Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/249

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241
AN ADVENTURE—PASTURAGE SCARCE.

turages in tropical climes are converted by any of these causes into luxuriant savannas is incredible, and can only be duly estimated by those who have themselves witnessed such changes.

A stage on this side of Eikhams we encountered Hans, who had met with a little adventure in the neighborhood of Scheppman's Mountain, where he had one day unyoked. He had been out in search of game, when on his return he was astonished to observe a number of natives rushing toward the wagon, no doubt with the intention of plundering it, and probably of spearing the men who had it in charge. On seeing Hans approach with a gun, however, they all took to their heels; but some were captured, and, after they had undergone a sound drubbing, and been threatened with death should they ever attempt a similar outrage, they were allowed to depart. Not many hours elapsed before these very savages returned to beg for tobacco!

We were sorry to find that our cattle looked thin and miserable. Indeed, Hans had experienced the greatest difficulty in bringing on the wagon. Restored tranquillity had given confidence to the Damaras, who were now flocking in great numbers with their cattle to the banks of the Swakop, the result of which was that every blade of grass was consumed for miles around both sides of the river. This was indeed sad news, as our route lay precisely through these parts, and our draft animals were by this time in a distressingly exhausted and reduced state. It required some efforts on our part to overcome these difficulties, and we lost no time in retracing our steps. After Mr. Galton had disposed of some of the superfluous goods to the natives, and exchanged the run-away mules to Jonker for cattle, we bade farewell to the hospitable hearth of the missionaries at Barmen and Richterfeldt, and proceeded quickly on our road to Walfisch Bay.

On arriving at the confluence of the Swakop and the Tjobis Rivers, we had a narrow escape from being poisoned, as