Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/41

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33
MIRAGE.

up" by the opposing shore, when they generally all take wing and move off elsewhere.*****'Fair play is a jewel,' says the old saw, and so, perhaps, thinks the hareld; for it would really appear as if it adopted the somewhat curious manœuvre just mentioned to prevent its companions from going over the ground previously."

The day after our arrival we moved our small craft within half a mile of the shore, and, as soon as she was safely anchored, we proceeded to reconnoitre the neighborhood. The first thing which attracted our attention was a mirage of the most striking character and intensity of effect. Objects, distant only a few hundred feet, became perfectly metamorphosed. Thus, for instance, a small bird would look as big as a rock, or the trunk of a tree; pelicans assumed the appearance of ships under canvas; the numerous skeletons and bones of stranded whales were exaggerated into clusters of lofty houses, and dreary and sterile plains presented the aspect of charming lakes. In short, every object had a bewildering and supernatural appearance, and the whole atmosphere was misty, tremulous, and wavy. This phenomenon is at all times very remarkable, but during the hot season of the year it is more surprising and deceptive. At an after period Mr. Galton tried to map the bay, but this mirage frustrated all his endeavors. An object that he had, perhaps, chosen for a mark, became totally indistinguishable when he moved to the next station.

On the beach we found a small house, constructed of planks, in tolerable preservation, which at high water was completely surrounded by the sea. This had originally been erected by a Captain Greybourn for trading purposes, but was now in the possession of the Rhenish Missionary Society. It was kindly thrown open to our use, and proved of the greatest comfort to us; for at this season the nights were bitterly cold, and the dew so heavy as completely to saturate every article of clothing that was exposed.

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