ELEPHANT SHOOTING 239
close by, with orders to come down behind the elephants so as to prevent their turning. This done he galloped up the slope, taking care to keep well above the herd.
By this time the elephants had reached the river bank, and at sight of the grey horse they stopped suspiciously and stood closer together. While they were standing thus the men came down from the slopes and formed a long line, surrounding them on that side. The elephants remained quiet, though they still flicked their ears, with the boats in front and the river behind them. Here the stream was broken, about a hundred yards from the shore, by an island, with a steep bank of hard earth. Before a shot could be fired they had swum across and gained the island, but then their progress was stopped. The banks were fully six feet high, and the river was too deep below to give them a footing. The only thing they could do was to pull down the bank with their trunks and tusks, so as to form a slope for them to pass up, and they at once set about it.
Hard as the whole eleven worked, it took some time; and Baker, standing on the shore, watched closely for the moment when one of them should turn round, for it was difficult to shoot with any certainty from such a distance. However, he did fire a few bullets in among them, which, though they did no real damage, bothered the elephants a good deal, and caused them, in their confusion, to tumble over each other. But by this time part of the bank had given way under their hard labour, and they were enabled to get some sort of footing above the water, so that more of their bodies were exposed to view. At last, with a prodigious amount of tumbling and struggling, one large animal reared itself half out of the river, and received a ball behind its shoulder. It fell over into the stream, which swept it quite near to where Baker was standing, so that it was easy to put a ball right into the brain.
When his rifle was loaded for the second shot an elephant had scrambled right to the top of the bank, and