Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/423

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415
THE BAOBOB-TREE—ENCAMP IN THE WOODS.

taken up their abode a little in advance of us, "whose stomachs rested on their knees, and whose whole aspect was of the most unnatural and ferocious character."

About noon on the same day we were again en route. Instead of feeling our way by the zigzag tracks made by rhinoceroses and other wild beasts, our guides now took us a straight cut across the country, which was densely wooded.

The "wait-a-bit" thorns were extremely harassing, tearing to ribbons our clothes, carosses, and even pack-saddle bags, made of strong ox-hide. Notwithstanding the wooded character of the country, it affords excellent pasturage; and the numerous old wells and pits found between Tunobis and the Ngami clearly indicate that these regions have, at no very remote period, been largely resorted to by some pastoral people.

I hoped to reach the Lake by the evening, but sunset found us still at a distance from the object of our enterprise. We encamped in a dense brake, near to which were several gigantic baobob[1]-trees, the first we had seen; the stems of some we judged to be from forty to sixty feet in circumference. Finding abundance of fuel, the wood was soon illuminated by numerous watch-fires, around which, besides my own party, were grouped many a merry and laughing savage, each with his shield planted as a guard behind him. Altogether, the scene was striking and picturesque.

The return of daylight found us again on the move. The morning being cool and pleasant, and our goal near, the

  1. "The baobob," says Mr. Livingstone, "the body of which gives one the idea of a mass of granite, from its enormous size, yields a fruit about the size of a quart bottle; the pulp between the seeds tastes like cream of tartar, and it is used by the natives to give a flavor to their porridge." Mr. Green writes me that plants have been raised in England of the baobob from seeds brought home by his son, Frederick Green, who is at present treading in my tracks in the interior of Southwestern Africa. For further details of the baobob, see "Saturday Magazine" for the year 1832.