Part 5 out of 8

affair with the elephants. I had entrusted to them my favourite
rifles, and had instructed them in their use; each man paid
particular regard to the rifle that he carried, and, as several
were of the same pattern, they had marked them with small pieces
of rag tied round the trigger guards. This esprit de corps was
most beneficial to the preservation of the arms, which were kept
in admirable order. Mahomet, the dragoman, rode my spare horse,
and carried my short double-barrelled rifle, slung across his
back, in the place of his pistols and gun, which he had wilfully
thrown upon the desert when leaving Berber. As the horse was
restive, and he had placed the hammers upon the caps, his shirt
caught in the lock, and one barrel suddenly exploded, which, with
an elephant-charge of six drachms of powder, was rather
startling, within a few inches of his ear, and narrowly escaped
the back of his skull. Florian possessed a single-barrelled
rifle, which he declared had accompanied him through many years
of sports: this weapon had become so fond of shooting, that it
was constantly going off on its own account, to the great danger
of the bystanders, and no sooner were we well off on our journey,
than off went this abominable instrument in a spontaneous feu de
joie, in the very midst of us! Its master was accordingly OFF
likewise, as his horse gave the accustomed kick, that was
invariably the deed of separation. However, we cantered on ahead
of the dangerous party, and joined the aggageers, until we at
length reached the table land above the Settite valley. Hardly
were we arrived, than we noticed in the distance a flock of sheep
and goats attended by some Arab boys. Suddenly, as Don Quixote
charged the sheep, lance in hand, the aggageers started off in
full gallop, and as the frightened flock scattered in all
directions, in a few moments they were overtaken by the hunters,
each of whom snatched a kid, or a goat, from the ground while at
full speed, and placed it upon the neck of his horse, without
either halting or dismounting. This was a very independent
proceeding; but, as the flock belonged to their own tribe, they
laughed at the question of property that I had immediately
raised, and assured me that this was the Arab custom of insuring
their breakfast, as we should kill no game during that day. In
this they were mistaken, as I killed sufficient guinea-fowl to
render the party independent of other food.

In a day's march through a beautiful country, sometimes upon the
high table land to cut off a bend in the river, at other times
upon the margin of the stream in the romantic valley, broken into
countless hills and ravines covered with mimosas, we arrived at
Ombrega (mother of the thorn), about twenty-four miles from
Geera. In that country, although uninhabited from fear of the
Base, every locality upon the borders of the river has a name.
Ombrega is a beautiful situation, where white sandstone cliffs of
about two hundred feet perpendicular height, wall in the river,
which, even at this dry season, was a noble stream impassable
except at certain places, where it was fordable. Having descended
the valley we bivouacked in the shade of thick nabbuk trees
(Rhamnus lotus), whose evergreen foliage forms a pleasing
exception to the general barrenness of the mimosas during the
season of drought. We soon arranged a resting-place, and cleared
away the grass that produced the thorn which had given rise to
the name of Ombrega, and in a short time we were comfortably
settled for the night. We were within fifty yards of the
river--the horses were luxuriating in the green grass that grew
upon its banks, and the camels were hobbled, to prevent them from
wandering from the protection of the camp fires, as we were now
in the wilderness, where the Base by day, and the lion and
leopard by night, were hostile to man and beast. The goats, upon
which we depended for our supply of milk, were objects of
especial care: these were picketed to pegs driven in the ground
close to the fires, and men were ordered to sleep on either side.
We had three greyhounds belonging to the Arabs, and it was
arranged that, in addition to these guards, a watch should be
kept by night.

The dense shade of the nabbuk had been chosen by the Arabs as a
screen to the camp-fires, that might otherwise attract the Base,
who might be prowling about the country; but, as a rule, however
pleasant may be the shade during the day, the thick jungle, and
even the overhanging boughs of a tree, should be avoided at
night. Snakes and noxious insects generally come forth after
dark--many of these inhabit the boughs of trees, and may drop
upon the bed of the unwary sleeper; beasts of prey invariably
inhabit the thick jungles, in which they may creep unperceived to
within springing distance of an object in the camp.

We were fast asleep a little after midnight, when we were
awakened by the loud barking of the dogs, and by a confusion in
the camp. Jumping up on the instant, I heard the dogs, far away
in the dark jungles, barking in different directions. One of the
goats was gone! A leopard had sprung into the camp, and had torn
a goat from its fastening, although tied to a peg, between two
men, close to a large fire. The dogs had given chase; but, as
usual in such cases, they were so alarmed as to be almost
useless. We quickly collected firebrands, and searched the
jungles, and shortly we arrived where a dog was barking
violently. Near this spot we heard the moaning of some animal
among the bushes, and upon a search with firebrands we discovered
the goat, helpless upon the ground, with its throat lacerated by
the leopard. A sudden cry from the dog at a few yards' distance,
and the barking ceased.

The goat was carried to the camp, when it shortly died. We
succeeded in recalling two of the dogs; but the third, that was
the best, was missing, having been struck by the leopard. We
searched for the body in vain, and concluded that it had been
carried off.

On the following day, we discovered fresh tracks of elephants at
sunrise. No time was lost in starting, and upon crossing the
river, we found that a large herd had been drinking, and had
retreated by a peculiar ravine. This cleft through the sandstone
rocks, which rose like walls for about a hundred feet upon either
side, formed an alley about twenty yards broad, the bottom
consisting of snow-white sand that, in the rainy season, formed
the bed of a torrent from the upper country. This herd must have
comprised about fifty elephants, that must have been in the same
locality for several days, as the ground was trampled in all
directions, and the mimosas upon the higher land were uprooted in
great numnbers: but after following upon the tracks for several
hours with great difficulty, owing to the intricacy of their
windings upon the dry and hard ground, we met with a sign fatal
to success,--the footprints of two men. In a short time we met
the men themselves, two elephant-hunters who had followed the
herd on foot, with the sword as their only weapon: they had found
the elephants, which had obtained their wind and had retreated.

The Sheik Abou Do was furious at the audacity of these two
Hamrans, who had dared to disturb our hunting-grounds, and he
immediately ordered them to return to Geera.

In addition to the tracks of the herd, we had seen that of a
large single bull elephant; this we now carefully followed, and,
after many windings, we felt convinced that he was still within
the broken ground that formed the Settite valley. After some
hours' most difficult tracking, Taher Noor, who was leading the
way, suddenly sank gently upon all fours. This movement was
immediately, but quietly imitated by the whole party, and I
quickly distinguished a large grey mass about sixty yards distant
among the bushes, which, being quite leafless, screened the form
of the bull elephant, as seen through a veil of treble gauze. I
felt quite sure that we should fail in a close approach with so
large a party. I therefore proposed that I should lead the way
with the Ceylon No. 10, and creep quite close to the elephant,
while one of th aggageers should attempt to sabre the back sinew.
Jali whispered, that the sword was useless in the high and thick
grass in which he was standing, surrounded by thorns; accordingly
I told Florian to follow me, and I crept forward. With
difficulty, upon hands and knees, I avoided the hooked thorns
that would otherwise have fastened upon my clothes, and, with the
wind favourable, I at length succeeded in passing through the
intervening jungle, and arrived at a small plot of grass that was
sufficiently high to reach the shoulder of the elephant. This
open space was about fifteen yards in diameter, and was
surrounded upon all sides by thick jungle. He was a splendid
bull, and stood temptingly for a forehead shot, according to
Ceylon practice, as he was exactly facing me at about ten yards'
distance. Having been fortunate with the front shot at Geera, I
determined to try the effect; I aimed low, and crack went the old
Ceylon No. 10 rifle, with seven drachms of powder, and a ball of
quicksilver and lead. For an instant the smoke in the high grass
obscured the effect, but almost immediately after, I heard a
tremendous rush, and, instead of falling, as I had expected, I
saw the elephant crash headlong through the thorny jungle. No one
was behind me, as Florian had misunderstood the arrangement that
he was to endeavour to obtain a quick shot should I fail. I began
to believe in what I had frequently heard asserted, that the
forehead shot so fatal to the Indian elephant had no effect upon
the African species, except by mere chance. I had taken so steady
an aim at the convexity at the root of the trunk, that every
advantage had been given to the bullet; but the rifle that in
Ceylon had been almost certain at an elephant, had completely
failed. It was quite impossible to follow the animal through the
jungle of hooked thorns. On our way toward the camp we saw tracks
of rhinoceroses, giraffes, buffaloes, and a variety of antelopes,
but none of the animals themselves.

On the following morning we started, several times fording the
river to avoid the bends: our course was due east. After the
first three hours' ride through a beautiful country bordering the
Settite valley, which we several times descended, we came in
clear view of the magnificent range of mountains, that from Geera
could hardly be discerned; this was the great range of Abyssinia,
some points of which exceed 10,000 feet. The country that we now
traversed was so totally uninhabited that it was devoid of all
footprints of human beings; even the sand by the river's side,
that like the snow confessed every print, was free from all
traces of man. The Base were evidently absent from our

We had several times disturbed antelopes during the early portion
of the march, and we had just ascended from the rugged slopes of
the valley, when we observed a troop of about a hundred baboons,
who were gathering gum arabic from the mimosas; upon seeing us,
they immediately waddled off. "Would the lady like to have a
girrit (baboon)?" exclaimed the ever-excited Jali: being answered
in the affirmative, away dashed the three hunters in full gallop
after the astonished apes, who, finding themselves pursued, went
off at their best speed. The ground was rough, being full of
broken hollows, covered scantily with mimosas, and the stupid
baboons, instead of turning to the right into the rugged and
steep valley of the Settite, where they would have been secure
from the aggageers, kept a straight course before the horses. It
was a curious hunt; some of the very young baboons were riding on
their mothers' backs: these were now going at their best pace,
holding on to their maternal steeds, and looking absurdly human;
but, in a few minutes, as we closely followed the Arabs, we were
all in the midst of the herd, and with great dexterity two of the
aggageers, while at full speed, stooped like falcons from their
saddles, and seized each a half-grown ape by the back of the neck
and hoisted them upon the necks of the horses. Instead of biting,
as I had expected, the astonished captives sat astride of the
horses, and clung tenaciously with both arms to the necks of
their steeds, screaming with fear. The hunt was over, and we
halted to secure the prisoners. Dismounting, to my surprise the
Arabs immediately stripped from a mimosa several thongs of bark,
and having tied the baboons by the neck, they gave them a
merciless whipping with their powerful coorbatches of
hippopotamus hide. It was in vain that I remonstrated against
this harsh treatment; they persisted in the punishment, otherwise
they declared that the baboons would bite, but if well whipped
they would become "miskeen" (humble). At length my wife insisted
upon mercy, and the unfortunate captives wore an expression of
countenance like prisoners about to be led to execution, and they
looked imploringly at our faces, in which they evidently
discovered some sympathy with their fate. They were quickly
placed on horseback before their captors, and once more we
continued our journey, highly amused with the little entr'acte.

We had hardly ridden half a mile, when I perceived a fine bull
tetel (Antelopus Bubalis) standing near a bush a few hundred
yards distant. Motioning to the party to halt, I dismounted, and
with the little Fletcher rifle I endeavoured to obtain a shot.
When within about a hundred and seventy yards, he observed our
party, and I was obliged to take the shot, although I could have
approached unseen to a closer distance, had his attention not
been attracted by the noise of the horses. He threw his head up
preparatory to starting off, and he was just upon the move as I
touched the trigger. He fell like a stone to the shot, but almost
immediately he regained his feet, and bounded off, receiving a
bullet from the second barrel without a flinch; in full speed he
rushed away across the party of aggageers about three hundred
yards distant. Out dashed Abou Do from the ranks on his active
grey horse, and away he flew after the wounded tetel; his long
hair floating in the wind, his naked sword in hand, and his heels
digging into the flanks of his horse, as though armed with spurs
in the last finish of a race. It was a beautiful course; Abou Do
hunted like a cunning greyhound; the tetel turned, and taking
advantage of the double, he cut off the angle; succeeding by the
manoeuvre, he again followed at tremendous speed over the
numerous inequalities of the ground, gaining in the race until he
was within twenty yards of the tetel, when we lost sight of both
game and hunter in the thick bushes. By this time I had regained
my horse, that was brought to meet me, and I followed to the
spot, towards which my wife, and the aggageers encumbered with
the unwilling apes, were already hastening. Upon arrival I found,
in high yellow grass beneath a large tree, the tetel dead, and
Abou Do wiping his bloody sword, surrounded by the foremost of
the party. He had hamstrung the animal so delicately, that the
keen edge of the blade was not injured against the bone. My two
bullets had passed through the tetel; the first was too high,
having entered above the shoulder--this had dropped the animal
for a moment; the second was through the flank. The Arabs now
tied the baboons to trees, and employed themselves in carefully
skinning the tetel so as to form a sack from the hide; they had
about half finished the operation, when we were disturbed by a
peculiar sound at a considerable distance in the jungle, which,
being repeated, we knew to be the cry of buffaloes. In an instant
the tetel was neglected, the aggageers mounted their horses, and
leaving my wife with a few men to take charge of the game,
accompanied by Florian we went in search of the buffaloes. This
part of the country was covered with grass about nine feet high,
that was reduced to such extreme dryness that the stems broke
into several pieces like glass as we brushed through it. The
jungle was open, composed of thorny mimosas at such wide
intervals, that a horse could be ridden at considerable speed if
accustomed to the country. Altogether it was the perfection of
ground for shooting, and the chances were in favour of the rifle.

We had proceeded carefully about half a mile when I heard a
rustling in the grass, and I shortly perceived a bull buffalo
standing alone beneath a tree, close to the sandy bed of a dried
stream, about a hundred yards distant between us and the animal;
the grass had been entirely destroyed by the trampling of a large
herd. I took aim at the shoulder with one of my No. 10 Reilly
rifles, and the buffalo rushed forward at the shot, and fell
about a hundred paces beyond in the bush. At the report of the
shot, the herd that we had not observed, which had been lying
upon the sandy bed of the stream, rushed past us with a sound
like thunder, in a cloud of dust raised by several hundreds of
large animals in full gallop. I could hardly see them distinctly,
and I waited for a good chance, when presently a mighty bull
separated from the rest, and gave me a fair shoulder shot. I
fired a little too forward, and missed the shoulder; but I made
a still better shot by mistake, as the Reilly bullet broke the
spine through the neck, and dropped him dead. Florian, poor
fellow, had not the necessary tools for the work, and one of his
light guns produced no effect. Now came the time for the
aggageers. Away dashed Jali on his fiery mare, closely followed
by Abou Do and Suleiman, who in a few instants were obscured in
the cloud of dust raised by the retreating buffaloes. As soon as
I could mount my horse that had been led behind me, I followed at
full speed, and spurring hard, I shortly came in sight of the
three aggageers, not only in the dust, but actually among the
rear buffaloes of the herd. Suddenly, Jali almost disappeared
from the saddle as he leaned forward with a jerk, and seized a
fine young buffalo by the tail. In a moment Abou Do and Suleiman
sprang from their horses, and I arrived just in time to assist
them in securing a fine little bull of about twelve hands high,
whose horns were six or seven inches long. A pretty fight we had
with the young Hercules. The Arabs stuck to him like bull-dogs,
in spite of his tremendous struggles, and Florian, with other
men, shortly arriving, we secured him by lashing his legs
together with our belts until impromptu ropes could be made with
mimosa bark. I now returned to the spot where we had left my wife
and the tetel. I found her standing about fifty yards from the
spot with a double rifle cocked, awaiting an expected charge from
one of the buffaloes that, separated from the herd, had happened
to rush in her direction. Mahomet had been in an awful fright,
and was now standing secure behind his mistress. I rode through
the grass with the hope of getting a shot, but the animal had
disappeared. We returned to the dead tetel and to our captive
baboons; but times had changed since we had left them. One had
taken advantage of our absence, and, having bitten through his
tether, he had escaped; the other had used force instead of
cunning, and, in attempting to tear away from confinement, had
strangled himself with the slip-knot of the rope.

The aggageers now came up with the young buffalo. This was a
great prize, as zoological specimens were much sought after at
Cassala by an agent from Italy, who had given contracts for a
supply. My hunters, to whom I willingly gave my share in the
animal, left one of their party with several of my people to
obtain the assistance of the camel-drivers, who were not far
distant in the rear; these were to bring the flesh of the
animals, and to drive the young bull on the march.

We now pushed on ahead, and at 5 P.M. we arrived at the spot on
the margin of the Settite river at which we were to encamp for
some time.

In this position, the valley of the Settite had changed its
character: instead of the rugged and broken slopes on either side
of the river, ascending gradually to the high table lands, the
east bank of the river was low, and extended, in a perfect flat
for about eight miles, to the foot of an abrupt range of hills;
the base had many ages ago formed the margin of the stream, which
had washed this enormous mass of soil towards the Atbara river,
to be carried by the Nile for a deposit in Lower Egypt. During
the rainy season, the river overflowed its banks, and attained a
width in many places of six and seven hundred yards. The soil was
rich, and, having imbibed much moisture from a periodical
overflow, it gave birth to thick jungles of nabbuk (Rhamnus
lotus), together with luxuriant grass, which being beautifully
green while all other leaves and herbage were parched and
withered, afforded pasturage and shade that attracted a number of
wild animals. For many miles on either side the river was fringed
with dense groves of the green nabbuk, but upon the east bank, an
island had been formed of about three hundred acres; this was a
perfect oasis of verdure, covered with large nabbuk trees, about
thirty feet high, and forming a mixture of the densest coverts,
with small open glades of rich but low herbage. To reach this
island, upon which we were to encamp, it was necessary to cross
the arm of the river, that was now dry, with the exception of
deep pools, in one of which we perceived a large bull buffalo
drinking, just as we descended the hill. As this would be close
to the larder, I stalked to within ninety yards, and fired a
Reilly No. 10 into his back, as his head inclined to the water.
For the moment he fell upon his knees, but recovering
immediately, he rushed up the steep bank of the island, receiving
my left-hand barrel between the shoulders, and he disappeared in
the dense covert of green nabbuk on the margin. As we were to
camp within a few yards of the spot, he was close to home;
therefore, having crossed the river, we carefully followed the
blood tracks through the jungle; but, after having pushed our way
for about twenty paces through the dense covert, I came to the
wise conclusion that it was not the place for following a wounded
buffalo, and that we should find him dead on the next morning. A
few yards upon our right hand was a beautiful open glade,
commanding a view of the river, and surrounded by the largest
nabbuk trees, that afforded a delightful shade in the midst of
the thick covert. This was a spot that in former years had been
used by the aggageers as a camp, and we accordingly dismounted,
and turned the horses to graze upon the welcome grass. Each horse
was secured to a peg by a long leathern thong, as the lions in
this neighbourhood were extremely dangerous, having the advantage
of thick and opaque jungle.

We employed ourselves until the camels should arrive, in cutting
thorn branches, and constructing a zareeba, or fenced camp, to
protect our animals during the night from the attack of wild
beasts. I also hollowed out a thick green bush to form an arbour,
as a retreat during the heat of the day, and in a short space of
time we were prepared for the reception of the camels and
effects. The river had cast up immense stores of dry wood; this
we had collected, and, by the time the camels arrived with the
remainder of our party after dark, huge fires were blazing high
in air, the light of which had guided them direct to our camp.
They were heavily laden with meat, which is the Arab's great
source of happiness, therefore in a few minutes the whole party
was busily employed in cutting the flesh into long thin strips to
dry; these were hung in festoons over the surrounding trees,
while the fires were heaped with tit-bits of all descriptions. I
had chosen a remarkably snug position for ourselves; the two
angareps (stretchers) were neatly arranged in the middle of a
small open space free from overhanging boughs; near these blazed
a large fire, upon which were roasting a row of marrow-bones of
buffalo and tetel, while the table was spread with a clean cloth,
and arranged for dinner.

The woman Barrake, who had discovered with regret that she was
not a wife but a servant, had got over the disappointment, and
was now making dhurra cakes upon the doka: this is a round
earthenware tray about eighteen inches in diameter, which,
supported upon three stones or lumps of earth, over a fire of
glowing embers, forms a hearth. Slices of liver, well peppered
with cayenne and salt, were grilling on the gridiron, and we were
preparing to dine, when a terrific roar within a hundred and
fifty yards informed us that a lion was also thinking of dinner.
A confusion of tremendous roars proceeding from several lions
followed the first round, and my aggageers quietly remarked,
"There is no danger for the horses to-night, the lions have found
your wounded buffalo!"

Such a magnificent chorus of bass voices I had never heard; the
jungle cracked, as with repeated roars they dragged the carcase
of the buffalo through the thorns to the spot where they intended
to devour it. That which was music to our ears was discord to
that of Mahomet, who with terror in hs face came to us and
exclaimed: "Master, what's that? What for master and the missus
come to this bad country? That's one bad kind will eat the missus
in the night! Perhaps he come and eat Mahomet!" This
after-thought was too much for him, and Bacheet immediately
comforted him by telling the most horrible tales of death and
destruction that had been wrought by lions, until the nerves of
Mahomet were completely unhinged.

This was a signal for story-telling, when suddenly the aggageers
changed the conversation by a few tales of the Base natives,
which so thoroughly eclipsed the dangers of wild beasts, that in
a short time the entire party would almost have welcomed a lion,
provided would he only have agreed to protect them from the Base.
In this very spot where we were then camped, a party of Arab
hunters had, two years previous, been surprised at night and
killed by the Base, who still boasted of the swords that they
possessed as spoils from that occasion. The Base knew this spot
as the favourite resting-place of the Hamran hunting-parties, and
they might be not far distant now, as we were in the heart of
their country. This intelligence was a regular damper to the
spirits of some of the party. Mahomet quietly retired and sat
down by Barrake, the ex-slave woman, having expressed a
resolution to keep awake every hour that he should be compelled
to remain in that horrible country. The lions roared louder and
louder, but no one appeared to notice such small thunder; all
thoughts were fixed upon the Base, so thoroughly had the
aggageers succeeded in frightening not only Mahomet, but also our



EARLY on the following morning the lions were still roaring,
apparently within a hundred yards of the camp. I accordingly took
a Reilly No. 10 double rifle and accompanied by my wife, who was
anxious to see these glorious animals, and who carried my little
Fletcher No. 24, I skirted the outside of the jungle on the high
bank, on the narrow arm of the river. We were not long in finding
traces of the lions. A broad track in the sandy bed of the dried
stream showed where the buffalo had been dragged across to the
thick and impervious green bushes, exactly beneath us on the
margin of the river. A hind quarter of the buffalo, much gnawed,
lay within seven or eight paces of us, among the bushes that had
been trampled down, and the dung of numerous lions lay upon the
open ground near the place of their concealment. We had two
Tokrooris with us, carrying spare rifles, and I felt sure that
the lions were within the bushes of dense nabbuk, which concealed
them as perfectly as though behind a closed curtain. We
approached within three or four yards of this effective screen,
when suddenly we heard the cracking of bones, as the lions
feasted in their den close to us; they would not show themselves,
nor was there any possibility of obtaining a shot; therefore,
after ascending the high bank, and waiting for some time in the
hope that one might emerge to drag away the exposed portion of
the buffalo, we returned to camp.

The aggageers had already returned from a reconnaissance of the
country, as they had started before daybreak in search of
elephants; they reported the fresh tracks of a herd, and they
begged me to lose no time in accompanying them, as the elephants
might retreat to a great distance. There was no need for this
advice; in a few minutes my horse Tetel was saddled, and my six
Tokrooris and Bacheet, with spare rifles, were in attendance.
Bacheet, who had so ingloriously failed in his first essay at Wat
el Negur, had been so laughed at by the girls of the village for
his want of pluck, that he had declared himself ready to face the
devil rather than the ridicule of the fair sex; and, to do him
justice, he subsequently became a first-rate lad in moments of

The aggageers were quickly mounted. It was a sight most grateful
to a sportsman to witness the start of these superb hunters, who
with the sabres slung from the saddle-bow, as though upon an
everyday occasion, now left the camp with these simple weapons,
to meet the mightiest animal of the creation in hand-to-hand
conflict. The horses' hoofs clattered as we descended the shingly
beach, and forded the river shoulder-deep, through the rapid
current, while those on foot clung to the manes of the horses,
and to the stirrup-leathers, to steady themselves over the loose
stones beneath.

Shortly after our arrival upon the opposite side, we came upon
numerous antelopes of the nellut (A. Strepsiceros) and tetel (A.
Bubalis). I would not fire at these tempting animals, as we were
seeking nobler game.

Tracking was very difficult; as there was a total absence of
rain, it was next to impossible to distinguish the tracks of two
days' date from those most recent upon the hard and parched soil;
the only positive clue was the fresh dung of the elephants, and
this being deposited at long intervals rendered the search
extremely tedious. The greater part of the day passed in useless
toil, and, after fording the river backwards and forwards several
times, we at length arrived at a large area of sand in the bend
of the stream, that was evidently overflowed when the river was
full; this surface of many acres was backed by a forest of large
trees. Upon arrival at this spot, the aggageers, who appeared to
know every inch of the country, declared that, unless the
elephants had gone far away, they must be close at hand, within
the forest. We were speculating upon the direction of the wind,
when we were surprised by the sudden trumpet of an elephant, that
proceeded from the forest already declared to be the covert of
the herd. In a few minutes later, a fine bull elephant marched
majestically from the jungle upon the large area of sand, and
proudly stalked direct towards the river.

At that time we were stationed under cover of a high bank of sand
that had been left by the retiring river in sweeping round an
angle; we immediately dismounted, and remained well concealed.
The question of attack was quickly settled; the elephant was
quietly stalking towards the water which was about three hundred
paces distant from the jungle: this intervening space was heavy
dry sand, that had been thrown up by the stream in the sudden
bend of the river, which, turning from this point at a right
angle, swept beneath a perpendicular cliff of conglomerate rock
formed of rounded pebbles cemented together.

I proposed that we should endeavour to stalk the elephant, by
creeping along the edge of the river, under cover of a sand bank
about three feet high, and that, should the rifles fail, the
aggageers should come on at full gallop, and cut off his retreat
from the jungle; we should then have a chance for the swords.

Accordingly, I led the way, followed by Hadji Ali, my head
Tokroori, with a rifle, while I carried the "Baby." Florian
accompanied us. Having the wind fair, we advanced quickly for
about half the distance, at which time we were within a hundred
and fifty yards of the elephant, who had just arrived at the
water, and had commenced drinking. We now crept cautiously
towards him; the sand bank had decreased to a height of about two
feet, and afforded very little shelter. Not a tree nor bush grew
upon the surface of the barren sand, which was so deep that we
sank nearly to the ankles at every footstep. Still we crept
forward, as the elephant alternately drank, and then spouted the
water in a shower over his colossal form; but just as we had
arrived within about fifty yards, he happened to turn his head in
our direction, and immediately perceived us. He cocked his
enormous ears, gave a short trumpet, and for an instant he
wavered in his determination whether to attack or fly; but as I
rushed towards him with a shout, he turned towards the jungle,
and I immediately fired a steady shot at the shoulder with the
"Baby." As usual, the fearful recoil of the rifle, with a
half-pound shell and twelve drachms of powder, nearly threw me
backwards; but I saw the mark upon the elephant's shoulder, in an
excellent line, although rather high. The only effect of the shot
was to send him off at great speed towards the jungle; but at the
same moment the three aggageers came galloping across the sand
like greyhounds in a course, and, judiciously keeping parallel
with the jung]e, they cut off his retreat, and, turning towards
the elephant, they confronted him, sword in hand. At once the
furious beast charged straight at the enemy; but now came the
very gallant, but foolish, part of the hunt. Instead of leading
the elephant by the flight of one man and horse, according to
their usual method, all the aggageers at the same moment sprang
from their saddles, and upon foot in the heavy sand they attacked
the elephant with their swords.

In the way of sport, I never saw anything so magnificent, or so
absurdly dangerous. No gladiatorial exhibition in the Roman arena
could have surpassed this fight. The elephant was mad with rage,
and nevertheless he seemed to know that the object of the hunters
was to get behind him. This he avoided with great dexterity,
turning as it were upon a pivot with extreme quickness, and
charging headlong, first at one, and then at another of his
assailants, while he blew clouds of sand in the air with his
trunk, and screamed with fury. Nimble as monkeys, nevertheless
the aggageers could not get behind him. In the folly of
excitement they had forsaken their horses, which had escaped from
the spot. The depth of the loose sand was in favour of the
elephant, and was so much against the men that they avoided his
charges with extreme difficulty. It was only by the determined
pluck of all three that they alternately saved each other, as two
invariably dashed in at the flanks when the elephant charged the
third, upon which the wary animal immediately relinquished the
chase, and turned round upon his pursuers. During this time, I
had been labouring through the heavy sand, and shortly after I
arrived at the fight, the elephant charged directly through the
aggageers, receiving a shoulder shot from one of my Reilly No. 10
rifles, and at the same time a slash from the sword of Abou Do,
who, with great dexterity and speed, had closed in behind him,
just in time to reach the leg. Unfortunately, he could not
deliver the cut in the right place, as the elephant, with
increased speed, completely distanced the aggageers; he charged
across the deep sand, and reached the jungle. We were shortly
upon his tracks, and after running about a quarter of a mile, he
fell dead in a dry watercourse. His tusks were, like the
generality of Abyssinian elephants, exceedingly short, but of
good thickness.

Some of our men, who had followed the runaway horses, shortly
returned, and reported that, during our fight with the bull, they
had heard other elephants trumpeting in the dense nabbuk jungle
near the river. A portion of thick forest of about two hundred
acres, upon this side of the river, was a tempting covert for
elephants, and the aggageers, who were perfectly familiar with
the habits of the animals, positively declared that the herd must
be within this jungle. Accordingly, we proposed to skirt the
margin of the river, which, as it made a bend at right angles,
commanded two sides of a square. Upon reaching the jungle by the
river side, we again heard the trumpet of an elephant and about
a quarter of a mile distant we observed a herd of twelve of these
animals shoulder-deep in the river, which they were in the act of
crossing to the opposite side, to secure themselves in an almost
impenetrable jungle of thorny nabbuk. The aggageers advised that
we should return to the ford that we had already crossed, and, by
repassing the river, we should most probably meet the elephants,
as they would not leave the thick jungle until the night. Having
implicit confidence in their knowledge of the country, I followed
their directions, and we shortly recrossed the ford, and arrived
upon a dry portion of the river's bed, banked by a dense thicket
of nabbuk.

Jali now took the management of affairs. We all dismounted, and
sent the horses to a considerable distance, lest they should by
some noise disturb the elephants. We shortly heard a cracking in
the jungle on our right, and Jali assured us, that, as he had
expected, the elephants were slowly advancing along the jungle on
the bank of the river, and they would pass exactly before us. We
waited patiently in the bed of the river, and the cracking in the
jungle sounded closer as the herd evidently approached. The strip
of thick thorny covert that fringed the margin was in no place
wider than half a mile--beyond that, the country was open and
park-like, but at this season it was covered with parched grass
from eight to ten feet high; the elephants would, therefore, most
probably remain in the jungle until driven out.

In about a quarter of an hour, we heard by the noise in the
jungle, about a hundred yards from the river, that the elephants
were directly opposite to us. I accordingly instructed Jali to
creep quietly by himself into the bush and to bring me
information of their position: to this he at once agreed.

In three or four minutes he returned; he declared it impossible
to use the sword, as the jungle was so dense that it would check
the blow, but that I could use the rifle, as the elephants were
close to us--he had seen three standing together, between us and
the main body of the herd. I told Jali to lead me direct to the
spot, and, followed by Fiorian and the aggageers, with my
gun-bearers, I kept within a foot of my dependable little guide,
who crept gently into the jungle; this was intensely thick, and
quite impenetrable, except in such places where elephants and
other heavy animals had trodden numerous alleys. Along one of
these narrow passages we stealthily advanced, until Jali stepped
quietly on one side, and pointed with his finger; I immediately
observed two elephants looming through the thick bushes about
eight paces from me. One offered a temple shot, which I quickly
took with a Reilly No. 10, and floored it on the spot. The smoke
hung so thickly, that I could not see sufficiently distinctly to
fire my second barrel before the remaining elephant had turned;
but Florian, with a three-ounce steel-tipped bullet, by a curious
shot at the hind quarters, injured the hip joint to such an
extent that we could more than equal the elephant in speed. In a
few moments we found ourselves in a small open glade in the
middle of the jungle, close to the stern of the elephant we were
following. I had taken a fresh rifle, with both barrels loaded,
and hardly had I made the exchange, when the elephant turned
suddenly, and charged. Determined to try fairly the forehead
shot, I kept my ground, and fired a Reilly No. 10, quicksilver
and lead bullet, exactly in the centre, when certainly within
four yards. The only effect was to make her stagger backwards,
when, in another moment, with her immense ears thrown forward,
she again rushed on. This was touch-and-go; but I fired my
remaining barrel a little lower than the first shot. Checked in
her rush, she backed towards the dense jungle, throwing her trunk
about and trumpeting with rage. Snatching the Ceylon No. 10 from
one of my trusty Tokrooris (Hassan), I ran straight at her, took
a most deliberate aim at the forehead, and once more fired. The
only effect was a decisive charge; but before I fired my last
barrel, Jali rushed in, and, with one blow of his sharp sword,
severed the back sinew. She was utterly helpless in the same
instant. Bravo, Jali! I had fired three beautifully correct shots
with No. 10 bullets, and seven drachms of powder in each charge;
these were so nearly together that they occupied a space in her
forehead of about three inches, and all had failed to kill! There
could no longer be any doubt that the forehead shot at an African
elephant could not be relied upon, although so fatal to the
Indian species: this increased the danger tenfold, as in Ceylon
I had generally made certain of an elephant by steadily waiting
until it was close upon me.

I now reloaded my rifles, and the aggageers quitted the jungle to
remount their horses, as they expected the herd had broken cover
on the other side of the jungle; in which case they intended to
give chase, and if possible, to turn them back into the covert,
and drive them towards the guns. We accordingly took our stand in
the small open glade, and I lent Florian one of my double rifles,
as he was only provided with one single-barrelled elephant gun.
I did not wish to destroy the prestige of the rifles, by hinting
to the aggageers that it would be rather awkward for us to
receive the charge of the infuriated herd, as the foreheads were
invulnerable; but inwardly I rather hoped that they would not
come so direct upon our position as the aggageers wished.

About a quarter of an hour passed in suspense, when we suddenly
heard a chorus of wild cries of excitement on the other side of
the jungle, raised iy the aggageers, who had headed the herd, and
were driving them back towards us. In a few minutes a tremendous
crashing in the jungle, accompanied by the occasional shrill
scream of a savage elephant, and the continued shouts of the
mounted aggageers, assured us that they were bearing down exactly
upon our direction; they were apparently followed even through
the dense jungle by the wild and reckless Arabs. I called my men
close together, and told them to stand fast, and hand me the guns
quickly; and we eagerly awaited the onset that rushed towards us
like a storm. On they came, tearing everything before them. For
a moment the jungle quivered and crashed; a second later, and,
headed by an immense elephant, the herd thundered down upon us.
The great leader came direct at me, and was received with right
and left in the forehead from a Reilly No. 10 as fast as I could
pull the triggers. The shock made it reel backwards for an
instant, and fortunately turned it and the herd likewise. My
second rifle was beautifully handed, and I made a quick right and
left at the temples of two fine elephants, dropping them both
stone-dead. At this moment the "Baby" was pushed into my hand by
Hadji Ali just in time to take the shoulder of the last of the
herd, who had already charged headlong after his comrades, and
was disappearing in the jungle. Bang! went the "Baby;" round I
spun like a weathercock, with the blood pouring from my nose, as
the recoil had driven the sharp top of the hammer deep into the
bridge. My "Baby" not only screamed, but kicked viciously.
However, I knew that the elephant must be bagged, as the
half-pound shell had been aimed directly behind the shoulder.

In a few minutes the aggageers arrived; they were bleeding from
countless scratches, as, although naked, with the exception of
short drawers, they had forced their way on horseback through the
thorny path cleft by the herd in rushing through the jungle. Abou
Do had blood upon his sword. They had found the elephants
commencing a retreat to the interior of the country, and they had
arrived just in time to turn them. Following them at full speed,
Abou Do had succeeded in overtaking and slashing the sinew of an
elephant just as it was entering the jungle. Thus the aggageers
had secured one, in addition to Fiorian's elephant that had been
slashed by Jali. We now hunted for the "Baby's" elephant, which
was almost immediately discovered lying dead within a hundred and
fifty yards of the place where it had received the shot. The
shell had entered close to the shoulder, and it was extraordinary
that an animal should have been able to travel so great a
distance with a wound through the lungs by a shell that had
exploded within the body.

We had done pretty well. I had been fortunate in bagging four
from this herd, in addition to the single bull in the morning;
total, five. Florian had killed one, and the aggageers one;
total, seven elephants. One had escaped that I had wounded in the
shoulder, and two that had been wounded by Florian.

The aggageers were delighted, and they determined to search for
the wounded elephants on the following day, as the evening was
advancing, and we were about five miles from camp. Having my
measuring-tape in a game-bag that was always carried by
Abdoolahi, I measured accurately one of the elephants that had
fallen with the legs stretched out, so that the height to the
shoulder could be exactly taken:--From foot to shoulder in a
direct line, nine feet one inch; circumference of foot, four feet
eight inches. The elephant lying by her side was still larger,
but the legs being doubled up, I could not measure her: these
were females.

We now left the jungle, and found our horses waiting for us in
the bed of the river by the water side, and we rode towards our
camp well satisfied with the day's work. Upon entering an open
plain of low withered grass we perceived a boar, who upon our
approach showed no signs of fear, but insolently erected his tail
and scrutinised our party. Florian dismounted and fired a shot,
which passed through his flank, and sent the boar flying off at
full speed. Abou Do and I gave chase on horseback, and after a
run of a few hundred yards we overtook the boar, which turned
resolutely to bay.

In a short time the whole party arrived, and, as Florian had
wounded the animal, his servant Richarn considered that he should
give the coup de grace; but upon his advancing with his drawn
knife, the boar charged desperately, and inflicted a serious
wound across the palm of his hand, which was completely divided
to the bone by a gash with the sharp tusk. Abou Do immediately
rode to the rescue, and with a blow of his sword divided the
spine behind the shoulder, and nearly cut the boar in half. By
this accident Richarn was disabled for some days.

Upon our arrival at the camp, there were great rejoicings among
our people at the result of the day's sport. Old Moosa, the half
fortune-teller, half priest, of the Tokrooris, had in our absence
employed himself in foretelling the number of elephants we should
kill. His method of conjuring was rather perplexing, and,
although a mystery beyond my understanding, it might be simple to
an English spiritualist or spirit-rapper; he had nevertheless
satisfied both himself and others, therefore the party had been
anxiously waiting our return to hear the result. Of course, old
Moosa was wrong, and of course he had a loop-hole for escape, and
thereby preserved his reputation. The aggageers expected to find
our wounded elephants on the following morning, if dead, by the
flights of vultures. That night the lions again serenaded us with
constant roaring, as they had still some bones to gnaw of the
buffalo's remains.

At daybreak the next morning, the aggageers in high glee mounted
their horses, and with a long retinue of camels, and men provided
with axes and knives, together with large gum sacks to contain
the flesh, they quitted the camp to cut up the numerous
elephants. As I had no taste for this disgusting work, I took two
of my Tokrooris, Hadji Ali and Hassan, and, accompanied by old
Abou Do, the father of the sheik, with his harpoon, we started
along the margin of the river in quest of hippopotami.

The harpoon for hippopotamus and crocodile hunting is a piece of
soft steel about eleven inches long, with a narrow blade or point
of about three-quarters of an inch in width, and a single but
powerful barb. To this short, and apparently insignificant
weapon, a strong rope is secured, about twenty feet in length, at
the extremity of which is a buoy or float as large as a child's
head formed of an extremely light wood called ambatch (Anemone
mirabilis), that is about half the specific gravity of cork. The
extreme end of the short harpoon is fixed in the point of a
bamboo about ten feet long, around which the rope is twisted,
while the buoy end is carried in the left hand.

The old Abou Do being resolved upon work, had divested himself of
his tope or toga before starting, according to the general custom
of the aggageers, who usually wear a simple piece of leather
wound round the loins when hunting, but, I believe in respect for
our party, they had provided themselves with a garment resembling
bathing drawers, such as are worn in France, Germany, and other
civilized countries; but the old Abou Do, like the English, had
resisted any such innovation, and he accordingly appeared with
nothing on but his harpoon; and a more superb old Neptune I never
beheld. He carried this weapon in his hand, as the trident with
which the old sea-god ruled the monsters of the deep; and as the
tall Arab patriarch of threescore years and ten, with his long
grey locks flowing over his brawny shoulders, stepped as lightly
as a goat from rock to rock along the rough margin of the river,
I followed him in admiration.

The country was very beautiful; we were within twenty miles of
lofty mountains, while at a distance of about thirty-five or
forty miles were the high peaks of the Abyssinian Alps. The
entire land was richly wooded, although open, and adapted for
hunting upon horseback. Through this wild and lovely country the
river Settite flowed in an ever-changing course. At times the bed
was several hundred yards wide, with the stream, contracted at
this season, flowing gently over rounded pebbles; the water was
as clear as glass; in other places huge masses of rock impeded
the flow of water, and caused dangerous rapids; then, as the
river passed through a range of hills, perpendicular cliffs of
sandstone and of basalt walled it within a narrow channel,
through which it rushed with great impetuosity; issuing from
these straits it calmed its fury in a deep and broad pool, from
which it again commenced a gentle course over sands and pebbles.
At that season the river would have been perfection for salmon,
being a series of rapids, shallows, deep and rocky gorges, and
quiet silent pools of unknown depth; in the latter places of
security the hippopotami retreated after their nocturnal rambles
upon terra firma. The banks of this beautiful river were
generally thickly clothed with bright green nabbuk trees, that
formed a shelter for INNUMERABLE guinea-fowl, and the black
francolin partridge. Herds of antelopes of many varieties were
forced to the river to drink, as the only water within many miles;
but these never remained long among the thick nabbuk, as the lions
and leopards inhabited that covert expressly to spring upon the
unwary animal whose thirst prompted a too heedless advance.
Wherever there was a sand bank in the river, a crocodile basked
in the morning sunshine: some of these were of enormous size.

Hippopotami had trodden a path along the margin of the river, as
these animals came out to feed shortly after dark, and travelled
from pool to pool. Wherever a plot of tangled and succulent
herbage grew among the shady nabbuks, there were the marks of the
harrow-like teeth, that had torn and rooted up the rank grass
like an agricultural implement.

After walking about two miles, we noticed a herd of hippopotami
in a pool below a rapid: this was surrounded by rocks, except
upon one side, where the rush of water had thrown up a bank of
pebbles and sand. Our old Neptune did not condescend to bestow
the slightest attention when I pointed out these animals; they
were too wide awake; but he immediately quitted the river's bed,
and we followed him quietly behind the fringe of bushes upon the
border, from which we carefully examined the water. About half a
mile below this spot, as we clambered over the intervening rocks
through a gorge which formed a powerful rapid, I observed, in a
small pool just below the rapid, an immense head of a
hippopotamus close to a perpendicular rock that formed a wall to
the river, about six feet above the surface. I pointed out the
hippo to old Abou Do, who had not seen it. At once the gravity of
the old Arab disappeared, and the energy of the hunter was
exhibited as he motioned us to remain, while he ran nimbly behind
the thick screen of bushes for about a hundred and fifty yards
below the spot where the hippo was unconsciously basking, with
his ugly head above the surface. Plunging into the rapid torrent,
the veteran hunter was carried some distance down the stream, but
breasting the powerful current, he landed upon the rocks on the
opposite side, and retiring to some distance from the river, he
quickly advanced towards the spot beneath which the hippopotamus
was lying. I had a fine view of the scene, as I was lying
concealed exactly opposite the hippo, who had disappeared beneath
the water. Abou Do now stealthily approached the ledge of rock
beneath which he had expected to see the head of the animal; his
long sinewy arm was raised, with the harpoon ready to strike, as
he carefully advanced. At length he reached the edge of the
perpendicular rock; the hippo had vanished, but, far from
exhibiting surprise, the old Arab remained standing on the sharp
ledge, unchanged in attitude. No figure of bronze could have been
more rigid than that of the old river-king, as he stood erect
upon the rock with the left foot advanced, and the harpoon poised
in his ready right hand above his head, while in the left he held
the loose coils of rope attached to the ambatch buoy. For about
three minutes he stood like a statue, gazing intently into the
clear and deep water beneath his feet. I watched eagerly for the
reappearance of the hippo; the surface of the water was still
barren, when suddenly the right arm of the statue descended like
lightning, and the harpoon shot perpendicularly into the pool
with the speed of an arrow. What river-fiend answered to the
summons? In an instant an enormous pair of open jaws appeared,
followed by the ungainly head and form of the furious
hippopotamus, who, springing half out of the water, lashed the
river into foam, and, disdaining the concealment of the deep
pool, he charged straight up the violent rapids. With
extraordinary power he breasted the descending stream; gaining a
footing in the rapids, about five feet deep, he ploughed his way
against the broken waves, sending them in showers of spray upon
all sides, and upon gaining broader shallows he tore along
through the water, with the buoyant float hopping behind him
along the surface, until he landed from the river, started at
full gallop along the dry shingly bed, and at length disappeared
in the thorny nabbuk jungle.

I never could have imagined that so unwieldy an animal could have
exhibited such speed; no man would have had a chance of escape,
and it was fortunate for our old Neptune that he was secure upon
the high ledge of rock, for if he had been in the path of the
infuriated beast. there would have been an end of Abou Do. The
old man plunged into the deep pool just quitted by the hippo, and
landed upon our side; while in the enthusiasm of the moment I
waved my cap above my head, and gave him a British cheer as he
reached the shore. His usually stern features relaxed into a grim
smile of delight: this was one of those moments when the
gratified pride of the hunter rewards him for any risks. I
congratulated him upon his dexterity: but much remained to be
done. I proposed to cross the river, and to follow upon the
tracks of the hippopotamus, as I imagined that the buoy and rope
would catch in the thick jungle, and that we should find him
entangled in the bush; but the old hunter gently laid his hand
upon my arm, and pointed up the bed of the river, explaining that
the hippo would certainly return to the water after a short

In a few minutes later, at a distance of nearly half a mile, we
observed the hippo emerge from the jungle, and descend at full
trot to the bed of the river, making direct for the first rocky
pool in which we had noticed the herd of hippopotami. Accompanied
by the old howarti (hippo hunter), we walked quickly towards the
spot: he explained to me that I must shoot the harpooned hippo,
as we should not be able to secure him in the usual method by
ropes, as nearly all our men were absent from camp, disposing of
the dead elephants.

Upon reaching the pool, which was about a hundred and thirty
yards in diameter, we were immediately greeted by the hippo, who
snorted and roared as we approached, but quickly dived, and the
buoyant float ran along the surface, directing his course in the
same manner as the cork of a trimmer with a pike upon the hook.
Several times he appeared, but, as he invariably faced us, I
could not obtain a favourable shot; I therefore sent the old
hunter round the pool, and he, swimming the river, advanced to
the opposite side, and attracted the attention of the hippo who
immediately turned towards him. This afforded me a good chance,
and I fired a steady shot behind the ear, at about seventy yards,
with a single-barrelled rifle. As usual with hippopotami, whether
dead or alive, he disappeared beneath the water at the shot. The
crack of the ball and the absence of any splash from the bullet
told me that he was hit; the ambatch float remained perfectly
stationary upon the surface. I watched it for some minutes--it
never moved; several heads of hippopotami appeared and vanished
in different directions, but the float was still; it marked the
spot where the grand old bull lay dead beneath.

I shot another hippo, that I thought must be likewise dead; and,
taking the time by my watch, I retired to the shade of a tree
with Hassan, while Hadji Ali and the old hunter returned to camp
for assistance in men and knives, &c.

In a little more than an hour and a half, two objects like the
backs of turtles appeared above the surface: these were the
flanks of the two hippos. A short time afterwards the men
arrived, and, regardless of crocodiles, they swam towards the
bodies. One was towed directly to the shore by the rope attached
to the harpoon, the other was secured by a long line, and dragged
to the bank of clean pebbles.

I measured the bull that was harpooned; it was fourteen feet two
inches from the upper lip to the extremity of the tail; the head
was three feet one inch from the front of the ear to the edge of
the lip in a straight line. The harpoon was sticking in the nape
of the neck, having penetrated about two and a half inches
beneath the hide; this is about an inch and three-quarters thick
upon the back of the neck of a bull hippopotamus. It was a
magnificent specimen, with the largest tusks I have ever seen;
the skull is now in my hall in England.

Although the hippopotamus is generally harmless, the solitary old
bulls are sometimes extremely vicious, especially when in the
water. I have frequently known them charge a boat, and I have
myself narrowly escaped being upset in a canoe by the attack of
one of these creatures, without the slightest provocation. The
females are extremely shy and harmless, and they are most
affectionate mothers: the only instances that I have known of the
female attacking a man, have been those in which her calf had
been stolen. To the Arabs they are extremely valuable, yielding,
in addition to a large quantity of excellent flesh, about two
hundred pounds of fat, and a hide that will produce about two
hundred coorbatches, or camel whips. I have never shot these
useful creatures to waste; every morsel of the flesh has been
stored either by the natives or for our own use; and whenever we
have had a good supply of antelope or giraffe meat, I have
avoided firing a shot at the hippo. Elephant flesh is exceedingly
strong and disagreeable, partaking highly of the peculiar smell
of the animal. We had now a good supply of meat from the two
hippopotami, which delighted our people. The old Abou Do claimed
the bull that he had harpooned as his own private property, and
he took the greatest pains in dividing the hide longitudinally,
in strips of the width of three fingers, which he cut with great

Although the hippopotamus is amphibious, he requires a large and
constant supply of air; the lungs are of enormous size, and he
invariably inflates them before diving. From five to eight
minutes is the time that he usually remains under water; he then
comes to the surface, and expends the air within his lungs by
blowing; he again refills the lungs almost instantaneously, and
if frightened, he sinks immediately. In places where they have
become extremely shy from being hunted, or fired at, they seldom
expose the head above the surface, but merely protrude the nose
to breathe through the nostrils; it is then impossible to shoot
them. Their food consists of aquatic plants, and grasses of many
descriptions. Not only do they visit the margin of the river, but
they wander at night to great distances from the water if
attracted by good pasturage, and, although clumsy and ungainly in
appearance, they clamber up steep banks and precipitous ravines
with astonishing power and ease. In places where they are
perfectly undisturbed, they not only enjoy themselves in the
sunshine by basking half asleep upon the surface of the water,
but they lie upon the shore beneath the shady trees, upon the
river's bank; I have seen them, when disturbed by our sudden
arrival during the march, take a leap from a bank about twenty
feet perpendicular depth into the water below, with a splash that
has created waves in the quiet pool, as though a paddle-steamer
had passed by. The Arabs attach no value to the tusks; these are
far more valuable than elephant ivory, and are used by dentists
in Europe for the manufacture of false teeth, for which they are
admirably adapted, as they do not change colour. Not wishing to
destroy the remaining hippopotami that were still within the
pool, I left my men and old Abou Do busily engaged in arranging
the meat, and I walked quietly homeward.



I HAD been for some hours in the camp, but none of the aggageers
had returned, neither had we received any tidings of our people
and camels that had left us at daybreak to search for the dead
elephants. Fearing that some mishap might have occurred in a
collision with the Base, I anxiously looked out for some sign of
the party. At about 4 P.M. I observed far up the bed of the river
several men, some mounted, and others upon foot, while one led a
camel with a curious looking load. Upon a nearer approach I could
distinguish some large object upon the camel's back, that was
steadied by two men, one of whom walked on either side. I had a
foreboding that something was wrong, and in a few minutes I
clearly perceived a man lying upon a make-shift litter, carried
by the camel, while the Sheik Abou Do and Suleiman accompanied
the party upon horseback; a third led Jali's little grey mare.

They soon arrived beneath the high bank of the river upon which
I stood. Poor little Jali, my plucky and active ally, lay, as I
thought, dead upon the litter. We laid him gently upon my
angarep, which I had raised by four men, so that we could lower
him gradually from the kneeling camel, and we carried him to the
camp, about thirty yards distant. He was faint, and I poured some
essence of peppermint (the only spirit I possessed) down his
throat, which quickly revived him. His thigh was broken about
eight inches above the knee, but fortunately it was a simple

Abou Do now explained the cause of the accident. While the party
of camel-men and others were engaged in cutting up the dead
elephants, the three aggageers had found the track of a bull that
had escaped wounded. In that country, where there was no drop of
water upon the east bank of the Settite for a distance of sixty
or seventy miles to the river Gash, an elephant if wounded was
afraid to trust itself to the interior; one of our escaped
elephants had therefore returned to the thick jungle, and was
tracked by the aggageers to a position within two or three
hundred yards of the dead elephants. As there were no guns, two
of the aggageers, utterly reckless of consequences, resolved to
ride through the narrow passages formed by the large game, and to
take their chance with the elephant, sword in hand. Jali, as
usual, was the first to lead, and upon his little grey mare he
advanced with the greatest difficulty through the entangled
thorns, broken by the passage of heavy game; to the right and
left of the passage it was impossible to move. Abou Do had wisely
dismounted, but Suleiman followed Jali. Upon arriving within a
few yards of the elephant, which was invisible in the thick
thorns, Abou Do crept forward on foot, and discovered it standing
with ears cocked, evidently waiting for the attack. As Jali
followed on his light grey mare, the elephant immediately
perceived the white colour, and at once charged forward. Escape
was next to impossible: Jali turned his mare sharp round, and she
bounded off, but caught in the thorns, the mare fell, throwing
her rider in the path of the elephant that was within a few feet
behind, in full chase. The mare recovered herself in an instant,
and rushed away; the elephant, occupied by the white colour of
the animal, neglected the man, upon whom he trod in the pursuit,
thus breaking his thigh. Abou Do, who had been between the
elephant and Jali, had wisely jumped into the thick thorns, and,
as the elephant passed him, he again sprang out behind, and
followed with his drawn sword, but too late to save Jali, as it
was the affair of an instant. Jumping over Jali's body, he was
just in time to deliver a tremendous cut at the hind leg of the
elephant, that must otherwise have killed both horses and
probably Suleiman also, as the three were caught in a cul de sac
in a passage that had no outlet, and were at the elephant's

Abou Do seldom failed; it was a difficult feat to strike
correctly in the narrow jungle passage with the elephant in full
speed, but the blow was fairly given, and the back sinew was
divided. Not content with the success of the cut, he immediately
repeated the stroke upon the other leg, as he feared that the
elephant, although disabled from rapid motion, might turn and
trample Jali. The extraordinary dexterity and courage required to
effect this can hardly be appreciated by those who have never
hunted a wild elephant; but the extreme agility, pluck, and
audacity of these Hamran sword-hunters surpass all feats that I
have ever witnessed.

I set Jali's broken thigh, and employed myself in making splints;
fortunately, my tool-chest was at hand, and I selected some
pieces of dry wood that had been left on the bank by the retiring
river. I made two splints, one with a crutch to fit beneath the
arm; this I carried to about three inches beyond the foot, and
cut a V-shaped notch to secure the bandage; the other was a
common short splint about eighteen inches long. My wife quickly
made about sixty yards of bandages, while Barrak, the maid,
prepared thick gum water, from gum arabic, that the mimosas
produced in unlimited quantity. Fixing the long splint under the
arm, and keeping it upon the outside of the thigh, with the leg
perfectly straight, I lashed the foot and ankle securely to the
V-shaped notch: I then strapped the upper portion of the splint
with bandages passed around the patient's chest, until he was
swathed from beneath the arms to the hips, thus securing the
splint to his body. The thigh, and entire leg from the fork to
the ankle, I carefully secured to the long splint with three rows
of bandages, the first plain, and the last two layers were soaked
in thick gum-water. When these became dry and hard, they formed
a case like an armour of paste-board: previous to bandaging the
limb in splints, I had bathed it for some hours with cold

On the following morning I expected to find my patient in great
pain; but, on the contrary, he complained very little. His pulse
was good, and there was very little swelling or heat. I gave him
some cooling medicine; and the only anxiety that he expressed was
the wish to get well immediately, so as to continue the

The Arabs thought that I could mend the leg of a man as though it
were the broken stock of a gun, that would be serviceable
immediately when repaired. As these people never use spirituous
liquors, they are very little subject to inflammation, and they
recover quickly from wounds that would be serious to Europeans.
I attended to Jali for four days. He was a very grateful, but
unruly patient, as he had never been accustomed to remain quiet.
At the end of that time we arranged an angarep comfortably upon
a camel, upon which he was transported to Geera, in company with
a long string of camels, heavily laden with dried meat and
squares of hide for shields, with large bundles of hippopotamus
skin for whip making, together with the various spoils of the
chase. Last, but not least, were numerous leathern pots of fat
that had been boiled down from elephants and hippopotami.

The camels were to return as soon as possible with supplies of
corn for onr people and horses. Another elephant-hunter was to be
sent to us in the place of Jali; but I felt that we had lost our
best man.*

* I heard from Jali six weeks later; he was then well,

and offered to rejoin us shortly, but I declined to

risk the strength of his leg.

Although my people had been in the highest spirits up to this
time, a gloom had been thrown over the party by two
causes--Jali's accident, and the fresh footmarks of the Base that
had been discovered upon the sand by the margin of the river. The
aggageers feared nothing, and if the Base had been legions of
demons they would have faced them, sword in hand, with the
greatest pleasure. But my Tokrooris, who were brave in some
respects, had been so cowed by the horrible stories recounted of
these common enemies at the nightly camp-fires by the Hamran
Arabs, that they were seized with a panic, and resolved to desert
en masse, and return to Katariff, where I had originally engaged
them, and at which place they had left their families.

This desertion having been planned, they came to me in a body,
just as the camels and Jali were about to depart, and commenced
a series of absurd excuses for their intended desertion. The old
grey-headed Moosa, by whose fortune-telling and sorcery the party
were invariably guided, had foretold evil. This had confirmed
them in their determination to return home. They were not a bad
set of fellows, but, like most of their class, they required
peculiar management. If natives are driven, they invariably hate
their master, and turn sulky; if you give in to them, they lose
respect, and will never obey. They are exceedingly subject to
sudden impulses, under the influence of which they are utterly
unreasonable. As the expedition depends for success entirely upon
the union of the party, it is highly necessary to obtain so
complete a control over every individual, that the leader shall
be regarded with positive reverence, and his authority in all
matters accepted as supreme. To gain such a complete ascendancy
is a work of time, and is no easy matter, as an extreme amount of
tact and judgment is necessary, combined with great kindness and
common sense, with, at times, great severity. The latter should
be avoided as long as possible.

In this instance, the desertion of my Tokrooris would have been
a great blow to my expedition, as it was necessary to have a
division of parties. I had now Tokrooris, Jaleens, and Hamran
Arabs. Thus they would never unite together, and I was certain to
have some upon my side in a difficulty. Should I lose the
Tokrooris, the Hamran Arabs would have the entire preponderance.

The whole of my Tokrooris formed in line before me and my wife,
just as the camels were about to leave; each man had his little
bundle prepared for starting on a journey. Old Moosa was the
spokesman,--he said that they were all very sorry: that they
regretted exceedingly the necessity of leaving us, but some of
them were sick, and they would only be a burden to the
expedition; that one of them was bound upon a pilgrimage to
Mecca, and that God would punish him should he neglect this great
duty; others had not left any money with their families in
Katariff, that would starve in their absence. (I had given them
an advance of wages, when they engaged at Katariff, to provide
against this difficulty.) I replied, "My good fellows, I am very
sorry to hear all this, especially as it comes upon me so
suddenly; those who are sick, stand upon one side" (several
invalids, who looked remarkably healthy, stepped to the left).
"Who wishes to go to Mecca?" Abderachman stepped forward (a huge
specimen of a Tokroori, who went by the nickname of "El Jamoos,"
or the buffalo.) "Who wishes to remit money to his family, as I
will send it and deduct it from his wages?" No one came forward.
During the pause, I called for pen and paper, which Mahomet
brought. I immediately commenced writing, and placed the note
within an envelope, which I addressed, and gave to one of the
camel-drivers. I then called for my medicine chest, and having
weighed several three-grain doses of tartar emetic, I called the
invalids, and insisted upon their taking the medicine before they
started, or they might become seriously ill upon the road, which
for three days' march was uninhabited. Mixed with a little water,
the doses were swallowed, and I knew that the invalids were safe
for that day, and that the others would not start without them.

I now again addressed my would-be deserters: "Now, my good
fellows, there shall be no misunderstanding between us, and I
will explain to you how the case stands. You engaged yourselves
to me for the whole journey, and you received an advance of wages
to provide for your families during your absence. You have lately
filled yourselves with meat, and you have become lazy; you have
been frightened by the footprints of the Base; thus you wish to
leave the country. To save yourselves from imaginary danger, you
would forsake my wife and myself and leave us to a fate which you
yourselves would avoid. This is your gratitude for kindness; this
is the return for my confidence, when without hesitation I
advanced you money. Go! Return to Katariff to your families! I
know that all the excuses you have made are false. Those who
declare themselves to be sick, Inshallah (please God) shall be
sick. You will all be welcomed upon your arrival at Katariff. In
the letter I have written to the Governor, inclosing your names,
I have requested him to give each man upon his appearance FIVE
him until my return."

Check-mate! My poor Tokrooris were in a corner, and in their
great dilemma they could not answer a word. Taking advantage of
this moment of confusion, I called forward "the buffalo"
Abderachman, as I had heard that he really had contemplated a
pilgrimage to Mecca. "Abderachman," I continued, "you are the
only man who has spoken the truth. Go to Mecca! and may God
protect you on the journey; I should not wish to prevent you from
performing your duty as a Mahometan."

Never were people more dumbfounded with surprise; they retreated,
and formed a knot in consultation, and in about ten minutes they
returned to me, old Moosa and Hadji Ali both leading the pilgrim
Abderachman by the hands. They had given in; and Abderachman, the
buffalo of the party, thanked me for my permission, and with
tears in his eyes, as the camels were about to start, he at once
said good-bye. "Embrace him!" cried old Moosa and Hadji Ali; and
in an instant, as I had formerly succumbed to the maid Barrake,
I was actually kissed by the thick lips of Abderachman the
unwashed! Poor fellow! this was sincere gratitude without the
slightest humbug; therefore, although he was an odoriferous
savage, I could not help shaking him by the hand and wishing him
a prosperous journey, assuring him that I would watch over his
comrades like a father, while in my service. In a few instants
these curious people were led by a sudden and new impulse; my
farewell had perfectly delighted old Moosa and Hadji Ali, whose
hearts were won. "Say good-bye to the Sit!" (the lady) they
shouted to Abderachman; but I assured them that it was not
necessary to go through the whole operation to which I had been
subjected, and that she would be contented if he only kissed her
hand. This he did with the natural grace of a savage, and was led
away crying by his companions, who embraced him with tears, and
they parted with the affection of brothers.

Now to hard-hearted and civilized people, who often school
themselves to feel nothing, or as little as they can, for
anybody, it may appear absurd to say that the scene was
affecting, but somehow or other it was; and in the course of
half-an-hour, those who would have deserted had become staunch
friends, and we were all, black and white, Mahometans and
Christians, wishing the pilgrim God speed upon his perilous
journey to Mecca.

The camels started, and, if the scene was affecting, the invalids
began to be more affected by the tartar emetic; this was the
third act of the comedy. The plot had been thoroughly ventilated:
the last act exhibited the perfect fidelity of my Tokrooris, in
whom I subsequently reposed much confidence.

In the afternoon of that day, the brothers Sheriff arrived; these
were the most renowned of all the sword-hunters of the Hamrans,
of whom I have already spoken; they were well mounted, and,
having met our caravan of camels on the route, heavily laden with
dried flesh, and thus seen proofs of our success, they now
offered to join our party. I am sorry to be obliged to confess,
that my ally, Abou Do, although a perfect Nimrod in sport, an
Apollo in personal appearance, and a gentleman in manner, was a
mean, covetous, and grasping fellow, and withal absurdly jealous.
Taher Sheriff was a more celebrated hunter, having had the
experience of at least twenty years in excess of Abou Do, and
although the latter was as brave and dexterous as Taher and his
brothers, he wanted the cool judgment that is essential to a
first-rate sportsman. He was himself aware of his inferiority to
Taher Sheriff, though too proud to admit it; but, to avoid
competition he declined to allow the Sheriffs to join our party,
declaring that if I insisted upon the fresh alliance, he and his
comrade Suleiman would return home. Notwithstanding his
objections, I arranged for the present that, as Jali was hors de
combat, Taher Sheriff's party should join us until the arrival of
a fresh hunter in his place, otherwise our party would be
incomplete. To prevent complications, the greedy Abou Do selected
his share of the ivory, carefully choosing the best and most
perfect tusks, and he presented Taher's party with a small
quantity of meat that would render them independent of his
hospitality. I at once ordered my people to give them a large
supply of both meat and corn from my own store, and they encamped
in a quarter of our circle.

The following day was the new year, January 1st, 1862; and, with
the four brothers Sheriff and our party, we formed a powerful
body of hunters: six aggageers and myself, all well mounted. With
four gun-bearers, and two camels, both of which carried water, we
started in search of elephants. Florian was unwell, and remained
in camp.

In this dry climate it was only necessary to ride along the
margin of the river to look for fresh tracks, as the animals were
compelled to visit the Settite to drink, and of course there was
no difficulty in discovering their traces. It appeared, however,
that the elephants had been frightened away from the
neighbourhood by the recent attack, as we rode for about ten
miles without seeing any fresh marks. We therefore struck inland,
on the east bank of the river, intending to return home by a
circuit. The country was exactly like an English park, with no
larger timber than thorn trees. Every now and then there was an
exception in a gigantic homera (Adansonia digitata), or baobab;
these, towering over the heads of the low mimosas, could be seen
from a great distance. Having steered direct for one, we halted,
and dismounted to rest the horses beneath the shade. This tree
was about forty feet in circumference, and the spongy trunk was
formed into a ladder by pegs of hard wood driven into its side by
the Base hunters, who had thus ascended the slippery stem in
search of honey. Bees are very fond of these trees, as they are
generally more or less hollow, and well adapted for hives. The
Adansonia digitata, although a tree, always reminds me of a
gigantic fungus; the stem is disproportioned in its immense
thickness to its height, and its branches are few in number, and
as massive in character as the stem. The wood is not much firmer
in substance than cork, and is as succulent as a carrot. In
Kordofan, where water is exceedingly scarce, the Adansonia is
frequently used as a reservoir; one of these huge hollow trees is
cleaned out and filled with water during the short rainy season.
The fruit was ripe at the time we halted, and after many
attempts, by throwing sticks, we succeeded in procuring a
considerable number. The sub-acid flavour of the seeds, enveloped
in a dry yellow powder within the large shell, was exceedingly

The immediate neighbourhood was a perfect exhibition of
gum-arabic-bearing mimosas. At this season the gum was in
perfection, and the finest quality was now before us in beautiful
amber-coloured masses upon the stems and branches, varying from
the size of a nutmeg to that of an orange. So great was the
quantity, and so excellent were the specimens, that, leaving our
horses tied to trees, both the Arabs and myself gathered a large
collection. This gum, although as hard as ice on the exterior,
was limpid in the centre, resembling melted amber, and as clear
as though refined by some artificial process. The trees were
perfectly denuded of leaves from the extreme drought, and the
beautiful balls of frosted yellow gum recalled the idea of the
precious jewels upon the trees in the garden of the wonderful
lamp of the "Arabian nights." This gum was exceedingly sweet and
pleasant to the taste; but, although of the most valuable
quality, there was no hand to gather it in this forsaken,
although beautiful country; it either dissolved during the rainy
season, or was consumed by the baboons and antelopes. The
aggageers took off from their saddles the skins of tanned
antelope leather that formed the only covering to the wooden
seats, and with these they made bundles of gum. When we
remounted, every man was well laden.

We were thus leisurely returning home through alternate plains
and low open forest of mimosa, when Taher Sheriff, who was
leading the party, suddenly reined up his horse, and pointed to
a thick bush, beneath which was a large grey, but shapeless,
mass. He whispered, as I drew near, "Oom gurrin" (mother of the
horn), their name for the rhinoceros. I immediately dismounted,
and, with the short No. 10 Tatham rifle I advanced as near as I
could, followed by Suleiman, as I had sent all my gun-bearers
direct home by the river when we had commenced our circuit. As I
drew near, I discovered two rhinoceros asleep beneath a thick
mass of bushes; they were lying like pigs, close together, so
that at a distance I had been unable to distinguish any exact
form. It was an awkward place; if I were to take the wind fairly,
I should have to fire through the thick bush, which would be
useless; therefore I was compelled to advance with the wind
direct from me to them. The aggageers remained about a hundred
yards distant, while I told Suleiman to return, and hold my horse
in readiness with his own. I then walked quietly to within about
thirty yards of the rhinoceros, but so curiously were they lying
that it was useless to attempt a shot. In their happy dreams they
must have been suddenly disturbed by the scent of an enemy, for,
without the least warning, they suddenly sprang to their feet
with astonishing quickness, and with a loud and sharp whiff,
whiff, whiff! one of them charged straight at me. I fired my
right-hand barrel in his throat, as it was useless to aim at the
head protected by two horns at the nose. This turned him, but had
no other effect, and the two animals thundered off together at a
tremendous pace.

Now for a "tally ho!" Our stock of gum was scattered on the
ground, and away went the aggageers in full speed after the two
rhinoceros. Without waiting to reload, I quickly remounted my
horse Tetel, and, with Suleiman in company, I spurred hard to
overtake the flying Arabs. Tetel was a good strong cob, but not
very fast; however, I believe he never went so well as upon that
day, for, although an Abyssinian horse, I had a pair of English
spurs, which worked like missionaries, but with a more decided
result. The ground was awkward for riding at full speed, as it
was an open forest of mimosas, which, although wide apart, were
very difficult to avoid, owing to the low crowns of spreading
branches; these, being armed with fish-hook thorns, would have
been serious on a collision. I kept the party in view, until in
about a mile we arrived upon open ground. Here I again applied
the spur, and by degrees I crept up, always gaining, until I at
length joined the aggageers.

Here was a sight to drive a hunter wild! The two rhinoceros were
running neck and neck, like a pair of horses in harness, but
bounding along at tremendous speed within ten yards of the
leading Hamran. This was Taher Sheriff, who, with his sword
drawn, and his long hair flying wildly behind him, urged his
horse forward in the race, amidst a cloud of dust raised by the
two huge but active beasts, that tried every sinew of the horses.
Roder Sheriff, with the withered arm, was second; with the reins
hung upon the hawk-like claw that was all that remained of a
hand, but with his naked sword grasped in his right, he kept
close to his brother, ready to second his blow. Abou Do was
third; his hair flying in the wind--his heels dashing against the
flanks of his horse, to which he shouted in his excitement to
urge him to the front, while he leant forward with his long
sword, in the wild energy of the moment, as though hoping to
reach the game against all possibility. Now for the spurs! and as
these, vigorously applied, screwed an extra stride out of Tetel,
I soon found myself in the ruck of men, horses, and drawn swords.
There were seven of us,--and passing Abou Do, whose face wore an
expression of agony at finding that his horse was failing, I
quickly obtained a place between the two brothers, Taher and
Roder Sheriff. There had been a jealousy between the two parties
of aggageers, and each was striving to outdo the other; thus Abou
Do was driven almost to madness at the superiority of Taher's
horse, while the latter, who was the renowned hunter of the
tribe, was determined that his sword should be the first to taste
blood. I tried to pass the rhinoceros on my left, so as to fire
close into the shoulder my remaining barrel with my right hand,
but it was impossible to overtake the animals, who bounded along
with undiminished speed. With the greatest exertion of men and
horses we could only retain our position within about three or
four yards of their tails--just out of reach of the swords. The
only chance in the race was to hold the pace until the rhinoceros
should begin to flag. The horses were pressed to the utmost; but
we had already run about two miles, and the game showed no signs
of giving in. On they flew,--sometimes over open ground, then
through low bush, which tried the horses severely; then through
strips of open forest, until at length the party began to tail
off, and only a select few kept their places. We arrived at the
summit of a ridge, from which the ground sloped in a gentle
inclination for about a mile towards the river; at the foot of
this incline was thick thorny nabbuk jungle, for which
impenetrable covert the rhinoceros pressed at their utmost speed.
Never was there better ground for the finish of a race; the earth
was sandy, but firm, and as we saw the winning-post in the jungle
that must terminate the hunt, we redoubled our exertions to close
with the unflagging game. Suleiman's horse gave in--we had been
for about twenty minutes at a killing pace. Tetel, although not
a fast horse, was good for a distance, and he now proved his
power of endurance, as I was riding at least two stone heavier
than any of the party. Only four of the seven remained; and we
swept down the incline, Taher Sheriff still leading, and Abou Do
the last! His horse was done, but not the rider; for, springing
to the ground while at full speed, sword in hand, he forsook his
tired horse, and, preferring his own legs, he ran like an
antelope, and, for the first hundred yards, I thought he would
really pass us, and win the honour of first blow. It was of no
use, the pace was too severe, and, although running wonderfully,
he was obliged to give way to the horses. Only three now followed
the rhinoceros--Taher Sheriff, his brother Roder, and myself. I
had been obliged to give the second place to Roder, as he was a
mere monkey in weight; but I was a close third. The excitement
was intense--we neared the jungle, and the rhinoceros began to
show signs of flagging, as the dust puffed up before their
nostrils, and, with noses close to the ground, they snorted as
they still galloped on. Oh for a fresh horse! "A horse ! a horse!
my kingdom for a horse!" We were within two hundred yards of the
jungle; but the horses were all done. Tetel reeled as I urged him
forward, Roder pushed ahead; we were close to the dense thorns,
and the rhinoceros broke into a trot; they were done! "Now,
Taher, for-r-a-a-r-r-d! for-r-r-a-a-r-d, Taher!!!" Away he
went--he was close to the very heels of the beasts; but his horse
could do no more than his present pace; still he gained upon the
nearest; he leaned forward with his sword raised for the
blow--another moment, and the jungle would be reached! One effort
more, and the sword flashed in the sunshine, as the rearmost
rhinoceros disappeared in the thick screen of thorns, with a gash
about a foot long upon his hind-quarters. Taher Sheriff shook his
bloody sword in triumph above his head; but the rhinoceros was
gone. We were fairly beaten, regularly outpaced; but I believe
another two hundred yards would have given us the victory.
"Bravo, Taher," I shouted. He had ridden splendidly, and his b]ow
had been marvellously delivered at an extremely long reach, as he
was nearly out of his saddle when he sprang forward to enable the
blade to obtain a cut at the last moment. He could not reach the
hamstring, as his horse could not gain the proper position.

We all immediately dismounted; the horses were thoroughly done,
and I at once loosened the girths and contemplated my steed
Tetel, who with head lowered, and legs wide apart, was a
tolerable example of the effects of pace. The other aggageers
shortly arrived, and as the rival Abou Do joined us, Taher
Sheriff quietly wiped the blood off his sword without making a
remark; this was a bitter moment for the discomfited Abou Do.

Although we had failed, I never enjoyed a hunt so much either
before or since; it was a magnificent run, and still more
magnificent was the idea that a man, with no weapon but a sword,
could attack and generally vanquish every huge animal of
creation. I felt inclined to discard all my rifles, and to adopt
the sabre, with a first-class horse instead of the common horses
of this country, that were totally unfit for such a style of
hunting, when carrying nearly fifteen stone.

Taher Sheriff explained that at all times the rhinoceros was the
most difficult animal to sabre, on account of his extraordinary
swiftness, and, although he had killed many with the sword, it
was always after a long and fatiguing hunt: at the close of
which, the animal becoming tired, generally turned to bay, in
which case one hunter occupied his attention, while another
galloped up behind, and severed the hamstring. The rhinoceros,
unlike the elephant, can go very well upon three legs, which
enhances the danger, as one cut will not utterly disable him.

There is only one species of this animal in Abyssinia; this is
the two-horned black rhinoceros, known in South Africa as the
keitloa. This animal is generally five feet six inches to five
feet eight inches high at the shoulder, and, although so bulky
and heavily built, it is extremely active, as our long and
fruitless hunt had exemplified. The skin is about half the
thickness of that of the hippopotamus, but of extreme toughness
and closeness of texture; when dried and polished it resembles
horn. Unlike the Indian species of rhinoceros, the black variety
of Africa is free from folds, and the hide fits smoothly on the
body like that of the buffalo. This two-horned black species is
exceedingly vicious; it is one of the very few animals that will
generally assume the offensive; it considers all creatures to be
enemies, and, although it is not acute in either sight or
hearing, it possesses so wonderful a power of scent, that it will
detect a stranger at a distance of five or six hundred yards
should the wind be favourable.

I have observed that a rhinoceros will generally charge down upon
the object that it smells, but does not see; thus when the animal
is concealed either in high grass or thick jungle, should it
scent a man who may be passing unseen to windward, it will rush
down furiously upon the object it has winded, with three loud
whiffs, resembling a jet of steam from a safety-valve. As it is
most difficult and next to impossible to kill a rhinoceros when
charging, on account of the protection to the brain afforded by
the horns, an unexpected charge in thick jungle is particularly
unpleasant; especially when on horseback, as there is no means of
escape but to rush headlong through all obstacles, when the rider
will most likely share the fate that befell the unfortunate Jali.

The horns of the black Abyssinian species seldom exceed two feet
in length, and are generally much shorter; they are not fitted
upon the bone like the horns of all other animals, but are merely
rooted upon the thick skin, of which they appear to be a
continuation. Although the horn of a rhinoceros is a weapon of
immense power, it has no solid foundation, but when the animal is
killed, it can be separated from its hold upon the second day
after death, by a slight blow with a cane. The base forms an
exceedingly shallow cup, and much resembles the heart of an
artichoke when the leaves have been picked off. The teeth are
very peculiar, as the molars have a projecting cutting edge on
the exterior side; thus the jaws when closed form a pair of
shears, as the projecting edges of the upper and lower rows
overlap: this makes a favourable arrangement of nature to enable
the animal to clip off twigs and the branches upon which it
feeds, as, although it does not absolutely refuse grass, the
rhinoceros is decidedly a wood eater. There are particular bushes
which form a great attraction, among these is a dwarf mimosa with
a reddish bark: this tree grows in thick masses, which the
rhinoceros clips so closely that it frequently resembles a
quickset hedge that has been cut by the woodman's shears. These
animals are generally seen in pairs, or the male, female, and
calf; the mother is very affectionate, and exceedingly watchful
and savage. Although so large an animal, the cry is very
insignificant, and is not unlike the harsh shrill sound of a
penny trumpet. The drinking hour is about 8 P.M. or two hours
after sunset, at which time the rhinoceros arrives at the river
from his daily retreat, which is usually about four miles in the
interior. He approaches the water by regular paths made by
himself, but not always by the same route; and, after drinking,
he generally retires to a particular spot beneath a tree that has
been visited upon regular occasions; in such places large heaps
of dung accumulate. The hunters take advantage of this
peculiarity of the rhinoceros, and they set traps in the path to
his private retreat; but he is so extremely wary, and so acute is
the animal's power of scent, that the greatest art is necessary
in setting the snare. A circular hole about two feet deep and
fifteen inches in diameter is dug in the middle of his run, near
to the tree that has been daily visited; upon this hole is placed
a hoop of tough wood arranged with a vast number of sharp spikes
of a strong elastic wood, which, fastened to the rim, meet in the
centre, and overlap each other as would the spokes of a wheel in
the absence of the nave, if lengthened sufficiently. We will
simplify the hoop by calling it a wheel without a centre, the
spokes sharpened and overlapping the middle. The instrument being
fitted neatly above the hole, a running noose of the strongest
rope is laid in the circle upon the wheel; the other extremity of
the rope is fastened to the trunk of a tree that has been felled
for that purpose, and deeply notched at one end to prevent the
rope from slipping. This log, which weighs about five or six
hundredweight, is then buried horizontally in the ground, and the
entire trap is covered with earth and carefully concealed; the
surface is smoothed over with a branch instead of the hand, as
the scent of a human touch would at once be detected by the
rhinoceros. When completed, a quantity of the animal's dung is
swept from the heap upon the snare. If the trap is undiscovered,
the rhinoceros steps upon the hoop, through which his leg sinks
into the hole, and upon his attempt to extricate his foot, the
noose draws tight over the legs; as the spiked hoop fixing
tightly into the skin prevents the noose from slipping over the
foot. Once caught, his first effort to escape drags the heavy log
from the trench, and as the animal rushes furiously away, this
acts as a drag, and by catching in the jungle and the protruding
roots of trees, it quickly fatigues him. On the following morning
the hunters discover the rhinoceros by the track of the log that
has ploughed along the ground, and the animal is killed by
lances, or by the sword. The hide of a rhinoceros will produce
seven shields; these are worth about two dollars each, as simple
hide before manufacture; the horn is sold in Abyssinia for about
two dollars per pound, for the manufacture of sword-hilts, which
are much esteemed if of this material.

Upon our return to camp, I found that the woman Barrake was ill.
She had insisted upon eating a large quantity of the fruit of the
hegleek tree (Balanites Aegyptiaca), which abounded in this
neighbourhood. This tree is larger than the generality in that
country, being about thirty feet in height and eighteen inches in
diameter; the ashes of the burnt wood are extremely rich in
potash, and the fruit, which is about the size and shape of a
date, is sometimes pounded and used by the Arabs in lieu of soap
for washing their clothes. This fruit is exceedingly pleasant,
but in a raw state it has an irritating effect upon the bowels,
and should be used in small quantities. Barrake had been
cautioned by the Arabs and ourselves, but she had taken a fancy
that she was determined to gratify; therefore she had eaten the
forbidden fruit from morning until night, and a grievous attack
of diarrhoea was the consequence. My wife had boiled the fruit
with wild honey, and had made a most delicious preserve; in this
state it was not unwholesome. She had likewise preserved the
fruit of the nabbuk in a similar manner: the latter resembles
minute apples in appearance, with something of the medlar in
flavour; enormous quantities were produced upon the banks of the
river, which, falling when ripe, were greedily eaten by
guinea-fowl, wild hogs, antelopes, and monkeys. Elephants are
particularly fond of the fruit of the hegleek, which, although
apparently too insignificant for the attention of such mighty
animals, they nevertheless enjoy beyond any other food, and they
industriously gather them one by one. At the season when the
fruit is ripe, the hegleek tree is a certain attraction to
elephants, who shake the branches and pick up the fallen berries
with their trunks; frequently they overturn the tree itself, as
a more direct manner of feeding.

Florian was quite incapable of hunting, as he was in a weak state
of health, and had for some months been suffering from chronic
dysentery. I had several times cured him, but, as Barrake
insisted upon eating fruit, so he had a weakness for the
strongest black coffee, which, instead of drinking, like the
natives, in minute cups, he swallowed wholesale in large basins,
several times a day; this was actual poison with his complaint,
and he was completely ruined in health. He had excellent
servants,--Richarn, whom I subsequently engaged, who was my only
faithful man in my journey up the White Nile, and two good

At this time, his old companion, Johann Schmidt, the carpenter,
arrived, having undertaken a contract to provide, for the Italian
Zoological Gardens, a number of animals. I therefore proposed
that the two old friends should continue together, while I would
hunt by myself, with the aggageers, towards the east and south.

This arrangement was agreed to, and we parted. In the following
season, I engaged this excellent man, Johann Schmidt, as my
lieutenant for the White Nile expedition, on the banks of which
fatal river he now lies, with the cross that I erected over his

Poor Florian at length recovered from his complaint, but was
killed by a lion. He had wounded an elephant, which on the
following morning he found dead; a lion had eaten a portion
during the night. While he was engaged with his men in extracting
the tusks, one of his hunters (a Tokroori) followed the track of
the lion on the sand, and found the animal lying beneath a bush;
he fired a single-barrelled rifle, and wounded it in the thigh.
He at once returned to his master, who accompanied him to the
spot, and the lion was found lying under the same bush, licking
the wound. Florian fired and missed; the lion immediately
crouched for a spring; Florian fired his remaining barrel, the
ball merely grazed the lion, who almost in the same instant
bounded forward, and struck him upon the head with a fearful blow
of the paw, at the same time it seized him by the throat.

The Tokroori hunter, instead of flying from the danger, placed
the muzzle of his rifle to the lion's ear, and blew its brains
out on the body of his master. The unfortunate Florian had been
struck dead, and great difficulty was found in extracting the
claws of the lion, which had penetrated the skull. Florian,
although a determined hunter, was an exceedingly bad shot, and
withal badly armed for encounters with dangerous game; I had
frequently prophesied some calamity from the experience I had had
in a few days' shooting in his society, and most unhappily my
gloomy prediction was fulfilled.

This was the fate of two good and sterling Germans, who had been
my companions in this wild country, where degrees of rank are
entirely forgotten, provided a man be honest and true. I
constantly look back to the European acquaintances and friends
that I made during my sojourn in Africa, nearly all of whom are
dead: a merciful Providence guided us through many dangers and
difficulties, and shielded us from all harm, during nearly five
years of constant exposure. Thanks be to God.

Our camels returned from Geera with corn, accompanied by an
Abyssinian hunter, who was declared by Abou Do to be a good man,
and dexterous with the sword. We accordingly moved our camp, said
adieu to Florian and Johann, and penetrated still deeper into the



OUR course lay as usual along the banks of the river, which we
several times forded to avoid the bends. Great numbers of
antelopes were upon the river's bed, having descended to drink;
by making a circuit, I cut off one party upon their retreat, and
made two good shots with the Fletcher No. 24, bagging two tetel
(Antelopus Bubalis), at considerable ranges. I also shot an ariel
(G. Dama), and, upon arriving at a deep pool in the river, I shot
a bull hippopotamus, as a present for Taher Sheriff and his
brothers. We decided upon encamping at a spot known to the Arabs
as Delladilla; this was the forest upon the margin of the river
where I had first shot the bull elephant, when the aggageers
fought with him upon foot. The trees were larger in this locality
than elsewhere, as a great portion of the country was flooded by
the river dnring the rainy season, and much rich soil had been
deposited; this, with excessive moisture, had produced a forest
of fine timber, with an undergrowth of thick nabbuk. We fixed
upon a charming spot for a camp, beneath a large tree that bore
a peculiar fruit, suspended from the branches by a strong but
single fibre, like a cord; each fruit was about eighteen inches
in length, by six in diameter; it was perfectly worthless, but
extremely ornamental. We had arrived beneath this tree, and were
still on horseback; my wife had just suggested that it would be
unpleasant should one of the large fruit fall upon our heads if
we camped under the branches, when suddenly a lioness glided by
us, within three yards of the horses, and almost immediately
disappeared in the thick thorns; unfortunately, I had the moment
before given my rifle to a servant, prior to dismounting. I
searched the bushes in every direction, but to no purpose.

This spot was so favourably situated that I determined to remain
for some time, as I could explore the country on horseback to a
great distance upon all sides. We immediately set to work to
construct our new camp, and by the evening our people had cleared
a circle of fifty yards diameter; this was swept perfectly clean,
and the ground being hard, though free from stones, the surface
was as even as a paved floor. The entire circle was well
protected with a strong fence of thorn bushes, for which the
kittar is admirably adapted; the head being mushroom-shaped, the
entire tree is cut down, and the stem being drawn towards the
inside of the camp, the thick and wide-spreading thorny crest
covers about twelve feet of the exterior frontage; a fence thus
arranged is quickly constructed, and is quite impervious. Two or
three large trees grew within the camp; beneath the shade of this
our tent was pitched. This we never inhabited, but it served as
an ordinary room, and a protection to the luggage, guns, &c. The
horses were well secured within a double circle of thorns, and
the goats wandered about at liberty, as they were too afraid of
wild animals to venture from the camp: altogether this was the
most agreeable spot we had ever occupied; even the night-fires
would be perfectly concealed within the dense shade of the nabbuk
jungle, thus neither man nor beast would be aware of our
presence. We were about a hundred paces distant from the margin
of the river; late in the evening I took my rod, and fished in
the deep bend beneath a cliff of conglomerate pebbles. I caught
only one fish, a baggar, about twelve pounds, but I landed three
large turtles; these creatures were most determined in taking the
bait; they varied in size from fifty to about ninety pounds, and
were the same species as that which inhabits the Nile (Trionis
Nilotica). From one of them we took upwards of a hundred eggs
which we converted into omelettes, but they were rather strong in

Although this species of turtle is unprepossessing in appearance,
having a head very like that of a snake, with a dark green shell
spotted with yellow, it produces excellent soup; the body is
exceedingly flat, and the projecting edges of the shell are soft;
it runs extremely fast upon the shore, and is suggestive of the
tortoise that beat the hare in the well-known race. Throughout
the Nile and its tributaries there are varieties of fish and
reptiles closely connected, and the link can be distinctly traced
in the progression of development. There is a fish with a hard
bony frame, or shell, that includes the head, and extends over
more than half the body; this has two long and moveable spikes
beneath the fore fins, upon which it can raise itself as upon
legs when upon the land; when first caught, this fish makes a
noise something like the mewing of a cat: this appears to be
closely linked to the tortoise. The Lepidosiren Annectens, found
in the White Nile, is a link between the fish and the frog; and
certain varieties of mud fish that remain alive throughout a dry
season in the sun-baked earth, and reappear with the following
rains exhibit a close affinity to reptiles.

On the morning after our arrival, I started to explore the
country with the aggageers, and rode about forty miles, From this
point, hills of basalt and granite commenced, connected by rugged
undulations of white quartz, huge blocks of which were scattered
upon the surface; in many of these I found thin veins of galena.

All the rocks were igneous; we had left the sandstone that had
marked the course of the Atbara and the valley of the Settite as
far as Ombrega, and I was extremely puzzled to account for the
presence of the pure white and rose-coloured limestone that we
had found only in one place--Geera. As we were now among the
hills and mountains, the country was extremely beautiful; at the
farthest point of that day's excursion we were close to the high
range from which, in the rainy season, innumerable torrents pour
into the Settite; some of these gorges were ornamented with the
dark foliage of large tamarind trees, while upon rocks that did
not appear to offer any sustenance, the unsightly yet mighty
baobab* grasped with its gnarled roots the blocks of granite, and
formed a peculiar object in the wild and rugged scenery.

* The largest baobab (Adansonia digitata) that I have

measured was fifty-one feet and one inch in circumference.

Through this romantic wilderness, the Settite flowed in a clear
and beautiful stream, sometimes contracted between cliffs to a
width of a hundred yards, at others stretching to three times
that distance. The hippopotami were in great numbers; many were
lying beneath the shady trees upon the banks, and splashed into
the water as we appeared; others were basking in large herds upon
the shallows; while the young calves, supported upon the backs of
their mothers, sailed about upon their animated rafts in perfect
security. The Base had been here recently, as we discovered their
footprints upon the sand, and we arrived at some tobacco
plantations that they had formed upon the sandbanks of the river.
The aggageers expressed their determination to sabre them should
we happen to meet, and were much displeased at my immediately
placing a veto upon their bloody intentions, with a reservation
for necessity in self-defence.

The Base were far too wide awake, and, although seen once during
the day by my people, they disappeared like monkeys; their spies
had doubtless reported our movements ever since we had entered
their country, and, fearing the firearms, they had retreated to
their fastnesses among the mountains.

During the day's march we had seen a large quantity of game, but
I had not wished to shoot until on our return towards the camp.
We were about four miles from home, when a nellut (A.
Strepsiceros) bounded away from a ravine. I was riding Tetel,
whom I had taught to stand fire, in which he was remarkably
steady. I made a quick shot with the little Fletcher from the
saddlle; but, as the nellut ran straight before me, the bullet
struck the haunch: away went the aggageers after the wounded
animal, like greyhounds, and in a few hundred yards the sword
finished the hunt.

The Nellut is the handsomest of all the large antelopes; the male
is about thirteen hands high, and carries a pair of beautiful
spiral horns, upwards of three feet in length; the colour of the
hide is a dark mouse-grey, ornamented with white stripes down the
flanks, and a white line along the back from the shoulder to the
tail. The female is without horns, but is in other respects
similar to the male. These beautiful animals do not inhabit the
plains like the other varieties of antelopes, but are generally
found in deep-wooded ravines. In South Africa it is known as the

The aggageers quickly flayed and quartered the game, which was
arranged upon the horses, and thus it was carried to our camp, at
which we arrived late in the evening.

On the following morning, at my usual hour of starting, a little
before sunrise, we crossed a deep portion of the river, through
which the horses were obliged to swim; on this occasion I rode
Aggahr, who was my best hunter. In that very charming and useful
book by Mr. Francis Galton, "The Art of Travel," advice is given
for crossing a deep river, by holding to the tail of the swimming
horse. In this I cannot agree; the safety of the man is much
endangered by the heels of the horse, and his security depends
upon the length of the animal's tail. In rivers abounding in
crocodiles, which generally follow an animal before they seize,
the man hanging on to the tail of the horse is a most alluring
bait, and he would certainly be taken, should one of these
horrible monsters be attracted to the party. I have always found
great comfort in crossing a river by simply holding to the mane,
just in front of the saddle, with my left hand, with the bridle
grasped as loosely as possible, so that the horse does not feel
the bit; in this position, on the off side, the animal does not
feel any hindrance; the man not only can direct his horse, but
his presence gives it confidence, as he can speak to it coaxingly
while swimming with one arm by its side. Upon landing, he at once
controls the horse by the reins within his left grasp.

Many horses become exceedingly scared in swimming a rapid river,
and will frequently lose their presence of mind, and swim with
the current, in which case they may miss the favourable landing
place; if the man holds by the tail, he has no control over the
horse upon landing, and, if wild or vicious, the animal will
probably kick up its heels and bolt away, leaving the unfortunate
proprietor helpless. In swimming a river with the horse, the
powder, &c. should be made into a parcel with your outer garment,
and tied upon the head; then lead your horse gently into the
water, and for a moment allow it to drink, to prevent all


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