The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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260 A FIGHT WITH A HIPPOPOTAMUS
gave the order for everyone to return to bed, as the danger was past.
But he had rejoiced too soon. In half an hour that fearful splash was heard again, and with a rush the crea­ture made for the boat. A bullet in his head stopped his career just as he was upon it, and rolling and kicking, apparently in his last agony, he was carried down stream.
After he had floated about fifty yards he suddenly, to the surprise of those who were watching him, pulled him­self together, and returned slowly along the river bank, which lay in dense shadow. The boat's crew waited with their ears at full cock for some time longer, and then decided that the beast had had enough, and that they might go back to bed for the third time. Baker followed their example, but kept the gun close beside him.
Unlike his men, he did not feel inclined to sleep, and it was not long before everyone was again on his feet, watching the enemy, who was splashing heavily across the river so as to get a better chance for a rush. Now was the opportunity for aiming at the shoulder, and as the animal turned and his body was exposed, Baker lodged a ball in his heart. This time he really was dead, and tumbled into the river.
Then they all went to bed again. Next morning they examined his body—which was covered with scars from the tusks of his own species—for the fury of his onslaught really looked more like madness than anything else. The bullets had broken one of his jaws and cut through his nose, but nothing except death could stop him from fighting. As for the dingey, he had simply bitten out a piece of its side, and would doubtless have done the same to the larger vessel if he had been suffered actually to touch it.
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