Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/178

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The morning after our arrival at Okamabuti, we started off on a shooting excursion, in a northeast direction, in search of elephants; but, though we discovered their fresh tracks, and followed these for a whole day, we were unable to overtake the beasts. Notwithstanding our failure, we enjoyed the trip extremely. The scenery was novel and highly interesting. At times we crossed savannas where the grass reached above our heads as we sat on the oxen, and at others we passed through magnificent forests of straight-stemmed and dark-foliaged timber-trees,[1] fit abodes for the most wonderful creatures of animated nature.

A day or two afterward a calamity befell us which we had long dreaded. In order to be near the elephants, that we might hunt them at our leisure, we had determined to move our camp to a fountain a few hours further to the northeast, that was much frequented by these animals. On the morning of our departure, however, before we had proceeded many hundred paces, our largest wagon came in contact with a stump of a tree, which entirely demolished the foremost axle-tree. Unfortunate as this circumstance could not fail to be, we had, nevertheless, every reason to feel thankful it occurred where it did. The natives hereabout had shown themselves well disposed toward us. Water and pasturage were abundant; and even suitable wood for repairing the damage was to be found in the immediate neighborhood.

  1. These trees consisted chiefly of what in the Cape Colony is termed Stink-hout, or stink-wood. It derives its peculiar name from an offensive odor that it exhales, and which it retains until thoroughly seasoned. In the grain and the shading it somewhat resembles walnut, but in external appearance approaches the oak. Indeed, if I am not mistaken, botanists have described it as quercus Africana, in which case I believe it to be the only species of that kind known to be indigenous to the African continent. I am told it is by far the best wood in Southern Africa, and seems well adapted for various purposes, such as wagons, gunstocks, ship-building, &c.