Recognized HTML document

148

ELEPHANTS VISIT US.   CHAP. VIII.

and one hundred and ten sheep and goats; of these many belonged to the men, and not to me. I had only seventy cattle and eighty sheep and goats : of these about forty were useful waggon oxen, and fifteen ride and pack, leaving me a surplus of fifteen slaughter oxen and the eighty small cattle. My articles of exchange were at a very low ebb indeed, although I had a small further supply at Walfisch Bay. I had no reason to expect getting more than ten oxen with them in Damaraland; but when I arrived among the Hottentots, I intended to sell one of my waggons for forty or fifty oxen, which can always be done; and thus becoming-independent, should have amply enough for a second excursion on a smaller scale.

We now trecked steadily up the Omoramba, and one day's work was like another's. There were wells every two, three, or four hours, but deep ones, and choked with sand, which we had on every occasion to clear out, working for hours, and often half through the night. The river-bed is sometimes a broad reach of sand with high banks, sometimes imperceptible, except to a very practised eye. Thorns of course hem it in.

The few incidents that occurred on our return journey were these. One night we slept close to water-holes : our encampment was anything but a quiet one, and the dogs barked all night, as they almost invariably did. We had watered the oxen out of a heavy wooden trough that Damaras had made and left at the wells, and this trough blocked up the pathway down to the largest well. In the morning, to our surprise, we found elephant spoors all about us: three large ones and two calves. They had pushed the trough to one side, and walked down to the well till their trunks could reach the water, and had stamped the sand in, and made a great mess of our handiwork. Then they had walked close round us till their minds were satisfied, and finally moved off straight away across country.

A very large 'springbok was shot, which we weighed against a large and fat sheep that we killed. The first was one hundred and twenty pounds; the second, one hundred and twelve pounds. Damara sheep et and much higher than our English sheep, and have no wool; the hair of their hides is like that of a calf. Hans sold two of his curs to some of the Damaras for two oxen each. I cannot conceive what could have induced them to make such a bargain. They were keen upon dogs, for they offered four oxen for another one, " Watch "; but he was too useful to me in worrying night marauders to be spared,