Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/390

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"Once, as I was returning from an elephant chase," said Mr. Oswell to me, one day in conversation, "I observed a huge white rhinoceros a short distance ahead. I was riding a most excellent hunter, the best and fleetest steed that I ever possessed during my shooting excursions in Africa, at the time; but it was a rule with me never to pursue a rhinoceros on horseback, and simply because this animal is so much more easily approached and killed on foot. On this occasion, however, it seemed as if fate had interfered. Turning to my after-rider, I called out, 'By Heaven! that fellow has got a fine horn. I will have a shot at him.' With that I clapped spurs to my horse, who soon brought me alongside the huge beast, and the next instant I lodged a ball in his body, but, as it turned out, not with deadly effect. On receiving my shot, the rhinoceros, to my great surprise, instead of seeking safety in flight, as is the habit of this generally inoffensive animal, suddenly stopped short, then turned sharply round, and, having eyed me most curiously for a second or two, walked slowly toward me. I never dreamed of danger. Nevertheless, I instinctively turned my horse's head away; but, strange to say, this creature, usually so docile and gentle—which the slightest touch of the reins would be sufficient to guide—now absolutely refused to give me his head. When at last he did so, it was too late; for, notwithstanding the rhinoceros had only been walking, the distance between us was so inconsiderable that by this time I clearly saw contact was unavoidable. Indeed, in another moment I observed the brute bend low his head, and, with a thrust upward, struck his horn into the ribs of the horse with such force as to penetrate to the very saddle on the opposite side, where I felt its sharp point against my leg. The violence of the blow was so tremendous as to cause the horse to make a complete somersault in the air, coming heavily down on his back. With regard to myself, I was, as a matter of course, violently precipitated to the ground. While thus prostrated, I actu-