Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/115

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107
A THUNDER-STORM IN THE TROPICS.

and several species of thorn-trees of the genus acacia, which, during the greater part of the year, assume every shade of green. To the eastward it faces the Swakop, the course of which is conspicuously marked by the handsome black-stemmed mimosa. Beyond this, the view is limited by a noble range of picturesque mountains, rising between six and seven thousand feet above the level of the sea. These receive additional interest from being more or less a continuation of those mighty chains which take their rise a very few miles from Cape-Town, thus extending, in a direct line, about one thousand miles.

Within a stone's-throw of the missionary house, a turbulent mountain stream winds its tortuous course. It flows, however, only during heavy rains, when its great fall and violence prove very destructive to the native gardens.

About two years from the period of which I am now writing, I happened to be on a visit to Barmen, on which occasion I witnessed one of those extraordinary phenomena only to be seen to perfection in tropical climes. One afternoon, heavy and threatening clouds suddenly gathered in the eastern horizon, the thunder rolled ominously in the distance, and the sky was rent by vivid lightnings. Knowing, from long experience, its imports, we instantly set about placing every thing under shelter that could be injured by the wet. This was hardly accomplished when large drops of rain began to descend, and in a few seconds the sluice-gates of heaven appeared to have opened. The storm did not last above half an hour, but this short time was sufficient to convert the whole country into one sheet of water. The noise, moreover, caused by the river and a number of minor mountain streams, as they rolled down their dark, muddy torrents in waves rising often as high as ten feet, was perfectly deafening. Gigantic trees, recently uprooted, and others in a state of decay, were carried away with irresistible fury, and tossed about on the foaming billows like so many