CHAP. IX.] ELEPHANT FOUNTAIN.
Elephant Fountain is a rather copious spring on the side of a black thorny hill, above a narrow river-bed. Herds of animals come here to drink ; and the ground at the principal place is bored full of pitfalls. By arranging the bushes in different ways, different sets of paths and pitfalls can be used at pleasure, and the animals are unscared by the smell of the blood of their companions, who may have been caught and slaughtered the preceding evening. No less than thirty-four zebras were entrapped in one night.
We could not of course shoot here, as it might frighten the game away, and there was no great temptation, as only zebras and roebucks came to drink. There were a great many lions about, some of whom had lately taken two men, who had sat up watching for game ; but none troubled us. In the daytime, while we were waiting for Amiral, a few animals were shot, and jerked as food for the party that was to stay with the waggon, for I intended to let it stop here, and to ride on with Andersson, Eybrett, and Timboo, leaving John Morta and Phlebus behind.
Elephant Fountain acquired its name from the enormous number of tusks that were found in the water of this place. When the Hottentots settled there, the pool into which the water runs was overgrown with reeds, and harboured lions and hyenas, and all kinds of wild beasts. So the reeds were burnt down, and the pool cleared out: it was not at all a large one, perhaps twenty-five paces across ; but in the mud at the bottom of it they found quantities of elephants' bones and tusks, so that a trader bought enough ivory to fill more than one, and I think two waggons with it. Elephants were then numerous at the place, but they have now quitted it.
A very fatal intermittent fever occurs here, and has depopulated the place more than once ; it breaks out in April, and rages for two or three months. It does not extend to the west of the place ; I cannot say whether or no it does to the east. Amiral told me that the Mationa, or Bechuanas, as he called them, occasionally visited him ; but that, having no interpreter, he could not converse with them. One large party of chiefs had just left Wesley Vale. He said that the Bushmen had always told him that the desert to the east was impassable; but that from time to time they had found springs in their hunting excursions ; and that very likely there was a way across it, if the Bushmen would only choose to point it out. It seemed that the desert was bare sand opposite to Wesley Gale; four days south of Elephant Fountain,