Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/180

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

to retrace our steps to Okamabuti, when we fortunately fell in with some Bushmen. We had left both our Hottentot interpreters behind, but we managed to explain to them our wants and wishes. With much persuasion, two of them agreed to accompany us to a certain large water in advance, of which the Damaras had made repeated mention. These men desired to spend the night at their own werft; but we had been so often deceived, that, in order to secure their services, we determined that only one of them should be allowed to absent himself. The other was to sleep near us; and, as a further security, Galton and myself agreed alternately to keep watch on the fellow through the night.

During our wanderings in the mountains we stumbled upon a series of wells which we christened "Baboon Fountain," on account of the number of baboons which frequented the place. Its real name was Otjikango.

It was from this point that on the morning of the 2d of May we took our fresh departure under the guidance of our Bushmen friends. We had not, however, been long on the road before we were overtaken by three or four men whom our Damaras at once recognized as natives of Ovambo-land, coming from the very quarter we had just left. They were part of the expected caravan, and I need hardly say that we were delighted at this opportune meeting. Contrary to custom, the men had made a short cut across the hills, and thus we had missed each other. On the Ovambos reaching our encampment, however, and finding strange tracks, and our bivouac fire still burning, their curiosity was greatly aroused, and they had detached the men whom we now encountered in order to bring us back. We did not much like the idea; yet, in hope of obtaining from them a guide, we acquiesced, intending presently to pursue our journey.

The caravan was composed of twenty-three individuals, of a very dark complexion, tall and robust, but remarkably ugly, and scantily attired. Their looks bespoke determina-