Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/193

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185
INTENSE COLD—THE AUTHOR NEARLY BURNED.

and continued circles over it, and thus, by giving time for others to arrive, increase their numbers.

There is a great variety among the grouse. Thus, for instance, in the course of a single morning, and in about half a dozen discharges, I have bagged grouse of five different species, and I have procured altogether eight or nine; but none of them are good eating. They chiefly live on hard, indigestible seeds, often of an oily substance, which gives to the meat a toughness and an unsavory flavor. They are best when made into pies.

I have already mentioned that we had one morning been suddenly apprised of the approach of winter by an intensely bleak wind. Since then the cold had gradually increased, and we suffered much in the night-time. Hitherto the abundance of fuel we had found every where enabled us to keep up a roaring fire, which in some degree shielded us from the night air. At Omutjamatunda, however, dry wood was scarce, because the place was the permanent residence of a great number of natives, and, as a consequence, the cold was painfully disagreeable.

The morning before leaving Omutjamatunda a curious accident occurred to me. On lying down at night alongside a small fire, the air was quite calm, but toward morning a strong and cutting wind arose. To protect myself against the chilling blast, I was obliged to pull the blanket over my head, and was thus slumbering in happy ignorance of every thing. After a time an agreeable sensation of warmth and comfort stole over me, and the most exquisite visions floated before my imagination. By degrees, however, this pleasant feeling was converted into uneasiness, and ultimately into absolute pain. I was writhing in agonies. By a violent effort I roused myself out of the trance, and, starting to my feet, discovered that the coverlet was ignited. A spark had fallen on it, and, being composed of quilted cotton, it had for a long time been slowly smouldering, which accounted