Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/234

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quantity is poured on the ground, and a blessing asked on the remainder.

Fever and ophthalmia (eye-sickness) are the prevailing maladies. The symptoms in fever are headache, pains in the neck and bowels, general weakness, and ague. It makes its appearance about April and May, or when the periodical rains have ceased. Ophthalmia, on the other hand, begins to show itself in September and October, but reaches its maximum when the cold season sets in. The first sensation experienced is as if the pupil of the eye was too large. A gathering of water in the sides and under the eyelids then ensues. In a short time this fluid becomes scaldingly hot, and, if not quickly and carefully removed, the pain will be intense. The sight is sometimes completely destroyed by this malady. Indeed, one not unfrequently meets with people either totally blind or minus one eye. Europeans are as liable to these inflictions as the natives. I speak from experience, having myself been a severe sufferer from fever and ophthalmia.

Comparatively few old people are to be met with in Damara-land, for which several reasons may be assigned, such as their cruel civil broils, and their want of compassion for aged and disabled individuals. At times, indeed, they would seem to do all they can to hasten the death of such sufferers. Some instances of this atrocity have come to my knowledge: one of the most shocking occurred at Barmen.

Finding that a certain poor woman, being nearly blind, was unable to provide for herself, Mr. Hahn took compassion on the helpless creature, and gave her a small quantity of provision almost daily. The brother, finding he could not obtain the same boon, grew jealous of the preference shown to his sister, and secretly resolved to kill her. This he effected by taking her to a spot destitute of water, under the pretext that they were to dig roots, where she was left to her fate. A boy who accompanied them asserted that, on the unnatural brother returning to the place some days after-