Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/149

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141
A RECONNOITRING EXPEDITION—THUNDER-STORM.

them with fresh confidence, and they no longer declined to accompany us. The worst of our Cape servants had been weeded out, and their places filled with useful and competent men. Our stud of draft-oxen, moreover, had been greatly increased, to say nothing of a large supply of live-stock. Matters thus once more looked bright and cheering, and we no longer hesitated to prosecute our journey. Nevertheless, before making the final arrangements, it was deemed advisable to know something of the country immediately in advance of us, and how far it was practicable for wagons, Galton having just returned from an excursion, it was thought only fair that I should undertake to ascertain this point.

Accordingly, I left Schmelen's Hope on the 24th of February, on ox-back, accompanied by Tinibo, John St. Plelena, and John Allen, perhaps the three most trustworthy and useful of our servants, as also a few Damaras, who were to serve me as guides and herdsmen.

On the first night after leaving Schmelen's Hope we were visited by a terrific thunder-storm, accompanied by a deluge of rain, which continued without intermission till four o'clock the next morning.

With my legs drawn up under my chin, and the caross well wrapped round my head, I spent this dreadful night seated on a stone, while the men, strange to say, slept soundly at my feet in a deluge of water. The next day, however, was bright and warm. The earth steamed with the sweet odors of a tropical herbage, and the landscape looked so beautiful and smiling that I felt my heart leap with joy and gratitude to the Giver of all good. The misery of the night was soon forgotten, and we proceeded cheerfully on our journey.

As we traveled on, we caught a glimpse of the beautiful cones of Omatako, which rise about two thousand feet above the level of the plain. I scarcely remember having ever been more struck or delighted with any particular feature in a