Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/298

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290
HOW TO MANAGE THE NATIVES—THE ONDARA.

help smiling. After a little more parley, the conference broke up.

The Namaquas, however much they may be averse to hear the truth, respect the man who speaks his mind boldly. For this very reason, I was never denied a favor or request, if in their power to grant it. The case was similar with Mr. Hahn, who acted on the same principle as myself.

In my dealings with the natives, and more especially with the Namaquas, I made it a rule to treat them civilly, and even deferentially, but I never mixed very freely with them. The moment a person becomes too familiar, they lose all respect for him. The only check he has on their avarice, and safeguard against their treachery, is to exert, as far as possible, a certain moral influence over their minds. This he effects to a certain extent by showing himself superior to their faults and vices. It might be convenient enough to imitate them in some respects, but, on the whole, it will prove injurious and detrimental to the traveler's interest.

After a short stay at Eikhams, I bade adieu to Jonker, and set off on my return to Rehoboth.

One morning, when crossing a periodical stream, I observed in its sandy bed the tracks of an immense serpent, in size, as it would seem, not much inferior to the boa constrictor. I had previously heard that such monsters inhabited this part of Africa,[1] but the natives declared they were

  1. Large species of serpents of the python family are known to inhabit many parts of the African continent. Dr. Smith, in his "Zoology of South Africa," when speaking of a certain species (python Natalensis) found sparingly in the neighborhood of Natal, thus says:
    "It occasionally attains a very large size, and, according to the natives, individuals have been seen whose circumference was equal to that of the body of a stout man: we have ourselves seen a skin which measured twenty-five feet, though a portion of the tail was deficient. It feeds upon quadrupeds, and for some days after swallowing food it remains in a torpid state, and may then be easily destroyed. The South Africans, however, seldom avail themselves of these opportunities of ridding themselves of a reptile they view with horror,