Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/145

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WILD BEES—WILLIAM ZWARTBOOI.

fall to pieces." This is a clear, and, I have no doubt, a correct account. I myself have often been astonished to find huge trees, apparently sound, crumble to pieces on being touched by the hand.

Wild bees very frequently make their nests in the gigantic dwellings of the termites. In some years bees are very numerous. The disposition of these insects would appear to be unusually quiet and forbearing. Indeed, I never knew a man to be stung by them when robbing their nests. Commonly, these are smoked in the first instance, but just as often (as I myself have many times witnessed) they are fearlessly approached, and plundered by the naked savage without this precaution.

It is another interesting fact in connection with the dwellings of the termites that, during the rainy season, mushrooms grow in great abundance on their sides. In size and flavor these mushrooms are far superior to any found in Europe. Care, however, must be taken in selecting them, for other fungi of a poisonous nature are almost identical in appearance. Two of the children of one of our Damaras were very nearly killed by eating some of these instead of mushrooms.

On the 6th of February I received a visit from a great Namaqua chieftain named William Zwartbooi, and found him a very agreeable old personage. He had met Mr. Galton not far from Eikhams, who had sent him to Schmelen's Hope to wait his return.

At one time this chief had robbed and massacred the Damaras in precisely a similar way as Jonker Afrikaner; but, thanks to the exertions of the missionaries, he had been gradually weaned from his evil practices, and was now living on excellent terms with his neighbors.

Jonker and Zwartbooi associated occasionally, but they were by no means well disposed toward each other. On one occasion, when the latter had expressed displeasure at his