Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/42

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We had not been many minutes on shore when some half-naked, half-starved, cut-throat-looking savages made their appearance, armed with muskets and assegais. Nothing could exceed the squalid, wretched, and ludicrous aspect of these people, which was increased by a foolish endeavor to assume a martial bearing, no doubt with a view of making an impression on us. Without noticing either their weapons or swaggering air, and in order to disarm suspicion, we walked straight up to them, and shook hands with apparent cordiality. Our missionary friend, Mr. Schöneberg, then explained to them, by signs and gestures, that he wished to have a letter conveyed to Mr. Bam, his colleague, residing at Scheppmansdorf, some twenty miles off, in an easterly direction. It soon became apparent that they were accustomed to similar errands; for, on receiving a small gratuity of tobacco on the spot, with a promise of further payment on their return, they set out immediately, and executed their task with so much dispatch, that, before the dawn of next morning, Mr. Bam had arrived.

In the mean time, we made an excursion to a place called Sand Fountain, about three miles inland. On our way there we crossed a broad flat, which in spring tides is entirely flooded. In spite of this submersion, the tracks of wagons, animals, &c., of several years' standing, were as clear and distinct as if imprinted but yesterday! At Sand Fountain we found another wooden house, but uninhabited, belonging to Mr. D——, a partner of Mr. M——. The natives had taken advantage of the absence of the owner to injure and destroy the few pieces of furniture left behind, and leaves of books and panes of window glass were wantonly strewn about the ground. We next visited the so-called "fountain," which was hard by; but, instead of a copious spring—as the name of the place gave us reason to expect—we found, to our dismay, nothing but a small hole, some five or six inches in diameter, and half as many deep; the water, moreover,