But now we were confronted with a new problem: that of getting our twenty-nine chosen ones together again. They had totally disappeared. In all directions we had emissaries beating up the laggards. As each man reappeared carrying his little bundle, we lined him up with his companions. Then when we turned our backs we lost him again; he had thought of another friend with whom to exchange farewells. At the long last, however, we got them all collected. The procession started, the naked boys proudly wheeling our bikes alongside. We saw them fairly clear of everything, then turned them over to Kongoni, while we returned to Nairobi to see after our effects.
PART IV. A LION HUNT ON KAPITI.
An ostrich farm at Machakos.
This has to do with a lion hunt on the Kapiti Plains. On the veranda at Nairobi I had some time previous met Clifford Hill, who had invited me to visit him at the ostrich farm he and his cousin were running in the mountains near Machakos. Some time later, a visit to Juja Farm gave me the opportunity. Juja is only a day’s ride from the Hills’. So an Africander, originally from the south, Captain D., and I sent across a few carriers with our personal effects, and ourselves rode over on horseback.
Juja is on the Athi Plains. Between the Athi and Kapiti Plains runs a range of low mountains around the end of which one can make his way as around a promontory. The Hills’ ostrich farm was on the highlands in the bay on the other side of the promontory.
It was towards the close of the rainy season, and the rivers were up. We had to swim our horses within a half-mile of Juja, and got pretty wet. Shortly after crossing the Athi, however, five miles on, we emerged on the dry, drained slopes from the hills. Here the grass was long, and the ticks plentiful. Our horses’ legs and chests were black with them; and when we dismounted for lunch we ourselves were almost immediately alive with the pests. In this very high grass the game was rather scarce, but after we had climbed by insensible grades to the shorter growth we began to see many hartebeeste, zebra, and gazelles, and a few of the wildebeeste, or brindled gnus. Travel over these great plains and through these leisurely low hills is a good deal like coastwise sailing—the same apparently unattainable landmarks which, nevertheless, are at last passed and left astern by the same sure but insensible progress. Thus we drew up on apparently continuous hills, found wide gaps between them, crossed them, and turned to the left along the other side of the promontory. About five o’clock we came to the Hills’.