Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/256

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departure of Mr. Galton, I made several trips between the Bay and Scheppmansdorf, in order to arrange matters for my intended journey to the Ngami. On one of these occasions I was accompanied by my friend. When we had proceeded little more than half the distance, and in a part of the plain entirely destitute of vegetation, we discovered a male and female ostrich, with a brood of young ones about the size of ordinary barn-door fowls. This was a sight we had long been looking for, as Galton had been requested by Professor Owen to procure a few craniums of the young of this bird, in order to settle certain anatomical questions. Accordingly, we forthwith dismounted from our oxen and gave chase, which proved of no ordinary interest.

The moment the parent birds became aware of our intention, they set off at full speed, the female leading the way, the young following in her wake, and the cock, though at some little distance, bringing up the rear of the family party. It was very touching to observe the anxiety the old birds evinced for the safety of their progeny. Finding that we were quickly gaining upon them, the male at once slackened his pace, and diverged somewhat from his course; but, seeing that we were not to be diverted from our purpose, he again increased his speed, and, with wings drooping so as almost to touch the ground, he hovered round us, now in wide circles, and then decreasing the circumference till he came almost within pistol-shot, when he abruptly threw himself on the ground, and struggled desperately to regain his legs, as it appeared, like a bird that has been badly wounded. Having previously fired at him, I really thought he was disabled, and made quickly toward him. But this was only a ruse on his part; for, on my nearer approach, he slowly rose and began to run in an opposite direction to that of the female, who by this time was considerably ahead with her charge.

After about an hour's severe chase, we secured nine of the brood; and, though it consisted of about double that number,