CHAP. virr.1 THE OXEN SUFFER SEVERELY. 145
The oxen went very steadily and quickly, and although we had often to adjust their packs, yet we made eight hours' actual travelling by four o'clock; they seemed to know they were going home; we then stopped in a grassy place, and the oxen had the first good meal they had enjoyed for more than a fortnight. It was quite pleasant to watch their lank sides distending. There was no time to be lost, so that we were up and packed and off before day-break. The night was bitterly cold, and when we started the Damaras and ourselves carried firebrands, breathing their smoke to keep us warm. We travelled five hours and came to the edge of the flat. There are wells of brackish water there. The oxen were utterly tired, for we had gone quickly, and the sun was intensely hot after a cold night. I thought the oxen might choose to drink the water though we could not, so I off-packed and tried them, but they refused although now forty-eight hours without water. They would not eat either. We packed up again after noon and struggled over the flat. The oxen were dead tired ; they tripped their legs together and looked as miserable as could be, but just before nightfall we reached the wells; there is no shelter nor firewood here, but the bleak wind sweeps over the flat, and tired as we were we had to watch the oxen all night. They drank excessively, and then wandered restlessly about in the dark, so that during my watch I could hardly keep them together, though running and walking a great part of the time.
That night fairly broke the constitutions of Frieschland, Timmerman, Buchau, and Kahikene's ox, and severely tried all the others. The first four were never the same oxen again that they had been before. We stayed at the wells till the forenoon of the next day, and then pushed through the Ovampo werft at the south border of the flat, and off-packed at Etosha.
June 21st.-We arrived at Omutchamatunda, which we now found deserted, except by a few Bushmen. We pushed on the day after to beyond Otiando, and then following our old spoor we arrived safely at Otchikoto ; there we took a day's rest, and amused ourselves in bathing. I made some fish-hooks out of needles, and caught about a hundred small fish, which we ate. We could hear nothing of the waggons from the Bushmen, News travels very slowly in these parts.
Even at Otchikango no information could be obtained. Ootui was deserted, and eve were sick with anxiety. If Chapupa had played
Ialse with T-ians, whet should we do ?-a handful of ineq on worn