9o HIPPOPOTAMI. [cnnp, V.
turned the corner, but another provoking reach of. the river-bed was before us, Then we plunged through a field of dry reeds and were walking on when the guide loitered behind and seemed to be looking about for something. The truth slowly dawned upon our minds that we were then in Omanbondc, and that the guide was actually looking for the water.
It was really too ridiculous that our magnificent lake should be reduced to this. However there proved to be perfect truth in the story of the hippopotami. The fact is, that a country like Damaraland is as different after a heavy rainy season to what it is after a dry one, as the sea-beach is at different times of the tide, Our ill-luck was that we travelled in one of the driest years known ; and Omanbonde, which is a reach of the broad Omoramba, of some nine miles long, bears every mark of having been full of water. The course of the Omoramba, as I found out long afterwards, is towards the great river of the Mationa country, and up it during the rainy season hippopotami travel ; many have been killed at Omanbonde ; one a few years back actually travelled up to Okaroscheke, and thence his spoor led into the Swakop, that is not more than a couple of miles apart from it. He died in the Swakop, and his carcase was washed down and eaten by the Ghou Damup at Tsobis. Many Hottentots who were familiar with hippopotami, from having been born on the Orange River, which used to abound with them, saw fragments of the animal; Jonker told me the story, and I have no reason to disbelieve it, but from the appearance of Damaraland during the dry season, one would as soon expect a hippopotamus to have travelled across the great Sahara as from Omaabondd to Tsobis. There is not a drop of water, except in wells, (which the beast could not get at,) between Omanbonde and the little fountain two hours from Schmelen's Hope. We encamped by the side of Omanbonde near some wells of excellent water, to which hundreds of desert partridges flew every night. My men had had enough of travelling, and wanted to return ; however I had my own way with them. I made them what presents I could. Their shirts were torn to rags, and I served out all the calico which I had taken as an article of exchange to make them new ones. I gave an assegai to each of my Damaras, and did my best to put the men into good humour, and tlieu made ready to go on to the Ovampo.