Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/216

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

ing been the most importunate of the whole lot. Moreover, he had not paid his debt, nor would he sell Hans any more cattle; and, as there was then very little game in the neighborhood, they were so pressed for food that Hans was obliged to reduce the men's allowances very considerably. Our Damara servants lived for some time solely on such birds and small animals as they could kill by means of the dogs. Fortunately, Hans possessed some tobacco; and, while the natives refused every thing else, he was able to obtain a few sheep for this article, which proved a most opportune supply.

Not many days previous to our arrival eight Damara women had been surprised by the Bushmen and unmercifully put to death. This, however, was not to be wondered at, for the Damaras themselves are always waging an exterminating war on the Bushmen. Indeed, they hunt them down, wherever met with, like wild beasts.

Hans had succeeded in repairing the wagon most satisfactorily; and the oxen, though rather lean, were in tolerably good working order. We now determined to turn our faces homeward without a moment's delay. A very few days were sufficient to enable us to complete the final preparations.

By this time all the pools of rain-water which had befriended us on our journey northward were dried up, and it would therefore have been impossible to retrace our steps by the same route. The Damaras strongly advised us to strike the Omuramba-k'Omatako at a certain point, and by following its course they assured us we should find water and pasturage in abundance. One man, in particular, who had always shown himself civil and obliging, offered to act as guide the first part of the way; for the remainder we secured the services of a lad professing to be well acquainted with the country. Having on so many occasions been deceived by the natives, we did not much relish the idea of again trusting ourselves to their guidance. However, there