Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/372

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miles before we found it necessary to make a halt and bivouac for the night. We were so thoroughly knocked up with the severe labor of the day, that after having hastily removed the packs from the vicious beasts, we literally dropped to sleep where we stood, not one of the party giving a thought as to food, fire, water, or covering, of each and all of which we stood greatly in need.

On returning to consciousness the following morning, the first object that met my half-sleepy gaze was a jackal, busily engaged examining our baggage. Having no gun within reach, I threw a handful of sand at the impudent fellow, on which he saluted me with a mocking laugh, and slowly retreated. But had I then been aware of the full extent of his mischievous propensities, he should certainly not have escaped so easy. The brute had, indeed, devoured one of the "riems" with which we secured the packs on the oxen. Nothing could possibly have been more unfortunate; the thong was, at that time, worth its weight in gold. We had ten oxen to pack, and only nine "riems!" Here, then, was a fine opportunity for a man to exert his ingenuity. It was totally out of the question to divide any of the remaining straps, for they were short and narrow enough already, and they must be of a certain length and solidity in order to serve the purpose effectually. At length, however, and after much searching, patching, and splicing, a very indifferent substitute was produced, and we were again en route, though not before I had, for the fiftieth time, vowed dire vengeance against the whole race of jackals.

This day (May 15th) we proceeded alternately in the bed and on the borders of the Otjombindè River. The soil consisted of fine white sand, reflecting a light dazzling and painful to the eyes, while it was soft and yielding to the feet. The grass was still green and very plentiful, and the vegetation, in general, was rank. We passed several vleys containing small quantities of muddy water, alive with loathsome