Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/183

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
175
BASKET—RETURN TO CAMP.

Their articles of barter were spear-heads, knives, rings, copper and iron beads, &c., but of exceedingly rude workmanship. Indeed, it was to me a constant wonder how they could persuade their neighbors to buy such trash. Yet all these things were very dear; an unfinished assegai-blade or a yard of beads being the regular price for an ox.


BASKET FOR
MERCHANDISE.
Their merchandise was packed in small square baskets made out of palm-leaves: these were suspended to both ends of the long, smooth, and elastic pole (of palm wood) that each man bore poised on his shoulder. What with their merchandise, provisions, water, &c., the weight was often very considerable, yet they traveled much faster than ourselves.

They have no idea of making use of oxen for draft, or, perhaps it would be more correct to say, they value these animals too highly to make use of them for such purposes.

On the 4th of May we returned to our encampment. Hans and Phillippus had killed an elephant during our absence, which highly delighted the Damaras, who had flocked to the neighborhood of Okamabuti in very great numbers. We were sorry to find that our cattle, instead of improving in condition by their rest, were fast losing flesh. This was attributed to the grass hereabout, which was bitter tasted, and to change of pasturage in general. The cattle of the natives were accustomed to every variety of herbage, and did not suffer. Sheep, however, failed to thrive here.

While waiting for the return of the Ovambo traders, who, with the exception of their head man, Chikor'onkombè, had now dispersed over the neighborhood in small bands of two and three, I employed the time in diligently exploring the surrounding country and ascertaining its natural productions, and was fortunate enough to add many an interesting specimen of insect and bird to my collection.

The natives were unable to comprehend why I thus col-