Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/365

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357
A FEAST AND A FAST—UNSUCCESSFUL ELEPHANT-HUNT.

On arriving at Elephant Kloof we had better success. My first prize consisted of a magnificent giraffe, which dropped dead to the first shot—the only instance I recollected of killing this animal outright with a single bullet. I never before or since (excepting, perhaps, a cow-elephant) saw so fat an animal. The flesh was delicious, and I thought my men would kill themselves by gorging. Indeed, Bonfield became seriously ill, and for a whole week was unable to take nourishment of any description, not even coffee. Every thing he tried to swallow was instantly rejected. At one time I became apprehensive for his safety. My Griqua guide also got indisposed from feeding too heartily on an oily ostrich.

From the midst of abundance we were, or rather I was, soon reduced to the other extreme. When half way to Otjombindè we encountered some Bushmen, who persuaded me to go in search of elephants, which they said abounded at no great distance. A person might visit the place they frequented, and come back the same day. Having hastily made a few arrangements, I set out, but, foolishly relying on their statements, provided myself with only one small slice of raw flesh, which, after a while, in the full anticipation of a quick and successful return, I gave to the half-starved "children of the desert." I was sadly out of reckoning, however, for, instead of it being merely a few hours to the water in question, we traveled a whole day at a brisk pace before reaching our destination.

We were now at the beginning of the cold season, and the nights had already attained a very low temperature. The day had been oppressively hot, we had journeyed rapidly, and, in the hurry, I had come away without my coat. As evening set in I felt a deadly chill stealing over me, and though we found fuel, I deemed it necessary to do with as little fire as possible, for fear of alarming the elephants, should they make their appearance. Thrusting my head into a bush,