I therefore kept swimming for all I was worth, 
and had got within hopeful distance of her when, 
to my horror, she swung round and went off in a 
north-westerly direction — evidently attracted by 
the cries of other wretches. 

I was now utterly exhausted, I had swallowed 
a fair portion of the Irish Channel, and my legs 
felt like lead. Pushing feebly forward for a few 
more strokes, I decided that it was all up with 
me, and was actually beginning to undo the tapes 
of my jacket so that the end should not be pro- 
tracted, when I espied pushing off from the trawler 
a dinghy containing two men, who started to 
row in my direction, picking up survivors on the 
way. I made one more sickly spurt, waved my 
hand, and shouted. Providence was on my side : 
one of the men saw me and waved back. After 
moments which seemed (as the novelists say — 
and rightly) like hours, this gallant little cockle- 
shell of a boat drew level with me. 

M My God ! Bill," said one of the two men to 
the other, as I gripped the side of the frail craft, 
" we shall never get him in ! " But you must ! " 
I shouted convincingly, " tell me what to do ! " 
(for I was past helping myself). 


178 SAVED 

The difficulty was that, with such a sea running, 
unless the dinghy was kept head-on to the waves 
she was almost bound to capsize. How he 
managed it I never quite knew — but " Bill " 
suddenly told me to " kick up a leg," which I 
did — or rather allowed an inert limb to float on 
the surface — and, letting go his oar for one sharp 
moment, he levered me up and into the boat. 
There I lay on the bottom, and for the moment 
could scarcely bring myself to believe that my 
rescue was a matter of reality. But when I saw 
the sun peep out and smile from behind a grey 
cloud, my faculties gradually returned to me, 
and soaked, sick, frozen, and exhausted though 
I was, and pillowed on a corpse, never did life 
seem so desirable to me, nor so worth clinging to. 
As for the two driftermen, with a dying man 
mumbling the Litany in the bottom of the boat, 
another vomiting over the side, and a demented 
nigger howling to Allah in the stern, not to mention 
the imminent danger of capsizing, they were as 
cool and casual as if they had been rowing a pleasure 
party at Margate. I feebly offered to take an 
oar ! The offer, fortunately for all concerned, 
was treated with the contempt it deserved, Bill 
giving me one look, and remarking to his mate 
that " it would be a nice job if they were upset ! " 

I was eventually hauled up on to the drifter, 
Eileen Emma by name, and the first person I caught 
sight of was Kent, faultlessly dressed, with bowler 
hat slightly tilted, and pacing the deck with the 
same expression of indescribable boredom which 
characterizes him during any voyage to West 


Africa. His whole attitude seemed to say: 
" My gloom has only been temporarily interrupted, 
but not in any way increased or lessened by this 
vexatious occurrence." 

I half crawled, half fell into the grimy hole 
which is called by courtesy a cabin on these vessels. 
A diminutive fire was sputtering there, and at it 
sat huddled a half-drowned Krooboy, exclusively 
absorbing such little warmth as was emitted there- 
from. In justice to this coon I must say that 
he made way for me, and propped me up while 
I shed my wet garments and donned an old shirt 
and a pair of socks lent me by one of the crew. 

Having asked the cabin-boy whether there was 
a tot of rum on board, and receiving the unkind 
rebuff : " No spirits on this ship ! Be British ! " 
I threw myself with chattering teeth on to a bunk 
let in to the side of the cabin. Stretched upon 
it lay the night-watchman of the Falaba, and, 
for our mutual warmth, we embraced each other, 
to be joined shortly by yet a third shivering bed- 

The next few hours were passed in a state of 
stupor, and I took no account of time ; but I 
believe it was occupied in cruising round in search 
of survivors. At about 8.30 p.m. there was a 
crash, and it seemed as if our side had been stove 
in. (According to one of Rudyard Kipling's, or 
Alfred Noyes's articles on the rescue-work of 
trawlers, published subsequently in the daily 
papers, we made water badly, and were in con- 
siderable danger.) I remarked to the night- 
watchman that, torpedo be it, or mine, I was 


going to stay where I was — to which he fervently 
assented ! It was neither, as a matter of fact, 
but a British destroyer which had spoken us and 
come alongside none too gently. 

To her we were all transferred, save the dead, 
in the space of about five minutes — and a relief 
it was too to feel that the British tar had now 
taken charge. 

I was put on a bunk in the dynamo-room, and 
it was here that I first heard some details of the 
Huns' work. Captain Davis, I learned among other 
things, though alive when picked out of the water, 
had succumbed almost immediately afterwards. 
Of Bathgate there was no trace. A complete 
first-class stoker's outfit, a dock-glass of rum, 
and the 22 knots p.h. dash into Milford Haven, 
soon transformed me from a quasi-corpse into 
an exhilarated and hungry man. The pride of 
the crew in their ship and in their gunner was also 
a tonic. As we stood on the quay at 11.30 p.m., 
and the destroyer cast off, three cheers rang out 
for the Commander, and the inevitable " Tipperary " 

We were accommodated, most of us, at the 
Lord Nelson Inn, and, after some official demur, 
the liquor regulations were waived in our favour. 
Never have I enjoyed cold beef and pickles so 
much in my life. As we sat round the fire " bury- 
ing," among others, Bathgate, and waxing enthu- 
siastic over his epitaph, in walked the " deceased," 
having been rescued by the S.T. George Baker, 
in whose cabin he had been holding solemn requiem 
for me in similar fashion ! As we both agreed, 


we should never have such nice things said about 
us during our lifetime I 

He had been rescued in the first instance from 
the water by the returning No. 4 boat — the only 
boat apparently that did return, all honour to 
the third engineer (?) — and straightway collapsed 
therein. " After that," as he put it, " I did 
not care who won the bally steeplechase ! " — a by 
no means inapt allusion to the premier steeple- 
chase of the Turf, which had been run two days 

Some dozen of us slept, or endeavoured to 
sleep, on the sitting-room floor. The amount of 
struggling, swimming, and general "reconstruction 
of the crime " which took place in our disordered 
dreams was uncanny. 

Next morning Bressy and I went down very early 
to the docks to recover some of our things and 
to thank our rescuers for all they had done for us. 
This last small act of gratitude seemed to have 
escaped the consideration of the majority of 
passengers in their anxiety to catch " the first 
train to Town.' 5 The cabin-boy was up and 
busy, and treated me less unkindly than on the 
previous occasion ! He even made me some tea. 
But when I had recovered my money from my 
dank garments, and asked him to find " Bill " 
for me, he exclaimed : " Wake Bill ! Nobody 
dursn't wake Bill ! " However, / did ; and before 
any really serious explosion could emerge from 
his lair, I had pressed some notes — undamaged 
curiously enough by the salt water — into his hand, 
and found him as tractable as a lamb. 


I shall never forget the grit of those two men, 
nor their modesty. I have in my possession a 
letter from the skipper, which I should like to 
reproduce, but perhaps it might be indiscreet. 
I arrived home late that night, disguised as a 
leading stoker. 

Then came the burlesque at the Caxton Hall. 
The less said about it the better. The passengers 
were treated as a lot of little refractory school- 
boys who had got their feet wet. The head master 
was the Commissioner, who occasionally, when 
he did not feel too bored, brandished an admonitory 
cane. (I thought I was going to get it once, when 
I could not define a " negative panic") 

The under-masters were the Shipping Company 
and the Board of Trade, each stoutly protected 
from any too plain-speaking on the part of 
the schoolboys by a host of counsel, one of 
whom — no less a person than the Solicitor- 
General — was raised to the Lord Chancellorship 
of England on the second day of the proceedings 
— possibly as a prize for the amazing effrontery 
of his opening speech, in which he told the Court 
in all seriousness that a* missing plug was not a 
matter of great importance, since a lady was said 
to have kept the water out by placing her finger 
in the plug-hole (!). (In other words, as long 
as one carried a spare female about with one as 
well as a lifebelt, a boat with holes in it presented 
no danger !) 

Space docs not permit me to reproduce the 
Minutes of Evidence in toto, and to italicize some 


of the gems which fell from the lips of those who 
stage-managed the proceedings. The most illu- 
minating of these, perhaps, was His Lordship's 
inquiry on the third day whether the chief mate, 
who had occupied the witness-box during the 
greater part of the first morning, was among 
the drowned ! Proxime accessit was a similar 
question put by counsel three minutes afterwards 
about the fourth officer, whom he had cross- 
examined himself two days previously. 

Mr. Dan Stephens's jaunty, but unconvincing 
explanation that " he had forgotten for the 
moment " certain questions ; and Mr. Aspinall's 
virginal innocence in referring to " these little 
mistakes," the " pity " that there were no 
boat-lists, and " these days of competition " (Elder 
versus Dempster, presumably !), though faith- 
fully following the tune set by Lord Buckmaster, 
were scarcely what one expects from the English 
Bar. Was not the evidence, by the way, of Mr. 
Joshua Thomas, ship's carpenter, as to the plug 
fitting " splendidly," just a trifle over-enthusiastic ? 
A plug, surely, like a key, either fits or does not 
fit ? Mr. Dan Stephens, again, can hardly have 
congratulated himself upon the reply he received 
to his question : — " But you were launched all 
right ? " Witness : " Yes — at sixty miles per 

Let me not forget to give honourable mention 
to one, Cotter, who claimed to represent the 
Stewards' Union. The stewards whom I met at 
the inquiry did not seem to have shrieked for, 
or to relish his self-allotted championship. His 


one object appeared to be to induce each passenger 
in turn to cast aspersions on the stewards, and 
then confound him, to the glorification of Cotter. 
As, however, w r e were only there to tell a plain 
story, and not to invent charges against people 
who had done nothing to merit them, his thun- 
derous interrogatories were abortive. Even His 
Lordship expressed his relief when, on being 
informed that Cotter would not finally address 
the Court, he observed : " Please convey to Mr. 
Cotter my congratulations and thanks ! " Seriously 
it was an insult to the witnesses — nearly all of 
them Government officials — to subject them to 
such claptrap as issued from this superfluous 

Worthy also of a certain New Bailey Judge was 
the Commissioner's threat to commit for contempt 
of court a flock of Pentecostal psalm-singers, 
who were making wassail in the room exactly 
underneath us ; overlooking the fact that, having 
hired and paid for the room, these good people 
had as much right to make a burlesque of religion 
as had the Board of Trade of an inquiry. 

Now, being one of the schoolboys myself, I, 
of course speak as a child. But even a wall-eyed 
child might have the perspicacity to suggest that, 
had, say, the Admiralty or Lloyds sat in judgment 
and examined in turn the evidence of the Company, 
the Board of Trade, and the passengers, unobscured 
by the nebulous vacuities of the legal fraternity, 
the procedure might conceivably have served some 
useful purpose. Per contra, when the two 
parties chiefly concerned are represented by counsel, 


whose profession, after all, it is only to put such 
questions as suit the interests of their clients ; 
and when one of those clients — the Board of 
Trade, who are called upon to answer some per- 
tinent questions touching the condition of the 
boats — arranges its own inquiry, and appoints 
its own president, is it likely that the third party — 
mere amateurs, unrepresented by advocates to 
elicit their side of the story — is going to have much 
of a look in ? The delightful complacency of 
the Solicitor- General in remarking to me during 
one of the intervals outside the Caxton Hall : 
" I hope you don't think we're being too unkind 
to you ? " (as if I were in the dock, and the 
prosecution were trying to let me down gently !) 
speaks for itself. 

But if a climax to the whole business was required, 
His Lordship supplied it, when he solemnly 
announced that he would withhold his judgment 
until he had heard the evidence shortly to be 
taken at the Lusitania inquiry ! If he did not 
mean by this that one verdict would do for both, 
what in the name of goodness did he mean ? 
And, when that verdict did come, it swept aside 
in toto 9 as the imagination (let me stick to my simile) 
of a lot of impressionable schoolboys, the sworn, 
accumulative, and unanimous testimony of the 

Full copies of the Minutes of the Evidence are 
to be obtained, among other curios, from the 
Board of Trade offices. I leave who reads to 
digest and draw his own inferences. 



My next venture across the Atlantic was on 
the Anversville (Captain Pooley, a descendant, 
it is said, of Napoleon Buonaparte, and born 
at St. Helena). She flew the Belgian flag, having 
been chartered for the voyage, and was staffed 
by Belgian officers. A number of Falaba people 
were on board, and some of us were pretty 
jumpy through the danger zone. A coal-slide in 
the starboard bunkers, just below where we slept, 
brought us out of our cabins, lifebelt in hand, 
in double-quick time the second night out ! 

The voyage was chiefly notable for the large 
number of " K.'s " officers on board, most of 
them somewhat verdant material. In striking 
contrast, their table was presided over by Rupert 
Craven, a very tough proposition, well known 
in the hunting-field in my part of the world, 
who had relinquished, I believe, a naval career 
for a life of adventure and big-game shooting 
in the wilds, and was now a captain in the Royal 
Scots Fusiliers. His clothes were of the good 
old sporting stamp, and his blue stock would 
have done credit to Jorrocks. He appreciated 
the good things of life, and caused much merri- 
ment one night when he strolled up to an electric 



light bulb and endeavoured to light his after- 
dinner cigarette therefrom. " Nothing doing there, 
Captain Craven, I'm afraid ! " said Pooley, 1 who 
enjoyed a joke as well as any man I know, as 
Craven moved unconcernedly away with a depre- 
catory backward look, which seemed to say : 
" You didn't really think, my dear fellow, that 
I expected to get a light, did you ? It was merely 
an experiment ! " 

It was the same evening methinks — but I 
do not suggest that Craven was at the bottom 
of it — that one of the young officers alluded to 
above appeared in the saloon just before dinner 
somewhere off Sierra Leone, decked in yellow 
mosquito boots, scarlet cummerbund, tail-coat, and 

At Sierra Leone, of all accursed spots, I re- 
ceived tragic news from home. Indeed, from 
now onwards the shadow of the war lay heavily 
upon most of us, precluded as we were from 
active service ourselves, and constrained to look 
on while our friends were giving their lives one 
after the other. The old irresponsible days of 
give and take, and free and easy camaraderie 
seemed to have gone for ever, and been replaced 
by a regime of strain and premature gravity. 
Inevitably, for it is the men that make the 
station ; and nowhere in the world is the sense 
of association so strong as in Nigeria. Every 
camp one passed through called forth its own 
particular reminiscence, and the ghost of some 
good fellow who had given his life to the Cause. 
1 Died on a later outward voyage at Sierra Leone. 


Nigeria has paid a heavy toll. In Bornu, in 
particular, I can scarcely recall an officer of my 
acquaintance who if not a prisoner of war, has 
not made the supreme sacrifice. 

I think I omitted to mention in the last chapter 
that those of us w r ho had been kept back to 
attend the Caxton Hall pantomime only received 
this notification at the eleventh hour — some were 
actually at Liverpool about to embark — and con- 
sequently our kit sailed without us on the Appam. 
With the not unforeseen result. On arrival at 
Zaria I found I was seven loads short, including 
my bed. Such things are of course but a flitting 
detail in one's life out here ; and during my 
cross-country journey of twenty days to Yola — 
to which province I had been posted — I had to 
make do with what Kreiser very kindly had 
knocked up for me. 

Bisalla met me at Zaria, which was a com- 
fort, but I hardly dared tell him that we were 
not returning to his beloved Bornu ! I was de- 
layed nine days here endeavouring to induce 
the railway to transport my three horses from 
Kano. When they did arrive they came packed 
in one of those diminutive pieces of rolling-stock 
commonly known as " sardine-tins," in which 
the R.S.P.C.A. might at a pinch sanction the 
incarceration of one horse, but certainly not three. 
The railway authorities further distinguished them- 
selves by informing me that there was no shunt- 
ing-engine in steam, and that the horses would 
therefore have to stay where they were all night. 
There being no other conveyance available on 


this wonderful system, they had to continue their 
journey up the Bauchi Light Section in the same 
" mass formation." This was too much for " Dan 
Bekki," my prize polo pony, and south of 
Rahamma he very wisely elected to jump out. 
My cordial sympathies were with the horse, whom 
I found — this country, the reader may have 
noticed, thrives on the anticlimax — contentedly 
eating grass, and, as an examination by Owen 
the V.O., who was travelling with me, showed, 
none the worse. What I should like to have 
said to the Traffic Department I said to the 

doki-boy, and told him that he " could 

well walk the rest of the way." Which he did, and 
got to our destination, Buji, before the train did I 

He did not rub it in though, as an English 
groom or chauffeur would have. The native is 
very polite, and never calls attention to the 
white man's bloomers. For one thing they are 
too numerous. The mentality of the African is 
strange : his ideas of the white man's mentality 
stranger still. I was once studying Hausa rather 
keenly, and was stumped for the Hausa equivalent 
of the expression " I'm sorry." I found it very 
difficult to convey my meaning to the interpreter 
who was assisting me. " For example," I said, 
" suppose I cursed my boy for not putting the 
cruet on the table, and then found he had done 
so after all. How should I say : 6 I'm sorry. 
I did not see it before'?" "Oh," he replied 
(in Hausa, of course), " you would say : ' Why 
the Hell don't you put the cruet where I can 
see it at once ? ' " 


But to return to the railway. If they had 
distinguished themselves, the Powers that Be ex- 
celled themselves. Though the three horses had 
been crammed, regardless of Board of Trade 
regulations, into accommodation barely sufficient 
for one ; though one of them had " alighted " 
before even Rahamma was reached ; and though 
the two others had been detrained nine miles 
short of Naraguta, I was charged the full fare 
for three horses from Kano to Naraguta ! 

After the usual correspondence, which is the 
essence of life in this country, I was informed 
that the Powers that Be had graciously approved 
of my being charged the full fares, but only for 
the " actual distance travelled." O learned judge ! 
A Mersey come to judgment ! 

This complacent remission of a debt that was 
never owed reminds me of a reply of Arnold 
Keppel, who was studying French with me in 
Touraine. A little over-dressed Frenchman had 
violently demanded satisfaction of him, and ended 
by challenging him to a duel. When at length 
he had finished gesticulating from sheer lack 
of breath, Keppel, with a gracious wave of the 
hand, replied: "Monsieur, pas de quoi. Je vous 
pardonne, parceque vous etes francais ! " 

I had a rather amusing little trek with Owen, 
with whom I rode from Buji to Naraguta. Here 
I met many old friends ; and after a recherche" 
little parting lunch with the Langslow-Cocks' in 
their snug hill-side bungalow, at which I was 
introduced (more than once, methinks) to his 
mellow fifty-year- old brandy, I set out for Yola 


viS, Bauchi and Tangale. When last I had been 
at Bauchi, Tangale was a more or less closed 
area, infested with cannibal tribes, of whom my 
present cook, Haji, was a doughty kinsman. This 
country had now been opened up, and the over- 
land road adopted by Government instead of 
the river route, in view of the recent cases of 
sleeping-sickness attributed to the Benue tsetse. 

But what a road ! Breast-high bogs, tsetse- 
infested streams, and no rest-houses (in the Yola 
portion) worthy of the name. "Dan Bekki" got 
firmly wedged in one swamp, and it took twenty- 
two labourers to extricate him. I had to strip 
and swim more than one river ; and I do not 
like to think of the breakages which occurred 
during these proceedings. At one of these 
rivers, Haji earned my undying regard by swim- 
ming across with every one of my seventy-five 
loads in turn. His body was completely sub- 
merged — only the load and a jet of water, spurt- 
ing hippo-like from his mouth, being visible above 
the surface. He would not trust anyone else 
with them in that current. Bisalla's horse went 
under with him on one occasion — much more 
to my consternation, however, than his. 

Near Yola I fell in with James Finch, return- 
ing from Garua, which the Germans had just 
surrendered. He did nothing particularly Finch- 
like on this occasion except shoot accidentally 
some tame guinea-fowl. 

On the 21st of July, exactly a month after 
landing at Lagos, I reached Numan, and there 
got orders to take over from Edwardes, who, as 


I have said elsewhere, had completed the identical 
journey a fortnight before, only to have to re- 
trace his steps all over again. Had I remained 
at Bauchi, and he at Numan, Government would 
have been saved thirty-two days' delay and a 
corresponding sum of money. 

It was unfortunate my happening to be posted 
to Numan. In the course of my journey I had 
made some rather trenchant criticisms, in the 
" Remarks " books provided for that purpose, 
on the state of the rest-houses which came within 
the scope of the Divisional Officer in charge of 
Numan. As D.O. Numan, these animadversions 
recoiled on my own head ! One facetious gentle- 
man had entered the following : "As an aviary 
this rest-house leaves nothing to be desired." 
Another : " Stabling fair, but could not find rest- 

Numan was a lonely little station on the right 
bank of the great silent Benue. In the rains 
it was almost an island, for the low-lying ground 
at the back became water-logged and almost 
impassable. There was little with which to occupy 
myself after office hours, and there was some- 
thing about the sad, though glorious, sunsets of 
an evening which had an infinitely depressing 
effect on one's solitude. 

Bisalla used to go on mysterious errands to 
the Mission School, and it was from a Danish 
padr6 that I first discovered that he could read 
and write Hausa. He had apparently been study- 
ing it quietly by himself without letting on to 
me ! It is true that he had attended for a short 


time a kindergarten school inaugurated by the 
General at Bauchi. Of which a small anecdote. 
The General had instructed me to go to this 
school one evening and report progress. On my 
arrival Mr. Thorpe, who was conducting the class, 
pointed to the board and told Bisalla to read 
the sentence chalked thereon. The sentence in 
question was : " Na fada ma-sa," which is, being 
interpreted, " I tell him." Bisalla, no doubt 
thoroughly schooled at a dress rehearsal, and 
familiar with the meaning of the sentence, was 
unfortunately just a little bit too glib, and gave 
the show away by reading off : " Na gay a ma- 
shi," which, though it means the same thing, 
was not, unhappily, what was written on the 

An occasional launch would be put in for fuel, 
and a chat with passing friends would liven 
things up. Fox passed through in August with 
German prisoners, including Duhring, the Com- 
mandant of Garua, and dined with me. 

But my stay at Numan was short-lived, for 
within a month I was down with fever, which 
proved to be typhoid. My old friend Pollard 
ran down from Yola in the Black Swan, and 
removed me to Yola hospital, where I lay for 
three dreary weeks — easily the most depressing 
of my life — driven nearly mad by the flies, sand- 
flies, and mosquitoes, which abound in the Benue 
districts at that time of year. George Seccombe, 
who had been seconded for military service with 
the Yola column, was about the only soul I saw ; 
and it was probably this piece of excitement, 



and a long buck about Bornu days, which was 
responsible for a relapse, just as I thought I was 
out of the wood. 

Towards the end of September I shook off 
the dust of Yola from my feet, and Pollard took 
me down river in the Sarota to Lokoja hospital. 
My year's kit was tumbled into boxes just any- 
how as I passed Numan again, and shoved on 
board. My relief was far too ill himself to be 
able to attend to them, with the result that I 
lost a great many things. 

Two more weeks or so of sickening inactivity 
in Lokoja hospital, where, however, the kind- 
ness of Chartres, the Deputy P.M.O., and some 
excellent books (stamped " R.M.S. Akabo " and 

" presented to Lokoja Hospital by Dr. ") 

made up for much, and I found myself posted 
to Ilorin for light duty. A coach was ordered 
for me at Baro, but did not materialize. Far 
from it ; I had to sit bolt upright in an ordinary 
compartment for twenty-four hours, a " sardine- 
tin " having become derailed during the course 
of our journey to Minna. Though this was about 
the nth time that this accident had occurred 
that year, the driver carried no jack, or tin- 
opener, or whatever it is that the railway use 
for these little diversions ; and a light engine 
had to be sent from Minna with the requisite 

I duly arrived at Ilorin, and was shortly after- 
wards posted to Jebba, where I remained for 
four months. A curious place to be posted for 
one's health ! Ilorin was a very different pro- 


position from the wilds of Yola or Bornu. One's 
time was almost exclusively devoted to Civil cases, 
auctions, and land registration. Political work 
and problems of Native Administration had largely 
to take care of themselves. The great thing was 
to make the Native Reservation, or " Sabon Gari," 
look pretty (on paper), compose solemn-reading 
documents " as between Ojo Ogbomosho on the 
one part . . . and Frederick Dealtry Lugard on 
the other part," and in fact generally make 
everybody do everything in the way most round- 
about and inconvenient for all concerned. A 
trader from the Southern Provinces might arrive 
at Ilorin deluded by the prospects of quietly 
settling down, selling some cloth at a profit, 
buying cattle, and returning whence he came. 
Mais non. He was handed a blue application 
form, made to attend an " auction," x then 
pay rent in advance, then stamp-duty, then 
a registration-fee, then a fee for plan supplied, 
then rates, then — but by this time he would 
have wisely effaced himself no man knew whither. 
His Certificate of Occupancy, which he had prob- 
ably never even seen, would then be solemnly 
revoked. And so the good work, and the war, 
went on. The Sabon Gari — the real one, I mean, 
not as depicted in the plans — reminded one 
more of a shell-holed battlefield than a habitation 
of men. 

Climatically I shall always maintain that Ilorin 
was the most temperate province I have ever 

1 The " competitors " at these auctions frequently bid 
against themselves ! 


been in. It was entirely free from that pest 
the housefly, and sandflies and mosquitoes were 
non-existent — at any rate in the two-storied 
bungalows. But Jebba was a very trying spot. 
Infested with the last two species of insect, there 
was also something about the heat reciprocated 
by the laterite formation of the hill, and a general 
atmospheric oppressiveness which caused me never 
to be really fit. Possibly the lack of exercise, 
and late evenings, which, however, I shall never 
regret, were a contributory cause of this. 

There were some real sterling fellows there, 
including Willan the M.O., Sutherland the D.E., 
Whitaker 1 the A.E., and Crocombe 2 the Dis- 
trict Agent of the Niger Company. At the houses 
of one or other of these, or at mine, we used to 
forgather of a night after tennis, and forget 
the drudgeries of the day. And drudgery it was 
for some ; for Weir, who was reputed to put 
his clock on whenever possible, had his men at 
work on the bridge before it was light. Dear 
old Crocombe's yarns, told and retold till they 
became "not chestnuts but marrons glacis" as 
the General would have said, were an unfailing 
source of amusement. One of them in particular 
was worn threadbare with us, but may be new 
to some. A white man had been badly bushed, 
and was almost in despair. The country was 
infested with man-eating pagans, and he felt 
his life was not worth a moment's purchase. 
Suddenly he descried a light in the distance, 

1 Died in German East Africa. 

2 Died May 1917. 

(Obtained with great difficulty, and at some personal risk, by the late D. Crocombe.) 


towards which he stealthily worked his way. 
As he drew nigh he made out voices raised in 
heated altercation. " If you go to bed with a 

ace," said one of them, " you can't 

well be surprised at being three light ! " 
" Thank God ! " cried the poor wanderer, " Chris- 
tians ! " His other favourite tale about " Boy ! 
Bring my other shirt ! " is too old for repetition. 

Then the accountant gentleman, later " Deputy 
Engineer i/c Bridge Construction," used to regale 
us with his exploits and acquaintances at Hull. 
" Pleased to meet you," he would say, " I think 
I met your brother, or someone very like you, 
in Hull." Or, if someone spoke of a recent air 
raid over London, "they got information of that 
raid beforehand in Hull." Willan, with twinkling 
eye, would lead him on, and generally work 
the conversation round until there were only 
two possible egresses for it — either through the 
ramification of a Crocombe yarn, or Hull Har- 
bour. The conversazione would be accompanied 
throughout by Whitaker's cavernous " Ha ! ha ! 

The Sunday morning glass of beer or " iska " 
— a Jebba colloquialism — either at my house or 
Willan's, was a ritual as unfailing as the jangle 
of the Mission bell. Willan, from whom I took 
over, had been temporarily acting as District 
Officer, and expressed no regret at being relieved 
of his political duties. His judicial ventures had 
not been entirely happy. They were only two. 
The first was an action by one lady against another 
for defamation of character. The evidence, taken 


down, as it was delivered, in pidgin English, 
became horribly involved — the principal features 
of the case being a saiga and the legs of a duck. 
Judge Willan made a blind shot, found for the 
plaintiff, and assessed the damage to her moral 
reputation at five shillings. The second was a case 
of assault by a native on a white missionary female. 
What flummoxed Willan was not so much the 
insanity of the accused, who " proceeded to make 
wild statements accompanied by much laughter," 
as the fact that the prosecutrix declined to be 
sworn ! This unnerved the judge so much that 
he forthwith transferred the case to a higher 
court. The lunatic x is still at large on Jebba 
Island, and entertains each passing mail train 
with his antics on an imaginary parade ground 
on the platform. He is also reputed to hold 
spiritualistic communications with the devils of 
Juju rock. 

One of the most distressing features of life at 
Jebba was the " copy " wire — a channel through 
which the railway disseminated news of their 
vagaries among all and sundry, from the plate- 
layer to the doctor and D.O. Accidents, in par- 
ticular, they revelled in. So proud were they 
on one occasion of having run over an old woman 
somewhere near Ibadan, that I was awakened at 
10.30 p.m. with a wire containing a long, rambling 
statement about " accident B." I was new to 
this system of " all concerned " telegraphy in 
those days, so I sprang out of bed and hurried 
to W T illan's house. The latter having damned 

1 Since dead. 


me for disturbing him, explained that (a) he 
had already had a copy of the wire himself; 
(b) the woman was dead ; (c) there w T as a doctor 
at both Ibadan and Offa, and (d) in any case 
it was no business of mine. Why this immense 
expenditure of electricity and paper takes place 
I have never been able to discover — unless, as 
I say, it is that the railway like their achieve- 
ments to be as widely published as possible. 

A few nights later, two gloomy-looking figures, 
not unreminiscent of a couple of Shakespear's 
grave-diggers, roused me from my slumbers, and 
chanted in sepulchral unison : " Pilot Marks is 
dead ! " Never having heard of Pilot Marks, 
I hastened out on to the veranda, and questioned 
my drab visitors. They turned out to be the 
European skipper and engineer of the Fabius — 
the ferry-boat which used to ply her erratic 
way between Jebba and the island in pre-bridge 
days. Marks, they told me, was the native 
pilot. Not quite knowing whether I was sus- 
pected of being responsible for his death, I 
promised to look into the matter in the morn- 
ing, and off they went to convey their sombre 
news to the other inhabitants of Jebba. 

But I was not to be left in peace. An hour 
afterwards I was again roused with a wire con- 
taining the usual alphabetical gibberish, and an- 
nouncing that " pilot Marks died to-day, arrange." 
Next day at breakfast time, two more wires 
arrived, each proclaiming, anthem-like, the passing 
of the pilot. At midday came a wire from the 
D.L.O. : " Pilot Marks died yesterday, arrange." 


In a state almost bordering on frenzy I went 
over to Willan, and asked him what he gathered 
was expected of me. " Nothing," replied Willan, 
c< he was a patient of mine, and the Mission 
crowd buried him this morning. The wires were 
only for your information." Somehow I felt that 
I could not leave it at that, for the thing was 
infectious. So, as I seemed to be the only person 
who had not contributed to the correspondence, 
I took up a form and wired to the A.E. (he was 
living in Jebba, but this is quite the correct 
procedure in railway circles) : " Pilot Marks died 
yesterday, arrange." Nobody who has not lived 
on the line will appreciate all this : and nobody 
who does live on the line does appreciate it. 

It was once my painful duty later on in this 
tour to supervise the supplying of food for troops 
passing through Jebba en route East Africa. Five 
troop specials were billed to run at specific timings. 
During the nine days that I was glued to Jebba 
platform, I received over fifty different wires con- 
taining advices either contradictory or cancelling 
previous communiques. On another occasion I 
had five hundred calabashes of food all ready for 
a train advised that morning as conveying troops, 
en route Zinder from Dakar, who as a matter 
of fact were at that moment still on the high 
seas ! The number of telegrams I received touch- 
ing on this little matter are best left to the 

Such was life from a telegraphic point of view 
at Jebba. Before I leave the subject of tele- 
grams I must just a^d that a wire sent by me 




to the I.T.O., in reply to his about a court case, 
to the effect that it was adjourned sine die, was 
transmitted thus : " Case adjourned x since died." 

A refreshing instance of naiveness may also 
be quoted. This same I.T.O had wired to Percy 
Holt, of the Niger Company, for a supply of 
vermouth for an individual who had been slow 
with his cheque-book on a previous occasion. 
To this Percy replied : 

" Experientia docet." 

" Was that damned wire of yours a code wire ? " 
asked the former, when they next met, " or did 
it simply mean Nah Poo ? " 

" Well," quoth Percy, " it didn't mean exactly 
Nah Poo, but I did ! " 

In February the bridge was opened with full 
ceremony. Bobbie Ellis supplied a guard of 
honour, the Tin Hats of the railway attended 
in strength, and the Governor- General performed 
the function. He arrived at about 10 a.m., and 
the train was pulled up by Sutherland at the 
north end of the bridge— which was just as 
well, otherwise Bobbie and his guard, who were 
drawn up across the permanent way, would 
have been slaughtered ! 

Though the proceedings were not in the nature 
of a gala, owing to the feared loss of the Appam, 
the show was made as cheerful as possible under 
the circumstances. Sutherland, to whom I am 
indebted for the photographs of the ceremony, 
an adept at such things, put up a wonderfully 
artistic yet unobtrusive display of flags, bunting, 
and decorations, assisted by the excellent Mr. 


Addy. The names of past pioneers, explorers 
and administrators of Nigeria were honourably 
inscribed on oak shields and hung over the 
northern arch of the bridge. An array of pate 
de foie, caviare, cucumber, etc., sandwiches not 
unworthy of the cold buffet of the Automobile 
Club, and cigars were served without stint from 
a dainty table by Sutherland's boys all spot- 
lessly decked in white and tartan. After a 
rambling speech by Weir, chiefly throwing bouquets 
at himself, and another very much to the point 
by His Excellency, the latter drove the first 
official train over the bridge in state, and, having 
interviewed the Emir and Chiefs, took his de- 
parture, followed by the rest of the Tin Hats. 
What time we repaired to a cold collation at 
Willan's house, and spiced viands and other good 
things followed — and the standard of the tennis 
that evening was not up to its usual high pitch. 

Early in March I at length succeeded, after 
eight years' unsparing but fruitless effort, in shoot- 
ing my first waterbuck (" gwambaza "). I had 
explored the whole locality round Jebba from 
the soul-wearying heights at the back of the 
station to the riverain flats in the neighbourhood 
of Juju rock and the islands in the lower reaches. 
All that had fallen to my rifle was a dog-faced 
baboon (" gogo ") at Isa-Ndashe. On this occa- 
sion, after sleeping at Fangam — insula impro- 
bissima ! — fortune favoured me, first in the finding 
of my quarry, and then in the shooting of it. 
For the herd saw me before I saw them, and 
made off. Feeling somehow that I should never 


(In foreground remains of the Dayspring wrecked in 1857, under command of Dr. Baikie.) 


get the opportunity again, I let fly at the soli- 
tary male as he disappeared behind a bash. My 
exultation was great as the females reappeared 
one after the other on the far side, but not their 
lord. I had got him smack through the shoulder. 
The head was nothing to write home about, but 
a waterbuck is a waterbuck, and I had now 
shot all the different species of West African 
gazelle and antelope except the bush-buck, or 
" harnessed antelope " (" mazu "). 

A week later I was transferred to Ilorin, Jebba 
being closed down as a Division. 

There are circumstances, apart from the short 
perspective of time, which prevent my writing 
too fully, or too freely, on life at Ilorin at this 
period. Enough to summarize it, and give a 
few anecdotes before closing this chapter. 

Tennis was the main standby, Laurence having 
been a half-blue at Cambridge, and Annetts being 
almost as fanatical about the game as he was 
about his " cuttings." Shooting — especially an ex- 
cellent partridge stand at 7.30 a.m. behind Annetts' 
compound — and a jaunt to the Old Barracks 
for an incomparable tea with the Thorntons, 
were the chief other recreations. Whiteley's 
Pepysian wit and conversation was always re- 
freshing, while Carmichael's dour humour was 
a corresponding source of amusement. Annetts 5 
appetite was of course a /cnj/za 4s del; and I am 
always overwhelmed with shame when I dwell 
upon the well-intentioned but insufficient break- 
fast of porridge, sausage, partridge, and eggs 
and bacon, which I put up for him one morning. 


Only a few days afterwards he asked me to 
breakfast, not so much for the part I was to 
play at it, as to witness himself and Doctor Foy 
operate upon the meal, and to see what really 
could be achieved in that line. 

Wood, the M.O., had a dulcitone, upon which 
he could perform in no mean fashion, when he 
felt sufficiently inspired to leave his long chair. 
He had a remarkable affection for this chair. 
Even when I pinched his dulcitone under his 
very nose, and transferred it to my own house, 
he never rose from it, and the robbery elicited 
no more active protest than the observation that 
I was a " damned thief," and he trusted I would 
leave him the house. He had an extraordinary 
boy called Ojo, who used to communicate his 
sorrows to kind master not orally, but on paper, 
thus : 

" Masta, name of God, I wote (sic) more pay." 

To w T hich Wood, not on paper, but very audibly : 
" You little swine ! I gave you two shillings last 
month ! " 

Little less successful were poor Ojo's indents 
for what he considered the necessities of life. 

" Masta, we wote tea, we wote beer, we wote 
champagne. Jacob Ojo." 

" He seems to think," said Wood lugubriously 
to me, " that because I was fool enough to stand 
you champagne once, when I did not know you 
so well, it is to become a routine ! " 

" He is an excellent boy," I replied. 

Later on Wood appears to have fallen foul 
of Ojo, for a year or so afterwards I received a 


pathetic letter from him, posted at Zaria, en- 
treating me " kind gentleman " to help him. 
I passed the letter on to Wood at Ankpah, who 
replied indignantly : " What the devil he's got 
to call you a gentleman about, I don't know ! " 

When I went on leave I handed most of my 
domestic staff over to Wood — incidentally inform- 
ing them that their wages were increased all 
round for their past good services. But Wood 
was not to be had that way. He told them 
that the increase " lived for book " till the return 
of Langa Langa, who would no doubt pay it 

His faithful factotum, Lawani, dispenser of 
drugs, cleaner of instruments, and general errand 
boy, used to be sacked at least once a day, or 
else told : " Lawani ! All your pay is stopped ! 
All, mind you, dill" but he invariably survived 
the threats. 

Wood and I had both bought horses from 
the Bensons when they went home. Mine turned 
out trumps, but the other developed into the 
most appalling thing in horseflesh I have ever 
known. It appeared to be lame in all four legs — 
at least we couldn't locate the sound one — and 
unable or unwilling to move. Its two forelegs 
were rigid like pedestals, and from its action, 
such as it was, one would have thought its legs 
were cast in pairs, unable to move independently. 
On one occasion, as we rode through the town, 
Wood simply sat on it, while the doki-boy pulled 
and tugged it after him. Another night, in the 
Gambari market, it began to give way. " It 


appears to require spurs," remarked Wood, as 
he clambered down morosely. I suggested that 
a grave would be more in its line than spurs ; 
and next day it was ignominiously sold to a 
native. My horse, on the other hand, at a race- 
meeting held on Empire Day, with Bisalla up, 
beat a field of Emir's horsemen by three lengths. 

One little peep behind the scenes, before I 
forget it. A certain high official was on tour, 
and I wired to him to know if he proposed to 
meet a certain higher official on his arrival at 
Lokoja. " Not in these," came the reply. The 
chief clerk was much perplexed, and suggested 
that we should have it repeated. I told him 
that it simply meant " no," and that he should 
so type it on the records. But the strict fidelity 
to the letter of red tape in which these folk 
rejoice made him demur at such a departure 
from regular procedure. Then timidly, and all 
unconscious of any witticism : " Perhaps it would 
be better, sir, to type : • Not likely ' ? " (!) 

Francis had taken over the province in June, 
and we used to have some pretty little shoots 
with the duck and snipe at the Old Barracks — 
notwithstanding the nervousness with which 
Francis regarded Thornton's menacing hammer- 
gun. Unfortunately he went on leave in three 
or four months. At his farewell dinner, a very 
merry banquet, one lady created a mild sensation 
by saying, as she took her departure at 1.30 a.m. : 
" Mr. Francis, I do hope you will forgive us for 
rushing off like this ! " 

Then, with October, came Percy O. Holt to 


reign in the stead of Carmichael. Legion again 
are the tales told by and of him from the Cross 
Rivers to Yola. Bon viveur, raconteur, and puller 
of legs, there was no walk in life he could not 
have adapted himself to, had he so chosen, from 
billiard saloon to Regius professorship of literature. 

For quiet humour I always liked his naive 
little tale of his twin brother who was wounded 
in South Africa. At the outbreak of that war 
the brothers felt that they must " do their bit," 
but as one of them must look after the business, 
they decided to toss for who should go. " So 
we tossed for it," said Percy, " and I won — 
lost, I mean ! " Percy had himself gone forth 
to the Great War in the Cameroons ; and the 
vultures of those parts relate that during one 
particularly strenuous bush-drill, Corporal Holt 
cried aloud : " You may court-martial me — you 
may shoot me — but I cannot move another yard ! " 
and laid him down to die 'neath a spreading 

Some few days afterwards Quartermaster- 
Sergeant P. Holt was urging a decrepit, weary, 
and sagging horse barrack-wards, when he en- 
countered another warrior also mounted. The 
war was still young, and Percy — not yet versed 
in the subtle distinctions of rank which dif- 
ferentiate between the great and the small — 
to be on the safe side fell to saluting heavily. 

" All right, sonny, you can cut all that out : 
I'm the farrier-sergeant ! " was the answer to 
his uncalled-for homage. 

"Oh! Are you?" said Percy, "then just 


get off and tell me what's wrong with this hair- 
trunk of mine ! " 

His repartee was inimitable. His retort to a 
lady who had heavily overcalled her hand at 
bridge, and then said : 

" Well, what would you have called, Mr. Holt ? " 
is worthy of record. 

" I should have called a policeman ! " was 
the sorrowful rejoinder, as 600 of the best was 
chalked above the line. 

Colin Walker once got level with him. Holt had 
complained that his messengers were kept waiting 
at the Provincial Office. 

" I shall give them chop-money in future," 
he wrote, " they get so hungry." 

" Noted," replied young Colin. " As regards 
my own messenger, who has been waiting for 
coffee for two days at your store, I have now 
sent him to Lokoja. 1 It will be quicker." 

Of a morning, if he did not feel in the best of 
health, he would say with a groan : " You behold 
in me the ruins of a once handsome man ! ' : 
His matutinal interviews with his cook on the 
subject of the price of mutton, and his homily 
on Christianity when that menial defended himself 
from the allegation of charging one-tenth of a 
penny too much by saying : " Master, I be 
Chlistian (sic) ! " were as entertaining as they 
were heterodox. As for his customers, he took 
each on his merits. " A remittance will sur- 
prise," was once the footnote with which he 
shamed a " non-drop," as he used to call a 
reluctant payer into settling. 

1 A round journey of a fortnight. 


Christmas dinner 1916 was a humorous affair 
in more ways than one. Everybody contributed 
something or other — except one officer, who put 
at our disposal instead his nautical vocabulary, 
and periodically asked us with a sort of maritime 
breeziness whether " our glasses were charged, 
gentlemen ? " " Yes, but not charged /or," mut- 
tered the dour Carmichael, who had put up 
most of the glassware himself. 

A slight panic was created when, on someone 
unhappily whispering that he thought we were 
a bottle of port short, our redoubtable Commis- 
sioner of Police, Major Ellis, instantly summoned 
the sergeant-major and threatened to arrest the 
entire domestic staff. 

Then a Greek merchant rose and gave us a 
dissertation on the situation in the Balkans — 
he pronounced it " Balkans," as in " fal-da-ral " 
— drank damnation to his sovereign, King " Tino," 
and finally sang the Greek national anthem from 
beginning to end. 

By this time Percy, wearied with the exer- 
tions of carving and his special Yule-tide con- 
versational efforts, decided to retire outside for 
a breath of fresh air and forty winks. Removing 
from a folding-chair an effigy I had made of the 
Emperor Wilhelm with a view to burning it later, 
he settled himself therein, and relapsed into a 
well-earned slumber. 

Meanwhile, the rest of us were endeavouring 
to play " Subject and Object," with indifferent 
results, for Bobbie would not, and Dr. McKinney 
could not, grasp the principles of this instructive 



game. Suddenly it occurred to me that we had 
not yet " burned the Kaiser," and we all ad- 
journed outside. Fuel was collected and piled 
round the chair in which the effigy reclined. It 
was a dark cold night, and the bonfire was all that 
was lacking to make things like an old-time 
Christmas. I struck a match, approached the 
Emperor, and — just failed to cremate not His 
Germanic Majesty, but a very august if somnolent 
British subject in the shape of P. O. Holt ! 

Ten days later the Annetts and myself were 
stowed in the boat-train homeward, when, as the 
whistle blew, we received a wire from Elder 
Dempster to the effect that our passage was 
cancelled, as the Tarquah was full up. So "we 
all walked out again ! " I explained to Wood 
that I had finished, stored, or disposed of all 
my chop, but I added cheerily that I should have 
to make a picnic of the ensuing fortnight. 

" Which means, I suppose," said Wood gloomily, 
" that I shall have to give you all your meals." 

" Certainly not ! " I replied, " come and break- 
fast with me to-morrow ! " 

Breakfast-time and Wood arrived, and the boys 
proceeded to enumerate, one after the other, 
things I had not got. " Tea ya karre ! " " Babu 
sugar ! " " Kwoi ba ! " etc. But when they an- 
nounced that the cook, whom it will be remem- 
bered I had handed over to Wood (at increased 
wages) for the period of my leave, was cooking 
breakfast in his new master's compound, the 
latter 's indignation knew no bounds. But I fol- 
lowed him to his bungalow, and there enjoyed 


a nice little meal with him, cooked by my own 
cook, free of expense ! 

At length we sailed by the Abosso x (Captain 
Toft), and arrived at Liverpool on February 15th 
— my pockets bulging with threepenny-bits won 
from our table-mates, Crocombe, Vereker, and 
Charlie Ashton, at that fierce game of chance, 
" Newmarket." 

1 Torpedoed May 1917. 


My Odyssey draws to a close. There was a 
pessimistic atmosphere on the outward voyage 
of the Abinsi (Captain Wright). While boys of 
twenty-four and twenty-five at home were majors 
and colonels, and seconded survey and railway 
folk had blossomed into major-generals, promo- 
tion in this country, in spite of the increased 
responsibilities thrown on a depleted staff, was 
completely stagnant. So also was your salary, 
unless you managed to pass the Lower Standard 
Hausa, which, be your lot cast among the Bornu 
Beri-beri, or the pagans of Bassa, you were expected 
to do, or forfeit your increment — a sum of money, 
by the way, which exactly represented the difference 
between a " good " and a " plain " cook ! Then, 
having " got the wind up," as Tennyson hath 
it, and passed the Higher, you were transferred 
to Benin, where needless to say Hausa is as 
intelligible to the Benin as it is to the Beri-beri, 
or Bassa. 

It is instructive to note in this connection 
that, as regards Bornu, a reward of £200 having 
been recklessly offered to the first official mastering 
the Kanuri language, and subsequently with some 
anxiety reduced to £150, the consequences of 



this ruinous promise were finally avoided alto- 
gether. For the philological discovery was made 
(it is believed by Mr. H. G. Wells when piecing 
together his data on the Pleistocene dawn) that 
Kanuri was not the lingua franca of that province, 
but Shuwa Arabic ! Heureka ! echoed the 
Government gratefully ; and Shuwa Arabic was 
forthwith gazetted as the compulsory language 
of Bornu. A pleasing ruro-academic picture, the 
Kanuri peasantry swotting for their Lower 
Standard Shuwa Arabic : though it must be diffi- 
cult to get tutors during the dry season, when 
the venerable Shuwa professor has shifted his 
cattle-dung University to Cameroon pastures, free 
from fly and, incidentally, the embarrassments 
of British taxation. 

Dix allowed me to share the Presence in his 
cabine de luxe during the " torpedo season " ; 
and I then retired to my own in the bowels of 
the ship. " Pansy," my new spaniel, was 
tethered to the six-inch gun aft, and it was in 
some consternation that I hastened to release 
her and take her forward, when battle-practice 
was announced to be imminent. I need not have 
panic-ed : the first two shells made no noise I 

I found myself posted to Ilorin again, with 
Elphinstone now in charge, and once more I took 
over the Division. 

" Pansy " took to the gun like a duck to water. 
For partridges and guinea-fowl in the long grass, 
and snipe and duck in the swamps, she was 
invaluable. A little incident occurred at Offa 
one week-end which might have been disastrous. 


I was out with a gun, and heard a faint yapping 
behind me. The sight of a hare always threw 
" Pansy " into a paroxysm of excitement, and 
I thought she must have put one up then, so did 
not concern myself much. But as I went on the 
yapping became more insistent, though fainter 
and fainter. I sent the boy back, and shortly 
after heard him cry : " Ta fadi rijiya ! " (" She 
has fallen down a well ! "). I hurried back, and 
there she was swimming round and round, and 
splashing with her great fat paws. Making a 
precarious sort of human ladder with Atuma, I 
managed to rescue her. That same week-end — 
how she did it I do not know — she caught a hare ! 
Much panting, squeaking, and mutual embarrass- 
ment on the part of captor and captive ! She 
had hare for lunch and dinner. Occurrences such 
as these are trivial enough, but they assume 
some magnitude in the dull and solitary evenings 
in Nigeria. 

These little trips to Offa, and the badinage 
with mine host Nell, were always great fun : and, 
when I speak in my prayers of " forgiving those 
that trespass against us," I try hard to include 
him in the general pardon ; though I feel that 
nothing short of a special service of intercession 
can wipe out that gun affair — but he always dis- 
arms me when we meet with the Nelson Keys 
smile that turneth away wrath, a handful of 
cartridges, and a dozen cold soda ! 

Some two months of my time were devoted 
continuously to the not uninteresting analysis of 
the family or liefhold tenure connecting the various 


" districts " of Ilorin to the Court. It is the only 
way to preserve native custom, and avoid trampling 
on the corns of tradition. The white man does 
so love to " join up " villages and areas which 
have no historical or family connection, simply 
because it makes things superficially easier for 
himself, and looks pretty on the map. " Central- 
izing " he calls it ; whereas, if he only knew it, 
he is probably tearing an infant, so to speak, 
from its own mother's breast, and joining it up 
with a milkless foster-mother, or even a male ! 
Three-quarters of the intrigue, extortion, and 
general maladministration will be found to be 
due to some plausible white man's nominee being 
put in charge of a " coadunate " 1 district, while 
the family, who by custom and history should 
be ruling in his place either create a rival faction 
in the district, or sit in the headquarter town, 
like Achilles, brooding and hatching mischief in 
their tents. The folk of the district, moreover, 
will not suffer strangers gladly, but will flock to 
the town and lay their troubles before their natural 
family head, or " baba kekere." It was during 
my travels on this particular mission that I 
attempted, with the rains of a record year in full 
swing, to cross the flooded Oyun River near Oloru 
in my bath. I was upset by my over-anxious 
bearers, and nearly drowned. The Emir paid me 
a special visit of condolence on my return ! 

About September Colin Walker was " combed 

1 A term much favoured in Political Memoranda : but as 
to the meaning of which nobody that I have met has any 
fixed idea. 


out," and Elphinstone and I had to take turns 
to tour and run the Office, Station, Cash, Food 
Control, and Police. They were strenuous days, 
but I was getting to know both the locale and 
the locals ; and a lot can be achieved where 
there is that, alas ! rare flower, continuity. 

Percy Holt was still going strong ; though, as 
time wore on, his threats to " go home next month " 
became more insistent. The local Hercules, one 
Wimpole, christened by the facetious Twiss, and 
popularly known as " Michelin," or the " Round 
Man," used to afford us good entertainment, not 
unmixed with anxiety when he showed signs of 
getting roused. " Wait till / get hold of him ! " 

he would say, "I'll tick him off! I'll " 

" Oh, Wimpole ! Be merciful ! Don't hit him, 
promise us not to hit him ! " would be the fervent 
chorus. For one blow from the Round Man, as 
he has often told us himself, would be the last. 
In fact we seemed to spend most of our time 
restraining this Titan from some awful homicide. 
Yet when he had temporarily sheathed his biceps, 
and placed his muscles in repose, and put up one 
of his priceless palm-oil chops, no more perfect 
or peaceable host existed. He was, I believe, 
champion weight-lifter of Scotland. But Percy 
would ask irrelevant questions as to whether the 
weight was Avoirdupois or Troy, and whether 
a long tumbler or the bitters bottle were the 
greater strain. Mountaineering was, he assured 
us, his favourite recreation. " Put me among 
the mountains ! " he would murmur devotedly. 
The nearest we could get to carrying out this 


request was to conduct him up the almost imper- 
ceptible gradient from John Walkden's to the 
Tennis Club — an effort recalling rather the Labours 
of Hercules, or, as George Anderson (I am coming 
to him) put it, H.M.S. Vindictive cement-laden, 
and staggering to her last resting-place at the 
bottom of Ostend Harbour. 

The before-mentioned Twiss added his quota 
to the gaiety of nations with his sleight of hand, 
his mandolin, and his drawing-room stories. His 
perfect French added an air of distinction to the 
station. It will take me some time to get over 
a week-end I spent with Twiss at Bode Sadu. 
His clerk there possessed an old gramophone, 
and a record, amongst others, of " Living the 
Life in the West." With a sly look at me, Twiss 
rubbed in to the clerk what a fine record this was. 
Now, a native knows no half-way house. If a 
thing is good, it is good, and you cannnot have 
too much of it. If you tell your cook the soup 
is good, he will give it to you for breakfast, tea, 
lunch, and dinner, till you scream for mercy. So 
the clerk. He played that drivelling tune cease- 
lessly from 7 p.m. till 10.30 ! And then came and 
asked for a " dash." He did not get a dash — but 
something not unlike it. 

In December, to my great surprise and pleasure, 
but not so much to his, Pa Benton l was posted 
to Ilorin — his return to Bornu being ruled out 
of court by the medical authorities. Though it 
meant his taking my pet Division from me, his 
company and good fellowship more than made 
1 Died October 31, 1918 (vide Appendix C). 

218 ARRIVAL OF " PA " 

up for this bereavement, and I have seldom spent 
a more congenial eight months than those from 
January to September which followed. 

Having been in Bornu together and come into 
contact with the chicaneries of Shehuri Court 
life, we found it illuminating to compare thereto 
the affaires diplomatiques of the Ilorin Palace : 
and the conclusion was that, had the chancelleries 
of Ilorin been pitted against those of Bornu, the 
former would not have come off second-best. 
The Emir himself, 1 like the Shehu, was an amiable, 
well-disposed monarch — on the whole without vice 
— but his Court was honeycombed with the dens 
of the unofficial " judge," the office-procurer, and 
other unpaid body-snatchers of that type. These, 
as in Bornu, were gradually got rid of; but, as 
also in Bornu, were inevitably succeeded by 
understudies willing and waiting, " ungulu "-like, 
to step instantly into their shoes. 

Almost coincidently with Pa's arrival the 
mysterious loss of the Umjeni outward bound 
became accepted as a tragic fact. She was 
apparently last spoken by the Salanga in a terrible 
gale, and is assumed to have foundered with all 
on board, including poor Tamsie (vide Chapter 
VI and Appendix B). 

Pa, of course, at once got to work on a polo 
ground, and the whole of the Yola Polo Club 
paraphernalia was taken over with a view to 
starting the game in the dry season. At the 
moment of writing the Ilorin staff is more 
attenuated than ever, while that nauseous pesti- 
1 Died November 1919. 


lence, known as Spanish influenza, is devastating 
whole cities and provinces, impartial in its deadly 
attentions to black and white. So that the destiny 
of Ilorin polo is rather on the knees of the gods 
at present. 

In March I did a re-assessment of Malete 
District, but, though my peregrinations took me 
through the parts about Old Oyo, and I was 
buried for some three hot days without any fresh 
food in the heart of the Kontagora forest, I saw 
nothing in the flesh — only innumerable tracks, 
some of them yet warm, of buffalo, elephant, 
and roan. The same old disheartening story — 
the shadow, but not the substance. 

During my periodical visits to Jebba I still 
maintained the most desperate efforts to secure 
my first bush-cow. That excellent host Goodall 
(alas ! the latest victim of the plague x ) used to 
lend me his barge, and horrible were the riverain 
haunts I used to tour therein in my relentless 
quest. Equally relentless were the tsetse, mos- 
quito, and sandfly in their own line of pursuit 
— human blood. Once, after retiring to bed 
fatigued and dispirited from a fruitless hunt in 
long, miasmic speargrass, I called Atuma to bring 
my watch, as I was anxious to push off betimes 
from the island where we were camped to the 
opposite bank of the Niger. He brought my 
watch, struck a light, and, in a second, my 
mosquito-net was a mass of flames ! I sprang 
from my bed, and wandered about from 3 a.m. 
till dawn eaten alive. 

1 Died October 1918. 


On my return to Ilorin I received a letter from 
Biscoe, who was touring the Nupe States of 
Lafiagi and Pategi, triumphantly informing me 
that he had shot his first bush-cow. This was 
too much for me. In a fit of jealousy I wired 
Goodall to have the barge ready, and sped to 
Jebba. Thence to the usual nightmare on Fangam 
Island, and up at 4.30. 

At 5.45 I had landed for the nth time on the 
west bank, and then — O frabjous day ! — at about 
6.20, calmly browsing and flicking the flies off 
with their tails, there leisurely strolled from 
behind a patch of scrub some fifteen buffalo, 
only eighty yards away on my left flank. And 
the hunterman proceeded to say " Gashi ! " and 
handed me my — shot-gun ! If a look could murder 
a man, mine would have killed him. 1 Fortunately 
his imbecility did not attract the attention of 
the quarry ; and I grabbed the '375 from him, 
and raised it to my shoulder. I had singled out 
what appeared to be the big bull and father of 
the herd, but a second patch of scrub temporarily 
obscured him, and then the brawny neck protruded 
again. I let loose at it, and the welcome plosh ! 
so familiar to anyone who has done much shooting, 
as opposed to the empty reverberation of the 
misdirected bullet, told me that I had struck 
home. There was a stampede, some dozen cattle 
dashed past me to the right, and momentarily I 
lost sight of the bull I had hit, for it did not fall. 

Sheering off from her mates, an angry cow, 
with lowered head and calf trotting at her flank, 
1 He did, in fad, die shortly after. 


came boring along straight for where I stood. I 
put an erratic bullet into her — evidently in some 
non-vital spot, as it proved afterwards — which 
deflected her, and sent her grunting headlong 
after the rest. Simultaneously bloody and stag- 
gering — the typical neckshot stagger — about 
twenty-five yards in front of me appeared the 
bull. Another shot, through the heart, laid him 
low. He proved to be a massive brute, in the 
pink of fatness and condition, but an old warrior 
with horns warped and worn with fighting. They 
did not measure more than twenty-one inches, 
while the hide weighed 104 lb. wet, after the neck 
and mask, and of course the feet, had been 

When starting for Jebba in mad haste, Percy 
Holt had shouted after me : " And I bet you 
£50 to £1 you don't get one ! " Unhappily he 
says I did not take him ! 

Anybody wishing to probe the real " back of 
beyond" should have accompanied me one day in 
early June into a certain morass on the west bank 
of the Niger, not two hundred miles from Boussa, 
where Mungo Park met his death. Half swimming, 
half staggering into this delectable swamp, I 
suddenly put up a herd of what I cannot estimate 
at less than fifty buffalo, who sprang from their 
various postures, and went crashing off. Catching 
sight of a small brown patch as it vanished, I 
let fling at it. Stealthily advancing to the spot, 
I found a pool of blood. Now following a wounded 
buffalo in the blind grass is not to be recommended ; 
and it was with the utmost caution, and with 


nerves continually on the stretch, that I pursued 
the blood tracks for some six weary hours in 
awful country. She was apparently a female, 
for we kept coming upon patches where she had 
endeavoured to lie down, but had been boosted 
up and on again by her discrete, but unsympathetic 
calf. At least so the hunterman read the signs. 
Though the chase was resumed next day, I never 
landed her ; so presume the wound was not fatal. 
In any case I should have been very lucky to 
have secured her with so haphazard a shot. 

Two local buffalo anecdotes may be of interest. 
The first I can vouch for : the second is Biscoe's 

Nine miles south-west of Jebba a hunterman 
wounded a bush-cow, and advanced to finish it 
off. The brute turned and went for him : where- 
upon he hurled himself down and shammed death. 
The bush-cow stood astride him, biffed him first 
with fore and then with hind feet, urinated upon 
him, and then disdainfully left him for dead. At 
nightfall a bleeding mass of human ribbons tottered 
into the village — but still lives to tell the tale. 

Biscoe's sportsman announced to his friends in 
Offa that he was off to kill a bush-cow. He failed 
to re-appear. His friend went forth to look for 
him, and returned later carrying a small basket. 
" Didn't you find him ? " asked the anxious 
villagers. " Yes," replied the friend. " Well, 
where is he ? " they cried. " In here ! " he 
retorted significantly, emptying from his basket 
a few small gobbets of flesh. The bush-cow had 
done its job more thoroughly in this case. 


On subsequent visits to Jebba I got another 
waterbuck, and at last ! a bush-buck ; so that 
I shall always retain kindly recollections of Jebba, 
death-trap though it was. It was once Head- 
quarters : and the cemeteries there tell their 
own tale. According to one date apparently three 
patients and the doctor were buried on the same 
day ! I once paid a call on an engine-driver 
living at Jebba North. " Care to have a walk 
round ? " he said : and we did — round the grave- 
yard upon which his back door opened ! I 
sympathize with any driver for getting depressed 
on that grim spot, in the days before they were 
shifted to the Hill. 

My duties used to take me constantly up and 
down the line ; and it was during one of these 
tours to Off a that Stephens, the M.O., impressed 
upon me the rampant manner in which small-pox 
was spreading in the town, and the impossibility 
of coping with it until the " worship " of the 
fetish (with which he had come in contact in the 
Southern Provinces) had been taken in hand, and 
the juju men brought to book. I went into the 
matter exhaustively, and found it had not been 
exaggerated. The ritual was founded entirely on 
blackmail. The modus ojierandi was for the 
" priest," or his client, to threaten : "If you do, 
or do not, so and so, small-pox will catch you ! " 
Then if the threat did not produce the desired 
effect, the principal, or agent, would work the 
" juju," generally by jostling the victim in the 
market, or in a crowd, where he would escape 
identification, and sprinkling him at the same 


time with the virus — generally particles of dust, 
or other infected matter collected from the body 
of some wretch already stricken with the malady. 
The sample I obtained was in the nature of pepper, 
or snuff. 

So fiercely had the terror of this evil thing 
gripped the morale of the community in its tentacles 
that the most inoffensive individual would pay 
a heavy contribution to be enrolled as a member 
of the society — hoodwinked by the priesthood 
into the delusion that he would thus secure 
immunity from the disease. Further blackmail 
had of course to be paid periodically for the 
privilege of retaining that membership. Though it 
was transparent to me that the whole town would 
sell their souls to be quit of this sinister cult, they 
were too terrified of possible consequences to try 
to free themselves. One old man, pitted almost 
beyond recognition, told me that he had once 
disregarded a threat, and concealed himself in an 
outlying hamlet. His seven children were all 
fatally attacked at intervals, always preceded by 
a warning or symbol of some sort, and died one 
after the other. 

At length I got certain men to give information, 
on the condition that I would make a clean and 
impartial sweep of the priesthood, and leave no 
offender at large to keep the worship alive. 
Backed by the Oloffa, who had hitherto out of 
sheer fear supported the society, but was at heart 
as keen as everybody else to have the unclean 
shadow removed from his town, I committed and 
sentenced to terms of imprisonment some dozen 





ringleaders, severely cautioned more than 250 
worshippers (more sinned against than sinning), 
and publicly set fire to three hundred odd idols, 
charms, etc. 

Once it became popular knowledge that the 
" game was up," and the impotence of the juju 
as against the White man exposed, people flocked 
to the scene, and of their own free will hurled 
their noisome symbols into the conflagration. 
Volunteers actually came in from neighbouring 
villages next day, and a supplementary bonfire 
had to be kindled as large as the first ! I shall 
be indeed surprised if there is ever a recrudescence 
of this horror. The pontifices maximi of the 
Small-pox Deity are meanwhile much more happily 
employed on the cleaning of latrines, and other 
convict labour of a humane and sanitary nature ! 

From now onwards I had the supervision of 
the Police added to my other duties. Wonderfully 
efficient and well-disciplined men, considering 
they are nobody's children (their officers being 
perpetually below strength), and at the mercy of 
any amateur who comes along. I was swearing- 
in a recruit one day, and he had just declared 
his fealty to " King George, his heirs, and succes- 
sors," when the voice of the office orderly chipped 
in : " — and the sergeant-major ! " (!) 

Another little conversation I overheard about 
the same period between a sentry, who wished 
to impress me with his alertness, and an un- 
sophisticated passer-by will appeal to those who 
understand Hausa. 

" Halt ! Who goes there ? " 


226 "TIN EYE" 

" Na-am ? " 

" Halt ! Who goes there ? " 

" Na-am ? " 

"Wane irin mutum na che Halt! Who goes 
there ? ya che Na-am ? Pass fren' — dandurin' 
waka ! wofi ! " 

Translation would ruin the piquancy of these 
exchanges ! 

The Police were a sore trial to S. W. Walker, 
who lived just over the office. " It is not so much 
the changing of guards and clatter of rifles at 
5 a.m. I mind," he said, " as the uproarious laughter 
(compulsory) of the rest of the force at the 
sergeant-major's jokes." 

Little remains to be told ; save that, in August, 
George Anderson (rudely known as " Tin Eye ") 
relieved Elphinstone. A wonderfully dry gentle- 
man, distinctly and pleasantly reminiscent of 
Hewby. I feel confident that, if one had sent 
him a chit to the effect that his house was in 
flames, or that at 10.30 precisely " date " the 
Last Trump would sound, he would have simply 
written " G. A." across it. Whatever their in- 
trinsic significance, somehow those initials seemed 
to convey implicitly : Go away ! 

One of his first official acts was characteristic. 
He returned the monthly Duty Pay I had sent 
across to him with a polite request that I would 
deduct all Government dues, such as Conservancy, 
Bicycle, Arms, Warehouse, etc., fees, and let 
him have the balance, if any, in notes ! One of 
his last memos to me ere I left ran as follows : 
" I am told you have got some of my turkeys 




in your compound. Also that you have beaten 
my cook. — G. A. 

" P.S.— I am glad of the latter." 

Many of his obiter dicta are worthy of, but not 
suitable for, reproduction here. He was once 
dragged out of bed at midnight, during a visit 
to Offa, to investigate a burglary at the local 
post office. He threw the postmaster, a horribly 
nervous man, quite off his balance by addressing 
Stephens, whom he had taken with him as a 
witness, as " my dear Watson." The post-office 
drawer had been incidentally set fire to, and the 
postmaster tentatively suggested that kerosene had 
been first pumped in through the keyhole. " And 
then the cash pumped out ? " observed Tin Eye, 
leaving the last state of that postmaster worse 
than the first. 

He would get a little weary of the nightly dis- 
cussion on the tennis court as to whose turn it 
was for a game, and who should play with whom. 
Whereas Percy Holt would bluntly remark : 
" We're not keeping you up, are we?" Anderson 
would say much more politely : " Please choose 
your own partner, and side of the court, and take 
the service — no, I prefer the sun in my eyes ! " 

So life went on son petit train train until I 
received orders to transfer to the Southern Pro- 
vinces — whether for better or worse, richer or 
poorer, for honour, glory, and promotion, or on 
the analogy of the Chiltern Hundreds, flung at 
the discarded minister, who was I to foreshadow ! 
There — with the commencement of a new era — 
my narrative shall end. 


And now a parting word in justice to the Service 
to which I have the honour to belong. The Great 
Public have familiarized themselves with the bread, 
tea, and sugar queue — even the " literary queue " 
has been boomed by the Morning Post. But 
there is another queue, whose dimensions are only 
known to those of whom it is composed. 

I refer to the testudo of Colonial Officials who, 
at any rate during the first three years of the 
war, battered at the Holy of Holies of Messrs. 
Walter Long and Bonar Law, begging, cajoling, 
even threatening for transfer from Civil to Military 
service. It goes without saying that this whole- 
sale abandonment of colonial affairs to take care 
of themselves could not be entertained, if we 
meant to keep a grip of our possessions — though 
an extensive combing out did take place, saddling 
those who were left with the added burden of 
those who were taken. But I merely mention 
these facts to show that it was not for lack of 
trying that the colonial civil servant was still in 
Africa instead of in France. 

But there is another aspect of life in the Out- 
posts which does not easily convey itself to the 
unreceptive mind of those at home, owing to the 
entire absence of limelight to show it up. And 
that is the continuous campaigning conditions under 
which the average Political Officer in the out- 
station lives in normal times — quite apart from 
the trebled responsibility and strain imposed by 
the exigencies of war. One day losing his way, 
another his carriers, another his loads ; sleeping 
as best he may under some friendly tree, with 


the earth for his bed, and the moon for his candle ; 
going without food or water for twenty-four hours 
at a stretch ; swimming rapids at imminent risk 
during the wet season, and suffering a hundred 
discomforts of dust, heat, and insects during the 
dry ; working and travelling at high pressure 
with fever upon him : above all, the Solitude, 
twin-sister of Sickness, mental and physical, days 
away from a white man, let alone a doctor, and 
relieved only by the endless chatter of the nigger 
— all these are in the order of the day, Peace or 
War. Most of them simple occurrences, which 
he has learnt to grin and bear, if indeed he notices 
them at all, for he is so used to them. No honour- 
able mention for all these things : no brevets : 
no investitures. The Navy has fairly earned the 
sobriquet of the Silent Service : about service 
in the Dark Continent there is a Dumbness stronger 
than speech. Its slaves do not get, and do not 
ask for limelight : but let them in justice be 
remembered when the tale of the Great War is 


(Reproduced by the courtesy of the Editor of Blackwood's Magazine.) 


Dick Turpin, Jack Sheppard, Claude Duval, and 
other exponents of the fine art of crime, have 
been immortalized in prose and verse. Suli Yola 
is, as far as I know, unsung. Here is his story 
— or that part of it at any rate with which I 
personally came in contact. 

I first met him undergoing a sentence of forty 
days' imprisonment for adultery. The judge who 
tried him was a fine shikari, and a first-class 
tennis player, but — needless to explain — no lawyer. 
The conviction was of course quashed, but not 
before he had served his time. 

The next occasion on which I met him was at 
the sports of " A " Company of the Nigerian 
Regiment, in which he had re-enlisted under a 
false name, having been discharged from " E " 
Company as a leper. He only participated in 
two contests : one the wrestling, in which he 
threw every antagonist at the first grip ; the 
other a Marathon race from the town-wall to the 
station, in which he beat his opponents by about 
half the distance. 

A fortnight later, during the night, a terrific 



tornado burst over the station, completely wreck- 
ing (as it appeared) the post-office doors and 
windows. But when the contents of the postal 
boxes, including £25 in gold, were found to have 
vanished, it became reasonable to suppose that 
the human element had also played its part. 
Exhaustive investigations and many arrests were 
made, but without result, and the affair was 
gradually forgotten. Then one Private Isa Bauchi 
brought to my office a claim for £5 against Suli 
Yola. I asked him for details. He became re- 
ticent. I pressed him, at the same time remark- 
ing that it was a large amount considering both 
claimant and defendant were drawing less than 
£2 a month. Isa then anathematized Suli Yola, 
and said the amount was really £10 — being his 
share of the proceeds of the " Giddan Wire 
Palaver " (literally House of the Wire, i.e. tele- 
graph office). Suli was immediately discharged 
by the officer in command of " A " Company 
as inefficient, and it was arranged to watch his 
movements and have him arrested as a civilian. 
For this purpose three police were detailed. Their 
efforts to be tactful and appear unconcerned 
were clumsy and ridiculous to a degree. Suli, 
who had sized up the situation from the moment 
he received his discharge, dogged them as they 
walked about the market pretending to buy 
merchandise, and made faces at them, saying, 
" Here I am ; don't be afraid ; arrest me ! " 
Fearfully and reverently — it transpired later that 
the world in general was terrified of Suli, who 
was believed to possess evil spirits or Ju-ju — they 


did so, and brought their captive back to the 

" Charge him with everything that has ever 
happened since he has been here," said the Resi- 
dent, commonly known as the General. 

I give to the best of my memory the interview 
which took place between Suli Yola and myself 
at the preliminary investigation, which corre- 
sponds roughly to our police-court proceedings. 

44 Your name ? " 

" Dusi." 

" Why are you known as Suli Yola ? " 

" That was my name when I was in Yola Pro- 
vince. I was ' Tom ' in Kano Province, and 
' Brahm ' in Bornu. It is not convenient to 
have one name." 

"You are charged with breaking into the Wire 
House, etc. You are charged with stealing two 
bottles of the captain's whisky on the 17th 
August ; with stealing a loin-cloth and a bottle 
of Worcester sauce from the Resident's cook's 
mate on the previous Saturday ; with selling 
three telegraph-poles and iron rods to Audu the 
blacksmith ; with stealing, two nights ago, the 
doctor's mosquito-net and sparklet bottle " 

" Babu — ban shiga wanan ba " (No ! I had 
nothing to do with that). 

" Why not ? " 

44 Because I was employed that night by the 
sergeant-major on the road to the town to watch 
the interpreter, and see if he was courting one 
of his, the sergeant-major's, wives." 



" You were out of barracks then ? " 

" I am always out of barracks. Anyone who 
wants to steal anything comes to me and asks 
me to do it. They are too clumsy themselves. 
I frequently steal for the sergeant-major. He 
got me reduced once for refusing. He and I 
and Isa Bauchi were all in the post-office show. 
I was naked ; I had taken Ju-ju, and oiled 
myself all over. We had no lights, but found 
our way about by the continual lightning. I 
slid in, and handed the money out to the 
sergeant-major. He took it, and said he would 
bury it at the 300 range. I never got a ' toro ' 
(threepence) out of it. I will kill him when 
convenient. I am not afraid ; I could easily 
have run away when I was discharged, but to 
see the Police pretending they had not come to 
arrest me was ' maganan daria ' (a matter for 

In a nutshell, Suli, alias Dusi, alias Tom, alias 
Brahm, pleaded guilty to all the charges except 
the mosquito-net affair, from participation in 
which he was unavoidably detained on business. 
As a result, Suli, the sergeant-major, and Isa 
were brought up for trial in the provincial court- 

At this juncture the gaoler came up to the 
General and said he could not be responsible for 
the safe custody of Suli, as every night he "turned 
into a mouse and got out through the bars." 

This, strangely enough, was corroborated by 
the prisoners sharing his cell. 

" Personally," remarked the chief clerk, a 


highly educated man, whose brother had been 
at Oxford, and is now a barrister in Lagos, "I 
do not believe it " (!) 

The trial was in many respects the most 
dramatic I ever witnessed. The " alkali," or 
native judge, was present at his own request, 
and the court was packed with inquisitive natives 
agog to see the "Sarikin Ju-ju." Suli stood, 
the picture of indifference and innocence, between 
his two warders, until the time arrived to give 
his evidence, when courteously waving them 
back, he quietly slipped off his handcuffs, placed 
them on a table, and proceeded to demonstrate 
the part that he, Isa, and the sergeant-major 
had played in the robbery. On completing his 
evidence, he stepped back, replaced his manacles, 
and resumed his attitude of innocence. 

" Damn it all ! " whispered the General to 
me. " He only wears them to oblige us ! " 

To cut a long story short, the sergeant-major 
was acquitted, and Isa and Suli both found guilty. 
Before passing sentence, however, the General, 
recalling the mysterious disappearance of a large 
sum of money from the fort in Bornu when he 
was last in that province, wired to the Resident 
for the names of the guard on duty on that occa- 
sion. The reply came back — 

" Momodu, Kachella, and Brahm"(!) 

Isa received two, and Suli three years' im- 

Profiting by the experience of the handcuffs, 
the General ordered the gaoler not to allow Suli 
out on prison labour until the native blacksmith 


had forged and soldered a pair of stout leg-irons 
on to his ankles, so that there could be no 
" springing " of the locks, such as might occur 
in the case of those supplied by Government. 

Overnight, as we subsequently learned, Suli 
addressed his fellow- captives thus : "I had 
hoped to stay a few days among you, and to 
arrange for the cutting of the sergeant-major's 
throat. They have determined, however, I hear, 
to bind me with native leg-irons. I find it 
advisable, therefore, to leave you to-morrow 
some time, but please inform the sergeant-major 
that I shall certainly cut his throat eventually." 

At eight o'clock next morning I was sitting 
in the office when two shots rang out. My 
glance met the General's. 

" Suli Yola, for a thousand ! " he exclaimed, 
as an excited warder rushed in to tell us that 
Suli had asked leave to fall out, and had then 
melted, leaving his leg-irons and his knickers on 
the ground. 

" Take him out and give him ' bulala ' (whip) 
till he can talk sense, and tell us what really 
happened," said the General. 

This was done — whereupon the interpreter took 
up the story. 

" After he had melted " 

" You'll get ' bulala ' next if you use that 
word again," said the General. 

I quote this conversation to illustrate the 
thorough belief shared by interpreters, warders, 
and clerks alike in Suli's powers of Ju-ju. Not 
the least humorous aspect of the episode was 


the sight of the other prisoners, some twenty 
in number, marching back unescorted, the warders 
having gone off in a half-hearted pursuit, waving 
Suli's knickers and shouting : " He has escaped ! 
The Bastard ! His fashion is evil : he has done 
a bad thing." 

Meanwhile the guinea-corn field into which Suli 
had " melted " was surrounded and watched night 
and day, and the district scoured by " A " Com- 
pany and mounted messengers, but to no avail ; 
and the next we heard of him, some three 
months afterwards, was that he had met the 
commanding officer of his old " E " Company 
(who was entirely ignorant of his misdeeds) on 
the Benue River, greeted him affectionately, and 
received a " dash " of five shillings from him 
for " auld lang syne." 

Aware though he was that he was still wanted, 
and liable to be shot at sight, he shamelessly 
reappeared in barracks and openly marched off 
with a police-constable's wife, whom he alleged 
to have belonged to him. For witnessing this 
adventure, but being too frightened of Ju-ju to 
interfere, the police-sergeant was degraded. 

Three months had barely elapsed before a 
colour-sergeant was relieved of some fifty pounds 
in cash during absence from his bungalow at 
Ibi. The thief was never found, but it is a 
significant fact that Suli Yola was a prominent 
frequenter of the Ibi market at the time, and 
blossomed out into most expensive habiliments 
during the following months. 

Then the Ibi post office received much the 


same treatment as the famous one at Bauchi. 
The guilt was brought home to Suli Yola, now 
styling himself Mustapha. On his way to the 
gaol he informed his escort that his incarceration 
was a mere formality to please the white man ; 
that he would become a rabbit during the night 
and be sleeping in the bush by daylight. At six 
o'clock next morning a hole was found in the 
gaol floor leading through the back wall. The 
hue-and-cry was raised, and news arrived by a 
messenger that Suli was at a village, some fifteen 
miles away, demanding the hand of the daughter 
of a neighbouring chief, who, seeing that his 
prospective son-in-law brought no other marriage 
gifts than a portion of leg-irons clinging to his 
person, detained him in parley, and sent informa- 
tion to the Resident. Suli was surrounded and 

I believe, but am not sure, that he again escaped 
and was again recaptured. However this may be, 
when last I heard of him he was confined in a 
long-sentence prison with a pained expression 
on his face, and on his waist and thighs a solid 
rock, some one and a half times his own weight, 
which encumbrance explains his explanation to 
the world at large that his " Ju-ju done finish." 



(Reproduced from West Africa by the courtesy of the Editor.) 



In connection with the death at sea of Mr. 
W. B. Thomson, concerning whom an obituary 
article appeared in West Africa for February 2nd, 
"Langa Langa" writes to us from the Northern 
Provinces, Nigeria : — 

"It is no posthumous sycophancy but un- 
challenged truth to say that with the tragic passing 
of W. B. Thomson the Political Service has lost 
one of its soundest and most capable officers, 
and his devotees (I can think of no other term) 
a friend who can never be replaced. Appointed 
in 1905, he quickly worked his way up to the 
position of Second-class Resident, and never 
was accelerated progress less grudged or better 

" His entire period of service was spent in 
Bornu, where he became the idol of a coterie 
of friends of all tastes and temperaments, linked 
to him and each other by a freemasonry peculiar 
to that province — probably engendered in the first 
instance and consolidated by a common loyalty 


to the * Ubangiji ' of Bornu, Mr. W. P. Hewby, 
C.M.G. No easy task lay before him when he 
was called upon, as Resident of Bornu, to follow 
in the footsteps of such men as the last-named 
and Major Mclintock, D.S.O. ; yet there was 
no one to whom those two would have more 
confidently handed over the interests of Bornu. 
An immediate comment on his ability to carry 
out this trust was forthcoming in his solution 
of the appalling famine difficulties of 1913-14, 
when rain fell twice in eighteen months ; and later 
in his tactful handling of British and French 
interests, alternately with Captain Ruxton, during 
the Cameroon fighting. Von Raben's heart- 
broken words, as he (ipse ultimus) quitted for 
ever the last outpost of German West Africa, 
were a handsome testimony to the men of whom 
4 Tamsie ' was so true a type. 

" As a junior officer he was responsible for 
the evolution of the present form of assessment 
in Bornu, and a number of other lasting pieces 
of work bear the hall-mark of 'W.B.T.'; while, 
as a superior, his sympathy, his grasp of ' the 
things that mattered ' (a rare qualification among 
high officials these days), and his good-natured, 
cynical Scottish humour made it a joy to work 
under him. Quite well known in the literary 
world, both as a writer himself and as a re- 
viewer of the work of others, he had a particular 
penchant for Thomas Hardy, Balzac, and the 
Latin poets. Somebody with a superficial acquaint- 
ance once observed to me : ' Rather a book- 
worm, isn't he ? ' I should have dearly liked 


to put this naive individual on a horse and invite 
him to race 6 Tamsie ' over hurdles, or ride him 
off on the polo ground. He would have been 
enlightened, for at these things the latter could 
hold his own with the best. 

" And now, by a chain of chances, beginning 
with a bite from a rabies-suspected dog, which 
foreshortened his tour, and ending with a number 
of extensions which lengthened his leave, it was 
ordained that he should travel by a ship doomed 
to vanish from human ken in the night watches, 
leaving no soul alive to tell the tale. God rest 
him on ocean's bed, and comfort his mother 
and brave little wife, with whom only eight 
months ago he was enjoying his honeymoon ! 
If it is glorious to die fighting the common enemy, 
it is at least not inglorious to die leaving no 
private enemy behind, as ' Tamsie ' assuredly did. 

" His numerous friends are already seeing to 
it that his memory shall be perpetuated in some 
lasting form, as was that of his predecessor, 
6 Maidoronyaki ' ; and may those two brave 
spirits protect and inspire the Bornu folk, both 
black and white, who loved them so well. 
Dignum laude virum musa vetat mori ! " 



(Reproduced from West Africa by the courtesy of the Editor.) 


It seems only the other day that I wrote in these 
columns a — very inadequate — appreciation of 
the late W. B. Thomson. 

And now again I take up a sorrowful pen in the 
endeavour to do w T hat little justice I may (there 
is little enough official recognition of these sterling 
men and their labours during their lifetime) to 
the memory of Philip Askell Benton, who succumbed 
on October 31st to that grim epidemic which has 
swept the country from Lagos to Lake Chad, 
and who was buried on November 1st at Ilorin, 
where he died. Under the devoted and ceaseless 
care of Dr. Stephens he had made a brave fight 
for a fortnight ; but, having been a martyr to 
asthma for some twenty-four years, and of slender 
constitution, he never stood any real chance. 

Following as it does so swiftly on the tragic 
death of " Tamsie," his intimate friend, the loss 
of Benton is one which the Service generally, 
and the already depleted Bornu " family " in 
particular can ill afford. 

Affectionately known as " Pa " Benton by 
his very, very many friends, he was the most 



honourable and unselfish man I ever knew. If 
generosity can be measured in terms of money his 
material acknowledgment of the services of the 
steward who assisted him from the s.s. Karina 
when she was torpedoed, is striking enough 
example. As for his cross in life — asthma — 
which used sometimes to lay him low for months 
at a time, sometimes suddenly, as it were, to 
strike him prostrate, I have never heard him 
so much as murmur. It is few people who, com- 
pelled, as he was, to pass their nights for over 
twenty years propped on their backs at an 
angle at which the ordinary man sits, would not 
have raised their voice in bitterness at their 

Educated at Epsom College, and Corpus Christi 
College, Oxford, Benton joined the Political 
Service late in 1905 ; and it was only last August 
that his promotion to First- Class District Officer 
was gazetted. 

Nearly the whole of his twelve years' service had 
been spent in his beloved Bornu Province, where 
he devoted himself to an exhaustive study of 
the history, people, and language of those parts. 
We have seen the result of some of this research 
in his Notes on Some Languages of the Western 
Sudan, The Sultanate of Bornu, Kanuri Readings, 
and A Bornu Almanac. And I am right, I think, 
in saying that another little work of his, with 
the proofs of which I had the privilege of assist- 
ing him, is at this moment in the hands of his 
publishers, Messrs. Humphrey Milford, Oxford 
University Press, 


It is characteristic of his generous nature that 
he intended to devote the proceeds of sale of 
his last work to the Red Cross Fund. His many 
friends will therefore have the opportunity, with 
every copy purchased, not only of supporting 
the finest cause in the world, but at the same 
time of paying a tribute to the memory of a man 
who never " played to the gallery," but quietly, 
for twelve years, officially and socially, gave of 
his best to the country which he loved, and which 
has at last claimed him. 



November 1918. 

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