Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/313

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
305
BETHANY TWICE ABANDONED BY THE MISSIONARIES.

of the inhabitants, the devastation of the locust—which had destroyed every particle of vegetation—and the black and parched appearance of the soil, it now looked wild and dreary in the extreme. The lengthened shadows of evening threw an additional gloom over this once busy scene of cheerful industry. Oh, changes, mysterious and incomprehensible! Surely God, in his infinite wisdom, will not permit the handiwork of his servants, raised only by years of perseverance, toil, and privations, to perish without some recompense!

Bethany, if I am not mistaken, became a scene of missionary labor as early as 1820. The enterprising and venerable Mr. Schmelen then officiated here, but he found it necessary, after a time, to abandon the place. Subsequently to his departure it remained deserted for upward of twenty years, when, in 1843, it was once more tenanted, and this time by Mr. Knudsen, who, in his turn, as seen above, was obliged to move off elsewhere.

After leaving Bethany, water and pasturage became every day more scarce. All the vleys and pools of rain-water were dried up. The Koanquip River, however, long befriended us, as in its bed we generally managed to obtain a supply of grass and water for our cattle, which now amounted to several hundred head.

But the labor and fatigue of watering the latter was immense. No person who has not been circumstanced as we were can form the least conception of the trouble, care, and anxiety that a large drove of cattle occasions. Perhaps, after having dug for twenty consecutive hours—and this I have done more than once—the water is found insufficient in quantity, or (which is almost as bad) the ground falls in, or the cattle themselves spoil it by their wallowing and excrement.

These native cattle are the most troublesome and disgusting brutes possible; for, after having spoiled the water by their own wildness and wantonness, they rush furiously