Name ID 1368

See also

Boyes, John (ed. Mike Resnick) Company of Adventurers
Page Number: 123
Extract Date: 1903


Some of the men came in and said they had been badly treated by a Chief named Penda. X, whom I sent to inquire into the matter, confirmed the reports. The Chief had evidently not got over the visit of the Government troops, who had knocked down some of the huts and fired on his people. It was dusk when X returned, bringing with him some cows which he had bought during his absence.

Early the next morning Penda sent to the camp demanding the return of these cows. X went over to see him, and the Chief stated that his brother had sold the cows without his consent and he wished them to be returned. To avoid trouble, I sent two of the cows back, and as no business was to be done I decided to move on to Sansu. One of the headmen returned at sunset, bringing in three cattle. The Natives resembled the Masai in their affection for cattle, and would not have parted with them at all had they not wanted money for hut tax. When I made a purchase I paid them half in rupees and half in trade goods. A good-sized ox cost ten rupees, and smaller ones, five. A cow could be bought for fifteen rupees.

At Sansu, four days, march away, there was a Government station. Leaving X with my safari and instructions to go on trading during my absence, I started off, and being lightly loaded managed thirty miles a day. On the last day's march the country changed to thick bush with no Native habitations. Arriving at mid-day at a disused rest-house, I made a halt for lunch. While sitting down partaking of my frugal repast, my attention became riveted on a hole close beside me, from which crawled a big snake. To make any movement would have attracted the reptile's attention, so I remained perfectly still, my nerves all on a tingle, while it crawled between my legs as I sat with my knees crooked, and finally, much to my relief, disappeared.

The station I found in charge of six white men and quite a number of troops, who were engaged in rifle practice as I approached, I saw the commandant, to whom I explained that I had come into the district trading and buying cattle. He said he could not allow me to trade there, as they had just been out punishing the Natives for refusing to pay hut tax, and it was not safe to remain. I decided that my best plan was to get back to camp as quickly as possible, buy all the cattle I could, and then make for Nairobi.

When I returned I found that X had bought a number of cattle during my absence, but the Natives had been very truculent, and some of the men who had been sent out to buy cattle had been chased with spears. I had a palaver with the old Chief, Guru, and told him that his men must stop their nonsense. The Chief where we were camped would sell only small bulls and cows, so I offered him a large accordion as a present, but in this case the "music" failed to "lull the savage breast." I played it to him, but the first few spasms so terrified him that he asked me to stop, and he firmly declined the proffered gift.

Extract ID: 3595