Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/82

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

One day, as I was riding with Hans, he pointed out to me a place where he had been attacked by a lion in broad daylight, pulled off his ox, and only escaped death by a miracle.

Not being encumbered by a vehicle, we were now able to hold the course of the Swakop uninterruptedly; but on arriving at the Usab gorge, it became necessary to leave the river and to cross the Naarip plain to Scheppmansdorf. From the great length of this stage (fifteen hours' actual travel), and the total absence of water and pasturage, it is necessary to traverse it during the night. As thick fogs and mists, however, are not uncommon here, the traveler is exposed to some risk. It not unfrequently happens that he loses the track; the result of which usually is, that when the day breaks upon him he finds himself either back at the place from which he started or in some unknown part of the plain. Instances are narrated of people having remained in this inhospitable desert as long as three days! "Losing the way," as my friend Galton says, "is the rule here and not the exception; and a person who has crossed the plain without doing so rather plumes himself upon the feat."

Hans recited to me the particulars of an adventure which happened to a European in this wilderness. During the time Captain Greybourn (to whom allusion has already been made) was established at Walfisch Bay, the medical gentleman who resided with him had occasion to cross the Naarip plain; but, being a total stranger to the country, he engaged a Hottentot as guide. The day proved hot and oppressive, and the wayfarers had not proceeded far when the doctor felt faint and

    stiffness, the strip is subjected to a severe hammering, for the double purpose of condensing it and giving it a rounded shape. It is then reduced to the desired size by means of a knife or plane; and, lastly, a piece of sand-paper, or glass, if at hand, is employed to give it the finishing smoothness and polish. The "shambok" is exceedingly tough and pliable, will inflict the most severe wounds and bruises, and will last for years. The price of one of these "whips," in the colony, varies from eighteen pence to as much as nine or ten shillings.