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In the Heart of Africa by Sir Samuel White Baker

Part 2 out of 5

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On the following morning we started, and upon arrival at the dead
elephant we followed the tracks of that wounded by the "Baby." The blood
upon the bushes guided us in a few minutes to the spot where the
elephant lay dead, at about three hundred yards' distance. The whole day
passed in flaying the two animals and cutting off the flesh, which was
packed in large gum sacks, with which the camels were loaded. I was
curious to examine the effect of the half-pound shell. It had entered
the flank on the right side, breaking the rib upon which it had
exploded; it had then passed through the stomach and the lower portion
of the lungs, both of which were terribly shattered; and breaking one of
the fore-ribs on the left side, it had lodged beneath the skin of the
shoulder. This was irresistible work, and the elephant had evidently
dropped in a few minutes after having received the shell.

A most interesting fact had occurred. I noticed an old wound unhealed
and full of matter in the front of the left shoulder. The bowels were
shot through, and were green in various places. Florian suggested that
it must be an elephant that I had wounded at Wat el Negur; we tracked
the course of the bullet most carefully, until we at length discovered
my unmistakable bullet of quicksilver and lead, almost uninjured, in the
fleshy part of the thigh, imbedded in an unhealed wound. Thus, by a
curious chance, upon my first interview with African elephants by
daylight, I had killed the identical elephant that I had wounded at Wat
el Negur forty-three days before in the dhurra plantation, twenty-eight
miles distant!


The start from Geera--Feats of horsemanship--A curious chase-- Abou Do
wins a race--Capturing a young buffalo--Our island camp--Tales of the

We started from Geera on the 23d of December, with our party complete.
The Hamran sword-hunters were Abou Do, Jali, and Suleiman. My chief
tracker was Taher Noor, who, although a good hunter, was not a
professional aggahr, and I was accompanied by the father of Abou Do, who
was a renowned "howarti" or harpooner of hippopotami. This magnificent
old man might have been Neptune himself. He stood about six feet two,
and his grizzled locks hung upon his shoulders in thick, and massive
curls, while his deep bronze features could not have been excelled in
beauty of outline. A more classical figure I have never beheld than the
old Abou Do with his harpoon as he first breasted the torrent, and then
landed dripping from the waves to join our party from the Arab camp on
the opposite side of the river. In addition to my Tokrooris, I had
engaged nine camels, each with a separate driver, of the Hamrans, who
were to accompany us throughout the expedition. These people were glad
to engage themselves, with their camels included, at one and a half
dollars per month, for man and beast as one. We had not sufficient
baggage to load five camels, but four carried a large supply of corn for
our horses and people.

Hardly were we mounted and fairly started than the monkey-like agility
of our aggageers was displayed in a variety of antics, that were far
more suited to performances in a circus than to a party of steady and
experienced hunters, who wished to reserve the strength of their horses
for a trying journey.

Abou Do was mounted on a beautiful Abyssinian horse, a gray; Suleiman
rode a rough and inferior-looking beast; while little Jali, who was the
pet of the party, rode a gray snare, not exceeding fourteen hands in
height, which matched her rider exactly in fire, spirit, and speed.
Never was there a more perfect picture of a wild Arab horseman than Jali
on his mare. Hardly was he in the saddle than away flew the mare over
the loose shingles that formed the dry bed of the river, scattering the
rounded pebbles in the air from her flinty Hoofs, while her rider in the
vigour of delight threw himself almost under her belly while at full
speed, and picked up stones from the ground, which he flung, and again
caught as they descended. Never were there more complete Centaurs than
these Hamran Arabs ; the horse and man appeared to be one animal, and
that of the most elastic nature, that could twist and turn with the
suppleness of a snake. The fact of their being separate beings was well
proved, however, by the rider's springing to the earth with his drawn
sword while the horse was in full gallop over rough and difficult
ground, and, clutching the mane, again vaulting into the saddle with the
ability of a monkey, without once checking the speed. The fact of being
on horseback had suddenly altered the character of these Arabs; from a
sedate and proud bearing, they had become the wildest examples of the
most savage disciples of Nimrod. Excited by enthusiasm, they shook their
naked blades aloft till the steel trembled in their grasp, and away they
dashed over rocks, through thorny bush, across ravines, up and down
steep inclinations, engaging in a mimic hunt, and going through the
various acts supposed to occur in the attack of a furious elephant. I
must acknowledge that, in spite of my admiration for their wonderful
dexterity, I began to doubt their prudence. I had three excellent horses
for my wife and myself; the Hamran hunters had only one for each, and if
the commencement were an example of their usual style of horsemanship, I
felt sure that a dozen horses would not be sufficient for the work
before us. However, it was not the moment to offer advice, as they were
simply mad with excitement and delight.

The women raised their loud and shrill yell at parting, and our party of
about twenty-five persons, with nine camels, six horses, and two
donkeys, exclusive of the German, Florian, with his kicking
giraffe-hunter, and attendants, ascended the broken slope that formed
the broad valley of the Settite River.

There was very little game in the neighbourhood, as it was completely
overrun by the Arabs and their flocks, and we were to march about fifty
miles east-south- east before we should arrive in the happy
hunting-grounds of the Base country, where we were led to expect great

In a day's march through a beautiful country, sometimes upon the high
table-land to cut off a bend in the river, at other times upon the
margin of the stream in the romantic valley, broken into countless hills
and ravines covered with mimosas, we arrived at Ombrega (mother of the
thorn), about twenty-four miles from Geera. We soon arranged a
resting-place, and cleared away the grass that produced the thorn which
had given rise to the name of Ombrega, and in a short time we were
comfortably settled for the night. We were within fifty yards of the
river, the horses were luxuriating in the green grass that grew upon its
banks, and the camels were hobbled, to prevent them from wandering from
the protection of the camp-fires, as we were now in the wilderness,
where the Base by day and the lion and leopard by night were hostile to
man and beast.

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

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

The country that we now traversed was so totally uninhabited that it was
devoid of all footprints of human beings; even the sand by the river's
side, that, like the snow, confessed every print, was free from all
traces of man. The Bas-e were evidently absent from our neighbourhood.

We had several times disturbed antelopes during the early portion of the
march, and we had just ascended from the rugged slopes of the valley,
when we observed a troop of about 100 baboons, which were gathering
gum-arabic from the mimosas; upon seeing us, they immediately waddled
off. "Would the lady like to have a girrit (baboon)?" exclaimed the
ever-excited Jali. Being answered in the affirmative, away dashed the
three hunters in full gallop after the astonished apes, who, finding
themselves pursued, went off at their best speed. The ground was rough,
being full of broken hollows, covered scantily with mimosas, and the
stupid baboons, instead of turning to the right into the rugged and
steep valley of the Settite, where they would have been secure from the
aggageers, kept a straight course before the horses. It was a curious
hunt. Some of the very young baboons were riding on their mother's
backs; these were now going at their best pace, holding onto their
maternal steeds, and looking absurdly humans but in a few minutes, as we
closely followed the Arabs, we were all in the midst of the herd, and
with great dexterity two of the aggageers, while at full speed, stooped
like falcons from their saddles, and seized each a half-grown ape by the
back of the neck, and hoisted them upon the necks of the horses. Instead
of biting, as I had expected, the astonished captives sat astride of the
horses, and clung tenaciously with both arms to the necks of their
steeds, screaming with fear.

The hunt was over, and we halted to secured the prisoners. Dismounting,
to my surprise the Arabs immediately stripped from a mimosa several
thongs of bark, and having tied the baboons by the neck, they gave them
a merciless whipping with their powerful coorbatches of hippopotamus
hide. It was in vain that I remonstrated against this harsh treatment;
they persisted in the punishment. Otherwise they declared that the
baboons would bite, but if well-whipped they would become
"miskeen"(humble). At length by wife insisted upon mercy, and the
unfortunate captives wore an expression of countenance like prisoners
about to be led to execution, and they looked imploringly at our faces,
in which they evidently discovered some sympathy with their fate. They
were quickly placed on horseback before their captors, and once more we
continued our journey, highly amused with the little entr' acte.

We had hardly ridden half a mile when I perceived a fine bull tetel
standing near a bush a few hundred yards distant. Motioning to the party
to halt, I dismounted, and with that the little Fletcher rifle I
endeavored to obtain a shot. When within about a hundred and seventy
yards, he observed our party, and I was obliged to take the shot,
although I could have approached unseen to a closer distance, had his
attention not been attracted by the noise of the horses. He threw his
head up preparatory to starting off, and he was just upon the move as I
touched the trigger. He fell like a stone to the shot, but almost
immediately he regained his feet and bounded off, receiving a bullet
from the second barrel without a flinch. In full speed he rushed away
across the party of aggageers about three hundred yards distant.

Out dashed Abou Do from the ranks on his active gray horse, and away he
flew after the wounded tetel, his long hair floating in the wind, his
naked sword in hand, and his heels digging into the flanks of his horse,
as though armed with spurs in the last finish of a race. It was a
beautiful course. Abou Do hunted like a cunning greyhound; the tetel
turned, and, taking advantage of the double, he cut off the angle;
succeeding by the manoeuvre, he again followed at tremendous speed over
the numerous inequalities of the ground, gaining in the race until he
was within twenty yards of the tetel, when we lost sight of both game
and hunter in the thick bushes. By this time I had regained my horse,
that was brought to meet me, and I followed to the spot, toward which my
wife and the aggageers, encumbered with the unwilling apes, were already
hastening. Upon arrival I found, in high yellow grass beneath a large
tree, the tetel dead, and Abou Do wiping his bloody sword, surrounded by
the foremost of the party. He had hamstrung the animal so delicately
that the keen edge of the blade was not injured against the bone. My two
bullets had passed through the tetel. The first was too high, having
entered above the shoulder--this had dropped the animal for a moment;
the second was through the flank.

The Arabs now tied the baboons to trees, and employed themselves in
carefully skinning the tetel so as to form a sack from the hide. They
had about half finished the operation, when we were disturbed by a
peculiar sound at a considerable distance in the jungle, which, being
repeated, we knew to be the cry of buffaloes. In an instant the tetel
was neglected, the aggageers mounted their horses, and leaving my wife
with a few men to take charge of the game, accompanied by Florian we
went in search of the buffaloes. This part of the country was covered
with grass about nine feet high, that was reduced to such extreme
dryness that the stems broke into several pieces like glass as we
brushed through it. The jungle was open, composed of thorny mimosas at
such wide intervals that a horse could be ridden at considerable speed
if accustomed to the country. Altogether it was the perfection of ground
for shooting, and the chances were in favour of the rifle.

We had proceeded carefully about half a mile when I heard a rustling in
the grass, and I shortly perceived a bull buffalo standing alone beneath
a tree, close to the sandy bed of a dried stream, which was about a
hundred yards distant, between us and the animal. The grass had been
entirely destroyed by the trampling of a large herd. I took aim at the
shoulder with one of my No. 10 Reilly rifles, and the buffalo rushed
forward at the shot, and fell about a hundred paces beyond in the bush.
At the report of the shot, the herd, that we had not observed, which had
been lying upon the sandy bed of the stream, rushed past us with a sound
like thunder, in a cloud of dust raised by several hundreds of large
animals in full gallop. I could hardly see them distinctly, and I waited
for a good chance, when presently a mighty bull separated from the rest,
and gave me a fair shoulder-shot. I fired a little too forward, and
missed the shoulder; but I made a still better shot by mistake, as the
Reilly bullet broke the spine through the neck, and dropped him dead.
Florian, poor fellow, had not the necessary tools for the work, and one
of his light guns produced no effect.

Now came the time for the aggageers. Away dashed Jali op his fiery mare,
closely followed by Abou Do and Suleiman, who in a few instants were
obscured in the cloud of dust raised by the retreating buffaloes. As
soon as I could mount my horse that had been led behind me, I followed
at full speed, and, spurring hard, I shortly came in sight of the three
aggageers, not only in the dust, but actually among the rear buffaloes
of the herd. Suddenly, Jali almost disappeared from the saddle as he
leaned forward with a jerk and seized a fine young buffalo by the tail.
In a moment Abou Do and Suleiman sprang from their horses, and I arrived
just in time to assist them in securing a fine little bull about twelve
hands high, whose horns were six or seven inches long. A pretty fight we
had with the young Hercules. The Arabs stuck to him like bulldogs, in
spite of his tremendous struggles, and Florian, with other men, shortly
arriving, we secured him by lashing his legs together with our belts
until impromptu ropes could be made with mimosa bark.

I now returned to the spot where we had left my wife and the tetel. I
found her standing about fifty yards from the spot with a double rifle
cocked, awaiting an expected charge from one of the buffaloes that,
separated from the herd, had happened to rush in her direction.

Mahomet had been in an awful fright, and was now standing secure behind
his mistress. I rode through the grass with the hope of getting a shot,
but the animal had disappeared. We returned to the dead tetel and to our
captive baboons; but times had changed since we had left them. One had
taken advantage of our absence, and, having bitten through his tether,
had escaped. The other had used force instead of cunning, and, in
attempting to tear away from confinement, had strangled himself with the
slip-knot of the rope.

We now pushed ahead, and at 5 P.M. we arrived at the spot on the margin
of the Settite River at which we were to encamp for some time. For many
miles on either side the river was fringed with dense groves of the
green nabbuk, but upon the east bank an island had been formed of about
three hundred acres. This was a perfect oasis of verdure, covered with
large nabbuk trees, about thirty feet high, and forming a mixture of the
densest coverts, with small open glades of rich but low herbage. To
reach this island, upon which we were to encamp, it was necessary to
cross the arm of the river, that was now dry, with the exception of deep
pools, in one of which we perceived a large bull buffalo drinking, just
as we descended the hill. As this would be close to the larder, I
stalked to within ninety yards, and fired a Reilly No. 10 into his back,
as his head inclined to the water. For the moment he fell upon his
knees, but recovering immediately, he rushed up the steep bank of the
island, receiving the ball from my left-hand barrel between his
shoulders, and disappeared in the dense covert of green nabbuk on the
margin. As we were to camp within a few yards of the spot, he was close
to home; therefore, having crossed the river, we carefully followed the
blood tracks through the jungle. But, after having pushed our way for
about twenty paces through the dense covert, I came to the wise
conclusion that it was not the place for following a wounded buffalo,
and that we should find him dead on the next morning.

A few yards upon our right hand was a beautiful open glade, commanding a
view of the river, and surrounded by the largest nabbuk trees, that
afforded a delightful shade in the midst of the thick covert. This was a
spot that in former years had been used by the aggageers as a camp, and
we accordingly dismounted and turned the horses to graze upon the
welcome grass. Each horse was secured to a peg by a long leathern thong,
as the lions in this neighbourhood were extremely dangerous, having the
advantage of thick and opaque jungle.

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

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

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

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


The elephant trumpets--Fighting an elephant with swords--The
forehead-shot--Elephants in a panic--A superb old Neptune-- The harpoon
reaches its aim--Death of the hippopotamus-- Tramped by an elephant.

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

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

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

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

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

Accordingly I led the way, followed by Hadji Ali, my head Tokroori, with
a rifle, while I carried the "Baby." Florian accompanied us. Having the
wind fair, we advanced quickly for about half the distance, at which
time we were within a hundred and fifty yards of the elephant, who had
just arrived at the water and had commenced drinking. We now crept
cautiously toward him. The sand-bank had decreased to a height of about
two feet, and afforded very little shelter. Not a tree or bush grew upon
the surface of the barren sand, which was so deep that we sank nearly to
the ankles at every footstep. Still we crept forward, as the elephant
alternately drank and then spouted the water in a shower over his
colossal form; but just as we arrived within about fifty yards he
happened to turn his head in our direction, and immediately perceived
us. He cocked his enormous ears, gave a short trumpeting, and for an
instant wavered in his determination whether to attack or fly; but as I
rushed toward him with a shout, he turned toward the jungle, and I
immediately fired a steady shot at the shoulder with the "Baby." As
usual, the fearful recoil of the rifle, with a half-pound shell and
twelve drams of powder, nearly threw me backward; but I saw the mark
upon the elephant's shoulder, in an excellent line, although rather
high. The only effect of the shot was to send him off at great speed
toward the jungle. At the same moment the three aggageers came galloping
across the sand like greyhounds in a course, and, judiciously keeping
parallel with the jungle, they cut off his retreat, and, turning toward
the elephant, confronted him, sword in hand.

At once the furious beast charged straight at the enemy. But now came
the very gallant but foolish part of the hunt. Instead of leading the
elephant by the flight of one man and horse, according to their usual
method, all the aggageers at the same moment sprang from their saddles,
and upon foot in the heavy sand they attacked the elephant with their

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

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

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

In three or four minutes he returned. He declared it impossible to use
the sword, as the jungle was so dense that it would check the blow; but
that I could use the rifle, as the elephants were close to us--he had
seen three standing together, between us and the main body of the herd.
I told Jali to lead me directly to the spot, and, followed by Florian
and the aggageers, with my gun-bearers, I kept within a foot of my
dependable little guide, who crept gently into the jungle. This was
exceedingly thick, and quite impenetrable, except in the places where
elephants and other heavy animals had trodden numerous alleys. Along one
of these narrow passages we stealthily advanced, until Jali stepped
quietly on one side and pointed with his finger. I immediately observed
two elephants looming through the thick bushes about eight paces from
me. One offered a temple-shot, which I quickly took with a Reilly No.
10, and floored it on the spot. The smoke hung so thickly that I could
not see distinctly enough to fire my second barrel before the remaining
elephant had turned; but Florian, with a three-ounce steel-tipped
bullet, by a curious shot at the hind-quarters, injured the hip joint to
such an extent that we could more than equal the elephant in speed.

In a few moments we found ourselves in a small open glade in the middle
of the jungle, close to the stern of the elephant we were following. I
had taken a fresh rifle, with both barrels loaded, and hardly had I made
the exchange when the elephant turned suddenly and charged. Determined
to try fairly the forehead-shot, I kept my ground, and fired a Reilly
No. 10, quicksilver and lead bullet, exactly in the centre, when
certainly within four yards. The only effect was to make her stagger
backward, when, in another moment, with her immense ears thrown forward,
she again rushed on. This was touch-and-go; but I fired my remaining
barrel a little lower than the first shot. Checked in her rush, she
backed toward the dense jungle, throwing her trunk about and trumpeting
with rage. Snatching the Ceylon No. 10 from one of my trusty Tokrooris
(Hassan), I ran straight at her, took a most deliberate aim at the
forehead, and once more fired. The only effect was a decisive charge;
but before I fired my last barrel Jali rushed in, and, with one blow of
his sharp sword, severed the back sinew. She was utterly helpless in the
same instant. Bravo, Jali! I had fired three beautifully correct shots
with No. 10 bullets and seven drams of powder in each charge. These were
so nearly together that they occupied a space in her forehead of about
three inches, and all had failed to kill! There could no longer be any
doubt that the forehead-shot at an African elephant could not be relied
upon, although so fatal to the Indian species. This increased the danger
tenfold, as in Ceylon I had generally made certain of an elephant by
steadily waiting until it was close upon me.

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

About a quarter of an hour passed in suspense, when we suddenly heard a
chorus of wild cries of excitement on the other side of the jungle,
raised by the aggageers, who had headed the herd and were driving them
back toward us. In a few minutes a tremendous crashing in the jungle,
accompanied by the occasional shrill scream of a savage elephant and the
continued shouts of the mounted aggageers, assured us that they were
bearing down exactly upon our direction. They were apparently followed
even through the dense jungle by the wild and reckless Arabs. I called
my men close together, told them to stand fast and hand me the guns
quickly, and we eagerly awaited the onset that rushed toward us like a

On they came, tearing everything before them. For a moment the jungle
quivered and crashed; a second later, and, headed by an immense
elephant, the herd thundered down upon us. The great leader came
directly at me, and was received with right and left in the forehead
from a Reilly No. 10 as fast as I could pull the triggers. The shock
made it reel backward for an instant, and fortunately turned it and the
herd likewise. My second rifle was beautifully handed, and I made a
quick right and left at the temples of two fine elephants, dropping them
both stone dead. At this moment the "Baby" was pushed into my hand by
Hadji Ali just in time to take the shoulder of the last of the herd, who
had already charged headlong after his comrades and was disappearing in
the jungle. Bang! went the "Baby;" round I spun like a weathercock, with
the blood pouring from my nose, as the recoil had driven the sharp top
of the hammer deep into the bridge. My "Baby" not only screamed, but
kicked viciously. However, I knew that the elephant must be bagged, as
the half-pound shell had been aimed directly behind the shoulder.

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

We had done pretty well. I had been fortunate in bagging four from this
herd, in addition to the single bull in the morning; total, five.
Florian had killed one and the aggageers one; total, seven elephants.
One had escaped that I had wounded in the shoulder, and two that had
been wounded by Florian. The aggageers were delighted, and they
determined to search for the wounded elephants on the following day, as
the evening was advancing, and we were about five miles from camp.

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

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

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

After walking about two miles we noticed a herd of hippopotami in a pool
below a rapid. This was surrounded by rocks, except upon one side, where
the rush of water had thrown up a bank of pebbles and sand. Our old
Neptune did not condescend to bestow the slightest attention when I
pointed out these animals; they were too wide awake; but he immediately
quitted the river's bed, and we followed him quietly behind the fringe
of bushes upon the border, from which we carefully examined the water.

About half a mile below this spot, as we clambered over the intervening
rocks through a gorge which formed a powerful rapid, I observed, in a
small pool just below the rapid, the immense head of a hippopotamus
close to a perpendicular rock that formed a wall to the river, about six
feet above the surface. I pointed out the hippo to old Abou Do, who had
not seen it. At once the gravity of the old Arab disappeared, and the
energy of the hunter was exhibited as he motioned us to remain, while he
ran nimbly behind the thick screen of bushes for about a hundred and
fifty yards below the spot where the hippo was unconsciously basking,
with his ugly head above the surface. Plunging into the rapid torrent,
the veteran hunter was carried some distance down the stream; but,
breasting the powerful current, he landed upon the rocks on the opposite
side, and, retiring to some distance from the river, he quickly advanced
toward the spot beneath which the hippopotamus was lying. I had a fine
view of the scene, as I was lying concealed exactly opposite the hippo,
who had disappeared beneath the water.

Abou Do now stealthily approached the ledge of rock beneath which he had
expected to see the head of the animal. His long, sinewy arm was raised,
with the harpoon ready to strike, as he carefully advanced. At length he
reached the edge of the perpendicular rock. The hippo had vanished, but,
far from exhibiting surprise, the old Arab remained standing on the
sharp edge, unchanged in attitude. No figure of bronze could have been
more rigid than that of the old river-king as he stood erect upon the
rock with the left foot advanced and the harpoon poised in his ready
right hand above his head, while in the left he held the loose coils of
rope attached to the ambatch buoy. For about three minutes he stood like
a statue, gazing intently into the clear and deep water beneath his
feet. I watched eagerly for the reappearance of the hippo; the surface
of the water was still barren, when suddenly the right arm of the statue
descended like lightning, and the harpoon shot perpendicularly into the
pool with the speed of an arrow. What river-fiend answered to the
summons? In an instant an enormous pair of open jaws appeared, followed
by the ungainly head and form of the furious hippopotamus, who,
springing half out of the water, lashed the river into foam, and,
disdaining the concealment of the deep pool, charged straight up the
violent rapids. With extraordinary power he breasted the descending
stream, gaining a footing in the rapids, about five feet deep. He
ploughed his way against the broken waves, sending them in showers of
spray upon all sides, and, upon gaining broader shallows, tore along
through the water, with the buoyant float hopping behind him along the
surface, until he landed from the river, started at full gallop along
the dry shingly bed, and at length disappeared in the thorny nabbuk

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

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

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

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

In a little more than an hour and a half, two objects like the backs of
turtles appeared above the surface. These were the flanks of the two
hippos. A short time afterward the men arrived, and, regardless of
crocodiles, they swam toward the bodies. One was towed directly to the
shore by the rope attached to the harpoon, the other was secured by a
long line and dragged to the bank of clean pebbles. We had now a good
supply of food, which delighted our people.

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

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

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

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

I set Jali's broken thigh and attended to him for four days. He was a
very grateful but unruly patient, as he had never been accustomed to
remain quiet. At the end of that time we arranged an angarep comfortably
upon a camel, upon which he was transported to Geera, in company with a
long string of camels, heavily laden with dried meat and squares of hide
for shields, with large bundles of hippopotamus skin for whip-making,
together with the various spoils of the chase. Last but not least were
numerous leathern pots of fat that had been boiled down from elephants
and hippopotami.

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


Fright of the Tokrooris--Deserters who didn't desert--Arrival of the
Sherrif brothers--Now for a tally-ho!--On the heels of the
rhinoceroses--The Abyssinian rhinoceros--Every man for himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the afternoon of that day the brothers Sherrif arrived. These were
the most renowned of all the sword-hunters of the Hamrans, of whom I
have already spoken. They were well mounted, and, having met our caravan
of camels on the route, heavily laden with dried flesh, and thus seen
proofs of our success, they now offered to join our party. I am sorry to
be obliged to confess that my ally, Abou Do, although a perfect Nimrod
in sport, an Apollo in personal appearance, and a gentleman in manner,
was a mean, covetous, and grasping fellow, and withal absurdly jealous.
Taher Sherrif was a more celebrated hunter, having had the experience of
at least twenty years in excess of Abou Do; and although the latter was
as brave and dexterous as Taher and his brothers, he wanted the cool
judgment that is essential to a first-rate sportsman.

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

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

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

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

Here was a sight to drive a hunter wild! The two rhinoceroses were
running neck and neck, like a pair of horses in harness, but bounding
along at tremendous speed within ten yards of the leading Hamran. This
was Taher Sherrif, who, with his sword drawn and his long hair flying
wildly behind him, urged his horse forward in the race, amid a cloud of
dust raised by the two huge but active beasts, that tried every sinew of
the horses. Roder Sherrif, with the withered arm, was second; with the
reins hung upon the hawk-like claw that was all that remained of a hand,
but with his naked sword grasped in his right, he kept close to his
brother, ready to second his blow. Abou Do was third, his hair flying in
the wind, his heels dashing against the flanks of his horse, to which he
shouted in his excitement to urge him to the front, while he leaned
forward with his long sword, in the wild energy of the moment, as though
hoping to reach the game against all possibility.

Now for the spurs! and as these, vigorously applied, screwed an extra
stride out of Tetel, I soon found myself in the ruck of men, horses, and
drawn swords. There were seven of us, and passing Abou Do, whose face
wore an expression of agony at finding that his horse was failing, I
quickly obtained a place between the two brothers, Taher and Roder
Sherrif. There had been a jealousy between the two parties of aggageers,
and each was striving to outdo the other; thus Abou Do was driven almost
to madness at the superiority of Taher's horse, while the latter, who
was the renowned hunter of the tribe, was determined that his sword
should be the first to taste blood. I tried to pass the rhinoceros on my
left, so as to fire close into the shoulder my remaining barrel with my
right hand, but it was impossible to overtake the animals, who bounded
along with undiminished speed. With the greatest exertion of men and
horses we could only retain our position within about three or four
yards of their tails--just out of reach of the swords. The only chance
in the race was to hold the pace until the rhinoceroses should begin. to
flag. The horses were pressed to the utmost; but we had already run
about two miles, and the game showed no signs of giving in. On they
flew, sometimes over open ground, then through low bush, which tried the
horses severely, then through strips of open forest, until at length the
party began to tail off, and only a select few kept their places. We
arrived at the summit of a ridge, from which the ground sloped in a
gentle inclination for about a mile toward the river. At the foot of
this incline was thick thorny nabbuk jungle, for which impenetrable
covert the rhinoceroses pressed at their utmost speed.

Never was there better ground for the finish of a race. The earth was
sandy, but firm, and as we saw the winning-post in the jungle that must
terminate the hunt, we redoubled our exertions to close with the
unflagging game. Suleiman's horse gave in--we had been for about twenty
minutes at a killing pace. Tetel, although not a fast horse, was good
for a distance, and he now proved his power of endurance, as I was
riding at least two stone heavier than any of the party. Only four of
the seven remained; and we swept down the incline, Taher Sherif still
leading, and Abou Do the last! His horse was done, but not the rider;
for, springing to the ground while at full speed, sword in hand, he
forsook his tired horse, and, preferring his own legs, he ran like an
antelope, and, for the first hundred yards I thought lie would really
pass us and win the honor of first blow. It was of no use, the pace was
too severe, and, although running wonderfully, he was obliged to give
way to the horses. Only three now followed the rhinoceroses --Taher
Sherrif, his brother Roder, and myself. I had been obliged to give the
second place to Roder, as he was a mere monkey in weight; but I was a
close third.

The excitement was intense. We neared the jungle, and the rhinoceroses
began to show signs of flagging, as the dust puffed up before their
nostrils, and, with noses close to the ground, they snorted as they
still galloped on. Oh for a fresh horse! "A horse ! a horse! my kingdom
for a horse!" We were within two hundred yards of the jungle; but the
horses were all done. Tetel reeled as I urged him forward. Roder pushed
ahead. We were close to the dense thorns, and the rhinoceroses broke
into a trot; they were done! "Now, Taher, for-r-a-a-r-r-d!
for-r-r-a-a-r-d, Taher!!"

Away he went. He was close to the very heels of the beasts, but his
horse could do no more than his present pace; still he gained upon the
nearest. He leaned forward with his sword raised for the blow. Another
moment and the jungle would be reached! One effort more, and the sword
flashed in the sunshine, as the rear-most rhinoceros disappeared in the
thick screen of thorns, with a gash about a foot long upon his
hind-quarters. Taher Sherrif shook his bloody sword in triumph above his
head, but the rhinoceros was gone. We were fairly beaten, regularly
outpaced; but I believe another two hundred yards would have given us
the victory. "Bravo, Taher!" I shouted. He had ridden splendidly, and
his blow had been marvellously delivered at an extremely long reach, as
he was nearly out of his saddle when he sprang forward to enable the
blade to obtain a cut at the last moment. He could not reach the
hamstring, as his horse could not gain the proper position.

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

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

Florian was now quite incapable of hunting, as he was in a weak state of
health, and had for some months been suffering from chronic dysentery. I
had several times cured him, but he had a weakness for the strongest
black coffee, which, instead of drinking, like the natives, in minute
cups, he swallowed wholesale in large basins several times a day; this
was actual poison with his complaint, and he was completely ruined in
health. At this time his old companion, Johann Schmidt, the carpenter,
arrived, having undertaken a contract to provide for the Italian
Zoological Gardens a number of animals. I therefore proposed that the
two old friends should continue together, while I would hunt by myself,
with the aggageers, toward the east and south. This arrangement was
agreed to, and we parted.

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

Our course lay, as usual, along the banks of the river. We decided to
encamp at a spot known to the Arabs as Deladilla. This was the forest
upon the margin of the river where I had first shot the bull elephant
when the aggageers fought with him upon foot. I resolved to fire the
entire country on the following day, and to push still farther up the
course of the Settite to the foot of the mountains, and to return to
this camp in about a fortnight, by which time the animals that had been
scared away by the fire would have returned. Accordingly, on the
following morning, accompanied by a few of the aggageers, I started upon
the south bank of the river, and rode for some distance into the
interior, to the ground that was entirely covered with high withered
grass. We were passing through a mass of kittar and thorn-bush, almost
hidden by the immensely high grass, when, as I was ahead of the party, I
came suddenly upon the tracks of rhinoceroses. These were so
unmistakably recent that I felt sure we were not far from the animals
themselves. As I had wished to fire the grass, I was accompanied by my
Tokrooris and my horse-keeper, Mahomet No. 2. It was difficult ground
for the men, and still more unfavorable for the horses, as large
disjointed masses of stone were concealed in the high grass.

We were just speculating as to the position of the rhinoceros, and
thinking how uncommonly unpleasant it would be should he obtain our
wind, when whiff! whiff! whiff! We heard the sharp whistling snort, with
a tremendous rush through the high grass and thorns close to us, and at
the same moment two of these determined brutes were upon us in full
charge. I never saw such a scrimmage. SAUVE QUI PEUT! There was no time
for more than one look behind. I dug the spurs into Aggahr's flanks, and
clasping him round the neck I ducked my head down to his shoulder, well
protected with my strong hunting-cap, and kept the spurs going as hard
as I could ply them, blindly trusting to Providence and my good horse.
Over big rocks, fallen trees, thick kittar thorns, and grass ten feet
high, with the two infernal animals in full chase only a few feet behind
me! I heard their abominable whiffing close to me, but so did my good
horse, and the good old hunter flew over obstacles in a way I should
have thought impossible, and he dashed straight under the hooked
thorn-bushes and doubled like a hare. The aggageers were all scattered;
Mahomet No. 2 was knocked over by a rhinoceros; all the men were
sprawling upon the rocks with their guns, and the party was entirely

Having passed the kittar thorn I turned, and, seeing that the beasts had
gone straight on, I brought Aggahr's head round and tried to give chase;
but it was perfectly impossible. It was only a wonder that the horse had
escaped in ground so difficult for riding. Although my clothes were of
the strongest and coarsest Arab cotton cloth, which seldom tore, but
simply lost a thread when caught in a thorn, I was nearly naked. My
blouse was reduced to shreds. As I wore sleeves only half way from the
shoulder to the elbow, my naked arms were streaming with blood.
Fortunately my hunting-cap was secured with a chin strap, and still more
fortunately I had grasped the horse's neck; otherwise I must have been
dragged out of the saddle by the hooked thorns. All the men were cut and
bruised, some having fallen upon their heads among the rocks, and others
had hurt their legs in falling in their endeavors to escape. Mahomet No.
2, the horse-keeper, was more frightened than hurt, as he had been
knocked down by the shoulder and not by the horn of the rhinoceros, as
the animal had not noticed him; its attention was absorbed by the horse.

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


A day with the howartis--A hippo's gallant fight--Abou Do leaves
us--Three yards from a lion--Days of delight--A lion's furious
rage--Astounding courage of a horse.

A LITTLE before sunrise I accompanied the howartis, or
hippopotamus-hunters, for a day's sport. At length we arrived at a large
pool in which were several sand-banks covered with rushes, and many
rocky islands. Among these rocks was a herd of hippopotami, consisting
of an old bull and several cows. A young hippo was standing, like an
ugly little statue, on a protruding rock, while another infant stood
upon its mother's back that listlessly floated on the water.

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

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

The men on the opposite bank now dropped their line, and our men hauled
in upon the ambatch float that was held fast between the ropes. Thus
cleverly made sure, we quickly brought a strain upon the hippo, and,
although I have had some experience in handling big fish, I never knew
one to pull so lustily as the amphibious animal that we now alternately
coaxed and bullied. He sprang out of the water, gnashed his huge jaws,
snorted with tremendous rage, and lashed the river into foam. He then
dived, and foolishly approached us beneath the water. We quickly
gathered in the slack line, and took a round turn upon a large rock,
within a few feet of the river. The hippo now rose to the surface, about
ten yards from the hunters, and, jumping half out of the water, he
snapped his great jaws together, endeavoring to catch the rope; but at
the same instant two harpoons were launched into his side. Disdaining
retreat, and maddened with rage, the furious animal charged from the
depths of the river, and, gaining a footing, he reared his bulky form
from the surface, came boldly upon the sand-bank, and attacked the
hunters open-mouthed.

He little knew his enemy. They were not the men to fear a pair of gaping
jaws, armed with a deadly array of tusks; but half a dozen lances were
hurled at him, some entering his mouth from a distance of five or six
paces. At the same time several men threw handfuls of sand into his
enormous eyes. This baffled him more than the lances; he crunched the
shafts between his powerful jaws like straws, but he was beaten by the
sand, and, shaking his huge head, he retreated to the river. During his
sally upon the shore two of the hunters had secured the ropes of the
harpoons that had been fastened in his body just before his charge. He
was now fixed by three of these deadly instruments; but suddenly one
rope gave way, having been bitten through by the enraged beast, who was
still beneath the water. Immediately after this he appeared on the
surface, and, without a moment's hesitation, he once more charged
furiously from the water straight at the hunters, with his huge mouth
open to such an extent that he could have accommodated two inside
passengers. Suleiman was wild with delight, and springing forward lance
in hand, he drove it against the head of the formidable animal, but
without effect. At the same time Abou Do met the hippo sword in hand,
reminding me of Perseus slaying the sea-monster that would devour
Andromeda; but the sword made a harmless gash, and the lance, already
blunted against the rocks, refused to penetrate the tough hide. Once
more handfuls of sand were pelted upon his face, and, again repulsed by
this blinding attack, he was forced to retire to his deep hole and wash
it from his eyes.

Six times during the fight the valiant bull hippo quitted his watery
fortress and charged resolutely at his pursuers. He had broken several
of their lances in his jaws, other lances had been hurled, and, falling
upon the rocks, they were blunted and would not penetrate. The fight had
continued for three hours, and the sun was about to set; accordingly the
hunters begged me to give him the COUP DE GRACE, as they had hauled him
close to the shore, and they feared he would sever the rope with his
teeth. I waited for a good opportunity, when he boldly raised his head
from water about three yards from the rifle, and a bullet from the
little Fletcher between the eyes closed the last act. This spot was not
far from the pyramidical hill beneath which I had fixed our camp, to
which I returned after an amusing day's sport.

The next morning I started to the mountains to explore the limit that I
had proposed for my expedition on the Settite. The Arabs had informed me
that a river of some importance descended from the mountains and joined
the main stream about twelve miles from our camp. In about three hours
and a half we arrived at Hor Mehetape, the stream that the Arabs had
reported. Although a powerful torrent during the rains, it was
insignificant as one of the tributaries to the Settite, as the breadth
did not exceed twenty-five yards. At this season it was nearly dry, and
at no time did it appear to exceed the depth of ten or twelve feet. It
was merely a rapid mountain torrent. But we were now among the mountains
whose drainage causes the sudden rise of the Atbara and the Nile.

Abou Do and Suleiman had lately given us some trouble, especially the
former, whose covetous nature had induced him to take much more than his
share of the hides of rhinoceros and other animals shot. The horses of
the aggageers had, moreover, been lamed by reckless riding, and Abou Do
coolly proposed that I should lend them horses. Having a long journey
before me, I refused, and they became discontented. It was time to part,
and I ordered him and his people to return to Geera. As Taher Sherrif's
party had disagreed with Abou Do some time previously, and had left us,
we were now left without aggageers.

On the following day I succeeded in killing a buffalo, which I ordered
my men, after they had flayed it, to leave as a bait for lions.

That night we were serenaded by the roaring of these animals in all
directions, one of them having visited our camp, around which we
discovered his footprints on the following morning. I accordingly took
Taher Noor, with Hadji Ali and Hassan, two of my trusty Tokrooris, and
went straight to the spot where I had left the carcass of the buffalo.
As I had expected, nothing remained--not even a bone. The ground was
much trampled, and tracks of lions were upon the sand; but the body of
the buffalo had been dragged into the thorny jungle. I was determined,
if possible, to get a shot; therefore I followed carefully the track
left by the carcass, which had formed a path in the withered grass.
Unfortunately the lions had dragged the buffalo down wind; therefore,
after I had arrived within the thick nabbuk and high grass, I came to
the conclusion that my only chance would be to make a long circuit, and
to creep up wind through the thorns, until I should be advised by my
nose of the position of the carcass, as it would by this time be in a
state of putrefaction, and the lions would most probably be with the
body. Accordingly I struck off to my left, and continuing straight
forward for some hundred yards, I again struck into the thick jungle and
came round to the wind. Success depended on extreme caution; therefore I
advised my three men to keep close behind me with the spare rifles, as I
carried my single-barrelled Beattie. This rifle was extremely accurate,
therefore I had chosen it for this close work, when I expected to get a
shot at the eye or forehead of a lion crouching in the bush.

Softly and with difficulty I crept forward, followed closely by my men,
through the high withered grass, beneath the dense green nabbuk bushes,
peering through the thick covert, with the nerves braced up to full
pitch, and the finger on the trigger ready for any emergency. We had
thus advanced for about half an hour, during which I frequently applied
my nose to within a foot of the ground to catch the scent, when a sudden
puff of wind brought the unmistakable smell of decomposing flesh. For
the moment I halted, and, looking round to my men, I made a sign that we
were near to the carcass, and that they were to be ready with the
rifles. Again I crept gently forward, bending and sometimes crawling
beneath the thorns to avoid the slightest noise. As I approached the
scent became stronger, until I at length felt that I must be close to
the cause.

This was highly exciting. Fully prepared for a quick shot, I stealthily
crept on. A tremendous roar in the dense thorns within a few feet of me
suddenly brought my rifle to the shoulder. Almost in the same instant I
observed the three-quarter figure of either a lion or a lioness within
three yards of me, on the other side of the bush under which I had been
creeping. The foliage concealed the head, but I could almost have
touched the shoulder with my rifle. Much depended upon the bullet, and I
fired exactly through the shoulder. Another tremendous roar! and a crash
in the bushes as the animal made a bound forward was succeeded
immediately by a similar roar, as another lion took the exact position
of the last, and stood wondering at the report of the rifle, and seeking
for the cause of the intrusion. This was a grand lion with a shaggy
mane; but my rifle was unloaded, and, keeping my eyes fixed on the
beast, I stretched my hand back for a spare rifle. The lion remained
standing, but gazing up wind with his head raised, snuffing in the air
for a scent of the enemy. No rifle was put in my hand. I looked back for
an instant, and saw my Tokrooris faltering about five yards behind me. I
looked daggers at them, gnashing my teeth and shaking my fist. They saw
the lion, and Taher Noor snatching a rifle from Hadji Ali was just about
to bring it; when Hassan, ashamed, ran forward. The lion disappeared at
the same moment. Never was such a fine chance lost through the
indecision of the gun bearers! I made a vow never to carry a
single-barrelled rifle again when hunting large game. If I had had my
dear little Fletcher 24 1 should have nailed the lion to a certainty.

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

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

We remained for some time at our delightful camp at Delladilla. Every
day, from sunrise to sunset, I was either on foot or in the saddle,
without rest, except upon Sundays. As our camp was full of meat, either
dried or in the process of drying in festoons upon the trees, we had
been a great attraction to the beasts of prey, which constantly prowled
around our thorn fence during the night. One night in particular a lion
attempted to enter, but had been repulsed by the Tokrooris, who pelted
him with firebrands. My people woke me up and begged me to shoot him;
but as it was perfectly impossible to fire correctly through the hedge
of thorns, I refused to be disturbed, but promised to hunt for him on
the following day. Throughout the entire night the lion prowled around
the camp, growling and uttering his peculiar guttural sigh. Not one of
my people slept, as they declared he would bound into the camp and take
somebody unless they kept up the watch-fires and drove him away with
brands. The next day before sunrise I called Hassan and Hadji Ali, whom
I lectured severely upon their cowardice on a former occasion, and
received their promise to follow me to death. I intrusted them with my
two Reillys No. 10, and with my little Fletcher in hand I determined to
spend the whole day in searching every thicket of the forest for lions,
as I felt convinced that the animal that had disturbed us during the
night was concealed somewhere within the neighboring jungle.

The whole day passed fruitlessly. I had crept through the thickest
thorns in vain; having abundance of meat, I had refused the most
tempting shots at buffaloes and large antelopes, as I had devoted myself
exclusively to lions. I was much disappointed, as the evening had
arrived without a shot having been fired, and as the sun had nearly set
I wandered slowly toward home. Passing through alternate open glades of
a few yards' width, hemmed in on all sides by thick jungle, I was
carelessly carrying my rifle upon my shoulder, as I pushed my way
through the opposing thorns, when a sudden roar, just before me, at once
brought the rifle upon full cock, and I saw a magnificent lion standing
in the middle of the glade, about ten yards from me. He had been lying
on the ground, and had started to his feet upon hearing me approach
through the jungle. For an instant he stood in an attitude of attention,
as we were hardly visible; but at the same moment I took a quick but
sure shot with the little Fletcher. He gave a convulsive bound, but
rolled over backward; before he could recover himself I fired the
left-hand barrel.

It was a glorious sight. I had advanced a few steps into the glade, and
Hassan had quickly handed me a spare rifle, while Taher Noor stood by me
sword in hand. The lion in the greatest fury, with his shaggy mane
bristling in the air, roared with death-like growls, as open-mouthed he
endeavored to charge upon us; but he dragged his hind-quarters upon the
ground, and I saw immediately that the little Fletcher had broken his
spine. In his tremendous exertions to attack he rolled over and over,
gnashing his horrible jaws and tearing holes in the sandy ground at each
blow of his tremendous paws that would have crushed a man's skull like
an egg-shell. Seeing that he was hors de combat I took it coolly, as it
was already dusk, and the lion having rolled into a dark and thick bush
I thought it would be advisable to defer the final attack, as he would
be dead before morning. We were not ten minutes' walk from the camp, at
which we quickly arrived, and my men greatly rejoiced at the
discomfiture of their enemy, as they were convinced that he was the same
lion that had attempted to enter the zareeba.

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

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

It was a glorious opportunity for the horse. At the first unexpected
roar the camel had bolted with its rider. The horse had for a moment
started on one side, and the men had scattered; but in an instant I had
reined Tetel up, and I now rode straight toward the lion, who courted
the encounter about twenty paces distant. I halted exactly opposite the
noble-looking beast, who, seeing me in advance of the party, increased
his rage and growled deeply, fixing his glance upon the horse. I now
patted Tetel on the neck and spoke to him coaxingly. He gazed intently
at the lion, erected his mane, and snorted, but showed no signs of
retreat. "Bravo! old boy!" I said, and, encouraging him by caressing his
neck with my hand, I touched his flank gently with my heel. I let him
just feel my hand upon the rein, and with a "Come along, old lad," Tetel
slowly but resolutely advanced step by step toward the infuriated lion,
that greeted him with continued growls. The horse several times snorted
loudly and stared fixedly at the terrible face before him; but as I
constantly patted and coaxed him he did not refuse to advance. I checked
him when within about six yards of the lion.

This would have made a magnificent picture, as the horse, with
astounding courage, faced the lion at bay. Both animals kept their eyes
fixed upon each other, the one beaming with rage, the other cool with
determination. This was enough. I dropped the reins upon his neck; it
was a signal that Tetel perfectly understood, and he stood firm as a
rock, for he knew that I was about to fire. I took aim at the head of
the glorious but distressed lion, and a bullet from the little Fletcher
dropped him dead. Tetel never flinched at a shot. I now dismounted, and,
having patted and coaxed the horse, I led him up to the body of the
lion, which I also patted, and then gave my hand to the horse to smell.
He snorted once or twice, and as I released my hold of the reins and
left him entirely free, he slowly lowered his head and sniffed the mane
of the dead lion. He then turned a few paces upon one side and commenced
eating the withered grass beneath the nabbuk bushes.

My Arabs were perfectly delighted with this extraordinary instance of
courage exhibited by the horse. I had known that the beast was disabled,
but Tetel had advanced boldly toward the angry jaws of a lion that
appeared about to spring. The camel was now brought to the spot and
blindfolded, while we endeavored to secure the lion upon its back. As
the camel knelt, it required the united exertions of eight men,
including myself, to raise the ponderous animal and to secure it across
the saddle.

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

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

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


The bull-elephant--Daring Hamrans--The elephant helpless--Visited by a
minstrel--A determined musician--The nest of the outlaws --The Atbara

Having explored the Settite into the gorge of the mountain chain of
Abyssinia, we turned due south from our camp at Deladilla, and at a
distance of twelve miles reached the river Royan. Our course now was
directed up this stream, and at the junction of the Hor Mai Gubba, or
Habbuk River, some of my Arabs, observing fresh tracks of horses on the
sand, went in search of the aggageers of Taher Sherrif's party, whom
they had expected to meet at this point. Soon after, they returned with
the aggageers, whose camp was but a quarter of a mile distant. I agreed
to have a hunt for elephants the next day with Taher Sherrif, and before
the following sunrise we had started up the course of the Royan for a
favorite resort of elephants.

We had ridden about thirty miles, and were beginning to despair, when
suddenly we turned a sharp angle in the watercourse, and Taher Sherrif,
who was leading, immediately reined in his horse and backed him toward
the party. I followed his example, and we were at once concealed by the
sharp bend of the river. He now whispered that a bull-elephant was
drinking from a hole it had scooped in the sand, not far around the
corner. Without the slightest confusion the hunters at once fell quietly
into their respective places, Taher Sherrif leading, while I followed
closely in the line, with my Tokrooris bringing up the rear; we were a
party of seven horses.

Upon turning the corner we at once perceived the elephant, that was
still drinking. It was a fine bull. The enormous ears were thrown
forward, as the head was lowered in the act of drawing up the water
through the trunk. These shaded the eyes, and with the wind favorable we
advanced noiselessly upon the sand to within twenty yards before we were
perceived. The elephant then threw up its head, and with the ears
flapping forward it raised its trunk for an instant, and then slowly but
easily ascended the steep bank and retreated. The aggageers now halted
for about a minute to confer together, and then followed in their
original order up the crumbled bank. We were now on most unfavorable
ground; the fire that had cleared the country we had hitherto traversed
had been stopped by the bed of the torrent. We were thus plunged at once
into withered grass above our heads, unless we stood in the stirrups.
The ground was strewn with fragments of rock, and altogether it was
ill-adapted for riding.

However, Taher Sherrif broke into a trot, followed by the entire party,
as the elephant was not in sight. We ascended a hill, and when near the
summit we perceived the elephant about eighty yards ahead. It was
looking behind during its retreat, by swinging its huge head from side
to side, and upon seeing us approach it turned suddenly round and

"Be ready, and take care of the rocks!" said Taher Sherrif, as I rode
forward by his side. Hardly had he uttered these words of caution when
the bull gave a vicious jerk with its head, and with a shrill scream
charged down upon us with the greatest fury. Away we all went,
helter-skelter, through the dry grass, which whistled in my ears, over
the hidden rocks, at full gallop, with the elephant tearing after us for
about a hundred and eighty yards at a tremendous pace. Tetel was a
sure-footed horse, and being unshod he never slipped upon the stones.
Thus, as we all scattered in different directions, the elephant became
confused and relinquished the chase. It had been very near me at one
time, and in such ground I was not sorry when it gave up the hunt. We
now quickly united and again followed the elephant, that had once more
retreated. Advancing at a canter, we shortly came in view. Upon seeing
the horses the bull deliberately entered a stronghold composed of rocky
and uneven ground, in the clefts of which grew thinly a few leafless
trees of the thickness of a man's leg. It then turned boldly toward us,
and stood determinedly at bay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taher Sherrif and his brother Ibrahim swept down like falcons in the
rear. In full speed they dexterously avoided the trees until they
arrived upon open ground, when they dashed up close to the hind-quarters
of the furious elephant, which, maddened with the excitement, heeded
nothing but Roder and his mare, that were almost within its grasp. When
close to the tail of the elephant Taher Sherrif's sword flashed from its
sheath, as grasping his trusty blade he leaped nimbly to the ground,
while Ibrahim caught the reins of his horse. Two or three bounds on
foot, with the sword clutched in both hands, and he was close behind the
elephant. A bright glance shone like lightning as the sun struck upon
the descending steel; this was followed by a dull crack, as the sword
cut through skin and sinews, and settled deep in the bone, about twelve
inches above the foot. At the next stride the elephant halted dead short
in the midst of its tremendous charge. Taher had jumped quickly on one
side, and had vaulted into the saddle with his naked sword in hand. At
the same moment Roder, who had led the chase, turned sharp round, and
again faced the elephant as before. Stooping quickly from the saddle, he
picked up from the ground a handful of dirt, which he threw into the
face of the vicious-looking animal, that once more attempted to rush
upon him. It was impossible! The foot was dislocated, and turned up in
front like an old shoe. In an instant Taher was once more on foot, and
the sharp sword slashed the remaining leg.

The great bull-elephant could not move! The first cut with the sword had
utterly disabled it; the second was its deathblow. The arteries of the
leg were divided, and the blood spouted in jets from the wounds. I
wished to terminate its misery by a bullet behind the ear, but Taher
Sherrif begged me not to fire, as the elephant would quickly bleed to
death without pain, and an unnecessary shot might attract the Base, who
would steal the flesh and ivory during our absence. We were obliged to
return immediately to our far distant camp, and the hunters resolved to
accompany their camels to the spot on the following day. We turned our
horses' heads, and rode directly toward home, which we did not reach
until nearly midnight, having ridden upward of sixty miles during the

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

After hunting and exploring for some days in this neighborhood, I
determined to follow the bed of the Royan to its junction with the
Settite. We started at daybreak, and after a long march along the sandy
bed, hemmed in by high banks or by precipitous cliffs of sandstone, we
arrived at the junction.

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

We were fortunate, however, in unexpectedly meeting a party of Mek
Nimmur's followers on a foray, who consented to guide us to his
encampment. Accordingly on March 20th, we found ourselves in a rich and
park-like valley occupied by his people, and the day following was spent
in receiving visits from the head men. Messengers soon after arrived
from Mek Nimmur inviting us to pay him a visit at his residence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the following morning at sunrise I mounted my horse, and, accompanied
by Taher Noor and Bacheet, I rode to pay my respects to Mek Nimmur. Our
route lay parallel to the stream, and after a ride of about two miles
through a fine park-like country, bounded by the Abyssinian Alps about
fifteen miles distant, I observed a crowd of people round a large
tamarind tree, near which were standing a number of horses, mules, and
dromedaries. This was the spot upon which I was to meet Mek Nimmur. Upon
my approach the crowd opened, and, having dismounted, I was introduced
by Taher Noor to the great chief. He was a man of about fifty, and
exceedingly dirty in appearance. He sat upon an angarep, surrounded by
his people; lying on either side upon his seat were two brace of
pistols, and within a few yards stood his horse ready saddled. He was
prepared for fight or flight, as were also his ruffianly looking
followers, who were composed of Abyssinians and Jaleens. After a long
and satisfactory conversation I retired. Immediately on my arrival at
camp I despatched Wat Gamma with a pair of beautiful double-barrelled
pistols, which I begged Mek Nimmur to accept. On March 27th we said
good-by and started for the Bahr Salaam.

The next few days we spent in exploring the Salaam and Angrab rivers.
They are interesting examples of the destructive effect of water, that
has during the course of ages cut through and hollowed out, in the solid
rock, a succession of the most horrible precipices and caverns, in which
the maddened torrents, rushing from the lofty chain of mountains, boil
along until they meet the Atbara and assist to flood the Nile. No one
could explore these tremendous torrents, the Settite, Royan, Angrab,
Salaam, and Atbara, without at once comprehending their effect upon the
waters of the Nile. The magnificent chain of mountains from which they
flow is not a simple line of abrupt sides, but the precipitous slopes
are the walls of a vast plateau, that receives a prodigious rainfall in
June, July, August, and until the middle of September, the entire
drainage of which is carried away by the above-named channels to
inundate Lower Egypt.

I thoroughly explored the beautiful country of the Salaam and Angrab,
and on the 14th of April we pushed on for Gallabat, the frontier
market-town of Abyssinia.

We arrived at our old friend, the Atbara River, at the sharp angle as it
issues from the mountains. At this place it was in its infancy. The
noble Atbara, whose course we had tracked for hundreds of weary miles,
and whose tributaries we had so carefully examined, was here a
second-class mountain torrent, about equal to the Royan, and not to be
named in comparison with the Salaam or Angrab. The power of the Atbara
depended entirely upon the western drainage of the Abyssinian Alps; of
itself it was insignificant until aided by the great arteries of the
mountain-chain. The junction of the Salaam at once changed its
character, and the Settite or Taccazzy completed its importance as the
great river of Abyssinia, that has washed down the fertile soil of those
regions to create the Delta of Lower Egypt, and to perpetuate that Delta
OF THE MEDITERRANEAN. We had seen the Atbara a bed of glaring sand--a
mere continuation of the burning desert that surrounded its
course--fringed by a belt of withered trees, like a monument sacred to
the memory of a dead river. We had seen the sudden rush of waters when,
in the still night, the mysterious stream had invaded the dry bed and
swept all before it like an awakened giant; we knew at that moment "the
rains were falling in Abyssinia," although the sky above us was without
a cloud. We had subsequently witnessed that tremendous rainfall, and
seen the Atbara at its grandest flood. We had traced each river and
crossed each tiny stream that fed the mighty Atbara from the
mountain-chain, and we now, after our long journey, forded the Atbara in
its infancy, hardly knee-deep, over its rocky bed of about sixty yards'
width, and camped in the little village of Toganai, on the rising ground
upon the opposite side. It was evening, and we sat upon an angarep among
the lovely hills that surrounded us, and looked down upon the Atbara for
the last time, as the sun sank behind the rugged mountain of Ras el Feel
(the elephant's head). Once more I thought of that wonderful river Nile,
that could flow forever through the exhausting deserts of sand, while
the Atbara, during the summer months, shrank to a dry skeleton, although
the powerful affluents, the Salaam and the Settite, never ceased to
flow; every drop of their waters was evaporated by the air and absorbed
by the desert sand in the bed of the Atbara, two hundred miles above its
junction with the Nile!

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