28 MULE AND HORSE KILLED BY LIONS. (CHAP. rr,
and John St. Helena took a hasty meal, and very pluckily went after them. They were absent two hours, but returned without the mules, who it seemed had got up again as the evening became cool, and had strayed, and were nowhere to be found. There were many old zebra tracks about the plain, which are as like those of mules as can be, and in the night quite undistinguishable from them. As for the six mules that had arrived they were, by Stewartson's advice, sent down into the river to eat, and rest themselves all night. He assured me there would be little danger, that we had seen no tracks of wild animals to injure them, and, what was very true, they must have food. I think it was the most foolish thing that I was guilty of during the whole journey, to leave the poor animals to shift for themselves two miles from us, and without the slightest protection ; but I was new to the country, and thought it a far better plan to put myself under the entire guidance of my worthy friend until I had gained some experience, than to make a mess of the whole thing by trying to manage for myself. I ought to have gone with two or three men to the river, and watched the mules whilst they fed for a couple of hours, then tied them up, and given them a good rest the next day. As it was, I slept in happy ignorance of the fate that awaited them.
In the morning I sent a man clown to drive them up : he was a long time absent, and at last returned with piteous news. He had found no mules, but, instead of them, the tracks of several lions; and going on, lie came to where he saw the tracks of all the mules going full gallop, and by the side of them those of the lions. A little further on he heard something in the bushes, and found my poor chestnut pack-mule half eaten, and a hyena devouring the remains of the carcase. At a short distance lay my largest horse, and a lion by him; the lion looked so savage, and walked so slowly away, that my man crept up the rocks, and waited there for a long time, which accounted for his delay, and then ran back to tell us.
Andersson and myself took up our guns directly and ran down, and the others after us. We went to the chestnut mule-she had been left behind the night before, and her instinct led her to climb down to the river bed, into which she seems to have been watched, and seized by the lions the moment she got there. We then followed the tracks on to the dead horse, the mules and horses had all been galloping together there were distinct tracks of six lions galloping by their side, and then had been the fatal spring, and the dead horse lay half eaten. The