90 CHIPPING THE FRONT TEETH. [CHAP. V.
March i8th-The high cones of Omatako were full in front of us, and the next wells were a long distance on the other side ; however we met with pools of rain water and trecked on in three or four hour stages. At one place John Morta was beginning to make his fire under a bush, when he retreated in great alarm, as he found the place occupied by a puff-adder. The next day we saw our first herd of wild animals; I counted about one hundred hartebeests in one place, and Andersson four hundred gnus in another. We shot some game, and Andersson started what he thought was a puma. The natives talk a great deal about such an animal existing ; they describe it as a very shy creature, and hardly ever moving about in the daytime, of the same colour and general shape as a lion, but smaller, and with no inane. The animal Andersson caught a glimpse of answered the description perfectly. It might have been a young lion, but its movements were not those of a cub. It jumped up close by him, but was among the thick bushes and out of sight before there was time to fire.
We had a very fatiguing day in going round Omatako. The ground was open, but heavy, and the oxen sadly exhausted. We came to a small river-bed on the other side of it, which Andersson had reached in his long ride from Schmelen's I-lope, and encamped by a pool of water that remained in that part of its course. The stream was running breast high with water when Andersson saw it, but it was now utterly dry.
The next day, after crossing the river-bed with difficulty, as its banks were so high, we arrived at the wells that we had heard of, and to which the Dainaras guided us straight enough. Now was the question how to proceed ; we had been travelling due north from Kahikend's werft, but the next certain water-place was by a hill (Ja Kabaca) that looked very distant indeed to the north-east, and the sun was so powerful and the ground so sandy that vley water could in no way be depended on. In front of us, to the north, was the hill Eshuameno, so called from a grand feast the Damaras once held there, on occasion of "chipping" the front teeth of a number of children. Most negroes, as is well knoue n, chip their teeth, and in different ways, according to their tribe. The Damaras knock out a wedge-shaped gap between their two front teeth ; the ladies say, it makes them lisp charmingly.
I left the waggons at the wells and rode on with a couple of men for five hours, till I got to Eshuameno, We found no water there,