Trouble Was, Men
here was a big fellow called Hoonan, said Jordan.
He had been in the Irish Fusiliers, and perhaps I
That was the trouble with Africa then, men. Men like Hoonan.
It was after the Government of British East had finally done something about the Kisi, conducting a desultory punitive campaign that was a dirty business of heat and fever and burning huts. I was in charge of some Masai and Lumbwa levies, and I was glad when the campaign was over. It only lasted a month, and the Masai and Lumbwa went back to their villages with the cattle they had earned, and I had a longing to go over into German East and find ivory.
I took a man called Saunders with me. He was young and he was a drunkard, but he had that wistful charm you find in some wastrels, and I liked him. He drank and he stole. He stole once too often in Nairobi and the citizens decided to reform him with tar and feathers, but I talked them out of it and took Saunders across the lake with me.
We went on the Winifred, a pleasant, white-waisted steamer which puffed around the lake like a visiting dowager, paying calls on Kampala and Entebbe and Shirati and Muanza.
We got off at Muanza, and it was beginning to look like a cross between an Arab bazaar and a Bavarian village, with shops and beer-gardens, a market with carmine mountains of peppers and yellow ranges of rice. The Customs officers welcomed us by taking away our rifles and there was a great deal of heel-clicking and back-straightening, and orders to come down and have the guns registered in the morning.
I went up into the town to find Monsuri. He was an amiable Dervish Arab who had been an officer in one of the German native regiments when he was younger, and I had met him and drunk with him, and traded ivory and rhino horn to him years before. Now he was fat and complacent, and the resident of a fine brick house that contained a latticed zenana for his hundred wives. He had thirty trading stores up-country under Greek managers, and in his bomas there must have been thirty thousand cattle which he had bought from the tribes at three rupees a head.
Three rupees was the poll tax which the Germans put on native cattle. To pay it the tribes sold the cattle, which may not be logical economics, but it at least kept them from a three-months' sentence of hard labour on the roads, this being the Germans' method of tax-enforcement. Looked at in this way you might say that Monsuri was a philanthopist.
I brought him a musical box, and although I realized that it was a poor gift in face of his new wealth, it delighted him. He played it all the time I was there, cuddling it on his lap below his fat belly. I had also brought him some gold, for he collected English sovereigns as a hobby, but I was not able to give them to him. They were not in my pocket when I went for them. My boy worked his toe into the ground and said that he had seen Bwana Saunders feeling in the pocket.
I found Saunders drinking beer in the town, and Hoonan was with him. Hoonan had a bad reputation. In British East it was said that the Germans paid Hoonan to give them information on affairs in British territory, and this was probably true. He was a big, red-haired man with the body of an ox, and an oddly-articulated way of moving his limbs that showed the punishment he gave his body with drink. I ignored him and asked Saunders for the sovereigns.
Hoonan got out of his chair and it went back on the floor behind him. What did I mean by calling his friend a thief? Was I after a fight? He thought the questions would be better understood if he took me by the throat. I hit him very hard at the side of the neck and he sat down among four German officers who were drinking lager in tall glasses. Hoonan lay there with the beer running on him.
I walked out of the bar, and Hoonan got up from the floor and came after me. He was a big man but he was drunk, and he came at me too quickly, so that I bent down and helped him over my shoulder with a leg throw. He lay there breathing heavily. The Germans came out too, and one of them, who was very pink and well-scrubbed, and had short golden hair on the back of his neck, suggested that I fought a duel with him.
I went back and told Monsuri, and he smiled and he said he would settle this small matter about the duel. He had friends. I hoped he had good friends for my reputation was low enough in German East. The Germans had a good colony there with docile natives, but I did not like the way they had done it, and if they did not suspect me of ivory-poaching they would still have resented my opinion of their methods. I knew one of their Commissioners up-country who formed a native band, a big brass band with tubas and euphoniums, and uniforms that would have done credit to Potsdam. Every evening the band paraded before the Commissioner's verandah, and waited for him to come out with a case of beer and a Luger. One shot from the Luger was the signal for the band to play. It played sentimental German lieder, and student songs, and military marches, and its orders were to go on playing until the Commissioner fired another shot. But he never fired the shot, he got drunk, and the band played until one by one the musicians fell exhausted. Every evening. Ol Dutchie's hand was heavy on the African.
That was why I worried about the well-scrubbed young officer who wanted to duel with me. He meant it.
Yet Monsuri settled it. Most of the Germans owed him money, and even a German will not offend his creditors. Monsuri told me that the young officer had been told to forget the matter.
Hoonan woke me up in the morning. He came in with a revolver which he waved at me, and he dwelt a little too long on the pleasure it was going to give him to shoot me. His face was raw from the fall he had taken on the flint path, and where the flesh was not red and bloody it was yellow. Dawn, however, is not the time to tell a man that you are going to kill him, he is not likely to believe you, and since I could not believe Hoonan I got out of bed, reaching for a rhino club, and he was so surprised that he ran away.
As I prepared to go down to the Customs House to register my guns I was met on the verandah by my boy, and he was carrying my Express. By some mischievous devilry he had walked right through the Customs House with it, while the officers were debating the regulations with me. I told Monsuri that I would probably need his help, and I took the gun and went down to the House. I explained the situation to the Kommandant.
His face went red, and the red became purple. He sent off a file of askaris to find the boy, and he looked at me, licked his lips, and thought of the words in his mouth, and ignored me.
I waited an hour in the Customs House, staring at a large oil painting of the Kaiser, while the Germans clicked up and down, the grass fan moving above them, and the air growing tenser. The askaris came back and saicL that they had been unable to find my boy. The Kommandant swore at them, he slapped their faces and kicked them from the office.
He looked at me, and I was glad that Monsuri came in then.
The Germans must have owed him a lot of money, for he spoke to the Kommandant as I have never heard a non-European speak to a German. He hectored them in their own fashion, and fat though he was he had tremendous dignity. I paid my 200 rupees on each gun. My boy came out of hiding with a sly grin, and we prepared to depart.
I bought pack donkeys, hired porters from Monsuri, and gratefully accepted his gift of two white muscat riding donkeys. I rode eastward and Monsuri stood on his verandah waving to me, the tinkling musical box clutched to his belly. From the lattice of his zenana the dark eyes of his hundred wives watched us go.
I went up to Ikoma and it was no longer the stockaded outpost I had known when they dug my grave there years before. It was still very German, however. I was told to pitch my tent in a compound of prickly pear where an askari stood on guard with rifle and bayonet. I went to greet Antonies who was now running the store for Monsuri, and I was pleasantly haggling over his price for ivory when in came Hoonan and Saunders.
They were in rags and bearded, and the starch had gone out of Hoonan. He said nothing but sat at the bar with his head on his arms. Saunders told me that their camp had been burnt out. They had nothing but what was left of the clothes they were wearing. I asked Antonies to give them each a bottle of beer, and that was perhaps not a wise thing to do, for the beer brought back Hoonan's courage.
I took Saunders back to my tent and he got drunk sullenly on my whisky. He said that Hoonan had been drunk all the way up from Muanza. He had raided native villages for food, abducted girls, and this the natives had let him do because they were afraid of the Germans. Saunders seemed surprised that he and Hoonan were still alive. He hoped that he would never see Hoonan alive again.
He said this several times, and then he went down with fever.
Hoonan drank all the beer that Antonies allowed him on credit. When that ended he broke into the German officers' quarters and stole two bottles of whisky. With one in each hand he walked up and down in front of the store saying he was going to kill me, a big red bear of a man, drunk and bad in his drunkenness.
He threw away an empty bottle and went to the compound, but finding me away he took my elephant gun and loaded it.
I saw him from Antonies' store, standing in the moonlight with his feet astride, his back to us, a bottle in one hand, the gun in the other. He could have shot me. I believe he would have shot me if he had seen me, and I was tired. I was very tired of Hoonan.
I went up behind him, and I bent down and tugged at his ankles. He fell on his face, firing both barrels of the elephant gun. The noise brought out a German sergeant and some askaris, and they took Hoonan into the fort and kept him there until he was sober.
Like most drunkards, like most men who must drink and must fight the world because they have not the courage to fight what is inside them, Hoonan was a creature of terrible pathos when he was sober. He was released from the fort at last and he came over to the compound and sat on my bed with his hands trembling, and he said that the Germans were sending him back to Muanza. This seemed to frighten him. He kept saying that the Germans were sending him back to Muanza.
He went over to Saunders and took his arm, and told him this. Saunders shook the arm away and turned his back.
Hoonan stood there, and I have seen few men look so lonely, and I was suddenly sorry for him without liking him. I walked off, and when I turned I saw that he had picked up my gun and broken the breech. He said, It's loaded, the way a man might say, It's a fine day, without caring one way or the other.
I was fifteen yards from him and I saw him in my tent. He sat down on the bed and put the muzzle of the gun in his mouth quickly, and crouched over it, reaching down to the triggers with his long hands. He did this quickly, and I was too far away to stop him.
Each cartridge for that gun was loaded with eighty grains of cordite, and it had a striking power of two thousand pounds. Hoonan pulled the trigger.
Saunders looked at Hoonan's body and started to cry. I think he was remembering what he had said, that he
hoped he would never see Hoonan alive again.
* * *
The game laws killed the life of the old ivory hunters and traders. I knew men who had made £5,000 in six months from their ivory, some of it got by trading, but most of it brought in by their own guns, and then came the laws which made contraband all ivory but the few tusks permissible on licence. That killed the old hunters, or sent them further into the bush to be poachers. Perhaps Africa had to legislate these men out of existence, although I do not accept the protection of the elephant as a valid reason. No tribe that had its shambas repeatedly devastated by elephant would have thought it a valid reason either. And Africa lost something with the passing of the old hunters. They had gone deep into the country, beyond the waterways and the coastal towns, the first Europeans on the heels of the Arabs. If the settlers and the administrators found the natives ready to take a white man's word it was because the elephant hunters had set an honest standard of integrity. In their way they had prevented East Africa from becoming the bloody cockpit it could easily have become with the inward movement of whites.
I do not put this up as a defence, but as an explanation. When the game laws increased I went poaching. I poached along the German border and got some ironic amusement from outwitting Ol Dutchie. The Baraki and Sukuma were rich in cattle over there on the German side, and would sell them as low as ten rupees a head when the Germans demanded a three rupee hut-tax.
I bought cattle that was smuggled across the border. It had to be smuggled because the Germans put a twenty-rupee head-tax on all cattle crossing. My camp, whether it was one side or the other of the border, was a clearing-house for ivory and cattle. The system was complicated. Sometimes I bought cattle from the Baraki or the Sukuma, smuggled them across and sold them to British settlers for £5 a head. Sometimes I shot ivory or traded ivory, and sold it for cattle to Arabs or Greeks in German territory, and the cattle I sold once more to British settlers, and all of this was very good business, and none of it entirely legal.
I was in camp one morning when a D.C. called Crampton came in from Kurungu on Lake Victoria. His police surrounded my hut and he told me that I had been shooting elephant without a licence and he was going to search my camp for ivory. I was not worried by this, there was no ivory in the camp, but I was worried by the fact that a drive of smuggled cattle was expected in the camp any hour.
Crampton had his Kavirondo police digging the ground all round the camp, and he came up to me with a piece of ivory weighing about six pounds. He wanted to know where I had got it. I said, where had he got it. It was the tusk of a young bull, and by the little runnels the ants had made on it it must have been buried in the earth for twenty years.
Crampton said, I shall issue a summons. He marched off to his camp with his police. He was very dignified and very young.
In the afternoon he sent me a chit. Would I care to come over for tea ? I went over, and we were as polite as two curates. He wasn't going to issue a summons, he said.
I said I hoped not. He would need more evidence than a twenty-years'-buried tusk. Could I have permission for two of my boys to leave camp?
He said, why? I said, for things. He said, no. And I wondered how long it would be before the cattle-drive came in and Crampton asked more questions. Such as, had I paid for them with ivory ?
We went on drinking tea and exchanging politenesses. He said that to stop the illicit trade in ivory the Government was prepared to buy all ivory at four rupees a pound. I said I would be happy to advise all natives to take their ivory in to Kurungu. He said that wasn't quite what he had meant.
Still my cattle did not come. We went shooting next day, and Mr. District Commissioner Crampton was very wise and very suspicious. He stayed very close to me, and listened when I spoke to my boys. But when we raised a roan antelope he shot it, and went after it, and I managed to tell a Lumbwa to get away and warn the cattle-drive.
Crampton had made his kill, and was delighted, and it was a good kill, except that he thought the antelope was a waterbuck. I did not tell him. His boys brought in the head and the skin and Crampton stood first on one foot and then on the other to admire it.
I asked him what sort of hunting licence he had. He said a Public Servant's £10 licence.
I smiled at him. I said, 'You ought to summons yourself, because that's a roan antelope and you are allowed only two on a £50 licence.'
We laughed together, but nobody feels so bad about breaking the law as a man paid to uphold it, and for all his laughter Crampton felt very badly indeed, and unhappy that I should know. He struck camp and went back to Kurungu, and my cattle came in three hours after he had gone.
* * *
There was Peffer. He was a nondescript you often found in Africa then, the country supported them as it supported its natural parasites. I met him in the Belgian Congo, before I went home to have the doctors remove some small shot that had entered my appendix by way of a guinea-fowl. Peffer had been in jail, put there by the captain of a German cargo-boat, of which Peffer had been an indifferent engineer. The charge was a vague one of mutiny. But when Peffer came out of jail, ragged, dirty and unshaven, I felt a weak sympathy for him, and left him in charge of my guns and my equipment and my dog Ginger, until I came back from England.
I came back with a motor-launch. I wanted a boat that would take me up the Congo and its reaches. I got her in Weybridge and she was beautiful, flat-bottomed, 65 ft. from stem to stern, and with a beam of 9 ft. 6 in. I took out her engines, which were too weak for the eight knot currents of the Congo, and I equipped her with a Thorneycroft engine that had been in a lifeboat. I put a searchlight in her bows so that I could see elephant crossing the Congo at night. And I wish I had never bought her, for all her beauty.
She went adrift at Greenwich while I was waiting for her to be loaded on an Elder Dempster liner, and it cost me £10 to have her salvaged. The liner ran into foul weather in Biscay, and the launch broke free from her lashings and stove in her port side. When I got to Matadi I found that she had been insured against total loss only, and I had to pay for the repairs myself.
The railway men said they would not take her up to Kinchassa. They said she was too long to get round the curves, but I talked them into taking her at my risk. She was always at my risk. On the way to Kinchassa the axle of the railway truck caught fire and scorched the launch on the starboard side. She went back into Lever's yard for repairs, and some crazy native released the brake on a railway coach which ran down and knocked the launch off the slips, damaging her screw.
Finally I got to Kinchassa, and there was Peffer, all grins and beard, ready to be my engineer. I told him to get the launch ready for a river-trip and I went up country and soothed my irritation by hunting.
I got back to Thysville to find two letters waiting for me, and they were both about Peffer. While I was in England he had tried to sell my rifles and equipment, and the British Consul wrote to say that he had stepped in just in time to stop the sale. The second letter was from the indignant manager of Lever's shipyard. Would I please get Peffer off his property, the man was a thief and a drunk.
I took the next train to Kinchassa and found Mr. Peffer in a third-rate Portuguese hotel, where he had been enjoying credit on the strength of his claim that he was my partner.
The place looked like a film-set. There were Germans, Russians, Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards and Greeks, with Peffer entertaining them generously. He waved to me and invited me to join him and his friends. I picked him up by the shirt-front and I said that I hoped he would put as much of Africa as he could between us. It was a large country but it was rapidly getting too small for both Peffer and Jordan. He was fired, I said. I wasn't quite sure what job he had with me, but he was fired from it. He was also fired from whatever job he had told his creditors he had with John Alfred Jordan.
The crowd rose up. Everyone, it seemed, was Peffer's creditor, and in several languages it was pointed out that if Peffer could not pay his debts Jordan should pay them.
I sat him down among them and left.
The next morning I received a Court summons, informing me that Monsieur Peffer was suing me for unpaid wages. I went up to Leopoldville to fight the case, and there was Peffer with a cloud of witnesses. But I won the case, and as I left the court Peffer trotted up to me. Breathing the last memory of the whisky he had obtained on my credit, he said that justice in the Belgian Congo was obviously a fraud, and that he proposed to rectify this by setting fire to the launch.
I thanked him. I said I would be sleeping aboard that night with an elephant gun, and should I miss him with this, which was unlikely, there was still my dog, Ginger, which had not learnt to love him during my absence.
I sat up the night waiting for Peffer, but he did not come. The last I heard of him was that he was under arrest. He had killed a native, and for this I think he was hanged.
But perhaps he put a curse on the launch, for I had no luck with her. I loved her, and I wanted her to share the Congo with me. It was a great and magnificent river. Big stern-wheelers creamed its red waters, a hot and green Africa embraced it, and there was room on it for a man to expand his lungs.
Nobody else loved my launch. When you tried to start her engines they would back-fire with a venom that nearly broke the arm of one of Lever's engineers. The back-fire also knocked one of my Mouwazie boys into the water, so I hired a powerful Turk called Panhard, who looked at the engine and sneered. The handle caught him on the throat and laid him out. He recovered and said that he would stay in the crew, but he would not handle the engine.
When she was fit I had her towed up-river, made fast to the port side of a tug. The skipper of the tug said he was French, but nothing he ever said was true. He had already lost one ship, and this tug was his first command under Lever's flag, and almost his last for her wood-pile caught fire and dropped hot embers over my launch which was carrying fifty gallons of petrol and three cases of cartridges. At that the skipper might have been French, for French was the language he spoke when he lost his head. But we managed to push the burning wood overboard on the starboard side, and I prayed that this would be all. The following forenoon a gale blew up, tore tug and launch from the moorings, and took both, lashed fast together, down-river to a sandbank.
We got off the next morning, and when I asked the skipper to point out our position on the chart he happily confessed that he couldn't read a chart, but that we were probably within two days of Kwilo, he had never been up the Congo this far. At Kwilo we hit hard currents, and instead of signalling full speed the skipper thought it advisable to stop altogether and we nearly capsized in mid-stream. I parted from him with great relief.
Up there, along the Congo, was a happy land for ivory. I was the only Englishman there, but there were French and Portuguese as well, and the Belgians had askaris patrolling the river and its tributaries to catch us. Two Portuguese were our middlemen. They ran a trading store and operated a 20-ton steamer, dirty-white and very old, and this took our ivory over to the French bank where it was sold. The skipper of the steamer was a blade called Figuarido, a twentieth-century freebooter with the blood of Magellan in him.
He would bring the steamer into the bank near my camp, and he would stand on deck and bargain with me, dirty, greasy, grinning. He was a good fellow, and always gave me a good price, sometimes throwing in a case of champagne or a demijohn of red wine. I never saw Figuarido ashore, always he was on his steamer.
Yet one day he was brought ashore, and in a sad way. Askaris ambushed him from the bank, and when he laughed at the order to put in they opened fire. They shot his helmsman away from the wheel, and his steamer went crazily on to a sandbank where there were more askaris. That was the end of Figuarido the freebooter.
With him ended the only means of disposing of my ivory.
* * *
When I was at Ikoma in German East a dapper young lieutenant called Fischer sold me a Wilkinson -500 Express and two hundred cartridges for £20. It was a good gun and a good bargain, but I was a fool and forgot to register it with the Germans. I thought Fischer would have done this, and perhaps he had, although it would have made no difference.
Not that I liked Fischer. He was the sort of German you found along the borders of German East before 1914, and it was not until the war that you realized why they were there. His story was that he was an officer in the German regular army, with a year's leave to go shooting in Africa. He did most of his shooting along the British border, and he did more map-making than shooting, which may explain why he had no use for the Express.
He lived well (it was his whisky that Hoonan stole). He had two house-servants and a gun-bearer, a splendid Nyassa boy called Mohammed, who had been an askari for ten years. While I was at Ikoma Mohammed ran away from Fischer and asked me to employ him. He said the only wages Fischer had paid had been with the lash. He was brave and he was loyal, and these were characteristics the Germans rarely found in the natives, though they always got obedience.
I did some shooting with that Express, rhino, buffalo, elephant, and then the luck ran out. My leg, the leg of the Boer bullet, and the Kisi spear, and the mamba bite, turned malignant and crippled me. Where I went I rode, on a docile muscat donkey. I went out one morning and killed a Jackson hartebeeste with a long range shot between the eyes that made me feel good, and it was always when I was feeling that good that something bad happened.
This time my bearer had over-loosened the girth strap, and when the gentle muscat smelt lion in the bush it bolted. It went down an incline, and the saddle slipped up to its neck and round, and threw me. I heard the snick as my shoulder went out, and then a great rush of sickening pain. One of my Lumbwa came up and knelt on me, and he smiled at me. He took the shoulder in his hands and forced it back as you might reset a book on a bookshelf.
It put my arm in a sling for a month, and I wandered about the country in a foul temper, firing an elephant gun with one hand from my left shoulder, which showed the sort of temper I was in.
The shoulder improved, and as it improved the goodness came back to me, and that ought to have been enough to warn me. I was stalking lion when I came over a rise and saw a big camp in the valley below. There was a flag on a post, the gold tricolour and eagle of Imperial Germany. So there should have been, for when I got down there I discovered that His Excellency Baron von Dernberg, German Colonial Secretary, a dozen of his train, a hundred soldiers and three hundred porters, were on a grand tour of the colony.
They had been following the Anglo-German border, and no doubt Lieutenant Fischer's little maps had been very useful.
Von Dernberg was a good-natured man and welcomed me. It was a pity he was not aware of the irony of shaking hands with an ivory-poacher. The irony was not lost on his captain of askaris, Schultz, a leather-faced man who kept slapping his boots with a whip and staring at me. Von Dernberg wanted me to lend them a guide to Ikoma, so I lent them two Lumbwa, and gave the Secretary some skins, leopardskins which he had admired.
It took the caravan over two hours to trail past my camp, and they left me holding a box of cigars which Von Dernberg had given me. I was smoking one happily as the tail of the safari passed, twenty askaris under Schultz. He stopped his soldiers there and came up to me, feet astride, holding his crop behind him. My papers ? My licences ?
He leafed through them, and then he saw the Express I had bought from Fischer. Where was its registration note? I said I had none, and he told an askari to pick up the gun. I explained, as patiently as I could, that I had exhausted my light ammunition, that the Express was the only usable gun I had. How was I to protect my livestock and feed my carriers if he took it away? I would pay the registration fee to him if he would leave me the gun.
He looked at me with his pale blue eyes and he began to describe for me his view of my personal appearance, my history and my ancestry. I replied as unfavourably as I could about his own, and he hit his thigh with the crop and went off with my gun.
I brooded on this for an hour, and my Lumbwa pretended that they were not curious to know what the Bwana Mkuba would do about this.
I struck camp and went after the Germans. I found them, spread out again under the German flag, and Von Dernberg was asleep under the netting. I sat outside his tent until he woke up, and he smiled and said he was pleased to see me again, would I take him to shoot some buffalo ? Schultz was waiting, listening, so I thought that a buffalo shoot would be as private a conversation with the Secretary as I could hope for. We shot no buffalo, but every time I mentioned the gun the Secretary talked about British East. There was much he wanted to know about British East, and there was little he learnt from me, and in the end he capitulated with a smile and told Schultz to give me back the gun.
I went back to Shirati, registered the gun and left it there. There I met an agent of Hagenbeck who wanted me to collect young buffalo, so I went back into the forest, which means that I went back into the Schultz patrol area. I killed buffalo, I killed badly, something was wrong with my nerves. I fired eighteen rounds of •303 before I managed to kill an old bull, and this had never happened to me before. Anyway, I was supposed to be capturing buffalo calves, not shooting old bulls. I had two rounds left. I put one boy on skinning the bull, and sent the other, Abdullah, back to camp for more ammunition.
He returned two hours later. He could not talk at first. Then he said that he had seen Ol Dutchie raiding my camp. It was Schultz. Abdullah had lain in the bush, and he watched while the askaris ripped up my tent, emptied my boxes, packed all my equipment on their donkeys. An askari dragged Abdullah from the bush, and Schultz had him flogged.
I ran back to the camp. I found strips of canvas and a kettle. Two of my boys came out of the bush, and I told them to go out and find the way Ol Dutchie had gone. They went out, but they did not come back, and I could not blame them, for I could win no fight against Schultz. Abdullah went in the night and I was alone.
I stood up alone, with my rifle and my two rounds, with my kettle and my strips of tent canvas, and I swore that I would find Schultz and kill him. I thought of how I would kill him, and each death I thought of was too compassionate for my hatred. And I knew that he wanted me to follow him, and that it would not be me who killed him, but he who killed me. He had everything I owned, my equipment, my papers, my photographs. I had a kettle, a rifle and two rounds. And my boys had run from me because they knew I was already dead.
I had eighty miles to walk to Kericho, the first British post I could reach, and I had to walk with one swollen foot in a self-made sandal.
I could walk the eighty miles, or I could sit there and die. But there is great strength in hatred. I drank from the stream. I filled the kettle and took it in my left hand, and with my rifle in the right I began the walk.
I walked, and this I wonder at now, I walked thirty -five miles to where the Naluba Hills broke out of the ground. Every mile I walked I stopped to count those two rounds of-303.
I was delirious at sunset, but I made a fire and killed my hunger with cigarettes. I slept and I awoke, and I unbound my foot and rubbed the dried blood from the bandage and rewound it.
As I sat there, trying to remember the trail to the Mara River, a bush cracked behind me, there was a sudden throttled bleat. I dragged myself toward it, shouting. I saw a leopard swerve over the body of an impala, and back from it snarling. I threw stones at it, shouting, screaming, until it swung its tail and went. The impala wasn't dead, and I cut its throat without pity. I cut out the liver and ate it raw. As I ate the leopard returned and spat at me from the brush. I took a leg from the impala and went on a mile, where I lit a fire, and cooked the leg, and drank from my kettle, and felt good again.
I remember little of the walk, except the growing heat of my leg, how the foot hurt every time I put it down until it hurt no longer and I knew that it was as bad as it could be. And I told myself that this was the leg the Kisi had speared, and this was the leg the drunken doctor had wanted to amputate. I said, if they had taken it off, Jordan, you wouldn't have been able to walk this far, would you? The joke kept me going for a few miles, which proves it was not that bad a joke.
I got to the Mara. It is a fast river, rising high and hurrying through tall bluffs to the lake, and when I got to it it was in flood. The trees along its banks were full of monkeys, blue, grey, black and white, some of them as small as kittens, and they hung from the vines by their tails and shrieked at me. I lay in a glade among the flowers and looked at the river, and I crawled down to it and let it rush coolly over my burning foot. Then I tried leap-frogging from stone to stone, one leg only, until I lost my balance and had to put my other foot down. The pain of it went up to my chest and threw me in the water.
I got to the bank and lay with my mouth in the mud, and I swore at Schultz. I swore at him because the river had taken the leg of the impala, and there could be nothing as bad as its loss.
I unwound the bandage from my foot and gazed at its ugly beauty. I built a fire at dusk and sat by it, putting on brush, afraid to sleep. A young lioness swerved into the light and snarled when I shouted at her. In the morning I believed that I knew the country, but I was ready to believe that whether it were true or not. I believed that I was within two miles of a Lumbwa village, and I looked at my foot and touched it with my finger and felt the pain out of all proportion to the lightness of that touch, yet I believed I could walk that two miles.
I walked some of it, with the rifle as a crutch, and some of it I crawled, pulling myself on my belly. I played cunning tricks on my mind, telling myself that it was not two miles I had to go, but a hundred yards to that tree, or fifty to that bush. And sometimes I lay still on the ground and called myself a liar, because it was really two miles to that village.
At last I pulled myself up to a stump and lit my final cigarette, and I knew that this was as far as I was going to go. A topi-hartebeeste came out of the bush two hundred yards away, two hundred miles away, and I shot it, a wasteful, futile shot, but perhaps I shot it because it was fine and alive and I believed I was going to die there with my back against a tree-stump. The •303 took it in the flank and it was gone, and I was sorry that I had only wounded it and could not follow and kill it and save it from pain. But the sound of the gun jerked my intelligence and taught me something I would have known instinctively had the fire not been burning up my leg to my head. I fired the last round into the air and hoped the Lumbwa would hear.
They heard and they came at dusk, as I was sitting there unable to make a fire and knowing that without a fire I would not be alive at dawn. The Lumbwa came to find the hunter who had fired the shots and perhaps beg meat from him. They were Mataia's people and they took me to him. He swore at his wives and a sheep was slaughtered. He sent a runner forty miles to Kericho, his best runner, carrying a cleft stick with my note in it, and a red rag tied to the stick to show that he was an important messenger.
The note was to Alidan Vissram, the Hindu storekeeper, and it listed the supplies I wanted, and I was no longer a man who expected to die in the bush, and who would have died in the bush if Schultz's plan had worked. I was a hunter again, with supplies coming from Alidan Vissram, and a very great hatred for Schultz.
I tried to get satisfaction out of the Germans. I wrote long letters to the Colonial Governor, saying, as politely as I could, that the Kommandant up at Shirati, one Schultz, was a pig, and I would kill him did I not think it more civilized to make this complaint. The Germans acknowledged my letters stiffly, and they did nothing else. So I decided that if they were not going to get my equipment back for me, then I would take their ivory.
I went up to the Shirati country; if I had to poach I would poach in Schultz's garden. I got many fine tusks and I sold them to two Arabs called Akeeda and Amboga. They paid me in cattle which I sold to British settlers for handsome prices. There were many elephants there that year. They had come over from the Kisi highlands in British East, driven away by the sportsmen who were threshing about in the forests getting material for their books. I knew that if the Germans caught me they would shoot me, and they would send a letter of regret to the British authorities saying that they had found Herr Jordan breaking the law, and that he had been shot while attempting to escape. But they did not catch me. I put scouts on the high tops of the Marti Hills, and they watched the country for me, and behind their vigilance I shot elephants as I wished.
That was a good summer. I shot an old bull whose right tusk weighed 112 pounds, and the other would have been almost as great had it not been broken, but between them they must have made many piano keys. It took my boys two hours to cut out the tusks and bury them where they could stay until I got them through to Akeeda and Amboga.
There was a Masai chief called Tamani who had brought his people over to live in German East, and he acted as my agent with the Arabs, taking my ivory to them and accepting the cattle on my behalf. I got sixteen head of cattle for those tusks of the old bull, and I sold the cattle for nearly £100. With such good fortune I began to take a more tolerant attitude toward Schultz. In four months I made nearly a thousand pounds.
Then the Arabs failed to send cattle for my last delivery of ivory. They sent word that they had run out of cattle, and the look on Tamani's face when he told me indicated that he did not believe the story any more than I did. When did Arabs ever run out of cattle ?
I decided to go in to Fort Ikoma and find out for myself. If I had not been feeling so good about the ivory, and if my foot were not healthy again, I would not have taken so foolish a risk. There were at least two dozen people in Ikoma who would recognize me. I shaved off my moustache, and put on a dirty white gown and red fez, and went to Ikoma hoping that I looked like an Arab. I stopped in the bush outside the fort and sent my boy in to Antonies, and I sent an elmoran with him too. The warrior came back and said that it was safe, but when I got to the Greek's store an askari had the boy by the shoulder and was questioning him. He called to me in Swahili, and I mumbled back at him, and he looked at me and then released the boy and went away.
Antonies chuckled greasily, and complimented me on my appearance. He kept pretending I was really an Arab and swearing at me, and then when he had exhausted his joke he told me that the Germans were looking for me and that this time they were determined to find me. My Arabs knew this, and they had decided to keep the ivory I had sent them and tell the Germans where I was. Antonies smiled again and said 'You Arabs are all alike'.
When I returned to Tamani's village there were two drunken askaris in a hut. They had come to inquire about me and Tamani had refused to answer questions until they had drunk with him, and he had gone on pouring honey-beer into them until they were unconscious. While they slept I took my boys and left, making camp about a mile from the British border.
I was trailing a wounded lioness two days later when I came on the marks of a camp. There were prints of nailed boots in the soil, and a little pyramid of empty beer bottles. Up the trail I found a Wanderobo and he told me that six German officers, fifty askaris, and two hundred Marti tribesmen were out looking for me. It was only his opinion, of course, but it could not be long before they found me.
When my boys heard this they panicked. Some of them ran for the border that night, and probably the Germans got them before they could cross. I managed to calm the others, but that night I saw the Germans' camp-fires surrounding me. The red blotches formed a large semi-circle to the east. The left flank rested on the German border. The centre was five miles into British territory, and the right flank was on the edge of the Marti Hills. There is a clear drop of several hundred feet into the Amala Plain on the other side of the hills. The Germans had me pinned up against the border, inside my own country geographically, but very much inside their cordon.
If I retreated it would be back into German East, and if I tried to move north or south they could outflank me. The only weak part of their cordon was that drop down the escarpment to the Amala Plain.
I told the boys to bury my ivory and mark the spot. I went over to Tamani's village and the Masai began to sound drums and blow horns by way of a welcome until I quietened them. I told Tamani that Ol Dutchie was out there in the bush, the Masai could see the fires.
Tamani said he had seen them. They were looking for me, I admitted, but they would also be angry with the Masai and would take sheep and cattle and burn huts in their anger. I said the Masai must know a way down this escarpment, and Tamani said this was so.
We went down together, down a path as wide as a window-ledge at times, and I rode down it on a donkey for my foot was bad again. The Masai brushed out the trail behind us, and I was glad that it was dark and I could not see.
We camped at the foot of the escarpment, and shortly after dawn the Masai who had been brushing out our spoor padded in to say that Ol Dutchie was close. He had Wanderobo trackers with him, which I should have expected, and these clever little men had found a way down the cliffs.
I threw water on the fire. I told my boys to make for the Naluba Hills, and with my bearer I crossed over the Amala River and hid in the trees. Tamani's village went away quickly in a cloud of dust.
As I waited, Ol Dutchie came out of the trees on the other side of the Amala. It was a small scouting party, one officer on a mule, fifteen askaris, and a score of Marti tribesmen. They found our spoor by the river, but the German, perhaps feeling bad about being this far into British territory, would not cross the river. He stared across the water, while his Marti sat down on their heels and waited. My donkey suddenly appreciated the humour of the situation and began to bray ribaldly. I clamped its jaws with my hand. The Marti stood up and three or four of them went into the water toward me.
The German sat very still. I could almost see him working out the problem in his mind, and then he knew he could not pursue me indefinitely into British East, and he called off the Marti and went back into the trees.
I still wanted the cattle which the Arabs owed me, so
I went to see Tamani again. He was a cunning and delightful man, with an ironic sense of humour. We worked out a plan between us. He moved back into German East and sent a runner to Shirati to find the Arabs. Tamani, said the runner, had two tusks so large that four men would find them heavy to lift. Were the Arabs interested? The Arabs were interested, but they were not interested in meeting Bwana Jordan. Bwana Jordan, said the runner, had been driven from the country by Ol Dutchie, and was skulking in fear beyond the Mara.
We will come, said the Arabs, and we will bring cattle for the tusks.
I waited five or six miles outside Tamani's village, and I waited ten days before his messenger came and told me that the Arabs were now in the Masai village with forty cattle and two donkeys. Tamani had not closed the deal for the tusks, but was still bargaining, and he had not put the Arabs' cattle with his own herd, but kept them separate on a hill-slope where his warriors were guarding them.
I made a forced march and arrived in the Masai village an hour after noon. I told four of my boys to drive the Arabs' cattle into the bush, and then I walked into the village carrying a -303. I sat down before Tamani's hut with the rifle across my knee, and gave the Arabs a good-morning. Tamani grinned.
Where, I asked, were the cattle the Arabs owed me?
They shifted their eyes and poked at the dust. Times were bad. They had not bought any cattle for many weeks. Ol Dutchie was angry with them for trading with me. I understood, of course?
I said that I understood, but that it was hard to see why they had come to Tamani's village.
They said that Tamani was their friend, and that a man found pleasure in talking and eating with his friends.
I said that this was true, and that in business as well as in friendship there could be no trust without honesty.
And so we traded innuendoes until one of Tamani's herdsmen came up. He was a superb actor. He rolled his eyes and went down on his knees, and Tamani looked at him sternly, and cursed him, and told him to speak clearly. The herdsman said that while he watched the Arabs' cattle he had slept, and for this he was ashamed and dishonoured, and that while he slept the cattle had strayed into the bush and were lost.
The Arabs looked at Tamani, and they looked at me, and they looked at my rifle, and they were very unhappy Arabs.