Selous's pioneer work began in 1889, when he conducted a gold-prospecting company through eastern Mashonaland. The journey took the party to the Portuguese settlements on the Zambezi, where those people were found to have a full appreciation of the richness of the gold region.
The British South Africa Company, or "Chartered Company," as it is sometimes called, was incorporated about the same time (October, 1889), with power to occupy and possess the large domains that constitute what is now called Rhodesia. The return of Mr. Selous to the Cape of Good Hope with the report of what he had observed had the effect of determining the company to speed its operations so as to anticipate the Portuguese. Mr. Selous entered the service of the company, and, although he was not yet an explorer in the scientific sense, the accurate memory of his early wanderings over the region enabled him to guide successfully the pioneer expedition that took possession of Mashonaland.
One of the sensational incidents of this campaign was the refusal of Lobengula to allow the pioneer force to use the road that led through Buluwayo, his capital, the only existing wagon road from the British frontier to the Mashonaland plateau. A new road was cut, under the guidance and superintendence of Mr. Selous, through four hundred and sixty miles of wilderness, the whole work being accomplished in two months and a half.
Among the chiefs who submitted to the British occupation after the seizure of Gonvola was Moloko, ruler of the country north of Manica, who made a treaty with Mr. Selous. After two years spent in various operations for opening up the country and securing treaties with the native chiefs, Mr. Selous returned to England in December, 1892, and put the narrative of his adventures to press, but was called back in August, 1893, returning at very short notice, on account of the threatening attitude of the Matabele chief Lobengula and the consequent risk of interruption in the development of the country. The tribes had risen against the assumption of the company to claim as a territorial cession what they had regarded as simply a grant of mining and exploiting privileges. Mr. Selous engaged actively in the campaign, in which he is credited with having fought with great gallantry by the side of the colonists, and was wounded while protecting some negroes who had been surprised by the enemy.
Returning again to Mashonaland, he reached there in time to witness a second outbreak of the natives, vexed by the triple plague of locusts, rinderpest, and the stringent regulations of the Chartered Company's government with respect to cattle. His own cattle were stolen, and he headed a company of volunteers that went