Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/33

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25
TABLE MOUNTAIN.

and devote the remainder to pleasure, spending much of their time and money on their dress, more especially the women. These latter seldom have any covering for the head; but the men tie round it a red handkerchief, over which they wear an enormous umbrella-shaped straw hat, admirably adapted to ward off the sun's rays, but useless and inconvenient in windy weather.

The Malays are usually very honest; but, strange to relate, on a certain day of the year they exert their ingenuity in purloining their neighbors' poultry, and, Spartan-like, do not consider this dishonorable, provided they are not detected in the fact:

"To be taken, to be seen,
These have crimes accounted been."

To be at Cape-Town, without ascending the far-famed Table Mountain, was, of course, not to be thought of. The undertaking, however, is not altogether without danger. On the side of the town, access to the summit is only practicable on foot, and that by a narrow and slippery path; but on the opposite side the Table may be gained on horseback, though with some difficulty. The whole mountain side, moreover, is intersected by deep and numerous ravines, which are rendered more dangerous by the dense fogs that, at certain seasons of the year, arise suddenly from the sea.

One fine afternoon I had unconsciously approached the foot of the mountain, and the top looked so near and inviting, that, though the sun was fast sinking, I determined to make the ascent. At the very outset I lost the road; but, having been all my life a mountain-climber, I pushed boldly forward. The task, however, proved more difficult than I expected, and the sun's broad disk had already touched the horizon when I reached the summit. Nevertheless, the magnificent panorama that now lay spread before me amply rewarded me for my trouble. It was, however, only for a very short time that I could enjoy the beautiful scene; darkness