Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/154

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146
FINAL DEPARTURE FROM SCHMELEN'S HOPE.

that (the most important point of all) we should be sure of water for ourselves and cattle.

No time was now lost in making ready for a final start. An American, who had long been in Mr. Hahn's service, was about to travel to the Cape by land. Although the journey was supposed to last at least six or seven months, communication was so rare in these parts that we deemed it advisable to benefit by it. Letters were accordingly written to friends and acquaintances, as also dispatches for the British government at the Cape.

 

 

CHAPTER XIII.

Depart from Schmelen's Hope.—Meeting with Kahichenè.—Oxen Stolen.—Summary Justice.—Superstition.—Meeting an old Friend.—Singular Custom.—Gluttony of the Damaras.—How they eat Flesh by the Yard and not by the Pound.—Superstitious Custom.—A nondescript Animal.—The Author loses his Way.—Ravages of the Termites.—"Wait a bit, if you please."—Magnificent Fountain.—Remains of Damara Villages.—Horrors of War.—Meet Bushmen.—Meet Damaras.—Difficulties encountered by African Travelers.—Reach the Lake Omanbondè.—Cruel Disappointment.

On the morning of the 3d of March we left Schmelen's Hope. The alternately rugged and sandy nature of the soil, the embarrassing thorn coppices, and the stubbornness and viciousness of the oxen, rendered our progress at first very slow and tedious.

On the fifth day we arrived at a splendid vley, called Kotjiamkombè. From the branches of the trees and bushes which lined the sides of this piece of water were suspended innumerable graceful and fanciful nests of the well-known weaver-bird species. The rank grasses and reeds afforded shelter to a great variety of water-fowl, some of which were gorgeously plumaged. Here we found Kahichenè waiting to