One of the safari boys, a big Baganda, had twisted his foot a little, and it had swelled up considerably. In the morning he came to have it attended to. The obvious treatment was very hot water and rest; but it would never do to tell him so. The recommendation of so simple a remedy would lose me his faith. So I gave him a little dab of tick ointment wrapped in a leaf.
“This,” said I, “is most wonderful medicine; but it is also most dangerous. If you were to rub it on your foot or your hand or any part of you, that part would drop off. But if you wash the part in very hot water continuously for a half hour, and then put on the medicine, it is good, and will cure you very soon.” I am sure I do not know what they put in tick ointment; nor, for the purpose, did it greatly matter. That night, also, Herbert Spencer reached the climax of his absurdities. The chops he had cooked did not quite suffice for our hunger, so we instructed him to give us some of the leg. By this we meant steak, of course. Herbert Spencer was gone so long a time that finally we went to see what possibly could be the matter. We found him trying desperately to cook the whole leg in a frying-pan!
The second lioness.
Now our luck changed most abruptly. We had been riding since early morning over the wide plains. By and by we came to a wide, shallow, flood-water course carpeted with lava boulders and scant, scattered brush. Two of us took one side of it, and two the other. At this we were just within hailing distance. The boys wandered down the middle.
Game was here very abundant, and in this broken country proved quite approachable. I saw one Grant’s gazelle head, in especial, that greatly tempted me; but we were hunting lions, and other shooting was out of place. Also the prospects for lions had brightened, for we were continually seeing hyenas in packs of from three to six. They lay among the stones, but galloped away at our approach. The game paid not the slightest attention to these huge, skulking brutes. One passed within twenty feet of a hartebeeste; the latter hardly glanced at him. As the hyena is lazy as well as cowardly, and almost never does his killing, we inferred a good meat supply to gather so many of them in one place. From a tributary ravine we flushed nineteen!
Harold Hill was riding with me on the right bank. His quick eye caught a glimpse of something beyond our companions on the left side. A glance through the glasses showed me that it was a lion, just disappearing over the hill. At once we turned our horses to cross. It was a heavy job. We were naturally in a tremendous hurry; and the footing among those boulders and rounded rocks was so vile that a very slow trot was the best we could accomplish. And that was only by standing in our stirrups, and holding up our horses’ heads by main strength. We reached the sky-line in time to see a herd of game stampeding away from a depression a half-mile away. We fixed our eyes on that point, and a moment later saw the lion or lioness, as it turned out, leap a gully and come out the other side.