In this manner we crept along industriously until noon, by which time we had nearly reached the shoulder of Suswa, around which we had to double. The sun was strong, and the men not yet hardened to the work. We had many stragglers. After lunch Memba Sasa and I strolled along on a route flanking that of the safari, looking for the first of our meat supply. Within a short time I had killed a Thompson’s gazelle. Some solemn giraffes looked on at the performance, and then moved off like mechanical toys.
The day lengthened. We were in the midst of wonderful scenery. Our objection grew to be that it took so long to put any of it behind us. Insensibly, however, we made progress. Suddenly, as it seemed, we found ourselves looking at the other side of Suswa, and various brand-new little craters had moved up to take the places of our old friends. At last, about half-past four, we topped the swell of one of the numerous and interminable land billows that undulate across all plains countries here, and saw a few miles away the wagon outspanned. We reached it about sunset, to be greeted by the welcome news that there was indeed water in the pan.
We unsaddled just before dark, and I immediately started towards the game herds, many of which were grazing a half-mile away. The gazelle would supply our own larder, but meat for hard-worked man was very desirable. I shot a hartebeeste, made the prearranged signal for men to carry meat, and returned to camp.
Even yet the men were not all in. We took lanterns and returned along the road, for the long marches under a desert sun are no joke. At last we had accounted for all but two. These we had to abandon. Next day we found their loads, but never laid eyes on them again. Thus early our twenty-nine became twenty-seven.
About nine o’clock, just as we were turning, a number of lions began to roar. Usually a lion roars once or twice by way of satisfaction after leaving a kill. These, however, were engaged in driving game, and hence trying to make as much noise as possible. We distinguished plainly seven individuals, perhaps more. The air trembled with the sound as to the deepest tones of a big organ, only the organ is near and enclosed, while these vibrations were in the open air and remote. For a few moments the great salvos would boom across the veld, roll after roll of thunder; then would ensue a momentary dead silence; then a single voice would open, to be joined immediately by the others.
We awoke next day to an unexpected cold drizzle. This was a bit uncomfortable, from one point of view, and most unusual, but it robbed the thirst of its terrors. We were enabled to proceed leisurely, and to get a good sleep near water every night. The wagon had, as usual, pulled out some time during the night.