Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/164

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counted no less than seven distinct species of thorny trees and bushes, each of which was a perfect "Wacht-een-bigte," or "Wait a little," as the Dutch colonists very properly call these tormentors. Few individuals have ever traveled in the more northerly parts of Southern Africa without being greeted with a friendly salutation of 'Stop a little, if you please;' and fewer still, who have disregarded this gentle hint, ever came away without first paying a forfeit of some part or other of their dress. Indeed, the fish-hook principle on which most of the thorns are shaped, and the strength of each, make them most formidable enemies. At an average, each prickle will sustain a weight of seven pounds. Now, if the reader will be pleased to conceive a few scores of these to lay hold of a man at once, I think it will not be difficult to imagine the consequences. Indeed, on our return to Barmen, after a few months' absence, I possessed hardly a decent article of clothing; and, had not Mr. Hahn kindly taken pity on my forlorn condition, I am afraid there would soon have been little difference between me and the savages.

In the course of the day we arrived at a magnificent fountain, called Otjironjuba—the Calabash—on the side of Omuvereoom. Its source was situated fully two hundred feet above the base of the mountain, and took its rise from different spots; but, soon uniting, the stream danced merrily down the cliffs. These cascades, falling to the plain below, flowed over a bed of red gravel. A gigantic fig-tree had entwined its roots round the scattered blocks of stone by the side of Otjironjuba fountain, its wide and shady branches affording a delicious retreat during the heat of the noonday sun. It bore an abundance of fruit; but it was not yet the season for figs. Several half-ripe ones that I opened contained a large quantity of small ants, and even wasps. Great caution, therefore, is necessary in eating them.

Otjironjuba was to us a perfect paradise. We enjoyed it the more on account of the marked contrast it presented to the country we had previously traversed.