Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/351

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343
PIET'S PERFORMANCE WITH LIONS.

outside his door, which was constructed so as to shut in two parts. The lower division was closed, but the upper was left open on account of the oppressive state of the atmosphere. Quietly taking up his gun, Piet stole softly to the door, expecting to meet with a hyæna, as he knew that one of these beasts was in the habit of harassing the goat-kids, which, for better security, he had kraaled against the wall of the house. His amazement, however, was great when, instead of a hyæna, a lion stood before him. Without losing his presence of mind, he poked the muzzle of his piece against the animal's head and blew out its brains.

Again: Riding along one morning in a very weak state, having just recovered from a severe fever, a lion suddenly rushed at him. The ox became frightened, and threw the old man. One of his feet was caught in the stirrup; but, fortunately, the "veld" shoe slipped off. "I know," said the veteran hunter, "I was thrown, and that I got on my legs again, but in what manner is quite a mystery to me this day. I called, as loud as my feeble voice permitted, to my people to bring a gun, the lion always getting nearer and nearer, until he stood within arm's length. I once or twice tried to pull out my pistol or my sword-knife, which, as you know, I usually carry about with me, but in my anxiety I missed them. My jacket was lying just in front of me on the ground, but the brute had one of his paws on it. I felt desperate, however, and, pulling it forcibly away, struck the lion on the head, when he grinned and growled terribly, and I expected every moment he would tear me to pieces. At this juncture, my Damara, who fortunately had heard my cries of distress, came running up with my gun. Taking the piece from the man, I fired at the lion, who had retreated a few paces, where he sat quietly looking at me. I don't know whether I hit him, for what with the sudden fright, and my weak constitution, I felt very unsteady. Be that as it may, it had, at all events, the effect of scaring him away,