Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/169

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161
OMANBONDÈ—DISAPPOINTMENT.

ly, and hold my breath till all danger was over, when a weight like that of the nightmare fell from my mind. However, in the course of time, we became tolerably accustomed to the hazards that beset us, and looked almost with indifference on the dangers which constantly threatened destruction to our conveyances.

About noon on the 5th of April we were rapidly approaching Omanbondè, but oh, how were we disappointed! My heart beat violently with excitement. The sleepy motion of the oxen, as they toiled through the heavy sand, being far too slow for my eagerness and excited imagination, I proceeded considerably in advance of the wagons, with about half a dozen Damaras, when all at once the country became open, and I found myself on some rising ground, gently sloping toward the bed of what I thought to be a dry water-course.

"There," suddenly exclaimed one of the natives—"there is Omanbondè!"

"Omanbondè!" I echoed, almost in despair; "but where, in the name of heaven, is the water?"

I could say no more, for my heart failed me, and I sat down till the wagons came up; when, pointing to the dry river-bed, I told Galton that he saw the lake before him. "Nonsense!" he replied; "it is only the end or tail of it which you see there."

After having descended into the bed, we continued to travel, at a rapid pace, about a mile in a westerly direction, when, at a bend, we discovered a large patch of green reeds. At this sight a momentary ray of hope brightened up every countenance; but the next instant it vanished, for we found that the natives were actually searching for water among the rushes!

The truth at last dawned upon us. We were indeed at Omanbondè—the lake of hippopotami! We all felt utter prostration of heart. For a long while we were unable to give utterance to our feelings. We first looked at the reeds