We called the Masai and Wanderobo before us. They squatted in a row, their spears planted before them. We sat in canvas chairs. Leyeye standing, translated. The affair was naturally of the greatest deliberation. In the indirect African manner we began our shauri.
We asked one simple question at a time, dealing with one simple phase of the subject. This phase we treated from several different points of view, in order to be absolutely certain that it was understood. To these questions we received replies in this manner:—
“Yes, the Wanderobo told us,” they knew the forest; they knew how to go about in the forest; they understood how to find their way in the forest. They knew the elephant; they had seen the elephant many times in the forest; they knew where the elephant ranged in the forest—and so on through every piece of information we desired. It is the usual and only sure way of questioning natives.
Thus we learned that the elephant range extended south through the forests for about seven days’ travel; that at this time of year the beasts might be anywhere on that range. This confirmed our decision. Then said we to Leyeye:—
“Tell the Masai that the bwana m’kubwa is most pleased with them, and that he is pleased with the way they have worked for him, and that he is pleased with the presents they have brought him. Tell them that he has no goods here with him, but that he has sent men back to the boma of bwana Kingozi for blankets and wire and cloth, and when those men return he will make a good present to these Masai and to Naiokotuku, their chief.
“Tell the Wanderobo that the bwana m’kubwa is pleased with them, and that he thanks them for coming so far to tell him of the elephant, and that he believes they have told him the truth. Tell them the bwana m’kubwa will not fight the elephant now, because he has not the time, but must go to attend to his affairs. But later, when two years have gone, he will make another safari, and will come back to this country, and will again ask these men to lead him out where he can fight the elephant. And in the meantime he will give them rupees with which to pay their hut tax to the Government.”
After various compliments the sitting rose. Then we packed up for a few hours’ march. In a short time we passed the chief’s village. He came out to say good-bye. A copper bronze youth accompanied him, lithe as a leopard.
“My men have told me your words,” said he. “I live always in these mountains, and my young men will bring me word when you return. I am glad the white men have come to see me. I shall have the Wanderobo ready to take you to fight the elephant when you return.”
He then instructed the young man to accompany us for the purpose of bringing back the presents we had promised. We shook hands in farewell, and so parted from this friendly and powerful chief.