Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/46

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It is ill such instances, more especially, that the mind becomes powerfully impressed with the wise provisions of nature, and the great goodness of the Almighty, who even from the desert raises good and wholesome sustenance for man and all his creatures.

"By his bounteous hand,
God covers earth with food for man and beast,
Insect and bird; yea, the poor creeping worm
Partakes the Creator's bounty."

In this barren and poverty-stricken country, food is so scarce that, without the naras, the land would be all but uninhabitable. The naras serves, moreover, a double purpose; for, besides its usefulness as food, it fixes with wonderful tenacity, by means of extensive ramifications, the constantly shifting sands; it is, indeed, to those parts what the sand-reed (ammophila arundinacia) is to the sandy shores and downs of England.

The naras only grows in the bed of the Kuisip River, in the neighborhood of the sea. A few plants are to be met with at the mouth of the Orange River, as also, according to Captain Messum, in a few localities between the Swakop and the Nourse River.

The general aspect of the country about Sand Fountain is very dreary and desolate. The soil is entirely composed of sand. The vegetation, moreover, is stunted in the extreme, consisting chiefly of the above-mentioned creeper, a species of tamarisk tree (or rather bush), and a few dew-plants. Consequently, the animal world, as might be expected, did not present any great variety. Nevertheless, being an enthusiastic sportsman, and devoted to the study of natural history, I made frequent short excursions into the neighborhood, on which occasions my spoils consisted for the most part of some exquisitely beautiful lizards, a few long-legged beetles, and some pretty species of field-mice. Once in a time, moreover, I viewed a solitary gazelle in the distance.