Crocodile shooting

Crocodile Shooting

The first time a man fires at a crocodile is an epoch in his life. We had only now arrived in the waters where they abound; for it is a curious fact that none are ever seen below Mineych, though Herodotus speaks of them as fighting with the dolphins, at the mouths of the Nile. A prize had been offered for the first man who detected a crocodile, and the crew had now been two days on the alert in search of them. Buoyed up with the expectation of such game, we had latterly reserved our fire for them exclusively; and the wild-duck and turtle, nay, even the vulture and the eagle, had swept past, or soared above, in security. At length the cry of "Timseach, timseach!" was heard from half-a-dozen claimants of the proffered prize, and half-a-dozen black fingers were eagerly pointed to a spit of sand, on which were strewn apparently some logs of trees. It was a covey of crocodiles! Hastily and silently the boat was run in shore. R. was ill, so I had the enterprise to myself, and clambered up the steep bank with a quicker pulse than when I first levelled a rifle at a Highland deer. My intended victims might have prided themselves on their superior nonchalance; and, indeed, as I approached them, there seemed to be a sneer on their ghastly mouths and winking eyes. Slowly they rose, one after the other, and waddled to the water, all but one, the most gallant or most gorged of the party. He lay still until I was within a hundred yards of him; then slowly rising on his fin-like legs, he lumbered towards the river, looking askance at me, with an expression of countenance that seemed to say, "He can do me no harm; however, I may as well have a swim." I took aim at the throat of this supercilious brute, and, as soon as my hand steadied, the very pulsation of my finger pulled the trigger. Bang! went the gun! whizz! flew the bullet; and my excited ear could catch the thud  with which it plunged into the scaly leather of his neck. His waddle became a plunge, the waves closed over him, and the sun shone on the calm water, as I reached the brink of the shore, that was still indented by the waving of his gigantic tail. But there is blood upon the water, and he rises for a moment to the surface. "A hundred piasters for the timseach," I exclaimed, and half-a-dozen Arabs plunged into the stream. There! he rises again, and the blacks dash at him as if he hadn't a tooth in his head. Now he is gone, the waters close over him, and I never saw him since. From that time we saw hundreds of crocodiles of all sizes, and fired shots,--enough of them for a Spanish revolution; but we never could get possession of any, even if we hit them, which to this day remains doubtful.