Sixty Rupees a Day
The horse. It is a docile animal without guts. Yet it is beautiful sometimes, with its head up in the sun, its neck arched, and the short bow of its mane making it look like a warhorse in a Greek frieze. It will not buck when you mount, but what spirit it has seems to go out of it when it feels your weight. To halter it is easy. I would carry a short stick and push this into my zebra's jaws when I approached it, when the jaws opened to bite. It chewed on the stick and let me slip a halter over its head, and there was no more trouble from it.
one can ride a zebra like a horse, said Jordan, but
something more than its stripes stops it from being a
There was a time when I trapped animals for circuses and for zoos. It was perhaps more profitable than ivory hunting, for you could get between £200 and £400 for one zebra, and there was even more money in gorilla, lion and rhino. But it was a business, a business with offices, paper and letters, and the fun soon went out of it and there was nothing in it for me.
When I was in England one year I talked with Peter Chalmers Mitchell who was Secretary of the London Zoo at that time. We talked about a Zoo without cages, a Zoo where animals moved freely, and this was years before Whipsnade.
I had an animal farm in Africa, outside Nairobi, to which I brought the animals I trapped. I had giraffe, young rhino, eland, hartebeeste, water-buck, lesser kudu, duiker and Thompson impala. I had gazelle, leopard, hyena, jackal, cheetah, chimp, cat and mongoose. I had an ant bear which was the only one in captivity, a queer animal with a pig's snout and a lick-it-all-up tongue. My eland became so tame that I could brush and currycomb them. I had a cheetah that followed me affectionately, purring.
When I sent some animals off on the S.S. Minnetonka for New York the freight charges alone were £3,000, so you can see this was a very large business.
You cannot catch a full-grown rhino. If you did it would kill itself in frenzied efforts to escape, or it would eat nothing and die to spite you. It is the same with gorilla, for these two animals have hearts that are easily broken.
I caught giraffe on the Loita plains by lassoing them, and the giraffe is an animal that can be beautiful only when it is stationary. The more it runs from you the more exasperated you become with its ridiculous shape. I caught hundreds of zebra in great drives. Sometimes I had as many as three thousand Lumbwa tribesmen out on the plain rounding up zebra. We would build a kraal, a semicircular stockade with two wings leading to it, making a narrowing corridor. The wings were made of stakes planted twenty yards apart, and the gaps between them filled with thorn. Then we left the kraal alone for a week until the man-scent was gone.
When the day of the drive came my Lumbwa beat everything they found toward the stockade. Another fifty boys hid behind the wings. On foot or on Somali ponies the beaters stretched across the plain in a half-moon five miles from horn to horn, driving in the animals, waving sticks with flags on them. It was a wonderful thing to watch them coming through the dust. Every animal you can think of, driven along the corridor to the stockade.
Then you cut out what you wanted and let the others
It was exciting, and then I lost the taste for being a
business man. I was happiest alone in the bush.
* * *
To watch the Lumbwa spearing rhino is to watch an act that moves from dignity to comedy. The dignity begins
Sixty Rupees a Day 161
with the Lumbwa themselves, for they are a handsome people when the sun shines on their skins, on their black, white and brown shields, on their swords and spears, on their proud faces and long necks. The dignity, too, begins with the rhino, coming out of pre-history, coming out of his tunnel of grass to die.
He is beaten out of the grass toward two lines of elmorani who lean on their spears waiting for him, two lines of ten men each, and when the noise of the beaters gets closer, and the rhino is heard too, shunting in the grass, then the lines of Lumbwa are no longer relaxed, each man is tense and you know that he feels there is no man left in the world to face this rhino but himself.
Out comes the rhino, pig-eyes red, feet pounding, head down and horn up, swinging a little to judge the thrust.
There are too many men for him, and before he can pick his target the first spear goes in. I have seen an elmoran step so close that the charging rhino brushes his loin cloth, and seen him drive in a spear far up the haft. Then the others come in, dancing, driving their spears, until the rhino halts with head swinging and horn driving but striking nothing. If he is lucky he may catch a warrior and put that long horn through the body, but he dies just the same, he dies and goes over with twenty spears in him like a pin-cushion, and the
dignity is all gone and he is only comic in death.
* * *
The Maraquet country was never good country to walk through. Congo fibre grew to four or five feet, which is higher than the ridge of a rhino's spine, and the points of the fibre are like needles. I went into Congo fibre once with my boy, looking for guinea-fowl. I had a bottle of hock in my chop-box and I wanted the sweet and tender flesh of the guinea for dinner. The fibre was full of them. They rose up, they drummed on the earth with their wings. We raised a cloud of them and I got three with two barrels. But the shots roused a sleeping rhino and she blew through her nose and charged. She came out of the grass, her skin scarlet from the dried mud on it.
We forgot about the guinea and the fibre and went for a mimosa tree. The thorns stuck into my arms and neck, and I was slower than my boy who went through the thorns as if they were cotton wool and got to the top of the tree, jeering at the rhino. He stopped jeering when she hit the tree. Her horn went into it for six inches, and we felt her trying to lift it from the earth. She slashed and tore, and trotted away. She turned, shuffled, braced herself, and charged again.
She did this three or four times, and grew more angry with each charge. Then she trotted round and round the tree with her horn up like a halberd. Then she became bored and went back about ten yards to finish her sleep.
It was nine in the morning. I knew rhino. She could sleep there for six hours.
We tried shouting, but when we shouted the rhino lifted her head and snorted disagreeably. I said to the boy, go down and get the gun. He opened his eyes and shook his head. I said, five rupees, and he thought about this and went down the tree like a leopard. The rhino snored. The boy came back with the gun and evidently thought it was five rupees well earned. He handed it to me and went on up the tree until he was at the top again.
I had about a dozen Number Four cartridges in my bush-jacket, and these were about as good against rhino as sprinkling pepper on her. But I thought that the report of the gun might at least scare her away, so I gave her one cartridge.
She came to her feet with a comic little scramble, squealing. I gave her a second cartridge, but instead of trotting away she remembered us and the tree and she charged again. She hacked at the trunk as high as she could reach, and I leant down, choking with the dust, and put two more cartridges into her face, hoping it would blind her.
Sixty Rupees a Day
It only made her more angry. The tree shuddered.
I remembered a trick I had once used with these Number Four cartridges. If you cut through them at the second wad, almost through them that is, the forepart is thus transformed into a solid lump which, at short range, can penetrate a two-inch plank.
I told the boy to come down. I swore to him to come down, and he came down at last with the tree swaying as the squealing rhino hurled herself at it. I got the boy to lash me to the trunk so that my hands would be free. I made four cartridges and put two in the gun.
I leant down through the thorns, and when she came up again, and stood there slashing and squealing I thought of where to hit her. With a hard-nose there are three places where you can be sure of killing a rhino, and only three: four inches back of the eye into the brain-pan, into the spine between neck and shoulder, into the heart by the centre of the body in line with the knee of the foreleg. I had no hard-nose, and I had no real choice of these shots. Her head was moving and this gave me no sure chance of the eye-shot. She was below me and I could not sight for the heart-shot. But the aim between neck and shoulder was a good one.
I fired both barrels. She was thrown back with a terrible squeal, and the blood came out and washed the red mud from her neck. She thudded her head on the ground as if she were trying to shake something from the horn. She backed, dragged her head. I gave her the remaining two shots, but the range was now too far and I don't think they did her any more harm.
Yet she had had enough and she staggered into the grass. We waited for half an hour, and then we climbed down and picked up the guineas.
Crocodile was the only animal in Africa that made me want to kill, and this was an impulse peculiarly profitless. There is nothing about the animal that I admire, where there is always something in other animals. Even killing crocodile is a sickening business and goes on for too long before you are satiated.
They are foul and tongueless, with stones in their stomachs to digest their food. They drag their prey down and keep it on mud shelves below the water-line until it is decomposed enough for their tastes. There is nothing about them to admire except their skin, and the touch of that can put bad memories in my mind. It is hard to know what frightens you about them. It is not only their jaws, it is perhaps the knowledge that death from them comes down under water in a green, choking darkness.
I had come over Victoria from British East, and I was in a bad way from malaria. I had some Masai boys with me at that time, a Praetorian Guard of aristocrats, and they looked after me as if I were a baby. When I walked, as I walked to walk the fever out of me in a mood of black obstinacy, I held myself erect with two lion-spears. But the Masai smiled gently and took me to a Wa-Kia village where I lay in a hut in a storm and thought I would die. The Wa-Kia brought me eggs, and milk, and roast fowl, and I slowly recovered.
As I improved I sat on the shore and watched the crocodile, ugly snouts going through the water at six knots, and one morning when I was sitting on the bank improving my revolver-shooting by firing at the yellow eyes, a canoe came in, a Kavirondo dug-out with broad paddles flashing. The Kavirondo had seen this casual shooting, and they came ashore to say that Ol Dutchie, the Germans, were paying three rupees a head for all crocodile killed. This, the Kavirondo made plain, was not gratuitous information, and I rewarded them. They were worried too, the crocodile were whittling down the child population of their village.
I worked it out. I should average sixty rupees a day. I thanked the Kavirondo and they paddled away.
I went over to Shirati, and I went too soon, for the fever came on again. In the bar someone said that there were two Frenchmen in the country who had started a hog ranch and a bacon factory from the profits of their crocodile shooting. I decided to ask the advice of these experts, so I took forty grains of quinine to steady me and went over. They had a large ranch and a good cellar. I admired the one and enjoyed the hospitality of the second. They said they had been miners in Madagascar but had come up to East Africa on the scent of rumours of a big gold find, the same rumours that had killed Jack Wrigglesworth. They had taken to shooting crocodile to pay their debts, and made themselves a profit of five hundred pounds.
They said I could have a canoe in the morning, and we drank hell to the crocodile.
For half a rupee a day each, I hired four Wa-Kia, German Kavirondo. Here were black men, not the chocolate of my Masai and Lumbwa. They were all above six feet and muscled like athletes, with fat, amiable faces and slyly humorous eyes. They were naked but for the brass and iron rings on their legs and arms, and tufts of cow-hair like comic tails on their rumps. But they were superb boatmen.
When I said good-bye the Frenchman said, we'll come along too, the crocodile got one of our boys this morning and we want to raise 200 rupees for his widow.
They went on ahead in a ten-man canoe, and I heard them banging away up the lake. We went slowly along the bank, through patches of reeds, lotus-pads and clear shallows where the fish darted in black fragments on the yellow bed. Tiny, lemon-coloured birds spun from the lotus-pads, and we startled lavender-tinted crane. It was almost too idyllic for shooting crocodile. Then the insects came out of the reeds in columns, like smoke from a wind-bent fire, and we paddled offshore.
There was a mud island athwart the canoe's course, a flat with the water swirling about it, and the dirty reeds like yellow stakes, and broken where the crocodile had made their slides. The crocodile lay on this flat like boats drawn up, their snouts down toward the water, some of them with jaws open in an immobilized yawn, and the parasite birds picking away at their teeth. There were dirty green ridges of hard hide running along the top of their flattened bellies, and their open mouths were rose-pink and dirty white. You could taste the stench of them.
I gave the largest a shot down the throat. He was perhaps sixteen feet in length, and death took him abruptly in a jerk that passed from the snap of his closing jaws to the last mighty swat of his tail. But with my shot the others went down quickly to the water, down through the glue of mud, quickly, like the launching of an armada of canoes, and they sank into the water and were gone. My Kavirondo applauded the shot politely, but I sensed they felt I had done something wrong. With all the crocodile gone from the flat this was no way to earn sixty rupees a day. You shot one crocodile, the others disappeared. There was no point in shooting them in water, you had to kill them on land where you could cut off their heads.
I learnt what I thought was my first lesson in crocodile-hunting. One island, one crocodile, and I hoped the islands held out. I got ten that morning, and in the afternoon I went ashore and walked up to see the Frenchmen. They had nearly thirty. The heads were in a bloody pile by the water. I said, what's wrong with my shooting ?
I learnt my second lesson. You take a large island, an island where the crocodile crawl up on the mud and push each other inland, and lie there blinking their yellow eyes, with their claw feet splayed, enjoying each other's halitosis. You shoot those closest to the water, and shoot others as they come waddling down. That way you can shoot many more than one on each island.
I shot eighteen before ten o'clock the next morning, and the heads filled the middle of the canoe and the blood slopped about our feet. We pulled inshore and I sent my boy and a canoeman across to the German post for the money.
I had heard the Frenchmen shooting across the lake in the haze, and I waited for them to join me at lunch. But while I waited a hurricane came out of a black bar of cloud and whipped up the lake into cream, and the Frenchmen did not come. In the afternoon their boy came in and said that the Frenchmen had been drowned in the hurricane. I ran over to the Wa-Kia village where there was a half-drowned paddler from the Frenchmen's crew. His eyes were white with fright.
He said that the Bwanas had killed thirty crocodile before the hurricane hit, and when this happened they could not make the shore, so they shouted to the boys to return to the island they had just left. The wind was taking the water over and into the canoe and filling it. They flung out the heads and began to bale, but it is not easy to bale a dug-out that is filling with water in a hurricane. It capsized. One of the Frenchmen and some of the paddlers went down; the rest clung to the canoe.
I said, what about the other Bwana ?
The boy said, gone.
He said the crocodile came up, hundreds of them, and one by one they plucked the men off that tossing dugout. The boy heard them go, and as they went they screamed lMamba na kamata mimi! Crocodile take me!'
Then there was only the boy and the Frenchmen left and they swam for the island. The boy reached it and lay on his face in the mud until he heard the Frenchman shouting. He looked up and saw the Bwana standing in the shallows, standing on one leg for the other had gone bloodily, and then he fell and the crocodile took him in a creamy pink swirl of water.
We sent out search parties. We found the canoe floating upside down, but we found no bodies. Why should we? They were lying on shelves below the water where the crocodile had frugally placed them.
I had liked the Frenchmen. They were jolly and they had made me welcome, and I had to leave the place where they had died. Africa is large enough to leave the places where bad things happen. I went down to Na Banji on a bight of the lake about twenty miles away where the Kavirondo said there were hundreds of crocodile, and I felt that there was now a personal issue between the crocodile and me.
I went down by Arab dhow, before a fair wind that sang in its terracotta sail. The natives came out of the village with drums beating and horns blowing to greet the Bwana Mkuba who had come to slay the crocodile. They feasted me on sheep and fowl and milk, and brought calabashes of eggs, and yellow bananas lying on green leaves.
There were screams in the night, and the villagers ran out with torches and clustered at the water's edge. There was a woman howling, tearing her breasts with her nails. The mud was gouged in a gully where her child* had been taken by a crocodile.
The water was full of crocodile that morning, and before the sun set I had killed thirty-eight of them, and their heads, with slack jaws and lidded eyes, lay in a pile on the mud with the blood running back to the water. I killed ninety-five in three days, and on the fourth day there was no sign of them. For four more days there was still no sign of crocodile, and the the natives held a great feast, and went down to bathe the next morning.
So they bathed until the crocodile came back at the week's end and took another child, and a cow. A native pulled at my tent flap soon after moonrise and asked me to come. I saw this Kiplingesque tug-of-war at the water's edge. The cow had gone down to drink and a crocodile had seized its nose. The cow had dragged the crocodile half out of the water and there they both stayed, the cow with legs braced, the crocodile with jaws clamped, tail threshing.
I shot the crocodile and the cow survived, though it did not grow a trunk.
And I shot more crocodile in the following days until the lust went out of me. My cartridges had gone and I was coming inshore with my last canoe-load of heads, when a hippo and her calf came pinkly out of the water ahead and snorted at us. Evidently teaching her calf that this was how to behave when boats were around she blew water and made for us. The boys became hysterical, and went into an unhappy discord of paddling that filled the dug-out with water. The bows went down and I shouted to them to swim.
I had been in the water a minute when I saw the crocodile sliding happily off an island two hundred yards away. The strength went out of me and I began to sink. I went down, and I came up, and when I came up I shouted Oh, God save me! This I cried several times, until I began to swim. I reached the bank, but I had lost
my taste for crocodile shooting.
* * *
You can live twenty-five years in Africa and never be bitten by a snake, or you can die from snake-poison within a week of landing at Kilindi. Or you can be bitten and still live twenty-five years in Africa, and this happened to me. Snakes are some of the most beautiful and terrible things in Africa, coils of yellow and emerald and black and scarlet. On their flat heads are indifference and malevolence in one paradox. If anything disgusted me about pythons it was the slow enormity of them. They hung, draped idly on branches with heads poised, or lay bloated in the grass for their long sleep.
I blew one off the roof of my hut once, with the first barrel of my Express. It slithered down and coiled itself and uncoiled itself, with jaws open in milky saliva, until I shot it again. The coils wreathed like springs even while my boys skinned it. I have seen a python on her off-white, leathery, oblong eggs, her head coming straight out of a pile of motor-tyres, and her eyes with a furious glaze on them.
The mamba that bit me was a small thing, two feet long and shining, like a heavy hide whip, but green, a beautiful green like the rich undergrowth of the Ituri forest. It had a flat head and a pretty scarlet tongue.
I had been trading on the borders of Uganda, trading and recruiting Kavirondo workers for a blasting contract I had obtained from the Uganda Railway. I had a thousand Kavirondo enlisted, and a caravan of hides and skins, and I was feeling very good, which is always the moment when you should take care.
I had dined one evening with the French Fathers and came back to my hut full of their good wine and the good talk, too excited with the success of things to sleep. I lay under my netting smoking until midnight, and then I climbed out to write some letters. I climbed out in my bare feet, which I should not have done. I wrote for an hour or more, and then I called 'Boy, lete chi!'
He brought the tea and put it on the table, and he looked down at the floor and said 'JVjoka, Bwana!'
If he had said it softly I would not have moved, but he was frightened and he shouted it. 'Snake, Master!' and I moved my feet instinctively.
I moved and I looked down and I saw the green whipsnap of the mamba. It bit me, a small bite on the small toe, and having done this it slid casually toward the door. I killed it with a club.
My boy stood in the middle of the room staring at me. I thought, the damned fool thinks I am going to die, he is standing there waiting for me to die. And I thought, I am going to die, that was a mamba.
I knew that the nearest doctor was forty-five miles away, and that by the time he could be called and come to me I would need one of the French Fathers to say a nunc dimittis over my thorn grave. So I took my skinning-knife and I put my foot across my knee, and there were the fang marks in the toe, faintly pink, and no pain yet except a nausea in my stomach that was largely fear.
I cut out the fang-marks. I cut down to the bone and I shouted to the boy to bring me a stick from the fire.
He brought it, blowing on it. He was blowing on it because he knew why I wanted it, and I took it from him and pressed it on the cut. I swore and found great relief in swearing.
I stood up and padded about the room. I said, keep calm, Jordan, and I poured myself a brandy. Then I lay on my bed under the netting and stared at the ceiling, and told myself, this will be no good, you've just done what you've read, what others have told you, but it is no good, it never was any good. They all died in the end, all those knife-cutters and cauterizers. I tried to think of the men who, I knew, had survived a mamba bite, but I could not remember their names or their faces.
I lay on the bed until dawn. I remember that I saw dawn through the door. For a second, a very long second to a man who believed he was dying, it lay like a bolt of crimson cloth at the foot of a grey sky, and then the light went on all over the world, and the sunlight came yellow and green and brown, and I rolled over to be sick. My foot and leg were swollen to the knee, puffed until the skin was waxen tight, and I burnt. I was sick again, and then again, and I said, you'll die all right, Jordan, if you lie here.
So I stood up and walked on that damned leg. I walked on it as if I hated it, which I did. I told the boys I was going to walk to the doctor, and they fell in behind me as if this were some strange death ritual that all white men followed. I was a brave man. I walked no more than two yards, and then I got the boys to sling a hammock on a pole and carry me. We had travelled ten of the forty-five miles when we met Henderson, the doctor, coming toward us. That is the luck I had in Africa. He was on his way to Mumia to treat an Army officer for blackwater.
He looked at my foot and seemed happy about it, happy the way doctors are when they don't want you to know what they are thinking. He said that the knifing and the cauterizing had been wise, and he gave me something, or I believe he did, I was past knowing. But I heard him telling the boys to hurry on to Port Florence.
I think the officer died of the blackwater before Henderson reached him.
It was four days before my boys carried me in to Port Florence, and with every dawn there were less carriers than there had been at dusk. They had worked out the logic of the journey, and their conclusion was irrefutable. The Bwana would be dead before Port Florence was reached, why carry him? The last one deserted in a village outside the Port, and the headman sat by my hammock for a long'time before he sent in word that I was there and that I was dying.
But I was not dying, the poison had gone, and I was suffering from fever, from a cut and burnt toe only. This was nothing, it would have healed in a week in England, but nothing heals quickly in Africa where sickness breeds on open flesh, and for two months that wound opened and closed until it finally allowed me to live and walk again.
So I went back to blasting rock. It cost me 1,500 rupees to register my Kavirondo, and another 1,500 rupees to equip them with water-bottles and blankets. The first rockfall I blasted nearly took a freight train from the rails below, and I had an interesting discussion on blasting and railways with the engine-driver, who had conclusive evidence to support his point of view. His engine was standing on its nose.
Then the rock was like iron, and the Kavirondo became bored. They were bored, and they ran away when the Nandi war-parties came pounding through the forest. The Nandi raided my camp at night, and I had to crawl on my belly and empty my shot-gun into the bush at them before they let us alone.
That was not all. One of my workmen sat brooding on his troubles for a whole day, and at nightfall he decided that the best way out of them was to kill me. He stood up and generously informed me that this he would do. He was six feet six inches, and I suggested that the headman tie him up. So he was tied up, but he broke the thongs and came leaping across the fire at me. I hit him with a crow-bar.
Nothing went right after that mamba bite. I asked myself what I was doing blasting rock for a railway. Why wasn't I hunting? So I sold the contract and was glad to be rid of it.
* * *
The turn of the century brought railways and steamships and telegraphy to East Africa. It brought sportsmen, like Teddy Roosevelt who cut another notch on the stock of his 9 mm. Mauser every time he shot something. Those years filled the gun-rooms of Britain and America with the heads and horns of eland, gazelle, kudu, impala and rhino. They brought the hunt for the rare, and nothing was more rare than the bongo, a beautiful animal more deserving of a less comical name.
I had come in from the Ravine and I heard that Rothschild, who collected his trophies from a distance, wanted a bongo skin. His agents at Mombasa were ready to pay a high price. The first thing, however, was for me to discover what the animal was. Someone gave me its Latin name: Boccerus eurycerus, which was intriguing but not informative. Someone else said it was the largest of the West African bushbucks.
Then the Wanderobo said they knew this animal. To them it was sometimes bongo, a corruption of Swahili for bushbuck, but more often signoita.
And Bwana Jordan went hunting bongo.
No one had shot one before, no one had a whole skin. A D.C. had bought a piece of hide from the Wanderobo and sent it to the British Museum, but there was faint fame waiting for the first white hunter to bring down a bongo.
It is as unlike a bushbuck as you could imagine. A first-class bushbuck has horns of perhaps fifteen inches. Signoita horn will go to thirty-five in the male and twenty-five in the female, and they are magnificent horns, curved and as white as ivory at the tip. The skin is chestnut, a chestnut fresh out of its green envelope, and with the same sheen on it. Chest, muzzle, and legs are white-marked, and below the douce, gentle eyes of the beast are more pretty white markings. It is a beautiful thing, with grace, delicacy and courage, and it is never seen outside the deep forest, never seen afoot except at night or at dawn or at dusk.
Rothschild promised to be very generous to the hunter who brought in the skin of such an animal.
I went up to the Mau Forest and found some Wand-erobo, and we talked about old hunts. We talked about elephants, and famine, and finally we talked about the bongo. The chief said his son, Wiana, would take me to the animal, but it would cost me a milch-cow.
Wiana armed himself with a five-foot bow, a broad-leaf pouch for honey, a quiver of arrows, a burnished semi and a happy smile. We took four dogs with us, loping, rag-coated, yellow animals with up-pointed ears. Nothing can beat these dogs on a single scent, and nothing can keep up with them when they raise it. The Wanderobo hang bells from their necks and follow this pleasant music to the kill. The bell never alarms game. Forest animals are nervous, but they are also curious, and they will wait to discover the origin of an unfamiliar sound before running from it.
We trekked hard through the forest. We found clean, neat tracks of the bongo, but never saw him. At dusk on the third day we shot a hartebeeste and Wiana skinned it and cut out the liver. He roasted it on a stick and we ate it together. We put the rest of the carcass in a tree, and we built a huge fire and lay with our feet to it, on soft leaves and fern, and in that night with the forest around us, and the fire climbing high and yellow, I was as close to Wiana as I have ever been to a man, although we said little to each other.
At six in the morning we followed the spoor, and Wiana went out with the dogs on a beat. I heard the yelp of them and the tinkle of bells, and before I was ready for him the bongo came out of the trees like a fine chestnut horse on slender legs. It was too easy. I sighted along the Mannlicher and brought him down with one shot in the head.
He was nine feet six inches from nose-tip to tail. His horns were twenty-nine and one-half inches. There was no flaw in his hide, the white markings were like lambs-wool, and the chestnut redder than any red you could find on the best impala.
I counted the nine white stripes over his back and sides and quarters, and I strutted. There was no one to strut before but I strutted. I was the first white hunter to kill and bring in the skin of this animal and I had the right to strut.
Wiana grinned, and beat the dogs away, and got on with his skinning. I grinned and could not smoke my pipe for the grinning. I had brought this bongo down with one good shot, a good clean shot, the best I had ever fired.
We put the head in a tree, and Wiana rolled up the skin. It weighed fifty pounds.
I told Wiana to bring head and skin into the post the next day, and I went on to brag. A bodyguard of Wanderobo brought in this trophy. The Earl of Warwick was at the post with a safari, and there was much posing for photographs, with Bwana Jordan standing by the head and skin of his bongo. And would I please sell it to the Earl of Warwick? Not I. I was getting a cable off to Rothschild in Paris.
One thing had I forgotten. The bongo, that chestnut beauty, was not mentioned on any game licence, and no man had the right to shoot him, which was something the bongo did not know. When I got to the Eldama Ravine Boma my skin and head were officially seized on the orders of the Provincial Commissioner, and I went away in disgust and anger.
Weeks later I heard that a skin and a head had been sold for £50 at public auction, and later resold for £250. I had heard of no one else shooting a bongo, but there they were, auctioning a skin.