Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/121

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113
CHASE OF A GNOO.

In the afternoon of the same day that I reached Richterfeldt a very exciting and animating chase took place. A gnoo had been slightly wounded by a Hottentot servant of Mr. Rath. The natives, who had watched the whole affair from the station, immediately gave chase to the animal. Finding itself hard pressed, the gnoo, in its fright, took refuge in the village, where it was quickly hemmed in on all sides. Every woman and child had turned out to witness its destruction, while the men were vociferously contending about the right to the carcass. Assegais and arrows, moreover, were whizzing thick round our ears, and I had considerable difficulty in making my way through this scene of confusion to the poor gnoo, which I found at bay in the middle of Mr. Rath's sheep-kraal, not twenty feet from his own dwelling. It was pierced with two assegais, and the blood flowed in streams down its panting and foaming sides.

Though the gnoo is but a comparatively small animal, its high fore quarters, its coarse and shaggy mane, and its buffalo head, gives it a very imposing and formidable appearance. It was impatiently stamping and striking the ground with its fore feet, and its looks seemed to bid defiance to us all.

At some risk, on account of the immense concourse of people assembled, I put a ball through the animal's shoulders, which at once ended its sufferings. A few minutes more—nay, rather seconds—there was not a vestige to be seen of it. Indeed, it was literally torn to pieces by the natives.

On paying my respects, later in the evening, to Mr. and Mrs. Rath, I was politely informed that the penalty for shooting the gnoo was a goat. This being explained, I found, to my surprise, that the ball had passed clean through the antelope, and had struck dead a goat belonging to these worthy people.

The day previously to my reaching the encampment, Mr. Galton had started on an excursion to the westward. His object was chiefly to procure cattle from the natives, for we