Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/220

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once, but was unable to elicit a reply. Thinking, however that he might have returned to our encampment (which was at no great distance), I also repaired there. But "Bill" had not been heard of. The harassing suspicion at once crossed my mind that the lions had eaten him. Without a moment's delay, I hurried back to the spot where I had last seen the beasts, but all my endeavors to find the poor fellow were unavailing. What with anxiety on his account, and my exertions under a broiling sun (for if the weather was frosty at night, it calcined one by day), I was unable to proceed farther, and sat myself down on the ground to wait for the arrival of the wagons, which were now moving forward. Just at this moment, the Damara, to my inexpressible delight, emerged from the bush. His story was soon told. He had, like myself, lost his way, and it was long before he was able to recover the right track.

One morning, as we were about to yoke the oxen, we were amused to see them suddenly start off in every direction in the wildest confusion, and cutting the most ridiculous capers. The cause of this commotion was the arrival of a large flock of the buphaga Africana, which alighted on the backs of the cattle for the purpose of feeding on the ticks with which their hides are covered. By means of their long claws and elastic tails, these birds are enabled to cling to and search every part of the beast. It was evident, however, that our oxen had never experienced a similar visitation; no wonder, therefore, that they were taken somewhat aback at being thus unceremoniously assailed.

The buphaga Africana is also a frequent companion of the rhinoceros, to which, besides being of service in ridding him of many of the insects that infest his hide, it performs the important part of sentinel. On many occasions has this watchful bird prevented me from getting a shot at that beast. The moment it suspects danger, it flies almost perpendicularly up into the air, uttering sharp, shrill notes, that nev-