Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/163

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155
DESTRUCTIVENESS OF THE TERMITES.

The day after this little adventure we continued our journey, and in the afternoon found ourselves safe at the foot of the southern extremity of Omuvereoom, and its sister hill, Ia Kabaka, from which it is only separated by a narrow valley. We "outspanned" at a small vley, where, for the first time, I observed the willow-tree—an agreeable reminiscence of our native land. The water, however, was of the most abominable quality, being apparently much frequented by wild animals, who had converted the pool into something like what we see in a farm-yard.

At this place we had a striking instance of the fearful ravages which termites are capable of committing in an incredibly short time. In the early part of the day after our arrival, Mr. Galton and Hans started on foot, with the intention of ascending Omuvereoom. In consequence of a sudden and distressing pain in my side, I was unable to accompany them, and, in the hope of obtaining a little ease, made a sort of extempore couch on the ground, covering it with a plaid. On rising after a while, I discovered, to my dismay and astonishment, that my bedding had been completely cut to pieces by the destructive insects, and yet, when I first laid down, not one was visible.

Early the next morning we pushed on to a large vley, upward of a mile in length, the finest sheet of standing water we had yet seen in Damara-land. It was swarming with geese and ducks. The vegetation had a very tropical appearance; several—to us—new trees and plants, without thorns, presented themselves, and we began to flatter ourselves that we had at last passed the boundary-line of those thorny woods which had so long and pertinaciously harassed us. In this, however, we were disappointed. The very next day we entered a region far worse than any we had yet seen, which, indeed, bade fair to stop us altogether. Our poor cattle were cruelly lacerated, and it was with the utmost difficulty we succeeded in getting the wagons through. I