Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/465

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THE CANOE—A LOST PARTY—A LUXURY.

small hatchet. The natives are not at all particular as to the shape of the canoe. The after-part of some that have come under my notice would form an angle of near forty-five degrees with the stem! Nevertheless, they were propelled through the water by the Bayeye (my boatmen were of that nation) with considerable speed and skill.

The "appointments" of the canoe consist of a paddle, and a pole ten to twelve feet in length. The paddle-man sits well in the stern, and attends mostly to the steering; while his comrade, posted at the head of the canoe, sends her along, by means of the pole, with great force and skill.

The natives, however, rarely venture any distance from the shore in their frail skiffs. It was said that they had made several attempts to cross the widest part of the Lake, but had never succeeded. A party, consisting of ten or twelve canoes, hazarded the experiment a few years previous to its discovery by Europeans, but were not again heard of, from which it was concluded that they had been overtaken by a storm and perished. After about an hour's paddling, the broad expanse of the Lake lay before me, glittering in all the beauty and softness produced by reflection of the warm rays of a tropical sun. It was, indeed, a luxury, after so much traveling in the burning desert, to be able at last to float upon

"The glassy, cool, translucent wave,"

and the pleasure was increased by my partiality to water, an element with which I became familiar in the early stages of boyhood, and on which I have spent some of my happiest days.

As I felt the cool breeze fanning my cheeks, new life seemed to stir within me, and my heart beat high with joyous excitement.

Our party, at starting, consisted of only three or four canoes; but, as we proceeded on the voyage, the number increased, and ultimately amounted to about a dozen.