258 A FIGHT WITH A HIPPOPOTAMUS
then to take accurate aim right under his eye, where the bone is thinnest, and the brain can most easily be reached. The bullet he employed was of a very deadly kind, being really an explosive shell in the form of an iron bottle, filled with strong gunpowder, and fitting into a two-ounce rifle. This shell did great execution, and produced instant death.
One night the party lay encamped by the side of a lake, and a small boat was moored to a grass-covered mud bank, close to the larger vessel. This boat, used as a larder, was full of hippopotamus flesh, which the men considered a great treat, and did not seem to find too tough for their strong white teeth.
After dinner was over, and the mosquito curtains hung up, the natives dropped off to bed one by one, and soon all was quiet, except for the sentry's steady tramp. Considering the latitude the night was cold, and wrapped in blankets everyone slept more soundly than usual. Suddenly Sir Samuel, who lay on a sofa on the poop-deck, was roused by the sounds of loud snorting and splashing just below him, and by the light of the moon saw a huge hippopotamus making ready to assault the little ship. Calling to his servant, Suleiman, to bring a rifle, Baker made his way to the main deck, where the rest of the crew were sleeping; but the whole place was such a mass of interlaced mosquito strings, that it was very difficult to steer between them so as to wake the men. Meanwhile the hippopotamus had not wasted his time. He had sunk the larder boat, and crushed the little ' dingey ' alongside as if it had been a walnut, and was now gathering himself together for the larger vessel, caring nothing for the noises made by the natives in the hope of frightening him away. As for Suleiman, he was in such mortal terror that he never remembered that the gun he had brought was unloaded, and that he had forgotten the charge.
Thrusting him hastily on one side, his master dashed