Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/173

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165
THE OVAMBO—AN EXPLORATION.

distance to the north there lived a nation called Ovambo, who had much intercourse with the Damaras, with whom they bartered cattle for iron-ware. They were a people, moreover, of agricultural habits, having permanent dwellings, and were reported to be industrious and strictly honest. The Damaras spoke in raptures of their hospitality and friendliness toward strangers, and represented them as a very numerous and powerful nation, ruled by a single chief or king named Nangoro, who, to their notions, was a perfect giant in size. With regard to the distance to this country, they gave us the same wild, conflicting, and unsatisfactory accounts as those we received about the position of Omanbondè. A variety of circumstances at last induced us, let the consequence be whatever it might, to attempt to reach this interesting land.

As, however, no reliance could possibly be placed on the accounts of the natives with regard to water, character of the country, and so forth, it was deemed advisable, before moving from our present encampment, to make a short exploratory excursion in order to see and judge for ourselves.

Mr. Galton, accompanied by a few of the men, therefore rode northward, in order to ascertain if the route we purposed taking was traversable with wagons. On the evening of the third day he returned, being assured of its practicability. He had met with several native villages, and, though his reception there had by no means been very flattering, we determined to proceed without a moment's delay.

None of the Damaras whom we had brought with us from Barmen professed to know any thing of the country we were about to explore. The guide, however, whom we had procured a short distance south of Omanbondè, said that he was well acquainted with it, and volunteered to show us the way to the Ovambo provided his services should be rewarded with a cow-calf. Mr. Galton gladly agreed to his terms,