Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/421

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
413
START FROM KOBIS—MEET BECHUANAS.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

Start from Kobis.—Meet Bechuanas.—False Report.—Wonderful Race of Men.—The Baobob-tree.—The Ngami.—First Impressions of the Lake.—Reflections.—Experience some Disappointment.—Reach the Zouga River and encamp near it.—Interview with Chief Lecholètébè.—Information refused.—Immoderate Laughter.—Presents to the Chief.—His Covetousness.—His Cruelty.—Formidable Difficulties.—Author permitted to proceed northward.

Our first day's march from Kobis lay through an exceedingly dense "wait-a-bit" thorn coppice, crossed in every direction by numerous paths of rhinoceroses and elephants. The soil consisted of soft and yielding sand, which made traveling very fatiguing. The second day, at an early hour, we arrived at a fine vley of water, where I was met by a number of Bechuanas (among whom were some of the leading men of the tribe) waiting to conduct me to Lecholètébè, who had given them orders to render me any assistance I might require. Whether this was from courtesy, or to serve his own purposes, I am uncertain; though, from what I afterward saw of the chief, I am inclined to think it was entirely from selfish motives.

The men in question belonged to a tribe called Batoana, residing on the shores of the Lake Ngami. They were remarkably fine-looking fellows, stout and well built, with Caffre features and longish hair. Their appearance, indeed, was not unlike that of the Damaras. One and all were armed with a shield (oblong in form, and made of a single fold of ox-hide), and a bundle of assegais of various descriptions, each provided with several barbs. What with these formidable weapons and their martial bearing, the aspect of these savages was imposing and warlike. They wore few or no ornaments.