286 LION-HUNTING AND LIONS
a mile and a half across, and every man went to his station on each side of the net, hidden by the long grass, tied together at the top. By the rules of the chase all the beasts killed before each twelve yards of net belonged to the owner of the netting, who had to pay the tribute of a hind leg from every animal to the man on whose ground the hunt happened to be.
When all was ready a whistle, taken up and repeated for two miles down the line, gave the signal. The men touched with their fire sticks the dry grass, and soon little columns of smoke were seen rising into the air. Not a native was in sight, and Baker, who was standing beside a tall ant-hill, concealed himself as well as he could.
A fresh breeze was blowing, and the fire spread rapidly with a loud roar, and the Englishmen began to look to their guns. A huge rhinoceros made its appearance first, but turned off to the right, and no more was seen of him. After that the rush became thick and fast: leopards, antelopes, hartebeests, dashed wildly along, followed closely by a lion and lioness, far too frightened themselves to think of attacking the antelopes, who, on their part, gave no heed to them. Baker aimed at the head of the lion, but before he could shoot a woolly black head bobbed up between him and his prey. He had forgotten the natives lying in the grass near the nets, and the lion swept by and bounded over the stream, and no more was heard of him!
Bad though the fire was for the animals, things were not much better for the Englishmen, who were nearly blinded by the smoke, and fired wildly in the hopes of killing something. At length the flames reached the shore and at once died down, and when the smoke had a little blown away they all came out from their hiding places to count the spoil. Antelopes had suffered the most, and enough of them had been killed to supply the people for many days. Buffaloes had been seen,