Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/59

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51
A SUNRISE IN THE TROPICS.

snug as possible. Though the ground was our couch, and the sky our canopy, we slept soundly, and awoke early the next morning, greatly refreshed. We much needed this renewal of our vigor, for the day proved exceedingly trying both to men and cattle.

Once more we were on the Naarip plain, though this time we traveled parallel with the Swakop (which here pursued an easterly course), on the edge of those gloomy rocks through which its deep and turbulent channel has forced its way.

Just as we entered this wild and dreary waste, the sun rose in all its refulgence, converting, as if by magic, the whole of the eastern sky into one mass of the most dazzling light—tinting the distant mountains with a soft vermilion, and causing the dew-bespangled pebbles beneath our feet to sparkle like so many diamonds. He who has not witnessed a sunrise or a sunset in the tropics (rendered the more remarkable by the nearly total absence of twilight) can not form the least idea of its magnificence and splendor.

But alas! these sights, so lovely to the eye, are often followed by such intense heats as to be nearly insupportable to the way-worn traveler. We were now in the month of September, and the rays of the sun, at noon falling almost vertically on our heads, caused a fearfully high state of temperature. The hot sand, moreover, cruelly burnt our feet, and not a breath of wind stirred the glaring and seething atmosphere. To complete our misery, we suffered from the most violent thirst, which our scanty supply of water, half boiling as it was, could in no way tend to mitigate.

Our poor animals seemed to suffer as much as ourselves. Their gait, protruding tongues, and drooping heads indicated great distress. Still they toiled on, but slowly and painfully, through the sand, which had now become soft and yielding. Long before we had accomplished the day's stage, one of the mules dropped down from exhaustion, and we were obliged