Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/131

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123
DEPARTURE FROM RICHTERFELDT.

The oxen, which from the beginning had been only partially broken-in, were now, from their long rest, wild, refractory, and unmanageable in the extreme. Before we could effectually secure the two spans (teams) necessary for the wagons, several hours had elapsed, and it was not till late in the afternoon of the 30th of December, 1850, that we were able to bid a final farewell to Richterfeldt and its obliging inhabitants.

We made but little progress the first day; and when we bivouacked for the night, which was on the right bank of the Swakop, we were only three hours' journey from the missionary station. Indeed, we were obliged to come to an early halt in consequence of the mules and some of the oxen having taken themselves off.

During the night we were serenaded by whole troops of lions and hyænas. One of the latter had the boldness to come within the encampment, and only retreated after an obstinate combat with the dogs. In the bed of the river, moreover, and where our cattle had been drinking during the night, we discovered a spot where a lion had made a dash at a zebra, but his prey had evidently disappointed him.

Next morning, without waiting for the return of the men who had been sent in search of the missing animals, I shouldered my gun and went in advance, in the hope of procuring a few specimens of natural history, as also of meeting with game of some kind or other; nor was I disappointed. At a bend of the river I suddenly encountered a fine herd of oryxes or gemsboks, the supposed South African unicorn. As they dashed across my path at double-quick time, and at least one hundred and fifty yards in advance, I fired at the leading animal (which proved a full-grown female), and had the satisfaction to see it drop to the shot. On going up to my prize, I found that the ball—a conical one—had passed clean through both shoulders, and this was, perhaps, somewhat remarkable, as the gun-barrel was smooth in the bore. Hav-