LION-HUNTING AND LIONS 289
village called Mabotsa. When Livingstone first visited Mabotsa, in the year 1843, he found all the people living in terror of the lions, which would not only invade the cattle-pens by night but attack the herds by day. This happens so seldom, unless the lions are very hungry, that the villagers explained it to themselves as being the result of a spell wrought by a neighbouring tribe, which had given them into the power of the lions ; and as they stood rather in dread of the fierce beasts, the lions had it all their own way.
Livingstone, however, had other ideas about the matter. He knew that if they could only manage to kill one lion, the rest would go and look for their dinner elsewhere. So, when the herds were again attacked in the grazing ground in broad daylight, he persuaded a large body of men to come out with him and punish the robbers.
It was not long before the lions were seen comfortably seated on some rocks which jutted out from the plain, thickly covered with trees. Livingstone ordered his men to surround the hill completely, at a distance, and then gradually to approach nearer and nearer, so as to make a close circle. A shot from the native schoolmaster hit one of the animals lying on a spur of the rock, and very much surprised him. He bit fiercely at the place, as if he thought he had been stung by an insect, then got up, and clearing the circle at a bound, vanished into the distance.
Two other lions followed his example, and got off without a scratch, for neither Livingstone nor the schoolmaster could fire from below, without risk to the men above ; and the fear of magic seemed to have so paralysed the natives that they never even thought of using their spears, as was the custom of their nation. Seeing it wae hopeless to get the men to act, Livingstone called them off, and gave the word to return to the village. On their way past the foot of the hill they came suddenly upon R u