African Camp Fires eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about African Camp Fires.

And then there is the constant danger of wild beasts.  When a man has spent years in gathering suitable flocks, he cannot be blamed for wild anger when, as happened while I was in the country, lions kill sixty or seventy birds in a night.  The ostrich seems to tempt lions greatly.  The beasts will make their way through and over the most complicated defences.  Any ostrich farmer’s life is a constant warfare against them.  Thus the Hills had slain sixty-eight lions in and near their farm—­a tremendous record.  Still the beasts continued to come in.  My hosts showed me, with considerable pride, their arrangements finally evolved for night protection.

The ostriches were confined in a series of heavy corrals, segregating the birds of different ages.  Around the outside of this group of enclosures ran a wide ring corral in which were confined the numerous cattle; and as an outer wall to this were built the huts of the Wakamba village.  Thus to penetrate to the ostriches the enterprising lion would have to pass both the people, the cattle, and the strong thorn and log structures that contained them.

This subject brings me to another set of acquaintances we had already made—­the dogs.

These consisted of an Airedale named Ruby; two setters called Wayward and Girlie; a heavy black mongrel, Nero; ditto brindle, Ben; and a smaller black and white ditto, Ranger.  They were very nice friendly doggy dogs, but they did not look like lion hunters.  Nevertheless, Hill assured us that they were of great use in the sport, and promised us that on the following day we should see just how.

XVIII

The first lioness.

At an early hour we loaded our bedding, food, tents, and camp outfit on a two-wheeled wagon drawn by four of the humpbacked native oxen, and sent it away across the plains, with instructions to make camp on a certain kopje.  Clifford Hill and myself, accompanied by our gunbearers and syces, then rode leisurely down the length of a shallow brushy canon for a mile or so.  There we dismounted and sat down to await the arrival of the others.  These—­including Harold Hill, Captain D., five or six Wakamba spearmen, our own carriers, and the dogs—­came along more slowly, beating the bottoms on the off chance of game.

The sun was just warming, and the bees and insects were filling the air with their sleepy droning sounds.  The hillside opposite showed many little outcrops of rocks so like the hills of our own Western States that it was somewhat difficult to realize that we were in Africa.  For some reason the delay was long.  Then suddenly all four of us simultaneously saw the same thing.  A quarter-mile away and on the hillside opposite a magnificent lioness came loping easily along through the grass.  She looked very small at that distance, like a toy, and quite unhurried.  Indeed, every few moments she paused to look back in an annoyed fashion over her shoulder in the direction of the row behind her.

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African Camp Fires from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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