Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/459

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451
THIEVISH PROPENSITIES.

I have suffered cruelly from their thievish propensities. When at the Lake they deprived me of almost the whole of my wardrobe, besides numerous other articles. Not liking to make a disturbance, and knowing the uselessness of complaining, I bore my misfortunes for a time with patience; but there is a limit to every thing. Finding, one morning, that a bag containing no less than forty pounds of shot (a most invaluable treasure to me) had disappeared in a mysterious manner, I could no longer restrain my rage. We tracked the thief to the water, but here, of course, all our efforts to follow him farther were frustrated. I then proceeded direct to the chief, and represented to him, in the strongest colors, the abominable conduct of his people, who robbed me with impunity under his very eyes, adding that their behavior was the more flagitious, as I had loaded both him and his men with presents, and treated them with undeviating kindness. To my astonishment and disgust, he laughed outright in my face, and told me that he could not control his men in this respect. Indeed, his own relations would play him the same trick.

"So much the more disgraceful to you," I remarked, adding that he might rest assured I would take good care to tell my countrymen of the villainous conduct of the people at Lake Ngami.

"Well," he replied, "I really can not assist you in this matter, but will give you wholesome advice, and my authority for acting on it; that is, to hang on the nearest tree the first man you catch stealing."

He said this with so much coolness, indifference, and good-humor, that I could not, vexed as I was, refrain from smiling; and, half reconciled, I turned away from him, exclaiming, "Well, Lecholètébè, you are an incurable rogue!"

That the people really did purloin articles from their own chief I had an instance when at the Lake. Entering a trader's hut one day, I observed some beautiful hippopotamus teeth,