CHAP. IV.] START FOR ERONGO.
the waggons drawn up on the cliff under a thick roofing of reeds, and with reeds stacked all round them. Everything looked most perfectly in order, and I felt delighted with Hans' management. My waggon gear had required much putting in order; the trek-tows or ropes to which the yokes were fastened were quite rotten ; they were remarkably good pieces of rope when I bought them in Cape Town, so much so as to attract the critical eye of the sailors; but nothing of hemp or cotton stands this climate. I do not know why, but string, yarn, shirts, and thread all become useless after a short exposure to the air. Hans had therefore saved the hide of every ox that had been slaughtered, and had either dressed it to make reims and suchlike things, or else twisted it up raw to make it into a trek-tow. We still wanted one hide, which a gnu was kind enough to afford us. Hans wounded him after a long stalk ; but though the animal got off for the time, he was steadily followed by Hans and John Allen for hours, till nightfall ; they then slept on the track, and took it up again the next morning; in a couple of hours they found the beast on three legs, at bay, under a stone, where he was shot and flayed. Gnu is literally the only hide, besides that of oxen and koodoos, that is fit for a trek-tow; almost all other animals have either too small and too thin skins, or else the opposite extreme, while gemsbok and zebra hides, which are of the right thickness, are the worst of leather.
I stopped a day at Otjimbingue, and then rode off with Hans, John St. Helena, and Gabriel, to the mountain Erongo ; it was partly an excursion to buy oxen and sheep for my journey, and partly to see the country, and that remarkable stronghold of the Ghou Damup. The drought was so great, no constant rain having fallen, that troops of Damaras were flocking in from all sides to the comparatively abundant water of the Mission station. One of the captains, who was in advance of the rest of his people, offered to go back with me as guide. He said he would take us to different werfts on our road, where we might barter as much as we liked, but that he dare not take us to Erongo, as his people and the Ghou Damup who lived there were always fighting together. I took a few articles of exchange, some of each of the different things that I had, and we all started in the afternoon.
Our native followers included two Ghou Damups, who were to introduce us to their relatives on Erongo, in the same way as the captain was to recommend us to his friends on the road.
We emerged from the broad valley of the Swakop, after three hours'