Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/130

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quently could not lay any claim to the soil. However, the messengers would not listen to this, and told him that their chief would never think of intruding without having obtained special permission to do so.

At this period Kahichenè was supposed to be the richest and most potent chieftain throughout the country. His wealth, of course, consisted solely in oxen and sheep. To give some idea of the number he then possessed, I will state that, early on the day after the interview just mentioned had taken place, the first droves began to make their appearance, and continued to arrive, without intermission, till late in the evening of the second day. Moreover, they did not come in files of one or two, but the whole bed and banks of the Swakop were actually covered with one living mass of oxen; and, after all, this was but a small portion of what he really owned. In the space of three short weeks not a blade of grass or green thing was to be met with for many miles on either side of Richterfeldt. Indeed, a person unacquainted with the real cause of this desolation would have been likely to attribute it to the devastating influence of that scourge of Africa, the locust.

Much valuable time had hitherto been lost in obtaining information of the country and the inhabitants, in buying and breaking-in of cattle, and so forth, and this without our having accomplished any considerable distance. We were now in hopes, however, of being able to prosecute our journey in earnest, and no time was lost in making the final arrangements for our departure. Our intended route lay to the north of Richterfeldt; but as the country was said to be very hilly and densely wooded, we deemed it advisable to proceed viâ Barmen. As hardly mules enough were left to draw the cart, it was thought best to leave it behind in charge of Mr. Rath, who kindly promised to look after it in our absence. The two wagons were thought sufficiently large to contain ourselves and baggage.