Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/168

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would be realized! We carefully examined our Mackintosh punt to see that it was sound, as we fully purposed to spend a few weeks on the shores of Omanbonde, in order to enjoy some fishing and shooting.

By this time we had lost sight of Omuvereoom, which gradually dwindled into a mere sand-ridge, and was now identified with the plain. The vley river just mentioned, which had so long befriended us, we also left behind, and were now traveling across a very sandy tract of country. Fortunately, though the bushes were very thick, only a few were thorny. Moreover, their wood, which was quite new to us, was of so brittle a nature that, although trees from five to six inches in diameter repeatedly obstructed our path, our ponderous vehicles crushed them to the ground like so many rotten sticks. A European can form no conception of the impracticable country one has to travel over in these parts, and the immense difficulties that must be surmounted. To give a faint idea of the obstructions of this kind of traveling, we will suppose a person suddenly placed at the entrance of a primeval forest of unknown extent, never trodden by the foot of man, the haunt of savage beasts, and with soil as yielding as that of an English sand-down; to this must be added a couple of ponderous vehicles, as large as the coal-vans met with in the streets of London, only a great deal stouter, to each of which are yoked sixteen or twenty refractory, half-trained oxen. Let him then be told, "Through yonder wood lies your road; nothing is known of it. Make your way as well as you can; but remember, your cattle will perish if they do not get water in the course of two or three days."

No greater calamity could possibly befall us than the breaking of an axle-tree at a distance from water. Therefore, every time the wagons struck against a tree, or when the wheels mounted on a stone several feet in height, from which they descended with a crash like thunder, I would pull up abrupt-