Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/339

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331
A FEAST OF ORANGES—GHOST-STORIES.

Oranges, which are very abundant in these parts, were beginning to ripen. One day some of our Damaras expressed a wish to taste the enticing fruit, and, being supplied with a shilling, they started off. In a short time they brought back no less than two hundred oranges. They had scarcely finished a dozen or two, however, before the effect became irresistible. The acidity of the fruit at this time of the year was so great that it acted with the force of gun-cotton; and, after having a "good blow-out," they were so disordered as to be unable to taste food for several successive days. Indeed, they were effectually cured of their orange mania.

At the bivouac fire I was often entertained with ghost-stories. John, our wagon-driver, who seemed fully to believe in apparitions, was the chief narrator.

"Ghosts," said he, "abound in and about the neighborhood of the Cape. At times they appear in the shape of dogs; at others, in that of human beings. Once, late at night, I was coming from Simon's Bay, when the oxen all of a sudden stopped short, and would have darted right into the bush had I not been quick to turn them. Just then, nothing could be seen; but presently a large white dog, with a chain round the neck, appeared. He passed us slowly without injuring us in any way, and shaped his course over a cross-road, when we continued our journey. At another time I met the "spook" (ghost) in the form of a very tall black man, accompanied by a large dog of the same color.

"Frequently, when returning late at night to my master's place, while yet at a distance, I have seen the whole yard and dwelling-house splendidly illuminated, but on coming to the spot all was gone.

"As a protection to the garden, my master had erected a hut, where men slept at night. After a while, however, the place became so haunted that the watchmen fled, and slept any where they could in the bush. The 'spooks' were seen continually to promenade up and down the walks arm-in-arm, taking an occasional peep into the house.