Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Land of Footprints by Stewart Edward White

Part 6 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

go in all day when the sun is strong.

As underwear you want the lightest Jaeger wool. Doesn't sound
well for tropics, but it is an essential. You will sweat enough
anyway, even if you get down to a brass wire costume like the
natives. It is when you stop in the shade, or the breeze, or the
dusk of evening, that the trouble comes. A chill means trouble,
SURE. Two extra suits are all you want. There is no earthly sense
in bringing more. Your tent boy washes them out whenever he can
lay hands on them-it is one of his harmless manias.

Your shirt should be of the thinnest brown flannel. Leather the
shoulders, and part way down the upper arm, with chamois. This is
to protect your precious garment against the thorns when you dive
through them. On the back you have buttons sewed wherewith to
attach a spine pad. Before I went to Africa I searched eagerly
for information or illustration of a spine pad. I guessed what it
must be for, and to an extent what it must be like, but all
writers maintained a conservative reticence as to the thing
itself. Here is the first authorized description. A spine pad is
a quilted affair in consistency like the things you are supposed
to lift hot flat-irons with. On the outside it is brown flannel,
like the shirt; on the inside it is a gaudy orange colour. The
latter is not for aesthetic effect, but to intercept actinic
rays. It is eight or ten inches wide, is shaped to button close
up under your collar, and extends halfway down your back. In
addition it is well to wear a silk handkerchief around the neck;
as the spine and back of the head seem to be the most vulnerable
to the sun.

For breeches, suit yourself as to material. It will have to be
very tough, and of fast colour. The best cut is the
"semi-riding," loose at the knees, which should be well faced
with soft leather, both for crawling, and to save the cloth in
grass and low brush. One pair ought to last four months, roughly
speaking. You will find a thin pair of ordinary khaki trousers
very comfortable as a change for wear about camp. In passing I
would call your attention to "shorts." Shorts are loose, bobbed
off khaki breeches, like knee drawers. With them are worn puttees
or leather leggings, and low boots. The knees are bare. They are
much affected by young Englishmen. I observed them carefully at
every opportunity, and my private opinion is that man has rarely
managed to invent as idiotically unfitted a contraption for the
purpose in hand. In a country teeming with poisonous insects,
ticks, fever-bearing mosquitoes; in a country where vegetation is
unusually well armed with thorns, spines and hooks, mostly
poisonous; in a country where, oftener than in any other a man is
called upon to get down on his hands and knees and crawl a few
assorted abrading miles, it would seem an obvious necessity to
protect one's bare skin as much as possible. The only reason
given for these astonishing garments is that they are cooler and
freer to walk in. That I can believe. But they allow ticks and
other insects to crawl up, mosquitoes to bite, thorns to tear,
and assorted troubles to enter. And I can vouch by experience
that ordinary breeches are not uncomfortably hot or tight.
Indeed, one does not get especially hot in the legs anyway. I
noticed that none of the old-time hunters like Cuninghame or Judd
wore shorts. The real reason is not that they are cool, but that
they are picturesque. Common belief to the contrary, your average
practical, matter-of-fact Englishman loves to dress up. I knew
one engaged in farming-picturesque farming-in our own West, who
used to appear at afternoon tea in a clean suit of blue overalls!
It is a harmless amusement. Our own youths do it, also,
substituting chaps for shorts, perhaps. I am not criticising the
spirit in them; but merely trying to keep mistaken shorts off

For leg gear I found that nothing could beat our American
combination of high-laced boots and heavy knit socks. Leather
leggings are noisy, and the rolled puttees hot and binding. Have
your boots ten or twelve inches high, with a flap to buckle over
the tie of the laces, with soles of the mercury-impregnated
leather called "elk hide," and with small Hungarian hobs. Your
tent boy will grease these every day with "dubbin," of which you
want a good supply. It is not my intention to offer free
advertisements generally, but I wore one pair of boots all the
time I was in Africa, through wet, heat, and long, long walking.
They were in good condition when I gave them away finally, and
had not started a stitch. They were made by that excellent
craftsman, A. A. Cutter, of Eau Claire, Wis., and he deserves and
is entirely welcome to this puff. Needless to remark, I have
received no especial favours from Mr. Cutter.

Six pairs of woollen socks, knit by hand, if possible-will be
enough. For evening, when you come in, I know nothing better than
a pair of very high moosehide moccasins. They should, however, be
provided with thin soles against the stray thorn, and should
reach well above the ankle by way of defence against the fever
mosquito. That festive insect carries on a surreptitious
guerrilla warfare low down. The English "mosquito boot" is simply
an affair like a riding boot, made of suede leather, with thin
soles. It is most comfortable. My objection is that it is
unsubstantial and goes to pieces in a very brief time even under
ordinary evening wear about camp.

You will also want a coat. In American camping I have always
maintained the coat is a useless garment. There one does his own
work to a large extent. When at work or travel the coat is in the
way. When in camp the sweater or buckskin shirt is handier, and
more easily carried. In Africa, however, where the other fellow
does most of the work, a coat is often very handy. Do not make
the mistake of getting an unlined light-weight garment. When you
want it at all, you want it warm and substantial. Stick on all
the pockets possible, and have them button securely.

For wet weather there is nothing to equal a long and voluminous
cape. Straps crossing the chest and around the waist permit one
to throw it off the shoulders to shoot. It covers the hands, the
rifle-most of the little horses or mules one gets out there.
One can sleep in or on it, and it is a most effective garment
against heavy winds. One suit of pajamas is enough, considering
your tent boy's commendable mania for laundry work. Add
handkerchiefs and you are fixed.

You will wear most of the above, and put what remains in your
"officer's box." This is a thin steel, air-tight affair with a
wooden bottom, and is the ticket for African work.

Sporting. Pick out your guns to suit yourself. You want a light
one and a heavy one.

When I came to send out my ammunition, I was forced again to take
the other fellow's experience. I was told by everybody that I
should bring plenty, that it was better to have too much than too
little, etc. I rather thought so myself, and accordingly shipped
a trifle over 1,500 rounds of small bore cartridges.
Unfortunately, I never got into the field with any of my numerous
advisers on this point, so cannot state their methods from
first-hand information. Inductive reasoning leads me to believe
that they consider it unsportsmanlike to shoot at a standing
animal at all, or at one running nearer than 250 yards.
Furthermore, it is etiquette to continue firing until the last
cloud of dust has died down on the distant horizon. Only thus can
I conceive of getting rid of that amount of ammunition. In eight
months of steady shooting, for example-shooting for trophies, as
well as to feed a safari of fluctuating numbers, counting
jackals, marabout and such small trash-I got away with
395 rounds of small bore ammunition and about 100 of large. This
accounted for 225 kills. That should give one an idea. Figure out
how many animals you are likely to want for ANY purpose, multiply
by three, and bring that many cartridges.

To carry these cartridges I should adopt the English system of a
stout leather belt on which you slip various sized pockets and
loops to suit the occasion. Each unit has loops for ten
cartridges. You rarely want more than that; and if you do, your
gunbearer is supplied. In addition to the loops, you have leather
pockets to carry your watch; your money, your matches and
tobacco, your compass-anything you please. They are handy and
safe. The tropical climate is too "sticky" to get much comfort,
or anything else, out of ordinary pockets.

In addition, you supply your gunbearer with a cartridge belt, a
leather or canvas carrying bag, water bottle for him and for
yourself, a sheath knife and a whetstone. In the bag are your
camera, tape line, the whetstone, field cleaners and lunch. You
personally carry your field glasses, sun glasses, a knife,
compass, matches, police whistle and notebook. The field glasses
should not be more than six power; and if possible you should get
the sort with detachable prisms. The prisms are apt to cloud in a
tropical climate, and the non-detachable sort are almost
impossible for a layman to clean. Hang these glasses around your
neck by a strap only just long enough to permit you to raise them
to your eyes. The best notebook is the "loose-leaf" sort. By
means of this you can keep always a fresh leaf on top; and at
night can transfer your day's notes to safe keeping in your tin
box. The sun glasses should not be smoked or dark-you can do
nothing with them-but of the new amberol, the sort that excludes
the ultra-violet rays, but otherwise makes the world brighter and
gayer. Spectacle frames of non-corrosive white metal, not steel,
are the proper sort.

To clean your guns you must supply plenty of oil, and then some
more. The East African gunbearer has a quite proper and
gratifying, but most astonishing horror for a suspicion of rust;
and to use oil any faster he would have to drink it.

Other Equipment. All this has taken much time to tell about, it
has not done much toward filling up that tin box. Dump in your
toilet effects and a bath towel, two or three scalpels for
taxidermy, a ball of string, some safety-pins, a small tool kit,
sewing materials, a flask of brandy, kodak films packed in tin, a
boxed thermometer, an aneroid (if you are curious as to
elevations), journal, tags for labelling trophies, a few yards of
gun cloth, and the medicine kit.

The latter divides into two classes: for your men and for
yourself. The men will suffer from certain well defined troubles:
"tumbo," or overeating; diarrhaea, bronchial colds, fever and
various small injuries. For "tumbo" you want a liberal supply of
Epsom's salts; for diarrhaea you need chlorodyne; any good
expectorant for the colds; quinine for the fever; permanganate
and plenty of bandages for the injuries. With this lot you can do
wonders. For yourself you need, or may need, in addition, a more
elaborate lot: Laxative, quinine, phenacetin, bismuth and soda,
bromide of ammonium, morphia, camphor-ice, and asperin. A
clinical thermometer for whites and one for blacks should be
included. A tin of malted milk is not a bad thing to take as an
emergency ration after fever.

By this time your tin box is fairly well provided. You may turn
to general supplies.

Book of the day: