Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/428

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ing to it some unintelligible words, the whole assembly burst out into a deafening roar of laughter. Indeed, the mirth became so outrageous as to throw the party into convulsions, many casting themselves at full length on the ground, with their hands tightly clasped across their stomachs, as if in fear of bursting, while their greasy cheeks became furrowed with tears trickling down in streams. Fancy, reader, a royal cortége prostrated in the dust by laughter! Although this merriment was, no doubt, at my expense, the sight more amused than annoyed me.

As soon as the noise had subsided, I brought forward my presents for the chief, consisting of beads, knives, tobacco, snuff, steel chains, rings, blue calico, red woolen caps, and trinkets of various kinds. Without deigning even a look of satisfaction, Lecholètébè silently distributed the goods among the principal of his men who were grouped around him, reserving, apparently, nothing to himself. This being done, he looked anxiously round, from which I inferred that some ungratified desire was still on his heart. Nor was I deceived; for all at once he inquired whether I had not brought him some powder and lead, which he might barter for ivory. I told him that I had some; but, firstly, it was not more than I myself wanted; and, secondly, I was prohibited by the British government at the Cape from disposing of either arms or ammunition, and that I could not think of disobeying these orders.

At this declaration his countenance fell, and I saw clearly that he was very much annoyed. But I was prepared for his displeasure; and, by opportunely placing in his hand a double-barreled pistol, which I had previously been informed he coveted excessively, and which I begged him to accept as a memento of my visit, his visage soon beamed with delight and satisfaction, and we became excellent friends.

When Europeans first visited the Lake, they were, I am told, liberally entertained by Lecholètébè; but, whatever ci-