We reached the Vaal River at sundown, and were kindly catered for by Mr Dixon. There is abundant sport here in the shape of wild geese, ducks, and pigeons; and anyone disposed to linger a day on the journey would be amply rewarded in a good bag. Nimrod distinguished himself here as usual, and pretty nearly extinguished himself too in combining the retriever with the sportsman. The Vaal in summer is a formidable river, but at this period of the year is of no importance, being easily fordable. A punt was undergoing overhauling in preparation for the coming floods.
Leaving as usual by daybreak next day, we arrived at the village of Ermelo by mid-day, and very forlorn do these villages in the bare uplands look to the eye accustomed to the beautiful scenery of the coast. The village consists of some forty substantial and well-built stone and brick houses, posses several stores, a brace of accommodation houses (had almost said hotels), and is the business centre of a wide district. Resting here for a short time we pushed on, and. reached Lake Chrissie before nightfall, passing in our journey several” pans,” as the curious circular, shallow lakes, arc called here. Some of these miniature lakes are like hand-mirrors in their placidity and shape, and when fringed in summer green must be very pretty. Lake Chrissie is about the size of Durban Bay, irregular in its shape, varying from 3 to 10 feet in depth, and were it relieved by some bush, or a hill or bluff, would be a very charming bit of water; but even as it is a great relief to the eye, wearied with the sameness of the veldt. We saw for the first time big game here blesbok and springbok in large herds, while flamingoes, wild geese, and ducks dotted the lake and its shores.
The latter were unapproachable without the aid of a boat, which oddly enough none of the people near seem to have thought of, although it would afford them much recreation. Messrs. Simmer & Jack have large and important business premises here, and an old Natalian, Mr. Berning, keeps the comfortable hotel-and keeps it well. A poor fellow was lying here stricken with Delagoa Bay fever, which he had brought up even at this season of the year, and sad havoc it had made of him.
We passed from time to time small parties of men on tramp to the fields, and how these poor fellows, badly clad and indifferently fed, managed to endure the cold and reach their destination is a puzzle, and what they would do when they reached it is equally a problem. The stately secretary bird stalks about these wide plains master of the situation, being recognized as a public benefactor. Pauws and Korans were frequently met with also, but too shy to be got at without stalking, although travellers with more leisure might get a good bag. Blesbok and springbok were numerous, and afforded Nimrod capital shooting, although I cannot say enjoyed the venison very much. Travellers who followed us will please note to whom they are indebted if they found venison ready waiting them at intervals along the road. It is curious that this game is confined to these high lands; we found none anywhere else. Snipe and wild duck are found at the pans about Chrissie. Nimrod on one occasion floundering in after his birds got wet to the waist, and as we had no changed of garments-and wet clothes meant rheumatism we had to improvise for him a costume not unlike a Highlander’s, and this with a Boer tall hat, a leather hunting jacket and top boots, made up a most ludicrous” rig, which sadly puzzled and upset the good lady of one of the roadside houses, as well as scandalised us.
Dawn found us on the way from Lake Chrissie, intensely cold, hut only so until the sun asserted himself and thawed us. Some 20 miles from the lake