Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/396

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safety of the cattle, which began to show symptoms of distress. Mounting my horse, and guided by two active Bushmen, I rode briskly in the direction of the Lake, giving orders to my men to continue their exertions during the remainder of the day; but, should they not succeed in obtaining a sufficiency of drink for the cattle by the next morning, they were to follow on my tracks.

I had ridden long. The sun had already sunk below the tree-tops, and yet no water. The Bushmen, however, gave me to understand by signs that it was not far off, and the number of wild-beast-tracks gave weight to their assertion. At last the noisy chattering of Guinea-fowls, the cooing of doves, and the screams of paroquets broke on my ear, and indicated a more favorable vicinity. Putting spurs to my horse, I struck into a large "game-path," and just as the sun was sinking below the horizon I came alongside a large sheet of clear water. I felt truly thankful, and only wanted my own people and cattle to complete my happiness. This place, according to my interpreter, was called Abeghan.

At dark I tied up my horse some little distance from the water, cut him an ample supply of grass with my hunting-knife, and, having struck a light for the Bushmen, and given them, as a reward for their services, the piece of flesh we carried with us, I shouldered my rifle, and proceeded to the fountain with a view of procuring something for the larder. It was a glorious night. The sky was dark, but studded with innumerable twinkling stars reflected in the watery mirror below. For some fifty paces the locality was tolerably free from bushes, and on one side the prospect extended nearly a quarter of a mile through an avenue lined on either side with noble Damara "parent trees." Elsewhere the darkness was impenetrable. Silence, like that of the sepulchre, reigned in this remote solitude, relieved at long intervals by the hyæna and the jackal lapping the water, and the distant grunting of the rhinoceros. The