Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/297

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289
INTERVIEW WITH JONKER—HIS DEFENSE.

the consequence was, that by the time I reached Rehoboth, what with the heat of the sun and the jolting of the ox, my limb was alarmingly inflamed. A week's rest, however, restored me, in a degree, to health.

On arriving near Eikhams, I observed almost every hill and dale covered with numerous herds of cattle, the spoils of the last excursion. On my arrival, I requested an immediate interview with the chief. In a day or two, accompanied by twenty of his principal men, he made his appearance. The meeting took place in the old church, where I had established myself, which gave a certain solemnity to the occasion. Eyebrecht and Onesimus acted as interpreters.

Every one being duly seated and silence obtained, I thus addressed the chieftain:

"Captain Jonker! when I last saw you, I shook hands with you: it grieves me that I can not do so to-day; the cause you must be aware of." I then proceeded boldly to accuse him of his late depredations in Damara-land, to which both he and the rest of the audience listened in the most profound silence.

Having finished my harangue, the cunning chief requested to be allowed to speak a few words in his defense, which, of course, was granted. He then entered into a very long and cleverly concocted story of the great losses he had sustained at the hands of the Damaras, and that what he had now done was solely in self-defense, or as indemnification for robberies committed on himself. Whatever truth there might have been in his assertion as to preceding outrages, his story on the present occasion was one chain of falsehood, and this I clearly proved to him. At last, finding no further excuse, and perceiving that I knew all about his proceedings, he confessed that, in passing through the country, his men had certainly "taken a few head of cattle, but," added he, "we left plenty after us." The manner in which he thus attempted to get out of the scrape was so ridiculous that I could not