Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/337

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329
AT TIMBUCTOO, WHETHER OR NO.

having ridden some fifty miles in the course of the day without tasting food of any description. In the Dutch language, "danken" signifies a direct refusal; but, not being aware of this, I interpreted it in the very reverse sense, as meaning, "If you please." As often, therefore, as I repeated the ominous word, so often had I the mortification of seeing the smoking dishes pass by me!

Refreshing myself one afternoon at a comfortable farmhouse, the worthy host inquired whence and how far I had journeyed. Having made a rough calculation in my own mind, I told him the approximate distance. No sooner had I done so than he clasped his hands together, and, turning to his wife, exclaimed, in the utmost amazement, "Gracious heavens! the man has been in Timbuctoo!" "No, my good friend, not quite so far," I remarked. But he became too much absorbed in the novel idea, and, without attending to me, he went on to say, "Yes, indeed, the man has been at Timbuctoo." I again took the liberty to remonstrate, when his brother, who was also present, ejaculated, "Yes, brother, you are right. Timbuctoo! ah! eh? yes! Let me see, Timbuctoo. Ah! I remember to have read that it is situated at the end of Africa, in a place where you can see nothing but sand." Once more I attempted to explain, but to no purpose. Right or wrong, I must have been at Timbuctoo. I secretly wished I had been there.

Finding they apparently knew more about my travels than I did, I left them to themselves to discuss the merit of the journey, and, diving into the eatables which had been liberally spread before me, I did ample justice to their hospitality.

On the 22d of September I reached Cape-Town, where my appearance afforded no little delight and amusement to the mob, who shouted merrily after me, "Look at the jockey! ha! ha! ha!" My dress was certainly highly picturesque. An old English hunting-cap—a present from a friend—