Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/279

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271
A TOSS—DEPART FROM BARMEN—TORRENTS.

ed not my presence, and kept his own course, the result was that he caught me with his horns near the ribs, and pitched me bodily over his back! With the exception of being a good deal shaken, however, I singularly enough escaped unhurt. But one of our native servants was less fortunate; for on trying, like myself, to stay the ox in his headlong career, the poor fellow was thrown to the ground by the exasperated brute, who actually knelt on his body, and in all probability would have killed him had not the rest of the people come to his assistance. This accident taught us to be more careful in our future proceedings with an over-driven ox.

On leaving Barmen, we were obliged to make a considerable détour in order to avoid the "Great" Swakop, which continued to send down immense torrents of discolored water. In crossing one of its branches, known as the "Little" Swakop, our cattle were more than once swept away by the violence of the current, and our wagon had a very narrow escape from being capsized. When half way across the stream it stuck fast, and for upward of four hours all our efforts to extricate it proved ineffectual. During the whole of this time we were immersed up to our necks in water, which hourly increased. What with the velocity of the current, the depth of the river, and the looseness of the soil beneath, we were unable to obtain a firm footing, and men, oxen, and dogs were frequently jumbled together in the most awkward confusion. After almost superhuman exertions, having previously been obliged to remove all the heavy things from the vehicle, we succeeded in reaching the shore in safety. Here again, to our dismay, we found our path barred by immense blocks of stone and the roughness of the ground in general along the bank. We had no alternative but to retrace our steps and recross the river at a more convenient point, which we successfully accomplished on the following morning, when the water had somewhat subsided.

Hence we traveled about northeast, alternately in the bed