Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/397

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389
BAD LUCK—A CHARM—TIMBO.

latter, however, took care not to come within range of the rifle.

At the return of daylight, having then been already twenty-four hours without food, I felt very hungry, and hastened back to the Bushmen to see whether they had left any of the flesh I had given them; but I might as well have searched the dens of ravenous wolves as the lair of these starved "children of the desert." Indeed, they looked very crestfallen when I announced my bad luck.

Fearing my men might possibly delay in following me, I wrote a few hurried lines in my note-book, and tearing out the leaf, handed it to one of the guides with the intimation that he must hasten back whence he came; but, having never seen a piece of paper before, he received it at first with caution, and, taking it between two of his fingers, began blowing on it, thinking probably it was a kind of "charm" for better luck. Seeing me smile, he took courage and blew still harder. This was too much, and I burst into a roar of laughter, in which I was heartily joined by my tawny friend. However, after numerous signs and gestures, I made him comprehend my wishes, and off he started to meet the caravan.

After another twelve hours' fasting and waiting, and just as it was getting dark, I had the satisfaction to see the whole party arrive safely. They had succeeded in procuring enough water for almost all the oxen.

To guard against thirst by the way, the men had brought two wooden kegs of water from the last halting-place. Seeing Timbo about to take his fill from one of the vessels in question, I observed to him that there was surely no longer any necessity to partake of such villainous stuff. He nevertheless drank, exclaiming, "Master, the water is capital!" "Nonsense," I ejaculated, skeptically, "you don't mean to say that that abominable fluid is good?" "Well," he rejoined, "if master won't believe me, he better try it himself." Less from any faith in what he said than from curiosity, I did