Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/408

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him with its jarring violence. Had my gun missed fire when he charged, it is more than probable I should have been impaled.

Again: having on a certain night stalked to within a few paces of a huge white rhinoceros (a female as it proved), I put a ball in her shoulder, but it nearly cost me dear; for, guided by the flash of the gun, she rushed upon me with such fury that I had only time to throw myself on my back, in which position I remained motionless. This saved my life; for, not observing me, she came to a sudden halt just as her feet were about to crush my body. She was so near to me that I felt the saliva from her mouth trickle on my face! I was in an agony of suspense, though, happily, only for a moment; for, having impatiently sniffed the air, she wheeled about, and made off at her utmost speed. I then saw, for the first time, that her calf was in company, and at once recognized the pair as old acquaintances, and as specially vicious animals.

On another occasion, when the night was very dark, I crept to within a short distance of seven bull elephants, and was endeavoring to pick out the largest, when I was startled by a peculiar rumbling noise close behind me. Springing to my feet, I perceived, to my surprise and alarm, a semicircle of female elephants, with their calves, bearing down upon me. My position was critical, being between two fires, so to say, and I had no other choice than either to plunge into the pool, which could only be crossed by swimming, in the face of the male elephants, or to break through the ranks of the females. I adopted the latter alternative, but first fired at the nearest of the seven bulls; and then, and without a moment's delay, I rushed on the more open rank of the female phalanx, uttering, at the time, loud shouts. My cries caused a momentary panic among the animals, of which I took advantage and slipped out between them, discharging my second barrel into the shoulder of the nearest as I passed