Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/63

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55
TROOP OF LIONS.

lions, while, from the nature of the ground, they would have been unable to render me any assistance.

Being at last obliged to give up the search, two or three of the men on whom we could best depend were sent on the tracks of the scared mules and the remaining horse. After many hours' hard walking they were discovered, but the poor beasts had received such a fright that it was only with great trouble and exertion that they were secured.

Thinking that the lions would in all probability return during the night to make an end of what was left of the horse and mule, Galton and I determined to watch for them, and selected for our ambush the summit of a steep rock immediately near one of the carcasses.

Shortly after sunset we proceeded to put our plan into execution, and, having arrived within a short distance of the slain animals, one of the people suddenly exclaimed, "Oh! look at the six bucks!" Imagine our astonishment when, turning our eyes in the direction to which he pointed, we saw, instead of antelopes, six magnificent lions; and this, moreover, on the very rock on which we had purposed ambushing ourselves, and where, as we foolishly imagined, we should have been in perfect security!

On perceiving that they were discovered, the beasts retreated behind the rock, but one or another of them would nevertheless steal from its hiding-place occasionally and take a peep at us.

Contrary to the counsel of Mr. Galton and others of our party, I now ascended the acclivity where we had last seen the beasts; but, although they were nowhere visible, I had every reason to believe the whole troop was not far distant from the spot where I stood.

To have ambushed ourselves in the rock originally selected was (from the evidence we had just had of its insecurity) not now to be thought of, and we therefore looked out for a safer place. The only one that offered, however, was a large