Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/480

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lope, I nearly trod on one of these monsters who was fast asleep. My foot was already descending on his tail before I was aware of him. Without daring to move, I gently raised the rifle to my shoulder, and, with a well-directed ball behind the ear, killed him on the spot.

One does not often hear of crocodiles in these parts seizing on human beings when immersed in water, which would seem to prove that these animals are "man-eaters" from the compulsion of hunger rather than from habit. Indeed, I have been assured by several persons that there is little danger of being attacked, provided one makes a great noise previously to entering the water. Accidents, however, do occur. Only a few years ago an English gentleman, Mr. R——, was carried off by one of these horrid creatures. He and his companion, Mr. M——, who told me the sad story, had encamped on the banks of the Zouga, and, as a number of water-fowl were seen disporting themselves on the stream, Mr. R—— proceeded there in the hope of obtaining a shot. He soon succeeded in killing several, and among the rest a Muscovy duck; but he was unable to secure it for want of a boat.

While looking about for a canoe, he observed a fine antelope approaching; and, running quickly toward the wagon, which was hard by, he called out to his men to bring him a rifle. On his return to the river, he found that the antelope had escaped. He then proceeded toward the spot whence he had shot at the duck, which was still floating on the surface. His companion having by this time joined him, he expressed his determination to possess the bird at any cost, and that he would swim after it. He confessed, however, that he felt some doubt about the safety of such a proceeding, adding that he had once been witness to the death of a man who was seized and destroyed by a shark alongside his own boat. Notwithstanding this (his own) opinion of the risk he was about to incur, and the warning of his friend, he undressed and plunged into the stream. Having swum a little