For two hours we walked very hard in order to circle out of sight, down wind, and to gain the other side of the ridge back of the lions. We purposed slipping over the ridge and attacking from above. Even this was but a slight advantage. The job was a stiff one, for we might expect certainly the majority to charge.
Therefore, when we finally deployed in skirmish order and bore down on that patch of brush and boulders, we were braced for the shock of battle. We found nothing. Our men, however, signalled that the lions had not left cover. After a little search, however, we discovered a very shallow depression running slantwise up the hill and back of the cover. So slight it was that even the glasses had failed to show it from below. The lions had in all probability known about us from the start, and were all the time engaged in withdrawing after their leisurely fashion.
Of course we hunted for them; in fact, we spent two days at it; but we never found trace of them again. The country was too hard for tracking. They had left Lucania. Probably by the time we had completed our two hours of flanking movement they were five miles away. The presence of cubs would account for this. In ordinary circumstances we should have had a wonderful and exciting fight. But the sight of those fifteen great beasts was one I shall never forget.
After we had hunted Lucania thoroughly we parted company with the Hills, and returned to Juja Farm.
THE TSAVO RIVER.
Part way up the narrow-gauge railroad from the coast is a station called Voi. On his way to the interior the traveller stops there for an evening meal. It is served in a high, wide stone room by white-robed Swahilis under command of a very efficient and quiet East Indian. The voyager steps out into the darkness to look across the way upon the outlines of two great rounded hills against an amethyst sky. That is all he ever sees of Voi, for on the down trip he passes through it about two o’clock in the morning.
At that particularly trying hour F. and I descended, and attempted, by the light of lanterns, to sort out twenty safari boys strange to us, and miscellaneous camp stores. We did not entirely succeed. Three men were carried on down the line, and the fly to our tent was never seen again.
The train disappeared. Our boys, shivering, crept into corners. We took possession of the dak-bungalow maintained by the railroad for just such travellers as ourselves. It was simply a high stone room, with three iron beds, and a corner so cemented that one could pour pails of water over one’s self without wetting the whole place. The beds were supplied with mosquito canopies and strong wire springs. Over these we spread our own bedding, and thankfully resumed our slumbers.