Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/402

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very few paces, staring and laughing at me in the most impudent manner. I threw gravel pebbles at them, but this only served to increase their mockery. I could stand it no longer, but hurled my camp-chair at their heads, when they quickly betook themselves to flight.

Scarcely had they made their exit than I heard the heavy tramp of elephants. At this sound my heart beat violently, but it was only momentarily. The next instant I recovered my self-possession. Pushing my gun gently over the "skärm," I quietly waited (without daring to think of my poor leg) the approach of the giants. Nearer and nearer they came; their steps were more distinct and measured; confused forms were seen advancing among the trees. Gradually they assumed shape; and, lo! suddenly a huge elephant stood out in bold relief against the sky line; then another, and another, till the ground became alive with their numbers. There must have been at least fifty. They hesitated for a moment, but then came swiftly on by a broad path at right angles to and within a dozen feet of my place of concealment. I scarcely dared to breathe. The leader stood conspicuously forth from the rest, and, as a matter of course, I selected him for a mark. Having allowed the huge creature to pass a few paces beyond me, so as to have an opportunity of a second shot, I gave a low whistle, which instantly arrested the attention of the brutes, who, partially raising their huge ears, and describing with their trunks eccentric circles through the air, seemed anxiously to inquire the cause of the strange noise. This was my opportunity; and, in an instant, the forest resounded with the report of the gun. Curling up his trunk, the stricken animal uttered a faint cry, and, turning sharply round, staggered back whence he came. It was clear the wound he had received was mortal; but, to make more sure, I gave him the contents of my second barrel, though apparently without effect. Having reached the skirts of the wood, he tottered, and, plunging violently forward, came heavily to the ground.