Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/113

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105
BUXTON FOUNTAIN—SCORPIONS.

moreover, had been very unwell during the day, and when we arrived at the end of the stage, which was not until seven o'clock at night, he was even more fatigued and exhausted than on the preceding evening.

We bivouacked by the side of "Buxton Fountain," so called in honor of the late Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, from whom and his family, if I am rightly informed, Mrs. Hahn had experienced much kindness. It is a hot spring, and the water, which flows out of a granite rock, is nearly of a boiling temperature, and has a brackish and disagreeable taste.

The soil, moreover, all round this fountain is impregnated with saline substances. A considerable number of wild animals congregate here nightly in order to quench their thirst. Lions, also, are at times numerous, but on this occasion they did not molest us.

Having partaken of some supper, I was about to resign my weary limbs to repose, when suddenly there issued from a small hole, close to my head, a swarm of scorpions. Their appearance brought me to my feet in an instant; for, though not a particularly nervous man, I am free to confess to a great horror of all crawling things.

During the hot months these animals lie dormant, but on the approach of the rainy season they come forth in great numbers. On removing stones, decayed pieces of wood, &c., it is necessary to be very cautious. The instant the scorpion feels himself in contact with any part of the body of a man or beast, he lifts his tail, and with his horny sting inflicts a wound which, though rarely fatal, is still of a very painful nature.[1]

Like the snake, the scorpion is fond of warmth, and it is not uncommon, on awakening in the morning, to find one or

  1. "The black, or rock scorpion," says Lieutenant Patterson, "is nearly as venomous as any of the serpent tribe. A farmer, who resided at a place called the Paarle, near the Cape, was stung by one in the foot during my stay in the country, and died in a few hours."