202 THE UGLIEST BEAST IN THE WORLD
deal more common in the South of Africa than they are at present, as they have been forced by hunters further and further north. The natives used to chase them with stones and assegais, and so hungry or greedy were they, that even a dinner of the beast's tough flesh was acceptable. Like all animals with hoofs, the rhinoceros feeds on bushes and plants, but this does not prevent his being very fierce when attacked, or from trampling under his great feet anything or anybody that happens to cross his path.
The Namaquas are very cruel in their manner of hunting the rhinoceros, but when once the animal is wounded, and they think it can safely be approached, they try, if possible, to climb on its back, and to thrust a lance into a fatal spot behind the shoulder.
One day a man had just succeeded in getting on to a wounded black rhinoceros above its tail, when the creature started up with a roar, scattering its enemies, who fled for shelter behind a tree. But the tree was not large enough to hide them all, and in a moment the rhinoceros was rushing towards them, tearing up the ground with its horns. The men sped away in all directions, till one of them, getting angry, stopped, and looking the rhinoceros full in the face, called it by an ugly name. The rhinoceros, surprised at this behaviour, stopped too, and stared at the Namaqua, who, gaining courage, became still more abusive. His words seemed to have a power that all the stones had lacked, for the animal turned round and began to beat a retreat, when the Namaqua seizing its tail, sprang on its back, and aimed a deadly blow on its shoulder.
It is wonderful how well the men can aim with their assegais, which are light-throwing spears, with long iron heads. Some bushmen, going on a hunting expedition in their own countiy, found the fresh trail of two rhinoceroses, and at once set about making their preparations. They first built up a rough stone hut near the place, where one of the men could lie hidden, with two assegais at