Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/355

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347
AMRAL—A PARTY OF GRIQUAS.

same that ran away with me at Cape-Town. The natives offered to buy him at a great price, but I had made up my mind that, rather than go without him, I would run the risk of losing him by the fearful distemper in question. However, he lived to see the Lake, where I finally disposed of him.

Some days after my arrival at Cornelius's werft, my old friend Amral made his appearance. He was accompanied by a party of Griquas,[1] from whom I learned much to interest me.

In the hope of meeting with elephants, they had crossed the Kalahari direct from their own country, but had suffered great privations; for, though from all appearances water must have been abundant in the rainy season, the desert was fearfully dry when they passed through it. They had occasionally been as much as nine consecutive days without a drop of water, but sustained their own lives and those of their quadrupeds by sucking and eating the wild gourd, which fortunately covered the waste in great abundance. To lessen the bitterness of the juice, they first cooked or roasted the fruit.

The party, which consisted of no less than forty-seven wagons, had penetrated to within a few days of the Lake Ngami, but not finding elephants, they retraced their steps. A certain portion of the country they had visited was infested by the "tsetse," by whose poisonous bites they had lost some of the cattle and horses. The "horse-sickness" also prevailed.

I engaged as Bechuana interpreter one of the Griquas, who had visited the lake by the ordinary route (viâ Kuruman). He spoke of the inhabitants as civil and hospitable, but warned me against the Dutch farmers, should I fall in with any. I was well aware of their troublesome disposi-

  1. Descendants of Dutch farmers and Hottentot women, and hence also called Bastards.