One night a Leopard ran off with the school
dog. The dog, if I remember, was a Labrador called Fudge, and next
to his footprints in the dust, the leopard's footprints were huge.
Domestic dog is amongst favorite food for Leopard. Many had a
memory of this or that dog that had fallen to Leopard. And there was
concern this Leopard might chose to vary its menu by carrying off one of
the smaller boys. An extreme un-likelihood in the minds of adults in
whose charge we were, but considered a very strong likelihood amongst the
older and larger boys.
Inevitably for young men there is a
joy to be gained from instilling fear in younger members of the
clan. As well the younger boys had been reading an account of
building a bridge over the Tsavo River for the Uganda Railway line.
Work on the project had been interrupted for several months by lions
carrying off labor.
Then one night, beyond the mosquito
netting that covered the junior dormitory window, there was ominous noise
and scratching. We all heard it and one of our number had the
misfortune to lose composure. His high-pitched yelling roused the
The older boys found this extremely
funny. Adults expressed deep concern, cast accusations and threats at
the older boys. And when the lights went out the junior dormitory felt
foolish. But in the morning investigation revealed the pugmarks of
Leopard outside the junior dormitory window.
Whether it was a trick perpetrated upon
us by the older boys and well concealed from those in authority, I do not
know. But I do know two things. The first is: I have always been
glad I was not the child who screamed. The second is: the "Man
Eaters of Tsavo" devoured over one hundred men.