V.’s native name—the Master with the Red Beard.
THE TOPI CAMP.
At the next camp we stayed for nearly a week.
The country was charming. Mountains surrounded the long ellipse, near one edge of which we had pitched our tents. The ellipse was some ten miles long by four or five wide, and its surface rolled in easy billows to a narrow neck at the lower end. There we could just make out in the far distance a conical hill partly closing the neck. Atop the hill was a Masai manyatta, very tiny, with indistinct crawling red and brown blotches that meant cattle and sheep. Beyond the hill, and through the opening in the ellipse, we could see to another new country of hills and meadows and forest groves. In this clear air they were microscopically distinct. No blue of atmosphere nor shimmer of heat blurred their outlines. They were merely made small.
Our camp was made in the open above a tiny stream. We saw wonderful sunrises and sunsets, and always spread out before us was the sweep of our plains and the unbroken ramparts that hemmed us in. From these mountains meandered small stream-ways marked by narrow strips of trees and brush, but the most of the valley was of high green grass. Occasional ant hills ten feet tall rose conical from the earth; and the country was pleasingly broken and modelled, so that one continually surmounted knolls, low, round ridges, and the like. Of such conditions are surprises made.
The elevation here was some 7,000 feet, so that the nights were cold and the days not too warm. Our men did not fancy this change of weather. A good many of them came down with the fever always latent in their systems, and others suffered from bronchial colds.
At one time we had down sick eleven men out of our slender total. However, I believe, in spite of these surface symptoms, that the cold air did them good. It certainly improved our own appetites and staying power.
In the thirty or forty square miles of our valley were many herds of varied game. We here for the first time found Neuman’s hartebeeste. The type at Narossara, and even in Lengetto, was the common Coke’s hartebeeste, so that between these closely allied species there interposes at this point only the barriers of a climb and a forest. These animals and the zebra were the most plentiful of the game. The zebra were brilliantly white and black, with magnificent coats. Thompson’s and Roberts’ gazelles were here in considerable numbers, eland, Roosevelt’s wildebeeste, giraffe, the smaller grass antelopes, and a fair number of topi. In the hills we saw buffalo sign, several cheetah, and heard many lions.
It had been our first plan that C. should return immediately to V.’s boma after supplies, but in view of the abundance of game we decided to wait over a day. We much desired to get four topi, and this seemed a good chance to carry some of them out. Also we wished to decide for certain whether or not the hartebeeste here was really of the Neuman variety.