Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/242

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The Bushmen who inhabited these parts declared that the country between here and the Ngami was then impassable, and that any attempt on our part to reach it would be certain destruction to ourselves and cattle. Though we did not altogether credit their story, we felt that, under the circumstances, it would have been highly imprudent to proceed farther.

From a rough calculation, we concluded that we could not be above nine or ten days' journey from the lake, and it was, therefore, with no little reluctance that we gave up the attempt. However, it was all for the best, and we ought, indeed, to be grateful to the natives for their truthful information. From after experience, I am quite confident that, had we tried to push on that year, nothing could have saved us and our beasts of burden from perishing from thirst. After leaving Tunobis, we should not have met with water for at least three days and a half of actual travel, besides the necessary delays. To perform this, even with fresh animals, would perhaps have been a thing unheard-of in these regions, but the difficulty was magnified by the state of our cattle, which were now reduced to skeletons. Indeed, even before reaching Tunobis, some of them had been left behind from sheer exhaustion.

I must confess that, on first reading my friend's narrative, I was somewhat startled on coming upon his pleasant assertion that he did not much care about reaching Lake Ngami. It is true that, when landing at Walfisch Bay, we had but little hope of arriving there; but, at least for my own part, I had always conceived the great goal of our journey to be precisely the Ngami. Moreover, with regard to his supposition that the country hence toward the lake was comparatively open and free from bushes, and that, consequently, a road to it could be traced without the slightest difficulty, I can only say that shortly after leaving Tunobis—not to mention, the scarcity of water—the bush becomes so dense, and