Bill wasn't faring so well. After thrashing through the jungle for a while, he began to hear noises. Little yelps and yips followed him, and he realized he was being trailed by a pack of hyenas. He ran until he was exhausted. Then he tried to climb a tree. He found that because of his injured arm, he couldn't. As night fell, Bill sat with his back to the tree. He hoped that if he remained quiet, the hyenas might not find him. Then, despite his best intentions, he fell asleep.
He awoke at first light, aching and mildly surprised not to have been torn apart during the night. Beside him he discovered the reason, and he couldn't believe his eyes. Those who hear the story cannot believe their ears. A lone cape buffalo, one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, had curled up next to him during the night. Whether by accident or design, it had protected him from the pack of hyenas. Bill was later told the buffalo was probably an old male that had recently lost a challenge by a younger bull. Possibly it was lonely. A professor of biology no doubt would explain the old bull's actions as emotionless instinct. But whatever the explanation, Bill is convinced that the animal saved his life.
Bill resumed his quest for help, and within an hour he stumbled into the camp of his friends. They returned upriver, and there, still swinging that paddle at any crocodile that came by, were the other two men. Eighteen hours after they had been overturned, all three paddlers were safe. It was not until they reached civilization and reported their adventures to a park ranger that the identity of the owner of the canoe paddle was established. He was another ranger from upriver. He had been killed the day before by a hippo, literally bitten in half.
Bristow swears the story is true, but if Bill is capable of inventing such a yarn, or even half of such a yarn, he should immediately begin work on a novel about a great white hippo called, say, Chalmers, and a mad, one-legged hunter on safari. Toward thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering hippo; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee....
Only then, I'm afraid, will the hippo be afforded the respect it deserves. Explain why, when cardinals, lions, tigers, eagles, terrapins, alligators, ducks, dolphins, bulldogs, buffalo and bears are all employed as mascots, no team has adopted the hippo? Tough, indomitable, fractious and thick-skinned, the Hippos would stomp the Gators, chomp the Lions and bite the Rangers in two.
At the bottom of its heart the hippo is really a sensitive New Age guy, a four-toed ungulate version of John Madden, as beautifully portrayed in The Hippopotamus Song, by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.
A bold Hippopotamus was standing one day
On the banks of the cool Shalimar
He gazed at the bottom as it peacefully lay
By the light of the evening star
Away on the hilltop sat combing her hair
His fair Hippopotamine maid
The Hippopotamus was no ignoramus
And sang her this sweet serenade
Mud! mud! glorious mud!
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So, follow me, follow, down to the hollow
And there let us wallow in glorious mud.