Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/464

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Departure for Libèbé.—The Canoe.—The Lake.—Reach the Teoge.—Adventure with a Leché.—Luxurious Vegetation.—Exuberance of animal Life.—Buffaloes.—The Koodoo.—His Haunts.—Pace.—Food.—Flesh.—Hide.—Disposition.—Gregarious Habits.—The Chase.

As Lecholètébè proved true to his word with regard to providing me with men and boats, I was able, after only a few days' stay at the Lake, to proceed on my exploring tour to the north. To the last moment, however, the chief and his people endeavored to dissuade me from the attempt, urging, among other reasons, the enormous windings of the Teoge, which would prevent me from reaching my destination for many months, as, also, the great number of hippopotami, which they represented as the most savage and voracious of beasts.

I did not give much credit to the story of these men, not having the least faith in their word. I told them that, with regard to the sinuosities of the stream, I hoped to overcome that difficulty by patience; and as to the sea-cows, if they really were such monsters as described, I assured them I was quite confident that my black followers (pointing to the boatmen), to whom they were accustomed, would be first swallowed, which would give me time to escape. With this rude joke, which highly pleased my untutored audience, I stepped into the canoe, and waving my hand, in token of leave, to my men and the chief, I launched forth on the Zouga.

The canoe in which I embarked (and they are all somewhat similarly constructed) was but a miserable craft. It consisted of the trunk of a tree, about twenty feet long, pointed at both ends, and hollowed out by means of fire and a