Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/34

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was rapidly encroaching over the valley below; and as in these regions there is but one step from light to darkness, I was compelled to commence the descent without a moment's delay. I confess that this was not done without some apprehension; for, what with the quick-coming night, and the terrible ravines that lay yawning beneath my feet, the task was any thing but agreeable. I found it necessary for safety to take off my boots, which I fastened to my waist; and at length, after much exertion, with hands torn, and trowsers almost in rags, I arrived late in the evening at our hotel, where they had begun to entertain some doubt of my safety. As a proof that my fears were not altogether groundless, a short time before this, a young man, who was wandering about the mountain in broad daylight, missed his footing, was precipitated down its sides, and brought in the next day a mutilated corpse.

When Europeans first arrived in the Cape Colony, it would appear that almost all the larger quadrupeds indigenous to Southern Africa existed in the neighborhood of Table Mountain. A curious anecdote is preserved in the archives of Cape-Town relating to the death of a rhinoceros, which, for its quaintness and originality, is perhaps worthy of record.

Once upon a time—so runs the legend—some laborers employed in a field discovered a huge rhinoceros immovably fixed in the quicksands of the salt river which is within a mile of the town. The alarm being given, a number of country people, armed with such weapons as were at hand, rushed to the spot with an intention of dispatching the monster. Its appearance, however, was so formidable, that they deemed it advisable to open their battery at a most respectful distance. But, seeing that all the animal's efforts to extricate itself were fruitless, the men gradually grew more courageous, and approached much nearer. Still, whether from the inefficiency of their weapons, or want of skill, they were unable to make any impression on the tough and almost impenetrable hide