Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/104

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

mented us on the dispatch with which we had broken-in the oxen and performed the journey.

Mr. Galton, I ascertained, had lately departed for Barmen, Mr. Hahn's station. I determined to follow him as soon as I had taken sufficient rest after my fatiguing journey. In the mean time, the wagons were to remain at Richterfeldt till our return to that place.

At first we pitched our camp in the same spot we had occupied previously to our departure for Scheppmansdorf; but the high palisades that protected it had been destroyed in our absence by the natives, who had carried away the wood for fuel. This, however, was of little consequence, as the old inclosure would now have been too small to contain both the cattle and our cumbersome conveyances. Moreover, as the place was situated in the bed of a periodical stream, a tributary of the Swakop, and as the rainy season was fast approaching, it would have been imprudent to remain here any length of time. Accordingly, we brought our wagons, &c., to Hans' own kraal, which was near at hand on the bank of the river, as there we should be perfectly secure in case of any sudden inundation.

The day before our removal, the men had asked and obtained permission to spend the evening with Hans at his encampment. Even the dogs had absented themselves, and I was thus left altogether alone. This night, though somewhat warm, was delightfully bright and still. To enjoy the beautiful weather, I had taken my bedding out of the wagon, and placed it on the ground alongside the wheels, facing a small clump of low tamarisk-trees, distant not above twenty paces. Being a bad sleeper, I lay awake until a very late hour. All nature was hushed and silent, and the night so calm that I might have heard the falling of a leaf. Suddenly my attention was drawn to the tamarisk grove, whence proceeded a low, rustling noise like that of some animal cautiously making its way through it. Thinking it probable that