Ct1AP. IV., MISHAPS. 65
wooded country long detours have to be made to avoid obstacles which ride- and pack-oxen go across without difficulty. Roads have to be explored, bushes cut down, and the great stones rolled out of the way. The waggon is a crushing, cumbrous affair, and according to my ideas totally unfitted for the use of an explorer, except in moderately level countries. I was never happier than when I left it behind, and took to the saddle.
The oxen were excessively wild, and seemed to have quite forgotten what they had learnt. It took us from an hour and a half to two hours to inspan the two waggons, notwithstanding we had so great a force of men, most of whom were acknowledged to be thoroughly acquainted with the management of oxen. We had a succession of mishaps the whole way to Barmen : it took us seven days to go the seventy miles; and my men had no light work of it. The rainy season was daily expected, and when it comes, violent torrents constantly sweep down the Swakop ; this was unpleasant, as its bed had to be crossed perpetually, and it was invariably in the midst of its deep sand that the oxen came to a halt, and resolutely refused more work for that day. On one occasion the sticking-point was a steep sand-pitch, of about six feet high, out of the river-bed. The oxen drew the waggon till its fore-wheels reached the top of the pitch, and there it stuck. We tried everything, but the pull was entirely beyond their power ; indeed, they were far too wild to exert themselves together. It really seemed as though we should remain fixed there, till the oxen had been thoroughly broken in by other means, or till the river swept us away; however, I recollected the manner in which our ancestors, in the times of the Druids, are said to have managed their large stones, and tried that plan on my waggon : that is to say, I lifted one wheel with the lifter, and had a flat stone put under it, then the other, and did the same to that, so I continued raising the hind-wheels alternately, until the back end of the waggon was lifted up some three feet on two piles of stones. I had of course to be careful in making my buildings very firm, and in scotching the fore-wheels, lest the waggon should run back. I now built a causeway from the piles up to the fore-wheels, and lastly, put smooth stones not only under these, but also for a few paces in advance of them. That completed the task, which only required two hours to execute for there were plenty of flat stones about, and I had ten or twelve men to carry them. I then inspanned a team, who trotted away with the waggon quite easily along my pavement.