Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/218

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ground, they suddenly tossed their heads, switched their tails, scraped the earth impatiently with their hoofs, and sniffed the air. I was puzzled how to account for this unusual agitation, as, from my position, I was certain they could not have discovered me. But I had not much time for conjecture, for the next instant I was startled by the growl of some animal close to me. On looking in the direction whence it proceeded, I discovered, to my utter astonishment, two lions and a lioness on the rising ground just above me, and, as it seemed, they also were on the look-out for the gnoos.[1] I instinctively leveled my piece at the head of the nearest of the beasts; but a moment's reflection convinced me that the odds were too great, and I therefore thought it best to reserve my fire, so as to be in readiness to receive them should they charge. After having regarded me for a few seconds, however, they growlingly disappeared behind a sand-hill.

By this time the gnoos had become aware of the lions, and were making off at the top of their speed. Being anxious to obtain a shot at them, I followed on their tracks, but soon found, to my dismay, that my three royal friends, with jaws distended and uttering furious growls, were following a course parallel to mine. Though I must confess I did not at all like their looks, as only excessive hunger could have induced them, in broad day, to seek for victims, I nevertheless continued to follow the tracks of the antelopes until they led me into the bush, where I presently lost them as well as myself.

On first seeing the gnoos, I left my henchman "Bill," a Damara lad, who carried my spare gun, at some distance behind, with directions to follow on my track according to circumstances. Now that the gnoos were lost to me, I shouted loudly to the youth, and also discharged my gun more than

  1. The plate facing the page represents two lions observing me, while the lioness, not yet aware of my presence, is still eagerly pushing on toward the intended victims.