68 THENCE TO SC1-I111ELEN'S HOPE. rCHAP, Iv
force some open admission from the man that his late conduct towards the missionaries and the Damaras had been infamous, and to do it in such a way that the Damaras should hear about it, and understand that I was in no mood either to abet or to obey the Hottentots.
Barmen was a bad place for me to encamp at as grass was extremely scarce ; so I moved on to Schmelen's Hope, which was the Ultima Thule of discovery in Damaraland ; there a strong o.,'kraal was made, and the deserted and half pulled-down house put in order; and leaving Andersson in charge, I tool- Hans, John Morta, and one of the waggon-men, who spoke very good Dutch, and started for Jonl-er. I previously gave it out among the Damaras that I was gone to make peace between the f-Iottentots and them. I packed up my red hunting-coat, jack-boots, and cords, and rode in my hunting-cap: it was a costume unknown in these parts, and would, I expected, aid in producing the effect I desired. I started on the i6th of December. It was about a three days' ride ; but as none of us knew the road, we strayed a little, which made us longer. I saw a horrible sight on the way, which has often haunted me since. We had taken a short cut, and were a day and a half from our waggons, when I observed some smoke in front and rode to see what it was : an immense blackthorn tree was smouldering, and from the quantity of ashes about, there was all the appearance of its having burnt for a long time : by it were tracks that we could make nothing of; no footmarks, only an impression of a hand here and there. We followed them, and found a wretched woman, most horribly emaciated; both her feet were burnt quite off, and the wounds were open and unhealed. Her account was that many days back she and others were encamping there ; and when she was asleep, a dry but standing tree, which they had set fire to, fell down, and entangled her among its branches : there she was burnt before she could extricate herself, and her people left her. She had since lived on gum alone, of which there was vast quantities about; it oozes down from the trees, and forms large cakes in the sand. There was water close by, for she was on the edge of a river-bed. 1 did not know what to do with her; I had no means of conveying her anywhere, or any place to convey her to. The Damaras kill useless and worn-out people: even sons smother their sick fathers ; sad death was evidently not far from her. I had three sheep with