Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/61

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As, on our return to the cart in the evening, the mule that had been left behind in the course of the day had not yet made her appearance, I and Stewardson, each mounting an ox, returned to the spot where she had last been seen. The animal, however, had disappeared; and finding that her tracks led toward the river, where it would have been next to madness to follow her in the dark, we retraced our steps at once, trusting that instinct, which had made her go in search of water, would also be a guide in seeking her companions.

Early on the following morning one of the wagon-drivers was dispatched to the river to look after our animals, while Mr. Galton and myself followed at our ease; but what was our horror, on entering the bed of the stream, to find that several lions had recently passed and repassed it in every direction! This, together with the absence of the mules and horses, at once foreboded evil. We were not long left to conjectures, for almost immediately our servant joined us, and said that a mule and a horse had been killed by the lions, and partly devoured. He added, that on his approaching the scene of the catastrophe, he saw five of those beasts feasting on the carcasses, but on perceiving him they had retreated with terrible growlings! Instead of his presence having scared the lions from their prey, however, as he asserted, we had reason to believe that, so soon as he was aware of them, he immediately hid himself among the rocks, and that it was not until emboldened by seeing us he had left his hiding-place. Had it been otherwise, he would have had ample time to give us notice of what had occurred prior to our leaving the encampment.

Singularly enough, the dead mule was the identical one we had been in search of on the preceding night, and it would appear that it had just rejoined its companions, or was on the point of doing so, when it was attacked and killed. Being a remarkably fine and handsome animal, its loss was