Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/174

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

but, unfortunately, as the event proved, paid him his wages in advance.

Early in the morning of the 12th of April we bade farewell to the inhospitable shores of Omanbondè. For a few hours we kept parallel with the Omuramba, when we struck into a more easterly course.

During the day we saw vast troops of camelopards, and just at nightfall I had the good fortune to kill a fine, full-grown male, which was an acceptable addition to our larder. Before the carcass had time to cool, twenty or thirty men were busy in tearing it to pieces. As usual on such occasions, the Damaras dispensed with sleep, and devoted the night entirely to the enjoyment of the banquet.

The next morning we witnessed a magnificent mirage. Lakes, forests, hills, &c., burst on the eye and disappeared in rapid succession.

Later in the day we were gratified by the sight of a large number of palm-trees. This harbinger of a better land was an agreeable surprise, bringing an involuntary smile of satisfaction to every face. We were astonished at the cheerful and refreshing effect a very slight improvement in the landscape had on our spirits. In the distance these palms seemed to us to form an extensive and compact wood, but on nearer approach we found the trees grew at long intervals from each other. They were very tall and graceful, each branch having the appearance of a beautiful fan, and, when gently waved by the wind, the effect produced was indescribably pleasing.

This species of palm is, I believe, new to science.[1] It produces fruit about the size of an apple, of a deep brown color, with a kernel as hard as a stone, and not unlike vegetable ivory. The fruit is said to have a bitter taste, but farther

  1. On his return to England Mr. Galton presented the Kew Gardens with specimens of the fruit, but I am told that every effort to raise plants from it proved abortive.