and bundling the rest of my body in as small a compass as was possible, I spent a long and comfortless night.
At break of day we were stirring. On arriving at the water, which was not far distant from our bivouac, we had the satisfaction to discover the fresh tracks of elephants, but out of the troop that had visited the place there was only one bull. His tracks were of course selected in preference to the rest, but, though we followed them perseveringly till near sunset, all our endeavors to come up with the animal proved vain.
Hungry, disheartened, and exhausted, we retraced our steps to the bivouac, where we spent another still more cheerless night. Two days had now elapsed without my having tasted a morsel of food, nor did I obtain any until I reached my own people at the expiration of the third day.
During the last twelve hours, I am free to confess, I was almost ravenous enough to eat my shoe-soles, and probably might have done so had time and opportunity permitted to boil them down to a jelly. Contrary to custom, the field we had traversed was destitute of eatables of any sort. Once, indeed, I observed a small antelope, but the animal only seemed to mock our sufferings, for, before I could level my piece, he vanished. Seeing the Bushmen try to appease their hunger with a bitter woody substance, I could not resist the temptation to taste it, though warned of the consequences; but scarcely had I masticated the first mouthful before I was seized with tormenting nausea and sickness.
From our great success on a former occasion at Tunobis, I expected to find full employment for my rifle on my arrival there. But, alas! now that we stood so much in need of animal food, not a wild beast was to be seen. At first,
- On accidentally mentioning my fast to Captain Sturt, the distinguished Australian traveler, he assured me it was a mere trifle to what he himself had once suffered, having been six and a half consecutive days without nourishment of any kind!