Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/395

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
387
NECTAR—THE "EYE" OF A SPRING—DISAPPOINTMENT.

with something at the bottom reflecting light. Taking for granted that it was water which thus shone, and being tormented with thirst, I leaped into the hole and greedily swallowed a large quantity. I was too eager to be able to distinguish its taste, but, having somewhat slaked my burning thirst, my palate resumed its function, and I thought I had never experienced so abominable a flavor. Imagine my horror when, taking a small portion in the hollow of my hand and holding it up to the light, I found I had been drinking blood, mixed with the refuse of some wild animal! I shall never forget the loathing I felt on making this discovery, and, though my stomach was presently relieved of its nauseous contents, I long retained a qualmish sensation. The mystery was, however, cleared up. On a more close examination of the aperture in question, it was found that a herd of zebras had, like myself, been looking for water, and, in so doing, one of them had fallen in, and been found and killed by the Bushmen. Hence the blood and offal of the unfortunate animal.

As soon as the men arrived with the cattle, every person who could be spared was employed in cleaning out the hole where I had at first seen indications of water. Large fragments of rock, which the bulky forms of elephants and other gigantic animals had pushed into the cavity, were removed after immense exertions. Occasionally, in displacing a firmly-imbedded stone or piece of wood, the pure liquid would gush forth with great vigor, and we flattered ourselves that we had found the "eye" of a spring, but the next instant all our hopes vanished. After eight or nine hours' hard work, our best endeavors to discover any steady supply of water proved abortive. The little we did obtain—sufficient for the horse and dogs—was of such questionable quality that, thirsty as we were, it was with the utmost repugnance we could prevail on ourselves to swallow a few mouthfuls.

At break of day the next morning we renewed our labors, but with no better success. I now became anxious for the