Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/328

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

it was transferred to some crone, who carefully preserved it as a much-prized amulet.

During his journeyings in Great Namaqua-land, Sir James Alexander was told by the natives that the Bushwomen have it in their power to change their forms into lions, hyænas, and other beasts of prey. The following legend illustrates this superstition:

"Once on a time, a certain Namaqua was traveling in company with a Bushwoman carrying a child on her back. They had proceeded some distance on their journey, when a troop of wild horses (zebras) appeared, and the man said to the woman, 'I am hungry; and as I know you can turn yourself into a lion, do so now, and catch us a wild horse, that we may eat.'

"The woman answered, 'You'll be afraid.’

"‘No, no,' said the man. 'I am afraid of dying of hunger, but not of you.'

"While he was speaking, hair began to appear at the back of the woman's neck, her nails assumed the appearance of claws, and her features altered. She set down the child.

"The man, alarmed at the change, climbed a tree close by, while the woman glared at him fearfully; and, going to one side, she threw off her skin petticoat, when a perfect lion rushed out into the plain. It bounded and crept among the bushes toward the wild horses; and, springing on one of them, it fell, and the lion lapped its blood. The lion then came back to where the child was crying, and the man called from the tree, ’Enough! enough! Don't hurt me. Put off your lion's shape. I'll never ask to see this again.'

" The lion looked at him and growled. 'I'll remain here till I die,' exclaimed the man, 'if you don't become a woman again.' The mane and tail began to disappear, the lion went toward the bush where the skin petticoat lay: it was slipped on, and the woman, in her proper shape, took up the child. The man descended, partook of the horse's flesh, but never again asked the woman to catch game for him."