African Camp Fires eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about African Camp Fires.

We began to realize that we were indeed in a new country when our noon thermometer registered only 66 degrees, and when at sunrise the following morning it stood at 44 degrees.  To us, after eight months under the equator, this was bitter weather!


[27] Eight by ten and a half inches.



Next morning we marched on up the beautiful valley through shoulder-high grasses wet with dew.  At the end of two hours we came to the limit of Leyeye’s knowledge of the country.  It would now be necessary to find savage guides.

Accordingly, while we made camp, C., with Leyeye as interpreter, departed in search of a Masai village.  So tall and rank grew the grass, that we had to clear it out as one would clear brushwood in order to make room for our tents.

Several hours later C. returned.  He had found a very large village; but unfortunately the savages were engaged in a big n’goma which could not be interrupted by mere business.  However, the chief was coming to make a friendly call.  When the n’goma should be finished, he would be delighted to furnish us with anything we might desire.

Almost on the heels of this the chief arrived.  He was a fine old savage, over six feet tall, of well proportioned figure, and with a shrewd, intelligent face.  The n’goma had him to a limited extent, for he stumbled over tent ropes, smiled a bit uncertainly, and slumped down rather suddenly when he had meant to sit.  However, he stumbled, smiled, and slumped with unassailable dignity.

From beneath his goatskin robe he produced a long ornamented gourd, from which he offered us a drink of fermented milk.  He took our refusal good-naturedly.  The gourd must have held a gallon, but he got away with all of its contents in the course of the interview; also several pints of super-sweetened coffee which we doled out to him a little at a time, and which he seemed to appreciate extravagantly.

Through Leyeye we exchanged the compliments of the day, and, after the African custom, told each other how important we were.  Our visitor turned out to be none other than the brother of Lenani, the paramount chief of all the Masai.  I forget what I was, either the brother of King George or the nephew of Theodore Roosevelt—­the only two white men every native has heard of.  It may be that both of us were mistaken, but from his evident authority over a very wide district we were inclined to believe our visitor.

We told him we wanted guides through the hills to the southward.  He promised them in a most friendly fashion.

“I do not know the white man,” said he.  “I live always in these mountains.  But my brother Lenani told me ten years ago that some day the white man would come into my country.  My brother told me that when the white man came travelling in my country I must treat him well, for the white man is a good friend but a bad enemy.  I have remembered my brother Lenani’s words, though they were spoken a long time ago.  The white man has been very long in coming; but now he is here.  Therefore I have brought you milk to-day, and to-morrow I will send you sheep; and later I will send young men who know the hills to take you where you wish to go.”

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African Camp Fires from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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