246 ELEPHANT SHOOTING
having their breakfast not a quarter of a mile away. It seems strange that so many people can see no animal, however harmless, without wishing to kill it; but Colonel Gordon Cumming had travelled thousands of miles for no other reason, and his heart beat high. He quickly clambered down from his rock to warn his men to keep quiet and out of sight, and sent back to the camp for a fresh horse, his dogs, and his big rifle. Then he returned to his watch-tower to make out the He of the land.
The first herd he knew, from the size of the beasts, to be made up entirely of females, with some young ones following closely at their heels ; but further away was another troop, consisting of five males, also grazing quietly. These he resolved to leave till the horses and dogs came up, and to hunt the others on foot.
Very cautiously he moved along the rocky ridge where the females were feaiing on the young branches of the trees, till he got within a hundred yards of them. As the wind was blowing straight at him the elephants scented nothing, but continued to approach, munching as they walked. The sportsman picked out the largest and fired. The elephant uttered a cry of surprise more than of pain, and turned sharp round, receiving as she did so a second ball in the shoulder. Growling and muttering, the whole herd set off at a sharp trot northward, flapping their huge dangling ears as they went, the wounded female bringing up the rear with a friend by its side. When they reached a clump of trees they stopped, and not having scented man they thought they were safe. Meantime the horses and dogs had come up, and the hunters rode slowly towards the grove.
They had not gone far when the elephants caught sight of them, and started off afresh. But the poor wounded one could not keep up with the rest, and was easily cut off. Gordon Cumming dismounted, and, throwing his bridle over one arm, tried to aim steadilv at the elephant. He found this, however, almost impossible