Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/264

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Even the egg-shell is of considerable value, and is an excellent vessel for holding liquids of any kind. The Bushmen have hardly any other. By covering it with a light net-work, it may be carried slung across the saddle. Grass, wood, &c., serve as substitutes for corks.

By the monks of Dayr Antonios, we are informed that the Copts (by whom the eggs are looked upon as the emblem of watchfulness, and who suspend them in their churches) pass the cords of their lamps through the shell in order to prevent the rats from coming down and drinking the oil.

The shell of the egg is used medicinally. The Boers, after reducing it to powder and mixing it with vinegar, give it to cattle afflicted with strangury, for which disease it is considered a sovereign remedy. The powder itself is said to be an excellent preservative against blindness.

The white wing-feathers[1] of the ostrich (the black ones are used chiefly for mourning) are a considerable article of commerce. The market, however, is very fluctuating. At the Cape the price varies from one or two guineas sterling to as much as twelve for the pound, the latter sum, however, being only paid for very prime feathers. The thinner the quill, and the longer and more wavy the plume, the more it is prized.[2] Seventy to ninety feathers go to the pound. But, although half this number may be obtained from a single

  1. The plumes, together with the eggs, of the ostrich, are said to have been held in much request with the ancient Egyptians. Indeed, they formed part of the tribute imposed on those of the conquered nations in whose country the bird abounded, and appear to have been used for ornaments as well as for religious purposes. "The ostrich feather was a symbol of the Goddess of Truth or Justice. It belonged also to the head-dress of Ao, was adopted by Hermes Trismegistus, and worn by the soldiery and the priests on certain religious festivals." "In Turkey, the janizary who signalized himself in arms had the privilege of empluming his turban, and in the kingdom of Congo the feathers, mixed with those of the peacock, are employed as the ensigns of war and victory."
  2. Such feathers as have been plucked from the wings of the living