Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/425

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417
DISAPPOINTMENT.

previous life in review. I had penetrated into deserts almost unknown to civilized man; had suffered the extremity of hunger and thirst, cold and heat; and had undergone desperate toil, sometimes nearly in solitude, and often without shelter during dreary nights in vast wildernesses haunted by beasts of prey. My companions were mostly savages. I was exposed to numerous perils by land and by water, and endured torments from wounds inflicted by wild animals. But I was mercifully preserved by the Creator through the manifold dangers that hovered round my path. To Him are due all homage, thanksgiving, and adoration.

After feasting my eyes for a while on the interesting scene before me, we descended from the higher ground toward the Lake, which we reached in about an hour and a half. But, though we breathed a fresher atmosphere, no perfumed or balmy scents, as might have been anticipated on the borders of a tropical lake, were wafted on the breeze.

Whether my expectations had been raised to too high a pitch, or that the grandeur of this inland sea and the luxuriance of the surrounding vegetation had been somewhat exaggerated by travelers, I must confess that, on a closer inspection, I felt rather disappointed. In saying this, I must admit having visited it at a season of the year little favorable to the display of its grandeur. But, if I am not mistaken, its discoverers, Messrs. Oswell, Livingstone, and Murray, saw it under no more auspicious circumstances. The eastern extremity, however, the only portion ever seen by the gentlemen in question, certainly possesses superior attractions to the western, or where I first struck upon the Ngami.

The Lake was now very low, and, at the point first seen by us, exceedingly shallow. The water, which had a very bitter and disagreeable taste, was only approachable in a few places, partly on account of the mud, and partly because of the thick coating of reeds and rushes that lined the shore, and which were a favorite resort of a great variety of water-