Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/367

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359
THE GUNS ALL BEWITCHED—A DILEMMA.

one might almost be led to imagine that the amazing number of animals congregated here less than two years before must be either killed or driven altogether away from the locality; but this was not the case. Water was still to be found in the vleys and pools at some distance, and, until these were exhausted, wild animals were little likely to visit a spot where they were subject to constant persecution.

One or two rhinoceroses, however, occasionally visited the fountains, as appeared by their tracks. These I determined to watch, while I dispersed my men over the adjoining country in search of game. One night a huge animal came waddling along, but, though I lodged a ball in its body, it was to no purpose. The men were equally unsuccessful, and returned, after several days' absence, half starved, and, consequently, as ravenous as wolves. They had encountered several rhinoceroses, zebras, &c., but they only wounded or mangled the poor beasts. It seemed as if every gun, mine included, had been bewitched.

Tunobis, as often stated in the preceding pages, was the farthest easterly point which Galton and myself had attained in our journey toward the Ngami. Every inch of the ground ahead was now unknown to Europeans at least. The Bushmen, it is true, had furnished us with some information, but it was either too vague to be relied upon, or not applicable to the course I intended to pursue. Knowing nearly the position of the Lake, I was anxious to take as straight a line as possible; but, on consulting the few natives hereabout, they declared that, were I to do so, it would be certain destruction to myself and cattle, inasmuch as the "field" in that direction was one howling wilderness, totally destitute of water. By traveling southward, however, for a few stages along the sandy and dry water-course of Otjombindè, I should, they said, run no risk. I was quite at a loss to know how far I could depend on their information; but Piet, the interpreter, who had crossed the Kalahari in the be-