As though she realized she had been sighted, she at this moment leapt to her feet. Instantly I put a.405 bullet into her shoulder. Any other lion I ever saw or heard of would in such circumstances and at such a distance immediately have charged home. She turned tail and ran away. I missed her as she ran, then knocked her down with a third shot. She got up again, but was immediately hit by Captain D.’s.350 Magnum and brought to a halt. The dogs, seeing her turn tail and hearing our shots, had scrambled madly after her. We dared not shoot again for fear of hitting one of them, so we dashed rapidly into the grass and out the other side. Before we could get to her, she had sent Ruby flying through the air, and had then fallen over dead. Ruby got off lucky with only a deep gash the length of her leg.
This was the only instance I experienced of a wounded lion showing the white feather. She was, however, only about three-quarters grown, and was suffering from diarrhoea.
The big lion.
The boys skinned her while we ate lunch. Then we started several of them back towards camp with the trophy, and ourselves cut across country to a small river known as the Stony Athi. There we dismounted from our horses, and sent them and the boys atop the ridge above the stream, while we ourselves explored afoot the hillside along the river.
This was a totally different sort of country from that to which we had been accustomed. Imagine a very bouldery hillside planted thickly with knee-high brambles and more sparsely with higher bushes. They were not really brambles, of course, but their tripping, tangling, spiky qualities were the same. We had to force our way through these, or step from boulder to boulder. Only very rarely did we get a little rubbly clear space to walk in, and then for only ten or twenty feet. We tried in spaced intervals to cover the whole hillside. It was very hard work. The boys, with the horses, kept pace with us on the sky-line atop, and two or three hundred yards away.
We had proceeded in this fashion for about a mile, when suddenly, and most unexpectedly, the biggest lion I ever saw leapt straight up from a bush twenty-five yards in front of me, and with a tremendous roar vanished behind another bush. I had just time to throw up the.405 shotgun-fashion and let drive a snapshot. Clifford Hill, who was ten yards to my right, saw the fur fly, and we all heard the snarl as the bullet hit. Naturally we expected an instant charge, but, as things turned out, it was evident the lion had not seen us at all. He had leapt at the sight of our men and horses on the sky-line, and when the bullet hit he must have ascribed it to them. At any rate, he began to circle through the tangled vines in their direction.
From their elevation they could follow his movements. At once they set up howls of terror and appeals for help. Some began frantically to run back and forth. None of them tried to run away; there was nowhere to go! The only thing that saved them was the thick and spiky character of the cover. The lion, instead of charging straight and fast, was picking an easy way.