African Camp Fires eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about African Camp Fires.

XL.

THROUGH THE ENCHANTED FOREST.

We delayed at V.’s boma three days, waiting for C. to turn up.  He maintained a little force of Wakamba, as the Masai would not take service.  The Wakamba are a hunting tribe, using both the spear and the poisoned arrow to kill their game.  Their bows are short and powerful, and the arrows exceedingly well fashioned.  The poison is made from the wood of a certain fat tree, with fruit like gigantic bologna sausages.  It is cut fine, boiled, and the product evaporated away until only a black sticky substance remains.  Into this the point of the arrow is dipped; and the head is then protected until required by a narrow strip of buckskin wound around and around it.  I have never witnessed the effects of this poison; but V. told me he had seen an eland die in twenty-two minutes from so slight a wound in the shoulder that it ran barely a hundred yards before stopping.  The poison more or less loses its efficiency, however, after the sticky, tarlike substance has dried out.

I offered a half-rupee as a prize for an archery competition, for I was curious to get a view of their marksmanship.  The bull’s-eye was a piece of typewriter paper at thirty paces.[27] This they managed to puncture only once out of fifteen tries, though they never missed it very widely.  V. seemed quite put out at this poor showing, so I suppose they can ordinarily do better; but I imagine they are a good deal like our hunting Indians—­poor shots, but very skilful at stalking close to a beast.

Our missing porter, with the tent, was brought in next afternoon by Kongoni, who had gone in search of him.  The man was a big, strong Kavirondo.  He was sullen, and merely explained that he was “tired.”  This excuse for a five hours’ march after eight days’ rest!  I fined him eight rupees, which I gave Kongoni, and ordered him twenty-five lashes.  Six weeks later he did the same trick.  C. allotted him fifty lashes, and had him led thereafter by a short rope around the neck.  He was probably addicted to opium.  This was the only man to be formally kibokoed on the whole trip—­a good testimony at once to C.’s management, the discrimination we had used in picking them out, and the settled reputations we had by now acquired.

After C.’s return we prepared to penetrate straight back through the great rampart of mountains to the south and west.

We crossed the bush-grown plains, and entered a gently rising long canon flanked on either side by towering ranges that grew higher and higher the farther we proceeded.  In the very centre of the mountains, apparently, this canon ended in a small round valley.  There appeared to be no possible exit, save by the way we had come, or over the almost perpendicular ridges a thousand feet or more above.  Nevertheless, we discovered a narrow ravine that slanted up into the hills to the left.  Following it we found

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African Camp Fires from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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