Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/222

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RETURN TO BARMEN—THE DAMARAS.

On the 26th of July we came in sight of Omatako, and many other well known hills. On the 3d of August we found ourselves at Schmelen's Hope; but how different an aspect did it present to that which lived in our memory! When we left it about three months previously, the country was covered with the most luxuriant vegetation. Since then, the Damaras had been encamping there with their cattle, and we were now unable to obtain sufficient pasturage for our animals. The water, moreover, was all but exhausted.

On the following day, the 4th of August, we continued our journey to Barmen, where we arrived on the afternoon of the same day safe and well.

Thus ended an expedition which, although it might not have been so successful as we had anticipated, was not without its fruits.

 

 

CHAPTER XVIII.

The Damaras.—Whence they came.—Their Conquests.—The Tide turns.—Damara-land only partially inhabited.—-Climate.—Seasons.—Mythology.—Religion.—Superstitions.—Marriage.—Polygamy.—Children.—Circumcision.—Bury their Dead.—Way they mourn.—Children interred alive.—Burial of the Chief, and Superstitions consequent thereon.—Maladies.—Damaras do not live long; the Cause thereof.—Food.-Music and Dancing.—How they swear.—Power of the Chieftain limited.—Slothful People.—Numerals.—Astronomy.—Domestic Animals; their Diseases.

Frequent opportunities had by this time been afforded me of observing and studying the physical features of the country, the character of the natives, and their religious rites and customs. Having previously said but little on these subjects, I propose now to give some account of them. Though, from the lying habits of the Damaras, great difficulty has arisen in arriving at the truth, I believe that my statements will not be very wide of the mark. Besides the concurrent