Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/153

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145
RETURN TO SCHMELEN'S HOPE.

One man told Galton that if he started at once for this place, and traveled as fast as he could, he would be an old man by the time he returned.[1]

Returning homeward, we pursued a somewhat different course. The first night, the men, for the sake of variety it is presumed, thought fit to encamp in the middle of an anthill! I was absent at the time, and on returning, all the arrangements had been made for the night. Tired as we were, I could not well think of moving. The result may easily be imagined.

The next day, in the more open parts of the country, we met with a very great abundance of a kind of sweet berry, about the size of peas, which afforded us a most delicious feast.

Early in the morning of the sixth day we found ourselves back at Schmelen's Hope, having been sixty hours on the move, or, at an average, twelve hours daily. Allowing three miles per hour at the lowest estimation, we had gone over a tract of country fully one hundred and eighty miles in extent, the greater part of which, moreover, had been performed on foot. Under ordinary circumstances, we should, perhaps, have thought nothing of the performance; but, what with bad living, previous long rest, and so forth, we were in poor condition for such sudden and severe exertions. Indeed, before we were at the journey's end, both man and beast were completely knocked up.

The object, however, had been gained. We had ascertained that the country, for several days' journey, was tolerably open and traversable for wagons; that grass abounded; and

  1. This surpasses the graphic answer given to Björn Jernsida (the bear ironside), a famous Swedish sea-king. When on his way to plunder Rome, he inquired of a wayfaring man what the distance might be. "Look at these shoes!" said the traveler, holding up a pair of worn-out iron-shod sandals; "when I left the place you inquire for, they were new; judge, then, for yourself!"