Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/364

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different dialects of the countries bordering upon the settlements about the Mozambique Channel. Personally, I could make myself understood in more than one European language; and this Babel-like confusion was completed by Timbo's patois.

The preceding year, when our steps were pointed in the same direction as at present, we traveled on the summit of the low range of hills which take their rise near to Twass, extending eastward. We were then on saddle-oxen; but, from what we saw of the country, we deemed it nearly impracticable for wagons. I therefore determined to strike through the woods at the base of the hills in question, or along the valley intervening between them and another mountain range running in the same direction. The soil proved exceedingly soft and yielding, and the bushes harassing; yet this new route was preferable to the other.

We saw a good deal of game, chiefly of the larger kinds; but the animals were wary, and I shot badly. My horse was so unsteady as to be of little or no use. His speed was great; he was a match for the swiftest antelope; but when I fired from his back, he was very apt to start on one side. If his rider, at such times, was not on his guard, the chances were in favor of his being dismounted. One day Eyebrecht begged eagerly to be allowed to try his hand on the giraffes, which abounded in this locality. His request was granted, and I lent him my horse, though we well knew what would be the result. After nearly a whole day's absence, he returned, when the men hailed him with shouts of laughter, as his appearance too plainly indicated his misfortunes. But, notwithstanding his flushed face and torn and soiled dress, he stoutly denied having been thrown. It so happened, however, that the very next day we passed a spot where he had been chasing a herd of giraffes, and where we could distinctly see the marks of how the scared horse had been dragging Eyebrecht along the ground for a considerable distance.