African Camp Fires eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about African Camp Fires.
it exactly as a man would have done, smelt it critically, and threw it back at her in the most insulting fashion.  We saw also the rows of Hindu shops open to the street, with their gaudily dressed children of blackened eyelids, their stolid dirty proprietors, and their women marvellous in bright silks and massive bangles.  In the thatched native quarter were more of the fine Swahili women sitting cross-legged on the earth under low verandas, engaged in different handicrafts; and chickens; and many amusing naked children.  We made friends with many of them, communicating by laughter and by signs, while our guide stood unobtrusively in the middle distance waiting for us to come on.  Just at sunset he led us out to a great open space, with a tall palm in the centre of it and the gathering of a multitude of people.  A mollah was clambering into a high scaffold built of poles, whence shortly he began to intone a long-drawn-out “Allah!  Allah! il Allah!” The cocoanut palms cut the sunset, and the boabab trees—­the fat, lazy boababs—­looked more monstrous than ever.  We called our guide and conferred on him the munificent sum of sixteen and a half cents; with which, apparently much pleased, he departed.  Then slowly we wandered back to the hotel.


The Shimba hills.


A tropical jungle.

Many months later, and after adventures elsewhere described,[3] besides others not relevant for the moment, F., an Englishman, and I returned to Mombasa.  We came from some hundred odd miles in the interior where we had been exploring the sources and the course of the Tsavo River.  Now our purpose was to penetrate into the low, hot, wooded country along the coast known as the Shimba Hills in quest of a rare beast called the sable antelope.

These hills could be approached in one of two ways—­by crossing the harbour, and then marching two days afoot; or by voyaging up to the very end of one of the long arms of the sea that extend many miles inland.  The latter involved dhows, dependence on uncertain winds, favourable tides, and a heap of good luck.  It was less laborious but most uncertain.  At this stage of the plan the hotel manager came forward with the offer of a gasoline launch, which we gladly accepted.

We embarked about noon, storing our native carriers and effects aboard a dhow hired for the occasion.  This we purposed towing.  A very neatly uniformed Swahili bearing on his stomach a highly-polished brass label as big as a door plate—­“Harbour Police”—­threw duck fists over what he called overloading the boat.  He knew very little about boats, but threw very competent duck fists.  As we did know something about boats, we braved unknown consequences by disregarding him utterly.  No consequences ensued—­unless perhaps to his own health.  When everything was aboard, that dhow was pretty well down, but still well afloat.  Then we white men took our places in the launch.

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African Camp Fires from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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