The lioness charged very fast, but very straight, about in the tearing, scrambling manner of a terrier after a thrown ball. I got in the first shot as she came, the bullet ranging back from the shoulder, and Hill followed it immediately with another from his.404 Jeffrey. She growled at the bullets, and checked very slightly as they hit, but gave no other sign. Then our second shots hit her both together. The mere shock stopped her short, but recovering instantly, she sprang forward again. Hill’s third shot came next, and perceptibly slowed and staggered, but did not stop her. By this time she was quite close, and my own third shot reached her brain. She rolled over dead.
Decidedly she was a game beast, and stood more hammering than any other lion I killed or saw killed. Before the final shot in the brain she had taken one light bullet and five heavy ones with hardly a wince. Memba Sasa uttered a loud grunt of satisfaction when she went down for good. He had the Springfield reloaded and cocked, right at my elbow.
Hill’s gunboy hovered uncertainly some distance in the rear. The sight of the charging lioness had been too much for him and he had bolted. He was not actually up a tree; but he stood very near one. He lost the gun and acquired a swift kick.
Our friends and the men now came up. The dogs made a great row over the dead lioness. She was measured and skinned to accompaniment of the usual low-hummed chantings. We had with us a small boy of ten or twelve years whose job it was to take care of the dogs and to remove ticks. In fact he was known as the Tick Toto. As this was his first expedition afield, his father took especial pains to smear him with fat from the lioness. This was to make him brave. I am bound to confess the effect was not immediate.
I soon discovered that we were hunting lions with the assistance of the dogs; not that the dogs were hunting lions. They had not lost any lions, not they! My mental pictures of the snarling, magnificent king of beasts surrounded by an equally snarling, magnificent pack vanished into thin air.
Our system was to cover as much likely country as we could, and to let the dogs have a good time. As I have before indicated, they were thoroughly doggy dogs, and interested in everything—except able-bodied lions. None of the stick-at-your-heels in their composition. They ranged far and wide through all sorts of cover, seeking what they could find in the way of porcupines, mongoose, hares, birds, cats, and whatever else should interest any healthy-minded dog. If there happened to be any lions in the path of these rangings, the dogs retired rapidly, discreetly, and with every symptom of horrified disgust. If a dog came sailing out of a thicket, ki-yi-ing agitatedly, and took up his position, tail between his legs, behind his master, we knew there was probably a lion about. Thus we hunted lions with dogs.