MoboReader > Literature > The Ivory Trail

   Chapter 4 SIX

The Ivory Trail By Talbot Mundy Characters: 100002

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04


Noah was our godfather, and he pitched and caulked a ship

'With stable-room for two of each and fodder for the trip,

Lest when the Flood made sea of earth the animals should die;

And two by two he stalled us till the wrath of God was by.

But who in the name of the Pentateuch can the paleface people be

Who ha' done on the plains of Africa more than he did at sea?

A million hoofs once drummed the dust (Kongoni led the way!)

From river-pool to desert-lick we thundered in array

Until the dark-skin people came with tube and smoke and shot,

Hunting and driving and killing, and leaving the meat to rot.

And we didn't know who the hunters were, but we saw the herds grow thin

That used to drum the dust-clouds up with thousand-footed din.

We were few when the paleface people came-scattered and few and afraid.

Fewer were they, but they brought the law, and the dark-skin men obeyed.

The paleface people drew a line that none by dark or day

Might cross with fell intent to hunt-capture or drive or slay.

But who can the paleface people be with red-meat appetites

Who ruled anew what Noah knew-that animals have rights?

And now in the Athi Game Reserve-in a million-acre park

A million creatures graze who went by twos into the Ark.

We sleep o' nights without alarm (Kongoni, prick your ear!)

And barring the leopard and lion to watch, and ticks, we've nought

to fear,

Zebra, giraffe and waterbuck, rhino and ostrich too-

But who can the paleface people be who know what Noah knew?

The lions awoke us a little before dawn as the proprietor had promised. They seemed to have had bad hunting, for their boastfulness was gone. They came in twos and threes, snarling, only roaring intermittently-in a hurry because the hated daylight would presently reverse conditions and put them at disadvantage.

I grew restless and got up. The air being chilly, I put my clothes on and sat for a while by the window. So it happened I caught sight of Hassan, very much afraid of lions, but obviously more afraid of being seen from the hotel windows. He was sneaking along as close to the house as he could squeeze, his head just visible above the veranda rail.

For no better reason than that I was curious and unoccupied, I slipped out of the house and followed him.

Once clear of the hotel he seemed to imagine himself safe, for without another glance backward he ran up-street in the direction of the bazaar. I followed him down the bazaar-a short street of corrugated iron buildings-and out the other end. Being fat, he could not run fast, although his wind held out surprisingly. If he saw me at all he must have mistaken me for a settler or one of the Nairobi officials, for he seemed perfectly sure of himself and took no pains whatever now to throw pursuers off the track.

It soon became evident that he was making for an imposing group of tents on the outskirts of the town. As he drew nearer he approached more slowly.

It now became my turn to take precautions. There was no chance of concealment where I was-nothing but open level ground between me and the tents. But now that I knew Hassan's destination, I could afford to let him out of sight for a minute; so I turned my back on him, walked to where a sort of fold in the ground enabled me to get down unseen into a shallow nullah, and went along that at right angles to Hassan's course until I reached the edge of some open jungle, about half a mile from the tents. I noticed that it came to an end at a spot about three hundred yards to the rear of the tents, so I worked my way along its outer edge, and so approached the encampment from behind.

I had brought a rifle with me, not that I expected to shoot anything, but because the lion incident of the previous afternoon had taught me caution. It had not entered my head that in that country a strange white man without a rifle might have been regarded as a member of the mean white class; nor that anybody would question my right to carry a rifle, for that matter.

The camp was awake now. There were ten tents, all facing one way. Two of them contained stores. The central round tent with an awning in front was obviously a white man's. One tent housed a mule, and the rest were for native servants and porters. The camp was tidy and clean-obviously belonging to some one of importance. Fires were alight. Breakfast was being cooked, and smelled most uncommonly appetizing in that chill morning air. Boys were already cleaning boots, and a saddle, and other things. There was an air of discipline and trained activity, and from the central tent came the sound of voices.

I don't know why, but I certainly did not expect to hear English. So the sound of English spoken with a foreign accent brought me to a standstill. I listened to a few words, and made no further bones about eavesdropping. Circumstances favored me. The boys had seen I was carrying a rifle and was therefore a white man of importance, so they did not question my right to approach. The tent with the mule in it and the two store tents were on the right, pitched in a triangle. I passed between them up to the very pegs of the central tent from which the voices came, and discovered I was invisible, unless some one should happen to come around a corner. I decided to take my chance of that.

The first thing that puzzled me was why a German (for it was a perfectly unmistakable German accent) should need to talk English to a native who was certainly familiar with both Arabic and Kiswahili. When I heard the German addressed as Bwana Schillingschen I wondered still more, for from all accounts that individual could speak more native tongues than most people knew existed. It did not occur to me at the time that if he wished not to be understood by his own crowd of boys he must either speak German or English, and that Hassan would almost certainly know no German.

"A good thing you came to me!" I heard. The accent was clumsy for a man so well versed in tongues. "Yes, I will give you money at the right time. Tell me no lies now! There will be letters coming from people you never saw, and I shall know whether or not you lie to me! You say there are three of the fools?"

"Yes, bwana. There were four, but one going home-big lord gentleman, him having black m'stache, gone home."

There was no mistaking Hassan's voice. No doubt he could speak his mother tongue softly enough, but in common with a host of other people he seemed to imagine that to make himself understood in English he must shout.

"Why did he go home?"

"I don't know, bwana."

"Did they quarrel?"

"Sijui."* [* Sijui, I don't know: the most aggravating word In Africa, except perhaps bado kidogo, which means "presently," "bye and bye," "in a little while."

"Don't you dare say 'sijui' to me!"

"Maybe they quarrel, maybe not. They all quarreling with Lady Saffunwardo-staying in same hotel, Tippoo Tib one time his house-she wanting maybe go with him to London. He saying no. Others saying no. All very angry each with other an' throwing bwana masikini, Greek man, down hotel stairs."

"What had he to do with it?"

"Two Greek man an' one Goa all after ivory, too. She-Lady Saffunwardo afterwards promising pay them three if they come along an' do what she tell 'em. They agreeing quick! Byumby Tippoo Tib hearing bazaar talk an' sending me along too. She refuse to take me, all because German consul man knowing me formerly and not making good report, but Greek bwana he not caring and say to me to come along. Greek people very bad! No food-no money-nothing but swear an' kick an' call bad names-an' drunk nearly all the time!"

"What makes you think these three men know where the ivory is?" said the German voice. It was the voice of a man very used to questioning natives-self-assertive but calm-going straight each time to the point.

"They having map. Map having marks on it."

"How do you know?"

"She-Lady Saffunwardo go in their bedroom, stealing it last night."

"Did you see her take it?"

"Yes, bwana."

"Did you see the marks on it?"

"No, bwana."

"Then how do you know the marks were on it? Now, remember, don't lie to me!"

"Coutlass, him Greek man, standing on stairs keeping watch. Them three men you call fools all sitting in dining-room waiting because they thinking she come presently. She send maid to their room. Maid, fool woman, upset everything, finding nothing. 'No,' she say, 'no map-no money-no anything in here.' An' Lady Saffunwardo she very angry an' say, 'Come out o' there! Let me look!' And Lady Saffunwardo going in, but maid not coming out, an' they both search. Then Lady Saffanwardo saying all at once, 'Here it is. Didn't you see this?' An' the maid answering, 'Oh, that! That nothing but just ordinary pocket map! That not it!' But Lady Saffunwardo she opening the map, an' make little scream, an' say, 'Idiot! This is it! Look! See! See the marks!' So, bwana, I then knowing must be marks on map!"

"Good. What did she do with it?"


"I told you not to dare say 'sijui' to me!"

"How should I know, bwana, what she doing with it?"

"Could you steal it?"

"No, bwana!"

"Why not?"

"You not knowing that woman! No man daring steal from her! She very terrible!"

"If I offered you a hundred rupees could you steal it?"

"Sujui, bwana."

"I told you not to use that word!"

"Bwana, I-"

"Could you steal it?"


"That is no answer!"

"Say that again about hundred rupees!"

"I will give you a hundred rupees if you bring me that map and it proves to be what you say."

"I go. I see. I try. Hundred rupees very little money!"

"It's all you'll get, you black rascal! And you know what you'll get if you fail! You know me, don't you? You understand my way? Steal that map and bring it here, and I shall give you a hundred rupees. Fail, and you shall have a hundred lashes, and what Ahmed and Abdullah and Seydi got in addition! The hundred lashes first, and the ant-hill afterward! You're not fool enough to think you can escape me, I suppose?"

"No, bwana."

"Then go and get the map!"

"But afterward, what then? She very gali* woman." [*Gali, same as

Hindustani kali-cruel, hard, fierce, terrible.]

"Nonsense! Steal the map and bring it here to me. Then I've other work for you. Are you a renegade Muhammedan?"

"No, bwana! No, no! Never! I'm good Moslem."

"Very well. Back to your old business with you! Preach Islam up and down the country. Go and tell all the tribes in British territory that the Germans are coming soon to establish an empire of Islam in Africa! Good pay and easy living! Does that suit you?"

"Yes, bwana. How much pay?"

"I'll tell you when you bring the map. Now be going!"

Hassan went, after a deal of polite salaaming. Then boys began bringing the German's breakfast, and unless I chose to confess myself an eavesdropper it became my business to be in the tent ahead of them. So I strode forward as if just arrived and purposely tripped over a tent-rope, stumbling under the awning with a laugh and an apology.

"Who are you?" demanded the German without rising. He had the splay shovel beard described to us in Zanzibar-big dark man, sitting in the doorway of a tent all hung with guns, skins and antlers. He was in night-shirt and trousers-bare feet-but with a helmet on the back of his head.

"A visitor," I answered, "staying at the hotel-out for a morning shot at something-had no luck-got nothing-saw your tents in the distance, and came out of curiosity to find out who you are."

"My name is Professor Schillingschen," he answered, still without getting up. There was no other chair near the awning, so I had to remain standing. I told him my name, hoping that Hassan had either not done so already, or else that he might have so bungled the pronunciation as to make it unrecognizable. I detected no sign of recognition on Schillingschen's face.

The boys reached the tent with his breakfast, and one of them dragged a chair from inside the tent for me. I sat down on it without waiting for the professor to invite me.

"I'm tired," I said, untruthfully, minded to refuse an invitation to eat, but interested to see whether he would invite me or not.

"Have you any friends at the hotel?" he asked, looking up at me darkly under the bushiest eyebrows I ever saw.

"I've got friends wherever I go," I answered. "I make friends."

"Are you going far?" he demanded, holding out a foot for his boy to pull a stocking on.

"That depends," I said.

"On what?"

"On whether I get employment."

I said that at random, without pausing to think what impression I might create. He pulled the night-shirt off over his head, throwing the helmet to the ground, and sat like a great hairy gorilla for the boy to hang day-clothes on him. He had the hairiest breast and arms I ever saw, hung with lumpy muscles that heightened his resemblance to an ape.

"I might give you work," he said presently, beginning to eat before the boy had finished dressing him.

"I want to travel" I said. "If I could find a job that would take me up and down the length and breadth of this land, that would suit me finely."

"That is the kind of a man I want," he said, eying me keenly. "I have a German, but I need an Englishman. Do you speak native languages?"

"Scarcely a word."

To my surprise he nodded approval at that answer.

"I have parties of natives traveling all over the country gathering folk lore, and ethnographical particulars, but they get into a village and sit down for whole weeks at a time, drawing pay for doing nothing. I need an Englishman to go with them and keep them moving."

"All well and good," I said, "but I understand the government is not in favor of white men traveling about at random."

"But I am known to the government," he answered. "I have been accorded facilities because of my professional standing. Have you references you can give me?"

"No," I said. "No references."

I thought that would stump him, but on the contrary he looked rather pleased.

"That is good. References are too frequently evidence of back-stairs influence."

All this while he kept eying me between mouthfuls. Whenever I seemed to look away his eyes fairly burned holes in me. Whenever food got in his beard (which was frequently) be used the napkin more as a shield behind which to take stock of me than as a means of getting clean again. By the time his breakfast was finished his beard was a beastly mess, but he probably had my features from every angle fixed indelibly in his memory. The sensation was that I had been analyzed and card indexed.

"I pay good wages," he remarked, and then stuck his face, beard and all, into the basin of warm water his boy had brought. "Where did you get that rifle?" he demanded, spluttering, and combing the beard out with his fingers.

It was on the tip of my tongue to say "At Zanzibar," but, as that might have started him on a string of questions as to how I came to that place and whom I knew there, I temporized.

"Oh, I bought it from a man."

"That is no answer!" he retorted.

If I had been possessed of much inclination to play deep games and match wits with big rascals I suppose I would have answered him civilly and there and then learned more of his purpose. But I was not prepossessed by his charms or respectful of his claim to superiority. The German type super-education never did impress me as compatible with good breeding or good sense, and it annoyed me to have to lie to him.

"It's all the answer you'll get!" I said.

"Where is your license for it?" he growled.

The game began to amuse me.

"None of your business!" I answered.

"How long have you been in the country!"

"Since I came," I said.

"And you have no license! You have been out shooting. A lucky thing you came to my camp and not to some other man's! The game laws are very strict!"

He spoke then to a boy who was standing behind me, giving him very careful directions in a language of which I did not know one word. The boy went away.

"The last man who went shooting near Nairobi without a license," he said, "tried to excuse himself before the magistrate by claiming ignorance of the law. He was fined a thousand rupees and sentenced to six months in jail!"

"Very severe!" I said.

"They are altogether too severe," he answered. "I hope you have killed nothing. It is good you came first to me. You would better stand that rifle over here in the corner of my tent. To walk back to the hotel with it over your shoulder would be dangerous."

"I've taken bigger chances than that," said I.

"If you have shot nothing, then it is not so serious," he said, disappearing behind a curtain into the recesses of his tent.

He stayed in there for about ten minutes. I had about made up my mind to walk away when four of his boys approached the tent from behind, and one of them cried "Hodi!" The boy to whom he had given directions across my shoulder was not among them.

They threw the buck down near my feet, and he came out from the gloomy interior and stared at it. He asked them questions rapidly in the native tongue, and they answered, pointing at me.

"They say you shot it," he told me, stroking his great beard alternately with either hand.

"Then they lie!" I answered.

"Let me see that rifle!" he said, reaching out an enormous freckled fist to take it.

I saw through his game at last. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to extract a cartridge from the clip in the magazine and claim afterward that I had fired it away. Evidently he proposed to get me in his power, though for just what reason he was so determined to make use of me rather than any one else was not so clear.

"So I shot the buck, did I?" I asked.

"Those four natives say they saw you shoot it."

"Then it's mine?"

He nodded.

"It's heavy," I said, "but I expect I can carry it."

I took the buck by the hind legs and swung myself under it. It weighed more than a hundred pounds, but the African climate had not had time enough to sap my strength or destroy sheer pleasure in muscular effort.

"What's mine's my own!" I laughed. "You gave me something to eat after all! Good day, and good riddance!"

The boys tried to prevent my carrying the buck away.

"Come back!" growled the professor. "I will take responsibility for that buck and save you from punishment. Bring it back! Lay it down!"

But I continued to walk away, so he ordered his boys to take the carcass from me. I laid it down and threatened them with my butt end. He brought his own rifle out and threatened me with that. I laughed at him, bade him shoot if he dared, offered him three shots for a penny, and ended by shouldering the buck again and walking off.

Meat was cheap in Nairobi in those days, so the owner of the hotel was not so delighted as I expected. He reprimanded me for being late for breakfast, and told me I was lucky to get any. Fred and Will had waited for me, and while we ate alone and I told them the story of my morning's adventure a police officer in khaki uniform tied up his mule outside and clattered in.

"Whose buck is that hanging outside the kitchen?" he demanded.

"There's some doubt about it," I said. "I've been accused of being the owner."

"Then you're the man I want. The court sits at nine. You'd better be there, or you'll be fetched!"

He placed in my hand what proved to be a summons to appear before the district court that morning on the charge of carrying an unregistered rifle and shooting game without a license. Two native policemen he had with him took down the buck from the hook outside the kitchen door and carried it off as evidence.

We finished our breakfast in great contentment, and strode off arm-in-arm to find the court-house, feeling as if we were going to a play-perhaps a mite indignant, as if the subject of the play were one we did not quite approve, but perfectly certain of a good time.

The court was crowded. The bearded professor, his four boys, and two other natives were there, as well as several English officials, all apparently on very good terms indeed with Schillingschen.

As we entered the court under the eyes of a hostile crowd I heard one official say to the man standing next him:

"I hope he'll make an example of this case. If he doesn't every new arrival in this country will try to take the law in his own hands. I hope he fines him the limit!"

"Give me your hunting-knife, Fred!" said I, and Fred laughed as he passed it to me. For the moment I think he thought I meant to plunge it into the too talkative official's breast.

First they called a few township cases. A drunken Muhammedan was fined five rupees, and a Hindu was ordered to remove his garbage heap before noon. Three natives were ordered to the chain-gang for a week for fighting, and a Masai charged with stealing cattle was remanded. Then my case was called, very solemnly, by a magistrate scarcely any older than myself.

The police officer acted as prosecutor. He stated that "acting on information received" he had proceeded to the hotel. Outside of which he saw a buck hanging (buck produced in evidence); that he had entered the hotel, found me at breakfast, and that I had not denied having shot the buck. He called his two colored askaris to prove that, and they reeled off what they had to say with the speed of men who had been thoroughly rehearsed. Then he put the German on the stand, and Schillingschen, with a savage glare at me, turned on his verbal artillery. He certainly did his worst.

"This morning," he announced, after having been duly sworn on the Book, "that young man whose name I do not know approached my tent while I was dressing. The sound of a rifle being fired had awakened me earlier than usual. He carried a rifle, and I put two and two together and concluded he had shot something. Not having seen him ever before, and he standing before my tent, I asked him his name. He refused to tell me, and that made me suspicious. Then came my four boys carrying a buck, which they assured me they had seen him shoot. I asked him whether he had a license to shoot game, and he at once threatened to shoot me if I did not mind my own business. Therefore, I sent a note to the police at once."

His four boys were then put on the stand in turn, and told their story through an interpreter. Their words identical. If the interpreter spoke truth one account did not vary from the next in the slightest degree, and that fact alone should have aroused the suspicion of any unprejudiced judge.

Having the right to cross-examine, I asked each in turn whether the rifle I had brought with me to court was the same they had seen me using. They asserted it was. Then I recalled the German and asked him the same question. He also replied in the affirmative. I asked him how he knew. He said he recognized the mark on the butt where the varnish had been chafed away. Then I handed the hunting knife I had borrowed from to the police officer and demanded that he have the bullet cut out of the buck's carcass. The court could not object to that, so under the eyes of at least fifty witnesses a flattened Mauser bullet was produced. I called attention to the fact that my rifle was a Lee-Enfield that could not possibly have fired a Mauser bullet. The court was young and very dignified-examined the bullet and my rifle-and had to be convinced.

"Very well," was the verdict on that count, "it is proved that you did not shoot this particular buck, unless the police have evidence that you used a different rifle."

The policeman confessed that he had no evidence along that line, so the first charge was dismissed.

"But you are charged," said the magistrate, "with carrying an unregistered rifle, and shooting without a license."

For answer I produced my certificate of registration and the big game license we had paid for in Mombasa.

"Why didn't you say so before?" demanded the magistrate.

"I wasn't asked," said I.

"Case dismissed!" snapped his honor, and the court began to empty.

"Don't let it stop there!" urged Will excitedly. "That Heinie and his boys have all committed perjury; charge them with it!"

I turned to the police officer.

"I charge all those witnesses with perjury!" I said.

"Oh," he laughed, "you can't charge natives with that. If the law against perjury was strictly enforced the jails wouldn't hold a fiftieth of them! They don't understand."

"But that blackguard with a beard-that rascal Schillingschen understands!" said I. "Arrest him! Charge him with it!"

"That's for the court to do," he answered. "I've no authority."

The magistrate had gone.

"Who is the senior official in this town?" I demanded.

"There he goes," he answered. "That man in the white suit with the round white topee is the collector."

So we three followed the collector to his office, arriving about two minutes after the man himself. The Goanese clerk had been in the court, and recognized me. He had not stayed to hear the end.

"Fines should be paid in the court, not here!" he intimated rudely.

We wasted no time with him but walked on through, and the collector greeted us without obvious cordiality. He did not ask us to sit down.

"My friend here has come to tell you about that man Schillingschen," said Fred.

"I suppose you mean Professor Schillingschen!"

The collector was a clean-shaven man with a blue jowl that suffered from blunt razors, and a temper rendered raw by native cooking. But he had photos of feminine relations and a little house in a dreary Midland street on his desk, and was no doubt loyal to the light he saw. I wished we had Monty with us. One glimpse of the owner of a title that stands written in the Doomsday Book would have outshone the halo of Schillingschen's culture.

I rattled off what I had to say, telling the story from the moment I started to follow Hassan from the hotel down to the end, omitting nothing.

"Schillingschen is worse than a spy. He's a black-hearted, schemer. He's planning to upset British rule in this Protectorate and make it easy for the Germans to usurp!"

"This is nonsense!" the collector interrupted. "Professor Schillingschen is the honored friend of the British government. He came to us here with the most influential backing-letter of introduction from very exalted personages, I assure you! Professor Schillingschen is one of the most, if not the most, learned ethnologists in the world to-day. How dare you traduce him!"

"But you heard him tell lies in court!" I gasped. "You were there. You heard his evidence absolutely disproved. How do you explain that away?"

"I don't attempt to! The explanation is for you to make!" he answered. "The fact that he did not succeed in proving his case against you is nothing in itself! Many a case in court is lost from lack of proper evidence! And one more matter! Lady Isobel Saffren Waldon is staying-or rather, I should say, was staying at the hotel. She is now staying at my house. She complains to me of very rude treatment at the hands of you three men-insolent treatment I should call it! I can assure you that the way to get on in this Protectorate is not to behave like cads toward ladies of title! I understand that her maid is afraid to be caught alone by any one of you, and that Lady Saffren Waldon herself feels scarcely any safer!"

Fred and I saw the humor of the thing, and that enabled us to save Will from disaster. There never was a man more respectful of women than Will. He would even get off the sidewalk for a black woman, and would neither tell nor laugh at the sort of stories that pass current about women in some smoking-rooms. His hair bristled. His ears stuck out on either side of his head. He leaned forward-laid one strong brown hand on the desk-and shook his left fist under the collector's nose.

"You poor boob!" he exploded. Then he calmed himself. "I'm sorry for your government if you're the brightest jewel it has for this job! That Jane will use everything you've got except the squeal! Great suffering Jemima! Your title is collector, is it? Do you collect bugs by any chance? You act like it! So help you two men and a boy, a bughouse is where I believe you belong! Come along, fellows, he'll bite us if we stay!"

"Be advised" said the collector, leaning back in his chair and sneering. "Behave yourselves! This is no country for taking chances with the law!"

"Remember Courtney's advice," said Fred when we got outside. "Suppose we give him a few days to learn the facts about Lady Isobel, and then go back and try him again?"

"Say!" answered Will, stopping and turning to face us. "What d'you take me for? I like my meals. I like three squares a day, and tobacco, and now and then a drink. But if this was the Sahara, and that man had the only eats and drinks, I'd starve."

"Telling him the truth wouldn't be accepting favors from him," counseled Fred.

"I wouldn't tell him the time!"

That attitude-and Will insisted that all the officials in the land would prove alike-limited our choice, for unless we were to allay official suspicion it would be hopeless to get away northward. Southward into German East seemed the only way to go; there was apparently no law against travel in that direction. On our way to the hotel we passed Coutlass, striding along smirking to himself, headed toward the office from which we had just come.

"I'll bet you," said Will, "he's off to get an ammunition permit, and permission to go where he damned well pleases! I'll bet he gets both! This government's the limit!"

We laughed, but Will proved more than half right. Coutlass did get ammunition. Lady Saffren Waldon's influence was already strong enough for that. He did not ask for leave to go anywhere for the simple reason that his movements depended wholly on ours-a fact that developed later.

At the hotel there was a pleasant surprise for us. A squarely built, snub-nosed native, not very dark skinned but very ugly-his right ear slit, and almost all of his left ear missing-without any of the brass or iron wire ornaments that most of the natives of the land affect, but possessed of a Harris tweed shooting jacket and, of all unexpected things, boots that he carried slung by the laces from his neck-waited for us, squatting with a note addressed to Fred tied in a cleft stick.

It does not pay to wax enthusiastic over natives, even when one suspects they bring good news. We took the letter from him, told him to wait, and went on in. Once out of the man's hearing Fred tore the letter open and read it aloud to us.

"Herewith my Kazimoto," it ran. "Be good to him. It occurred to me that you might not care after all to linger in Nairobi, and it seemed hardly fair to keep the boy from getting a good job simply because he could make me comfortable for the remainder of a week. So, as there happened to be ae special train going up I begged leave for him to ride in the caboose. He is a splendid gun-bearer. He never funks, but reloads coolly under the most nerve-trying conditions. He has his limitations, of course, but I have found him brave and faithful, and I pass him along to you with confidence.

"And by the way: he has been to Mount Elgon with me. I was not looking for buried ivory, but he knows where the caves are in which anything might be!

"Wishing you all good luck, Yours truly,

"F. Courtney"

For the moment we felt like men possessed of a new horse apiece. We were for dashing out to look the acquisition over. But Will checked us.

"Recall what Courtney said about a dog?" he asked. "We can't all own him!"

Fred sat down. "Ex-missionaries own dice," he announced. "That's how they come to be ex! You'll find them in the little box on the shelf, Will. We'll throw a main for Kazimoto!"

"I know a better gamble than that!'

"Name it, America."

"Bring the coon in and have him choose."

So I went out and felt tempted to speak cordially to the homeless ugly black man-to give him a hint that he was welcome. But it is a fatal mistake to make a "soft" impression on even the best natives at the start.

"Karibu!"* I said gruffly when I had looked him over, using one of the six dozen Swahili words I knew as yet. [*Karibu, enter, come in.]

He arose with the unlabored ease that I have since learned to look for in all natives worth employing; and followed me indoors. Will and Fred were seated in judicial attitudes, and I took a chair beside them.

"What is your name?" demanded Fred.


"Um-m! That means 'Work-like-the-devil.' Let us hope you live up to it. Your former master gives you a good character."

"Why not, bwana? My spirit is good."

"Do you want work?"


"How much money do you expect to get?"


"Don't say sijui!" I cut in, remembering Schillingschen's method.

"Six rupees a month and posho," he said promptly. Posho means rations, or money in lieu of rations.

"Don't you rather fancy yourself?" suggested Fred with a perfectly straight face.

"Say two dollars a month all told!" Will whispered to me behind his hand.

"I am a good gun-bearer!" the native answered. "My spirit is good. I am strong. There is nobody better than me as a gun-bearer!"

"We happen to want a headman," answered Fred. "Have you ever been headman?"

"Would you like to be?"


"Are you able?"


"Choose, then. Which of us would you like to work for?"

"You!" he answered promptly, pointing at Fred.

It was on the tip of the tongue of every one of us to ask him instantly why, but that would have been too rank indiscretion. It never pays to seem curious about a native's personal reasons, and it was many weeks before we knew why he had made up his mind in advance to choose Fred and not either of us for his master.

His choice made, and the offer of his services accepted, he took over Fred forthwith-demanded his keys-found out which our room was-went over our belongings and transferred the best of our things into Fred's bag and the worst of his into ours-remade Fred's bed after a mysterious fashion of his own, taking one of my new blankets and one of Will's in exchange for Fred's old ones-cleaned Fred's guns thoroughly after carefully abstracting the oil and waste from our gun-cases and transferring them to Fred's-removed the laces from my shooting boots and replaced them with Fred's knotted ones-sharpened Fred's razors and shaved himself with mine (to the enduring destruction of its once artistic edge)-and departed in the direction of the bazaar.

He returned at the end of an hour and a half with a motley following of about twenty, arrayed in blankets of every imaginable faded hue and in every stage of dirtiness.

"You wanting cook," he announced. "These three making cook."

He waved three nondescripts to the front, and we chose a tall Swahili because he grinned better than the others. "Although," as Fred remarked, "what the devil grinning has to do with cooking is more than anybody knows." The man, whose name was Juma, turned out to be an execrable cook, but as he never left off grinning under any circumstances (and it would have been impossible to imagine circumstances worse than those we warred with later on) we never had the heart to dismiss him.

After that, Will and I selected a servant apiece who were destined forever to wage war on Kazimoto in hopeless efforts to prevent his giving Fred the best end of everything. Mine was a Baganda who called himself Matches, presumably because his real name was unpronounceable. Will chose a Malindi boy named Tengeneza (and that means arrange in order, fix, make over, manage, mend-no end of an ominous name!). They were both outclassed from the start by Kazimoto, but to add to the handicap he insisted that since he was a headman he would need some one to help look after Fred at times when other duties would monopolize his attention. He himself picked out an imp of mischief whose tribe I never ascertained, but who called himself Simba (lion), and there and then Simba departed up-stairs to steal for Fred whatever was left of value among Will's effects and mine.

We had scarcely got used to the idea of once more having a savage apiece to wait on us when Kazimoto turned up at the door with a string of porters and a Goanese railway clerk. We had left our tents and heavy baggage checked at the station, but had said nothing about them to our new headman; however, he had made inquiries and worked out a plan on his own account. The railway clerk asked to know whether he should let Kazimoto have our things.

"Why?"' demanded Fred.

"This hotel no good!" announced Kazimoto. "No place for boys. Heap too many plenty people. Pitching camp, that good!"

"All right," said Fred, and then and there paid our baggage charges.

Presently Brown of Lumbwa, who had spent most of the daylight hours in the little corrugated iron bar run by a Goanese in the bazaar, came lurching past the township camping ground, and viewed Kazimoto with his gang pitching our tents. He asked questions, but could get no information, so came along to us.

"Where you schaps going?" he demanded, leaning against the wall. Fred took advantage of the opportunity and examined him narrowly as to his knowledge of German East and ways of getting there. He was in an aggravating mood that made at one moment a very well of information of him, and at the next a mere garrulous ass.

"Come along o' me t' Lumbwa," was his final word on the matter. "I'll put you on a road nobody knows an' nobody, uses!"

We spent that night under canvas and talked the matter out. The usual way to reach Lumbwa was to wait for a freight, or construction train and beg leave to ride on that, for as yet, no passenger trains were running regularly on the western section of the line. But there was no rule against traveling anywhere south of the equator, and it was our purpose to march down into German East without any one being the wiser.

The next morning we imagined Brown was sober and sorry enough to hold his tongue, so, without going into details with him, we agreed to go with him "some of the way," and Fred spent the whole of that morning in the bazaar buying loads of food and general supplies. Will and I engaged porters, and with Kazimoto's aid as interpreter, had fifty ready to march that afternoon.

The whole trick of starting on a journey is to start. If you only make a mile or two the first day you have at least done better than stand still; loads have been apportioned and porters broken in to some extent; you have broken the spell of inertia, and hereafter there is less likely to be trouble. We made up our minds to get away that afternoon, and I was sent back to the hotel to find Brown, who had gone for his belongings.

If Brown had stayed sober all might have been well, but his headache and feeling of unworthiness had been too much for him and I found him with a straw in the neck of a bottle of whisky alternately laying down law to Georges Coutlass and drinking himself into a state of temporary bliss.

"You Greeks dunno nothin'!" he asserted as I came in. "You never did know nothin', an' you're never goin' to know nothin'! 'Cause why? 'I'll tell you. Simply because I am goin' to tell! I'm mum, I am! When s'mother gents an' me 'ave business, that's our business-see! None o' your business-'ss our business, an' I'm not goin' to tell you Greeks nothin' about where we're off to, nor why, nor when. An' you put that in your pipe an' smoke it!"

I sat in the dining-room for a while, hoping that the Greek would go away; but as Brown was fast drinking himself into a condition when he could not have been moved except on stretcher, and was momentarily edging closer to an admission of all he knew or guessed about our intention, I took the bull by the horns at last-snatched away his whisky bottle, and walked off with it.

He came after me swearing like a trooper, and his own porters, who had been waiting for more than an hour beside his loads, trailed along after him. Once in our camp we made a hammock for him out of a blanket tied to a pole, and made him over to two porters with the promise that they would get no supper if they lost him. Then we started-uphill, toward the red Kikuyu heights, where settlers were already trying to grow potatoes for which there was no market, and onions that would only run to seed.

To our left rear and right front were the highest mountain ranges in Africa. Before us was the pass through which the railway threaded over the wide high table-land before dipping downward to Victoria Nyanza. On our left front was all Kikuyu country, and after that Lumbwa, and native reserves, and forest, and swamp, and desert, and the German boundary.

We made a long march of it that first day, and camped after dark within two miles of Kikuyu station. Most of the scrub thereabouts was castor oil plant, that makes very poor fuel; yet there were lions in plenty that roared and scouted around us even before the tents were pitched.

Nobody got much sleep that night, although the porters were perfectly indifferent to the risk of snoozing on the watch. Kazimoto produced a thing called a kiboko-a whip of hippopotamus-hide a yard and a half long, and with the aid of that and Will's good humor we constituted a yelling brigade, whose business was to make the welkin ring with godless noises whenever a lion came close enough to be dangerous.

I made up a signal party of all our personal boys with our lanterns, swinging them in frantic patterns in the darkness in a way to terrify the very night itself. Fred played concertina nearly all night long, and when dawn came, though there were tracks of lions all about the camp we were only tired and sleepy. Nobody was missing; nobody killed.

We never again took lions so seriously, although we always built fires about the camp in lion country when that was possible. Partly by dint of carelessness that brought no ill results, and partly from observation we learned that where game is plentiful lions are more curious than dangerous, and that unless something should happen to enrage them, or the game has gone away and they are hungry, they are likely to let well alone.

If there are dogs in camp-and we bought three terrier pups that morning from a settler at Kikuyu-leopards are likely to be more troublesome than lions. The leopards seemed to yearn for dog-meat much as Brown of Lumbwa yearned for whisky.

The journey to Lumbwa is one of the pleasantest I remember. We took Brown's supply of whisky from him, locked up with our own, sent him ahead in the hammock, and let him work as guide by promises of whisky for supper if he did his duty, and threats of mere cold water if he failed.

"But water rots my stomach!" he objected.

"Lead on, then!" was the invariable, remorseless answer. So Brown led until we reached Naivasha with its strange lake full of hippo at an elevation so great that the mornings are frosty (and that within sight of the line). There was never a day that we were once out of sight of game from dawn to dark. When we awoke the morning mist would scatter slowly and betray sleepy herds of antelope, that would rise leisurely, stand staring at us, suddenly become suspicious, and then gallop off until the whole plain was a panorama of wheeling herds, reminding one of the cavalry maneuvers at Aldershot when the Guards regiments were pitted against the regular cavalry-all riding and no wits.

Although we had to shoot enough meat for ourselves and men, we never once took advantage of those surprise parties in the early morning, preferring to stalk warier game at the end of a long march. The rains were a thing of the past, and we seldom troubled to pitch tents but slept under the stars with a sensation that the universe was one vast place of peace.

Occasionally we reached an elevation from which we could look down and see men toiling to build the railway, that already reached Nyanza after the unfinished fashion of work whose chief aim is making a showing. Profits, performances were secondary matters; that railway's one purpose was to establish occupation of the head waters of the Nile and refute the German claim to prior rights there. At irregular intervals trains already went down to the lake, and passengers might ride on suffrance; but we deluded ourselves with the belief that by marching we threw enemies off the scent. It was pure delusion, but extremely pleasant while it lasted. Where Africa is green and high she is a lovely land to march across.

Brown grew sober on the trip, as if approaching his chosen home gave him a sense of responsibility. His own reason for preferring the march to a ride in a construction train was simple:

"Every favor you ask o' gov'ment, boys, leaves one less to fall back on in a pinch! Ask not, and they'll forget some o' your peccadillos. Ask too often, and one day when you really need a kindness you'll find the Bank o' Good Hope bu'sted! And, believe me, boys, that 'ud be a hell of a predicament for a poor sufferin' settler to find himself in!"

The approach to Lumbwa was over steep hilly grass land, between forests of cedar-perfect country, kept clean by a wind that smelt of fern and clover.

"You can tell we're gettin' near my place," said Brown, "by the number o' leopards that's about."

We had to keep our three pups close at heel all the time, and even at that we lost two of them. One was taken from between Will's feet as he sat in camp cleaning his rifle. All he heard was the dog's yelp, and all he saw was a flash of yellow as the leopard made for the boulders close at hand. The other was taken out of my tent. I had tied it to the tent pole, but the stout cord snapped like a hair and the darkness swallowed both leopard and its prey before I could as much as reach my rifle to get a shot.

"Splendid country for farmin'," Brown remarked, "Splendid. Only you can't keep sheep because the leopards take 'em. You can't keep hens for the same reason. Nor yet cows, because the leopards get the calves-leastways, that's to say unless you watch out awful cautious. Nor yet you can't keep pigeons, 'cause the leopards take them too. I sent to England for fancy pigeons-a dozen of em. Leopards got all but one, so I put him in the loft above my own house, where it seemed to me 'tweren't possible for a leopard to get, supposin' he'd dared. Went away the next day for some shootin', an' lo and behold!-came back that evenin' to discover my cook an' three others carryin' on as if Kingdom Come had took place at last. Never heard or saw such a jamboree. The blamed leopard was up in the loft; and had eaten the pigeon, feathers and all, but couldn't get out again!"

"What happened? Nothin'! I was that riled I didn't stop to think-fixed a bayonet on the old Martini the gov'ment supplies to settlers out of the depths of its wisdom an' generosity-climbed up by the same route the leopard took-invaded him-an' skewered him wi' the bayonet in the dark! I wouldn't do it again for a kingdom-but I won't buy more pigeons either!"

"What do you raise on your farm, then-pigs?" we asked.

"No, the leopards take pigs."

"What then?"

"Well-as I was explainin' to that Greek Georges Coutlass at Nairobi-there's a way of farmin' out your cattle among the natives that beats keepin' 'em yourself. The natives put 'em in the village pen o' nights; an' besides, they know about the business.

"All you need do is give 'em a heifer calf once in a while, and they're contented. I keep a herd o' two hundred cows in a native village not far from my place. The natural increase o' them will make me well-to-do some day."

The day before we reached Brown's tiny homestead we heard a lot of shooting over the hill behind us.

"That'll be railway men takin' a day off after leopards," announced

Brown with the air of a man who can not be mistaken.

Nevertheless, Fred and I went back to see, but could make out nothing. We lay on the top of the hill and watched for two or three hours, but although we heard rifle firing repeatedly we did not once catch sight of smoke or men. We marched into camp late that night with a feeling of foreboding that we could not explain but that troubled us both equally.

Once or twice in the night we heard firing again, as if somebody's camp not very far away was invaded by leopards, or perhaps lions. Yet at dawn there were no signs of tents. And when that night we arrived at Brown's homestead we seemed to have the whole world to ourselves.

Brown's house was a tiny wooden affair with a thick grass roof. It boasted a big fireplace at one end of the living-room, and a chimney that Brown had built himself so cunningly that smoke could go up and out but no leopards could come down.

He got very drunk that night to celebrate the home-coming, and stayed completely drunk for three days, we making use of his barn to give our porters a good rest. By day we shot enough meat for the camp, and at night we sat over the log fire, praying that Brown might sober up, Fred singing songs to his infernal concertina, and all the natives who could crowd in the doorway listening to him with all their ears. Fred made vast headway in native favor, and learned a lot of two languages at once.

Every day we sent Kazimoto and another boy exploring among the Lumbwa tribe, gathering information as to routes and villages, and it was Kazimoto who came running in breathless one night just as Brown was at last sobering up, with the news that some Greeks had swooped down on Brown's cattle, had wounded two or three of the villagers who herded them, and had driven the whole herd away sout


That news sobered Brown completely. He took the bottle of whisky he had just brought up from the cellar and replaced it unopened.

"There's on'y one Greek in the world knew where my cattle were!" he announced grimly. "There's on'y one Greek I ever talked to about cattle. Coutlass, by the great horn spoon! The blackguard swore he was after you chaps-swore he didn't care nothing about me! What he did to you was none o' my business, o' course-an' I figured anyway as you could look out for yourselves! Not that I told the swine any o' your business, mind! Not me! I was so sure he was gunnin' for you that I told him my own business to throw him off your track! And now the devil goes an' turns on me!"

He got down his rifle and began overhauling it, feverishly, yet with a deliberate care that was curious in a man so recently drunk. While he cleaned and oiled be gave orders to his own boys; and what with having servants of our own and having to talk to them mostly in the native tongue, we were able to understand pretty well the whole of what he said.

"You're not going to start after them to-night?" Fred objected. But he and Will were also already overhauling weapons, for the second time that evening. (It is religion with the true hunter never to eat supper until his rifle is cleaned and oiled.) I got my own rifle down from the shelf over Brown's stone mantelpiece.

"What d'you take me for?" demanded Brown. "There's one pace they'll go at, an' that's the fastest possible. There's one place they'll head for, an' that's German East. They can't march faster than the cattle, an' the cattle'll have to eat. Maybe they'll drive 'em all through the first night, and on into the next day; but after that they'll have to rest 'em an' graze 'em a while. That's when we'll begin to gain. The tireder the cattle get, the faster we'll overhaul 'em, for we can eat while we're marchin', which the cattle can't! You chaps just stay here an' look after my farm till I come back!"

"You mean you propose to go alone after them?" asked Fred.

"Why not? Whose cattle are they?"

He was actually disposed to argue the point.

"Man alive, there'll be shootin'!" he insisted. "If they once get over the border with all those cattle, the Germans'll never hand 'em over until every head o' cattle's gone. They'll fine 'em, an' arrest 'em, an' trick 'em, an' fine 'em again until the Germans own the herd all legal an' proper-an' then they'll chase the Greeks back to British East for punishment same as they always do. What good 'ud that be to me? No, no! Me-I'm going to catch 'em this side o' the line, or else bu'st-an' I won't be too partic'lar where the line's drawn either! There's maybe a hundred miles to the south o' their line that the Germans don't patrol more often than once in a leap-year. If I catch them Greeks in any o' that country, I'm going to kid myself deliberate that it's British East, and act accordin'!"

At last we convinced him, although I don't remember how, for he was obstinate from the aftermath of whisky, that we would no more permit him to go alone than he would consider abandoning his cattle. Then we had to decide who should follow with our string of porters, for if forced marching was in order it was obvious that we should far outdistance our train.

We invited Brown to follow with all the men while we three skirmished ahead, but he waxed so apoplectically blasphemous at the very thought of it that Fred assured him the proposal was intended for a joke. Then we argued among ourselves, coaxed, blarneyed, persuaded, and tried to bribe one another. Finally, all else failing, we tossed a coin for it, odd man out, and Fred lost.

So Brown, Will Yerkes and I, with Kazimoto, our two personal servants, and six boys to carry one tent for the lot of us and food and cooking pots, started off just as the moon rose over the nearest cedars, and laughed at Fred marshaling the sleepy porters by lamplight in the open space between the house and barn. He was to follow as fast as the loaded porters could be made to travel, and with that concertina of his to spur them on there was little likelihood of losing touch. But the rear-guard, when it comes to pursuing a retreating enemy, is ever the least alluring place.

"You've got all the luck," he shouted. "Make the most of it or I'll never gamble on the fall of a coin again!"

That pursuit was a journey of accidents, chapter after chapter of them in such close sequence that the whole was a nightmare without let-up or reason. I began the book by falling into an elephant pit.

Before we had gone a mile in the dark we stood in doubt as to whether the most practicable trail went right or left. Brown set his own indecision down frankly to the whisky that had muddled him. Even Kazimoto, who had passed that way three times, did not know for certain. So I went forward to scout-stepped into the deep shadow of some jungle-trod on nothing-threw the other foot forward to save myself-and fell downward into blackness for an eternity.

I brought up at last unhurt in the trash and decaying vegetation at the bottom of a pit, and looked up to see the stars in a rough parallelogram above me, whose edge I guessed was more than thirty feet above my head. I started to dig my way out, but the crumbling sides fell in and threatened to bury me alive unless I kept still. So I shouted until my lungs ached, but without result. I suppose the noise went trumpeting upward out of the hole and away to the clouds and the stars. At any rate, Will and Brown swore afterward they never heard it.

I was fifteen minutes in the hole that very likely had held many an elephant with his legs wedged together under him until the poor brute perished of thirst, before it occurred to me to fire my rifle. I fired several shots when I did think of it; but we had agreed on no system of signals, and instead of coming to find me at once, the other two cursed me for wasting time shooting at leopards in the dark instead of scouting for the track. I used twenty cartridges before they came to see what sort of battle I was waging, and with the last shot I nearly blew Brown's helmet off as he stooped over the hole to look down in.

Then there were more precious minutes wasted while someone cut a long pole for me to swarm up, and at the end of that time, when I stood on firm ground at last and wiped the blood from hands and knees, we were no wiser about the proper direction to take.

The next accident was a little before midnight. Will Yerkes was leading, I following, next the boys, and Brown bringing up the rear (for in those wild hills there is never a good track wide enough for two men to march abreast. Even the cattle proceed in single file unless driven furiously.) Will came on a leopard devouring its kill, a fat buck, in the midst of the track in the moonlight, and the brute resented the interruption of his meal. It slunk into the shadows before Will could get a shot at it, and for the next two hours followed us, slinking from shadow to shadow, snarling and growling. It plainly intended murder, but which of us was to be the victim, and when, there was no means of guessing, so that the nerves of all of us were tortured every time the brute approached.

We wasted at least thirty cartridges on futile efforts to guess his whereabouts in velvet black shadows, and Brown went through all the stages from simple nervousness to fear, and then to frenzy, until we feared he would shoot one of us in frantic determination to ring the leopard's knell.

At last the brute did rush in, and of course where least expected. He seized one of our porters by the shoulder, his claws doing more damage than his teeth. I shot him by thrusting my rifle into his ear, and although that dropped him instantly his claws, in the dying spasm and by the weight of his fall, tore wounds in the man's arm eighteen or twenty inches long.

One of the things we did have with us was bandages. But it took time to attend to the man's wounds properly by lamp and moonlight, and after that he could neither march fast, nor was there anywhere to leave him.

So just before dawn Fred came up with us, and was more pleased at our discomfiture than sympathetic. He told off two men to carry the injured porter to a mission station more than a day's march away, and redistributed the loads. Then we went on again, once more placing rock, hill, and cedar forest between us and our supply column, this time with Fred's counsel ringing in our ears.

"Better send for nursemaids and perambulators, and have yourselves pushed!"

At noon that day we found the track of the driven cattle, and soon after that came on the half-devoured carcass of a heifer that the Greeks had shot, presumably because it could not march, and perhaps with the added reason that freshly-killed meat would draw off leopards and hyenas and provide peace for a few miles.

Once on the trail it would not have been easy to lose it, except in the dark, for the Greek marauders were bent on speed and the driven cattle had smashed down the undergrowth in addition to leaving deep hoof-prints at every water-course.

The first suspicion that dawned on me of something more than mere freebooting on the part of Coutlass, was due to the discovery of hoof-prints of either mules or horses. I was marching alone in advance, and came on them beside a stream that was only apparently fordable in that one place. After making sure of what they were I halted to let Will and Brown catch up.

"Did Coutlass have money enough to buy mules for himself and gang?" wondered Will.

"That robber?" snorted Brown. "When Lady Saffren Waldon refused him tobacco money in the hotel he tried to borrow from me!"

"Where could be steal mules?" Will asked.

"Nowhere. Aren't any!"

"Horses' then?"

"He'd never take horses. They'd die."

"What are they riding, then?"

"Unless he stole trained zebras from the gov'ment farm at Naivasha," said Brown, "an' they're difficulter to ride 'an a greasy pole up-ended on a earthquake, he must ha' bought mules from the one man who has any to sell. And he lives t'other side o' Nairobi. There are none between there and here-none whatever. Zachariah Korn-him who owns mules-is too wide awake to be stolen from. He bought 'em, you take it from me, and paid twice what they were worth into the bargain."

"Then he bought them with her money!" said Will.

"If not Schillingschen's," said I.

"Or the Sultan of Zanzibar's" said Will, "or the German government's."

"But why? Why should she, or they, conspire at great expense and risk to steal Brown's cattle?"

"They'll figure," said Will, "that Brown is helping us, and therefore, Brown is an enemy. Prob'ly they surmise Brown is in league with us to show us a short cut to what we're after. If that's how they work it out, then they wouldn't need think much to conclude that putting Brown on the blink would hoodoo us. Maybe they allow that that much bad luck to begin with would unsettle Brown's friendly feelings for us. Anyway-somebody bought the mules-somebody stole the cattle-cattle are somewhere ahead. Let's hurry forward and see!"

We did hurry, but made disgustingly poor time. Once a dozen buffalo stampeded our tiny column. Our five porters dropped their loads, and the biggest old bull mistook our only tent for our captain's dead body and proceeded to play ball with it, tossing it and tearing it to pieces until at last Will got a chance for a shoulder shot and drilled him neatly. Two other bulls took to fighting in the midst of the excitement and we got both of them. Then the rest trotted off; so we packed the horns of the dead ones on the head of our free porter (for the tent he had carried was now utterly no use) and hastened on.

Once, in trying to make a cut that should have saved us ten or fifteen miles between two rivers, we fell shoulder-deep into a bog and only escaped after an hour's struggle during which we all but lost two porters. We had to retrace our steps and follow the Greek's route, only to have the mortification of seeing Fred and our column of supplies coming over the top of a rise not eight miles behind us.

Determined not to be overtaken by him a second time and treated to advice about nursemaids, we dispensed with sleep altogether for that night, and nearly got drowned at the second river.

We found a native who owned a thing he called a mtungi-a near-canoe, burned out of a tree-trunk. He assured us the ford was very winding (he drew a wiggly finger-mark in the mud by way of illustration) but that his boat would hold twice our number, and that he could take us over easily in the dark. In fact he swore he had ferried twice our number over on darker nights more than twenty or thirty times. He also said that he had taken the cattle over by the ford early that morning, and then had crossed over in the boat with two Greeks and a bwana Goa. He showed us the brass wire and beads they gave him in proof of that statement, and we began to put some faith in his tale.

So we all piled into his crazy boat with our belongings, and he promptly lost the way amid the twelve-foot grass-papyrus mostly-that divided the river into narrow streams and afforded protection to the most savagely hungry mosquitoes in the world. Our faces and hands were wet with blood in less than two minutes.

Presently, instead of finding bottom for his pole, he pushed us into deep water. The grass disappeared, and a ripple on the water lipping dangerously within three inches of our uneven gunwale proved that we were more or less in the main stream. We had enjoyed that sensation for about a minute, and were headed toward where we supposed the opposite bank must be, when a hippo in a hurry to breathe blew just beside us-saw, smelt, or heard us (it was all one to him)-and dived again.

I suppose in order to get his head down fast enough he shoved his rump up, and his great fat back made a wave that ended that voyage abruptly. Our three inches of broadside vanished. The canoe rocked violently, filled, turned over, and floated wrong side up.

"All the same," laughed Will, spluttering and spitting dirty water, "here's where the crocks get fooled! They don't eat me for supper!"

He was first on top of the overturned boat, and dragged me up after him. Together we hauled up Brown, who could not swim but was bombastically furious and unafraid; and the three of us pulled out the porters and the fatuous boat's owner. The pole was floating near by, and I swam down-stream and fetched it. When they had dragged me back on to the wreck the moon came out, and we saw the far bank hazily through mist and papyrus.

The boat floated far more steadily wrong side up, perhaps because we had lashed all our loads in place and they acted as ballast. Will took the pole and acted the part of Charon, our proper pilot contenting himself with perching on the rear end lamenting the ill-fortune noisily until Kazimoto struck him and threatened to throw him back into the water.

"They don't want a fool like you in the other world," he assured him.

"You will die of old age!"

The papyrus inshore was high enough to screen the moon from us, and we had to hunt a passage through it in pitch darkness. Then, having found the muddy bank at last (and more trillions of mosquitoes) we had to drag the overturned boat out high and dry to rescue our belongings. And that was ticklish work, because most of the crocodiles, and practically all the largest ones, spend the night alongshore.

Matches were wet. We had no means of making a flare to frighten the monsters away. We simply had to "chance it" as cheerfully and swiftly as we could, and at the end of a half-hour's slimy toil we carried our muddied loads to the nearest high ground and settled down there for the night.

It would be mad exaggeration to say we camped. Wet to the skin-dirty to the verge of feeling suicidal-bitten by insects until the blood ran down from us-lost (for we had no notion where the end of the ford might be)-at the mercy of any prowling beasts that might discover us (for our rifle locks were fouled with mud)-we sat with chattering teeth and waited for the morning.

When the sun rose we found a village less than four hundred yards away and sent the boys down to it to unpack the loads and spread everything in the sun to dry, while we went down to the river again and washed our rifles. Then we dried and oiled them, and without a word of bargain or explanation, invaded the cleanest looking hut, lay down on the stamped clay floor, and slept. It was only clean-looking, that hut. It housed more myraids of fleas than the air outside supported "skeeters"; but we slept, unconscious of them all.

At four that afternoon we had the mortification of being roused by Fred's voice, and the dumping of loads as his sixty porters dropped their burdens inside the village stockade. He had scorned the ferry and crossed the ford on foot, making a prodigious splash to keep crocodiles away, and was as full of life and fun as a schoolboy on vacation.

"Wake up, you vorloopers!" he shouted. "Wake up! Shake off the fleas and come, and I'll show you something."

He had already had the tale of our night's misfortune in detail from the owner of the only canoe (who claimed double pay on the ground that we had lost no loads in spite of over-turning. "The last really white man who crossed lost all his loads!" he explained.).

"Come and I'll show you something you never saw before, you scouts!-you advance guard!-you line of skirmishers!"

Will hurled a lump of earth at him, and chased him to the river, where they wrestled, trying to throw each other in, until both were breathless. Then, when neither could make another effort:

"Look!" gasped Fred.

There was an island in mid-stream below where we must have crossed. The stream was straight, and from where we stood we could see more than half a mile of alluvial mud with an arm of the river on either side. The mud was white, not black-so white that it dazzled the eyes to look at it.

"Know what it is?" Fred panted.

We did not know, and it was no use guessing. It looked like burned lime, or else the secretions of about a billion birds; and there were no birds to speak of.

"Crocodile eggs!" said Fred.

We did not believe that. Even Brown did not believe it. There was no time to spare, but Brown out of curiosity agreed, so we took the absurd canoe and poled down to investigate. As we came nearer the solid white broke up into a myriad dots, and Fred's tale stood confirmed.

They were as long as two hens' eggs laid end to end, or longer. They lay in the sun in batches in every stage of incubation, and from almost every batch there were little crocodiles emerging, that made straight for the water. What worse monster preyed on them to keep their numbers down, or what disease took care of their prolixity we could not guess. Perhaps they ate one another, or just died of hunger. The owner of the boat vowed there were no fish left in the river, and that the crocodiles did not eat hippo unless it were first dead.

We took another tent from among Fred's loads, changed two of our porters for stronger ones, and went forward that evening; for it began to be obvious that the speed had been telling on the cattle. We passed two more dead heifers within a few miles of the river bank, and there were other signs that for all our long sleep we were gaining on them.

Perhaps the Greeks thought they had shaken off pursuit. Judging by the compass they were headed for the shore of Victoria Nyanza, where the grazing would be better, food for men would be purchaseable, and the number of villages closely spaced would make the task of night-herding vastly easier. There isn't a village in that part of Africa that is not proud to be a host to anybody's cattle, if only because the ownership of so much living wealth casts glory on all who come in contact with it.

There was no means of telling whether or not we were over the German border. The boundary line had not been surveyed yet, and on the map the part where we were was set down as "unexplored," although that was scarcely accurate; the route was well enough known to Greeks and Arabs, and other bad characters bent on smuggling or in some other way defeating the ends of justice.

We marched that night until midnight, slept until dawn, and were off again. At noon we reached rising ground, and Kazimoto ran ahead of us to the summit. We saw him standing at gaze for three or four minutes with one hand shading his eyes before he came scampering back, as excited as if his own fortune were in the balance.

"Hooko-chini!" he shouted. "Hooko-chini-mba-a-a-li sana!"-(They're down below there, very far away!)

We hurried up-hill, but for many minutes could see nothing except a plain of waving grass higher than a man's head and almost as impenetrable as bamboo-country that carried small hope in it for man or beast, that would be a holocaust in the dry season when the heat set fire to the grass, and was an insect-haunted marsh at most other times. However, path across it there must be, for the Greeks had driven Brown's cattle that way that very morning, and Kazimoto swore he could see them in the distance, although Brown, and Will, and I-all three keen-sighted-could see nothing whatever but immeasurable, worthless waving grass.

At last I detected a movement near the horizon that did not synchronize with the wind-blown motion of the rest. I pointed it out to the others, and after a few minutes we agreed that it moved against the wind.

"They're hurrying again," said Brown, peering under both hands. "There's no feed for cattle on all this plain. They're racing to get to short grass before the cattle all die. Come on-let's hurry after 'em!"

For the second time on that trip we essayed a short cut, making as straight as a bee would fly for the point on the horizon where we knew the Greeks to be. And for the second time we fell into a bog, nearly losing our lives in it. We had to pull one another out, using even our precious rifles as supports in the yielding mud, and then spending equally precious time in cleaning locks and sights again.

After that we hunted for the cattle trail and followed that closely; and that was not so easy as it reads, because the trampled grass had risen again, and cattle and mounted men can cross easily ground that delays men on foot.

The heat was that of an oven. The water-what there was of it in the holes and swampy places-stank, and tasted acrid. The flies seemed to greet us as their only prospect of food that year. The monotony of hurrying through grass-stems that cut off all view and only showed the sky through a waving curtain overhead was more nerve-trying than the physical weariness and thirst.

We slept a night in that grass, burning some of it for a smudge to keep mosquitoes at bay, and an hour after dawn, reaching rising ground again, realized that we had our quarry within reach at last.

They were out in the open on short good grazing. The Greeks' tent was pitched. We could see their mules, like brown insects, tied under a tree, and the cattle dotted here and there, some lying down, some feeding.

"At last!" said Brown. "Boys, they're our meat! There's a tree to hang the Greeks and the Goa to! When we've done that, if you'll all come back with me I'll send to Nairobi for an extra jar of Irish whisky, and we'll have a spree at Lumbwa that'll make the fall of Rome sound like a Sunday-school picnic! We're in German territory now, all right. There's not a white man for a hundred miles in any direction-except your friend that's coming along behind. There's nobody to carry tales or prevent! I'm no savage. I'm no degenerate. I don't hold with too much of anything, but-"

"There'll be no dirty work, if that's what you mean," said Will quietly.

Brown stared hard at him.

"D'you mean you'll object to hanging 'em?"

"Not in the least. We hang or shoot cattle thieves in the States. I said there'll be no dirty work, that's all."

"Shall we rest a while, and come on them fresh in the morning?" I proposed.

"Forward!" snorted Brown. "Why d'you want to wait?"

"Forward it is!" agreed Will. "When we get a bit closer we'll stop and hold council of war."

"One minute!" said I. "Tell me what that is?"

I had been searching the whole countryside, looking for some means of stealing on the marauders unawares and finding none. They had chosen their camping place very wisely from the point of view of men unwilling to be taken by surprise. Far away over to our right, appearing and disappearing as I watched them, were a number of tiny black dots in sort of wide half-moon formation, and a larger number of rather larger dots contained within the semicircle.

"Cattle!" exploded Brown.

"And men!" added Will.

"Black men!" said I. "Black men with spears!"

"Masai!" said Kazimoto excitedly. He had far the keenest eyes of all of us.

We were silent for several minutes. The veriest stranger in that land knows about the feats and bravery of the Masai, who alone of all tribes did not fear the Arabs, and who terrorized a quarter of a continent before the British came and broke their power.

"Mbaia cabisa!" muttered Kazimoto, meaning that the development was very bad indeed. And he had right to know.

He explained it was a raid. The Masai, in accordance with time-honored custom, had come from British East to raid the lake-shore villages of German territory, and were driving back the plundered cattle. None can drive cattle as Masai can. They can take leg-weary beasts by the tail and make them gallop, one beast encouraging the next until they all go like the wind. For food they drink hot blood, opening a vein in a beast's neck and closing it again when they have had their fill. Their only luggage is a spear. Their only speed-limit the maximum the cattle can be stung to. On a raid three hundred and sixty miles in six days is an ordinary rate of traveling.

Just now they did not seem in much hurry. They had probably butchered the fighting men of all the villages in their rear, and were well informed as to the disposition of the nearest German forces. There were probably no Germans within a hundred miles. There was no telegraph in all those parts. To notify Muanza by runner and Bagamoyo on the coast from there by wire would take several days. Then Bagamoyo would have to wire the station at Kilimanjaro, and there was no earthly chance of Germans intercepting them before they could reach British East.

Nor was there any treaty provision between British and German colonial governments for handing over raiders. The Germans had refused to make any such agreement for reasons best known to themselves. The fact that they were far the heaviest losers by the lack of reciprocal police arrangements was due to the fact that most of the Masai lived in British East. The Masai would have raided across either border with supreme indifference.

"Masai not talking. Masai using spear and kill!" remarked Kazimoto.

"One good thing our gov'ment's done," said Brown. "Just one. It has kept those rascals from owning rifles! But lordy! They've got spears that give a man the creeps to see!"

He began looking to his rifle. So did Will and I.

"Now this here is my fight," he explained. "Them's my cattle. They're all the wealth I own in the world. If I lose 'em I'm minded to die anyhow. There's nothing in life for a drunkard like me with all his money gone and nothing to do but take a mean white's job. You chaps just wait here and watch while I 'tend to my own affairs."

"Exactly!" Will answered dryly. "I've a hundred rounds in my pockets.

That ought to be enough."

While we made ready, leaving our loads and porters in a safe place and giving the boys orders, I saw two things happen. First, the Masai became aware of the little Greek encampment and the two hundred head of cattle waiting at their mercy; and second, the Greeks grew aware of the Masai.

The Greeks had boys with them; I saw at least half a dozen go scattering to round up the cattle. The tents began to come down, and I saw three figures that might be the Greeks and the Goanese holding a consultation near the tree.

"And now," remarked Will, "I begin to see the humor in this comedy.

Which are we-allies of the Greeks or of the Masai? Are we to help the

Greeks get away with Brown's cattle, or help the Masai steal 'em from

the Greeks? Are your cattle all branded, Brown?"

"You blooming well bet they are!"

"Masai know enough to alter a brand?"

"Never heard o' their doing it."

"Then if the Masai get away with them to British East, if you can find 'em you can claim 'em, eh?"

"Claim 'em in court wi' the whole blooming tribe o' Masai-more'n a quarter of a million of 'em-all on hand to swear they bought 'em from me; an' the British gov'ment takin' sides with the black men, as it always does? Oh, yes! It sounds easy, that does!"

"But if the Greeks get away with 'em," argued Will, "you've no chance of recovering at all."

"I'll not take sides with Masai-even against Greeks!" Brown answered grimly, and Will laughed.

"If we attack the Greeks first," I said, "perhaps they'll run. We're nearer to them than the Masai are. The Masai, will have to corral their own cattle before they can leave them to raid a new lot. We can open fire at long range to begin with. If that scares the Greeks away, then we can round up Brown's cattle and drive them back northward. We may possibly escape with them too quickly for the Masai to think it worth while to follow."

Brown laughed cynically.

"We can try it," he said. "An' if the Greeks don't run pretty quick they'll never run again-I'll warrant that!"

Nobody had a better plan to propose, so we emptied our pockets of all but fifty rounds of ammunition each, and gave the rest to Kazimoto to carry, with orders to keep in hiding and watch, and run with cartridges to whoever should first need them.

Then, because instead of corraling their cattle the Masai were already dividing themselves into two parties, one of which drove the cattle forward and the other diverged to study the attack, we ducked down under a ridge and ran toward the Greeks. The sooner we could get the first stage of the fighting off our hands the better.

It proved a long way-far longer than I expected, and the going was rougher. Moreover, the Greeks' boys were losing no time about rounding up the cattle. By the time they were ready to make a move we were still more than a mile away, and out of breath.

"If they go south," panted Brown, throwing himself down by a clump of grass to gasp for his third or fourth wind, "the Masai'll catch 'em sure, an' we'll be out o' the running! Lord send they head 'em back toward British East!"

He was in much the worst physical condition because of the whisky, but his wits were working well enough. The Greeks on the other hand seemed undecided and appeared to be arguing. Then Brown's prayer was answered. The Greeks' boys decided the matter for them by stampeding the herd northward toward us. They did not come fast. They were lame, and bone-weary from hard driving, but they knew the way home again and made a bee line. Within a minute they were spread fan-wise between us and the Greeks, making a screen we could not shoot through.

"Scatter to right and left!" Brown shouted. "Get round the wings!"

But what was the use? He was in the center, and short-winded. I climbed on an ant-hill.

"The Greeks are on the run!" I said. "They are headed southward!

They've got their boys together, and have abandoned the cattle!

They're off with their tent and belongings due south!"

"The cowards!" swore Brown, with such disappointment that Will and I laughed.

"Laugh all you like!" he said. "I've a long job on my hands! I'll have revenge on 'em if it takes the rest o' my life! I'll follow 'em to hell-and-gone!"

"Meanwhile," I said, still standing on the ant-hill, "the Masai are following the cattle! They're smoking this way in two single columns of about twenty spears in each. The remainder are driving their own cattle about due eastward so as to be out of the way of trouble."

"All right," said Brown, growing suddenly cheerful again. "Then it'll be a rear-guard action. Let the cattle through, and open fire behind 'em! Send that Kazimoto o' yours to warn our boys to round 'em up and drive 'em slow and steady northward!"

Kazimoto ran back and gave the necessary orders. He lost no time about it, but returned panting, and lay down in a hollow behind us with cartridges in either fist and a grin on his face that would have done credit to a circus clown. I never, anywhere, saw any one more pleased than Kazimoto at the prospect of a fight.

We let the cattle through and lay hidden, waiting for the raiders. They were in full war dress, which is to say as nearly naked as possible except for their spears, a leg ornament made from the hair of the colobus monkey, a leather apron hung on just as suited the individual wearer's fancy, a great shield, and an enormous ostrich-feather head-dress. They seemed in no hurry, for they probably guessed that the cattle would stop to graze again when the first scare was over; yet they came along as smoke comes, swiftly and easily, making no noise.

Suddenly those in the lead caught sight of our boys getting behind the cattle to herd them northward. They halted to hold consultation-apparently decided that they had only unarmed natives to deal with-and came on again, faster than before.

"Better open fire now!" said Brown, when they were still a quarter of a mile away.

"Wait till you can see their eyes!" Will advised. "An unexpected volley at close quarters will do more havoc than hours of long-range shooting.

"This ain't a long range!" Brown objected. "As for unexpected-just watch me startle 'em! My sight's fixed at four hundred. Watch!"

He fired-we wished he had not. The leading Masai of the right-hand column jerked his head sidewise as the whistling bullet passed, and then there was nothing for it but to follow his lead and blaze away for all we were worth. If Brown had been willing to accept Will's advice there is nothing more likely than that the close-quarter surprise would have won the day for us. We would have done much more execution with three volleys at ten-yard range. As it was, we all missed with our finest shots, and the Masai took heart and charged in open order.

The worst of it was that, although we dropped several of them, now the others had a chance to discover there were only three of us. Their leader shouted. The right-hand column continued to attack, but changed its tactics. The left-hand party made a circuit at top speed, outflanked us, and pursued the cattle.

Supposing my count was right, we had laid out, either wounded or dead, seven of the crowd attacking us. This left perhaps fourteen against us, to be dealt with before the others could come back with the cattle and take us in the rear.

Will brought another man down; I saw the blood splash on his forehead as the bullet drilled the skull cleanly. Then one man shouted and they all lay prone, beginning to crawl toward us with their shields held before, not as protection against bullets (for as that they were utterly worthless) but as cover that made their exact position merest guesswork.

I fell back and took position on the ant-hill from which I had first seen them, thus making our position triangular and giving myself a chance to protect the other two should they feel forced to retire. The extra height also gave me a distinct advantage, for I could see the legs of the Masai over the tops of their shields, and was able to wound more than one of them so severely that they crawled to the rear.

But the rest came on. Kazimoto began to be busy supplying cartridges. In that first real pinch we were in he certainly lived up to all Courtney had said of him, for without the stimulus of his proper master's eye he neither flinched nor faltered, but crawled from one to the other, dividing the spare rounds equally.

The Masai began to attempt to outflank us, but my position on the ant-hill to the rear made that impossible; they found themselves faced by a side of the triangle from whichever side they attacked. But in turning to keep an eye on the flank I became aware of a greater danger. The cattle were coming back. That meant that the other Masai were coming, too, and that in a few moments we were likely to be overwhelmed. I shouted to Will and Brown, but either they did not hear me, or did not have time to answer.

I fired half a dozen shots, and then distinctly heard the crack of a rifle from beyond the cattle. That gave matters the worst turn yet. If one of the raiders had a rifle, then unless I could spot him at once and put him out of action our cause was likely lost. I stood up to look for him and heard a wild cheer, followed by three more shots in quick succession. Then at last I saw Fred Oakes running along a depression in the ground, followed at a considerable distance by the advance-guard of his porters. He was running, and then kneeling to fire-running, and kneeling again. And he was not wasting ammunition. He was much the best shot of us all, now that Monty was absent.

The terrified cattle stampeded past us, too wild to be cheeked by any noise. Seeing them, and sure now of their booty, the party attacking us hauled off and took to their heels. Will and Brown were for speeding them with bullets in the rear, but I yelled again, and this time made myself heard. Those who had got behind the cattle and were driving them were coming on with spears and shields raised to slay us in passing. The other two joined me, and we stood on the ant-hill three abreast. They charged us-seven or eight of them. Three bit the dust, but the rest came on, and if it had not been for two swift shots from Fred's rifle in the very nick of time we should have all been dead men.

As it was, one seized me by the knees and we went over together, rolling down the ant-hill, he slashing at me with his great broad-bladed spear, I ahold of his wrist with one hand, and with the other fist belaboring him in the face. He was stronger than I-greasier-sweatier-harder to hold. He slipped from under me, rolled on top, wrenched his wrist free, and in another second grinned in my face as, with both knees in my stomach, he raised the spear to kill. I shut my eyes. I had not another breath left, nor an effort in me, I thought I would deny him the pleasure of watching my death agony. But I could not keep my eyes shut. Opening them to see why he did not strike, I saw Kazimoto with my rifle in both hands swing for his skull with the full weight of the butt and all his strength. Kazimoto grunted. The Masai half turned his head at the sound. The butt hit home-broke off-and my face and breast were deluged with blood and brains.

When I had wiped off that mess with Kazimoto's help I saw Fred and Will and Brown pursuing the retreating Masai, kneeling to shoot every few yards, at every other shot or so bringing down a victim, but being rapidly out-distanced. Cattle are all the Masai care about. They had the cattle. They had hold of tails and were making the whole herd scamper due east, where they no doubt knew of a trail not in maps. They made no attempt to defend themselves-left their dead lying-and ran. I saw two or three wounded ones riding on cows, and no doubt some of those who ran holding to the cows' tails were wounded, too.

I was useless now, as far as fighting was concerned, for the butt of my rifle was broken clean off at the grip, but I ran on, and heard Brown shout:

"Shoot cattle! Don't let the brutes get away with them all!"

He was shooting cows himself when I came up, but it was Fred who stopped him.

"Never mind that, old man. We'll follow 'em up! Our time's our own.

We'll get your cattle back, never fear. Dead ones are no use."

Brown stopped shooting and began to blubber. Whisky had not left him manhood enough to see his whole available resources carried away before his eyes, and he broke down as utterly as any child. It was neither agreeable nor decent to watch, and I turned away. I was feeling sick myself from the pressure of the Masai's knees in my stomach. That, and the sun, and the long march, and hunger (for we had not stopped to eat a meal that day) combined in argument, and I hunted about for a soft place and a little shade. It happened that Fred Oakes was watching me, although I did not know it. He suspected sunstroke.

I saw a clump of rushes that gave shade enough. I could crush down some, and lie on those. I hurried, for I was feeling deathly sick now. As I reached the grass my knees began giving under me. I staggered, but did not quite fall.

That, and Fred's watchfulness, saved my life; for at the moment that my head and shoulders gave the sudden forward lurch, a wounded Masai jumped out of the rushes and drove with his spear at my breast. The blade passed down my back and split my jacket.

He sprang back, and made another lunge at me, but Fred's rifle barked at the same second and he fell over sidewise, driving the spear into my leg in his death spasm.

The twenty minutes following that are the worst in memory. Kazimoto broke the gruesome news that the spear-blade was almost surely poisoned-dipped in gangrene. The Masai are no believers in wounded enemies, or mercy on the battlefield.

We doubted the assertion for a while-I especially, for none but a hypochondriac would care to admit without proof that gangrene had been forced into his system. Kazimoto grew indignant, and offered to prove the truth of his claim on some animal. But there was no living animal in sight on which to prove it. We asked him how long gangrene, injected in that way, took to kill a man.

"Very few minutes!" he answered.

Then it occurred that none of us knew what to do. Kazimoto announced that he knew, and offered to make good at once if given permission. He demanded permission again and again from each one of us, making me especially repeat my words. Then he gathered stems of grass a third of an inch thick from the bed of the tiny watercourse, and proceeded to make a tiny fire, talking in a hurry as he did it to several of Fred's string of porters, who were now arriving on the scene.

While I watched with a sort of tortured interest what he was doing at the fire, five of the largest boys with whom he had been speaking rushed me from behind, and before I could struggle, or even swear, had me pinned out on my back on the ground. One sat on my head; one on my poor bruised stomach; the others held wrists and ankles in such way that I could not break free, nor even kick much, however hard I tried.

Then Kazimoto came with glowing ends of grass from the fire, blowing on them to keep them cherry-red, and inserted one after another into the open spear-wound. I could not cry out, because of the man sitting on my face, but I could bite. And to the everlasting glory of the man-Ali bin Yema, his name was-be it written that he neither spoke nor moved a muscle, although my front teeth met in his flesh.

I do not know how long the process lasted, or how many times Kazimoto returned to the fire for more of his sizzling sticks, for I fainted; and when I came round the agony was still too intense to permit interest in anything but agony. They had my leg bandaged, how and with what I neither knew nor cared. And it was evident that unless they chose to leave me in camp where I was they would have to abandon all thought of pursuing Masai for the present. Even Brown saw the force of that, and he was the first to refuse flatly to leave me there.

For a while they hunted through the grass for more wounded men, but found none. There must have been several, but they probably feared the sort of mercy from us that they habitually gave to their own enemies, and crawled away-in all likelihood to die of thirst and hunger, unless some beast of prey should smell them out and make an earlier end.

Then there was consultation. It was decided a doctor for me was the most urgent need; that Muanza, the largest German station on Victoria Nyanza, was probably as near as anywhere, and that German East being our immediate destination anyway, the best course to take was forward, roughly south by west. So I was slung in a blanket on a tent-pole, and we started, I swearing like a pirate every time a boy stumbled and jolted me. (There is something in the nature of a burn that makes bad language feel like singing hymns.)

Our troubles were not all over, for we passed through a country where buck were fairly plentiful, and that meant lions. They did no damage, but they kept us awake; and one night near the first village we came to, where our porters all quartered themselves with the villagers for sake of the change from their crowded tents, the fires that we made went out, and five lions (we counted their foot-prints afterward) came and sniffed around the pegs of the tent in which Fred and I lay, we lying still and shamming dead. To have lifted a rifle in the darkness and tried to shoot would have been suicide.

Then there were trees we passed among-baobabs, whose youngest tendrils swung to and fro in the evening breeze like snakes head-downward. And taking advantage of that natural provision, twenty-foot pythons swung among them, in coloring and marking aping the habit of the tree. One of them knocked Fred's helmet off as he marched beside me. They are easy to kill. He shot it, and it dropped like a stone, three hundred pounds or more, but the sweat ran down Fred's face for half an hour afterward.

(Since then I have seen pythons kill their prey a score of times. I never once saw one kill by crushing. The end of their nose is as hard as iron, and they strike a terrific blow with that, so swift that the eye can not follow it. Then, having killed by striking, they crawl around their prey and crush it into shape for swallowing.)

But the worst of the journey was the wayside villages-dirty beyond belief, governed in a crude way by a headman whom the Germans honored with the title of sultani. These wayside beggars (for they were no better)-destitute paupers, taxed until their wits failed them in the effort to scrape together surplus enough out of which to pay-were supplied with a mockery of a crown apiece, a thing of brass and imitation plush that they wore in the presence of strangers. To add to the irony of that, the law of the land permitted any white man passing through to beat them, with as many as twenty-five lashes, if they failed to do his bidding.

On arriving at such a village, the first thing we did was to ask for milk. If they had any they brought it, not daring to refuse for fear lest a German sergeant-major should be sent along to wreak vengeance later. But it was always too dirty to drink.

That ceremony over, the headman retired and the village sick were brought for our inspection. Gruesome sores, running ulcers, wounds and crippled limbs were stripped and exposed to our most reluctant gaze. There was little we could do for them. Our own supply of medicines and bandages was almost too small for our own needs to begin with. By the time we passed three villages we scarcely had enough lint and liniment left to take care of my wound; but even that scant supply we cut in half for a particularly bad case.

"Don't the Germans do anything for you?" we demanded, over and over again.

The answer was always the same.

"Germani mbaia!" (The Germans are bad!)

They were lifeless-listless-tamed until neither ambition nor courage was left. When their cattle had brought forth young and it looked as if there might be some profit at last, the Masai came and raided them, taking away all but the very old ones and the youngest calves. The Germans, they said, taxed them and took their weapons away, but gave them no protection.

At one place we passed a rifle, lying all rusted by the track. At the next village we asked about it. They told us that a German native soldier had deserted six months before and had thrown his rifle away. Since that day no one had dared touch it, and they begged us to send back and lay it where we found it, lest the Germans come and punish them for touching it. So we did that, to oblige them, and they were grateful to the extent of offering us one of their only two male sheep.

I forget now for how many days we traveled across that sad and saddening land, Fred always cheerful in spite of everything, Will more angry at each village with its dirt and sores, Brown moaning always about his lovely herd of cows, and I groaning oftener than not.

My leg grew no better, what with jolting and our ignorance of how to treat it. Sometimes, in efforts to obtain relief, I borrowed a cow at one village and rode it to the next; but a cow is a poor mount and takes as a rule unkindly to the business. Now and then I tried to walk for a while, on crutches that Fred made for me; but most of the time I was carried in a blanket that grew hotter and more comfortless as day dragged after day.

At last, however, we topped a low rise and saw Muanza lying on the lake-shore, with the great island of Ukereweto to northward in the distance. From where we first glimpsed it it was a tidy, tree-shaded, pleasant-looking place, with a square fort, and a big house for the commandant on a rise overlooking the town.

"Now we'll wire Monty at last!" said Fred.

"Now we'll shave and wash and write letters!" said Will.

"Now at last for a doctor!" said I.

But Brown said nothing, and Kazimoto wore a look of anxious discontent.

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