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156   ENGAGE EYBRETT   [ CRAP. IL

to pillage is general among the Hottentots, and requires a far more despotic ruler to repress than Jonker or anybody else in this republican part of the world is allowed to be. I found a man settled here who was of great use to me, and whom I engaged; he was white, and born in the Cape; spoke English and Dutch perfectly, and was brought by the missionaries here as half-carpenter, half-schoolmaster. He, however, did not suit them, and had for a long time been dismissed their service; I found him installed as Jonker's prime minister. lie spoke Hottentot very fairly, and had a winning manner about him that vastly smoothed down the minor difficulties of my way ; and though he was always getting himself and us into scrapes, yet he had a marvellous faculty of creeping out of them again. Eybrett, for that was his name, undertook to guide me to Elephant Fountain, a deserted station on the northern frontier of Amiral's tribe. No waggon had passed that road for years, and the way led along a country which was rarely travelled over, owing to its being a border district between the Damaras and Namaquas.

Elephant Fountain and the country immediately adjacent had been the Ultima Thule of missionaries and traders, but the Oerlams, under Amiral, had recently extended themselves about forty miles further to the east, and on their late shooting excursions had reached a point considerably more distant. I was assured that the appearance of the land would be found to alter considerably, the thorns and rugged hills of Damaraland giving place to broad plains, and grass, and timber trees. Beyond was the desert which had hitherto been considered quite impassable, except for men on foot, after the rainy season, and which therefore barred out the lands of the west coast from those of Central Africa.

It was principally with a view to try if this desert were really impassable that I proposed now to travel, and my object was to strike upon some road that led from the colony up to Lake 'Ngami. The Lake itself I was indifferent about reaching, for it is of no great size, and might prove a very unhealthy place for us, who had been accustomed so long to the pure air of a high plateau. It was two years since its discovery, and there was every reason to suppose that it was by this time perfectly well known. Lastly, I should never get on amongst the blacks there without an interpreter, being, as they are, deadly enemies to the Damaras, from whose side I should have come. I also looked forward with much pleasure to a little sport