Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/107

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99
DEPRIVING THE LION OF HIS PEEY.

some busied themselves in lighting a fire, the rest joined in a sort of war-dance round the carcass, accompanied by the most wild and fantastic gestures, totally disregarding the proximity of the lion, who had only retreated a few paces. As the fire began to blaze, indeed, we could distinctly see him pacing to and fro among the bushes on the edge of the river's bank.

He, moreover, forcibly reminded us of his presence by cruelly lacerating a small dog belonging to one of the party which had incautiously approached him too closely. By a slight touch of his murderous paw he ripped up its body from head to foot; but, notwithstanding its entrails dragged on the ground, the poor creature managed to crawl to our fire, where it breathed its last in the course of a few seconds. It was a most touching sight to see the faithful animal wagging its tail in recognition of its master, who was trying to replace the intestines and to stop the flow of the blood. The savage features of the natives, which received an unnaturally wild character as the glare of the half-blazing fire fell upon them; the dying dog, with his wild master stooping despondingly over him the mutilated carcass of the zebra, and the presence of the lion within a few paces of us, presented one of the most striking scenes it was ever my fortune to witness.

Expecting every moment that the lion would make a dash at us, I stood prepared to receive him. More than once, indeed, I leveled my gun at him, and was on the point of pulling the trigger; but, being now sufficiently acquainted with the character of the animal to know that, if I did not shoot him on the spot, the attempt would probably prove the death-signal to one or other of us, I refrained from firing.

Contrary to my expectation, however, he allowed us to cut up and to carry away the entire zebra without molesting us in any way. During the process, the natives occasionally hurled huge burning brands at the beast; but these,