26 THE STT~AEC'P. CHAP, it,
old ; and those that were there were chiefly of buffaloes, and all going down towards the mouth of the river.
The Swakop is the artery of half Damara and Namaqualand ; all the best watering-places are in it. It is the frontier between those two nations. There are three Missionary stations on its banks ; and along its side is the only road that is known to be practicable at all seasons from the sea to the interior. The Kuisip leads into Namaqualand, but the watering-places are few and uncertain ; the road by it is execrable in places, and cannot bear comparison with the Swakop. No people inhabit Oosop, or the lower part of the river, except some straggling Ghou Damup, who live, like jackdaws, up in the hills.
These are a very peculiar and scattered race of Negroes, who speak no language but Hottentot, and are frequently slaves to the Bushmen. Who they are, and where they came from, has been a standing enigma ; but I subsequently found out much that was interesting about them.
The Hottentots come over now and then from the Bay, when the 'tiaras are not in season, and bring their cows and oxen to give them a good feed. The place is not suited for savages, for there are no roots for them to grub up and feed upon, and the river bed is so deep, and the rocks so abrupt, that nothing would be easier than to entrap a drove of oxen in it. Anywhere else, when a plundering attack is made, men and oxen scamper off in all directions, but here they would be "pounded."
I had hitherto generally slept under cover, because at Scheppmansdorf there was no place for a bivouac, and the night air was damp and chilly; but here I began to discard my tent, and to sleep by the side of the fire, A large driving-apron, waterproofed on one side and drugget on the other, made my rug, and a blanket and an eider-down quilt my coverlets. My men had pieces of oiled canvas, which I took for them tp sleep on, and blankets or old horse-rugs to cover them. We slept round a fire as large as we could get fuel to make it, and on the lee-side of a bush. The cart stood five or six yards off, and the mules were tied by their halters, and the oxen by their nose-bridles, to the cart, and whatever else they could be tied to. My mules were very restless and noisy, kicking each other, and whinnying all night long; but the oxen were far more sedate, and lay down, looking at the fire with their large eyes, and chewing the cud. The stars were clear, the air was keen and bracing; we had been eating our last goat, and the mules were stuffed full of reeds and green grass.