Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/398

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taste it, and, truly enough, it was "capital." Even the smell had vanished. Every body agreed in praising its excellence. I could not account for so great a marvel, but supposed that under the influence of the sun the water had undergone some chemical change. In the course of twelve hours, four gallons of turbid water had, without any apparent cause, been converted into a fluid as bright and sweet as was ever drawn from fresh spring.

On leaving the pestiferous fountain, I intrusted young Bonfield with my watch, in order that he might ascertain the number of hours they were on the road. On again meeting the lad, he told me in a flurried manner that he thought there was something the matter with the "piece," as it would not go properly. The truth at once flashed across me. In winding it up, he had forcibly pushed it the wrong way, and thus made it useless. I can not describe my feelings on ascertaining this fact. My chronometer and another watch had some time previously ceased to act. This was my last time-piece. I had no longer the means of going on with my observations. Latitudes I could still manage, but as for longitudes, the most important part, it was out of the question—at least I thought so at the time. I had indulged in the hope of being able to settle the position of the Lake.

I was totally unacquainted with the mechanism of a watch; but necessity has no law, and, as a last chance, I determined to pull it to pieces, in order to ascertain the cause of its stopping. Twice I did so, and twice I successfully put it together, but it would not go properly. I dissected it a third time, but was even less fortunate than before, for the chain snapped in two places. Nothing daunted, however, I procured a very fine, well-dried gut, with which I tried to splice it; but it is easy to imagine the result. I believe at that moment I would have freely given the best half of what I possessed in this world—and that, perhaps, after all, was not much—for a good strong watch.