HYENAS AND CHILDREN 255
poor little thing, either to be put to death at once, or, if she preferred it, to be turned loose in the forests, and there to run her chance of being eaten by wild beasts, or dying of starvation.
It did not take the little girl long to make up her mind, neither did she waste any time in weeping over her dreadful fate. Although only eight years old, she had heard of the fame and the kindness of the white men, and she at once determined to go in search of their station. What a terrible journey that must have been ! The station was many miles away, and to reach it, the child, badly injured as she was, and still suffering from the shock of the attack, had to pass through woods haunted by the most savage beasts, and to climb through deep glens, where an enemy might be lurking behind every rock. But somehow or other she did it, and arrived at the station in a fearful condition of pain and hunger, covered with fourteen large wounds from the teeth of the hyenas. At first it seemed impossible that she could live, but, wonderful to say, in the end, she not only recovered from her injuries, but bore hardly any signs of them, except some scars.
In spite of his ugly, ill-shapen form, few animals are quicker of movement than a hyena, and, cowardly though they are, their skill in dodging often enables them to get the better of their enemies. When Mr. Selous was on one of his expeditions in Mashonaland, the camp was disturbed for several nights by the knowledge that a hyena was prowling round, in the fond hope of catching them napping. He had not, however, shown as much cunning as usual, for the moon was still bright, and it was easy for the dogs to stop his proceedings.
At length a night came when the moon did not rise till ten, and, as near the equator it always gets dark early, it was necessary to shut up the camp at sunset to defend it against wild beasts. So the waggon was, as usual, placed in the middle, and the horses tied up just beyond, with their maize porridge cooling beside them on the hide