Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/318

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From their quick step, good feet, and enduring powers, the Damara cattle are much prized by the farmers of the Cape Colony. The only drawback is their wildness and immense size of their horns, which they sometimes use with fatal effect.

The day before we reached the Orange River we fell in with a kraal of Hottentots, whom, to our great surprise, we found living in a locality altogether destitute of water! The milk of their cows and goats supplied its place. Their cattle, moreover, never obtained water, but found a substitute in a kind of ice-plant (mesembryanthemum), of an exceedingly succulent nature, which abounds in these regions. But our own oxen, not accustomed to such diet, would rarely or never touch it. Until I had actually convinced myself—as I had often the opportunity of doing at an after period—that men and beasts could live entirely without water, I should, perhaps, have had some difficulty in realizing this singular fact.

On the 21st of August we effected the passage of the Orange River in safety at what is called the Zendlings Drift, or the missionary ford. We had no boat, and those of the men who could not swim were obliged to lay hold of the tails of the cattle, to which they pertinaciously clung. On gaining the opposite bank, which was very steep, the oxen, in climbing it, entirely submerged their charge, to the great delight and amusement of such of their companions as had landed at a more convenient point.

The Orange River was at this season almost at its lowest, yet it was a noble and highly picturesque stream. Looking eastward, its aspect was particularly imposing. Its breadth at this point might have been from two to three hundred yards. The banks were on both sides lined with evergreen thorns, drooping willows, ebony-trees, &c.; and the water forced its passage through a bold and striking gorge, overhung by precipices from two to three thousand feet high. But the country all round was desolate. The hills, which at some distant period had evidently been subject to volcanic