Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/450

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Southern Africa," has given at some length a very striking account of one of these rain-makers, which amply illustrates the immense influence exercised by them over the ignorant and superstitious mind, as also the craft and ingenuity of the men themselves, in order to effect their purpose. It is in substance as follows:

Having for a number of years experienced severe droughts, the Bechuanas at Kuruman held a council as to the best measures for removing the evil. After some debate, a resolution was passed to send for a rain-maker of great renown, then staying among the Bahurutsi, two hundred miles N.E. of the station. Accordingly, commissioners were dispatched, with strict injunctions not to return without the man; but it was with some misgivings as to the success of their mission that the men started. However, by large promises, they succeeded beyond their most sanguine expectations.

During the absence of the embassadors the heavens had been as brass, and scarcely a passing cloud obscured the sky, which blazed with the dazzling rays of a vertical sun. But, strange to relate, the very day that the approach of the rain-maker was announced, the clouds began to gather thickly, the lightning darted, and the thunder rolled in awful grandeur, accompanied by a few drops of rain. The deluded multitude were wild with delight; they rent the sky with their acclamations of joy, and the earth rang with their exulting and maddening shouts. Previously to entering the town, the rain-maker sent a peremptory order to all the inhabitants to wash their feet. Scarcely was the message delivered before every soul, young and old, noble and ignoble, flew to the adjoining river to obey the command of the man who they imagined was now collecting in the heavens all his stores of rain.

The impostor proclaimed aloud that this year the women must cultivate gardens on the hills and not in the valleys, for the latter would be deluged. The natives, in their enthu-