Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/411

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403
TIMBO TAKES THE LAW INTO HIS OWN HANDS.

been impoverished and nearly exterminated, as also the motives of our journey. On hearing all this, the apprehensions of the chief gradually subsided, and he became more communicative and friendly, urging Timbo to return to me without delay and hurry on my departure, being anxious, as he said, for my arrival; he moreover hinted that he would forthwith send men to meet and assist us in our progress. But here ended his courtesy; for subsequently he allowed our party, while at his town, all but to starve. It seems a characteristic of black chieftains to be avaricious.

Previously to reaching Lecholètébè's residence it was necessary to cross the Zouga, his town having been removed to the north side of the river, from fear, as it is said, of Sekomo, another Bechuana chieftain. When Timbo and his party were on their return to me, the natives refused to ferry them over the river without payment. "Me have no money," said Timbo; "but me soon make Caffres do it for nothing: me say, 'So you will not row me across!' And with that me lay hold of big stick, and me pitch into the rascals. Oh, master, such fun! me now get plenty of boats." "But were you not afraid of resorting to such severe measures?" I inquired. "Me frightened!" he exclaimed; "no, me flog natives very well; it do them plenty good; the fellows too lazy to do work."

I now resolved to lose no more time, but to push on at once to the Lake. My leg had in some degree recovered its strength, but, unobserved by me, it had received a somewhat ugly twist. Little George first drew my attention to the fact: "Sir," said he, "your leg has grown crooked."

"Crooked!" echoed I, somewhat angrily. "What do you mean?"

"Only," he wickedly replied, "the calf is nearly where the shin ought to be."

The boy's remark was not without foundation; but in time the leg assumed its proper shape.