CHAPTER XVII. THE MARCH TO UNYORO.
On 18th March, 1872, we were all in order for the march to the south, under the direction of our guide, Shooli.
Having taken leave of Major Abdullah, I left him a good supply of sheep and cattle for his detachment, and at 2 p.m. we started for the prairie march to Unyoro.
The descent from the table land of Fatiko was rapid for the first seven miles, at which point we reached a stream of clear running water, which is one of the channels of the Un-y-Ame river.
The limit of the inhabited country is about three miles from the camp at Fatiko, after which all is wilderness to Unyoro.
This fertile country has been left uninhabited, on account of the disturbance occasioned by the diversity of tribes. On the east it is bounded by Umiro, on the south by Unyoro, and on the west by Madi. This large tract of land, about eighty miles from north to south, is accordingly the resort of wild animals, and it forms the favourite hunting-ground of the various tribes, who generally come into conflict with each other during their excursions in pursuit of game.
We halted for the night at the clear stream of the Un-y-Ame, as the native carriers expected their wives to bring them provisions for the journey. It was only five o'clock, therefore I strolled along the banks of the stream accompanied by Shooli, and shortly came upon game.
At this season the country was very lovely, as the young grass was hardly a foot high. Stalking was extremely difficult, as the land was clear of trees, and the long sweeping undulations exposed every object to view when upon the face of the inclines. I managed at length to get a tolerable shot at one of the beautiful teel antelopes (Leucotis), by creeping up the broken bed of a water-course until I arrived at a white-ant hill. On my way home I shot a gazelle, thus the natives all had flesh from the two animals on the first night of the march.
The wives appeared to be excellent women, as they arrived in great numbers with a quantity of hard porridge made of dhurra flour, which was to form the commissariat for a journey of nearly 160 miles to Unyoro and back.
If a native travels through wilderness, he will always make forced marches, thus the Fatikos would only sleep one night upon the road of seventy-eight miles when on the return journey.
On the following morning, we were rather late in starting, as more women arrived with food, and certain farewells took place. The Fatiko natives appeared to be very superior to the Lobore, as not one man absconded. In fact, one native who had a swollen leg which prevented him from walking, actually sent back his cow with an explanation of the cause of absence.
On 19th March we started at 6.50 a.m., all our carriers being well provided with food. The country was as usual a well-watered undulating prairie, abounding in game. At this season the journey was very delightful, but when the grass is about nine feet high it is simply detestable travelling.
On the march, we, as usual, led the way. Lieutenant Baker dismounted for a shot at a splendid buck (Leucotis), which he wounded somewhere behind, and the animal made off in evident discomfort. This was a signal for the natives, who immediately put down their loads and started off in pursuit, like a pack of hounds.
Although the animal was badly hit, the pace was very great, and it went along the face of the opposite undulation followed by the extraordinary runners, who, with their long springing strides, kept up a speed for about three-quarters of a mile that at length brought the leading native sufficiently near for throwing his lance. The next moment a crowd of hungry fellows fell upon the welcome name like starving wolves.
After a march of twelve miles we arrived at a rocky stream of clear water, which is another channel of the Un-y-Ame river, that carries off the main drainage of this country. We halted to refresh the people and to have our breakfast on the clean rock that bordered the stream, and started for the afternoon march at 2 p.m.
During the march I endeavoured to stalk a large bull tetel (Antelope bubulis), but there was very little chance in so open a country. The animal galloped off exactly in a straight line from me at about 200 yards. I put up the last leaf of the sight, and I distinctly heard the bullet strike. The next moment I saw the animal was wounded. It was just disappearing over the next undulation, and upon arriving at the spot, I saw the wounded bull standing about 200 yards before me.
I approached from behind until within 100 paces, without being observed by the tetel, who was evidently very bad. Moving slightly to my right, I was quickly seen, and the animal turned its flank preparatory to making off. A shot from the "Dutchman" through the shoulder killed it on the spot.
I now found that my first bullet had struck the spine exactly above the root of the tail. This large animal was a good supply for the people, who quickly divided it and continued the march, until, having crossed another stream, we left the open prairie gad entered a low forest. Halted for the night. The march during this day bad been nineteen miles.
On the 20th we marched, from 6 A.M. till 9.45, through undulating forest, and halted upon high ground, which commanded a fine view of the mountain that borders the west shore of the Albert N'yanza, opposite Magungo, about fifty-five miles S. S. W. From our elevated point we looked down over a fine extent of country, and the Fatiko natives pointed out the course of the White Nile from the great lake, along which was a line of smoke, caused, according to their accounts, by the fishermen who were at this season burning the high reeds on the river's bank.