Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/132

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ing carefully removed the skin, with the head attached to it, I set to work to quarter the flesh, which was rather a laborious task.

Though it was winter (January), the day was oppressively hot, and the leafless thorn-trees afforded no shelter against the burning rays of the sun. I suffered excessively from thirst, and, unfortunately, the wagons did not overtake me till after sunset. The Damaras yelled with delight at the sight of the oryx. They had a glorious gorge that night, and the return of daylight found them still at their feast!

With the exception of a heavy thunder-storm, accompanied by a deluge of rain, our journey to Barmen was marked by no farther incident worth recording. We reached it in safety on the 9th of January, 1851, after seven days' travel, half of which would have been sufficient under ordinary circumstances; but we had experienced very considerable difficulties in getting our wagons forward. The oxen pulled well enough so long as the country was level, but the moment they had to face a hill they came to a stand, and no amount of flogging would induce them to move. When the whip was applied, it only produced a furious bellowing, kicking, tossing of heads, switching of tails, and so forth. On such occasions they would not unfrequently twist themselves entirely round in the yoke, and it often took a whole hour to put them to rights again.

On account of the thick wood and general ruggedness of the country, the dry beds of periodical water-courses afford the only really practicable road. On the approach of the rainy season, however, these are not always safe; for, when in imagined security, the traveler may perhaps all at once find himself in the midst of a foaming torrent. If the oxen are not well trained, most serious results are to be dreaded. There are many instances of wagons with their teams having been thus surprised and swept away. Our fears on this head, therefore, were not quieted until we were in full view