Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/368

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ginning of the rainy season, having corroborated their story, I no longer hesitated to follow their advice.

Before finally quitting Tunobis, an incident occurred which bade fair to finish my career in this world. Cantering along one day in the bed of the River Otjombindè, with a view of ascertaining its course, I all at once found myself on the very verge of a pitfall! but it was too late, for at the moment I was about to rein in my horse, down we both went together, with a fearful crash, through the light net-work of sticks and grass that covered it, to the bottom of the gulf, which could not have been less than ten feet in depth, though happily without either of us breaking our necks.

This pitfall was specially intended for the giraffe, which abounded hereabout, and was very different in construction from those in use for elephants, rhinoceroses, and other large animals; for, instead of a single cavity, it was divided into two compartments, separated from each other by a wall of earth. Though I never before knew the meaning of this peculiar arrangement, it was soon explained. My horse, having recovered somewhat from his surprise and the stunning effects of the fall, plunged violently forward, and endeavored to leap the wall in question; but he only got his fore quarters over it, and the depth of the hole preventing him from touching the ground either with his fore or hind feet, his whole weight rested on his belly, and thus suspended between earth and heaven, he became totally helpless.

Seeing that the poor animal could not possibly live long in this position, and that I was too far from camp to return for assistance, I unhesitatingly sprang back into the pit from which I had just extricated myself, and placing my shoulders under his chest (my feet resting against the side of the pit to give me a better leverage), I exerted all my strength, and succeeded in pushing him back into the compartment in which he had been originally deposited. Finding that he was about to renew the plunge, I seized the bridle with my left hand