Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/516

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home, four months had elapsed; but, though this portion of my travels was not devoid of interest, the volume has already swelled to such a bulk that I must content myself with relating merely one striking incident that befell me, and a few general remarks.

Journeying in a very lonely part of the country, and only accompanied by a single native, I arrived one day at a fountain, situated in a defile between some craggy rocks. The water issued from different parts among these cliffs, forming little pools here and there; and though the place was difficult of access, elephants and other large game were in the habit of flocking to the water nightly. As the stony nature of the ground afforded excellent "ambuscades," and being much in want of provision, I determined to watch the pools in question for a night or two.

The first night was a failure, but in the second I succeeded in killing a white rhinoceros. After this, though I watched long and well, nothing appeared, and at last sleep overtook me. How long I slumbered I know not; but on a sudden I thought, or dreamed, that I was in danger. From much night-watching, my hearing and sight had gradually acquired such an acuteness that even in sleep I was able to retain a certain consciousness of what was passing around me, and it is probable that I was indebted to this remarkable faculty for the preservation of my life on the present occasion. At first I could not divest myself of fear, and for a while my senses were too confused to enable me to form any accurate notion of the imagined danger. Gradually, however, consciousness returned, and I could distinctly hear the breathing of an animal close to my face, accompanied by a purr like that of a cat. I knew that only one animal existed in these parts capable of producing the sound, and at once I came to the conclusion that a lion was actually stooping over me.

If a man had ever cause for dread, I think I certainly had on this occasion. I became seriously alarmed. My first im-