Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/359

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DISPATCH CATTLE TO THE CAPE.

CHAPTER XXIX.

Dispatch Cattle to the Cape.—Terrible Thunder-storm.—Trees struck by Lightning.—The Nosop River.—A Comet.—The Author nearly poisoned.—Some of the Men abscond; they return to their Duty.—Babel-like confusion of Tongues.—Game abundant.—Author shoots a Giraffe.—Meet Bushmen.—Unsuccessful Elephant-hunt.—Sufferings from Hunger.—Tunobis.—Game scarce.—Author and Steed entrapped,—Pitfalls.—The Men turn sulky.—Preparations for departure from Tunobis.—Vicious Pack-oxen.—Consequences of excessive Fatigue.—The Jackal's handiwork.—Tracks of Elephants.—More Pitfalls.—Loss of the Anglo-Saxon Lion and the Swedish Cross.—Reach Ghanzé.

On the 1st of April I dispatched my cattle (three hundred and sixty in number) to the Cape, in charge of old Piet and Thomas Gibbons, William, and two or three Damaras. The first-mentioned was well accustomed to a large drove of oxen, and was the only one of the party in whom I had any confidence. Under such circumstances, it was perhaps natural that I should feel some misgivings about their safe arrival. But I placed my trust in that same Providence who had hitherto watched over the lonely stranger, firm in the conviction that whatever befell me or my property (both of which I was about to risk in the cause of humanity and civilization) would be for the best.

Fearing from experience that wagons would be only an incumbrance, and impede the dispatch, if not defeat the success of my expedition to the Ngami, I parted with them. As I knew, however, that the road as far as Tunobis was practicable for wheel carriages, I borrowed an old battered vehicle for the occasion, intending to send it back with Eyebrecht. Thence I purposed pursuing the journey with pack-and-ride oxen. This, though the most eligible plan, subjects