Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/117

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109
THE MISSIONARIES AND THE NATIVES.

exhortations, and knowing, moreover, that several missionaries had already established themselves throughout various parts of Great Namaqua-land, he thought that he might use his influence to more advantage with the Damaras, among whom, therefore, he had pitched his tent. Messrs. Rath and Kolbé were his coadjutors in the good cause.

Seeing that their best endeavors were of little avail without a proper knowledge of the Damara language, they worked hard in order to master it, but the difficulty was immense. At last, by the merest chance, they discovered the key to it, and from that moment they made rapid progress; so much so that, in the course of a few years, Mr. Hahn was able to return to Germany, where he has compiled and published a grammar and dictionary.

On the first appearance of the missionaries in Damara-land, the natives were very reserved, and retired with their cattle into the interior. Being wholly dependent on them for supplies of live-stock, the settlers suffered great hardships and privations. Indeed, on more than one occasion starvation stared them in the face, and they lived for a long time in a precarious way on such wild animals as their Hottentot servants managed to kill. The Damaras, moreover, probably judging others by themselves, conceived the idea that the missionaries had come into the country with some sinister object, and that it would be advisable to frustrate it. Accordingly, they assembled in great numbers within a few miles of Barmen for the purpose of exterminating the new settlers. Their diabolical intentions were, however, frustrated by the counsel of one of their tribe. At the time of which I am now writing, Mr. Hahn and his coadjutors had completely succeeded in pacifying and conciliating the Damaras, and a great number of the poorer classes were now living at the station, where, by a little industry and perseverance, many managed to live in tolerable comfort. The great source of their wealth consisted in the cultivation of tobacco,