92 CLIMB OMUVEREOOIV.-A SNAKE. CHAP. V.
even for ride-oxen. I told a great many stories, I am afraid, to my men. I impressed upon them the certainty of soon arriving at a better country, and talked a great deal about some large fountains, near Omatako, as a baiting place on our way home, but which I had not really much faith in. The next day, by starting early and keeping a steady even pace we arrived at Ja Kabaca, and passing along its rugged base and between it and Omuvereoom, arrived late in the afternoon at a wretched vley, which we discovered after an anxious search. It would be a waste of time to enlarge on the horrible stuff one often had to drink at these small vleys, as it can so easily be conceived. Fancy a shallow pool from ten to twenty yards across, and from six to twelve inches deep, in which a herd of wild animals, say fifty zebras, have been splashing and rolling themselves all night, and which they have left in every respect like the water pumped out of a farm-yard; and where wild animals are wanting, the oxen, in spite of every precaution, will do the same.
The two mountains between which we were now encamped, Omuvereoom, and Ja Kabaca, were said to be great strongholds of Bushmen and Ghou Damup, so Hans, Andersson, and I, made an expedition up the first of these, to see if we could catch any, and persuade or compel them to guide us. The first name means " a door," or " a pass ; " the second is derived from a proper name.
Since leaving Kahikene we had not seen a single person beyond our own party. We rode our oxen to the foot of Omuvereoom, which was about an hour and a half off, and leaving them with our Damaras, went up a hill, in some parts the most rugged that I ever climbed. We first steered for a green patch, in which the telescopes had shown us water there we found deserted huts, but nothing else, neither could we see any recent tracks ; but at one place, hearing what we thought was a halloo, Hans and I scampered up hill after it. I was utterly blown, and had just mounted up on a kind of natural step, when, while I was balancing myself, I found that I had put my foot on the tail of a great dark green snake, who was up in an instant, with his head as high as my chest, and confronting me. I had, though used up with my run, just sense and quickness enough left to leap over the side of the rock, and came with a great tumble among some bushes ; the snake, too, came over after me, I can hardly suppose in chase, because lie did not follow me when we were at the bottom together ; but I ran after him a long way, for I was not hurt, throwing stones at the reptile.