ro THE MIRAGE, [CHAP. L
as in Sandwich Harbour, some twenty miles south of Walfisch Bay, there is, at least at present, a copious supply.
In the morning we saw some savages about, and brought the schooner as close in shore as seemed safe, about one-third of a mile from the storehouse ; and at midday the captain, the new Missionary, and ourselves landed. A row of seven dirty, squalid natives came to meet us. Three had guns: they drew up in a line, and looked as powerful as they could ; and the men with guns professed to load them. They had Hottentot features, but were of a darker colour, and a most ill-looking appearance ; some had trousers, some coats of skins, and they clicked, and howled, and chattered, and behaved like baboons. This was my first impression, and that or all of us; but the time came when, by force of comparison, I looked on these fellows as a sort of link to civilisation.
They were well enough acquainted with sailors ; and the advent of a ship was of course a great godsend for them, as they bartered, for tobacco, clothes, and all sorts of luxuries, the goats' milk and oxen which a few of them had; but they had been savagely ill-used more than once, and had occasionally retaliated. The captain of them soon made his appearance, and we became very amicable, and walked towards Sand Fountain, signs and smiles taking the place of spoken language. A letter was sent on to the Missionary at Scheppmansdorf, a cotton handkerchief and a stick of tobacco being the payment to the messenger for his twenty-five miles' run, We passed over a broad flat, flooded in spring-tides, following the many waggon-tracks that here seemed so permanent as not to be effaced by years, We were surrounded by a mirage of the most remarkable intensity. Objects two hundred yards off were utterly without definition ; a crow, or a bit of black wood, would look as lofty as the trunk of a tree. Pelicans were exaggerated to the size of ships with the studding-sails set; and the whole ground was wavy and seething, as though seen through the draught of a furnace. This was in August, the month in which mirage is most remarkable here ; it is excessive at all times, and has been remarked by every one who has seen the place. A year and a half later I tried on two occasions to map the outline of the Bay, which was then comparatively clear, but still the mirage quite prevented me; an object which I took as a mark from one point being altogether undistinguishable when I had moved to my next station.
After proceeding half a mile we came to the bed of the Kuisip, a river that only runs once in four or five years, but, when it does,