Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/162

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On the morning of our departure a bitterly cold wind swept over the dreary wastes, and suddenly reminded us of the approach of the winter season. Hitherto a shirt and a pair of trowsers had been enough to protect our bodies, but this day an addition of thick flannel and a warm pea-jacket was found to be insufficient.

One evening, as Hans and myself were giving chase to a troop of giraffes, we were overtaken by darkness, and, in the heat of pursuit, had completely lost our way. Hans being the most experienced of the two, I blindly abandoned myself to his instinct and guidance. After a while, however, it struck me we were actually retracing our steps to Omatako, and I told him so, but he only laughed at my apprehensions. Still, the more I considered the matter, the more I became convinced that we were pursuing a wrong course. In order, therefore, to split the difference, I proposed to Hans that if in about an hour he did not find any indications of our whereabouts, he should permit me to act as "pilot" for the same space of time, and that if I were equally unsuccessful as himself, we should quietly wait for the return of daylight. Hans was skeptical, and, shaking his head, grudgingly gave his consent. His hour having elapsed without gaining the object of our search, I wheeled right round, to his great disapproval, and walked as hard as I could in an exactly opposite direction. Singularly enough, only two or three minutes were wanting in completing my hour when I was suddenly and agreeably surprised to find my foot in the deep track made by the wheels of the wagons. Nothing could have been more fortunate, for I struck it precisely at a right angle. Another half an hour's walk brought us safe back to our bivouac, where, over a substantial dinner, we joked Hans on his singular obstinacy. His pride as a skillful woodsman had received a severe blow, and he would at intervals shrug his shoulders and repeat broken sentences of, "Well, I am sure! It's too bad!" and so forth.