Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/217

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209
DEPART FROM TJOPOPA'S WERFT.

was no alternative; and in this instance, to do justice to the men, I must say they not only spoke the truth, but performed their services most satisfactorily.

Without bidding farewell to Tjopopa, who throughout had treated us inhospitably, we yoked our oxen on the 5th of July, and after about three days' travel arrived in the Omuramba. At this point the river (or rather the river-bed) appeared to cease altogether; but the natives declared that it continued to flow toward the Ovatjona or Matjo'na. I have since ascertained that they alluded to the Bechuana country. Hence we traveled steadily up toward its source. Its bed, which sometimes spread out into a flat, and at others formed a narrow channel, afforded us always a good and open road. The country on both sides was hemmed in by an apparently endless thorn coppice. We usually found water daily, at first in pools, but afterward exclusively in wells, varying in depth from a few feet to as much as forty. These were generally choked up with sand, and it often occupied us half a day to clean them out. I remember, on one occasion, working hard, with a party consisting of about thirty men and women, during upward of twenty hours, before we could obtain a sufficiency of water. It was cold work; for about sunrise the ice was often half an inch thick, and we had no waterproof boots to protect our feet.

Game now became abundant. We managed to kill sufficient for the table without being obliged to have recourse to our few remaining live-stock. I saw here for the first time that magnificent antelope, the eland.

Beasts of prey were likewise numerous. Indeed, they always follow the larger game. During the nights we were constantly annoyed by the dismal howlings of the hyænas; and we had some very exciting foot-chases after these animals.

While out hunting early one morning I espied a small troop of gnoos quietly grazing at a bend of the river. Cautiously approaching them under shelter of the intervening