Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/467

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459
ADVENTURE WITH A LECHÉ.

the consequence was that the ball, instead of piercing his heart, merely smashed one of his hind legs. The animals, nevertheless, were so intently engaged, that, notwithstanding the report of the gun, and the wounded state of one of them (he probably attributed this to his adversary), they did not observe me. Throwing aside the rifle, I drew my hunting-knife, and thus armed, rushed upon the combatants. Just, however, as I was about to bury the fatal weapon in the flank of one of the animals, they both suddenly became aware of me, and fled precipitately. The wounded beast at once made for the river, which was hard by, and though it was running very swiftly at this point, perhaps not less than four or five miles an hour, he plunged into the water.

Not being then aware of the aquatic habits of this species of antelope, I was very much astonished, and for a while thought the beast would surely be carried away by the violence of the current and drowned. But I was soon undeceived; for he struck bravely out for the opposite shore, his course being marked with streaks of crimson. On gaining the bank, he gave one glance behind him, shook his bloody and drizzling coat, and made off. I was determined, however, not to be beaten; and, as I had nothing on but a pair of trowsers and a flannel shirt, I threw myself, as I was, into the stream, and soon succeeded in reaching the opposite bank, when I at once started in pursuit.

In this way, swimming and wading alternately, several rivulets, swamps, and dikes were crossed and recrossed; but, for a long time, the result was doubtful. At last, however, the poor animal slackened his pace, staggered, and lay down, but again proceeded, though apparently with pain and difficulty. Seeing this, I redoubled my exertions, and having succeeded in turning him toward the Lake, I drove him right into the water, which was here shallow, and where he several times stuck fast in the mud. I now felt sure of my quarry; and, having approached sufficiently near, I seized