Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/109

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101
EFFECTS OF EXCESSIVE HEAT.

miles as the crow flies from the sea, and where there is almost always a refreshing breeze, the thermometer, at noon, in an airy situation, and in the shade, rises, for many days together, to 110 degrees of Fahrenheit!

In consequence of the fiery state of the atmosphere, every article of horn or wood shrank and contracted most surprisingly. Even the gun-stocks, made of the best English walnut, lost an eighth of an inch of their original solidity. The ink dried in the pen almost the instant it left the stand.[1]

Our wagons, moreover, which on leaving Scheppmansdorf were in excellent order, were now quite infirm. The spokes and the tires became loose, and the felloes and naves exhibited large gaps and fissures. To save them, however, as much as possible, we set about making a shed of reeds and rushes, strongly bound together by cords and light wooden sticks.

As soon as this was finished, I began my preparations for visiting Galton at Barmen; and as Mr. Schöneberg was also anxious to make the acquaintance of Mr. Hahn, his intended colleague, it was agreed that we should travel together. On the day appointed we set out, mounted on oxen, and accompanied by a Hottentot as guide and interpreter. Besides his native tongue, this man spoke Dutch and Damara fluently.

  1. Captain Sturt, who in his explorations in Australia seems to have experienced the same heat in even a greater degree, says,

    "The mean of the thermometer for the months of December, January, and February had been 101, 104, and 105 degrees respectively, in the shade. Under its effects, every screw in our boxes had been drawn, and the horn handles of our instruments, as well as our combs, were split into fine laminae. The lead dropped out of our pencils, and our signal rockets were entirely spoiled; our hair, as well as the wool on the sheep, ceased to grow, and our nails had become brittle as glass. The flour lost more than eight per cent. of its original weight, and the other provisions in still greater proportion." In another part of his narrative, this enterprising explorer mentions the quicksilver once to have risen to 132 degrees in the shade, the thermometer being placed in the fork of a tree, five feet from the ground!