Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/93

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85
RHINOCEROS HUNT.

ourselves with a small supply of water, I, Hans, and an attendant started in pursuit of the animals, and we had not left the camp for much more than an hour when we fell in with their "spoor." The beasts themselves, however, could nowhere be seen; and as several tracks crossed each other more than once (the animals having probably been feeding thereabouts), Hans and I took different directions in search of the trail we were to follow. We had hardly parted when I heard a tremendous crash among the bushes, and about a hundred yards in advance I saw, to my great vexation, the two rhinoceroses going away at full speed. Notwithstanding the distance and the unfavorable position of the beasts, I fired at the mother; but, though the ball apparently took effect, she in no wise slackened her pace.

Hans did not discharge his gun, because, as he said, the bushes prevented him from having more than a very indistinct view of the beasts.

When I had reloaded we gave chase, and as that part of the plain we had now reached was totally devoid of every kind of vegetation that could obstruct the sight, we easily kept the animals in view. By degrees they slackened their speed, and in about twenty minutes abruptly came to a stand-still, curiously regarding me as, having (though unobserved to myself) separated from Hans, I rapidly made up to them. When within fifteen to twenty paces, I halted, took aim at the mother, and pulled the trigger, but, to my great annoyance, my gun missed fire. While in the very act of discharging my second barrel she wheeled about, and the ball, instead of entering her heart, lodged in her hind quarters, and only tended to quicken her pace.

In the heat of pursuit, I had taken no notice of Hans and our attendant; but, now that my attention was no longer exclusively drawn to the rhinoceros, I looked round to ascertain why they had not fired as well as myself, when, to my utter astonishment, I saw both of them about half a