Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/403

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395
THE CAMP ALARMED—REJOICINGS.

I had eagerly watched the scene; and now, strange to relate, that the danger and excitement was over, I was seized with a violent tremor. After a time, however, when my nerves had become somewhat composed, I pushed down part of the inclosure, and, though crippled, crawled on all fours up to the carcass. Having ascertained that life was extinct, I scrambled on to the back of the defunct elephant, where, like a schoolboy, I seated myself in triumph.

By this time the day began to dawn. Being within hearing of the camp, and feeling chilly, I shouted to my people to bring some fire. But, though I received no answer, I could distinctly hear them in earnest conversation, as if discussing some weighty matter. I shouted again and again, but with no better success. Being convinced they must have heard me, I was puzzled and vexed at not receiving a reply. At last, after having waited fully a quarter of an hour, I observed a number of flickering lights, resembling so many will-o'-the-wisps, and soon afterward I was joined by my men. The mystery of their unaccountable silence to me was presently explained. It appeared that on first hearing my shouts, which they took to be cries of distress, they were struck with fear and astonishment; and, as the shouts proceeded from a rather different quarter to that where they had left me on the previous evening, they were led to suppose that some savage beast had carried me away. Their own loud talking, it seemed, had arisen in debating in what manner they could best assist me. I could not help saying to myself, "How brave and considerate!"

There was now no want of flesh, and the result was great rejoicings. The report of my success spread like wildfire, and the animal was scarcely cold before scores of hungry Bushmen—like so many vultures—had assembled to participate in the feast. Before noon, with the exception of the sternum, the head, and some of the larger bones, every vestige of the giant beast had disappeared. The way in which