Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/290

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thickness, and myriads were crushed and maimed by our wagon and cattle. Toward nightfall they crawled on to the bushes and the shrubs, many of which, owing to their weight and numbers, were either bowed down to the ground or broken short off. They were of a reddish color, with dark markings, and, as they hung thus suspended, they looked like clusters of rich fruit. As they hopped along the path and among the grass, their appearance was no less curious and striking.

These "voet-gangers" are justly dreaded by the colonists, as no obstacle seems capable of staying their progress. They are said to cross stagnant pools—ay, even the Orange River—by the leading multitudes throwing themselves heedlessly into the water, where they are drowned, thus affording the survivors a temporary bridge. Fires, which are lighted in their path in the hope of staying their course, are extinguished by their myriads. "All human endeavors to diminish their numbers," says a recent author, "would appear like attempting to drain the ocean by a pump."

As we traveled on next morning we encountered the locust itself, and in such masses as literally to darken the air.

"Onward they came, a dark continuous cloud
Of congregated myriads numberless,
The rushing of whose wings was as the sound
Of a broad river, headlong in its course
Plunged from a mountain summit, or the roar
Of a wild ocean in the autumn storm,
Shattering its billows on a shore of rocks."

Our wagon, or any other equally conspicuous object, could positively not be distinguished at the distance of one hundred paces. In a particular spot, within the circumference of a mile they had not left a particle of any green thing. The several columns that crossed our path in the course of the day must each have been many miles in length and breadth. The noise of their wings was very great, not unlike that