LIFE IN KENYA COLONY.
[To THE EDITOR OT THE " SPECTATOR.") Sin,—Perhaps you may care to make use in your columns of the enclosed extract from a letter received. from a settler in Kenya Colony, vividly descriptive of the circumstances in which many are obliged to live, and the plucky way in which their daily unforeseen difficulties are met. The writer (not at all strong) is able, however, to take a humorous view of her daily trials, though fully aware of the present unpromising outlook for many settlers in the Colony. She, with her husband and son, went there two years ago.—I am, Sir, &c., Cahir Abbey, Cahir, Co. Tipperary. BLANCHE ROCHFORT.
January 15th, 1922.
"We had a most exciting time just before Christmas. First,
our housebos-s went for each other with knives, and smashed the big carver in two, and the soup tureen, two plates, a dish, and some tumblers (tumblers cost 4s. each, and the smallest china bowl 10s., so we are ruined). The cook, being an amiable savage, also bit a huge piece out of the houseboy's arm. We beat them both. Hardly had the yells from that subsided when up rushed one of the herds to say a lion had broken into our cattle boma and eaten an ox. The borne is about seven minutes from the camp where we sleep in open tents!
Next night we got over Mrs. M. a great shikari, ard her manager, and the family fortified with food and drink 1 unged themselves at dusk into a little thorn zareba built in the boma facing the kill. The nights were so dark that they could not see anything; all they did was to train their rifles on Ha kill and pop off when the scrunching of bones told them something was there. Terrific growlingsl—then silence. Our head herd K. came leaping from behind crying out the lion was dead, so Mr. N. and 1). (the writer's son) left the zareba, but the lion was not dead, only stunned, and jumped up and knocked Mr. N. down. D. and K. were through the thorn hedge like streaks. Mr. N., being in shorts, felt the lion slobber against his knee and shouted : 'He's got me; for God's sake shoot,' so Mrs. M. blazed off not knowing if she were shooting the lion or her manager. As a matter of fact, the lion was too badly hurt to attack. X. (husband of writer) was all this time trying to light a lamp, and Mr. N. somehow got back.
Next morning they found the lion in a thicket above the
camp, about five minutes away, and D. finished it off and has been given the skin. It measured 9 feet 4 inches; unluckily we are too broke to do more than get the skin tanned. I was sent to a neighbour's to sleep, to my intense annoyance, for I am not afraid, and hate snakes much worse, and am more annoyed by frogs which get into my boots, and which I scoop up off the floor with a butterfly net—a gorgeous way of catching them. I am afraid I collect and give them to the ducks. '
X. was rather afraid to leave me alone in camp in case the
lion broke this way and in case the boys started murdering themselves again, and I up hero without a gun, so I slept at the B.'s, returning at 6 a.m. After breakfast, hearing the shots when they were tracking the lion, I thought : Well, I can't be out of this,'and dashed up the hillside and came in just at the kill. Then whilst they were tying him up for the natives to bring in, slinging him on to a tree stem, I 'ran down to the hut to get some tea ready, as they were so hot, and met a most excited native screaming More lions! ' Up rushed our neighbours, the B.'s, armed to the teeth; they had seen me jumping up the hill, armed with nothing more deadly than my umbrella and with apparently a lioness bounding after me. However, we luckily never met, nor did the main party,
who had no ammunition left. Mr. N. always said there were three lions the previous night, but X., who makes it a personal matter, wouldn't have it. Really, the lioness was getting back to her cubs, for a native came across her with three cubs a few days before. - - That night D. and three other young men sat up again and
wounded a lioness, but failed to get her in the morning. Then we set a trap, but only caught hyenas, which the lionesses ate, then they departed, probably only one by this time, but, since then, three have been seen on the lower farm, and pad- marks up the drive, to X.'s annoyance. He thinks by saying grandly : 'We don't get lions' that that will keep them off, but when our neighbours have lost fourteen oxen in a few weeks, it is obvious our turn must come. Our thorn home is most inefficient, and I can't persuade X. to get it strengthened, though I periodically climb up a little knoll and jump over the thorns into the boma. I really think the average lion should jump as well as I can. Two elephants have been killed just above us, about eight miles off. We really don't want them; A linen tent would be singularly little protection.
We are still harvesting with a fresh lot of labour, costing £30 to recruit. Everyone expects an early season—reason unknown—so everyone's farm is in a great mess like oars. Some fields being harvested, some ploughed, so as to take advantage of the rain, if it comes."