Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/245

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237
BREAD NOT NECESSARY—SOAP-MAKING—PITFALLS.

mention the circumstance to show that salt is not strictly necessary to man's existence. Moreover, excepting once or twice at the missionary table, we had not tasted bread for months. I had so totally forgotten the use of it, that, after our return to Barmen, on being entertained at Mr. Hahn's house, I finished my meal without noticing the piece of bread which was conspicuous enough alongside my plate. Our men grumbled a little at first at being deprived of bread, but they also soon got accustomed to do without it, nor did the least inconvenience arise from its absence. I have always heard that the want of bread and vegetables is the greatest hardship a man can experience. Be that as it may, the human system—as the above facts demonstrate—is capable of reconciling itself to nearly all conditions and circumstances.

The men left in charge of the wagon were well, but poor John Mortar, the cook, looked pale and thin. On asking him the cause, he pointed to the fire where our food was cooked, and, with something like an oath, exclaimed, "Sir, look at that pot! I have been watching it these seven-and-twenty days and nights, and, after all, I find that my labor is thrown away!"

Shortly after leaving Elephant Fountain, John, it seems, had set about making soap, of which our supply was exhausted. Through some mistake, however, he used unslaked lime instead of the alkali obtained in the country from the ash of the native soap-bush. This at once accounted for his failure in regard to the article itself, and his own emaciated appearance.

Game, as has been said, was very abundant near to Elephant Fountain, and, by means of spacious pitfalls, great numbers of wild animals were almost nightly captured. The whole ground in the neighborhood of Zwart Nosop, which flowed past the place, was literally a succession of pitfalls, and they were so cleverly arranged and well concealed that it required the utmost caution in walking about. Even peo-