CHAPTER X. A FEW NOTES AT EHETILLA.

I WILL not follow the dates of the journal consecutively, but merely pounce from time to time upon such passages as will complete the description of our life at Ehetilla.

"October 4. - I went out fishing in the usual place, where the Till joins the Atbara; the little stream has disappeared, and the bed is now perfectly dry, but there are many large rocks and sandbanks in the river, which are excellent places for heavy fish. I had only three runs, but I landed them all. The first was a beautiful baggar about forty pounds, from which time a long interval elapsed before I had another. I placed a bait of about a pound upon my treble hook, and this being a fine lively fellow, was likely to entice a monster. I was kept waiting for a considerable time, but at last he came with the usual tremendous rush. I gave him about fifty yards of line before I fixed him, and the struggle then commenced, as usual with the baggar, by his springing out of the water, and showing his superb form and size. This was a magnificent fish, and his strength was so great, that in his violent rushes he would take sixty or seventy yards of line without my permission. I could not check him, as the line burnt and cut my fingers to such a degree that I was forced to let it go, and my only way of working him was to project the butt of the rod in the usual manner; this was a very feeble break upon the rush of such a fish. At last, after about half an hour of alternate bullying and coaxing, I got him into the shallows, and Bacheet attempted to manage him; this time he required the assistance of Wat Gamma, who quickly ran down from the camp, and after much struggling, an enormous baggar of between seventy and eighty pounds was hauled to the shore by the two delighted Arabs.

"I never enjoyed the landing of a fish more than on the present occasion, and I immediately had the flag hoisted for a signal, and sent the largest that I had just caught as a present to Florian and his people. The two fish as they lay upon the green reeds, glittering in silvery scales, were a sight to gladden the eyes of a fisherman, as their joint weight was above one hundred and twenty pounds. I caught another fish in the evening something over twenty pounds, an ugly and useful creature, the coor, that I despised, although it is a determined enemy while in play.

"October 10. - Set fire to the low spear grass of the valley. The river is now very low, exposing in many places large beds of shingle, and rocks hitherto concealed. The water level is now about thirty feet below the dried sedges and trash left by the high floods upon the overhanging boughs. The bed of the Atbara, and that of the Settite, are composed of rounded pebbles of all sizes, and masses of iron ore. Large oysters (Etheria), resembling the pearl oysters of Ceylon, are very numerous, and, from their internal appearance, with large protuberances of pearl matter, I should imagine they would most probably yield pearls.

"The wild animals have now deserted this immediate neighbourhood; the only creatures that are to be seen in numbers are the apes and monkeys: these throng the sides of the river, eating the tamarinds from the few large trees, and collecting gum from the mimosas. These hungry animals gather the tamarinds before they ripen, and I fear they will not leave a handful for us; nothing is more agreeable in this hot climate than the acidity of tamarind water. I remarked a few days ago, when walking along the dry sandy bed of the Till about five miles from the river, that the monkeys had been digging wells in the sand for water.

"Many changes are now taking place in the arrival and departure of various birds according to their migrations; immense numbers of buzzards and hawks have arrived, and keep my fowls in perpetual alarm. Ducks fly in large flocks up stream invariably, every day; storks of different kinds are arriving. Among the new comers is a beautiful little bird, in size and shape like a canary, but of a deep bluish black, with an ivory white bill and yellow lips. The beasts of prey are hungry, as the game has become scarce: - there is no safety for tame animals, and our goats will not feed, as they are constantly on the look-out for danger, starting at the least sound in the bushes, and running to the tents for security: thus their supply of milk is much reduced.

"The Sheik of Sofi, Hassan bel Kader, swam across the river with a present of fowls; these he had tied upon his head to prevent them from drowning. This man is a celebrated hippopotamus hunter, and I look forward to accompanying him upon a harpooning expedition, when the river is lower. His father was killed by a bull hippo that he had harpooned; the infuriated animal caught the unfortunate hunter in his jaws, and with one nip disembowelled him before his son's eyes. Accidents are constantly occurring in this dangerous sport, as the hunters are so continually in the water that they are exposed, like baits, to the attacks of crocodiles. During the last season one of the sheik's party was killed; several men were swimming the river, supported by inflated skins, when one was suddenly seized by a crocodile. Retaining his hold upon the support, his comrades had time to clutch him by the hair, and beneath the arms; thus the crocodile could not drag the buoyant skins beneath the surface. Once he was dragged from their grasp, but holding to his inflated skin, he regained the surface, and was again supported by his friends, who clung to him, while he implored them to hold him tight, as the crocodile still held him by the leg. In this way the hunters assisted him; at the same time they struck downwards with their spears at the determined brute, until they at last drove it from its hold. Upon gaining the shore, they found that the flesh of the leg from the knee downwards had been stripped from the bone, and the poor fellow shortly died.

"October 11. - The Arabs have murdered one of the Egyptian soldiers, about five miles from Sofi. All my people are more or less ill, but we, thank Heaven, are in excellent health; in fact, I have never been better than in this country, although I am constantly in hard exercise in the burning sun.

"October 15. - A fine breeze, therefore I set fire to the grass in all directions, which spread into a blaze over many miles of country. The fire immediately attracts great numbers of fly-catchers and buzzards; these hover in the smoke to catch the locusts and other insects that escape from the heat. Buzzards are so exceedingly bold, that it is one person's special duty to protect the strips of flesh when an animal is being cut up, at which time many scores collect, and swoop down upon their prey clutching a piece of meat with their claws, if left unguarded for a moment. Upon one occasion, the cook had just cleaned a fish of about a pound and a half weight, which he laid upon the ground while he stooped to blow the fire; in an instant a large buzzard darted upon it, and carried it off.

"Africa may have some charms, but it certainly is rather a trying country; in the rainy weather we have the impenetrable high grass, the flies, and the mud; when those entertainments are over, and the grass has ripened, every variety of herb and bush is more or less armed with lances, swords, daggers, bayonets, knives, spikes, needles, pins, fish-hooks, hay-forks, harpoons, and every abomination in the shape of points which render a leather suit indispensable to a sportsman, even in this hot climate. My knickerbockers are made of the coarse but strong Arab cotton cloth, that I have dyed brown with the fruit of the Acacia Arabica; but after a walk of a few minutes, I am one mass of horrible points from the spear grass, for about a foot from the upper part of my gaiters; the barbed points having penetrated, break off, and my trousers are as comfortable as a hedgehog's skin turned inside out, with the 'woolly side in.'

"I long for the time when the entire country will be dry enough to burn, when fire will make a clean sweep of these nuisances.

"October 17. - The sheik and several Arabs went to the Settite to sow tobacco; they simply cast the seed upon the sandy loam left by the receding river, without even scratching the soil; it is thus left to take its chance. I accompanied him to the Settite, and came upon the tracks of a herd of about fifty elephants that had crossed the river a few days previous. As we were walking through the high grass we came upon a fine boa-constrictor (python), and not wishing to fire, as I thought I might disturb elephants in the neighbourhood, I made a cut at it with my heavy hunting-knife, nearly severing about four feet from the tail, but it escaped in the high grass.

"October 18. - A lion paid us a visit last night, roaring close to the tent at intervals, frightening Mahomet out of his wits.

"The seroot fly has entirely disappeared, and immense dragon flies are now arrived, and are greedily attacking all other flying insects.

"October 19. - Troops of baboons are now exceedingly numerous, as the country being entirely dried up, they are forced to the river for water, and the shady banks covered with berry-bearing shrubs induce them to remain. It is very amusing to watch these great male baboons stalking majestically along, followed by a large herd of all ages, the mothers carrying their little ones upon their backs, the latter with a regular jockey-seat riding most comfortably, while at other times they relieve the monotony of the position by sprawling at full length and holding on by their mother's back hair. Suddenly a sharp-eyed young ape discovers a bush well covered with berries, and his greedy munching being quickly observed, a general rush of youngsters takes place, and much squabbling for the best places ensues among the boys; this ends in great uproar when down comes a great male, who cuffs one, pulls another by the hair, bites another on the hind quarters just as he thinks he has escaped, drags back a would-be deserter by his tail and shakes him thoroughly, and thus he shortly restores order, preventing all further disputes by sitting under the bush and quietly enjoying the berries by himself. These baboons have a great variety of expressions that may perhaps represent their vocabulary: a few of these I begin to understand, such as their notes of alarm, and the cry to attract attention; thus, when I am sitting alone beneath the shade of a tree to watch their habits, they are at first not quite certain what kind of a creature I may be, and they give a peculiar cry to induce me to move and show myself more distinctly.

"October 20. - A lion was roaring throughout the night not far from the tent on his way towards the river to drink; at every roar he was answered by the deep angry cry of the baboons, who challenged him immediately from their secure positions on the high rocks and trees. I found the tracks of his large feet upon the bank of the river, but there is no possibility of finding these animals in the daytime, as they retire to the high grass upon the table lands.

"The banks of the Atbara are now swarming with small birds that throng the bushes (a species of willow), growing by the water's edge; the weight of a large flock bends down the slender boughs until they touch the water: this is their opportunity for drinking, as their beaks for an instant kiss the stream. These unfortunate little birds get no rest, the large fish and the crocodiles grab at them when they attempt to drink, while the falcons and hawks pursue them at all times and in every direction. Nothing is fat, as nothing can obtain rest, the innumerable birds and beasts of prey give no peace to the weaker kinds; the fattest alderman of the city of London would become a skeleton, if hunted for two hours daily by a hyaena.

"October 23. - This evening I took a walk, accompanied by my wife, and Bacheet with a spare gun, to try for a shot at guinea-fowl. We were strolling along the margin of the river, when we heard a great shrieking of women on the opposite side, in the spot from which the people of Sofi fetch their water. About a dozen women had been filling their water-skins, when suddenly they were attacked by a large crocodile, who attempted to seize a woman, but she, springing back, avoided it, and the animal swallowed her girba (water-skin), that, being full of water and of a brown exterior, resembled the body of a woman. The women rushed out of the river, when the crocodile made a second dash at them, and seized another water-skin that a woman had dropped in her flight. They believe this to be the same monster that took a woman a few months ago. Few creatures are so sly and wary as the crocodile. I watch them continually as they attack the dense flocks of small birds that throng the bushes at the water's edge. These birds are perfectly aware of the danger, and they fly from the attack, if possible. The crocodile then quietly and innocently lies upon the surface, as though it had appeared quite by an accident; it thus attracts the attention of the birds, and it slowly sails away to a considerable distance, exposed to their view. The birds, thus beguiled by the deceiver, believe that the danger is removed, and they again flock to the bush, and once more dip their thirsty beaks into the stream. Thus absorbed in slaking their thirst, they do not observe that their enemy is no longer on the surface. A sudden splash, followed by a huge pair of jaws beneath the bush that engulfs some dozens of victims, is the signal unexpectedly given of the crocodile's return, who has thus slyly dived, and hastened under cover of water to his victims. I have seen the crocodiles repeat this manoeuvre constantly; they deceive by a feigned retreat, and then attack from below.

"In like manner the crocodile perceives, while it is floating on the surface in mid-stream, or from the opposite side of the river, a woman filling her girba, or an animal drinking, &c. &c. Sinking immediately, it swims perhaps a hundred yards nearer, and again appearing for an instant upon the surface, it assures itself of the position of its prey by a stealthy look; once more it sinks, and reaches the exact spot above which the person or animal may be. Seeing distinctly through the water, it generally makes its fatal rush from beneath - sometimes seizing with its jaws, and at other times striking the object into the water with its tail, after which it is seized and carried off.

"The crocodile does not attempt to swallow a large prey at once, but generally carries it away and keeps it for a considerable time in its jaws in some deep hole beneath a rock, or the root of a tree, where it eats it at leisure. The tongue of the crocodile is so unlike that of any other creature that it can hardly be called by the same name; no portion throughout the entire length is detached from the flesh of the lower jaw - it is more like a thickened membrane from the gullet to about half way along the length of jaw.

"October 4. - Having burnt off a large surface of high grass, I discovered a quantity of gourds and wild cucumbers - the latter are bright crimson, covered with long fleshy prickles, with black horny tips; these are eaten by the baboons, but not by the Arabs. The gourds are only serviceable for cups and ladles manufactured from their shells.

"I find a good pair of Highland shooting shoes of great value; the soles were exceedingly thick, and they have resisted, until now, the intensely hard and coarse-grained sandstone which grinds through all leather. My soles are at length worn out, and I have repaired them with the tanned hide of giraffe. Much of the sandstone is white and soft and friable; but this appears to have been decomposed by time and exposure, as the generality is hard and would make excellent grindstones.

"October 25. - Three elephant-hunters arrived to-day with horses for sale. I purchased three - a bay and two greys. They are all of Abyssinian breed, and are handsome animals, although none exceed fourteen hands and a half. The prices were high for this part of the world where dollars are scarce; but to me, they appeared to be absurdly cheap. The bay horse was a regular strong-built cob; for him I paid nineteen dollars - about 4l. including a native saddle and bridle; for the greys, I paid fifteen and thirteen dollars, saddles and bridles also included. The bay I named Tetel (hartebeest), the greys Aggahr* and Gazelle. Tetel was a trained hunter, as was Aggahr likewise. Gazelle was quite inexperienced, but remarkably handsome. None of these horses had ever been shod, but their hoofs were beautifully shaped, and as hard as ivory. The saddles had no stuffing on the seats, but were simple wooden frames, with high backs and pommels, the various pieces being sewn together with raw hide, and the front and back covered with crocodile skin. The stirrups were simple iron rings, sufficiently large to admit the great toe of the rider, according to Arab fashion in these parts. The bits were dreadfully severe; but perhaps not unnecessarily, as the sword allows only one bridle-hand to a pulling horse. Each horse was furnished with a leathern nose-bag, and a long leathern thong as a picket strap. All these horses and saddlery I had purchased for forty-seven dollars, or 9l. 1Os. Fortunately, both my wife and I were well provided with the best English saddles, bridles, &c. or the 'big toe' stirrup would have been an awkward necessity.

* Aggahr is the designation of a hunter with the sword.

"October 26. - We left our camp this morning for a few days' reconnaissance of the country, accompanied by Florian, prior to commencing our regular expedition. Nine miles S.E. of Ehetilla we passed through a village called Wat el Negur, after which we continued along a great tract of table land, on the eastern side of the Atbara valley, bounded by a mimosa forest about four miles on the east. Very large quantities of dhurra (Sorghum vulgare) are grown upon this fertile soil; it is now higher than a man's head when mounted upon a camel. Far as the eye can reach, the great table lands extend on either side the broad valley of the Atbara. The cotton that was planted many years ago by the inhabitants who have vanished, still flourishes, although choked with grass six or seven feet high. At 4 P.M. we reached a large village, Sherif el Ibrahim, twenty-eight miles S.E. from Sofi by the route upon the east bank of the Atbara, which cuts off a bend in the river. A species of dhurra, as sweet as the sugar-cane, grows here in abundance, being regularly sown and cultivated; it is called ankoleep. This is generally chewed in the mouth as a cane; but it is also peeled by the women, and, when dried, it is boiled with milk to give it sweetness. A grain called dochan, a species of millet, is likewise cultivated to a considerable extent; when ripe, it somewhat resembles the head of the bulrush. The whole of this country would grow cotton and sugar to perfection.

"October 28. - Having slept at the village, we went to the river, and Florian shot a hippopotamus. The natives, having skinned it, rushed at the carcase with knives and axes, and fought over it like a pack of wolves; neither did they leave the spot until they had severed each bone, and walked off with every morsel, of this immense beast.

"October 31. - Having passed a couple of days at Sherif el Ibrahim, we started for the Settite. When about half way, we arrived at a curious plateau of granite rock, with a pool of water in the centre. Formerly a large village occupied this position, named Gerrarat; but it was destroyed in a raid by the Egyptians, as being one of Mek Nimmur's strongholds. The rock is a flat surface of about five acres, covered with large detached fragments of granite; near this are several pools of water, which form the source of the rivulet, the Till, that bounds our camp at Ehetilla. A large homera-tree (Adansonia digitata) grows among the blocks of granite by the pool; in the shade of its enormous boughs we breakfasted, and again started at 4 P.M. reaching the Settite river at 7.3O, at a spot named Geera. In the dark we had some difficulty in finding our way down the rugged slopes of the valley to the river. We had not taken beds, as these incumbrances were unnecessary when in light marching order. We therefore made separate bivouacs, Florian and his people about a hundred yards distant, while a rug laid upon the ground was sufficient for my wife. I made myself comfortable in a similar manner. Lions were roaring all night.

"On the following morning we took a long stroll along the wild and rugged valley of the Settite, that was precisely similar to that of the Atbara. The river, although low, was a noble stream, and the water was at this season beautifully clear as it ran over a bed of clean pebbles. The pass between the cliffs of Geera was exceedingly lovely. At that point the river did not exceed 200 yards in width, and it flowed through abrupt cliffs of beautiful rose-coloured limestone; so fine and pure was the surface of the stone, that in places it resembled artificially-smoothed marble; in other places, the cliffs, equally abrupt, were of milk-white limestone of similar quality. This was the first spot in which I had found limestone since I had left Lower Egypt. The name 'Geera,' in Arabic, signifies lime. Formerly this was an important village belonging to Mek Nimmur, but it had been destroyed by the Egyptians, and the renowned Mek Nimmur was obliged to fall back to the strongholds of the mountains.

"I started off a man to recall Mahomet and my entire camp fronm Ehetilla to Wat el Negur, as that village was only seven hours' march from Geera; the three points, Sherif el Ibrahim, Geera, and Wat el Negur formed almost an equilateral triangle. We reached the latter village on the following day, and found that Mahomet and a string of camels from Sofi had already arrived. The country was now thickly populated on the west bank of the Atbara, as the Arabs and their flocks had returned after the disappearance of the seroot fly. Mahomet had had an accident, having fallen from his camel and broken no bones, but he had smashed the stock of my single-barrel rifle; this was in two pieces; I mended it, and it become stronger than ever. The wood had broken short off in the neck of the stock, I therefore bored a hole about three inches deep up the centre of either piece, so that it was hollowed like a marrow-bone; in one of them I inserted a piece of an iron ramrod, red-hot, I then drew the other piece over the iron in a similar manner, and gently tapped the shoulder-plate until I had driven the broken joint firmly together. I then took off from a couple of old boxes two strong brass hasps; these I let neatly into the wood on each side of the broken stock, and secured them by screws, filing off all projections, so that they fitted exactly. I finished the work by stretching a piece of well-soaked crocodile's skin over the joint, which, when drawn tight, I sewed strongly together. When this dried it became as hard as horn, and very much stronger; the extreme contraction held the work together like a vice, and my rifle was perfectly restored. A traveller in wild countries should always preserve sundry treasures that will become invaluable, such as strips of crocodile skin, the hide of the iguana, &c. which should be kept in the tool-box for cases of need. The tool-box should not exceed two feet six inches in length, and one foot in depth, but it should contain the very best implements that can be made, with an extra supply of gimlets, awls, centre-bits, and borers of every description, also tools for boring iron; at least two dozen files of different sorts should be included."

Wat el Negur was governed by a most excellent and polite sheik of the Jalyn tribe. Sheik Achmet Wat el Negur was his name and title; being of the same race as Mek Nimmur, he dared to occupy the east bank of the Atbara. Sheik Achmet was a wise man; he was a friend of the Egyptian authorities, to whom he paid tribute as though it were his greatest pleasure; he also paid tribute to Mek Nimmur, with whom he was upon the best of terms; therefore, in the constant fights that took place upon the borders, the cattle and people of Sheik Achmet were respected by the contending parties, while those of all others were sufferers. This was exactly the spot for my head-quarters, as, like Sheik Achmet, I wished to be on good terms with everybody, and through him I should be able to obtain an introduction to Mek Nimmur, whom I particularly wished to visit, as I had heard that there never was such a brigand. Accordingly, I pitched the tents and formed a camp upon the bank of the river, about two hundred yards below the village of Wat el Negur, and in a short time Sheik Achmet and I became the greatest friends.

There is nothing more delightful when travelling in a strange country, a thousand miles away from the track of the wildest tourist, than to come upon the footprint of a countryman; not the actual mark of his sole upon the sand, which the dust quickly obscures, but to find imprinted deeply upon the minds and recollections of the people, the good character of a former traveller, that insures you a favourable introduction. Many years before I visited Wat el Negur, Mr. Mansfield Parkyns, who has certainly written the best book on Abyssinia that I have ever read, passed through this country, having visited Mek Nimmur, the father of the present Mek. He was, I believe, the only European that had ever been in Mek Nimmur's territory, neither had his footsteps been followed until my arrival. Mr. Parkyns had left behind him what the Arabs call a "sweet name;" and as I happened to have his book, "Life in Abyssinia," with me, I showed it to the sheik as his production, and explained the illustrations, &c.; at the same time I told him that Mr. Parkyns had described his visit to Mek Nimmur, of whom he had spoken very highly, and that I wished to have an opportunity of telling the great chief in person how much his good reception had been appreciated. The good Sheik Achmet immediately promised to present me to Mek Nimmur, and wished particularly to know whether I intended to write a book like Mr. Parkyns upon my return. Should I do so, he requested me to mention HIS name. I promised at once to do this trifling favour; thus I have the greatest pleasure in certifying that Sheik Achmet Wat el Negur is one of the best and most agreeable fellows that I have ever met in Africa; he does not keep an hotel, or I would strongly recommend it to all travellers, but his welcome is given gratis, with the warmest hospitality.

The country for several miles upon the table land above Wat el Negur was highly cultivated, and several thousand acres were planted with dhurra, that was at this season in full grain, and nearly ripe. Much sesame was grown for the manufacture of oil; cotton was also cultivated, and the neighbourhood was a fair example of the wonderful capabilities of the entire country that was allowed to lie in idleness. There was little rest for the inhabitants at this time, as the nights were spent in watching their extensive plantations, and endeavouring to scare away the elephants. These animals, with extreme cunning, invaded the dhurra crops at different positions every night, and retreated before morning to great distances in the thick thorny jungles of the Settite.

Our arrival was welcomed with general enthusiasm, as the Arabs were unprovided with fire-arms, and the celebrated aggageers or sword-hunters were useless, as the elephants only appeared at night, and were far too cunning to give them a chance. There was a particular range of almost impenetrable thorny covert in the neighbourhood of Geera, well known as the asylum for these animals, to which they retreated, after having satiated themselves by a few hours' feeding upon the crops of corn. I promised to assist in protecting the plantations, although the Arabs assured me that, in spite of our rifles, the elephants would return every night.

Wishing to judge personally of the damage, I rode up to the dhurra-fields, and for a few hours I examined the crops, through which I could ride with ease, as the plants were arranged like hops.

Many acres were absolutely destroyed, as the elephants had not only carefully stripped off the heavy heads of corn, but had trampled down and wilfully broken much more than they had consumed. The Arabs knew nothing about guns, or their effect upon elephants, and I felt quite sure that a few nights with the heavy rifles would very soon scare them from the fields.

I return to my journal.

"November 7. - In the middle of last night I was disturbed by the Arabs, who begged me to get up and shoot the elephants that were already in the plantations. This I refused to do, as I will not fire a shot until they call in their watchers, and leave the fields quiet. A few nights ago there was a perfect uproar from a score of watchers, that prevented the elephants from coming at the very time that the people had induced me to pass the whole night in the fields. I have arranged that the sheik shall call in all these watchers, and that they shall accompany me to-morrow night. I will then post myself in the centre of the plantations, dividing the men into many parties at all points, to return quietly to me and report the position that the elephants may have taken.

"This morning I purchased a kid for two piastres (five pence). The sheik is exceedingly civil, and insists upon sending me daily supplies of milk and vegetables.

"This afternoon, accompanied by my wife, I accepted an invitation to shoot a savage old bull hippopotamus that had been sufficiently impertinent to chase several of the natives. He lived in a deep and broad portion of the river, about two miles distant. We accordingly rode to the spot, and found the old hippo at home. The river was about 250 yards wide at this place, in an acute bend that had formed a deep pool. In the centre of this was a mud bank, just below the surface; upon this shallow bed the hippo was reposing. Upon perceiving us he was exceedingly saucy, snorting at my party, and behaving himself in a most absurd manner, by shaking his head and leaping half-way out of the water. This plunging demonstration was intended to frighten us. I had previously given Bacheet a pistol, and had ordered him to follow on the opposite bank from the ford at Wat el Negur. I now hallooed to him to fire several shots at the hippo, in order to drive him, if possible, towards me, as I lay in ambush behind a rock in the bed of the river. Bacheet descended the almost perpendicular bank to the water's edge, and after having chaffed the hippo considerably, he fired a shot with the pistol, which was far more dangerous to us on the opposite side than to the animal. The hippo, who was a wicked solitary old bull, accustomed to have his own way, returned the insult by charging towards Bacheet with a tremendous snorting, that sent him scrambling up the steep bank in a panic, amidst a roar of laughter from the people on my side concealed in the bushes. In this peal of merriment I thought I could distinguish a voice closely resembling that of my wife. However, Bacheet, who had always longed to be brought face to face with some foe worthy of his steel, had bolted, and he now stood safe in his elevated position on the top of the bank, thirty feet above the river, and fired the second barrel in bold defiance at the hippopotamus.

"As the hippo had gained confidence, I showed myself above the rock, and called to him, according to Arab custom, 'Hasinth! Hasinth!'* He, thinking no doubt that he might as well hunt me away, gave a loud snort, sank, and quickly reappeared about a hundred yards from me; but nearer than this he positively refused to approach. I therefore called to Bacheet to shout from the other side to attract his attention, and as he turned his head, I took a steady shot behind the ear with the little Fletcher rifle. This happened to be one of those fortunate shots that consoles you for many misses, and the saucy old hippo turned upon his back and rolled about in tremendous struggles, lashing the still and deep pool into waves, until he at length disappeared. We knew that he was settled; thus my people started off towards the village, and in a marvellousiy short time a frantic crowd of Arabs arrived with camels, ropes, axes, knives, and everything necessary for an onslaught upon the hippo, who, up to this time, had not appeared upon the surface. In about an hour and a half from the time he received the bullet, we discovered his carcase floating about two hundred yards lower down the river. Several heads of large crocodiles appeared and vanished suddenly within a few feet of the floating carcase, therefore the Arabs considered it prudent to wait until the stream should strand the body upon the pebbly shallows about half a mile below the pool. Upon arrival at that point, there was a general rush, and the excited crowd secured the hippo by many ropes, and hauled it to the shore. It was a very fine bull, as the skin without the head measured twelve feet three inches. I had two haunches kept for the sheik, and a large quantity of fat, which is highly and deservedly prized by the Arabs, as it is the most delicate of any animal. Those portions secured, with a reserve of meat for ourselves, the usual disgusting scene of violence commenced, the crowd falling upon the carcase like maddened hyaenas.

* Hasinth is the Arabic for hippopotamus.

"In the evening I resolved to watch the dhurra fields for elephants. At about 9 P.M. I arrived in the plantations, with three men carrying spare guns, among whom was Bacheet, who had at length an opportunity for which he had long yearned. I entrusted to him the 'Baby,' which he promised to put into my hands the very moment that I should fire my second barrel. I carried my own Ceylon No. 10, made by Beattie. We had not been half an hour in the dhurra fields before we met a couple of Arab watchers, who informed us that a herd of elephants was already in the plantation; we accordingly followed our guides. In about a quarter of an hour we distinctly heard the cracking of the dhurra stems, as the elephants browsed, and trampled them beneath their feet.

"Taking the proper position of the wind, I led our party cautiously in the direction of the sound, and in about five minutes I came in view of the slate-coloured and dusky forms of the herd. The moon was bright, and I counted nine elephants; they had trampled a space of about fifty yards square into a barren level, and they were now slowly moving forward, feeding as they went. One elephant, unfortunately, was separated from the herd, and was about forty yards in the rear; this fellow I was afraid would render our approach difficult. Cautioning my men, especially Bacheet, to keep close to me with the spare rifles, I crept along the alleys formed by the tall rows of dhurra, and after carefully stalking against the wind, I felt sure that it would be necessary to kill the single elephant before I should be able to attack the herd. Accordingly, I crept nearer and nearer, well concealed in the favourable crop of high and sheltering stems, until I was within fifteen yards of the hindmost animal. As I had never shot one of the African species, I was determined to follow the Ceylon plan, and get as near as possible; therefore I continued to creep from row to row of dhurra, until I at length stood at the very tail of the elephant in the next row. I could easily have touched it with my rifle, but just at this moment, it either obtained my wind, or it heard the rustle of the men. It quickly turned its head half round towards me; in the same instant I took the temple shot, and, by the flash of the rifle, I saw that it fell. Jumping forward past the huge body, I fired the left-hand barrel at an elephant that had advanced from the herd; it fell immediately! Now came the moment for a grand rush, as they stumbled in confusion over the last fallen elephant, and jammed together in a dense mass with their immense ears outspread, forming a picture of intense astonishment! Where were my spare guns? Here was a grand opportunity to run in and floor them right and left!

"Not a man was in sight, everybody had bolted! and I stood in advance of the dead elephant calling for my guns in vain. At length one of my fellows came up, but it was too late, the fallen elephant in the herd had risen from the ground, and they had all hustled off at a great pace, and were gone; I had only bagged one elephant. Where was the valiant Bacheet? the would-be Nimrod, who for the last three months had been fretting in inactivity, and longing for the moment of action, when he had promised to be my trusty gun-bearer! He was the last man to appear, and he only ventured from his hiding-place in the high dhurra when assured of the elephants' retreat. I was obliged to admonish the whole party by a little physical treatment, and the gallant Bacheet returned with us to the village, crestfallen and completely subdued. On the following day not a vestige remained of the elephant, except the offal: the Arabs had not only cut off the flesh, but they had hacked the skull and the bones in pieces, and carried them off to boil down for soup."