Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/50

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ful degree. Rain falls seldom or never at this place, but thirsty nature is relieved by heavy dews. Fresh water and fuel, however, two of the great necessaries of life, are found in abundance.

Sandy and barren as the soil appears to the eye, portions of it, nevertheless, are capable of great fertility. From time to time, Mr. Bam has cultivated small spots of garden ground in the bed of the river; but, although many things thrive exceedingly well, the trouble, risk, and labor were too great to make it worth his while to persevere. A sudden and unexpected flood, the effect of heavy rains in the interior, often lays waste in a few minutes what has taken months to raise.

The principal trees thereabouts are the ana and the giraffe-thorn (acacia giraffœ); and the chief herbage, a species of sand-reed, which is much relished by the cattle when once accustomed to it, but more especially by horses, mules, and donkeys, which thrive and fatten wonderfully on this diet.

During our stay at Scheppmansdorf we were the constant guests of Mr. and Mrs. Bam, but we felt almost sorry to trespass on a hospitality that we knew they could ill afford, for it was only once in every two years that they received their supplies from the Cape, and then only in sufficient quantities for their own families. The genuine sincerity, however, with which it was offered overruled all scruples.

Mr. Bam had long been a dweller in various parts of Great Namaqua-land.[1] His present residence, however, in this its western portion, was of comparatively recent date. Although he had used every effort to civilize and Christianize his small community, all his endeavors had hitherto proved nearly abortive; but as we become acquainted with the character of the Namaquas, who are partially-civilized Hottentots, the wonder ceases, and we discover that they possess every vice

  1. The southern limit of Great Namaqua-land is, at the present moment, the Orange River. To the north it is bounded by Damara-land, or by about the twenty-second degree of south latitude.