Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/75

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67
LIONS—A PANIC.

out intermission till a late hour, when all became silent. Believing that they had taken themselves off, I sent the men who had been watching to sleep. I was, however, deceived; for two hours had hardly elapsed when within a short distance of our encampment, there arose a most horrible roaring, intermingled with the rushing to and fro, the kicking, plunging, and neighing of a troop of zebras, which instantly brought every man to his feet, and the consternation and confusion became indescribable. Some of them rushed about like maniacs, lamenting most piteously that they ever left the Cape. Others convulsively grasped their blankets in their arms, and cried like children; while a few stood motionless, with fear and anguish depicted in their countenances. It was in vain that I tried to calm their agitation. They seemed fully convinced that their last hour had come, and that they should perish miserably by the fangs of wild beasts.

On going just outside the inclosure, I could distinctly see the glimmering of lions’ eyes, as our small, well-kept bivouac-fire fell full upon them. I sent a ball or two after the intruders, but, as it appeared afterward, without effect.

The next morning we found that the zebras had escaped unscathed, and we attributed the unusual anger and ferocity of their pursuers to the disappointment they had experienced in losing their favorite prey.

We had only been a short time at Richterfeldt when three of our mules, and the remaining horse, were seized with a mortal disease, and in the course of a few hours they all died. Though the loss of the animals was great to us, their death was a god-send to the poor Damaras, who devoured the carcasses bodily, and without the least disagreeable result.

The distemper in question is usually known by the vague name of "paarde-sikte" (the horse—sickness); and, as the cause is totally unknown, no remedy has yet been found efficient to stop it. Throughout Great Namaqua-land it is particularly fatal. Some people attribute this singular dis-