From January 26th to 28th nothing of importance took place. A day seldom
passed without nellut, tetél, and gazelle falling to someone’s rifle. We
were all busy during leisure hours in writing letters for England, as we
should not be able to do so or receive any again until our return from
the Basé country to Herr Schumann’s zareeba, where Mr. James had arranged
all letters and papers from Kassala were to be brought. We often saw
baboons gambolling about, also tracks of elephants, lions, and panthers.
The Shiek says we are now in the neighbourhood of giraffes, ostriches,
and buffalos. This day he leaves us to fight or come to terms with the
Basé, and graciously condescends to act as our postman as far as Heikota,
promising to see that our letters are forwarded from there to Kassala.
He tells us that his men are at Sarcella, where they have about 1,000 of
the offending Basé shut up in a cave; they were now waiting for him ere
they took any further action. What transpired we did not learn until we
returned to Heikota. That I will describe when we return there.

January 29th.—We are now in Basé territory. We have for days past done
with caravan routes or paths, and travel over rocky mountains, large
plains, jungle, river-beds, and through a forest of tamarind, tamarisk,
palm, baobob, nebbuck, hegleek, and mimosa trees. On the branches of the
latter we frequently saw lumps of gum arabic, as large as walnuts, which
had exuded through the bark.

At 4 p.m. we saw a Basé village on fire, and rightly surmised, as we
found out afterwards, that the Beni-Amirs had been the authors of this.
Just after breakfast, before the camels were brought, we shot eight
partridges and ten quail, which were handed over to the cook. Some were
prepared for dinner, and some for luncheon next day. We also shot on
the march a buck tetél; the prime bit was, of course, reserved for our
dinner, and was more like roast beef than the flesh of any other animal
I tasted; the rest was given to our attendants. We encamped by the side
of the river-bed, where we found water on digging to the depth of 7 or
8 feet. Ere we could encamp we had to set to with axes and clear away
a number of young palms and mimosa bushes, make a zareeba, and before
retiring for the night look to our rifles and revolvers and see that we
had plenty of cartridges ready in case of emergency, as we flattered
ourselves that we were like the Bristol, Sheffield, or any other boys
in England who slept with one eye open. At all events we had heard
sufficient of this country to know that it would be unwise for us to
be caught napping, especially as we noticed some of the natives spying
about soon after we had pitched our tents. About mid-day we sighted the
village of Sarcella, the inhabitants of which Sheik Ahmed had gone to
interview, and whom Suleiman designated as “a very bad peoples.” There
is very little doubt that Suleiman was right, if all we heard about
them was true, for in 1869 or ’70—I am not sure which—Mr. Powell, wife,
little boy, and all the Europeans were spitted on their long spears.
They now lie buried in Bassaleg churchyard, near Newport, having been
brought home by his brother, Mr. Powell, M.P., who fearfully avenged his
brother’s death. Whilst I was in the Soudan I saw by a newspaper which we
got, that this gentleman lost his life in a balloon.

January 30th.—Made a short march to-day, namely, from 10.30 a.m. until
4.30 p.m., encamping at a place called Wo-amma, playfully christened
and ever afterwards known as “Whoa Emma.” The country was to-day very
mountainous and difficult for the caravan, to say nothing of ourselves.
I distinctly recollect that on this very day, whilst travelling along
a plane, one of the horse-boys came trotting quickly along, causing
my camel not only to shy, but to bolt when I was quite unprepared for
any such _contretemps_. A spectator would, doubtless, have been much
amused. I was not. For the space of about 20 yards I bounded like an
india-rubber ball on the makloufa; then came suddenly to grief from
my lofty elevation, the distance from the camel’s hump to his feet
being considerable. I fell with a regular bang on to my hip, which
felt very painful for some days afterwards, and had the mortification
to see my belongings gradually parting company with the camel—my rug,
then my satchel, a basket, zanzimeer, &c. The camel was caught after
some trouble, whilst I and they were gradually picked up, I with rage
in my heart, for this camel, being a bolter, had served me several
scurvy tricks before; for instance, if we came to any little declivity,
the beast would persist in making a trot of it, greatly exciting my
apprehensions. Again, when we came to a narrow pathway I would duck my
head where there were overhanging boughs of prickly shrubs; he, thinking
I was going to thrash him, would at once bolt, and when he had rushed
through I should find my head and hands were like a pincushion. I could
then knock my helmet out of the trees and at my leisure pick out the
horrid thorns with which my head and hands abounded. Once I was nearly
swept off the wretched beast as he bolted in this way. A strong chain of
cactus was across our way, catching me in the middle. I saw the danger
in time, and clutched hold of the makloufa with all my might, on I might
have been found suspended amongst the trees. It broke, fortunately, and
I escaped, but I never shall forget how angry that camel frequently made
me, what self-restraint I was obliged to exercise, for if I chastised
him he would bellow and bolt again, to my great danger and annoyance.
I had in England extracted many human teeth in my time, but this day
I extracted an elephant’s tooth, and brought it home as a curiosity.
However, I think I ought to say the elephant was not alive, and that on
the march we passed the skeletons of two others, which, I have no doubt,
furnished some excellent repasts for the natives. These were not all we
passed calling for notice, for some of our men came upon two of the Basé
people; the first sample of these curiosities we had seen. One was in
a baobob tree gathering the pods and throwing them down to the other,
who was collecting them in a basket. These so-called ferocious savages
appeared terribly alarmed when our men came upon them. The one on _terra
firma_, with the true instinct that “self-preservation is the first law
of nature,” bolted like a shot, but our men captured him. The other
was afraid to come down until one of the English servants discharged
the contents of one barrel of his rifle, and let him know by the aid
of Beyrumfi, our interpreter, that the contents of the other would be
lodged in his frail tenement of clay unless he was more sociable. This
persuasive kind of argument appeared very effective, for down he came,
and I am sure both he and his companion, who, doubtless, were accustomed
to be hunted like wild beasts, were agreeably surprised when they each
received a pocket-knife and a bit of bread and meat. Remembering the
injunctions of Sheik Ahmed, and with Powell on the brain, we took
precautions against surprises—set to work and made a zareeba round the
camp, lighted camp fires, and looked well to rifles and revolvers. The
latter we kept under our pillows; the former at the heads of our beds,
ready at a moment’s notice. Sentries were posted, and occasionally
relieved, whilst one of us (whoever chanced to awake) went round to see
that they were doing their duty. The man who was not, felt unhappy next
morning, as he received an intimation from the coorbatch before breakfast
that there had been a certain dereliction of duty on his part.

January 31st.—We marched eight hours to-day, encamping at Fodie on the
dry river-bed, close to some wells. This was a very fatiguing march
for the caravan, on account of our luggage, which was much obstructed
by trees. We travelled through quite a forest of these. Where there
were no trees the grass had been burnt for miles round. Many quail and
sand-grouse were shot to-day.

February 1st.—After a short march of four hours only, we encamped on
the broad, sandy river-bed of the Mareb, very near to the village of
Koolookoo, which we could see high up amongst the rocks of a mountain
on the opposite side. Each side of the Mareb was plentifully lined
with overhanging trees of all kinds, and amongst the twigs of some
could be seen many hundreds of the beautifully constructed nests of the
weaver-bird. Not very far from the Mareb, at the base of the mountain, in
which these Basé at Koolookoo lived, were the remains of a mud house in
which Mr. Powell had once lived. This was, I believe, as far, or nearly
so, as he had penetrated.

The Kunama, or Basé country, is quite a _terra incognita_, and, as far as
we could ascertain, we are the first and only Europeans who have explored
that country at all. This being so, I shall expend a good deal of time in
saying all I can about this country and people. We shall have to thank
Messrs. W. D. James and Percy Aylmer for a map of that country, and also
for some photographs of the people and scenery, which will be found in
Mr. F. L. James’s book. This book I have not yet read, and shall not do
so until my own is in the publisher’s hands, for fear I may unwittingly
adopt any of his theories or expressions, but rather prefer to be
perfectly independent of it, and give _my own_ ideas and description
in my own way, be they good, bad, or indifferent. No two men agree on
any subject, and it is _very_ probable that Mr. F. L. James and I may
materially differ on _many_. So that I shall not be termed a copyist, I
shall neither reproduce the map or photographs, but trust to sketches
taken to the best of my poor ability, but which, I hope, will convey
a pretty good idea of the kind of place and people that we sojourned
amongst for a while. Very well, then, after this exordium—probably the
longest I shall make—I will continue my narrative, as the dog would say
of his caudal appendage.

This was the first Basé village we had come to, and ere we could go any
further it was necessary that we should interview the Shiek of this
village, and explain the object of our visit. We made an ostentatious
display of our rifles and guns, twenty-four in number, and placed them
against the bank ready for immediate use if necessary, whilst each of us
sported a six-chambered revolver in our waist-belts. When we had—as we
thought—taken sufficient precautions against surprises or treachery, we
were curious to see these much-dreaded savages, whom report said were
capable of any sanguinary deed (could, in fact, murder with a smiling
face), and although their neighbours lived on their borders, they
appeared to know little more about them than we did ourselves. Whilst
we lunched within easy reach of our rifles, we sent forth one Beyrumfi,
“our guide, philosopher, and friend” (and the only man who knew anything
of the language) to the village. When we had finished our luncheon, we
got our field-glasses, and on the very summit of the rocky mountain
we saw all the women and children, and a few of the men, looking down
on us. Half an hour afterwards, winding round by a circuitous pathway,
on sloping ground, and occasionally hidden by trees, we could now see
Beyrumfi, accompanied by seven or eight of the Basé, each carrying his
spear and shield. When they appeared on the edge of the river-bed in
single file, headed by Beyrumfi, the Sheik’s son (a fine, strapping,
well-made fellow, who took his father’s place during his absence) dropped
his shield, and, without stopping, drove his spear quivering into the
sand; his example was followed by all the others. They all marched
briskly across the river-bed, whilst we, in our English fashion, stood
up and shook hands all round, which, under such circumstances, was much
more agreeable than kissing all round. Sheik junior, if I may call him
so, was about 5ft. 10in. in height, as straight as a dart, and not by
any means over-dressed, for he wore nothing but a bit of soft leather,
very much the shape and size of a man’s bathing drawers. He got the
twig of a tree and broke it with us as a sign of friendship. All then
squatted round on their haunches, with their knees under their chins
(their customary mode of resting themselves), and Beyrumfi explained the
object of our visit. This was satisfactory. The Sheik then borrowed a
two-edged sword from Beyrumfi, placed it on the ground with the point
directed towards us, put his _naked_ foot on it, and delivered a short
harangue, the purport of which was that we were in his country now, and
as long as we remained neither he nor his people would harm, but do all
they could to assist us, and that we were now his brothers. However, he
could really only speak for his village. This is what is called making
“Aman”—that is, swearing peace and friendship, and that we will trust
one another; but we didn’t. On hospitable thoughts intent, we ordered a
large bowl of cooked meat; our new acquaintances soon squatted round, and
judging from the rapid disappearance of the food, I should imagine that
a larger bowl would have done very well. We gave each of these fellows
small presents, amongst other things an empty claret bottle each, which
was much prized, but to the Sheik’s son we gave a few extra things, such
as a tope or loin-cloth, a razor, a knife in sheath, needles, pins and
thread, a velvet necklet, and a waistcoat striped yellow and black. He
at once invested himself with the order of the tope and yellow and black
waistcoat, to the great admiration of his friends, who continually made
a clucking noise with the mouth, just as we do to urge on a horse; from
their point of view it meant how wonderful, how nice, and what a swell
you are. The claret-coloured lead-capping of bottles, which had been
thrown on the ground, they gathered up, using them to decorate their hair
with, or as an addition to their necklaces. Our rifles and guns were
still leaning against the bank, just to show how well armed we were. Now,
finding the natives were so friendly, and that they had left their spears
on the other side of the river-bed, we ordered our rifles to be taken
into our tents; still, however, retaining our revolvers. Of course a long
pow-wow ensued. Whilst this was going on the women and children were not
idle in the village, for they stood out on various places of vantage,
looking down on their braves. We lent the Basé field-glasses to look at
them, and it was most amusing to hear their expressions of surprise,
with any amount of the clucking accompaniment, as they saw how near the
glass brought their friends to view. After a while they returned to their
village, upon which several of their friends, finding not only that we
appeared reasonable beings, but that we had given several presents,
paid us a visit, no doubt hoping that we would serve them in the same
way. Of course the wonderful Ingelese exhibited to all these visitors
their rifles and revolvers, accompanied by an elaborate explanation of
their killing powers. Beyrumfi explained all this amidst a shower of
cluckings. We had been told by Sheik Ahmed that the Basé were no better
than beasts, that they lived in holes in the ground and in caves; we
resolved to see for ourselves, and so told the Sheik that we would pay
him a visit on the morrow, which we did. They don’t absolutely live in
holes in the ground like rabbits, but where the rocks lean against one
another, or project out, forming an awning, they utilize these accidents
to convert such a place into a dwelling; they also have many well-made
huts. In these particulars they differ from wild beasts, but I think in
most other particulars they very much resemble them. As for their being
the ferocious savages represented to us, I must say that they appeared
more afraid of us than we were of them. I formed an idea that they had a
cowed, hunted look, and well they may have, as the Egyptians squeeze all
they can out of them on one side, and the Abyssinians on the other, and
the reason they live in such places amongst rocks difficult of access is
that if attacked, they can roll these rocks down on their assailants. The
attire of both men and women is extremely simple and scanty. The women
wear a short skirt reaching from the waist to the knees, most of them a
large ring in one nostril. Many of them are not bad looking; their black
hair is not profuse, but inclined to be frizzly; this is plaited down,
whilst bits of metal, brass rings or beads, are frequently interlaced.
All have lovely teeth. In stature they are rather short and when young
possess rather graceful, well-formed figures. Either beads, metal, or
some other ornament surrounds the neck, the arm, just above the elbow,
the wrists and ankles. Very many, both men and women (the Arabs as well),
have the scars of burns about the size of a shilling. I do not know
whether it is so in all cases, but in very many, if they are in pain in
any part of the body, they apply a hot iron button (technically known
as the actual cautery). A very common custom is to decorate the chest,
abdomen, and back (sometimes one of these, sometimes all of them) with
a series of little cuts, into which a dye called kohl is rubbed in.
Kohl is also, much used by the Basé to stain their eyelids all round,
which produces a bluish-black stain. Whilst speaking of this dye, I may
say that it is supposed this was the very thing which Jezebel used to
improve her personal appearance. The difference between the Basé men
and women in the matter of dress and ornaments is that the men, instead
of a short tope or skirt, wear a bit of thin leather round their loins
(like a rather scant pair of bathing drawers), and a scratcher in their
hair. I saw some moderately big boys attired in the most inexpensive suit
conceivable; namely, an anklet and bracelet of metal, and a bit of a
porcupine’s quill in the left nostril.

Speaking generally, the men are well-formed, agile-looking fellows.
These Basé people are quite hemmed in in their small country, on the
one hand by the Abyssinians and on the other sides by different tribes
of Arabs, with whom they appear to have little or no communication or
dealings, and if they venture out of their own country they are hunted
down by the Arabs just like wild animals. The Arabs of the Soudan are
darker than the Abyssinians, but the Basé are much darker than the Arabs
and speak a different language. The Basé are quite a different race to
their neighbours, and more nearly approach the negro type. They are
blacker than the Arabs, but not the coal-black of the negro; their hair
is shorter, more crisp and woolly, than the Arabs, but not the absolute
wool of the negro. The Arabs have good regular features, lips and noses
like our own; the Basé are the contrary, and more resemble the negro
in this respect and their high cheek-bones, but they are not nearly so
pronounced as the negro. Their foreheads, as a rule, are rather narrow
and receding. I was obliged perforce to depend on Sheik Ahmed, and
more particularly on Beyrumfi, for all the information I could glean
respecting these people. They say they have no religion. Sheik Ahmed,
speaking very contemptuously of them, says “that they have a rain-maker
who promises rain, when it is pretty sure to come; but if he makes
several promises and the rain does not come, he goes”—to that bourne from
whence no traveller shall return. In the little matter of marriage, their
laws and ceremonies are extremely simple, for they marry their sisters,
their daughters, their cousins, and their aunts, possibly their mothers
and grandmothers. Courtship is brief and primitive. A Basé man fancies
a Basé girl (presumably not his own daughter); he tells the nearest
male relatives so, father or brother—good; he then presents him with a
few yards of calico or some skins, the same also to his bride, and she
becomes his.

Now with regard to their diet. I cannot help thinking that this admits
of considerable improvement. As they are not possessed of large flocks
and herds like their neighbours, the Beni-Amirs, they have not much milk
or meat, neither have they so much dhurra as an article of diet. They
obtain meat occasionally when they can ensnare an animal; the _kind_ of
meat is rather a secondary consideration for they will eat the meat of
lion, panther, elephant monkeys, lizards, or giraffes with as much gusto
as that of antelope or buffalo. They are not so particular, either, as
they ought to be, for they consume all except the skin and bones. They
also eat the roots of young palm trees, the outer covering of the dhoum
palm nut, nebbuck, and hegleek nuts, the fruit of the baobob, wild honey,
and a certain, or rather an uncertain, quantity of milk and dhurra. They
do not indulge in baked baby, and I am quite sure that their carnal
longings are never satiated with cold or roast missionary, as there are
no missionaries there, but it has occurred to me that this place is
virgin soil for missionary enterprise, as there does not appear to be any
religion that requires eradicating from their minds.

In the evening of the 2nd February a dirty-looking old fellow (a sheik
from Aidaro), paid us a visit, bringing with him a gourd of wild honey
as a peace offering, made “aman” with us, and of course received his

I was much struck when visiting the village with their beautifully made
baskets; so closely woven are they as to enable them to carry milk or
water in them without a drop oozing through.

On the 3rd February we made a further advance, starting at 11 a.m., and
encamping at 4 p.m., again on the river-bed, at Aibara. This day we
marched for the space of five hours through a forest; the heat was very
great, and the ground over which we travelled was full of large, deep
cracks, often two or three inches wide, caused by the contraction of the
earth, which had been subjected to a continuous baking by the hot sun
since the rainy season. Oftentimes could be seen the great footprint of
an elephant, now quite a moulded one, having been there since the rainy
season. On leaving Koolookoo we were accompanied by about 80 or 100 of
the inhabitants, having nothing with them but spear and shield. We knew
what this meant—that we should have to provide them with food—a rather
large undertaking considering that our own party, including camel-men,
horse-boys, and servants, numbered about 40 or 50. Accordingly a delicate
hint was conveyed to our new body-guard, that our own people would first
of all have to be provided with food; then if there was plenty of meat to
spare they would be quite welcome to it. To this arrangement they amiably
acceded. On _terra firma_ we could have made a good stand with our rifles
and revolvers in case of attack, but had these Basé thought proper,
at a preconcerted signal, to make an onslaught on our long straggling
caravan, I am afraid we should have fared very badly, notwithstanding
our being well armed. However, I think their principal reason for coming
with us was to have a continual feast of meat, an article of diet they
were capable of stowing away as capaciously as a lion would do, and with
as little ceremony. In the evening three sheiks paid us a visit, each
going through the ceremony of “aman.” After dinner the magic lantern was
exhibited, and this excited their astonishment even more than it did
that of the Beni-Amirs. I do not intend to go into a description much of
hunting-scenes, as they would occupy too much space, and I do not think
that the frequent repetition of such scenes would be interesting to the
generality of my readers; besides which I have no doubt Mr. F. L. James
has done this in his book. Suffice it to say that as there was abundance
of game of every description, scarcely a day passed without plenty being
brought into camp.

February 4th.—Off at 10.30 a.m., halt at 5 p.m.; pitch tents at
Maissasser, on the bank of the Mareb, and quite close to jungle. About 12
o’clock, as our camels were slowly winding along the bed of the Mareb,
a grand bull buffalo, an enormous beast, dashed right across in front
of us, raising quite a cloud of dust. This was the first buffalo we
had seen; at half-past 4 p.m. we saw three more, and just afterwards a
giraffe. There was a good deal of chuckling now at the prospect of sport
in store, and we resolved to encamp here for the next two or three days.
To-day we saw miles of country on fire. The country looks much greener in
this neighbourhood; trees and jungle abundant, and water much nearer to
the surface.

February 5th.—Last night, about 11 o’clock, just as I had gone to
sleep, I was considerably startled by several rifle shots, one after
the other. In an instant I was out of bed, rifle in hand, rushed out
of my tent in my slippers and night shirt, not knowing what to think;
the first idea naturally was that we were being attacked. Messrs. F. L.
James and Phillipps, who slept in another tent, were also out, clad in
the same airy costume as myself, and, like me, each with a rifle in his
hand. All this was the work of a minute—we had scarcely time to say,
“Whatever is the meaning of it all?” when close behind my tent, amongst
the thick stems of the tall grass, there was a sound as of a rushing
mighty wind. This was enough; the whole affair was explained at once;
we knew directly that this was nothing less than a herd of buffalos,
and I am very thankful that they just avoided my tent, which could as
easily have been upset by them as a box of matches. It seems that just
after we had gone to bed, the others, Messrs. Colvin, P. Aylmer, W. D.
and A. James, “from information received,” took their rifles (it was
a bright moonlight night) and stole out cautiously to the edge of the
jungle. There they saw a herd of buffalos drinking, and into it they
discharged their rifles with pretty good effect, for about 11 o’clock
this morning one of the herd was found dead in the jungle pretty near
to camp. A camel was sent to the spot to bring home the quarters for
food, and the head, of course, as a trophy. A great number of the Basé
were pretty quickly on the spot; then there ensued such a scene as I had
never before witnessed, and which almost baffles description. I will,
however, endeavour to describe it, as some of my readers might like to be
furnished with particulars. Invalids, persons of delicate organization
and others, might, however, like to omit this little account of a Basé
feast, which I assure them will not have an appetising effect. I may here
say that there is not the least occasion for me to draw on my imagination
and indulge in what some people facetiously call “crackers,” which I have
not and shall not do, as there is no necessity for doing so, there being
abundance of material of a strictly veracious character which I cull from
my diary, written carefully down at the time. Incredible as some accounts
may appear, I must ask my readers to accept these facts without the usual
formula _cum grano salis_. Very well, then, I will write down, and you,
reader, can read, mark, and inwardly digest (if you please) _without_ the
usual proverbial pinch of salt, a description of a scene that I was an
eye-witness of, and if I should somewhat interfere with your enjoyment,
when called from labour to refreshment, don’t blame me, but blame the
Basé. All I can say is, that this is not what incredulous people call “a
traveller’s tale,” but a “true story.” Do not say, “It strikes me that he
doth protest too much.”

I recollect to have seen somewhere or other a pamphlet entitled “The
Stomach and Its Trials.” That useful organ in the human body of Basé does
not appear to be subject to usual inconveniences, but accommodates itself
to circumstances, not unlike an india-rubber bag. The only trials I saw
them suffer was trying how much they could stow away without causing a
rupture of that viscera.

Well, to continue. As soon as the animal was opened they fell upon the
intestines like hungry wolves. Oh! such a scramble for tit-bits. There
were our dusky friends very soon ankle-deep in the viscera, and about
20 pairs of hands clutching at them. Two would perhaps get hold of the
same piece, and pull away like a couple of dogs, until a knife produced
a solution of continuity. Another group could be seen hacking away at
pieces of the liver, and cramming the warm, quivering morsels into their
mouths. One could be seen stuffing a lump of fat into his mouth with
one hand, the other at the same time would be industriously employed in
rubbing this adipose tissue into his hair. Another appeared to have a
predilection for kidneys; and so this disgusting feast went on, until
the whole interior of the animal was consumed, without such absurd
preliminaries as cooking.

One would naturally suppose that I should be busy at my medicine-chest
next day, but not one of them even so much as troubled me for a pill
afterwards. They might truly say, “We are fearfully and wonderfully
made;” and after this exhibition of digestive powers, I should be
obliged to coincide with them. When they had gorged themselves like
boa-constrictors, I should not exaggerate if I said that they presented
a most filthy and disgusting spectacle. Their proportions were quite
aldermanic, and their mouths, faces, and arms up to the elbows were
smeared with fat and gore. Had this buffalo lived a month or two longer
she would have become a mother.

We do not consider very young veal wholesome, but whether the Basé
thought this _very_ young buffalo would be a delicacy they must not touch
I know not; at all events it was brought into camp. We gave it the Basé,
who appeared quite pleased. In less than ten minutes afterwards we saw
three of them engaged in tearing it limb from limb, and eating it without
going through the formality of cooking. The quarters of buffalo, senior,
were divided between our men and Basé; the hide was cut up into sections
and given to the sheiks and others to make into shields.

Messrs. Colvin and Aylmer shot to-day two mehedehét. This is a very
beautiful antelope, possessing a very rough coat, a fine pair of horns,
slightly curved and annulated; is about 13 hands high, and in colour much
resembles the red deer. Messrs. F. L. and W. James stalked an ostrich for
two hours, but did not succeed in bringing him down.

We were encamped on a little plateau by the side of the Mareb, close to a
great jungle. On the opposite side of this wide river-bed were very many
trees of different kinds, and on both sides rocky mountains. Just by our
camp, on the sandy river-bed, the Basé were encamped. Notwithstanding
their mid-day feast on the uncooked internals of the buffalo, they were
ready and willing for another set to in the evening—this time of cooked
meat. Whether this second gorge had a stimulating and intoxicating effect
on them I don’t know, but just as we were off to our various tents for
the night, at 9.30 p.m., we heard strange noises issuing from the Basé
camp. Messrs. A. James, Colvin, and I were curious to ascertain the
cause, so down we went amongst them, and this is what we saw, and what I
have some difficulty in describing:—

All the Basé were engaged in a peculiar dance, four or six abreast, and
so close to each other as to be almost touching; those behind always
treading in the footsteps of those in front, whilst each one held his
spear aloft at arm’s-length. What they were saying I don’t exactly
know, but it was a dance of joy celebrating their feast of meat. A few
words as a solo would be sung, then all would join in chorus. This
went on for about half an hour; then they broke up and went through a
wild war-dance—now flying forwards and darting out their spears at an
imaginary enemy whilst protecting themselves with their shields, then
nimbly retreating, crouching and springing like wild cats. It was a novel
and singular spectacle to see nearly a hundred of these black savages,
with their glittering spears, agile as monkeys, leaping in and out
between about 30 flickering fires on the river-bed. Like the Pharisee of
old, I could not help (mentally) exclaiming, “Thank God I am not as these
men are.”

I then retired to rest, and slept peacefully and soundly until the
following morning.

February 6th.—Soon after breakfast we saw, stretched from tree to tree
near the camp, what appeared like clothes-lines with stockings suspended
on them to dry. The Basé had made ropes out of the palm-leaves, and on
these the meat which they could not then dispose of hung in strips and
festoons to dry. When dried, they would stuff them into gazelle skins,
or bags of some kind, for future use. To-day about 40 of them returned to
Koolookoo, well-charged with meat, both in their own skins and that of
gazelles; the rest remained with us.

This morning another buffalo, which was wounded on the night of the 4th,
was found, but not dead. He, however, received his _coup de grace_ from
Mr. Colvin’s rifle, but not until he had made a furious charge, though
so badly wounded, fortunately without any ill-results. A wounded buffalo
is about as dangerous and fierce an animal as can be met with, and will
charge most savagely if he is only within five minutes of death, provided
his limbs will support him. We had plenty of meat brought into camp, for
in addition to this buffalo, two nellut, a mora, and two buffalos were
shot. Temperature at 1.30, solar thermometer 150°, wet bulb 66°, dry bulb
in shade 90°.

This has been rather an exciting day, as Mr. W. James saw and stalked
three giraffes, but was not successful in getting near enough for a shot.
Sali, the tracker, saw three ostriches and a rhinoceros, the latter
pretty close to him, and I two full-grown elephants a distance off, but
none of them were bagged. No doubt had these elephants been followed up
for a day or so they could have been got at, but they were not. Messrs.
A. James and Colvin followed them up next day for many miles, but not
far enough.

February 7th.—Messrs. Colvin and A. James, who went in quest of the
two elephants, returned about 4 p.m., without having seen them. In the
evening Hoodoo, chief sheik of the Basé, paid us a visit, bringing with
him a pot of wild honey as a present. He went through the formality of
making “aman” with us, after which he squatted on his haunches in the
usual native fashion.

During a long pow-wow which ensued, I was busy making mental notes of
Hoodoo, not by any means complimentary to that august personage. He was a
dirty-looking old fellow, as scantily dressed as his colleagues, nearly
black, with an ill-favoured, sinister cast of countenance, and not by
any means a man whom I should place unbounded confidence in. He received
several presents, amongst others a bernouse and a rather gorgeous-looking
abia (a cloak-looking kind of thing), with gold braid ornamentation
around the neck. He seemed mightily pleased with these. He then joined
his comrades’ camp, and we went to our dinner.

This was rather a nice camping-ground, but quite unsheltered from the
sun by trees. However, we provided a shelter by cutting down some young
trees, fixing them in the ground and making a covering of matting, tall
grass, and palm leaves, which were obtainable close by. So great was the
heat now that the ink dried in my pen ere I could write three lines on
a page of foolscap. However, I was fortunately provided with Mappin and
Webb’s stylographic pen, which is really invaluable in such hot climates.
Always about 12 or 1 o’clock a slight breeze would spring up, producing
occasionally a very curious phenomenon. A very high column of dust
(perhaps half a mile in height) would come whirling and waltzing along
right through the middle of the camp, and so long as it was not hidden
by trees or mountains I could see it spinning on and on, looking in the
distance like a column of smoke. A good deal of sport was obtained in
this neighbourhood, chiefly buffalos and antelopes of different kinds.

February 8th.—We struck our tents and were in marching order by 11 a.m.
After an easy journey through some pretty good country, where vegetation
was abundant, we encamped at 3 p.m. on a nice bit of land by the Mareb
amongst many tall trees and shrubs, which afforded a good shade. Here
we purposed remaining for a week at least, as big game of all kinds was
plentiful, and here for the first time we found rhinoceros’ tracks. This
place is called Maiambasar, and is situated on the border of Abyssinia.
Water is near the surface here. During the journey I have noticed that
as we have got nearer to Abyssinia we have found the water nearer the
surface. We heard panthers, hyænas, and lions last night near camp, but
lions are not so plentiful as they were a few days ago.

February 9th.—Abdullah, a black boy, who looks after my camel, has been
walking very lame during the last few days, having considerable swelling
at the knee. I find he has a large abscess, produced by a guinea-worm. He
comes from Algeden, which is about five days from here between Kassala
and Souheet. He says guinea-worm is very common there and on the White

Strange to say, all returned to camp in the evening without having
obtained game of any kind, although out all day. Mr. Aylmer, whilst in
search of game, suddenly came upon a rather curious scene. There, on
the mountain side, scarcely sheltered from the burning rays of the sun,
was an old man suffering from leprosy, miles away, apparently, from any
human being or habitation. Food and water had been placed near him, to
which he could help himself. Mr. Aylmer informed me that the surrounding
atmosphere was charged with the stench arising from the decomposed food
which was scattered around the place. I should say that most probably
that old man furnished a meal for one of the wild beasts ere long.

February 10th.—Two buffalos and two nellut killed this day. One, a bull
buffalo, was an enormous beast, and probably the hero of many a fight,
for one of his horns had been knocked short off, one eye knocked out,
whilst his forehead was covered with scars—evidently a disreputable,
cantankerous old buffalo. His carcase was given to the Basé, who were
well pleased with the donation. The Koolookoo Basé who came with us
through the country would, I daresay, have divided the meat amicably
between them, as their Sheik was with them, but their number had been
materially increased by other Basé.

In the evening, during the division of the spoil, just outside our camp,
a great difference of opinion prevailed as to _meum_ and _tuum_. Knives,
clubs, spears, and staves were freely brandished amid a chorus of yells
and shouts, ending in a scramble for the joints and pieces of meat.
Some of them secured a reasonable share, and trotted with it; others,
again, not so fortunate, would intercept a fugitive caressing, perhaps,
the thigh of the deceased buffalo. Then a desperate struggle would
ensue between them, five or six pulling away in different directions.
Fortunately all was settled without bloodshed, peace reigned in the camp,
and we all retired to our respective tents at a respectable hour.

February 11th, 1882, was the most memorable day of the whole campaign.
Thinking it was not safe to leave the camp without protectors, Messrs. W.
D. and A. James and I remained in camp, whilst Messrs. F. L. James and
Colvin went out in one direction and Phillipps and Aylmer in another,
in search of big game. Each party went out mounted on ponies, which had
been bought for the purpose at Kassala and Heikota. Each party took an
agreegeer, or huntsman, a horse-boy, camel-boy, and camel with them, the
latter for the purpose of carrying home the game. They started soon
after 8 a.m., Messrs. Phillipps and Aylmer went in the direction of some
mountains on the Abyssinian border, whilst Messrs. James and Colvin took
the opposite side of the Mareb. We amused ourselves in camp in reading,
writing letters, or posting up diaries. Keeping my diary carefully and
correctly posted up day by day was a duty which I most religiously
attended to before ever I retired to rest, however fatigued I may have
been by the day’s march. Incidents and impressions written down at the
time are more likely to be correct than if left to memory. From my diary
I quote the following particulars:—

“About 1.30 p.m., just as we were about to sit down to luncheon, Messrs.
Aylmer and Phillipps came into camp looking considerably chop-fallen and
exhausted, and having only one horse between them. Of course we did not
expect either party home until 5 or 6 p.m., so I said to Aylmer—

“‘Hallo! how is it you are back so soon, and looking so precious serious?’

“‘I can tell you, doctor, this is no laughing matter,’ said he, ‘for we
have been attacked by the Abyssinians or Dembelas, and very likely they
will soon be down on our camp.’

“This certainly did look a serious business, especially as we had no
zareeba round the camp; so I said—

“‘Well, the best thing we can do is to have our luncheon at once; then we
shall be more fit for work.’”

The wisdom of this suggestion was apparent, and at once acted upon.
Whilst it was being brought I strapped on my revolver, brought out my
diary and entered the above conversation. Mahomet Sali and others were
at once sent out as scouts in search of Messrs. James and Colvin, with a
promise of five dollars each to those who brought them into camp. We then
sat down to luncheon, and the following account was given of this affair,
and was duly entered in my diary immediately afterwards, as we did not
know when we might be attacked, and I was desirous of leaving my diary
posted up complete to latest date.

Aylmer’s story:—“We had got about eight or nine miles from camp on the
sandy river-bed, quite in a hollow, precipitous rocks and trees on each
side of us, when suddenly about 30 strangers, who turned out to be
Dembelas, appeared. We thought they were Abyssinians, because they were
so much lighter in colour than Arabs, and, of course, quite different in
every respect from the Basé. Some of them seized our hands and commenced
kissing them profusely, exclaiming ‘Aman, aman,’ at the same time
beckoning us to lay down our rifles. Now, although we thought they were
friendly, we did not think it wise to be so confiding as this, until
Mahomet, the agreegeer (who, we supposed, knew more of the customs of
these people than we did), lay down his, beckoning us to do the same,
saying it would be better to do so. One fellow, wearing a felt hat, was
more demonstrative even than the others. Well, we followed Mahomet’s
example; no sooner had we done so (we had four rifles with us and about
50 cartridges) than they were immediately seized, and a struggle ensued
for their possession. The man wearing the felt hat seized a valuable
elephant rifle, vaulted on to the back of Mr. Phillipps’s horse and
galloped off. Attached to the saddle of that horse was his revolver, a
number of cartridges, and a field-glass. The horse-boy vanished like
smoke, whilst his horse was taken possession of by another of the enemy.
They attempted to spear the camel-boy, missed him and speared the camel.
Phillipps received a blow from the butt-end of a rifle which would have
prostrated him had not his helmet protected his head. He, however, turned
round, closed with his assailant, and succeeded in wrenching the rifle
from him. I pulled the trigger of my revolver, but on account of sand,
which obstructed it, I could not discharge it.

“In the hubbub which ensued Mahomet could nowhere be seen, and about 8 or
10 Basé (who had accompanied us, with the intention of having a feast and
cutting up the animal into quarters) vanished at once. We were now alone,
and by this time there were about 100 yelling demons brandishing their
spears, whooping and leaping about. Under such circumstances we thought
discretion the better part of valour, so we fled with one horse between
us, and have made the best of our way to camp, riding and walking by

This really was very alarming news, and we quite expected that we should
soon be fully occupied in defending ourselves from an attack.

We now resolved to fire the country all round and construct a strong
zareeba. Before I fell to with the axe I once more sought out my diary
and chronicled the above. All then fell to with a will, cutting down all
the prickly trees in the neighbourhood, dragging them round the camp
and so forming a very strong zareeba. This was no joke when the solar
thermometer registered about 150°, and the heat was 100° in the shade.

Whilst we were thus employed the horse-boy made his appearance, streaming
with blood, his flesh being torn by the cruel thorns as he rushed
blindly on. We now set fire to all the tall grass and bushes in the
neighbourhood. The terrific speed with which it spread was surprising,
miles of country were soon in flames. The crackling of the grass and
trees resembled more than anything else the most fierce hailstorm I ever

Now the camel-boy turned up and this was his account of the affair:—Just
as he leaped off the camel he saw Mahomet on the ground, whilst one
of the Dembelas darted his spear at him several times; then left him
writhing. He went to his assistance, and helped him along some distance,
whilst poor Mahomet supported his intestines (which had gushed out) in
his tope. At last the poor fellow sank down under a tree, saying—

“I can go no further; I shall soon die. Save yourself; make haste to camp
and tell the gentlemen to make a strong zareeba at once as they will
certainly be attacked, probably to-night.”

By this time Messrs. F. James and Colvin, who had been found by the
scouts, arrived. We at once held a council of war, and determined not
only to go in search of Mahomet, but to attack the Dembelas if we could
find them, leaving two of our company in camp to command the men in case
of attack. All the neighbouring Basé, we found, had bolted—Elongi, the
Sheik from Koolookoo, and his men, alone remained, and promised to stand
by us and fight for us if necessary.

Our armoury consisted of about 22 shot-guns and rifles, and about a dozen
six-chambered revolvers. All the camel-men and native servants were
armed with spear and shield. Having provided ourselves each with rifle,
revolver, and cartridges, our two European servants; Suleiman, Ali, and
Cheriff also; we called up our native servants. To the most trusty of
these, including Beyrumfi, our guide, Mahomet Sali, Sali, the tracker,
and Ali Bacheet, the head camel-man, we entrusted the remainder of our
firearms, but unfortunately most of them had to be instructed in the use
of them.

I provided myself with a few bandages, lint, and my pocket case of
surgical instruments, and feeling that we were embarking on a very
perilous enterprise, left instructions respecting my immortal diary,
which would convey full information up to the time of our departure from

Just as we were getting into the saddle who should turn up but the Chief
Sheik, Hoodoo, who left our last camping place the morning after his
arrival. He _appeared_ surprised at all this commotion. Whether he was
really so or not I do not know, but I am sure, from the very first, I
did not feel that I should repose in him the trustful confidence of an
innocent child.

Our little army consisted now of Messrs. F. L. and A. James, Phillipps,
Aylmer, myself, six of our men with firearms, the Koolookoo Sheik, and 15
of his men with spear and shield. We started off, on what _might_ prove
to be our last journey, about 4 p.m. And I think we shall all remember
that silent ride of eight miles up the sandy river-bed of the Mareb to
Abyssinia, shaded often by trees which thickly adorned the banks. We well
knew, as we approached Abyssinia, that each bush may conceal an enemy,
who might at any moment spring out on us unawares, and knowing this,
each one clutched his rifle with a firm grip, ready for instant use, and
determined to sell his life dearly if the worst came to the worst. I felt
that our present position was something like that of Fitz-James, when he
held the interesting conversation with Rhoderick Dhu which Sir Walter
Scott so graphically describes—

Instant, through copse and heath, arose
Bonnets, and spears, and bended bows;
On right, on left, above, below,
Sprang up at once the lurking foe;
From shingles grey their lances start,
The bracken-bush sends forth the dart,
The rushes and the willow-wand
Are bristling into axe and brand,
And every tuft of broom gives life
To plaided warrior armed for strife.
That whistle garrisoned the glen
At once with full five hundred men,
As if the yawning hill to heaven
A subterranean host had given.

No one spoke above a whisper as we stole silently and quickly on, until
at last we arrived at the scene of the scuffle.

It was a wild and strange retreat,
As e’er was trod by outlaw’s feet.
The dell, upon the mountain’s crest,
Yawned like a gash on warrior’s breast.

Here, and in the neighbourhood, we searched about for Mahomet or his
assailants. We spent two hours thus unsuccessfully, until darkness warned
us it was time to return to camp.

The shades of eve come quickly down,
The woods are wrapped in deeper brown,
The owl awakens from her dell,
The fox is heard upon the fell;
Enough remains of glimmering light
To guide the wanderer’s steps aright,
Yet not enough from far to show
His figure to the watchful foe.

As we were returning, our attention was attracted to a large baobob tree
full of vultures. Sali and Mahomet Sali thought we might find Mahomet’s
bones, picked clean by these foul birds, near the tree. We, therefore,
searched that neighbourhood, but found him not.

Darkness had come on ere we had retraced our way any distance, and we
returned as silently as we had advanced, keeping well on the alert until
we neared the camp.

In dread, and danger, all alone,
Famished and chilled, through ways unknown,
Tangled and steep, we journeyed on;
Till, as a rock’s huge point we turned,
Our camp fire close before us burned.

It was about 10 p.m. by the time we got to camp. Dinner was soon on the
table. This we at once discussed, also our plans for the next day. The
line of action determined on was this—sentries were to be posted about
the camp, and a few outside to guard against surprise. These, again,
would be looked after by Suleiman. We should load up in the morning, and
return to our former camp, first of all having another hunt for Mahomet.
We could not divest our minds of the idea that we ought to attack these
Dembelas if we could find them, and thought that perhaps our dirty old
friend Hoodoo would assist us with some of the Basé. Accordingly, whilst
seated round the camp fire after dinner, he was sounded on the matter,
and promised £100 if he would lend a 100 of his people next morning.
Hoodoo mentally said, “Hoo dont.” As a cautious look stole over his black
face he raised his eyes from the camp fire for a moment, stealing a
furtive glance at us; then, as he slowly shook his head, replied—

“I and my people will be here after you are gone, and if I was to do so
the Abyssinians would come down on us, burn our villages, kill our men,
and take our women and children as slaves.”

I assure you, reader, that when that old man shook his head he did not
shake all the sense out of it. There was a good deal of logic in his
remarks, and it is highly probable that had the old man accepted the
offer made, he and many of his braves would soon have been translated (to
use an orthodox phrase), and the merry dollars would have danced off into
possession of the Dembelas; therefore the old man “deserved well of his
country.” Indeed, his diplomatic action would almost entitle him to the
appellation of a grand old man, though he did not look it.

February 12th.—The stillness of the night fortunately was not broken by
the clash of arms, and I awoke, refreshed by a sound sleep, at 6 a.m.
Whilst we were at breakfast Mr. F. James proposed that we again ask Sheik
Hoodoo to let us have 200 of his men to assist us in making a raid on
the enemy, and if he would not, that we should send the caravan back to
the last camping place, and take about 20 of our own, as we were not at
all satisfied to leave poor Mahomet (who might still be living) to his
fate. Hoodoo was accordingly approached with the same result as before,
he adding—

“I am at peace with them, and I cannot make your quarrel mine.”

The old man was about right. Six camels had yesterday been sent to
Amadeb, a garrison town, for dhurra. We therefore had to divide their
loads with the remaining camels. When most of the camels had their loads
on, we told our men that we should want some of them to go with us. This
(with the exception of about half-a-dozen) they flatly refused to do,
saying that they were engaged as camel-drivers not to fight the Dembelas.
They were evidently bent on retreating from the Abyssinian frontier
whether we were or not. Suleiman, who knew these people pretty well, now
stepped forward—

“What good you gentlemen go fight Dembelas? You only six or seven, the
Dembelas hundreds. You do no good. Mahomet, he dead now, and the vultures
eat him. If you go, these men go off with their camels. How, then, we get
out of the country? The Basé and Abyssinians then turn round and kill us

This was good reasoning. Abdullah now brought my camel ready for
starting, so—pending the settlement of “to be or not to be”—I spread
my rug on the ground and lay down to read a book, with my rifle by
my side. It was now about 11 o’clock. I had not been here above ten
minutes when I saw everyone rushing across the camp, rifle in hand,
shouting—“Hakeem,” and “Doctor, doctor—quick!” I was up in an instant,
rifle in hand, and darted across in the same direction as the others,
naturally thinking—“The time has come at last. We are in for it now with
the Dembelas.”

It was not an attack at all, but a most pitiful sight. There was poor
Mahomet, who had managed to crawl into camp, then sank exhausted on the
ground. The poor fellow turned his large soft-looking eyes piteously on
to me. He was supporting with his hands and tope as much viscera—covered
with sand dried on it, and quite adherent—as would fill a good-sized
washing-basin. My rifle was at once dropped for my dressing-case; water
was obtained, the opening (made by a spear) slightly enlarged, the
viscera washed, replaced in the cavity of the abdomen, and the opening
secured by a suture or two. He was in a state of collapse, and death
pretty certain. He had also a wound in the fleshy part of the arm, and
two others in the muscles of the back, just by the spine. Whilst I
attended to these, some extract of beef and brandy was obtained, a fire
soon kindled, and a good supply of brandy and beef-tea, administered,
which soon revived him. An angarep was then rigged up, and twelve of
the Basé (six at a time) were told off at a dollar each to carry him on
to the next camp. I followed close by, giving him brandy and beef-tea
every half-hour; but all was of no avail, for he died at 9 o’clock next
morning. He was a Mahomedan. A tope as a shroud, with some needles and
thread, were given to the friends. They would not, however, use the
needle and thread, preferring the shreds of the palm leaf. A grave
was dug near the camp, and there the poor fellow was buried; Suleiman
remarking, “These Basé, they soon have Mahomet up; they not leave that
good tope there long.” And I have no doubt he was right in his prediction.

Mahomet’s account of the scrimmage, and his escape to camp, was this:
He stated that when the Abyssinians, or Dembelas, said “aman” it meant
“Put down your arms and take your lives; we are stronger than you, so
you must give up all you have.” He noticed that they were tremendously
out-numbered, so thought it was the best thing to do. When he saw Mr.
Phillipps trying to recover his rifle, another Abyssinian was about to
strike him with the butt-end of a rifle; he rushed to his assistance,
and it was then he received the fatal spear thrust in his abdomen,
causing him to fall down on the sand, where he received two or three
more, as detailed before. When everyone ran away, he tried to struggle
on, succeeding ere night came on in getting pretty near to camp by
alternately walking and resting awhile, until at last he sat under a
tree quite exhausted. He says that he both saw and heard us when we were
returning after our search for him, and that he cried out, but could
not make us hear. The greater part of the way to camp next morning he
accomplished by crawling on his hands and knees.

Who can imagine the sufferings of the poor fellow—out all night, sitting
with his back to a tree? He said he felt the cold very much; and well
he might, as, although the thermometer registered 101°F. in the shade
at 1 p.m., it dropped to 37° by 11 p.m. He passed the night in constant
expectation of a wild beast coming to tear him in pieces. We were very
glad that we had him with us during his last few hours, where he received
every attention that we could bestow.

February 13th.—Mahomet was buried, as I said before. Little was done
to-day; one nellut and three gazelles were shot.

February 14th.—Made a rather short march, and encamped at Aibara, on some
table-land by the Mareb. Ere doing so we had to clear away a quantity of
mimosa bushes and young palms; then construct a zareeba. Mr. Phillipps,
at the request of one of the Basé, shot a monkey to-day. This was skinned
and eaten by them in the evening, and was, no doubt, looked upon as a
delicate morsel, probably as much so as grouse or partridge is with us.

February 15th.—This morning, at 9 a.m., Messrs. Phillipps and F. James
went off to Amadeb, to complain to Rasalulu, a deputy of King John of
Abyssinia, about our late attack, and endeavour to get their rifles back.
Whether they ever succeeded in doing so I don’t know; but I should think
probably not.

To-day we lost another camel; this makes the sixth we have lost in the
Basé country. A camel is a particularly stupid kind of animal, and does
not seem to know what is good for him, or rather, what is bad for him,
for he will frequently eat a very poisonous green-looking shrub, called
“heikabeet.” This appears to produce considerable pain, and, as far as I
could make out, inflammation of the intestines. I brought some of it home
with the intention of having it analysed, but somehow or other it has got

February 16th.—The Basé women and children, when we first came here, were
rather shy, and ran away from us as if we were monsters of iniquity; now
they appear to be getting quite tame, and are continually hanging about
the camp. The heads of the children are curiously trimmed, according to
fancy, just as they are at Kassala. All kinds of fantastical devices are
arranged, with the aid of a razor, just as a gardener operates on a box
bush in England. I have seen a child’s head shaved completely, with the
exception of a tuft of hair just over the right temple; another will have
a tuft on each side, whilst a third will have those and one on the crown
in addition; another will have several other little islands, and another
a tuft running from the forehead to the back of the head, just for all
the world like a clown in a circus, and so on.

Ali Bacheet to-day injured his foot with an axe. I bathed it, and whilst
getting a bandage one of the Basé diligently employed himself in sucking
it, then rinsed his mouth two or three times with the bloody water which
had washed his foot. This I thought was a somewhat nasty proceeding, but
I did not waste my breath in expostulating with these men of primitive

Five tetél were shot to-day. In the evening our men with the dhurra from
Amadeb returned.

February 17th.—Last night our camel-drivers, with their singing, and
hyænas howling and laughing, much disturbed our slumbers. This morning
the Basé here were very uneasy in their minds, being under the impression
that we had sent to Amadeb for Turkish soldiers. However, I think we made
them believe—what really was the case—that Messrs. James and Phillipps
had gone to lay a complaint about the Dembelas.

Just after dinner, whilst we were sitting round the camp fire smoking
the pipe of peace, the camel-men whom we had hired at Kassala came in a
body to us, saying they wanted to return to Kassala, stating as a reason
that they were afraid of the Basé and Abyssinians, they being so few
in number. We gave them distinctly to understand that we were neither
afraid of them nor the Basé; for the latter we had plenty of bullets if
they interfered with us, and for our camel-drivers who did so we had the
coorbatch, and so we dismissed them to chew the cud of reflection.

Two tetél shot to-day by Messrs. Colvin and A. James, and several
beautiful birds by me. We are passing a very peaceful and calm existence
at present, little to do except to amuse ourselves as fancy dictates.
Some go out on horseback in search of antelopes or buffalos; I generally
content myself just here with taking out a shot-gun after breakfast,
prowling round in quest of some of the beautiful plumaged birds which are
so numerous, and in the afternoon write up my diary and prepare letters
for post. After that read one of the many interesting books which we have
until 6 p.m., when we all have our evening bath, just before dinner,
which was always ready at 7 p.m. After dinner we sit round the camp fire
and chat over the social pipe, when some go to bed, and I skin and
prepare my birds to bring home.

We had a capital library with us, and were never short of most
interesting works, such as Macaulay’s Essays, Sir Samuel Baker’s “Nile
Tributaries,” Trollope’s, Dicken’s, Thackeray’s, Disraeli’s, and other

February 18th.—A young baboon and a small monkey were captured yesterday;
this day they are quite tame, allowing us to stroke them without
exhibiting any signs of fear. Unfortunately the young baboon had been
injured in the thigh by a spear which severed the muscles, causing the
wound to gape very much. The flies annoyed him so much that I determined
to put him under chloroform, and bring the edges together by means of
two or three silver sutures. I therefore put him on the table, where he
lay as quietly and sensibly as any human being, looking up at me with
his nice brown eyes in a very human-being like kind of way. He almost
seemed to say, “I know it is for my good, doctor; don’t hurt me more
than you can help, and be quick about it.” He took the chloroform very
well, and when complete anæsthesia had been produced I relinquished the
post of chloroformist to an assistant, with suitable instructions. He,
however, was so intent in watching the operation that sufficient air
was not admitted with the anæsthetic, the result being that just as I
had finished putting in the last suture our poor little friend looked to
all appearance dead. I at once set up artificial respiration, but to no
purpose—the vital spark had fled.

Two Basé sheiks from Kokassie visited our camp to-day. They had a short
pow-wow both on their arrival and departure. They kissed our hands
profusely—overdid it, we thought; we were apt to look with suspicion on
an excessive manifestation of friendship.

February 19th.—Just after breakfast I picked up my gun, intending to
take a stroll in the neighbourhood, when Elongi, the Koolookoo Sheik,
taking hold of my arm, led me to Beyrumfi, to whom he communicated some
important information, which he in turn communicated to Suleiman in
Arabic, and the latter to me thus—

“You not go out this morning, doctor. The Sheik, he say, 300 or 400 bad
Basé have come about the mountains by us, and they come bym-bye to kill
us all.”

I regret to say that Suleiman’s indignation caused him to indulge in
profane language, and he expressed a strong wish to know “What the d—l
dese black rascals meant. We find them plenty meat; we give plenty
presents to them; we kind to them always, and now dey want to kill us
all.” Then, turning abruptly to Beyrumfi and a cluster of Basé, he opened
a box full of rifle cartridges, and very angrily said, “Tell dese black
d—s, and dey can tell de other Basé, that we will give them some of dese
bullets, and that we kill one, two hundred of dem in five minutes.”

Beyrumfi translated this pleasing intelligence to his hearers, who, in
due time, I dare say, passed it on. Elongi and his men swore they would
stick to us, and I believe they would; but for all that we did not allow
any Basé to sleep within our zareeba. We had become rather lax in the
matter of zareebas lately, and had not constructed one here; but I need
hardly say that on hearing this all in camp were soon set in motion, I
remarking what a fine field this would be for Mr. Gladstone to indulge in
his tree-felling propensities. He would have found some ebony trees well
worthy of his grand old arm.

We had a great deal of very fatiguing work for hours, not only in cutting
down and dragging in a sufficient number of trees to form our zareeba,
but also in felling young palm trees just round the camp. When all this
had been completed the country was set on fire. This quickly spread for
miles. In the midst of it all Messrs. James and Phillipps returned
from Amadeb much surprised at the activity in camp. We soon gave them
all the news, and I cannot say that we were altogether surprised at the
information we received in the morning, as we had observed a good many
camp fires in the night—all over the hills—where no camp fires should be.

February 20th.—Last night we went to bed, leaving sentries posted round
the camp, and well prepared to give a good account of ourselves should
the Basé have conceived the idea of attacking us. Perhaps Suleiman’s
timely admonition and explanation respecting the penetrating power of
our bullets deterred them; at all events we were not attacked, which was
satisfactory both to us and the Basé. Had they done so, I computed that
with our 22 rifles and guns, and about a dozen revolvers, protected by
our strong zareeba, we could have polished off about 100 of these poor
savages every five minutes, which would have been no satisfaction to
them or us. Looking at the matter again in another light, had they come
in sufficient numbers, or laid siege to the camp, we should inevitably
have gone to the bad, which would have been a decided inconvenience to
us, to say the least of it. Our comrades informed us that when they
arrived at Amadeb they heard that our late disaster had been telegraphed
to Kassala, Cairo, and, of course, to England. I then felt glad I had
sent a true version of the affair to England, knowing full well that
wild reports, of a most unreliable character, were more likely to get
abroad than true ones. From my youth up I have remembered the story of
the three black crows; also that David once made a very pungent remark,
“I have said in my heart all men are liars,” and Carlyle, “There are so
many millions of people in the world mostly fools.” However, respecting
the latter remark, I should say that—speaking from experience—they are
frequently not such fools as they look. The former remark was rather a
sweeping one, not _quite_ adapted to the present day.

To-day we moved on to Onogooloo, about two hours beyond Koolookoo. On
passing the latter place Elongi and many of the Basé remained behind, but
his father, a quiet, peaceable-looking old fellow, came on with us. This
was a short march of about seven hours only.

February 22nd.—This day, after a march of about six hours, we arrived at
our old camping placed, called by the festive name of Wo-amma, familiarly
known as Whoa Emma. There we found that, within the past 12 hours,
quite a drove of elephants had been past, and, of course, we were so
unfortunate as to miss them. The Basé are thinning off, but Elongi has
rejoined us to-day. To-day my rifle barrel was so hot at 5 p.m. that no
one could grasp it.

February 23rd.—Breakfast at 7 a.m. On the march at 10, and encamp at
Gebel-Moussa at 5.40 p.m. _En route_ we observed a large tract of country
on fire, and suddenly came upon a herd of buffalos, which raised a
tremendous cloud of dust. Of course we gave chase for a short distance,
and of course did not get near them, for they can go at a tremendous pace.

February 24th.—Life is more enjoyable, if we have some difficulties
to overcome occasionally, and succeed in doing so; and if we do not,
perhaps (speaking as a philosopher) it is better than having a quiet run
of prosperity. To-day, like the past few days, has been warm, 95° in
the shade. Our journey was short, namely, from 10 a.m. till 1.15 p.m.,
encamping at Abion. _En route_ we came across many elephant tracks, a
lion and lioness, and after that a lion, lioness, and three cubs, but did
not succeed in bagging any of them, but three tetél, a nellut, gazelle,
and two bustards were shot. The latter are remarkably fleshy, and very
good eating. Seldom a day passed without tetél, nellut, gazelles, maarif,
mehedehét or dick-dick being shot. The latter is a beautiful little
antelope of the smallest kind. I shot many very small, beautifully
plumaged sun-birds to-day—less than half the size of wrens—but only
managed to bring two or three of them home, as the shot, small as it was,
blew them all to pieces; they ought really to be shot with sand.

It became known in camp that we purpose to-morrow cutting across country
for the river Settite, or Tacazze, amongst the Hamran or sword-hunting
Arabs, _viâ_ Sarcella. In consequence of this we were told (just
before dinner) that after that meal we should receive a deputation of
camel-drivers and horse-boys to enter a protest against this plan.
Accordingly, just after dinner they came in a body, saying that nothing
would induce them to pass the village of Sarcella, as the Basé there were
bad people, and they had just heard that they had sworn to spear every
man, woman, or child of the Beni-Amirs that they encountered, on account
of the raid which Sheik Ahmed had made on them the other day, just after
he left us on our march into their territory. This was the first news
we had of his performances there. They said that after making “aman”
with the Basé, he speared three or four hundred of the men and took all
the women and children as slaves. We reproved them for their cowardice,
saying that they were not old women or children, they had their spears
and shields, whilst we had rifles and revolvers, and were strong enough
to make a two days’ march through their territory, instead of one day.
Our arguments were fruitless; they were quite willing to go with us from
Hiekota to the Settite, but they would not, on any account, pass by
Sarcella. We, therefore, made a virtue of necessity, and gave up the idea.

February 25th.—To-day we encamped at Toodloak, having made a journey of
seven and a half miles. I captured a chameleon on the road. Panthers
rather disturbed us last night, and at 4 a.m. a hyæna close to my tent
exercised his risible faculties so much that I, not seeing exactly where
the laugh came in, got up and saluted him with a shower of stones. About
5 a.m. lions were heard; some of us got up and went in quest of them,
came within about 40 yards of one, but he turned off into the jungle when
he caught sight of us. However, during our stay in the Basé country 18
buffalos and about 60 antelopes, besides other game, were shot by members
of the party. We could easily have secured elephants had we remained long
enough and followed them up, and many more buffalos and antelopes had we
remained longer in the country, and, of course, giraffes and ostriches.
The only rhinoceros, or tracks of one, we did not find until we reached
Abyssinia. I have not enlarged much on hunting scenes, fearing that my
book would become bulky, and that the _generality_ of my readers would
scarcely care to read a repetition of such scenes.

February 26th.—Heat getting great, 94° in shade to-day. Another 7½ hours
brought us to Heikota. There we found quite a heap of letters, papers,
and periodicals from England.

The contents of the letters were, of course, greedily devoured by us all,
and as for the newspapers and periodicals, they furnished enough of news
for days. Although many of them were fully two months old, the contents
were new to us.

About an hour after our arrival Sheik Ahmed appeared and received us
literally with open arms, at the same time kissing us on either cheek.
This I could have put up with under different circumstances, but I must
say this mode of salutation is not acceptable to me. We found from Herr
Schumann that the wildest rumours respecting us had reached them—five had
been killed by the Abyssinians, two taken prisoners and put in irons, all
our men killed, whilst our camels and everything else had been annexed.
The Sheik says that had he known of the attack in time he would willingly
have put 1,400 men in the field at once to assist us. He gave us an
account of his revenge on the Basé at Sarcella after he left us, but
there were some unpleasant little details which he prudently omitted,
thinking probably that they would shock our English susceptibilities. The
particulars Herr Schumann furnished us with.

His tale was this—When the Sheik left us to join his men at Sarcella they
had about 500 of the Basé in a cave; the Sheik arrived there quietly,
beseiged them for about 10 days, of course cutting them off from water
and food.

During this time they ate their goats and sheep raw, quenching their
thirst with the blood of these animals. Finally the only course left open
to the beseiged was to place themselves at the mercy of their merciless
conquerors; so, driven by hunger, thirst, and the smell of their dead,
they crawled out, weakened by want, in threes and fours. All the men to
the number of about 300, were speared on the spot, whilst about 200 women
and children were taken into captivity and sold as slaves, realizing
30, 40, 50, 60, and 70 dollars each. About 30 remained unsold on our
arrival; these I saw next day. All the cattle, sheep, goats, dhurra, and
everything else the Beni-Amirs could lay their hands on were seized. Now
we could understand why the idea of passing through or by Sarcella was so
repugnant to our men. I have many patients to attend to, who literally
appear to hunger and thirst after my pills and medicine.

February 27th.—I was well employed at my medicine chest again this
morning. Amongst some of my patients was a man who had followed us about
for weeks from Kassala, but had always arrived too late to come up with
us. Many others whom I had attended before we entered the Basé country
also visited me, expressing their thanks for what I had done for them,
and presenting me with a spear, a shield, an Arab knife, a gourd of wild
honey, a sheep, and other things; indeed, I met with more gratitude
amongst those poor Arabs than I have in much more favoured climes where
people are well educated, and where the sentiment often is very scarce,
as well as the money.

February 28th.—This morning, about seven o’clock, a great number of
women and children came close to camp making a great noise with the
accompaniment of the tom-toms and that peculiar trilling note to which
I have before alluded. It seems that this was a complimentary serenade,
and that they were rejoicing at our deliverance from the hands of the

Yesterday was occupied a good deal in making arrangements with Sheik
Ahmed for a march on to the Basé Settite. Mahomet Sali, who knows the
country well, will be our principal guide there. We have not seen
a flowing river since we left Kassala; we hope soon to do so, and
are told that we shall find any number of nellut, gazelles, tetél,
buffalos, giraffes, hippopotamus, lions, leopards, crocodiles, and
plenty of fishing, besides monkeys, baboons, golden-crested and toke or
fish eagles, paroquets; rollo-birds, and grouse, doves, guinea-fowl,
partridges, king-fishers, &c., surely a sufficient assortment of sport
to satisfy the most ardent sportsman.

A start was not effected until two. Sheik Ahmed, with some minor chiefs
and a number of his people, accompanied us a part of the way, which was
an uninteresting monotonous journey of about 10 miles over a dry, dusty
plain, the only vegetation being a great number of mimosa bushes, not
trees. The only game observed on the way was a few gazelles. Encamped at
Falookoo, in Basé territory, at 5.30 p.m.

February 29th.—Marched from 10 to 4; encamping on a wretched plain, where
the fine dust was about an inch thick, pitched our tents near to a deep
well at Sogoda. Several Basé came to salute us. They do not seem _quite_
so wild as those we have lately been amongst, and most of them wear a
tope. This was not by any means an enjoyable journey, as the roads were
bad and mountainous, and covered with intensely prickly trees, through
which my camel rushed me, and which lacerated my poor face, legs, arms,
clothes, and helmet in a dreadful manner. Needles and thread were in
great request after dinner to repair the damage done to clothes.

March 1st.—This has been a long, tedious march from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
All the discomforts and thorn-scratchings of yesterday intensified six
fold; frequently men had to go on in front and cut down trees to enable
the caravan to proceed. At 5 p.m. we arrived at a river-bed, dug a well,
filled our barrels with water and resumed our journey. It was past 12 at
midnight ere we dined, and 2 a.m. before we retired to our much-needed
rest, which we had very little of, as we were up at 6 a.m.

March 2nd.—Feeling stiff, sore, and tired. A bath would have been most
refreshing, but this morning we were obliged to deny ourselves the luxury
because all the water obtainable was in our barrels. Although our clothes
and flesh have not been so lacerated to-day, the march has been tedious
and very monotonous. For nine successive hours our route lay through
an immense forest of young mimosa trees; these and a quantity of dry,
withered grass was all that we saw during the time, except a few wild
hogs, one of which was chased and speared by a native. By 5 p.m. all our
water was gone, and the thirst of every one was excessive, the heat being
so great, 94° F. in the shade. After travelling 13 hours, we encamped at
9.30 p.m. by a broad, noble-looking river, the Tacazze or Settite which
lay like a lake in front of our camp, either side being fringed with
shrubs and trees of all kinds, amongst the branches of which brilliant
plumaged birds unsuspiciously roosted, little thinking that I should be
looking after them on the morrow.

This river was to us a most refreshing sight after travelling hundreds
of miles over burning deserts and khors or dry river-courses, never
seeing water except by digging for it. It was 12 o’clock this night ere
we got our dinner. All are very angry with Mahomet Sali, our guide,
who professed, and no doubt _does_ know, the whole of this country and
neighbourhood well, for he has brought us, not to the Basé, but the
Hamran Settite, where there is not very much game, as the Hamrans, or
sword-hunters, have destroyed it. This fellow told us on the way that he
would take us to the Basé Settite, within two days or less of Abyssinia,
where there would be plenty of game of all kinds, and here he brings us
about three days out of the way. An unpleasant interview and discourse
will ensue with Mahomet Sali on the morrow. Mr. F. L. James thinks,
rightly or wrongly I don’t know, that Sheik Ahmed has instructed Mahomet
Sali and Beyrumfi not to take us to the Basé Settite, fearing we might
get into trouble, either with them, or, what was more likely, with the
Abyssinians. This place is called Geebau.


March 3rd.—Mahomet Sali was summoned before the council just after
breakfast, and his delinquencies forcibly pointed out. What he said for
himself I do not know, as I picked up a shot-gun and rifle, taking one of
the boys with me to carry the rifle and anything I shot. This river is
full of crocodiles, turtle, and fish. I was not long out ere a crocodile
received a bullet from my rifle. I also shot a sacred ibis, a crocodile
bird, and a beautiful golden-crested eagle.

In the afternoon the big net was sent on a camel some considerable
distance down the river, where it was rather deep, accompanied by most of
our men and ourselves. The river was dragged, and about 100lbs. of fine
fish were secured, some weighing 10 or 12 lbs. The addition of fish to
our dinner was much appreciated.

March 4th.—The nights are now getting decidedly warm, so much so that I
sleep now with simply a sheet covering me and both ends of my tent open.
To-day it is 94° in the shade. Last night Sali saw a wild beast pass
quite close to the camp just where he was sleeping. Presently he heard
him washing himself, and indulge in a little vocal display. There was no
mistaking his note—it was a lion. Sali at once called Mr. Phillipps, but
could not get any intelligible reply from him, as he was so excessively
sleepy, and knew nothing about it until next morning. Others, however,
were much vexed with Sali for not letting them know.

Mahomet Sali was sent off this morning with five camels and two men to
the Hamrans to procure dhurra. We at the same time, 10 a.m., strike our
tents and start for the Basé Settite, to the great disgust of our men,
who manifest a decided disinclination to visit that locality. We lunched
at Khor-Maiateb on a nice piece of table-land overlooking a beautiful
sheet of water, and shaded by tamarisk, tamarind, and other trees. This
place simply swarmed with crocodiles. I saw a great many Marabou-storks
and two Egyptian geese; one of the latter I managed to bag, and part of
the skeleton of a hippopotamus—the carcase of which, I doubt not, had
provided a rare feast for his slayers.

After lunch we pushed on, and very soon travelled over some vile country.
First of all over very stony road, then down a very steep declivity, over
rocks and big stones, next up a mountain side of the same character—no
road, no pathway even; then along a mountainous pathway, through an
awfully sterile country, covered with nothing but leafless trees,
withered grass, and precipitous rocks, finally encamping at Boorkattan,
above the most gigantic rocks of basalt, of great extent, these again
overlooking the river. We can see, probably a day’s march from here, an
immense tall mountain in Abyssinia, on the summit of which is said to be
a fortress. We found the large footprints of the hippopotamus in the
sand by the river, and quite expect to have him in the morning.

We find before night that we are in Abyssinia, so that it is quite
evident Mahomet Sali has not adhered strictly to the truth, as here we
are positively in Abyssinia in one day’s march. I indulged three times
after our arrival in a bath in the river. I dare not dive into any of
the pools, fearing that a crocodile might consider me a delicate morsel,
but picked out a kind of cradle on the edge, where I could lie down

March 5th.—We hear that there is an Abyssinian village about seven miles
from here, and that our men are determined they will not proceed any
further than this camp. They also think that our camp, pitched as it is
on such elevated ground, can be plainly seen by Abyssinians, who they
quite expect will make an attack on us to-day. Should they do so, we
should come off badly, as there are no means of forming a zareeba. It is
quite apparent that they did not feel easy in their minds last night, as
a considerable number near my tent were chattering away half the night,
instead of going to sleep or allowing me to do so.

After breakfast Beyrumfi was sent for. A great pow-wow ensued, he
definitely stating that we can go no further without getting right among
Abyssinians, that the country is so rocky, wild, and mountainous that
hunting is impossible, and the camels cannot travel there. Accordingly
orders are given to load up the camels and return to Khor-Maiateb, where
we lunched yesterday.

I had just fixed my bag, rifle, &c., on my camel, when Mr. Aylmer came
running to me, rifle in hand, saying, “Doctor, get your rifle and
revolver ready. Some of our men say that they have seen a large body of
Abyssinians coming down on us, some on horseback and some on foot; but
at present they are a pretty good distance off.” Our caravan was nearly
ready to start. Of course we all armed ourselves pretty quickly; then
saw some of our camel-drivers (one old fellow particularly) working
themselves up into a frenzy of excitement, leaping about like lunatics,
at the same time brandishing their spears in a most threatening manner,
indicative of what would be the fate of the enemy should they appear. As
we looked upon this performance as so much waste of time, we scruffed
these fellows, boxed their ears, and told them to make haste and
load up their camels, which they did with a will. As a rule they are
generally a couple of hours loading, but now they were wonderfully quick,
accomplishing the work in half the usual time. We got off in safety, and
arrived at Khor-Maiateb in the afternoon. Temperature, 95° in the shade.

March 6th.—Crocodiles are rather too common here to be pleasant, and
interfere with the luxury of the morning and evening bath. To avoid any
unpleasant _contretemps_, I generally collected together several big
stones by the side of a large pool, threw them in one after the other to
frighten the crocodiles away, then threw myself in. This device proved
eminently successful, enabling me to enjoy a plunge and a short swim. I
need scarcely say I did not fool about long in the water, fearing they
might return to see what white object was swimming about.

To-day we used the large net, and landed 210lbs. of different kinds of
fish. Keeping sufficient for our dinner, the rest was divided between our
men, who ate what they wanted, throwing the remainder into the bushes or
anywhere round the camp, causing an insufferable stench next day, which
we did not get rid of until the fish had been all gathered up and thrown
into the river.

March 7th.—The little canvas boat is in great request, and enables us to
go a good way up and down the river. The net was used to some purpose
to-day, for we landed 360lbs. of fish and one turtle. At 12 a.m. about
20 Basé came to us with information that elephants are not far off, as
they saw and heard them; also that on the 5th, near our last camp, whilst
they were looking for wild honey, the Abyssinians swooped down on them,
killed several, including the Sheik’s son, and stole three women and a
few children. No doubt these were the very fellows who were coming down
on us. When we discreetly and gracefully retired, they found us gone,
and so seized the Basé. After lunch Messrs. A. and W. James and Colvin
mounted their horses and went in search of the elephants. Temperature,
96° in the shade.

March 8th.—About 11 a.m. two or three Basé (who accompanied Messrs. James
and Colvin yesterday) returned, saying that the latter had shot two
buffalos, one of which was killed, the other wounded only, and that they
had seen plenty of elephant tracks but no elephants. At 4 p.m. they all
returned, having tracked and secured the wounded buffalo, and an ariel. A
crocodile, fish-eagle, and an enormous horned-owl fell to my gun to-day.
Temperature, 98° in shade.

March 9th.—Temperature, 100° F. dry bulb, wet bulb 71°, solar thermometer
156°. So far this is the hottest day I have ever experienced. Whilst
bathing to-day I put my towel near the water’s edge to stand on, as the
stones were like hot coals to the feet. We have cleared many of our
followers and men out of camp to-day. The Basé, Mahomet Sali, Beyrumfi,
and all the Beni-Amirs have been discharged for misleading us. Messrs.
F. James and Phillipps have gone in quest of game, and Messrs. Colvin,
A. and W. James have returned to the same place as before in search of

March 10th.—Last night seven or eight rifle reports from the other camp
reached us. At 1 p.m. they were accounted for by Messrs. Colvin and
company, who arrived in camp. They had shot at and wounded two buffalos
(one a bull). Two or three lions had attacked one of the wounded, leaving
very distinct marks of the struggle; still, the buffalo had managed to go
on. They tracked him for some distance, but the heat became so great by
mid-day—101° in the shade—that they had to desist. Another, wounded in
the night, they followed up nearly to the jungle, when suddenly he darted
on to them, charging most furiously in Mr. A. James’ direction. He,
however, saluted him with two eight-bore bullets in the chest, which had
the effect of turning him from his purpose, and causing him to change his
plan, for he turned and then charged Mr. Colvin, who, very fortunately
for him, happened to give him a bullet in the fore leg at very close
quarters, as the buffalo fell right against him with some violence, and
sent him reeling on the ground. I should think this was about as close to
an enraged wounded buffalo as Mr. Colvin or any other man in his senses
could desire.

We could very frequently get a shot at a crocodile when in the water,
but seldom on land; they seem much too wary to be caught there. I have
often seen them basking in the sun on the bank of the river, crept
cautiously up, and whether they have seen me, smelt me, or I have trodden
on a twig I know not, but before I could get near enough they have all
disappeared in the water. They come up to the surface often. We see a
dark spot in the middle of a quiet-looking pool, and take a pot-shot, but
seldom get the reptile until next day, when we find him floating, but
so mutilated that he is not worth securing. To-day, however, Mr. Aylmer
shot one in the water near the camp, and was fortunate enough to secure
him by the aid of a native, who dived into the pool with a rope, which
he slipped over his upper jaw. I fancy crocodiles prefer white skins to
black, for these black fellows plunge into the water and swim about where
we would not dare to go.

Before the crocodile episode—in fact, just after breakfast—our court
of justice sat. This consisted of ourselves, who were the judges, the
jurors, and the counsel; and I venture to say that strict justice was
dealt out with an even hand. The culprit was a fine, strapping, rather
good-looking fellow of about six feet, a camel-driver. He had been
troublesome on two or three previous occasions, but last night he passed
the bounds of discretion. His brother roused him up in the night to take
his turn at sentry-duty; in return for this he warned his brother that
he would make him suffer in the morning—which he certainly did, as he
got him under some trees and there chastised him severely with a stick.
When we heard of this, the culprit, prosecutor, and witnesses had to
appear before the tribunal. The charge was proved, and the culprit was
ordered 20 lashes of the coorbatch, to be administered by Suleiman, four
camel-men to hold him down. He at once dispensed with the assistance of
the camel-men, and without making any bother at all, laid down on the
sand, face downwards, whilst Suleiman went in search of the coorbatch.
The castigation was duly administered, the fellow taking it without
flinching an atom. When finished he got up, brushed the dust from his
tope, and walked off in his usual manner. He seemed not to bear the least
malice, for some time afterwards he was as busy as anyone helping to land
the crocodile.

March 11th.—Two bull buffalos, a tetél, and nellut were shot to-day.
Scorpions are too plentiful here; we are continually finding them in our
tents, but so far none of us have received any of their dreadful stings.
They belong to the class _Arachnida_. A scorpion has what looks like a
claw in his long tail, through which the poison, which lies in a bag
at the bottom of it, is projected. This tail, preparatory to taking the
offensive, lies curled up on his back, not unlike a squirrel. He can at
will bring this down with considerable force, but only in a straight
line—he cannot twist it to strike.

Whilst strolling up the river-bed with my gun in the afternoon I came
upon Mr. W. D. James, who had just met with a rather curious, and
not altogether agreeable, adventure. He had brought his photographic
apparatus with him, and planted it within a convenient distance from a
pool, intending to photograph gazelles when they came to drink. He was
successful in obtaining a good picture of two—one drinking, the other
looking straight at the camera. Whilst waiting patiently for them,
seated on some rocks under a large baobob tree, he heard a hissing noise
behind him. On turning his head, he saw a snake waving about in an erect
position, with tongue out, looking as if he was about to strike. Mr. W.
D. James did not sit on the stone any longer, but seized a stick, and was
lucky enough to kill it ere he was able to bite.

About a week ago we set some mustard and cress; to-day we had a good
quantity for luncheon, and found it a very agreeable addition.

March 12th.—A few Hamrans called to-day, and are very anxious to
persuade us to go towards Abyssinia, saying they are friendly with the
Abyssinians, and can show us hippos. The offer is not accepted. I find
these fellows do not by any means confine their hunting tendencies to
simply the use of the sword, as I have often found very ingeniously
constructed snares plentifully placed in runs leading to the river.
Doubtless when the animals are thus ensnared they are despatched with the
sword or spear.

I will try and describe the kind of snare: They get a strong branch of a
tree that will bend, not break, into a circle; this they firmly secure.
They have a number of strips of wood, broad at the base, and gradually
getting narrow, converging until they meet in the middle of the circle
bent downwards on one side; these again are firmly secured to the circle.
A hole, perhaps a foot deep, and half a foot or a foot in diameter, is
dug in the ground where the run is. On the top of this hole is placed
the snare, covered with earth, attached by a strong rope to a great log,
or the trunk of a tree. The unsuspecting animal comes to drink, puts
his foot on this, and it slips in. He cannot pull his leg out, for the
harder he pulls the more firmly is he secured, as the sharp spokes stick
into his flesh. It is, in fact, just like a wheel: the tire is the outer
circle, and the axle represents the hole through which his leg goes.

The reason the Hamrans are called sword-hunters is this—I am quite sure
that neither I nor any of our party can speak from experience, as we
never saw the feat performed, but Sir Samuel Baker has: Whilst hunting
the elephant, or giraffe, a Hamran on horseback gallops in front of an
enraged elephant armed with a sword, whilst one behind, similarly armed,
gallops after him. The elephant may elect to turn round and chase the
one behind—in any case, he is between two evils, for eventually the one
behind, whilst the horse is going at full gallop, will, when he is near
enough, jump off and with great dexterity hamstring the elephant with his
long two-edged sword; then, of course, he can easily be despatched. His
tusks are cut off and sold, and his carcase provides a good feast.

Two Basé who had remained in our camp slipped off to the mountains on
seeing the Hamrans in our camp, returning again after their departure. It
is quite evident they do not regard them as friends.

March 13th.—This morning several Hamrans, with the late Sheik’s son,
interviewed us, and seem very desirous of acting as pioneers in this
part of the country. We declined their services. This seems displeasing
information to them, and they also express anger at our having two Basé
in camp. On leaving us they went towards the Basé country. Suleiman
explained this by saying, “The two Basé in our camp, they go soon as they
see these Hamrans. Now he go after the Basé; they kill his father long
time ago. Now he kill all the Basé he find if he strong enough and have
plenty of mens with him.” This was really the case, and the Hamrans were
now hunting the Basé just as we would wild animals. However, they had a
good start, and probably made the best of their way to their country.

Our camels were now being loaded, as we had resolved to move our camp.
Whilst we were preparing, a Hamran came, saying he was sent to tell us
that we had given the Heikota sheik a number of presents, but they had
nothing to do with him. We were now in the Hamran’s country, or soon
would be, and they were not willing for us to kill their game without
permission from their Sheik, adding that if we advanced they would fire
on us. Our reply was, “Tell your friends that our camels are loaded, and
so are we. We are coming your way in less than half-an-hour, and strongly
advise them to save their powder, as that is a game that two can play
at. Threats don’t alarm us in the least. If they are ready to commence
hostilities so are we.” I suppose they thought better of it. Shortly
afterwards we started without hindrance until we got just beyond our old
camping ground, by the Settite, where our tents were then pitched. There
were two hippopotami in the river just here, one of which we saw. The
river was dragged, but they slipped under the net.

March 14th.—Marched from 8.30 a.m. until 2.30 p.m., encamping on a high,
flat table-land overlooking a beautiful sheet of water plentifully
bordered on the bank by trees and bushes in which could be found any
number of beautiful birds and doves. At the back of our camp was a
large wood on perfectly level ground, which gave shelter to myriads of
guinea fowls, doves, and other birds, also vast numbers of baboons.
The occupants of the water were crocodiles, turtle, and very numerous
different kinds of fish. The shore, a little way from camp, was
frequented by Marabou storks, flamingoes, ibis, cranes, storks, Egyptian
geese, herons, crocodile-birds, &c., &c.

This was the most enjoyable camping ground we had yet come to. It was
also the hottest place we had hitherto found, for the temperature at 2
p.m. to-day was 105° Fah. in the shade. During such hot weather a bath
was of course a most delicious thing to indulge in, but I must say I did
so with some trepidation, as the pool in front of us was frequented
by some good-sized crocodiles whom it was as well not to trifle with.
I therefore contented myself, as a rule, with lying down in the water
on the edge where it was shallow. When feeling inclined for a plunge
and swim I invariably adopted the preliminary caution of hurling in
several big stones; on these occasions I was sufficiently discreet not to
remain long in the water, having conceived a very wholesome objection to
furnishing any of these scaly monsters with such a repast as a Williams.
The water was quite tepid, of course from the great heat. This place is
called Omhagger, not far from the village of Ombrager.