152 MESSENGERS TO THE CAPE. [CHAP. IX,
wheels were worn out ; the mended axletree was of doubtful wood; and the waggons were altogether become rickety. On the other hand the missionaries expected a vessel some time not earlier than December, and we were now at the beginning of August. If, then, I returned by the ship, I should have August, September, October, and half November, to do what I liked in, and leaving Barmen not later than the end of the first fortnight in November, I could easily push down to the bay in time to join the vessel.
As a way of ridding myself of the waggons and all my remaining properties, I should arrange with Hans to act as agent for me to convert them into oxen, and drive them for sale down to the colony, by which means I should recover some part of their value. Then in order to occupy the fifteen weeks that I had to spare, I intended to make a quick journey to the eastward, both for the purpose of seeing something of the Hottentots, and also to find out whether, as I had at first been assured was the case, the Karrikarri Desert was interposed as an impracticable barrier between the sea-coast countries and Lake 'Ngami, I divided my party into two : one waggon went down with Hans to the bay, to bring back all the articles of exchange that I had left there ; and the other waggon, together with all my rideoxen, went with me by Jonker's village on my road to the east.
To make matters more secure, I dispatched messengers to the Orange River, in obtaining whom Swartboy very kindly assisted me ; and among my letters, I wrote one to the agent of the missionaries in Cape Town, offering to bear a certain part of the expense of the vessel, on condition that it was dispatched not earlier than the first of December, or later than the last of January. We then busied ourselves for a week in packing, and in repairs, and in enjoying Mr. Hahn's kind hospitality.
Mr. Hahn had made an excursion to Omaruru during my absence, in company with Katjimasha's sons. It is a spring, situated in the neighbourhood of extensive pasturage, a very important place to the Damaras, and about four and a half days' travel from Barmen, being a little way beyond Erongo,-the Ghou Damup mountain that I have already mentioned. Omaruru is a rendezvous for the caravans that travel between the Damaras and the sea-side Ovampo; and immediately north of it begins a broad barren tract called the Kaoko, which those caravans have to cross, and which, though now very thinly inhabited, appears to have been the original home of the Damara nation..