Here again was a question. The Winchester repeaters - -of which we had two, Umbopa carrying poor Ventv?gel's as well as his own - were sighted up to a thousand yards, whereas the expresses were only sighted to three hundred and fifty, beyond which distance shooting with them was more or less guess-work. On the other hand, if they did hit, the express bullets, being expanding, were much more likely to bring the game down. It was a knotty point, but I made up my mind that we must risk it and use the expresses.
"Let each of us take the buck opposite to him. Aim well at the point of the shoulder, and high up," said I; "and Umbopa, do you give the word, so that we may all fire together."
Then came a pause, each man aiming his level best, as indeed one is likely to do when one knows that life itself depends upon the shot.
"Fire!" said Umbopa, in Zulu, and at almost the same instant the three rifles rang out loudly; three clouds of smoke hung for a moment before us, and a hundred echoes went flying away over the silent snow. Presently the smoke cleared, and revealed - oh, joy - a great buck lying on its back and kicking furiously in its death agony. We gave a yell of triumph; we were saved, we should not starve. Weak as we were, we rushed down the intervening slope of snow, and in ten minutes from the time of firing the animal's heart and liver were lying smoking before us. But now a new difficulty arose; we had no fuel, and therefore could make no fire to cook them at. We gazed at each other in dismay.
"Starving men must not be fanciful," said Good; "we must eat raw meat."
There was no other way out of the dilemma, and our gnawing hunger made the proposition less distasteful than it would otherwise have been. So we took the heart and liver and buried them for a few minutes in a patch of snow to cool them off. Then we washed them in the ice-cold water of the stream, and lastly ate them greedily. It sounds horrible enough, but, honestly, I never tasted anything so good as that raw meat. In a quarter of an hour we were changed men. Our life and our vigor came back to us, our feeble pulses grew strong again, and the blood went coursing through our veins. But, mindful of the results of over-feeding on starving stomachs, we were careful not to eat too much, stopping while we were still hungry.
"Thank God!" said Sir Henry; "that brute has saved our lives. What is it, Quatermain ?"
I rose and went to look at the antelope, for I was not certain. It was about the size of a donkey, with large, curved horns. I had never seen one like it before, the species was new to me. It was brown, with faint red stripes and a thick coat. I afterwards discovered that the natives of that wonderful country called the species "Inco." It was very rare, and only found at a great altitude, where no other game would live. The animal was fairly shot high up in the shoulder, though whose bullet it was that brought it down we could not, of course, discover. I believe that Good, mindful of his marvellous shot at the giraffe, secretly set it down to his own prowess, and we did not contradict him.