282 CROCODILE STORIES
was riding back to his own quarters further up the river, when he saw a large crocodile lying out in the stream, with its head above water. In order not to be observed before he could get near enough to aim, Baker dismounted, and crept softly away from the bank, which he then struck a little lower down, where a clump of rushes would conceal him from view. Almost crawling along the ground, he reached the spot, about four feet above the river, and took careful aim behind the crocodile's eye. The animal gave a start, and turned over on its back, where it lay without moving, with its legs above the water, which there was only two feet deep. Baker, of course, thought it was dead, and taking the rope which he always carried on his horse, told two of his men to go into the water and tie it up securely. While this was being done, a third man was sent off on horseback to the camp to bring back help, for long experience had taught them that, though a crocodile may really be shot through the brain, the muscular movements, both of legs and tail, will gradually cause it to slide from the bank back into deep water.
The men did as they were bid without shrinking, for they, too, had seen the fatal shot, when suddenly the scaly tail began to move. Trembling with fear, they cried out that the animal was still alive; but Baker told them it was all nonsense, and bade them be quick and finish what they were at. The men being on the spot, however, knew much better than their master on the bank, and the crocodile's struggles soon got so strong that they could hardly hold it. All at once it gave a great yawn, and, had it not been for dread of punishment, they would have dropped the rope in a fright and left the animal to its fate. Another bullet in the shoulder checked its struggles, and by this time the men galloped back with more ropes. Even now its strength was by no means exhausted, and it did not submit easily to its fate ; but at last it was safely landed on