Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/106

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any thing with certainty. Being unable, however, to endure the suspense any longer, and regardless of the danger to which I exposed myself, I caught up my fowling-piece, which happened to be loaded with ball, and set out in the direction whence the wailings, now fast dying away, proceeded.

I had not gone very far, however, before I fell in with a number of the natives, who were hastening in the same direction as myself

My road, for the most part, lay through a dense tamarisk coppice, and it was surprising to me how I ever managed to thread the labyrinth. The hope of saving human life, however, enabled me to overcome all obstacles. I might have been three or four minutes in the brake when, on coming to a small opening, I suddenly encountered, and all but stumbled over, a large black mass lying at my feet, while close to my ear I heard the twang of a bow-string and the whizzing of an arrow. At the same moment, and within a very few paces of where I stood, I was startled by the terrific roar of a lion, which seemed to shake the ground beneath me. This was immediately followed by a savage and exulting cry of triumph from a number of the natives.

Having recovered from my surprise, I found that the dark object that had nearly upset me was one of the natives stooping over a dead zebra, which the lion had just killed, and then learned, for the first time, to my great astonishment as well as relief, that the wailings which had caused me so much uneasiness, and which I imagined were those of a dying man, proceeded from this poor animal.[1]

The design of the natives, who, from the first, I take it, well knew what they were about, was simply to possess themselves of the zebra, in which they had fully succeeded. "While

  1. I have since had frequent opportunities of hearing the dying groans of the zebra, which in reality greatly resemble the faint gasps and ejaculations of a drowning man. Even the subdued neighings of this animal, when heard from a distance, are of a very melancholy nature.