Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/102

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for emergences, I made toward the beast, intending to punish her for her audacity, when Hans imploringly begged me to desist. "For," said he, "if you do not shoot her dead on the spot, she will be down upon us in an instant."

Allowing myself to be guided by his advice, I refrained from firing, but nevertheless took up my position within about fifty paces of, and opposite to the lioness, as well to draw off her attention from the men, and thus enable them to put the cattle and vehicles to rights, as to be in readiness to give her a warm reception, should she think proper to charge.

A short time before we were thus unceremoniously attacked, one of the draft oxen, which had always been very wild, managed to escape from the yoke, and a fleet-footed Damara was left behind to bring him on. In the midst of our confusion, we heard cries of distress and loud shouting behind us, and, on looking round, we saw, to our horror, the lion in full chase as well of the refractory ox as the man, who was trying to keep off his fierce pursuer by violently waving the fire-brand which he carried in his hand.[1] Telling Hans to mind the lioness as well as he could in my absence, I immediately ran to the rescue of the Damara and his charge; but, before I had proceeded far, the ox, catching sight of the remainder of the herd, made a successful dash right across the lion's path, and fortunately rejoined us in safety. The object of the lion was clearly more the beast than the man; for, upon finding himself thus suddenly baffled, he stopped short, and with a savage look at us, and an angry growl, bounded out of sight as quick as thought; and by the time I returned to the wagons, the lioness had thought fit to follow her lord's example. Thus, almost without any effort on our side, we were providentially saved from this most extraordinary and dangerous attack.

  1. In the nights the Damaras invariably carry a fire-brand, which they hold close to their bodies, in order to shelter themselves, in some degree, from the wind and cold.