I EXTRACT a few notes from my journal: -

"March 25, 1862. - Mai Gubba is about twelve miles E.N.E. of our camp. Mek Nimmur's stronghold is upon a lofty table-mountain, due south of this spot, from which great elevation (about 5,000 feet) the granite mountain of Cassala is said to be plainly visible.

"March 27. - We started for the Bahr Salaam, and said good-bye to Mek Nimmur, as we passed his position on our march; he had given us a guide; an awful-looking scoundrel.

"We had hardly marched two miles, when one of the baggage-camels suddenly fell down to die; the Arabs immediately cut its throat with a sword, and Bacheet, having detached one ear as a witness of its death, galloped back to borrow a fresh camel of Mek Nimmur, which he very kindly sent without delay. We were obliged to bivouac on the spot for the night, as the Arabs required the flesh of their camel, which was cut into thin strips. As they were employed in skinning it, they ate large quantities raw and quivering. The stream, or hor, that flows through this country, parallel with our route, is the Ma Serdi; all this district is rich in copper.

"March 28. - Started at 5 A.M. course S.W. We crossed two hors, flowing from N.N.W. and joining the Ma Serdi; also a beautiful running stream of deep and clear water twelve miles from our bivouac of last evening: this stream is never dry; it springs from a range of hills about ten miles distant. The whole of this country is well watered by mountain streams, the trees are no longer the thorny mimosas, but as the land is not only fertile, but sufficiently moist, it gives birth to a different kind of vegetation, and the trees are mostly free from thorns, although at this season devoid of foliage. The country is ornamented by extensive cultivation, and numerous villages. We halted at 5 P.M. having marched twenty-one miles. The fertile soil of this country is thoroughly melted by rain during the wet season, and in the intense heat of the drought it becomes a mass of gaping crevices many feet deep, that render hunting on horseback most dangerous. Fortunately, as we halted, I observed a herd of tetel, and three ostriches: the latter made off immediately, but I succeeded in stalking the tetel, and shot two, right and left, one of which escaped, but the other became the prize of my Tokrooris.

"March 29. - Started at 5.30 A.M. and reached the river Salaam at 8 A.M.; the total distance from our camp in Mek Nimmur's country is thirty-five miles S.W. The Bahr Salaam is precisely similar in character to the Settite, but smaller; it has scooped through the rich lands a deep valley, like the latter river, and has transported the fertile loam to the Atbara, to increase the rich store of mud which that river delivers to the Nile. The Salaam is about two hundred yards wide; it flows through perpendicular cliffs that form walls of rock, in many places from eighty to a hundred and fifty feet above its bed; the water is as clear as crystal, and of excellent quality; even now, a strong though contracted stream is running over the rounded pebbles that form its bed, similar to that of the Settite. We descended a difficult path, and continued along the dry portion of the river's bed up the stream. While we were searching for a spot to encamp, I saw a fine bull mehedehet (A. Redunca Ellipsiprymna) by the water side; I stalked him carefully from behind a bed of high rushes, and shot him across the river with the Fletcher rifle; he went on, although crippled, but the left-hand barrel settled him by a bullet through the neck. We camped on the bank of the river.

"March 30. - I went out to explore the country, and, steering due east, I arrived at the river Angrab or Angarep, three miles from the Salaam; from a high rock I could trace its course from the mountain gorge to this spot, the stream flowing N.W. This noble river or mountain torrent is about a hundred and fifty yards wide, although the breadth varies according to the character of the country through which it passes; in most places it rushes through frightful precipices; sometimes it is walled within a channel of only forty or fifty yards, and in such places the cliffs, although at least a hundred feet perpendicular height, bear the marks of floods that have actually overtopped the rocks, and have torn away the earth, and left masses of bamboos and withered reeds clinging to the branches of trees, which, growing on still higher rocks, have dipped in the swollen torrent. I followed the circuitous course of the river for some miles, until, after a most fatiguing exploration among precipices and deep ravines, I arrived at the junction of the Salaam river. On the way, I came upon a fine bull nellut (A. Strepsiceros) beneath a shady nabbuk by the river's side; I could only obtain an oblique shot, as his hind quarters were towards me; the bullet passed through the ribs, and reached the shoulder upon the opposite side. This nellut had the finest horns that I had yet obtained; they measured four feet in the curve, three feet one inch and a half in a straight line, with a spread of two feet seven inches from point to point. I found tracks of hippopotami upon the high grassy hills; these animals climb up the most difficult places during the night, when they ascend from the river to seek for pasturage. I was not far from the tent when I arrived at the junction of the Angrab with the Bahr Salaam, but the rivers were both sunk in stupendous precipices, so that it was impossible to descend. The mouth of the river Angrab was an extraordinary sight; it was not wider than about fifteen yards, although the river averaged a width of at least a hundred and fifty yards. The exit of the water was between two lofty walls of basalt rock, which overhung the stream, which in the rainy season not only forced its way for about a hundred yards through this narrow cleft, but it had left proof of inundations that had leapt over the summit of the obstruction, when the rush of water had been too great for the area of the contracted passage. Altogether, the two rivers Sahaam and Angrab are interesting examples of the destructive effect of water, that has during the course of ages cut through, and hollowed out in the solid rock, a succession of the most horrible precipices and caverns, in which the maddened torrents, rushing from the lofty chain of mountains, boil along until they meet the Atbara, and assist to flood the Nile. No one could explore these tremendous torrents, the Settite, Royan, Angrab, Salaam, and Atbara, without at once comprehending their effect upon the waters of the Nile. The magnificent chain of mountains from which they flow, is not a simple line of abrupt sides, but the precipitous slopes are the walls of a vast plateau, that receives a prodigious rainfall in June, July, August, until the middle of September, the entire drainage of which is carried away by the above-named channels to inundate Lower Egypt."

Not being able to cross the river at the point of junction with the Salaam, I continued along the margin of the precipice that overhangs the latter river, until I should find a place by which we could descend with the camel, as this animal had made a great circuit to avoid the difficulties of the Angrab. We were at length united, and were continuing our route parallel with the river, over undulations of withered grass about three feet high, interspersed with trees, when I perceived above the surface the long horns of a mehedehet (R. Ellipsiprymna). I knew that he must be lying down, and, as he was about a hundred and fifty yards distant, I stalked him carefully from tree to tree; presently I observed three other pairs of horns at various distances; two were extremely large; but, unfortunately, an animal with smaller horns was lying between me and the largest. I could do no more than creep quietly from point to point, until the smaller animal should start and alarm the larger. This it did when I was about a hundred yards from the large bull, and both mehedehets sprang up, and, as is usual with this species, they stood for a few moments seeking for the danger. My clothes and hunting cap matched so well with the bark of the tree behind which I was kneeling, that I was unobserved, and, taking a rest against the stem with the little Fletcher, I fired both barrels, the right at the most distant bull. Both animals simply sprang for an instant upon their hind legs, and fell. This was capital; but at the report of the rifle, up jumped two other mehedehets, which appeared the facsimiles of those I had just shot; having missed their companions, and seeing no one, they stood motionless and gazed in all directions.

I had left my people far behind when I had commenced the stalk, therefore I had no spare rifle. I reloaded behind the tree with all haste. I had capped the nipples, and, as I looked out from my covering point, I saw them still in the same spot; the larger, with superb horns, was about a hundred and twenty yards distant. Again I took a rest, and fired. He sprang away as though untouched for the first three or four bounds, when he leapt convulsively in the air, and fell backwards. This was too much for the remaining animal, that was standing about a hundred yards distant - he bounded off; but the last barrel of the little Fletcher caught him through the neck at full gallop, and he fell all of a heap, stone dead.

These were the prettiest shots I ever recollect to have made, in a very long experience; I had bagged four with the same rifle in as many shots, as quickly as I could load and fire.

My Tokroori, Abdoolahi, who had been intently watching the shots from a distance, came rushing up in hot excitement with one of my sharp hunting knives, and, springing forward to hamstring one of the animals, that was still struggling, he foolishly made a downward cut, and, missing his blow, he cut his own leg terribly across the shin, the knife flying out of his hand as it struck against the bone: he was rendered helpless immediately. I tied up the wound with my handkerchief, and, having at length loaded the camel with as much meat as we could cut off the animals, Abdoolahi was assisted upon its back; my men carried the two finest heads. It was very late, and we now sought for a path by which we could descend to the river.

At length we discovered a dangerous antelope-track, that descended obliquely, by skirting an exceedingly steep side of a hill, with a perpendicular precipice immediately below, that fell for about seventy feet sheer to the river. My horse Tetel was as sure-footed as a goat, therefore, having taken off my shoes to avoid slipping, I led him to the bottom safely. Taher Noor called to the camel-driver not to attempt to follow. Although warned, this fellow persisted in leading the heavily-laden animal down the slippery and dangerous path. Hardly had he gone a few paces, when the camel's feet slipped, and it shot down the rapid incline, and disappeared over the edge of the precipice. I heard the camel roar, and, hastening up the path, I looked over the cliff, holding to a rope that Taher Noor fastened to a tree. I perceived that the animal was fortunately caught upon a narrow ledge of rock, and was prevented from falling to the bottom by a tough bush that grew from a cleft; this alone supported it in mid-air. My Arabs were wild and stupid. Abdoolahi had held on like a leech, and, as we were well provided with strong ropes, we soon hauled him up, but the Arabs declared their camel to be dead, as no power on earth could save it. Having examined the cliff, I felt sure that we could assist the camel, unless it had already broken some bones by the fall; accordingly, I gave orders to the Arabs, who obeyed implicitly, as they were so heart-broken at the idea of losing their animal, that they had lost all confidence in themselves. We lowered down Taher Noor by a rope to the bush, and after some difficulty, he unfastened the load of flesh, which he threw piece by piece to a platform of rock below, about ten feet square, which formed a shelf a few inches above the level of the water. The camel being relieved of both the load and its saddle, I ordered the Arabs to fasten together all their ropes; these, being made of twisted antelope's hide, were immensely strong, and, as I had established a rule that seven extra bundles should invariably accompany the water-camel, we had a large supply. The camel was now secured by a rope passed round the body beneath the forelegs, and the cloths of the Arabs were wrapped around the cord to prevent it from cutting the skin. This being arranged, I took a double turn of the rope round a tree, as thick as a man's thigh, that grew in a cleft of the rock where we stood, and throwing the honey axe to Taher Noor, I told him to cut away the bushes that supported the camel, and I would lower it gently down to the shelf by the water's edge. In a few minutes the bushes were cut away, and the camel, roaring with fright, swung in mid-air. Taher Noor held on to the rope, while I slacked off the line from the tree, and lowered both man and beast safely to the shelf, about seventy feet below. The camel was unhurt, and the Arabs were delighted; two other men now descended. We threw them down a quantity of dry wood to make a fire, and, as they were well off for meat, we left them prisoners upon the ledge of rock with the profoundly deep river before them, walled in by abrupt precipices upon either side.* It was nearly dark, and, having to find my way to the camp among dangerous ravines, I rode fast ahead of my men to discover a ford, and to reach home before complete darkness should increase the danger. Tetel was as sure-footed and as nimble as a cat, but we very nearly ended our days together, as the bank of a precipice gave way while we were skirting the edge. I felt it sinking, but the horse sprang forward and saved himself, as I heard the mass fall beneath.

* On the following morning the camel was safely floated across the river, supported by the inflated skins of the mehedehets.

That night we received a very audacious visit. I was asleep in my tent, when I was suddenly awakened by a slight pull at my sleeve, which was the signal always given by my wife if anything was wrong; on such occasions, I never replied until I had gently grasped my little Fletcher, which always slept with me beneath my mat. She now whispered that a hyaena had been within the tent, but that it had just bolted out, as these animals are so wary that they detect the slightest movement or noise. As a rule, I never shot at hyaenas, but, as I feared it might eat our saddles, I lay in bed with the rifle to my shoulder, pointed towards the tent door through which the moon was shining brightly. In a few minutes, a grey-looking object stood like an apparition at the entrance, peering into the tent to see if all were right before it entered. I touched the trigger, and the hyaena fell dead, with the bullet through its head. This was a regular veteran, as his body was covered with old scars from continual conflicts with other hyaenas. This was the first time that one of these animals had taken such a liberty; they were generally contented with eating the bones that were left from our dinner outside the tent door, which they cleared away regularly every night.

We remained in this beautiful country from March 29th until April 14th, during which time I seldom remained for an hour in camp, from sunrise to sunset; I was always in the saddle or on foot. Two of my best Tokrooris, Hadji Ali and Hassan, usually accompanied me on horseback, while Taher Noor and a couple of Arabs rode upon camels with a good supply of water. In this manner I traversed the entire country, into the base of the great mountain chain, and thence down the course of the river towards the Atbara junction. This district was entirely composed of the most fertile soil, through which the great rivers Angrab and Salaam had cut their way in a similar manner to the Atbara and Settite. The Salaam, after the junction of the Angrab, was equal in appearance to the Atbara, but the inclination of this great mountain torrent is so rapid, that it quickly becomes exhausted at the cessation of rain in the lofty mountains that form its source. Both the Angrab and the Salaam are short rivers, but, as they are the two main channels for the reception of the entire drainage of a vast mountain area, they bring down most violent floods, that materially affect the volume of the main artery.

The whole of this country abounded in game beyond any that I had hitherto seen, and I had most glorious sport. Among the varieties of antelopes, was a new species that I had seen upon several occasions on the Settite, where it was extremely rare. On the high open plains above the valley of the Salaam, this antelope was very numerous, but so wild and wary that it was impossible to approach nearer than from 350 to 500 yards. This magnificent animal, the largest of all the antelopes of Abyssinia and Central Africa, is known to the Arabs as the Maarif (Hippotragus Bakerii). It is a variety of the sable antelope of South Africa (Hippotragus Niger). The colour is mouse-grey, with a black stripe across the shoulders, and black and white lines across the nose and cheeks. The height at the shoulder would exceed fourteen hands, and the neck is ornamented with a thick and stiff black mane. The shoulders are peculiarly massive, and are extremely high at the withers; the horns are very powerful, and, like those of the roan and the sable antelope, they are annulated, and bend gracefully backwards. Both the male and female are provided with horns; those of the former are exceedingly thick, and the points frequently extend so far as to reach the shoulders.

The Maarif invariably inhabits open plains, upon which it can see an enemy at a great distance, thus it is the most difficult of all animals to stalk. Nothing can be more beautiful than a herd of these superb animals, but the only successful method of hunting would be to course them with greyhounds; my dogs were dead, thus I depended entirely upon the rifle. I was also deprived of the assistance of the aggageers, whom I had left at the Royan.

Rhinoceros and giraffes were very numerous throughout this country; but the ground was most unfavourable for riding. The surface resembled a beautiful park, composed of a succession of undulations, interspersed with thornless trees, and watered by streamlets at intervals of five or eight miles, while the magnificent Alps of Abyssinia bounded the view to the south; but there was no enjoyment in this country on horseback. The rainy season converted this rich loam into a pudding, and the dry season baked it into a pie-crust. The entire surface was loose, flaky, and hollow; there was not a yard of ground that was not split into deep crevices, that were regular pitfalls; and so unsound was the general character of the country, that a horse sank above his fetlocks at every footstep. I usually rode during the day when exploring; but whenever I shot, it was necessary to dismount, as it was impossible to follow an animal successfully on horseback. I had on several occasions attempted to ride down a giraffe, but upon such ground I had not the slightest chance; thus the aggageers, who invariably hunt the giraffe by riding at full speed until they can hamstring it with the sword, never visit this country. This accounted for the presence of so large a number of animals, as they were never disturbed by these untiring hunters.

Our camp was pitched at the junction of a torrent, which, flowing from the higher ground, joined the river Salaam in a succession of waterfalls. At this season, a gentle stream, as clear as glass, rippled over a rocky bed about twenty yards wide, and the holes in the flat surface above the fall formed natural basins of the purest water. I frequently strolled for some miles along the bed of the stream, that afforded excellent pasturage for the horses in a sweet, green grass, that was not only an attraction to antelopes and buffaloes (Bos Caffer), but formed a covert for incredible numbers of the beautiful francolin partridge, which might have been shot in hundreds as they rose from the cool herbage that afforded both food and concealment. I was returning late one evening along the bed of the stream, after a day's shooting, during which I had bagged several antelopes and wild boar, when I observed at a distance a dark mass in the bright yellow grass, which I quickly distinguished as a herd of elephants. It was just dusk, and having endeavoured to meet them as they came to drink, but without success, I determined to track them up on the following morning. I started at daybreak, with all my horses and gun-bearers. For about sixteen miles we tracked up the herd to within a short distance of the base of the mountain range. During the march, we had seen large quantities of giraffes, and all the varieties of large antelopes. The country, that had consisted of a vast plain, now changed to rapid undulations; the trees were generally small, and, at this season of intense dryness, were devoid of leaves. At the bottom of one of these undulations, among a number of skeleton trees, that afforded no shade, we discovered the elephants, standing in the high withered grass, that entirely concealed all but the upper portion of their heads; they were amusing themselves by tearing up the trees, and feeding upon the succulent roots. I ordered Taher Noor and Bacheet each to take a horse and rifle, and to lead them, together with my hunter Aggahr, about a hundred yards behind me, while I advanced towards the elephants on foot. At the sound of the first shot they were to mount, and to bring my horse and spare guns as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, the herd was alarmed by a large bull giraffe that was asleep in the grass, which started up within thirty yards of us, and dashed off in terror through the mass of elephants. Their attention was roused, and they moved off to my left, which change of position immediately gave them our wind. There was no time to lose, as the herd was in retreat; and, as they were passing across my path, at about two hundred paces distance, I ran at my best speed, stumbling through the broken pie-crust, and sinking in the yawning crevices, the sides of which were perfectly rotten, until I arrived within shot of about twenty-five elephants. I was just on the point of firing at the temple of a large animal that was within about ten yards, when it suddenly turned, and charged straight at me. With the right-hand barrel of a Reilly No. 10, I was fortunate enough to turn it by a forehead shot, when so close that it was nearly upon me. As it swerved, I fired the remaining barrel exactly through the centre of the shoulder; this dropped and killed the elephant as though it had been shot through the brain.

The difficulties of the ground were such, that the horses were not led as quickly as I had expected; thus I had to reload, which I had just completed when Aggahr was brought by Taher Noor. Springing into the saddle I at once gave chase. The gallant old horse flew along through the high grass, regardless of the crevices and rotten ground. The herd was about three hundred yards ahead, but the long steady stride of Aggahr quickly shortened the distance, and in a few minutes I was riding alongside the elephants, that were shambling along at a great pace. I determined to head them, and drive them back towards my people, in which case I expected that we might be able to surround them. I touched Aggahr with the spur, and he shot ahead of the leading elephants, when I turned sharp to the right exactly before their path, and gave a shout to check their advance; in the same instant, Aggahr turned a complete somersault within a few yards of their feet, having put his fore-leg into a deep crevice, and I rolled over almost beneath the elephants with the heavy rifle in my hand. The horse recovered quicker than I, and, galloping off, he vanished in the high grass, leaving me rather confused from the fall upon my head. The herd, instead of crushing me as they ought to have done, took fright, and bolted off at their best pace. My eyes were dancing with the fall; the mounted gun-bearers were nowhere, as Gazelle would not face the elephants, and Tetel was far behind. My English saddle had vanished with Aggahr, and, as the stirrups of the Arab saddles were simple rings for the accommodation of the big toe, they were unserviceable. Had the aggageers been with me, I should have had great sport with this herd; but, with the exception of Taher Noor, the men were bad horsemen, and even he was afraid of the ground, which was frightfully dangerous.

We discovered that the bullet had passed through the great artery of the heart, which had caused the instantaneous death of the elephant I had shot.

We were now at least seventeen miles from camp, and I feared that Aggahr would be lost, and would most likely be devoured by a lion during the night: thus I should lose not only my good old hunter, but my English saddle. I passed several hours in searching for him in all directions, and, in order to prevent him from straying to the south, we fired the grass in all directions; we thus had a line of fire between the camp and ourselves; this burnt slowly, as the north wind had carried the blaze rapidly in the other direction. We rode along the bottom of a watercourse and reached the Salaam river, thus avoiding the fire; but, some hours before we neared the camp, night had set in. We had beaten the fire, as we had got to windward, and slowly and tediously we toiled along the crumbling soil, stumbling among the crevices, that were nearly invisible in the moonlight.

Thus we crept onwards; I had found riding impracticable, therefore the horses were led, with much difficulty, as they constantly slipped up to their knees in the numerous fissures. It was difficult to recognise our position in the moonlight, and we were doubtful whether we had not missed our route to the camp. My watch told me that it was past nine o'clock, and we had been sixteen hours in hard work without the slightest rest. We halted to confer about the direction of the camp, when suddenly I heard the report of a gun to our right; we immediately turned, and hastened towards the welcome sound; presently I heard a distant shout. As we approached, this was repeated, and as I hurried forward, I recognised my own name shouted in an agonised voice. I ran on alone at my best speed, after giving a loud shrill whistle upon my fingers. This was quickly replied to, and I repeated the well-known signal, until in about ten minutes I met my wife, who had been wandering about the country half distracted for hours, searching for me in every direction, as my horse Aggahr had returned to the camp with the bridle broken, and the empty saddle scratched by the boughs of trees; she had naturally concluded that some accident had happened. She had immediately armed herself with the little Fletcher that had been left in the camp, being too small for elephants; with this, and several of the Arabs armed with swords and lances, she had been hunting throughout this wild country during the night in a state of terrible anxiety. It was fortunate that she had fired the shot to direct our attention, otherwise we might have passed each other without being seen. "All's well that ends well:" we were about three miles from camp, but the distance appeared short to everybody, as we now knew the true direction, and we at length perceived the glare of a large fire that our people had lighted as a beacon.

The horse, Aggahr, must have found his way without difficulty, as he had arrived a little before sunset. This curious instinct, that enables a horse to find the direction to its last halting-place in a wild and pathless country, was thoroughly appreciated by the Arabs, who had comforted me with the assurance, that no Abyssinian horse would lose his way to the spot where he had last passed the night, if separated from his rider.