Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/506

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498
HOW THE CHASE IS CONDUCTED—THE SPEAR.

the greater force to the blow, and the next instant the fatal iron descends with unerring accuracy in the body of the hippopotamus.

The wounded animal plunges violently and dives to the bottom, but all his efforts to escape are unavailing. The line or the shaft of the harpoon may break, but the cruel barb once imbedded in the flesh, the weapon (owing to the thickness and toughness of the beast's hide) can not be withdrawn.

As soon as the hippopotamus is struck, one or more of the men launch a canoe from off the raft, and hasten to the shore with the harpoon-line, and take a "round turn" with it about a tree or bunch of reeds, so that the animal may either be "brought up" at once, or, should there be too great a strain on the line, "played" (to liken small things to great) in the same manner as the salmon by the fisherman. But if time should not admit of the line being passed around a tree, or the like, both line and "buoy" are thrown into the water, and the animal goes wheresoever he chooses.

The rest of the canoes are now all launched from off the raft, and chase is given to the poor brute, who, so soon as he comes to the surface to breathe, is saluted with a shower of light javelins, of which the following wood-cut is a sample. Again he descends, his track deeply crimsoned with gore. Presently, and perhaps at some little distance, he once more appears on the surface, when, as before, missiles of all kinds are hurled at his devoted head.

Lake Ngami-p498.png

THE SPEAR.

When thus beset, the infuriated beast not unfrequently turns upon his assailants, and, either with his formidable tusks, or with a blow from his enormous head, staves in or capsizes the canoes. At times, indeed, not satisfied with