CHAP. X.] A TALE LEARNT FROM TRACKS. 18.
of the trees freshened up, and the air was laden with the fragrance of the acacias. For the sportsman, the rain makes a tofez/a rasa of the sand of the country, by obliterating all old tracks and disposing the ground to admit the sharpest and most distinct foot-mark impressions, which it is quite a luxury to follow. It is wonderful how much may be learnt from spoors ; a few tracks will tell a long tale. Thus, a short time since, some of Amiral's men came upon the track of a giraffe, grazing, and others of the party upon that of a lion crouching. Of course the spoors were followed. Of a sudden the lion's tracks entirely disappeared, and those of the giraffe showed he was at full gallop ; a small slippery place, caused by a light shower, lay in his path; by the side of it was an ugly sharp stump, the solid relic of a thorn-tree that had been broken down. In the slippery place the giraffe's feet had slid, and the animal had fallen ; on the stump was blood and lion's hair ; beyond, on one side of it, were the tracks of the lame marauder, as he limped slowly away ; on the other side, those of the giraffe atj full gallop. It was therefore evident that the lion had sprung on the back of the giraffe, and was carried by him till he slipped and fell. The fall dislodged the lion, who was flung upon the stump, and was injured too severely to be able to continue the attack. The giraffe seemed not to have been much hurt, as his gallop was a steady one, and there was no blood on his tracks.
The October rains can never be depended on; they seldom supply the country with more than one day's water ; they are very partial, and mere showers. These rains do more harm than good to a traveller, for, without materially increasing his supplies of water, they cause the dry grass, which overspreads the ground, to rot, and no food can in many places be obtained for the oxen. The true rainy season does not begin till the end of December; and even then it requires many falls before the arid country is so drenched by rain as to allow the water to lie upon its surface.
As we travelled on, reports reached us of a shocking and fatal accident which had happened to a trader, who had, while lifting up his gun, caused it to go off, and had shot himself through the arm and side The accident occurred among Cornelius's tribe, and as they were a very suspicious set, I feared that some foul play might have been the cause of his death ; however, Corneliu§ tools great pains in forwarding messengers to me, with full particulars of the case, and I could not hear that any robbery had been committed upon him. The cause of