Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/251

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243
A TUB ADVENTURE.

the captain to regard us at first with suspicion, taking us not improbably for outlaws, unfit for other society than savage men and beasts. By degrees, however, his mind, as to our proper character, was set at rest, and we were hospitably entertained on board his ship, which was scrupulously clean and orderly.

The crews of many of the whaling and guano ships who were in the habit of frequenting Walfisch Bay had behaved very outrageously, either by plundering, or wantonly destroying the contents of the temporary store-house. On one occasion they had been amusingly baffled in their dishonest and disreputable practices. At the time of which I am now speaking, the store was tenanted by Mr. Dickson, the trader, who possessed some very fine lion cubs. These a certain captain determined to purloin, and, for that purpose, sent a number of his men in the dead of the night to carry them away. The animals were usually kept in a large tub or barrel; but it so happened that, on the very evening the master had fixed on for the execution of his plan, they had been removed elsewhere, and that Mr. Bassingweight, one of Mr. Dickson's employés, had taken up his abode in their old quarters. The sailors entered the building unperceived, and began rapidly to roll the tub away. Mr. Bassingweight at first imagined he was dreaming; but, as the motion became more violent, the thumping of his head against the wooden walls soon brought him to his senses, on which he roared out most lustily. The unexpected and strange noise so terrified the sailors that they made a precipitate retreat.

The next morning, the captain, having previously had the audacity to possess himself of one of Mr. Dickson's horses, came riding, very drunk, to his house, and in an imperious and impudent tone demanded the cubs to be given up to him. At the same time, he thrust an immense dagger through a dish of pancakes which a servant was busy preparing. Mr. Dickson was not at home; but his wife, who was a shrewd and