Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/340

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

"In dark nights a ghost would sometimes appear at the head of the team, and, laying hold of the thong attached to the leading ox, would conduct the cattle out of their proper course, I being totally unconscious of the proceedings at the time.

"Again, I would hear wagons and carriages coming along the road at a brisk pace, and, while making way for them to pass, I found, to my astonishment, that the vehicles were already far ahead of us."

On the 18th of October, and when within a day's ride of Cape-Town, we disposed of our cattle by public auction.

Owing to the great distance we had brought them, and the scarcity of pasturage during the latter part of the journey, our cattle had become very lean, and, although they were in themselves an exceedingly fine lot, their want of condition neither suited the butcher nor the grazier. In their emaciated state, indeed, it would require fully a year before they would become acclimatized and refattened, in which interval, and before getting accustomed to their new pasturage, many would probably die. They scarcely averaged £2 per head. The cows sold almost the best; not on account of the milk they yielded, for that was little or nothing, but simply because, strange to say, they were exempted from a peculiar disease (strangury) which kills the oxen in these parts. The Boers are in consequence obliged to make use of cows for agricultural purposes.

It is customary on these occasions to give a banquet to the purchasers, who chiefly consist of Dutch farmers; and if the cattle are known to be fit for slaughter, the butchers of the metropolis also come in for a share. A large quantity of wine is supposed to be necessary to facilitate the sale. Fortunately, this kind of liquor is very cheap; and though a person may have to entertain from fifty to one hundred people for two days together, the expense of such festivities rarely exceeds seven or eight pounds sterling.