Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/309

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301
REFLECTIONS—ALLEN SICK—GAME ABUNDANT.

less nights I was often seized with an indescribable sensation of sadness and melancholy. Death itself I did not fear; but to perish in a foreign land, in the midst of strangers, far away from all I loved, was an idea to which I could hardly reconcile myself. What hand would close my eyes? what mourner would follow my coffin? or what friend would shed a tear on my lonely and distant grave?

I was alone! Oh, may the reader never experience the full meaning of that melancholy word!

After upward of two months of no ordinary sufferings, my strong constitution prevailed, and I was convalescent; but several weeks elapsed before I recovered my usual health and vigor.

John Allen was also seriously ill from the same malady, which had the character of an epidemic, for in a very short time it spread like wildfire throughout the length and breadth of Great Namaqua-land, and vast numbers of people succumbed under it. The disease, indeed, was of so destructive a nature that it swept off whole villages. In one kraal in particular, all the inhabitants perished, and the cattle were left to take care of themselves.

Fever (the cause of which is unknown) is not common in these parts, and makes its appearance only occasionally.

We had pitched our tent, as already said, near the Hountop River. The country thereabout was a succession of vleys or gulleys, then filled with excellent clear water, teeming with water-fowl. Quails, birds of the grouse tribe, and wood-pigeons, were also numerous. Of the larger animals we had the zebra, the springbok, the ostrich, and an occasional oryx and hartebeest; but, from their being much persecuted by the natives, combined with nakedness of the country, they were extremely wary and difficult of approach.

Game of many kinds being thus abundant, it may well be supposed that, as soon as my strength permitted me to carry a gun, I at once took the field, as well for amusement as for