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immediate vicinity of the wagons. In the middle of the forenoon a troop
of lions came up openly and deliberately, and attacked the cattle,
killing several. One or two were pulled down on the very edge of the
camp. This was an almost unprecedented occurrence.

One very important incident of my visit was the gift to me of a pair of
boots by Mr. Hilton Barber. I had, for weeks previously, been using
sandals of buffalo hide, and my feet used to get terribly scarred by
thorns. I shall never forget the comfort of that pair of boots.

Our camp, some ten miles to the westward of Ship Mountain, was almost
on the edge of a donga, with sheer sides about ten feet deep. At the
bottom was a water-hole the only one within a radius of many miles. On
pitch-dark nights the lions would often come up this donga to drink. It
was eerie, indeed, to lie in the flimsy tent listening to the growls
and gulps of the great brutes within less than ten yards of where we
lay. I often tried to muster up courage to light a flare, creep to the
edge of the donga, and try a shot. By daylight the idea seemed feasible
enough, and not very dangerous. But I never got so far as to translate
this idea into action. There is, I think, nothing so calculated to
imbue one with a sense of personal insignificance as the knowledge, on
a dark night, that lions are in one's immediate vicinity.

Leaving the brazen toned roar, which is but seldom heard, out of the
question, the lion's ordinary voice seems to be emitted by some
being of incalculable immensity. It resembles a series of deep,
half-smothered detonations linked together by querulous gruntle. It is
difficult to realize that the sound originates from anything less huge
than a mammoth.

Three times only have I heard a lion roar wrathfully. The sound is
harsh and shattering, and is pitched in a higher key than that of the
growl. To me the growl was far more awe-inspiring than the roar; it
carried a suggestion of stealth combined with latent ferocity and
unimaginable force in reserve. The adjective "thunderous" does not fit
the roar at all; the latter suggests, more than anything else, the
tones of a mighty, cavernous brass trumpet. Most terrifying, however,
is the suspicion that a lion is silently padding round your camp just
before daybreak, debating with himself as to whether he will or will
not attack.

Yes, it was "when the phantom of false morning died" that I always
dreaded the lion. Indeed, in the early part of the night, when the
awesome voices were audible often in several directions at once, there
was little or no danger. But just before dawn the silence suggested
sinister possibilities. An examination of the ground after day had
broken would occasionally show that a lion had circled round the camp
over and over again, apparently unable to key up his courage to the
attacking pitch. But experience shows that the lion sometimes does
attack, and when this happens it is almost invariably in the dark
interval just before the east begins to pale.

The reason for this is easily discovered if one looks at the thing from
the lion's point of view. I am convinced that leaving out the cases in
which a lion is a confirmed man-eater, is wounded, or is cornered this
animal never attacks man unless (1) when it is too old or stiff to
catch and pull down game, or (2) when game of every description
simultaneously vacates a given area and stampedes to a great distance,
a thing which not infrequently happens.

Here, then, we have a desperately hungry brute; he may, possibly, have
gone several days without food. He winds a camp of human beings,
creatures he knows to be edible but which, I firmly believe, he hates
the idea of eating as much as the ordinary man would hate the idea of
eating a monkey. But the lion has been prowling all night, has perhaps
prowled for a succession of hungry nights, and he knows that day is at
hand. Moreover, he knows that at dawn the last chance of his having a
meal will have gone.

Accordingly a conflict is set up in his mind. His dislike of human
flesh plus that dread of the human species which he shares with the
whole brute creation is on the one side, his ravening hunger on the
other. Increase the hunger-pressure to a certain pitch, and the lion
will attack. I have not forgotten that "The Man-Eaters of Tsavo" used
to take their human toll early in the evening, but not alone had they
deliberately adopted man-eating, so to say, as a profession, but long
impunity had made them careless.

I knew a man who once lay sleeping in a patrol tent near Pretorius Kop
on the Delagoa road. The night was chill, so he folded a gunny bag over
his feet to keep them warm. In the morning, at the critical time,
something seized him by the foot and pulled him out of the tent. He
knew at once what had happened, a lion had caught hold of him. Close to
where he lay stood a billy half full of cold tea. He grasped this in
passing, and, as soon as he was clear of the tent, belabored the lion
over the face with it. The brute dropped him and made off. The man's
ankle was slightly bruised, but the skin was not broken. This proved
clearly that the lion was an old one with teeth worn down to mere

The first time I heard a lion roar was when two of them had pulled down
a sick ox about a hundred yards from my tent. Another lion approached,
and the two in possession roared apparently to warn off the intruder.
It was from the spoors, which I examined after day had broken, that I
inferred the details. To judge by the tracks the last-comer was a very
old animal.

The next occasion was when a donkey, which was tied to a tree within
four paces of where I was sitting over a very small fire, was carried
off. Two lions sprang on the poor animal simultaneously; they made no
sound until they had dragged their prey into the bush, a distance of
about twenty yards. Then they roared together, their raucous voices
mingling in a most peculiar and awe-inspiring duet. Very soon they
dragged the carcass to a spot about forty yards farther on, where they
ate it. They roared at intervals during the repast probably as a
warning to me not to interfere with them. The third instance happened
when a lioness was shot through the spine and thus disabled. Her voice
was the most terrible of all.

There are many instances recorded among the natives of lions becoming
habitual man-eaters. I have heard of whole communities being broken up
by the brutes. It was useless for the unfortunate people to move from
one spot to another, as the man-eaters invariably followed them. The
Amangwane horde wandered for eight years mostly over the plains of the
Orange Free State after having been driven out by Tshaka. It was
related to me by some of the few survivors of that awful pilgrimage
with whom I have foregathered, that for years man-eating lions followed
them, taking toll of the unhappy stragglers. After a time this was
taken quite as a matter of course.

I have often seen it stated that lions will not eat carrion. This is
quite erroneous; I am inclined to think that they occasionally prefer
meat that is tainted. I have known them gorge at the carcass of an ox
which had died of tsetse bite, and which had lain putrefying for
several days, when there were sick oxen in the immediate vicinity to be
had for the mere trouble of killing.

I was one of those who, in 1874, rescued the fever stricken Alexandre
party from their ghastly camp on the seaward slope of the Lebomba. Of
the original eight members, three were dead, and the survivors were so
weak and spent that they were unable to do more in the matter of
interment than scoop shallow trenches within a few yards of the
shelter, lay the bodies of their dead companions therein, and cover
them up with sand. Yet these were unearthed several times by lions,
which grew so fearless that the firing of a shot would not always scare
them away. Once the lions came up and regarded the unfortunate beings
in broad daylight, and then, as though they had deliberately made a
choice, proceeded to unearth a corpse.

Most of this took place during the absence of the one member of the
party who was still able to move about, but as he had to fetch water
every day in a demijohn from a spot eight miles distant, he was usually
away. However, the account of their experiences given by the sick men
was amply corroborated by awful but quite indescribable evidence.

The rencontre of Morisot and Campbell at Constantinople reminds me of a
somewhat similar experience. When I was camped near Ship Mountain, a
messenger arrived one night from the camp of the hunters recently
alluded to, asking whether we had, by any chance, a man among us
possessing any surgical knowledge. One of the party, a man named Tyrer,
had been gored by a buffalo and badly hurt. Unfortunately we could give
no assistance such as was needed.

The accident had been a peculiar one; not alone was the nature of the
injury unusual, but so were the circumstances under which it had been
inflicted. Tyrer, on his way to the camp late in the afternoon, had
wounded a very large buffalo. On the following morning he went to the
locality where the animal had disappeared, with the intention of taking
up the spoor. Here the jungle was very dense. Suddenly he came face to
face with the creature he was seeking. It charged, and was upon him
before he had time even to lift his rifle. Tyrer dropped the latter,
and, with the strength of desperation, grasped the horns of the monster
close to their tips.

Then began a terrible wrestling match. The buffalo was exceptionally
large, probably it was old and correspondingly stiff, for on no other
grounds can one account for Tyrer having been able to save his life.
Gross and unwieldy as it looks, the buffalo in its prime is as active
as a cat. But Tyrer's antagonist was apparently unable to bend its
neck, and get its head beneath its chest, so Tyrer was for a time able
to hold on. His native bearer had dropped the spare gun and climbed
into a tree.

At length Tyrer was shaken off and flung in a heap on the ground. In an
instant the buffalo picked him up on one of its horns, flung him into
the air and rushed away. The result to poor Tyrer was a terrible injury
one which I do not care to describe. Some weeks later the injured man
was carried past our camp on a litter. He was afterwards conveyed to
Natal, and thence to Europe, where a skilful operation set him right.

In 1889 I went to Johannesburg. While there I met an old friend,
Charles Currey, then head of the Department of Lands and Mines, in the
Cape Civil Service. We arranged to take a trip together to a place
called Struben's Mill, which lay behind some hills on the right-hand
side of the Main Reef to westward of the Golden City. Currey was bent
on sketching; I on collecting ferns. The afternoon grew hot, and we
longed for a cup of tea. Seeing a house high up on the hillside, with
smoke issuing from its chimney, we decided to call there and try our

We were hospitably received by the man in charge; he at once provided
the desired refreshment. He and I found that we knew a great deal of
the same country, so we began exchanging reminiscences. I told the
story about Tyrer, and added that I had often wondered as to what had
become of him. Our host, who had listened to my long relation with an
impassive face, then remarked

"Yes; you have got the yarn pretty right. My name is Tyrer."

I shall never forget Currey's look of astonishment.

Veld fires were occasionally things to be reckoned with in the Low
Country. Looking from the cliff-crest of the mountain range over the
immense plains, one was apt to think that these were covered with
dense, continuous forest. But a closer acquaintance corrected this
impression. There was little jungle, but there were many large trees
and these usually stood somewhat far apart. When among them it was, as
a rule, possible to get a clear view over a radius of about two hundred
yards. Now and then one reached an area in which the trees were very
high indeed, with clean boles running to a height of thirty to forty
feet. But the ground was covered with long, coarse grass, which was
tinted a soft green in summer, but in winter was yellow and dry. At all
seasons the haulms were so hard that the toes of one's boots wore out
with distressing quickness. It was in winter that the grass fire became
a real danger.

Great tracts perhaps hundreds of square miles in extent might be swept
by a conflagration. If, during the course of one of these, the wind
happened to be blowing towards you from the direction of the fire, the
danger was apt to become real and imminent. There was only one
alternative; you had either at once to find some spot comparatively
clear of grass and there wait until the flame-storm had swept past, or
else to set the grass alight where you were and then take refuge on the
burnt area.

Occasionally the trees caught alight and afforded striking spectacles
at night. I think that when this happened the tree was very old, and a
considerable portion of the trunk, from the ground upwards, was
decayed. I remember once noticing an extremely large tree which had
caught alight from a grass fire that had swept past. I returned along
the same track more than six weeks afterwards. The grass was springing
up luxuriantly, it had reached a height of several inches. But the tree
was still burning. I camped near it; the tall, massive trunk, glowing
on the windward side like a column of ignited charcoal and sending out
a great tress of flame to leeward, was a sight never to be forgotten.

The unfortunate balala "the people who are dead" those miserable
fugitives from savage justice, or, more often, remnants of clans
scattered in war, often perished in veld conflagrations. They wandered,
naked and weaponless, in the neutral areas lying between the
territories of the different tribes, preferring the mercy of the lion
and the hyena to that of man. The appliances of these people for
kindling a fire, and thus sending the conflagration on for the purpose
of creating a zone of safety, were often quite inadequate for dealing
with a sudden emergency.

I only know of one instance of a white man falling a victim to a veld
fire. I forget this individual's name, although I knew him well. He,
seeing the flames approaching, reached what he thought was a place of
safety, for the grass was very sparse, and he reckoned on being able to
beat out the fire as it approached him. But he had not taken into
account the contingency of the wind freshening and flinging forward
sheets of flame from the places where the grass was longer. This
actually happened. He got badly, but not fatally, scorched. A
search-party found him and he was assisted back to camp. Next day he
was placed in a rough litter and carried by four natives in the rear
of the little caravan. The day was sultry, and he suffered great pain,
so he persuaded the natives to set down the litter in a shady place,
meaning to get them to carry him on when the afternoon cooled.

The rest of the party proceeded on its course, unaware that the injured
man had been left behind. A grass fire was seen to sweep over the
country just crossed, but no particular notice was taken of it. In this
fire the unhappy loiterer had been burnt to death. His bearers, when
they saw the flames approaching, lost their heads, and, instead of
burning a patch to be used as a refuge, fled. There are, surely, few
cases on record of such bad luck as this.

The most enchanting scenery in the Low Country was to be found in the
vicinity of the rivers. These, considering that they are African, do
not lie very far apart. Yet sometimes there were long stretches of
waterless country to be traversed, and severe suffering from thirst was
a possibility occasionally realized. Besides, as we were practically
explorers in a country without human inhabitants or recognizable
landmarks, we might unwittingly pass the bend of a winding river and
thus recede from badly needed water. The general landscape was, as a
rule, so flat, and the trees were so high, that one could draw no
inference as to the whereabouts of a river from the configuration of
the country.

But what joy it was, after a long, hot, fatiguing tramp, during which
water had to be doled out in sips, to reach a mighty stream, perhaps
several hundred yards wide, where one might drink one's fill, wash the
grime from one's clothes and person, and loll in the shade of lordly

In writing of those old days I find it hard to realize that the
localities described are still in existence. I suppose the rivers are
yet running in the old channels, but as the rainfall has been steadily
decreasing they are not likely to be today the full, impetuous torrents
of liquid crystal that I remember. Moreover, the game, that rapidly
moving, kaleidoscopic pageant of varied animal life which made their
forested banks a wonder and a joy, has disappeared.

Of all the lovely scenes through which I have wandered, the landscapes
along the Olifant and the Letaba dwell in my memory as the loveliest.
In those one-time almost inviolate retreats were to be found everything
best calculated to delight the heart of the hunter or the lover of
nature. I am, of course, assuming winter as the season, for in summer
the worm "that pierces the liver and blackens the blood" made these
regions almost uninhabitable for Europeans. But from June to October,
inclusive, the country was healthy, the sky rarely held a cloud, the
sun shone mildly, and the night was seldom, if ever, cold.

Although the banks of the Low Country rivers were usually heavily
wooded, one found here and there wide grassy glades opening to the
waterside. The country being flat, the river-courses were usually wide,
with many large rocks standing high out of the water. Between these
the streams eddy and wind. Sometimes one would camp near a rapid, and
below this a deep pool was invariably to be found; in such pools the
sea-cows, snorting and champing, might sometimes be heard throughout
the night.

The process of crossing rivers was believed to be dangerous on account
of crocodiles, which were often to be seen in large numbers. These
reptiles, however, seldom did any damage except in the vicinity of a
native kraal, where they used occasionally to seize women and children
who came down to fill their pots and calabashes with water. I once saw
a dog taken by one; at least, I assumed that such was the case. The dog
was swimming across a deep channel between two shallows when it gave a
yelp and disappeared. There were many crocodiles in the river where
this happened.

The rivers were full of fish, but I never carried any tackle, so could
not catch any. But the natives of the lower reaches of the Olifant, the
Letaba, and the Limpopo often spear them. Snakes I seldom saw in the
Low Country. This may be accounted for by the circumstance that most of
my wanderings there took place in winter. During the course of my
various trips I did not see more than seven or eight snakes altogether.

Curiously enough, I saw three of these within the space of a few
minutes. Near the Lower Letaba I reached a circular depression the end
of a long, winding, dry water-course late one afternoon. The spot was
so beautiful that I decided to camp there, instead of going on several
miles farther, as I had intended. In the depression was a clear pool
surrounded by great rocks and tall trees. The ground in the vicinity
was carpeted with bright green grass.

After selecting a spot for my camp, I sent one of the bearers to
collect fuel, and the other to fetch water for the purpose of making
soup. The pool was less than fifty yards away. I heard the second
bearer give a yell; then he came running back, shouting that he had
seen a big snake. Picking up my rifle, I ran to the spot he indicated,
and saw about six feet of thick python disappearing among the creepers
which lay tangled over the rocks. I fired at the creature but missed

In returning to the camping-place I nearly trod on a large puff-adder;
this I killed with a stone. Almost immediately afterwards the boy who
had been sent for firewood came up with a vicious-looking black and
yellow serpent squirming, broken-backed, on his stick. This was more
than my nerves could stand, so after filling the billy and the canteens
with water, we retired to a spot a few hundred yards away, up the
hillside. Here the vegetation was less rank, so we felt safer.

Next morning, just before daybreak, we heard a lion killing close to
the water. After day had fully broken, I went down and found some
hyenas breakfasting on the remains of a waterbuck.

Sleep's worst enemy in the Low Country was the hyena. The voice of this
beast is horrible; it begins with a guttural growl and ends with a
high-pitched screech. Although cowardly to a degree, hyenas would often
come to within less than a hundred yards of the fire. Occasionally they
might be heard on several sides at once, uttering their unspeakable
yells. We always noticed that the smell of roast meat attracted them;
when meat was boiled, they were not nearly so troublesome. A shot would
always send them scampering to a distance, but cartridges were not
things to be wasted by the traveler in the Low Country.

On arriving at Lourenco Marques in 1874 I met a man named Good, whom I
had known slightly up country. I have been told but I do not guarantee
the statement that he was the original of Rider Haggard's "Allan
Quatermain." From Good I heard sad news; poor Pat Foote, one of my best
friends, had died in the fortress during the previous night. I went up
at once to see his remains; they lay on a wretched truckle-bed in a
dingy cell.

The funeral took place that afternoon. The grave was dug among some
cocoanut palms out beyond the fetid swamp which lay in those days a
crescent of foulness on three sides of the town. A wall separated the
swamp from the houses, and over this wall the sewage used to be cast.
Poles, bearing human heads, stuck out here and there. The swamp was
crossed by a causeway.

The proceedings were marked by a melancholy lack of dignity. Several of
those forming the cortege were drunk. Among them was a Portuguese
officer. The military guard at the causeway gate failed to present
arms, so the officer rushed at the men and belabored them with a stick.
However, poor Foote was too sound asleep to be disturbed by such
trifles. I wonder whether, besides myself, any who took part in those
squalid obsequies are alive. I believe the palms which shaded that
lonely grave have been long since cut down and that the town has
extended over the site.

In the early part of 1875, after I left "The Reef," I worked for a
short time near the head of the creek. One day a friend named McCallum
came and showed me a piece of gold he had picked up on a headland which
jutted over the Blyde River near Peach tree Creek. Next day was Sunday,
so we went together to the spot and took a prospect. The result was
most encouraging; not alone was there a good yield for the amount of
wash we had panned, but the quality of the gold suggested that it
belonged to a genuine lead. Next morning we struck our tents and moved
down to the scene of the discovery. As the area was not far enough from
the nearest proclaimed diggings to entitle us to an extended miner's
right, we just marked out a claim apiece and made no report of the
matter. We pitched our tents in a little grove of peach-trees below the
bluff, close to the river bank.

The thing was a "surface" proposition; that is to say, the wash was
only a few inches deep; it lay on a soft slate bottom. We fixed our
sluice box in a rapid of the river which was some two hundred yards
from the claim, and was reached by a footpath we scarped down the face
of the bluff. We hired a couple of boys to carry down the wash. I did
the pick and shovel work, which included the filling of the gunny-bags.
McCallum washed out each installment as it arrived. This was the
easiest contract I ever took on; it meant about one minute's work
alternating with nearly ten minutes' rest, all day long. The first
couple of days' work gave splendid results; from the gravel cleared off
a space about eight feet square we got, so far as I can remember, about
a pound weight of gold.

Naturally, we considered that at length our fortunes were made. Our
claims measured together forty five thousand square feet, the area we
had cleared was but sixty four. The latter number, when worked into the
former, went nearly seven hundred times. And the surface appeared to be

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