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  • Emilce Sandra Rees

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

500 African hunting dogs, Karen, really

? (From an Immigrant's Notebook, Karen Blixen)

Here there must have been five hundred wild dogs. They came along in a slow canter, in the strangest way, looking neither right nor left, as if they had been frightened by something, or as if they were travelling fast with a fixed purpose on a track. They just swerved a bit as they came nearer to us; all the same they hardly seemed to see us, and went on at the same pace. When they were closest to us, they were fifty yards away. They were running in a long file, two or three or four side by side, it took time before the whole procession had passed us. In the middle of it, Farah said: “These dogs are very tired, they have run a long way.”

When they had all gone by, and were disappearing again, we looked round for the Safari. It was still some way behind us, and exhausted by our agitation of mind we sat down where we stood in the grass, until it came up to us. Dusk was terribly upset, jerking his lead to run after the wild dogs. I took him round the neck, if I had not tied him up in time, I thought, he would by now have been eaten up.

The drivers of the waggons detached themselves from the Safari and came running up to us, to ask us what it had all been. I could not explain to them, or to myself, what had made the wild dogs come along in so great a number in such a way. The Natives all took it as a very bad omen,—an omen of the war, for the wild dogs are carrion-eaters. They did not afterwards discuss the happening much among themselves, as they used to discuss all the other events of the Safari.

I have told this tale to many people and not one of them has believed it. All the same it is true, and my boys can bear me witness.

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