Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/511

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503
FEROCITY OF THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.

of her at the time. A few minutes afterward, however, on coming to a bend of the river, we fell in with the canoe that had been sent on, bottom uppermost, and found, to our great consternation, that the wounded beast, in going down the stream, had caught sight of the canoe, and, instantly attacking it, had, with one blow of her head, capsized it. The men saved themselves by swimming, but all the loose articles were either lost or spoiled by the water. Fortunately for me, however, I had taken the advice of the Bayeye to remove the most valuable of my things, such as books, instruments, &c., to the raft previous to the canoe leaving.

Innumerable instances, showing the ferocity of the hippopotamus, are on record. "Lieutenant Vidal," says Captain Owen, in his Narrative of Voyages, and when speaking of the River Temby, "had just commenced ascending this stream in his boat, when suddenly a violent shock was felt from underneath, and in another moment a monstrous hippopotamus reared itself up from the water, and, in a most ferocious and menacing attitude, rushed, open-mouthed, at the boat, and, with one grasp of its tremendous jaws, seized and tore seven planks from her side; the creature disappeared for a few seconds, and then rose again, apparently intending to renew the attack, but was fortunately deterred by the contents of a musket discharged in its face. The boat rapidly filled, but, as she was not more than an oar's length from the shore, the crew succeeded in reaching it before she sank. The keel, in all probability, touched the back of the animal, which, irritating him, occasioned the furious attack; and had he got his upper jaw above the gunwale, the whole broadside must have been torn out. The force of the shock from beneath, previously to the attack, was so violent that her stern was almost lifted out of the water, when the midshipman steering was thrown overboard, but, fortunately, rescued before the irritated animal could seize him."

In justice, however, to the poor hippopotamus, who, in