Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/483

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475
THE AUTHOR’S PLANS MARRED.

to receive any assistance from them. I felt excessively mortified at being thus basely duped, and at once called on the only man left in the place, who, I was informed, was the chief's brother, and ordered him to tell me, without prevarication, the real state of the case. As I had suspected, Lecholètébè was at the bottom of the affair. The man declared he had no orders to furnish me with men and boats, but that, if I insisted on proceeding, he was to give a guide to the next tribe, whence I was to find my way to Libèbé as well as I could, well knowing that such an arrangement was quite incompatible with my designs.

It is impossible to describe my feelings at being thus baffled, as, from the success that had hitherto attended me, I had sanguinely hoped it would have been in my power fully to carry out all my plans. Here I was, in the midst of an inundated country of unknown extent, without men, without conveyances, without provisions—in short, without any thing necessary for such an expedition. Indeed, I was so completely at the mercy of the natives that I could not stir a step without their assistance. Nevertheless, rather than be thus foiled, I determined to risk the utmost, and directed the promised guide to appear without delay, declaring my intention of proceeding to Libèbé on foot. But it was quite clear they had resolved not to let me pass beyond them, for, though I waited several days more, the man was not forthcoming.

Finding remonstrances unavailing, I had no alternative but to retrace my steps, and, accordingly, I requested the temporary chief to prepare the canoes to convey me back to the Lake. This highly delighted and gratified the wily savage.

Mortified and annoyed at the shameful manner in which I had been treated, I was nevertheless glad to have come thus far. I had learned much in this short time (a summary of which will be given in the following chapters), which I could not have done had I remained at the Lake, to say nothing of the beautiful, diversified, and novel scenery which al-