Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/278

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

journeying with fifty or sixty Damaras, accompanied only by my native interpreter, when the chief of the party next to whom I was walking turned sharply round and abruptly accosted me in the following manner: "How is it that you venture to go thus alone among us? We might easily kill you at any time." Without a moment's hesitation I replied, "I neither fear you nor any other people, and simply because I never injured you. You, on the other hand, are perpetually robbing and killing your neighbors, and, consequently, you have to dread the revenge of their friends and relations. Besides," I jokingly added, "it is not quite so easy as you may imagine to pull 'three hairs out of a lion's tail.'" This was exactly hitting the nail on the head; for, if they had previously thought my argument good, they were now amazingly pleased with the jest.

We were delayed some little time at Barmen in consequence of heavy rains that now almost daily deluged the country. It was during this stay that the remarkable thunder-storm occurred—mentioned in a preceding chapter—which caused such havoc among the native gardens.

One day, while endeavoring to secure properly a young ox, he broke loose, and, though almost the whole village turned out to assist us, we were unable to recapture the animal. When an ox thus made off, we usually caused three or four of the steadiest of his comrades to be driven after him, or we put some good runners on his track. By the cattle or the men keeping up a steady pace, they would soon exhaust the refractory animal, and quietly bring him back to the camp. In this instance, Karnarute, perhaps the fleetest man in Damara-land, was sent in pursuit.

While abiding his return I indulged in a warm bath, and, just as I had finished my ablutions, I observed him coming back with the runaway. As the animal, however, was not proceeding in exactly the required direction, I placed myself in his path for the purpose of turning him. But as he heed-