Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/471

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463
A PANIC—IN DOUBT—A BUFFALO KILLED.

heavy rifle of mine, and wishing to get possession of it, I followed in their footsteps. But this made bad worse; for, seeing me also running, and thinking the enemy was at their heels, they redoubled their pace, nor did they stop until at a most respectful distance from the thicket. It was really absurd to see us thus endeavoring to outrun each other.

Having at length overtaken the men and secured my rifle, I returned to the spot whence I had first observed the suspicious objects; but, though I approached to within a dozen paces of them, I was unable, from the denseness of the cover, to make out their identity.

A tree was hard by; and, in the hope of obtaining a better view, I at once ascended it. But in this matter I was disappointed, for even when thus elevated I could see no better than from the ground. As the only mode left me of satisfying my doubts, I now fired into the midst of the dark objects in question; but not a living thing stirred. For a moment I fancied I must have been in error, and that what I had taken for animals were neither more nor less than huge stones. However, to set the point at rest, after reloading, I sent a second ball in the same direction as the first, and this time to some purpose, for at the report of the gun up sprung to their feet four magnificent male buffaloes; and after tossing their heads proudly, and sniffing the air for a moment, they broke cover in good style, and, to all appearance, unhurt. I never saw them again.

Following leisurely on their tracks in order to ascertain whether any of the beasts were hurt, a herd of buffaloes—at least two hundred in number—suddenly rushed past us with the violence of a tornado, breaking down and crashing every thing that opposed their headlong career, and raising so great a cloud of dust as nearly to conceal their dark forms from view. I fired into the midst of them at random, and had the satisfaction to see a cow drop to the shot.

The report of the rifle brought the whole herd almost im-