Part 6 out of 8

shyness; continue to lead it until you lose your depth, when, by
holding with your left hand to the mane, both horse and man will
cross with perfect ease.

We had crossed the river, and, as we passed through an opening in
the belt of jungle on the banks, and entered upon a plain
interspersed with clumps of bush, we perceived, at about two
hundred yards distance, a magnificent lion, whose shaggy yellow
mane gave him a colossal appearance, as he stalked quietly along
the flat sandy ground towards the place of his daily retreat. The
aggageers whispered, "El Assut!" (the lion), and instinctively
the swords flashed from their sheaths. In an instant, the horses
were at full speed sweeping over the level ground. The lion had
not observed us; but, upon hearing the sound of the hoofs, he
halted and raised his head, regarding us for a moment with
wonder, as we rapidly decreased our distance, when, thinking
retreat advisable, he bounded off, followed by the excited
hunters, as hard as the horses could be pressed. Having obtained
a good start, we had gained upon him, and we kept up the pace
until we at length arrived within about eighty yards of the lion,
who, although he appeared to fly easily along like a cat, did not
equal the speed of the horses. It was a beautiful sight. Aggahr
was an exceedingly fast horse, and, having formerly belonged to
one of the Hamran hunters, he thoroughly understood his work. His
gallop was perfection, and his long steady stride was as easy to
himself as to his rider; there was no necessity to guide him, as
he followed an animal like a greyhound, and sailed between the
stems of the numerous trees, carefully avoiding their trunks, and
choosing his route where the branches allowed ample room for the
rider to pass beneath. In about five minutes we had run the lion
straight across the plain, through several open strips of
mimosas, and we were now within a few yards, hut unfortunately,
just as Taher and Abou Do dashed forward in the endeavour to ride
upon either flank, he sprang down a precipitous ravine, and
disappeared in the thick thorns.

The ravine formed a broad bottom, which, covered with dense green
nabbuk, continued for a great distance, and effectually saved the
lion. I was much disappointed, as we should have had a glorious
fight, and I had long sought for an opportunity of witnessing an
attack upon the lion with the sword. The aggageers were equally
annoyed, and they explained that they should have been certain to
kill him. Their plan was to ride upon either flank, at a few
yards' distance, when he would have charged one man, who would
have dashed away, while the other hunter would have slashed the
lion through the back with his sword. They declared that a good
hunter should be able to protect himself by a back-handed blow
with his sword, should the lion attack the horse from behind; but
that the great danger in a lion hunt arose when the animal took
refuge in a solitary bush, and turned to bay. In such instances
the hunters surrounded the bush, and rode direct towards him,
when he generally sprang out upon some man or horse; he was then
cut down immediately by the sabre of the next hunter. The
aggageers declared that, in the event of an actual fight, the
death of the lion was certain, although one or more men or horses
might be wounded, or perhaps killed.

The morning gallop had warmed our nags after their bath in the
cool river, and we now continued leisurely towards the stream,
upon the margin of which we rode for several miles. We had
determined to set fire to the grass, as, although upon poorer
soil it had almost disappeared through the withering of the
roots, upon fertile ground it was almost nine feet high, and not
only concealed the game, but prevented us from riding. We
accordingly rode towards a spot where bright yellow herbage
invited the fire-stick; but hardly had we arrived, when we
noticed a solitary bull buffalo (Bos Caffer), feeding within
about a hundred and fifty yards. I immediately dismounted, and,
creeping towards him to within fifty paces, I shot him through
the neck with one of my Reilly No. 10 rifles. I had hoped to drop
him dead by the shot, instead of which he galloped off, of course
followed by the aggageers, with the exception of one, who held my
horse. Quickly mounted, we joined in the hunt, and in about three
minutes we ran the buffalo to bay in a thicket of thorns on the
margin of the river. These thorns were just thick enough to
conceal him at times, but to afford us a glance of his figure as
he moved from his position. There was a glade which cut through
and divided the jungle, and I wished the aggageers to drive him,
if possible, across this, when I should have a good opportunity
of shooting. To my astonishment, one of the most daring hunters
jumped off his horse with his drawn sword, and, telling me to
look out, he coolly entered the jungle alone to court the attack
of the buffalo. I would not allow him to risk his life for an
animal that I had been the first to wound, therefore I insisted
upon his return, and begging Abou Do to hold my bridle when I
should fire, I rode with him carefully along the skirts of the
jungle along the glade, keeping a good look-out among the thorns
for the buffalo. Presently I heard a short grunt within twenty
yards of us, and I quickly perceived the buffalo standing
broadside on, with his head to the wind, that brought down the
scent of the people on the other side.

I had my little Fletcher No. 24 in my hand--that handy little
weapon that almost formed an extra bone of myself, and,
whispering to Abou Do to hold my bridle close to the bit, as
Aggahr was not very steady under fire, I took a clean shot direct
at the centre of the shoulder. The ball smacked as though it had
struck an iron target. Aggahr gave a start, and for the moment
both Abou Do and myself were prepared for a rush; but the buffalo
had never flinched, and he remained standing as though
immoveable. Abon Do whispered, "You missed him, I heard the
bullet strike the tree;" I shook my head, and quickly
re-loaded--it was impossible to miss at that distance, and I knew
that I had fired steadily. Hardly had I rammed the bullet down,
when, with a sudden thump, down fell the buffalo upon his side,
and, rolling over upon his back, he gave a few tremendous
struggles, and lay dead.

Great caution should be invariably used in approaching a fallen
buffalo and all other dangerous animals, as they are apt to
recover sufficiently, upon seeing the enemy, to make a last
effort to attack, which is generally more serious than any other
phase of the hunt. We accordingly pitched a few large stones at
him to test the reality of death, and then walked up and examined
him. The Reilly No. 10 had gone quite through the neck, but had
missed a vital part. The little Fletcher had made a clean and
minute hole exactly through the shoulder, and upon opening the
body we found the ball sticking in the ribs on the opposite side,
having passed through the very centre of the lungs.

The aggageers now carefully flayed it, and divided the tough hide
into portions accurately measured for shields. One man galloped
back to direct the two water-camels that were following in our
tracks, while others cut up the buffalo, and prepared the usual
disgusting feast by cutting up the reeking paunch, over which
they squeezed the contents of the gall-bladder, and consumed the
whole, raw and steaming.* On the arrival of the camels they were
quickly loaded, and we proceeded to fire the grass on our return
to camp. The Arabs always obtained their fire by the friction of
two pieces of wood; accordingly, they set to work. A piece of dry
nabbuk was selected, about as thick as the little finger. A notch
was cut in this, and it was laid horizontally upon the ground,
with the notch uppermost; into this was fixed the sharp point of
a similar piece of wood, about eighteen inches long, which, being
held perpendicularly with both hands, was worked between the
palms like a drill, with as great a pressure as possible, from
the top to the bottom, as the hands descended with the motion of
rubbing or rolling the stick. After about two minutes of great
labour, the notch began to smoke, a brown dust, like ground
coffee, fell from the singed wood, and this charred substance,
after increased friction, emitted a still denser smoke, and
commenced smouldering; the fire was produced. A rag was torn from
the thorn-brushed drawers of one of the party, in which the fire
was carefully wrapped and fanned with the breath; it was then
placed in a wisp of dry grass, and rapidly turned in the air
until the flame burst forth. A burning-glass should be always
carried in these countries, where a cloudless sky ensures an
effect. Although in Arab hands the making of fire appears
exceedingly simple, I have never been able to effect it. I have
worked at the two sticks until they have been smoking and I have
been steaming, with my hands blistered, but I have never got
beyond the smoke; there is a peculiar knack which, like playing
the fiddle, must be acquired, although it looks very easy. It is
not every wood that will produce fire by this method; those most
inflammable are the cotton-tree and the nabbuk. We now descended
to the river, and fired the grass; the north wind was brisk, and
the flames extended over miles of country within an hour.

* All these Arabs, in like manner with the Abyssinians,

are subject to the attacks of intestinal worms, induced

by their habit of eating raw flesh.

We returned towards the camp. On the way we saw numerous
antelopes; and, dismounting, I ordered one of the hunters to lead
my horse while I attempted to stalk a fine buck mehedehet
(Redunca Ellipsyprimna). There were several in the herd, but
there was a buck with a fine head a few yards in advance; they
were standing upon an undulation on open ground backed by high
grass. I had marked a small bush as my point of cover, and
creeping unobserved towards this, I arrived unseen within about
a hundred and twenty yards of the buck. With the Fletcher 24 I
made a good shoulder-shot; the buck gave a few bounds and fell
dead; the does looked on in astonishment, and I made an equally
lucky shot with the left-hand barrel, bringing down what I at
first had mistaken to be a doe, but I discovered it to be a young

The Mehedehet is an antelope of great beauty; it resembles the
red deer in colour, but the coat is still rougher; it stands
about thirteen hands in height, with a pair of long
slightly-curved annulated horns. The live weight of the male
would be about five hundred pounds; the female, like the nellut
(Tragelaphus Strepsiceros), is devoid of horns, and much
resembles the female of the Sambur deer of India. This antelope
is the "water-buck" of South Africa.

On arrival at the camp, I resolved to fire the entire country on
the following day, and to push still farther up the course of the
Settite to the foot of the mountains, and to return to this camp
in about a fortnight, by which time the animals that had been
scared away by the fire would have returned. Accordingly, on the
following morning, accompanied by a few of the aggageers, I
started upon the south bank of the river, and rode for some
distance into the interior, to the ground that was entirely
covered with high withered grass. We were passing through a mass
of kittar and thorn-bush, almost hidden by the immensely high
grass, when, as I was ahead of the party, I came suddenly upon
the tracks of a rhinoceros; these were so unmistakeably recent
that I felt sure we were not far from the animals themselves. As
I had wished to fire the grass, I was accompanied by my
Tokrooris, and my horse-keeper, Mahomet No. 2. It was difficult
ground for the men, and still more unfavourable for the horses,
as large disjointed masses of stone were concealed in the high

We were just speculating as to the position of the rhinoceros,
and thinking how uncommonly unpleasant it would be should he
obtain our wind, when whiff! whiff! whiff! We heard the sharp
whistling snort, with a tremendous rush through the high grass
and thorns close to us; and at the same moment two of these
determined brutes were upon us in full charge. I never saw such
a scrimmage; sauve qui peut! There was no time for more than one
look behind. I dug the spurs into Aggahr's flanks, and clasping
him round the neck, I ducked my head down to his shoulder, well
protected with my strong hunting-cap, and I kept the spurs going
as hard as I could ply them, blindly trusting to Providence and
my good horse, over big rocks, fallen trees, thick kittar thorns,
and grass ten feet high, with the two infernal animals in full
chase only a few feet behind me. I heard their abominable
whiffing close to me, but so did good horse also, and the good
old hunter flew over obstacles that I should have thought
impossible, and he dashed straight under the hooked thorn bushes
and doubled like a hare. The aggageers were all scattered;
Mahomet No. 2 was knocked over by a rhinoceros; all the men were
sprawling upon the rocks with their guns, and the party was
entirely discomfited. Having passed the kittar thorn, I turned,
and, seeing that the beasts had gone straight on, I brought
Aggahr's head round, and tried to give chase, but it was
perfectly impossible; it was only a wonder that the horse had
escaped in ground so difficult for riding. Although my clothes
were of the strongest and coarsest Arab cotton cloth, which
seldom tore, but simply lost a thread when caught in a thorn, I
was nearly naked. My blouse was reduced to shreds; as I wore
sleeves only half way from the shoulder to the elbow, my naked
arms were streaming with blood; fortunately my hunting cap was
secured with a chin strap, and still more fortunately I had
grasped the horse's neck, otherwise I must have been dragged out
of the saddle by the hooked thorns. All the men were cut and
bruised, some having fallen upon their heads among the rocks, and
others had hurt their legs in falling in their endeavours to
escape. Mahomet No. 2, the horse-keeper, was more frightened than
hurt, as he had been knocked down by the shoulder and not by the
horn of the rhinoceros, as the animal had not noticed him; its
attention was absorbed by the horse.

I determined to set fire to the whole country immediately, and
descending the hill towards the river to obtain a favourable
wind, I put my men in a line, extending over about a mile along
the river's bed, and they fired the grass in different places.
With a loud roar, the flame leapt high in air and rushed forward
with astonishing velocity; the grass was as inflammable as
tinder, and the strong north wind drove the long line of fire
spreading in every direction through the country.

We now crossed to the other side of the river to avoid the
flames, and we returned towards the camp. On the way, I made a
long shot and badly wounded a tetel, but lost it in thick thorns;
shortly after, I stalked a nellut (A. Strepsiceros), and bagged
it with the Fletcher rifle.

We arrived early in camp, and on the following day we moved
sixteen miles farther up stream, and camped under a tamarind tree
by the side of the river. No European had ever been farther than
our last camp, Delladilla, and that spot had only been visited by
Johann Schmidt and Florian. In the previous year, my aggageers
had sabred some of the Base at this very camping-place; they
accordingly requested me to keep a vigilant watch during the
night, as they would be very likely to attack us in revenge,
unless they had been scared by the rifles and by the size of our
party. They advised me not to remain long in this spot, as it
would be very dangerous for my wife to be left almost alone
during the day, when we were hunting, and that the Base would be
certain to espy us from the mountains, and would most probably
attack and carry her off when they were assured of our departure.
She was not very nervous about this, but she immediately called
the dragoman, Mahomet, who knew the use of a gun, and she asked
him if he would stand by her in case they were attacked in my
absence; the faithful servant replied, "Mahomet fight the Base?
No, Missus; Mahomet not fight; if the Base come, Missus fight;
Mahomet run away; Mahomet not come all the way from Cairo to get
him killed by black fellers; Mahomet will run--Inshallah!"
(please God).

This frank avowal of his military tactics was very reassuring.
There was a high hill of basalt, something resembling a pyramid,
within a quarter of a mile of us; I accordingly ordered some of
my men every day to ascend this look-out station, and I resolved
to burn the high grass at once, so as to destroy all cover for
the concealment of an enemy. That evening I very nearly burnt our
camp; I had several times ordered the men to clear away the dry
grass for about thirty yards from our resting-place; this they
had neglected to obey. We had been joined a few days before by a
party of about a dozen Hamran Arabs, who were hippopotami
hunters; thus we mustered very strong, and it would have been the
work of about half an hour to have cleared away the grass as I
had desired.

The wind was brisk, and blew directly towards our camp, which was
backed by the river. I accordingly took a fire-stick, and I told
my people to look sharp, as they would not clear away the grass.
I walked to the foot of the basalt hill, and fired the grass in
several places. In an instant the wind swept the flame and smoke
towards the camp. All was confusion; the Arabs had piled the
camel-saddles and all their corn and effects in the high grass
about twenty yards from the tent; there was no time to remove all
these things; therefore, unless they could clear away the grass
so as to stop the fire before it should reach the spot, they
would be punished for their laziness by losing their property.
The fire travelled quicker than I had expected, and, by the time
I had hastened to the tent, I found the entire party working
frantically; the Arabs were slashing down the grass with their
swords, and sweeping it away with their shields, while my
Tokrooris were beating it down with long sticks and tearing it
from its withered and fortunately tinder-rotten roots, in
desperate haste. The flames rushed on, and we already felt the
heat, as volumes of smoke enveloped us; I thought it advisable to
carry the gunpowder (about 20 lbs.), down to the river, together
with the rifles; while my wife and Mahomet dragged the various
articles of luggage to the same place of safety. The fire now
approached within about sixty yards, and dragging out the iron
pins, I let the tent fall to the ground. The Arabs had swept a
line like a highroad perfectly clean, and they were still tearing
away the grass, when they were suddenly obliged to rush back as
the flames arrived.

Almost instantaneously the smoke blew over us, but the fire had
expired upon meeting the cleared ground. I now gave them a little
lecture upon obedience to orders; and from that day, their first
act upon halting for the night was to clear away the grass, lest
I should repeat the entertainment. In countries that are covered
with dry grass, it should be an invariable rule to clear the
ground around the camp before night; hostile natives will
frequently fire the grass to windward of a party, or careless
servants may leave their pipes upon the ground, which fanned by
the wind would quickly create a blaze. That night the mountain
afforded a beautiful appearance as the flames ascended the steep
sides, and ran flickering up the deep gullies with a brilliant

We were standing outside the tent admiring the scene, which
perfectly illuminated the neighbourhood, when suddenly an
apparition of a lion and lioness stood for an instant before us
at about fifteen yards distance, and then disappeared over the
blackened ground before I had time to snatch a rifle from the
tent. No doubt they had been disturbed from the mountain by the
fire, and had mistaken their way in the country so recently
changed from high grass to black ashes. In this locality I
considered it advisable to keep a vigilant watch during the
night, and the Arabs were told off for that purpose.

A little before sunrise I accompanied the howartis, or
hippopotamus hunters, for a day's sport. There were numbers of
hippos in this part of the river, and we were not long before we
found a herd. The hunters failed in several attempts to harpoon
them, but they succeeded in stalking a crocodile after a most
peculiar fashion. This large beast was lying upon a sandbank on
the opposite margin of the river, close to a bed of rushes.

The howartis, having studied the wind, ascended for about a
quarter of a mile, and then swam across the river, harpoon in
hand. The two men reached the opposite bank, beneath which they
alternately waded or swam down the stream towards the spot upon
which the crocodile was lying. Thus advancing under cover of the
steep bank, or floating with the stream in deep places, and
crawling like crocodiles across the shallows, the two hunters at
length arrived at the bank of rushes, on the other side of which
the monster was basking asleep upon the sand. They were now about
waist-deep, and they kept close to the rushes with their harpoons
raised, ready to cast the moment they should pass the rush bed
and come in view of the crocodile. Thus steadily advancing, they
had just arrived at the corner within about eight yards of the
crocodile, when the creature either saw them, or obtained their
wind; in an inatant it rushed to the water; at the same moment,
the two harpoons were launched with great rapidity by the
hunters. One glanced obliquely from the scales; the other stuck
fairly in the tough hide, and the iron, detached from the bamboo,
held fast, while the ambatch float, running on the surface of the
water, marked the course of the reptile beneath.

The hunters chose a convenient place, and recrossed the stream to
our side, apparently not heeding the crocodiles more than we
should fear pike when bathing in England. They would not waste
their time by securing the crocodile at present, as they wished
to kill a hippopotamus; the float would mark the position, and
they would be certain to find it later. We accordingly continued
our search for hippopotami; these animals appeared to be on the
qui vive, and, as the hunters once more failed in an attempt, I
made a clean shot behind the ear of one, and killed it dead. At
length we arrived at a large pool in which were several sandbanks
covered with rushes, and many rocky islands. Among these rocks
was a herd of hippopotami, consisting of an old bull and several
cows; a young hippo was standing, like an ugly little statue, on
a protruding rock, while another infant stood upon its mother's
back that listlessly floated on the water.

This was an admirable place for the hunters. They desired me to
lie down, and they crept into the jungle out of view of the
river; I presently observed them stealthily descending the dry
bed about two hundred paces above the spot where the hippos were
basking behind the rocks. They entered the river, and swam down
the centre of the stream towards the rock. This was highly
exciting:--the hippos were quite unconscious of the approaching
danger, as, steadily and rapidly, the hunters floated down the
strong current; they neared the rock, and both heads disappeared
as they purposely sunk out of view; in a few seconds later they
reappeared at the edge of the rock upon which the young hippo
stood. It would be difficult to say which started first, the
astonished young hippo into the water, or the harpoons from the
hands of the howartis! It was the affair of a moment; the hunters
dived directly they had hurled their harpoons, and, swimming for
some distance under water, they came to the surface, and hastened
to the shore lest an infuriated hippopotamus should follow them.
One harpoon had missed; the other had fixed the bull of the herd,
at which it had been surely aimed. This was grand sport! The bull
was in the greatest fury, and rose to the surface, snorting and
blowing in his impotent rage; but as the ambatch float was
exceedingly large, and this naturally accompanied his movements,
he tried to escape from his imaginary persecutor, and dived
constantly, only to find his pertinacious attendant close to him
upon regaining the surface. This was not to last long; the
howartis were in earnest, and they at once called their party,
who, with two of the aggageers, Abou Do and Suleiman, were near
at hand; these men arrived with the long ropes that form a
portion of the outfit for hippo hunting.

The whole party now halted on the edge of the river, while two
men swam across with one end of the long rope. Upon gaining the
opposite bank, I observed that a second rope was made fast to the
middle of the main line; thus upon our side we held the ends of
two ropes, while on the opposite side they had only one;
accordingly, the point of junction of the two ropes in the centre
formed an acute angle. The object of this was soon practically
explained. Two men upon our side now each held a rope, and one of
these walked about ten yards before the other. Upon both sides of
the river the people now advanced, dragging the rope on the
surface of the water until they reached the ambatch float that
was swimming to and fro, according to the movements of the
hippopotamus below. By a dexterous jerk of the main line, the
float was now placed between the two ropes, and it was
immediately secured in the acute angle by bringing together the
ends of these ropes on our side.

The men on the opposite bank now dropped their line, and our men
hauled in upon the ambatch float that was held fast between the
ropes. Thus cleverly made sure, we quickly brought a strain upon
the hippo, and, although I have had some experience in handling
big fish, I never knew one pull so lustily as the amphibious
animal that we now alternately coaxed and bullied. He sprang out
of the water, gnashed his huge jaws, snorted with tremendous
rage, and lashed the river into foam; he then dived, and
foolishly approached us beneath the water. We quickly gathered in
the slack line, and took a round turn upon a large rock, within
a few feet of the river. The hippo now rose to the surface, about
ten yards from the hunters, and, jumping half out of the water,
he snapped his great jaws together, endeavouring to catch the
rope, but at the same instant two harpoons were launched into his
side. Disdaining retreat, and maddened with rage, the furious
animal charged from the depths of the river, and, gaining a
footing, he reared his bulky form from the surface, came boldly
upon the sandbank, and attacked the hunters open-mouthed. He
little knew his enemy; they were not the men to fear a pair of
gaping jaws, armed with a deadly array of tusks, but half a dozen
lances were hurled at him, some entering his mouth from a
distance of five or six paces, at the same time several men threw
handfuls of sand into his enormous eyes. This baffled him more
than the lances; he crunched the shafts between his powerful jaws
like straws, but he was beaten by the sand, and, shaking his huge
head, he retreated to the river. During his sally upon the shore,
two of the hunters had secured the ropes of the harpoons that had
been fastened in his body just before his charge; he was now
fixed by three of these deadly instruments, but suddenly one rope
gave way, having been bitten through by the enraged beast, who
was still beneath the water. Immediately after this he appeared
on the surface, and, without a moment's hesitation, he once more
charged furiously from the water straight at the hunters, with
his huge mouth open to such an extent that he could have
accommodated two inside passengers. Suleiman was wild with
delight, and springing forward lance in hand, he drove it against
the head of the formidable animal, but without effect. At the
same time, Abou Do met the hippo sword in hand, reminding me of
Perseus slaying the sea-monster that would devour Andromeda, but
the sword made a harmless gash, and the lance, already blunted
against the rocks, refused to penetrate the tough hide; once more
handfuls of sand were pelted upon his face, and, again repulsed
by this blinding attack, he was forced to retire to his deep hole
and wash it from his eyes. Six times during the fight the valiant
bull hippo quitted his watery fortress, and charged resolutely at
his pursuers; he had broken several of their lances in his jaws,
other lances had been hurled, and, falling upon the rocks, they
were blunted, and would not penetrate. The fight had continued
for three hours, and the sun was about to set, accordingly the
hunters begged me to give him the coup de grace, as they had
hauled him close to the shore, and they feared he would sever the
rope with his teeth. I waited for a good opportunity, when he
boldly raised his head from water about three yards from the
rifle, and a bullet from the little Fletcher between the eyes
closed the last act. This spot was not far from the pyramidical
hill beneath which I had fixed our camp, to which I returned
after an amusing day's sport.

The next morning, I started to the mountains to explore the limit
that I had proposed for my expedition on the Settite. The Arabs
had informed me that a river of some importance descended from
the mountains, and joined the main stream about twelve miles from
our camp. The aggageers were seriously expecting an attack from
the Base, and they advised me not to remain much longer in this
spot. The route was highly interesting: about five miles to the
south-east of the camp we entered the hilly and mountainous
country; to the east rose the peaked head of Allatakoora, about
seven thousand feet from the base, while S.S.E. was the lofty
table-mountain, known by the Arabs as Boorkotan. We rode through
fertile valleys, all of which were free from grass, as the
various fires had spread throughout the country; at times we
entered deep gorges between the hills, which were either granite,
quartz, or basalt, the latter predominating. In about three hours
and a half we arrived at Hor Mehetape, the stream that the Arabs
had reported. Although a powerful torrent during the rains, it
was insignificant as one of the tributaries to the Settite, as
the breadth did not exceed twenty-five yards. At this season it
was nearly dry, and at no time did it appear to exceed a depth of
ten or twelve feet. As we had arrived at this point, some
distance above the junction, we continued along the margin of the
stream for about two miles until we reached the Settite. The Hor
(a ravine) Mehetape was the limit of my exploration; it was
merely a rapid mountain torrent, the individual effect of which
would be trifling; but we were now among the mountains whose
drainage caused the sudden rise of the Atbara river and the Nile.
Far as the eye could reach to the south and east, the range
extended in a confused mass of peaks of great altitude, from the
sharp granite head of one thousand, to flat-topped basalt hills
of five or six thousand feet, and other conical points far
exceeding, and perhaps double, that altitude.

The Settite was very beautiful in this spot, as it emerged from
the gorge between the mountains, and it lay in a rough stony
valley about two hundred feet below our path as we ascended from
the junction of the Hor to better riding ground. In many places,
our route lay over broken stones, which sloped at an inclination
of about thirty degrees throughout the entire distance of the
river below; these were formed of decomposed basalt rocks that
had apparently been washed from decaying hills by the torrents of
the rainy season. At other parts of the route, we crossed above
similar debris of basalt that lay at an angle of about sixty
degrees, from a height of perhaps two hundred feet to the water's
edge, and reminded me of the rubbish shot from the side of a
mountain when boring a tunnel. The whole of the basalt in this
portion of the country was a dark slate colour; in some places it
was almost black; upon breaking a great number of pieces I found
small crystals of olivine. Much of the granite was a deep red,
but the exterior coating was in all cases decomposed, and
crumbled at a blow; exhibiting a marked contrast to the
hard-faced granite blocks in the rainless climate of Lower Egypt.
We saw but little game during the march--a few nellut and tetel,
and the smaller antelopes, but no larger animals.

We returned to camp late in the evening, and I found the howartis
had secured the crocodile of yesterday, but the whole party was
anxious to return to the camp at Delladilla, as unpleasant
reports were brought into camp by our spies, who had seen parties
of the Base in several directions.



ABOU DO and Suleiman had lately given me some trouble, especially
the former, whose covetous nature had induced him to take much
more than his share of the hides of buffaloes and other animals
that I had shot; all of which I had given to my head camel-man
and tracker, Taher Noor, to divide among his people and the
Tokrooris. This conduct was more improper, since the aggageers
had become perfectly useless as elephant-hunters; they had ridden
so recklessly upon unnecessary occasions, that all their horses
were lamed, and, with the exception of Abou Do's, they were
incapable of hunting. My three, having been well cared for, were
in excellent condition. Abou Do coolly proposed that I should
lend him my horses, which I of course refused, as I had a long
journey before me; this led to disagreement, and I ordered him
and his people to leave my camp, and return to Geera. During the
time they had been with me, I had shot great numbers of animals,
including large antelopes, buffaloes, elephants, &c.; and about
twenty camel-loads of dried flesh, hides, fat, &c. had been
transported to Geera as the Arabs' share of the spoils. They had
also the largest share of ivory, and altogether they had never
made so successful a hunting expedition. It was time to part;
their horses being used up, they began to be discontented,
therefore I had concluded that it would be advisable to separate,
to avoid a graver misunderstanding.

I warned them not to disturb my hunting-grounds by attempting to
hunt during their journey, but they were to. ride straight home,
which they could accomplish in four days, without baggage camels.
This they promised to do, and we parted.

I was now without aggageers, as Taher Sheriff's party had
disagreed with Abou Do some time before, and they were hunting on
their own account on the banks of the river Royan, which I
intended to visit after I should have thoroughly explored the
Settite. I made up my mind to have one more day in the
neighbourhood of my present camp, and then to return to our old
quarters at Delladilla, previous to our journey to the Royan

Within three hundred yards of the camp was a regular game path,
by which the animals arrived at the river to drink every morning
from seven to nine. I had shot several tetel and ariel by simply
waiting behind a rock at this place, and, as this was my last
day, I once more concealed myself, and was shortly rewarded by
the arrival of several herds, including nellut (A. Strepsiceros),
tetel (A. Bubalis), ariel (G. Dama), the black-striped gazelle
(G. Dorcas), the small oterop (Calotragus Montanus); and, among
these, two ostriches. I had seen very few ostriches in this
country. I now had a good chance, as the herd of animals returned
from drinking by charging at full speed up the steep bank from
the water, and they passed about ninety yards from my
hiding-place, headed by the ostriches. Having the little
Fletcher, I was suddenly tempted to fire a right and left, so as
to bag an ostrich with one barrel, and a tetel with the other.
Both fell for an instant; the tetel dead, shot through the neck;
but my ostrich, that was a fine cock bird, immediately recovered,
and went off with his wife as hard as their long legs could carry
them. I was exceedingly disgusted; I had evidently fired too far
behind, not having allowed sufficiently for the rapidity of their
speed. However, to make amends, I snatched a spare single-rifle
from Hassan, and knocked over another tetel that was the last of
the herd. For about an hour I attempted to follow up the tracks
of the ostrich, but among the rocky hills this was impossible. I
therefore mounted Aggahr, and with my tracker, Taher Noor, and
the Tokrooris as gun-bearers, I crossed the river and rode
straight into the interior of the country. This was now
thoroughly clear, as the fire had consumed the grass, and had
left the surface perfectly black. Upon the ashes, the track of
every animal could be seen distinctly.

I had ridden about four miles, followed, as usual, by two camels,
with water, ropes, &c. when we observed in a perfectly open
place, about three hundred yards from us, a rhinoceros standing
alone. Fortunately, there was little or no wind, or, as we were
to windward of him, he would instantly have perceived us. The
moment that I saw him, I backed my horse and motioned to my
people to retreat out of sight, which they did immediately.
Dismounting, I gave them the horse, and, accompanied only by
Taher Noor, who carried one of my spare rifles, I took a Reilly
No. 10, and we made a circuit so as to obtain the wind, and to
arrive upon the lee side of the rhinoceros. This was quickly
accomplished, but upon arrival at the spot, he was gone. The
black ashes of the recent fire showed his, foot-marks as clearly
as though printed in ink, and as these were very close together,
I knew that he had walked slowly off, and that he had not been
disturbed, otherwise he would have started quickly. He had gone
down wind; it would, therefore, be impossible to follow upon his
tracks. Our only resource was to make another circuit, when,
should his tracks not have crossed the arc, we should be sure
that he was to windward. Accordingly, we described half a circle
of about five hundred yards. No tracks had crossed our path; the
ground was stony and full of hollows, in which grew a few
scattered mimosas, while the surface of the earth was covered in
many places with dark brown masses of basalt rock. We carefully
stepped over this uneven ground, lest some falling stone might
give the alarm, and we momentarily expected to be in view of the
enemy as we arrived at the edge of each successive hollow. Sure
enough, as I glanced down a sudden inclination covered with
scorched mimosas, I perceived him standing on the slope beneath
a tree within five-and-thirty paces; this was close enough, and
I took a steady shot behind the shoulder. The instant that I
fired, he whisked sharply round, and looked upon all sides for
the cause of his wound. I had taken the precaution to kneel down
immediately after firing, and I now crouched close to a rock
about two feet high, with which my brown blouse matched exactly,
as well as my skin-covered hunting-cap. For a few moments he
sought upon all sides for an enemy, during which I remained like
a block of stone, but with my finger on the trigger ready for the
left-hand barrel should he charge. Taher Noor was lying on the
ground behind a stone about five yards from me, and the
rhinoceros, having failed to discover us, walked slowly past me
within less than ten yards, and gained the summit of the
inclination, where the ground was level. As he passed, I reloaded
quickly, and followed behind him. I saw that he was grievously
wounded, as he walked slowly, and upon arrival at a
thickly-spreading mimosa he lay down. We now advanced towards the
tree, and I sent Taher Noor round to the other side in order to
divert his attention should he be able to rise. This he quickly
proved by springing up as I advanced; accordingly, I halted until
Taher Noor had taken his stand about eighty paces beyond the
tree. The rhinoceros now turned and faced him; this gave me the
opportunity that I had expected, and I ran quickly to within
thirty yards, just in time to obtain a good shoulder shot, as
hearing my footsteps he turned towards me. Whiff! whiff! and he
charged vigorously upon the shot; but just as I prepared to fire
the remaining barrel, he ran round and round in a narrow circle,
uttering a short, shrill cry, and fell heavily upon his side. I
threw a stone at him, but he was already dead. Taher Noor
returned for the people, who shortly arrived with the camels. I
found that the last bullet of quicksilver and lead from my Reilly
No. 10 had passed completely through the body, just behind the
shoulder. The first shot was also a mortal wound, having broken
one rib upon either side, and passed through the posterior
portion of the lungs; the bullet was sticking under the skin on
the opposite flank. The hide of the rhinoceros is exceedingly
easy to detach from the body, as the quality is so hard and stiff
that it separates from the flesh like the peel of a ripe orange.

In a couple of hours, the hide had been detached in sections for
shields, and sufficient flesh was loaded upon the camel, together
with the vicious-looking head, which was secured by ropes upon
the saddle. We were en route for the camp, when we suddenly came
upon fresh elephant tracks, upon following which, we discovered,
after about an hour's march, the spoor of horses on the same
path. At once the truth flashed upon me that, although Abou Do
had promised to return direct home, he was somewhere in the
neighbourhood, and he and his two companions were disturbing the
country by hunting. I at once gave up the idea of following the
elephants, as, in all probability, these aggageers had pursued
them some hours ago. In a very bad humour I turned my horse's
head and took the direction for the Settite river. As we
descended from the hilly ground, after the ride of about four
miles, we arrived upon an extensive plain, upon which I noticed
a number of antelopes galloping as though disturbed; a few
moments later I observed three horsemen, a camel, and several men
on foot, steering in the same direction as ourselves for the
river, but arriving from the high ground upon which we had seen
the elephants. These were soon distinguished, and I rode towards
them with my people; they were the aggageers, with some of the
hippopotami hunters.

Upon our arrival among them, they looked exceedingly sheepish, as
they were caught in the act. Suspended most carefully upon one
side of the camel, in a network of ropes, was a fine young
rhinoceros which they had caught, having hunted the mother until
she forsook the calf. Johann Schmidt had offered forty dollars
for any young animal of this species, for the Italian menageries,
therefore to the aggageers this was a prize of great value. I had
hardly directed my attention to the calf, when I noticed a rope
that was forcibly placed under the throat to support the heavy
head, the weight of which bearing upon the cord was evidently
producing strangulation. The tongue of the animal was protruding,
and the tail stiffened and curled convulsively above the back,
while a twitching of the hind legs, that presently stretched to
their full extent, persuaded me that the rhinoceros was in his
last gasp. As I looked intently at the animal, while my Tokrooris
abused Abou Do for having deceived us, I told the aggageers that
they had not gained much by their hunt, as the rhinoceros was
dead. For a moment Abou Do smiled grimly, and, quite unconscious
of the real fact, Suleiman replied, "It is worth forty dollars to
us." "Forty dollars for a dead rhinoceros calf!" I exclaimed;
"who is fool enough to give it?"

Abou Do glanced at the rhinoceros; his expression changed; he
jumped from his horse, and, assisted by the other aggageers, he
made the camel kneel as quickly as possible, and they hastened to
unstrap the unfortunate little beast, which, upon being released
and laid upon its side, convulsively stretched out its limbs, and
lay a strangled rhinoceros. The aggageers gazed with dismay at
their departed prize, and, with superstitious fear, they
remounted their horses without uttering a word, and rode away;
they attributed the sudden death of the animal to the effect of
my "evil eye." We turned towards our camp. My Tokrooris were
delighted, and I heard them talking and laughing together upon
the subject, and remarking upon the extremely "bad eye" of their

On the rising of the sun next day we had struck our camp, and
were upon the march to Delladilla. On the way I shot a splendid
buck mehedehet (R. Ellipsyprimna), and we arrived at our old
quarters, finding no change except that elephants had visited
them in our absence, and our cleanly swept circus was covered
with the dung of a large herd. As this spot generally abounded
with game, I took a single-barrelled small rifle, while the men
were engaged in pitching the tent and arranging the camp, and
with Taher Noor as my only companion, I strolled through the
forest, expecting to obtain a shot at a nellut within a quarter
of a mile. I had walked about that distance, and had just entered
upon a small green glade, when I perceived, lying at full length
upon the sand, a large lion, who almost immediately sprang up,
and at the same moment received a bullet from my rifle as he
bounded beneath a bush and crouched among some withered grass. I
was unloaded, when, to my astonishment, Taher Noor immediately
drew his sword, and, with his shield in his left hand, he
advanced boldly towards the wounded lion. I reloaded as quickly
as possible, just as this reckless Hamran had arrived within
springing distance of the lion, who positively slunk away and
declined the fight; retreating into the thick thorns, it
disappeared before I could obtain a shot. Taher Noor explained,
that his object in advancing towards the lion was to attract its
attention; he had expected that it would have remained in a
crouching position until I should have reloaded; but he ran the
extreme risk of a charge, in which case he would have fared badly
with simple sword and shield. Being close to the tent, I
returned, and, in addition to my single-barrelled rifle, I took
my two Reillys No. 10, with Hassan and Hadji Ali. In company with
Taher Noor we searched throughout the bushes for the wounded
lion, but without success. I now determined to make a cast,
hoping that we might succeed in starting some other animal that
would give us a better chance. The ground was sandy but firm,
therefore we made no sound in walking, and, as the forest was
bounded upon two sides by the river, and separated from the main
land by a ravine, the fire that had cleared the country of grass
had spared this portion, which was an asylum for all kinds of
game, as it afforded pasturage and cover. We had not continued
our stroll for five minutes beyond the spot lately occupied by
the lion, when we suddenly came upon two bull buffaloes, who were
lying beneath a thick bush on the edge of a small glade: they
sprang up as we arrived, and started off. I made a quick shot as
they galloped across the narrow space, and dropped one apparently
dead with a Reilly No. 10. My Tokrooris were just preparing to
run in and cut the throat, as good Mussulmans, when the buffalo,
that was not twenty yards distant, suddenly sprang to his feet
and faced us. In another moment, with a short grunt, he
determined upon a charge, but hardly was he in his first bound,
when I fired the remaining barrel aimed at the point of the nose,
as this was elevated to such a degree that it would have been
useless to have fired at the forehead. He fell stone dead at the
shot; we threw some clods of earth at him, but this time there
was no mistake. Upon an examination of the body, we could only
find the marks of the first bullet that had passed through the
neck; there was no other hole in the skin, neither was there a
sign upon the head or horns that he had been shot; at length I
noticed blood issuing from the nose, and we found that the bullet
had entered the nostril; I inserted a ramrod as a probe, and we
cut to the extremity and found the bullet imbedded in the spine,
which was shattered to pieces in a portion of the neck. As a
souvenir of this very curious shot, I preserved the skull. My men
now flayed the buffalo and took a portion of the meat, but I
ordered them to leave the carcase as a bait for lions, with which
this neighbourhood abounded, although it was exceedingly
difficult to see them, as they were concealed in the dense covert
of nabbuk bush. I left the buffalo, and strolled through the
jungle towards the river. As I was leisurely walking through
alternate narrow glades and thick jungle, I heard a noise that
sounded like the deep snort of the hippopotamus. I approached the
steep bank of the river, and crept carefully to the edge,
expecting to see the hippo as I peered over the brink. Instead of
the hippopotamus, a fine lion and lioness were lying on the sand
about sixty yards to my left, at the foot of the bank. At the
same instant they obtained our wind, and sprang up the high bank
into the thick jungle, without giving me a better chance than a
quick shot through a bush as they were disappearing.

I now returned home, determined to circumvent the lions if
possible in this very difficult country. That night we were
serenaded by the roaring of these animals in all directions, one
of them having visited our camp, around which we discovered his
footprints on the following morning. I accordingly took Taher
Noor, with Hadji Ali and Hassan, two of my trusty Tokrooris, and
went straight to the spot where I had left the carcase of the
buffalo. As I had expected, nothing remained--not even a bone:
the ground was much trampled, and tracks of lions were upon the
sand; but the body of the buffalo had been dragged into the
thorny jungle. I was determined, if possible, to get a shot,
therefore I followed carefully the track left by the carcase,
which had formed a path in the withered grass. Unfortunately the
lions had dragged the buffalo down wind; therefore, after I had
arrived within the thick nabbuk and high grass, I came to the
conclusion that my only chance would be to make a long circuit,
and to creep up wind through the thorns, until I should be
advised by my nose of the position of the carcase, which would by
this time lie in a state of putrefaction, and the lions would
most probably be with the body. Accordingly, I struck off to my
left, and continuing straight forward for some hundred yards, I
again struck into the thick jungle, and came round to the wind.
Success depended on extreme caution, therefore I advised my three
men to keep close behind me with the spare rifles, as I carried
my single-barrelled Beattie. This rifle was extremely accurate,
therefore I had chosen it for this close work, when I expected to
get a shot at the eye or forehead of a lion crouching in the
bush. Softly and with difficulty I crept forward, followed
closely by my men; through the high withered grass, beneath the
dense green nabbuk bushes; peering through the thick covert, with
the nerves turned up to full pitch, and the finger on the trigger
ready for any emergency. We had thus advanced for about half an
hour, during which I frequently applied my nose to within a foot
of the ground to catch the scent, when a sudden puff of wind
brought the unmistakeable smell of decomposing flesh. For the
moment I halted, and, looking round to my men, I made a sign that
we were near to the carcase, and that they were to be ready with
the rifles. Again I crept gently forward, bending, and sometimes
crawling, beneath the thorns to avoid the slightest noise. As I
approached, the scent became stronger, until I at length felt
that I must be close to the cause. This was highly exciting.
Fully prepared for a quick shot, I stealthily crept on. A
tremendous roar in the dense thorns within a few feet of me
suddenly brought my rifle to the shoulder: almost in the same
instant I observed the three-quarter figure of either a lion or
a lioness within three yards of me, on the other side of the
bush, under which I had been creeping--the foliage concealed the
head, but I could almost have touched the shoulder with my rifle.
Much depended upon the bullet; and I fired exactly through the
shoulder. Another tremendous roar! and a crash in the bushes as
the animal made a bound forward, was succeeded immediately by a
similar roar, as another lion took the exact position of the
last, and stood wondering at the report of the rifle, and seeking
for the cause of the intrusion. This was a grand lion with a
shaggy mane; but I was unloaded, keeping my eyes fixed on the
beast, while I stretched my hand back for a spare rifle; the lion
remained standing, but gazing up wind with his head raised,
snuffing in the air for a scent of the enemy. No rifle was put in
my hand. I looked back for an instant, and saw my Tokrooris
faltering about five yards behind me. I looked daggers at them,
gnashing my teeth and shaking my fist. They saw the lion, and
Taher Noor snatching a rifle from Hadji Ali, was just about to
bring it, when Hassan, ashamed, ran forward--the lion disappeared
at the same moment! Never was such a fine chance lost through the
indecision of the gun-bearers! I made a vow never to carry a
single-barrelled rifle again when hunting large game. If I had
had my dear little Fletcher 24, I should have nailed the lion to
a certainty.

However, there was not much time for reflection--where was the
first lion? Some remains of the buffalo lay upon my right, and I
expected to find the lion most probably crouching in the thorns
somewhere near us. Having reloaded, I took one of my Reilly No.
10 rifles and listened attentively for a sound. Presently I heard
within a few yards a low growl. Taher Noor drew his sword, and,
with his shield before him, he searched for the lion, while I
crept forward towards the sound, which was again repeated. A low
roar, accompanied by a rush in the jungle, showed us a glimpse of
the lion, as he bounded off within ten or twelve yards: but I had
no chance to fire. Again the low growl was repeated, and upon
quietly creeping towards the spot, I saw a splendid animal
crouched upon the ground among the withered and broken grass. The
lioness lay dying with the bullet wound in the shoulder.
Occasionally, in her rage, she bit her own paw violently, and
then struck and clawed the ground. A pool of blood lay by her
side. She was about ten yards from us, and I instructed my men to
throw a clod of earth at her (there were no stones), to prove
whether she could rise, while I stood ready with the rifle. She
merely replied with a dull roar, and I terminated her misery by
a ball through the head. She was a beautiful animal; the patch of
the bullet was sticking in the wound; she was shot through both
shoulders, and as we were not far from the tent, I determined to
have her brought to camp upon a camel as an offering to my wife.
Accordingly I left my Tokrooris, while I went with Taher Noor to
fetch a camel.

On our road through the thick jungle, I was startled by a rush
close to me: for the moment I thought it was a lion, but almost
at the same instant I saw a fine nellut dashing away before me,
and I killed it immediately with a bullet through the back of the
neck. This was great luck, and we now required two camels, as in
two shots I had killed a lioness and a nellut (A. Strepsiceros).

We remained for some time at our delightful camp at Delladilla.
Every day, from sunrise to sunset, I was either on foot or in the
saddle, without rest, except upon Sundays, which I generally
passed at home, with the relaxation of fishing in the beautiful
river Settite. There was an immense quantity of large game, and
I had made a mixed bag of elephants, hippopotami, buffaloes,
rhinoceros, giraffes, and great numbers of the large antelopes.
Lions, although numerous, were exceedingly difficult to bag;
there was no chance but the extreme risk of creeping through the
thickest jungle. Upon two or three occasions I had shot them by
crawling into their very dens, where they had dragged their prey;
and I must acknowledge that they were much more frightened of me
than I was of them. I had generally obtained a most difficult and
unsatisfactory shot at close quarters; sometimes I rolled them
over with a mortal wound, and they disappeared to die in
impenetrable jungle; but at all times fortune was on my side. On
moonlight nights I generally lay in wait for these animals with
great patience; sometimes I shot hippopotami, and used a
hind-quarter as a bait for lions, while I watched in ambush at
about twenty yards distance; but the hyaenas generally appeared
like evil spirits, and dragged away the bait before the lions had
a chance. I never fired at these scavengers, as they are most
useful creatures, and are contemptible as game. My Arabs had made
their fortune, as I had given them all the meat of the various
animals, which they dried and transported to Geera, together with
fat, hides, &c. It would be wearying to enumerate the happy
hunting-days passed throughout this country. We were never ill
for a moment; although the thermometer was seldom below 88
degrees during the day, the country was healthy, as it was
intensely dry, and therefore free from malaria: at night the
thermometer averaged 70 degrees, which was a delightful
temperature for those who exist in the open air.

As our camp was full of meat, either dried or in the process of
drying in festoons upon the trees, we had been a great attraction
to the beasts of prey, who constantly prowled around our thorn
fence during the night. One night in particular a lion attempted
to enter, but had been repulsed by the Tokrooris, who pelted him
with firebrands; my people woke me up and begged me to shoot him,
but, as it was perfectly impossible to fire correctly through the
hedge of thorns, I refused to be disturbed, but I promised to
hunt for him on the following day. Throughout the entire night
the lion prowled around the camp, growling and uttering his
peculiar guttural sigh. Not one of my people slept, as they
declared he would bound into the camp and take somebody, unless
they kept up the watch-fires and drove him away with brands. The
next day, before sunrise, I called Hassan and Hadji Ali, whom I
lectured severely upon their cowardice on a former occasion, and
I received their promise to follow me to death. I entrusted them
with my two Reillys No. 10; and with my little Fletcher in hand,
I determined to spend the whole day in searching every thicket of
the forest for lions, as I felt convinced that the animal that
had disturbed us during the night was concealed somewhere within
the neighbouring jungle.

The whole day passed fruitlessly; I had crept through the
thickest thorns in vain; having abundance of meat, I had refused
the most tempting shots at buffaloes and large antelopes, as I
had devoted myself exclusively to lions. I was much disappointed,
as the evening had arrived without a shot having been fired, and
as the sun had nearly set, I wandered slowly towards home.
Passing through alternate open glades of a few yards width,
hemmed in on all sides by thick jungle, I was carelessly carrying
my rifle upon my shoulder, as I pushed my way through the
opposing thorns, when a sudden roar, just before me, at once
brought the rifle upon full cock, and I saw a magnificent lion
standing in the middle of the glade, about ten yards from me: he
had been lying on the ground, and had started to his feet upon
hearing me approach through the jungle. For an instant he stood
in an attitude of attention, as we were hardly visible; but at
the same moment I took a quick but sure shot with the little
Fletcher. He gave a convulsive bound, but rolled over backwards:
before he could recover himself, I fired the left-hand barrel. It
was a glorious sight. I had advanced a few steps into the glade,
and Hassan had quickly handed me a spare rifle, while Taher Noor
stood by me sword in hand. The lion in the greatest fury, with
his shaggy mane bristled in the air, roared with death-like
growls, as open-mouthed he endeavoured to charge upon us; but he
dragged his hind-quarters upon the ground, and I saw immediately
that the little Fletcher had broken his spine. In his tremendous
exertions to attack, he rolled over and over, gnashing his
horrible jaws, and tearing holes in the sandy ground at each blow
of his tremendous paws, that would have crushed a man's skull
like an egg-shell. Seeing that he was hors de combat, I took it
coolly, as it was already dusk, and the lion having rolled into
a dark and thick bush, I thought it would be advisable to defer
the final attack, as he would be dead before morning. We were not
ten minutes' walk from the camp, at which we quickly arrived, and
my men greatly rejoiced at the discomfiture of their enemy, as
they were convinced that he was the same lion that had attempted
to enter the zareeba.

On the following morning, before sunrise, I started with nearly
all my people and a powerful camel, with the intention of
bringing the lion home entire. I rode my horse Tetel, who had
frequently shown great courage, and I wished to prove whether he
would advance to the body of a lion.

Upon arrival near the spot which we supposed to have been the
scene of the encounter, we were rather puzzled, as there was
nothing to distinguish the locality; one place exactly resembled
another, as the country was flat and sandy, interspersed with
thick jungle of green nabbuk; we accordingly spread out to beat
for the lion. Presently Hadji Ali cried out: "There he lies
dead!" and I immediately rode to the spot, together with the
people. A tremendous roar greeted us, as the lion started to his
fore-feet, and with his beautiful mane erect, and his great hazel
eyes flashing fire, he gave a succession of deep short roars, and
challenged us to fight. This was a grand picture; he looked like
a true lord of the forest, but I pitied the poor brute, as he was
helpless, and, although his spirit was game to the last, his
strength was paralysed by a broken back.

It was a glorious opportunity for the horse. At the first
unexpected roar, the camel had bolted with its rider; the horse
had for a moment started on one side, and the men had scattered;
but in an instant I had reined Tetel up, and I now rode straight
towards the lion, who courted the encounter about twenty paces
distant. I halted exactly opposite the noble-looking beast, who,
seeing me in advance of the party, increased his rage, and
growled deeply, fixing his glance upon the horse. I now patted
Tetel on the neck, and spoke to him coaxingly; he gazed intently
at the lion, erected his mane, and snorted, but showed no signs
of retreat. "Bravo! old boy!" I said, and, encouraging him by
caressing his neck with my hand, I touched his flank gently with
my heel; I let him just feel my hand upon the rein, and with a
"Come along, old lad," Tetel slowly but resolutely advanced step
by step towards the infuriated lion, that greeted him with
continued growls. The horse several times snorted loudly, and
stared fixedly at the terrible face before him; but as I
constantly patted and coaxed him, he did not refuse to advance.
I checked him when within about six yards from the lion. This
would have made a magnificent picture, as the horse, with
astounding courage, faced the lion at bay; both animals kept
their eyes fixed upon each other, the one beaming with rage, the
other with cool determination. This was enough--I dropped the
reins upon his neck; it was a signal that Tetel perfectly
understood, and he stood firm as a rock; for he knew that I was
about to fire. I took aim at the head of the glorious but
distressed lion, and a bullet from the little Fletcher dropped
him dead. Tetel never flinched at a shot. I now dismounted, and
having patted and coaxed the horse, I led him up to the body of
the lion, which I also patted, and then gave my hand to the horse
to smell. He snorted once or twice, and as I released my hold of
the reins, and left him entirely free, he slowly lowered his
head, and sniffed the mane of the dead lion: he then turned a few
paces upon one side, and commenced eating the withered grass
beneath the nabbuk bushes. My Arabs were perfectly delighted with
this extraordinary instance of courage exhibited by the horse. I
had known that the beast was disabled, but Tetel had advanced
boldly towards the angry jaws of a lion that appeared about to
spring. The camel was now brought to the spot and blindfolded,
while we endeavoured to secure the lion upon its back. As the
camel knelt, it required the united exertions of eight men,
including myself, to raise the ponderous animal, and to secure it
across the saddle.

Although so active and cat-like in its movements, a full-grown
lion weighs about five hundred and fifty pounds. Having secured
it, we shortly arrived in camp; the coup d'oeil was beautiful, as
the camel entered the inclosure with the shaggy head and massive
paws of the dead lion hanging upon one flank, while the tail
nearly descended to the ground upon the opposite side. It was
laid at full length before my wife, to whom the claws were
dedicated as a trophy to be worn around the neck as a talisman.
Not only are the claws prized by the Arabs, but the moustache of
the lion is carefully preserved and sewn in a leather envelope,
to be worn as an amulet; such a charm is supposed to protect the
wearer from the attacks of wild animals.

In all probability, this was the lion that was in the habit of
visiting our camp, as from that date, although the roars of such
animals were our nightly music, we were never afterwards visited
so closely.

As game was plentiful, the lions were exceedingly fat, and we
preserved a large quantity of this for our lamps. When it was
boiled down it was well adapted for burning, as it remained
nearly liquid.

We had a large supply of various kinds of fat, including that of
elephants, hippopotami, lions, and rhinoceros; but our stock of
soap was exhausted, therefore I determined to convert a quantity
of our grease into that very necessary article.

Soap-boiling is not so easy as may be imagined; it requires not
only much attention, but the quality is dependent upon the proper
mixture of the alkalis. Sixty parts of potash and forty of lime
are, I believe, the proportions for common soap. I had neither
lime nor potash, but I shortly procured both. The hegleek tree
(Balanites Egyptiaca) was extremely rich in potash; therefore I
burned a large quantity, and made a strong ley with the ashes;
this I concentrated by boiling. There was no limestone; but the
river produced a plentiful supply of large oyster-shells, that,
if burned, would yield excellent lime. Accordingly I constructed
a kiln, with the assistance of the white ants. The country was
infested with these creatures, which had erected their dwellings
in all directions; these were cones from six to ten feet high,
formed of clay so thoroughly cemented by a glutinous preparation
of the insects, that it was harder than sun-baked brick. I
selected an egg-shaped hill, and cut off the top, exactly as we
take off the slice from an egg. My Tokrooris then worked hard,
and with a hoe and their lances, they hollowed it out to the
base, in spite of the attacks of the ants, which punished the
legs of the intruders considerably. I now made a draught-hole
from the outside base, at right angles with the bottom of the
hollow cone. My kiln was perfect. I loaded it with wood, upon
which I piled about six bushels of oyster-shells, which I then
covered with fuel, and kept it burning for twenty-four hours.
This produced excellent lime, and I commenced my soap-boiling. We
possessed an immense copper pot of Egyptian manufacture, in
addition to a large and deep copper basin called a "teshti."
These would contain about ten gallons. The ley having been boiled
down to great strength, I added a quantity of lime, and the
necessary fat. It required ten hours' boiling, combined with
careful management of the fire, as it would frequently ascend
like foam, and overflow the edge of the utensils. However, at
length, having been constantly stirred, it turned to soap. Before
it became cold, I formed it into cakes and balls with my hands,
and the result of the manufacture was a weight of about forty
pounds of most excellent soap, of a very sporting description,
"Savon a la bete feroce." We thus washed with rhinoceros soap;
our lamp was trimmed with oil of lions; our butter for cooking
purposes was the fat of hippopotami, while our pomade was made
from the marrow of buffaloes and antelopes, scented with the
blossoms of mimosas. We were entirely independent, as our whole
party had subsisted upon the produce of the rod and the rifle.

We were now destined to be deprived of two members of the party.
Mahomet had become simply unbearable, and he was so impertinent
that I was obliged to take a thin cane from one of the Arabs and
administer a little physical advice. An evil spirit possessed the
man, and he bolted off with some of the camel men who were
returning to Geera with dried meat.*

* Some months afterwards he found his way to Khartoum,
where he was imprisoned by the Governor for having
deserted. He subsequently engaged himself as a soldier
in a slave-hunting expedition on the White Nile; and
some years later, on our return from the Albert N'yanza,
we met him in Shooa, on 3 degrees north latitude. He
had repented--hardships and discipline had effected a
change--and, like the prodigal son, he returned. I
forgave him, and took him with us to Khartoum, where
we left him a sadder but a wiser man. He had many near
relations during his long journey, all of whom had
stolen some souvenir of their cousin, and left him
almost naked. He also met Achmet, his "mothers brother's
cousin's sister's mother's son," who turned up after
some years at Gondokoro as a slave-hunter; he had
joined an expedition, and, like all other blackguards,
he had chosen the White Nile regions for his career.
He was the proprietor of twenty slaves, he had assisted
in the murder of a number of unfortunate negroes, and
he was a prosperous and respectable individual.

Our great loss was Barrake. She had persisted in eating the fruit
of the hegleek, although she had suffered from dysentery upon
several occasions. She was at length attacked with congestion of
the liver. My wife took the greatest care of her, and for weeks
she had given her the entire produce of the goats, hoping that
milk would keep up her strength; but she died after great
suffering, and we buried the poor creature, and moved our camp.



HAVING explored the Settite into the gorge of the mountain chain
of Abyssinia, we now turned due south from our camp of
Delladilla, and at a distance of twelve miles we reached the
river Royan. The intervening country was the high and flat
table-land of rich soil, that characterises the course of the
Settite and Atbara rivers; this land was covered with hegleek
trees of considerable size, and the descent to the Royan was
through a valley, torn and washed by the rains, similar in
appearance to that of the Settite, but upon a small scale, as the
entire width did not exceed a mile.

Descending the rugged ground, we arrived at the margin of the
river. At this season (February) the bed was perfectly dry sand,
about ninety yards from bank to bank, and the high-water mark
upon the perpendicular sides was a little above nine feet deep.
The inclination was extremely rapid: thus the Royan during the
rainy season must be a most frightful torrent, that supplies a
large body of water to the Settite, but which runs dry almost
immediately upon the cessation of the rains.

We descended the bank in a spot that had been broken down by
elephants, and continued our course up stream along the sandy
bed, which formed an excellent road. The surface was imprinted
with the footsteps of every variety of game, and numerous holes
about two feet deep had been dug in the sand by the antelopes and
baboons to procure water. Great numbers of the oterop, a small
reddish-brown antelope without horns (Calotragus Montanus) were
drinking at these little watering-places, and did not appear to
heed us. We disturbed many nellut and tetel upon the banks, and
after having marched about four miles along the river's bed, we
halted at a beautiful open forest of large trees at the junction
of Hor Mai Gubba. This was a considerable torrent, which is
tributary to the Royan; at this spot it had cut through a white
sandstone cliff, about eighty feet perpendicular: thus upon
either side it was walled in. The word Gubba is Abyssinian for
the nabbuk, therefore the torrent was the Nabbuk River: this
flowed past the village of Mai Gubba, which is the head-quarters
of Mek Nimmur, from which we were not twenty-five miles distant.
We camped in a forest of the largest trees that we had as yet
seen in Africa, and as we had observed the fresh tracks of
horses, on the sand, some of my Arabs went in search of the
aggageers of Taher Sheriff's party, whom they had expected to
meet at this point. While they were gone, I took a few men to
beat the low jungle within the forest for francolin partridge,
numbers of which I had seen running through the covert. I went up
the dry bed of the river at the junction of the Hor Gubba, while
they drove towards me, and I was compelled to fire as fast as I
could load, as these beautiful birds flew across the ravine. I
shot five brace almost immediately. There is no better game bird
than the francolin: the flesh is white, and of a most delicate
and rich flavour. My shots had attracted the aggageers, and
shortly after my return to camp they arrived with my Arabs, as
they had been stationed on the opposite side of the Royan in a
forest within a quarter of a mile of us. Taher Sheriff was
delighted to see us free from the company of Abou Do. His party
had killed several elephants, and had captured two young ones;
also, two young rhinoceroses, three giraffes, and several young
antelopes; these were to be sold to Johann Schmidt, who
contracted to supply the Italian agent at Cassala. I agreed to
have a long day's hunt with Taher Sheriff; we were to start
before sunrise, as he wished to ride to a spot about twenty-five
miles distant, up the course of the Royan, that was a favourite
resort for elephants.

That evening we had a delicious dinner of francolin partridges.
This species is rather larger than the French partridge: it is
dark brown, mottled with black feathers, with a red mark around
the eye, and double spurs.

There was a small but deep pool of water in the bed of the river,
beneath the high bank about two hundred paces from our camp; this
was a mere hole of about twenty feet square, and I expected that
large game might come to drink during the night. Accordingly, I
determined to watch for elephants, as their tracks were numerous
throughout the bed of the river. My wife and two gun-bearers
accompanied me, and we sat behind an immense tree that grew on
the bank, exactly about the drinking place. I watched for hours,
until I fell asleep, as did my men likewise: my wife alone was
awake, and a sudden tug at my sleeve attracted my attention. The
moon was bright, and she had heard a noise upon the branches of
the tree above us: there were no leaves, therefore I quickly
observed some large animal upon a thick bough. My Tokrooris had
awoke, and they declared it to be a baboon. I knew this to be
impossible, as the baboon is never solitary, and I was just
preparing to fire, when down jumped a large leopard within a few
feet of us, and vanished before I had time to shoot. It must have
winded our party, and quietly ascended the tree to reconnoitre.
Nothing but hyaenas came to the pool, therefore we returned to

According to my agreement, I went to the aggageers' camp at 5
A.M. with Hadji Ali and Hassan, both mounted on my two horses,
Aggahr and Gazelle, while I rode Tetel. Taher Sheriff requested
me not to shoot at anything, as the shots might alarm and scare
away elephants; therefore I merely carried my little Fletcher, in
case of meeting the Base, who hunted in this country. The
aggageers mounted their horses; each man carried an empty
water-skin slung to his saddle, to be filled at the river should
it be necessary to quit its banks. We started along the upward
course of the Royan.

For seven hours we rode, sometimes along the bed of the river
between lofty overhanging rocks, or through borders of fine
forest-trees; at other times we cut off a bend of the stream, and
rode for some miles through beautiful country diversified with
hills, and abounding in enormous baobab-trees (Adansonia
digitata). At length we entered the mountains at the foot of the
great chain. Here the views were superb. The Royan was no longer
a stream of ninety or a hundred yards in width, but it was
reduced to a simple mountain torrent about forty yards across,
blocked in many places by masses of rock, while at others it had
formed broad pools, all of which were now perfectly dry, and
exhibited a bed of glaring sand. Numerous mountain ravines joined
the main channel, and as the inclination was extremely rapid,
there could be little doubt that the violent storms of the rainy
season, descending from the great chain of mountains, would, by
concentrating in the Royan, suddenly give birth to an impetuous
torrent, that would materially affect the volume of the Settite.
The entire country bore witness to the effect of violent rains,
as the surface was torn and water-worn.

We had ridden nearly thirty miles, having seen large quantities
of game, including antelopes, buffaloes, giraffes, and
rhinoceroses, none of which we had hunted, as we were in search
of elephants. This was the country where the aggageers had
expected, without fail, to find their game.

They now turned away from the Royan, and descended a sandy valley
at the foot of the mountains, the bottom of which appeared to
have been overflowed during the wet season. Here were large
strips of forest, and numerous sandy watercourses, along the dry
bed of which we quickly discovered the deep tracks of elephants.
They had been digging fresh holes in the sand in search of water,
in which welcome basins we found a good supply; we dismounted,
and rested the horses for half an hour, while the hunters
followed up the tracks on the bed of the stream. Upon their
return, they reported the elephants as having wandered off upon
the rocky ground, that rendered further tracking impossible. We
accordingly remounted, and, upon arrival at the spot where they
had lost the tracks, we continued along the bed of the stream. We
had ridden about a mile, and were beginning to despair, when
suddenly we turned a sharp angle in the watercourse, and Taher
Sheriff, who was leading, immediately reined in his horse, and
backed him towards the party. I followed his example, and we were
at once concealed by the sharp bend of the river. He now
whispered, that a bull elephant was drinking from a hole it had
scooped in the sand, not far round the corner. Without the
slightest confusion, the hunters at once fell quietly into their
respective places, Taher Sheriff leading, while I followed
closely in the line, with my Tokrooris bringing up the rear; we
were a party of seven horses.

Upon turning the corner, we at once perceived the elephant, that
was still drinking. It was a fine bull; the enormous ears were
thrown forward, as the head was lowered in the act of drawing up
the water through the trunk; these shaded the eyes, and, with the
wind favourable, we advanced noiselessly upon the sand to within
twenty yards before we were perceived. The elephant then threw up
its head, and, with the ears flapping forward, it raised its
trunk for an instant, and then slowly, but easily, ascended the
steep bank, and retreated. The aggageers now halted for about a
minute to confer together, and then followed in their original
order up the crumbled bank. We were now on most unfavourable
ground; the fire that had cleared the country we had hitherto
traversed had been stopped by the bed of the torrent. We were
thus plunged at once into withered grass above our heads, unless
we stood in the stirrups; the ground was strewed with fragments
of rock, and altogether it was ill-adapted for riding. However,
Taher Sheriff broke into a trot, followed by the entire party, as
the elephant was not in sight. We ascended a hill, and when near
the summit, we perceived the elephant about eighty yards ahead.
It was looking behind during its retreat, by swinging its huge
head from side to side, and upon seeing us approach, it turned
suddenly round and halted. "Be ready, and take care of the
rocks!" said Taher Sheriff, as I rode forward by his side. Hardly
had he uttered these words of caution, when the bull gave a
vicious jerk with its head, and with a shrill scream it charged
down upon us with the greatest fury. Away we all went, helter
skelter, through the dry grass, which whistled in my ears, over
the hidden rocks, at full gallop, with the elephant tearing after
us for about a hundred and eighty yards at a tremendous pace.
Tetel was a sure-footed horse, and, being unshod, he never
slipped upon the stones. Thus, as we all scattered in different
directions, the elephant became confused, and relinquished the
chase; it had been very near me at one time, and in such ground
I was not sorry when it gave up the hunt. We now quickly united,
and again followed the elephant, that had once more retreated.
Advancing at a canter, we shortly came in view. Upon seeing the
horses, the bull deliberately entered a stronghold composed of
rocky and uneven ground, in the clefts of which grew thinly a few
leafless trees, the thickness of a man's leg. It then turned
boldly towards us, and stood determinedly at bay.

Now came the tug of war! Taher Sheriff came close to me and
said, "You had better shoot the elephant, as we shall have great
difficulty in this rocky ground:" this I declined, as I wished to
end the fight as it had been commenced, with the sword; and I
proposed that he should endeavour to drive the animal to more
favourable ground. "Never mind," replied Taher, "Inshallah
(please God) he shall not beat us." He now advised me to keep as
close to him as possible, and to look sharp for a charge.

The elephant stood facing us like a statue; it did not move a
muscle beyond a quick and restless action of the eyes, that were
watching all sides. Taher Sheriff and his youngest brother
Ibrahim now separated, and each took opposite sides of the
elephant, and then joined each other about twenty yards behind
it; I accompanied them, until Taher advised me to keep about the
same distance upon the left flank. My Tokrooris kept apart from
the scene, as they were not required. In front of the elephant
were two aggageers, one of whom was the renowned Roder Sheriff,
with the withered arm. All being ready for action, Roder now rode
slowly towards the head of the cunning old bull, who was quietly
awaiting an opportunity to make certain of some one who might
give him a good chance.

Roder Sheriff rode a bay mare, that, having been thoroughly
trained to these encounters, was perfect at her work. Slowly and
coolly she advanced towards her wary antagonist, until within
about eight or nine yards of the elephant's head; the creature
never moved, and the mise en scene was beautiful; not a word was
spoken, and we kept our places amidst utter stillness, which was
at length broken by a snort from the mare, who gazed intently at
the elephant, as though watching for the moment of attack.

One more pace forward, and Roder sat coolly upon his mare, with
his eyes fixed upon those of the elephant. For an instant I saw
the white of the eye nearest to me "Look out, Roder! he's
coming!" I exclaimed. With a shrill scream, the elephant dashed
upon him like an avalanche!

Round went the mare as though upon a pivot, and away, over rocks
and stones, flying like a gazelle, with the monkey-like form of
little Roder Sheriff leaning forward, and looking over his left
shoulder as the elephant rushed after him.

For a moment I thought he must be caught. Had the mare stumbled,
all were lost; but she gained in the race after a few quick
bounding strides, and Roder, still looking behind him, kept his
distance so close to the elephant, that its outstretched trunk
was within a few feet of the mare's tail.

Taher Sheriff and his brother Ibrahim swept down like falcons in
the rear. In full speed they dexterously avoided the trees, until
they arrived upon open ground, when they dashed up close to the
hind-quarters of the furious elephant, who, maddened with the
excitement, heeded nothing but Roder and his mare, that were
almost within its grasp. When close to the tail of the elephant,
Taher Sheriff's sword flashed from its sheath, as grasping his
trusty blade he leapt nimbly to the ground, while Ibrahim caught
the reins of his horse; two or three bounds on foot, with the
sword clutched in both hands, and he was close behind the
elephant; a bright glance shone like lightning, as the sun struck
upon the descending steel; this was followed by a dull crack, as
the sword cut through skin and sinews, and settled deep in the
bone, about twelve inches above the foot. At the next stride, the
elephant halted dead short in the midst of its tremendous charge.
Taher had jumped quickly on one side, and had vaulted into the
saddle with his naked sword in hand. At the same moment, Roder,
who had led the chase, turned sharp round, and again faced the
elephant as before; stooping quickly from the saddle, he picked
up from the ground a handful of dirt, which he threw into the
face of the vicious-looking animal, that once more attempted to
rush upon him. It was impossible! the foot was dislocated, and
turned up in front like an old shoe. In an instant Taher was once
more on foot, and again the sharp sword slashed the remaining
leg. The great bull elephant could not move! the first cut with
the sword had utterly disabled it; the second was its death blow;
the arteries of the leg were divided, and the blood spouted in
jets from the wounds. I wished to terminate its misery by a
bullet behind the ear, but Taher Sheriff begged me not to fire,
as the elephant would quickly bleed to death without pain, and an
unnecessary shot might attract the Base, who would steal the
flesh and ivory during our absence. We were obliged to return
immediately to our far distant camp, and the hunters resolved to
accompany their camels to the spot upon the following day. We
turned our horses' heads, and rode direct towards home, which we
did not reach until nearly midnight, having ridden upwards of
sixty miles during the day.

The hunting of Taher Sheriff and his brothers was superlatively
beautiful; with an immense amount of dash, there was a cool,
sportsman-like manner in their mode of attack, that far excelled
the impetuous and reckless onset of Abou Do; it was difficult to
decide which to admire the most, whether the coolness and courage
of him who led the elephant, or the extraordinary skill and
activity of the aggahr who dealt the fatal blow.

On the following day, the hunters started to the dead elephant
with camels and sacks, but they returned at night thoroughly
disgusted; the nimble Base had been before them, most probably
attracted to the carcase by the cloud of vultures that had
gathered in the air. Nothing remained but the bones and skull of
the elephant, the flesh and the ivory had been stolen. The tracks
of a great number of men were left upon the ground, and the
aggageers were fortunate to return without an attack from
overwhelming numbers.

After hunting and exploring for some days in this neighbourhood,
I determined to follow the bed of the Royan to its junction with
the Settite. We started at daybreak, and after a long march along
the sandy bed, hemmed in by high banks, or by precipitous cliffs
of sandstone, we arrived at the junction; this was a curious and
frightful spot during the rainy season. The entire course of the
Royan was extremely rapid, but at this extremity it entered a
rocky pass between two hills, and leapt in a succession of grand
falls into a circular basin of about four hundred yards diameter.
This peculiar basin was surrounded by high cliffs, covered with
trees; to the left was an island formed by a rock about sixty
feet high; at the foot was a deep and narrow gorge through which
the Settite river made its exit from the circle. This large river
entered the basin through a rocky gap, at right angles with the
rush of water from the great falls of the Royan, and as both
streams issued from gorges which accelerated their velocity to
the highest degree, their junction formed a tremendous whirlpool:
thus, the basin which was now dry, with the exception of the
single contracted stream of the Settite, was in the rainy season
a most frightful scene of giddy waters. The sides of this basin
were, for about fifty feet from the bottom, sheeted with white
sand that had been left there by the centrifugal force of the
revolving waters; the funnel-shaped reservoir had its greatest
depth beneath the mass of rock that formed a barrier before the
mouth of the exit. From the appearance of the high-water mark
upon the rock, it was easy to ascertain the approximate depth
when the flood was at its maximum. We pitched our camp on the
slope above the basin, and for several days I explored the bed of
the river, which was exceedingly interesting at this dry season,
when all the secrets of its depths were exposed. In many places,
the rocks that choked its bed for a depth of thirty and forty
feet in the narrow passes, had been worked into caverns by the
constant attrition of the rolling pebbles. In one portion of the
river, the bottom was almost smooth, as though it had been paved
with flagstones; this was formed by a calcareous sediment from
the water, which had hardened into stone; in some places this
natural pavement had been broken up into large slabs by the force
of the current, where it had been undermined. This cement
appeared to be the same that had formed the banks of
conglomerate, which in some places walled in the river for a
depth of ten or fifteen feet, with a concrete of rounded pebbles
of all sizes from a nutmeg to a thirty-two pound shot.

I fired the grass on the west bank of the Royan, and the blaze
extended with such rapidity, that in a few hours many miles of
country were entirely cleared. On the following morning, the
country looked as though covered with a pall of black velvet.

To my astonishment there were the fresh tracks of a rhinoceros
within a quarter of a mile of the camp: this animal must have
concealed itself in the bed of the Royan during the fire, and had
wandered forth when it had passed. I followed up the tracks with
Bacheet and two of my Tookrooris. In less than half a mile from
the spot, I found it lying down behind a bush, and creeping under
cover of an ant-hill, I shot it through the shoulder with a
Reilly No. 10; it immediately galloped off, but after a run of a
couple of hundred yards it lay down on the edge of thick thorny
jungle that bordered the margin of the Royan. I waited, in the
expectation that it would shortly die, but it suddenly rose, and
walked slowly into the thorns. Determined to cut off its retreat,
I pushed through the bushes, intending to reach the dry bed of
the Royan and shoot the rhinoceros as it crossed from the narrow
belt of the jungle, into which it had retreated; but I had hardly
reached half way, when I heard a sound in the bush upon my right,
and I saw the wounded beast coming straight for our position, but
evidently unconscious of our presence, as we were to leeward. I
immediately crouched down, as did my men likewise, lest the
animal should observe us. Slowly, but surely, it came on exactly
towards us, until it was at last so near as to be unpleasant: I
looked behind me, and I saw by the expression of my men that they
were thinking of retreat. I merely shook my fist, and frowned at
them to give them confidence, and I waited patiently for my
opportunity. It was becoming too ridiculous; the rhinoceros was
within five or six yards, and was slowly but steadily advancing
direct upon us. At the next step that he made, I raised my rifle
gently to my shoulder, and whistled sharply: in an instant it
tossed its head up, and seeing nothing in front, as my clothes
matched with the leafless bushes, it turned its head to the left,
and I immediately pulled the trigger. It fell as though smitten
by a sledge hammer, and it lay struggling on the ground. Bacheet
sprang forward, and with an Arab sword he cut the hamstring of
one leg. To the astonishment of us all, the rhinoceros jumped up,
and on three legs it sprang quickly round and charged Bacheet,
who skipped into the bushes, while I ran alongside the rhinoceros
as it attempted to follow him, and, with Fletcher No. 24, I fired
through the shoulder, by placing the muzzle within a yard of the
animal. It fell dead to this shot, which was another feather in
the cap of the good little rifle. The skull of the rhinoceros is
very curiously shaped; I had fired for the temple, and had struck
the exact point at which I had aimed, but, instead of hitting the
brain, the bullet had smashed the joint of the jaw, in which it
stuck fast. I never have been able to understand why that
powerful rifle was thus baffled, unless there had been some error
in the charge of powder. This rhinoceros had no ears, they had
been bitten off close to the head by another of the same species,
while fighting; this mutilation is by no means uncommon.

From this point I traversed the country in all directions; upon
one occasion I took a large supply of water, and penetrated into
the very heart of the Base, half way between the Settite and the
river Gash or Mareb, near the base of the mountain chain; but,
although the redoubtable natives were occasionally seen, they
were as shy as wild animals, and we could not approach them.

Having explored the entire country, and enjoyed myself
thoroughly, I was now determined to pay our promised visit to Mek
Nimmur. Since our departure from the Egyptian territory, his
country had been invaded by a large force, according to orders
sent from the Governor-General of the Soudan. Mek Nimmur as usual
retreated to the mountains, but Mai Gubba and a number of his
villages were utterly destroyed by the Egyptians. He would, under
these circumstances, be doubly suspicious of strangers.

My camel-men had constantly brought me the news on their return
from Geera with corn,* and they considered that it was unsafe to
visit Mek Nimmur after his defeat, as he might believe me to be
a spy from the Egyptians; he was a great friend of Theodorus,
king of Abyssinia, and as at that time he was on good terms with
the English, I saw no reason to avoid his country.

* Among other news I was glad to hear that my patient
Jali could walk without difficulty.

We arrived at Ombrega, but, instead of camping among the thick
jungle as formerly, we bivouacked under four splendid tamarind
trees that formed a clump among the rocks on the left bank of the
river, and which shaded a portion of its sandy bed; this was a
delightful resting-place. We were now only one day from Geera,
and we sent a messenger to the sheik of the Hamrans, who shortly
returned with a young girl of about seventeen as a corn-grinder
in the place of Barrake; she was hired from her owner at a dollar
per month.

My camel-men had determined not to proceed to Mek Nimmur's
country, as they were afraid that their camels might be stolen by
his people; they therefore came to me one evening, and coolly
declared that they should return to Geera, as it would be folly
to tempt Mek Nimmur. It was in vain that I protested, and
reminded them that I had engaged them to accompany me throughout
the exploration. They were afraid of losing their camels, and
nothing would satisfy them; they declared that they required no
wages, as the meat and hide, &c. they had received were
sufficient for their services, but through Mek Nimmur's country
they were determined not to go. Taher Noor was the only man who
was willing, but he had no camel. We had constructed a fence of
thorns around our camp, in which the camels were now reposing,
and, as the argument had become hot, the Arabs expressed their
determination of starting homewards that very instant, and we
were to be left alone, unless they could persuade other men of
their tribe to join us with their animals. Accordingly, they at
once proceeded to saddle their camels for an immediate start.
Without saying another word, I quietly took my little Fletcher
rifle, and cocked both barrels as I sat within ten yards of the
exit from the camp. The men were just ready to depart, and
several had mounted their camels. "Good bye," I said; "give my
salaams to the sheik when you arrive at Geera; but the first
camel that passes the zareeba (camp) I shall shoot through the
head." They had heard the sharp click of the locks, and they
remembered the firing of the grass on a former occasion when I
had nearly burnt the camp;--not a camel moved. My Tokrooris and
Taher Noor now came forward as mediators, and begged me not to
shoot the camels. As I had the rifle pointed, I replied to this
demand conditionally, that the Arabs should dismount and unsaddle
immediately: this led to a parley, and I agreed to become
responsible for the value of the camels should they be stolen in
Mek Nimmur's country. The affair was settled.

On March 16th, the day following this argument, as we were
sitting in the evening beneath our trees in the river's bed, I
suddenly heard the rattle of loose stones, and immediately after,
a man on a white hygeen appeared from the jungle on our side of
the river, followed quickly by a string of Arabs, all well
mounted, who silently followed in single file towards the ford.
They had not noticed us, as we were close to the high rocky bank
upon their left, in the deep shade of the tamarind trees. I
counted twenty-three; their shields and swords were slung upon
their hygeens, and, as their clothes were beautifully clean, they
had evidently started that morning from their homes.

The leader had reached the ford without observing us, as in this
wild spot he had expected no one, and the whole party were
astonished and startled when I suddenly addressed them with a
loud "Salaam aleikum" (peace be with you). At first they did not
reply, but as I advanced alone, their leader also advanced from
his party, and we met half way. These were a troop of Mek
Nimmur's people on a foray. I quickly explained who I was, and I
invited him to come and drink coffee beneath the shade in our
camp. Taher Noor now joined us, and confidence having been
established, the leader ordered his party to cross the ford and
to unsaddle on the opposite side of the river, while he
accompanied me to our camp. At first he was rather suspicious,
but a present of a new tarboosh (cap), and a few articles of
trifling value, quickly reassured him, and he promised to be our
guide to Mek Nimmur in about a couple of days, upon his return
from a marauding expedition on the frontier; his party had
appointed to unite with a stronger force, and to make a razzia
upon the cattle of the Dabaina Arabs.

During the night, the marauding party and their leader departed.

There was no game at Ombrega, therefore I employed the interval
of two days in cleaning all the rifles, and in preparing for a
fresh expedition, as that of the Settite and Royan had been
completed. The short Tatham No.10 rifle carried a heavy cylinder,
instead of the original spherical ball. I had only fired two
shots with this rifle, and the recoil had been so tremendous,
owing to the heavy weight of the projectile, that I had
mistrusted the weapon; therefore, when the moment arrived to fire
off all the guns preparatory to cleaning, my good angel whispered
a providential warning, and I agreed to fire this particular
rifle by a long fishing-line attached to the trigger, while the
gun should be fastened to a tree. It blew all to pieces! The
locks were blown entirely away, and the stock was shattered into
fragments: nothing remained but the thick end near the
shoulder-plate. I had received a mysterious presentiment of this;
had I fired that rifle in the usual manner, I must have been
killed on the spot. The charge was five drachms, which was small
in proportion to the weight of the cylindrical projectile. This
may be a warning to such sportsmen who adopt new-fashioned
projectiles to old-fashioned rifles, that were proved with the
spherical bullet, which in weight and friction bears no
proportion to the heavy cylinder; nevertheless, this rifle should
not have burst, and the metal showed great inferiority, by
blowing into fragments instead of splitting.

The leader of Mek Nimmur's party returned, as he had promised, to
be our guide. I extract from my journal, verbatim, my notes upon
that date.

"March 19, 1862.--Started at 1.30 P.M., and halted at 5 P.M.
There is no water for about thirty miles; thus we had watered all
the animals at the usual hour (noon), and they will accordingly
endure until to-morrow evening. Upon ascending the slope of the
Settite valley, the country is an immense plain of fertile soil,
about two hundred feet above the river. While on the march, I
espied a camel wandering without an owner; this was inmmediately
secured as a lawful prize by our guide. This fellow's name is
Mahomet; he is, doubtlessly, an out-and-out scoundrel; he is
about five feet ten inches in height, and as thin as a live man
can be; he is so crafty-looking, and so wiry and eel-like, that
if I were to lock him up I should secure the key-hole, as he
looks capable of squeezing through anything. We slept on the

"March 20.--Started at 5 A.M., and in three hours we reached the
chain of lofty wooded hills that bound the plain. In a march of
four hours from this point, we arrived at a hor, or ravine, when
we halted beneath a large tamarind tree, and pitched the tent
according to the instructions of our guide. The plain from the
Settite to the base of the hilly range that we had crossed, is
about twenty-two miles wide by forty in length, and, like all the
table-land in this country, it is well adapted for cotton
cultivation. Were the route secure through the Base country,
loaded camels might reach Cassala in six days and from thence to
Souakim. All this country is uninhabited. On arrival at the base
of the first bill, a grove of tamarinds shades a spring, at which
we watered our horses, but the water is impregnated with natron,
which is common throughout this country, and appears in many
places as an efflorescence on the surface of the ground. From the
spring at the eastern base of the hills, we ascended a rugged
pass, winding for some miles among ravines, and crossing elevated
shoulders of the range. Upon the summit we passed a rich mass of
both rose-coloured and white limestone, similar to that we had
seen at Geera; this was surrounded by basalt, and the presence of
limestone entirely mystifles my ideas of geology. Immense
quantities of very beautiful spar lay upon the surface in all
directions; some of this was perfectly white, and veined like an
agate--I believe it was white cornelian; other fragments, of
sizes equalling sixty or seventy pounds weight, were beautifully
green, suggesting the presence of copper. Large masses of
exquisite bloodstone, the size of a man's head, were exceedingly
numerous. Having crossed the hills, we descended to a rich and
park-like valley, covered with grass, and ornamented with fine
timber. Much dhurra was cultivated, and several villages were
passed, that had been plundered by the Egyptians during the
recent attack. This country must be exceedingly unhealthy during
the rainy season, as the soil is extremely rich, and the valleys,
surrounded by hills, would become swamps. From the Settite river,
at Ombrega, to our halting-place beneath the tamarind-tree, at
this spot, is about thirty-five miles south, 10 degrees east."

Our camp was in a favourable locality, well shaded by large
trees, on the margin of a small stream; this was nearly dry at
this season, and the water was extremely bad, having a strong
taste of copper. I had remarked throughout the neighbourhood
unmistakeable evidences of the presence of this metal--the
surface of the rocks was in many places bright green, like
malachite, and, upon an exploration of the bed of the stream, I
found veins of a green substance in the perpendicular cliffs that
had been cut through by the torrent. These green veins passed
through a bed of reddish, hard rock, glistening with minute
crystals, which I believe to have been copper. There is no doubt
that much might be done were the mineral wealth of this country
thoroughly investigated.

The day following our arrival was passed in receiving visits from
a number of Abyssinians, and the head men of Mek Nimmur. There
was a mixture of people, as many of the Jaleen Arabs who had
committed some crime in the Egyptian territory, had fled across
the country and joined the exiled chief of their tribe.
Altogether, the society in this district was not creme de la
creme, as Mek Nimmur's territory was an asylum for all the
blackguards of the adjoining countries, who were attracted by the
excitement and lawlessness of continual border warfare. The troop
that we had seen at Ombrega returned with a hundred and two head
of camels, that they had stolen from the west bank of the Atbara.
Mounted upon hygeens, Mek Nimmur's irregulars thought nothing of
marching sixty miles in one day; thus their attack and retreat
were equally sudden and unexpected.

I had a quantity of rhinoceros hide in pieces of the size
required for shields; these were much prized in this fighting
country, and I presented them to a number of head men who had
honoured us with a visit. I begged them to guide two of my people
to the presence of Mek Nimmur, with a preliminary message. This
they promised to perform. Accordingly, I sent Taher Noor and
Bacheet on horseback, with a most polite message, accompanied
with my card in an envelope, and a small parcel, carefully
wrapped in four or five different papers; this contained a very
beautiful Persian lance-head, of polished steel inlaid with gold,
that I had formerly purchased at Constantinople.

During their absence, we were inundated with visitors, the
Abyssinians, in their tight pantaloons, contrasting strongly with
the loosely-clad Arabs. In about an hour, my messengers returned,
accompanied by two men on horseback, with a hospitable message
fronm Mek Nimmur, and an invitation to pay him a visit at his own
residence. I had some trifling present ready for everybody of
note, and, as Taher Noor and my people had already explained all
they knew concerning us, Mek Nimmur's suspicions had entirely

As we were conversing with Mek Nimmur's messengers through the
medium of Taher Noor, who knew their language, our attention was
attracted by the arrival of a tremendous swell who at a distance
I thought must be Mek Nimmur himself. A snow-white mule carried
an equally snow-white person, whose tight white pantaloons looked
as though he had forgotten his trousers, and had mounted in his
drawers. He carried a large umbrella to shade his complexion; a
pair of handsome silver-mounted pistols were arranged upon his
saddle, and a silver-hilted curved sword, of the peculiar
Abyssinian form, hung by his side. This grand personage was
followed by an attendant, also mounted upon a mule, while several
men on foot accompanied them, one of whom carried his lance and
shield. Upon a near approach, he immediately dismounted, and
advanced towards us, bowing in a most foppish manner, while his
attendant followed him on foot with an enormous violin, which he
immediately handed to him. This fiddle was very peculiar in
shape, being a square, with an exceedingly long neck extending
from one corner; upon this was stretched a solitary string, and
the bow was very short and much bent. This was an Abyssinian
Paganini. He was a professional minstrel of the highest grade,
who had been sent by Mek Nimmur to welcome us on our arrival.

These musicians are very similar to the minstrels of ancient
times; they attend at public rejoicings, and at births, deaths,
and marriages of great personages, upon which occasions they
extemporize their songs according to circumstances. My hunting in
the Base country formed his theme, and for at least an hour he
sang of my deeds, in an extremely loud and disagreeable voice,
while he accompanied himself upon his fiddle, which he held
downwards like a violoncello: during the whole of his song he
continued in movement, marching with a sliding step to the front,
and gliding to the right and left in a manner that, if intended
to be graceful, was extremely comic. The substance of this
minstrelsy was explained to me by Taher Noor, who listened
eagerly to the words, which he translated with evident
satisfaction. Of course, like all minstrels, he was an absurd
flatterer, and, having gathered a few facts for his theme, he
wandered slightly from the truth in his poetical description of
my deeds.

He sang of me as though I had been Richard Coeur de Lion, and
recounted, before an admiring throng of listeners, how "I had
wandered with a young wife from my own distant country to fight
the terrible Base; how I had slain them in single combat; and how
elephants and lions were struck down like lambs and kids by my
hands; that during my absence in the hunt, my wife had been
carried off by the Base; that I had, on my return to my pillaged
camp, galloped off in chase, and, overtaking the enemy, hundreds
had fallen by my rifle and sword, and I had liberated and
recovered the lady, who now had arrived safe with her lord in the
country of the great Mek Nimmur," &c. &c. &c.

This was all very pretty, no doubt, and as true as most poetical
and musical descriptions, but I felt certain that there must be
something to pay for this flattering entertainment; if you are
considered to be a great man, a present is invariably expected in
proportion to your importance. I suggested to Taher Noor that I
must give him a couple of dollars. "What!" said Taher Noor, "a
couple of dollars! Impossible! a musician of his standing it
accustomed to receive thirty and forty dollars from great people
for so beautiful and honourable a song."

This was somewhat startling; I began to reflect upon the price of
a box at Her Majesty's Theatre in London; but there I was not the
hero of the opera; this minstrel combined the whole affair in a
most simple manner; he was Verdi, Costa, and orchestra all in
one; he was a thorough Macaulay as historian, therefore I had to
pay the composer as well as the fiddler. I compromised the
matter, and gave him a few dollars, as I understood that he was
Mek Nimmur's private minstrel, but I never parted with my dear
Maria Theresa* with so much regret as upon that occasion, and I
begged him not to incommode himself by paying us another visit,
or, should he be obliged to do so, I trusted he would not think
it necessary to bring his violin.

* The Austrian dollar, that is the only large current
coin in that country.

The minstrel retired in the same order that he had arrived, and
I watched his retreating figure with unpleasant reflections, that
were suggested by doubts as to whether I had paid him too little
or too much; Taher Noor thought that he was underpaid; my own
opinion was, that I had brought a curse upon myself equal to a
succession of London organ-grinders, as I fully expected that
other minstrels, upon hearing of the Austrian dollars, would pay
us a visit, and sing of my great deeds.

In the afternoon, we were sitting beneath the shade of our
tamarind tree when we thought we could perceive our musical
friend returning. As he drew near, we were convinced that it was
the identical minstrel, who had most probably been sent with a
message from Mek Nimmur: there he was, in snow-white raiment, on
the snow-white mule, with the mounted attendant and the violin as
before. He dismounted upon arrival opposite the camp, and
approached with his usual foppish bow; but we looked on in
astonishment: it was not our Paganini, it was ANOTHER MINSTREL!
who was determined to sing an ode in our praise. I felt that this
was an indirect appeal to Maria Theresa, and I at once declared
against music. I begged him not to sing; "my wife had a
headache--I disliked the fiddle--could he play anything else
instead?" and I expressed a variety of polite excuses, but to no
purpose; he insisted upon singing; if I "disliked the fiddle, he
would sing without an accompaniment, but he could not think of
insulting so great a man as myself by returning without an ode to
commemorate our arrival."

I was determined that he should NOT sing; he was determined that
he WOULD, therefore I desired him to leave my camp; this he
agreed to do, provided I would allow him to cross the stream, and
sing to my Tokrooris, in my praise, beneath a neighbouring tree
about fifty yards distant. He remounted his mule with his violin,
to ford the muddy stream, and he descended the steep bank,
followed by his attendant on foot, who drove the unwilling mule.
Upon arrival at the brink of the dirty brook, that was about
three feet deep, the mule positively refused to enter the water,
and stood firm with its fore feet sunk deep in the mud. The
attendant attempted to push it on behind, at the same time he
gave it a sharp blow with his sheathed sword; this changed the
scene to the "opera comique." In one instant the mule gave so
vigorous and unexpected a kick into the bowels of the attendant,
that he fell upon his back, heels uppermost, while at the same
moment the minstrel, in his snow-white garments, was precipitated
head foremost into the muddy brook, and for the moment
disappearing, the violin alone could be seen floating on the
surface. A second later, a wretched-looking object, covered with
slime and filth, emerged from the slough; this was Paganini the
second! who, after securing his fiddle, that had stranded on a
mud-bank, scrambled up the steep slope, amidst the roars of
laughter of my people and of ourselves; while the perverse mule,
having turned harmony into discord, kicked up its heels and
galloped off, braying an ode in praise of liberty, as the "Lay of
the last Minstrel." The discomfited fiddler was wiped down by my
Tokrooris, who occasionally burst into renewed fits of laughter
during the operation; the mule was caught, and the minstrel
remounted, and returned home completely out of tune.

On the following morning, at sunrise, I mounted my horse, and,
accompanied by Taher Noor and Bacheet, I rode to pay my respects
to Mek Nimmur. Our route lay parallel to the stream, and, after
a ride of about two miles through a fine, park-like country,
bounded by the Abyssinian Alps about fifteen miles distant, I
observed a crowd of people round a large tamarind tree, near
which were standing a number of horses, mules, and dromedaries.
This was the spot upon which I was to meet Mek Nimmur. Upon my
approach the crowd opened, and, having dismounted, I was
introduced by Taher Noor to the great chief. He was a man of
about fifty, and exceedingly dirty in appearance. He sat upon an
angarep, surrounded by his people; lying on either side upon his
seat were two brace of pistols, and within a few yards stood his
horse ready saddled. He was prepared for fight or flight, as were
also his ruffianly-looking followers, who were composed of
Abyssinians and Jaleens.

I commenced the conversation by referring to the hospitality
shown by his father to my countryman, Mr. Mansfield Parkyns, and
I assured him that such kind attentions were never forgotten by
an Englishman, therefore I had determined to visit him, although


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