Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/47

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39
THE ALARUM—THE TURN-OUT.

A few miles from our encampment resided a small kraal of Hottentots, under the chief Frederick, who occasionally brought us some milk and a few goats as a supply for the larder, in exchange for which they received old soldiers' coats (worth sixpence a piece), handkerchiefs, hats, tobacco, and a variety of other trifling articles. But they infinitely preferred to beg, and were not the least ashamed to ask for even the shirt on one's back.

These men were excessively dirty in their habits. One fine morning I observed an individual attentively examining his caross, spread out before him in a sunny and sheltered spot. On approaching him, in order to ascertain the cause of his deep meditation, I found, to my astonishment and disgust, that he was feasting on certain loathsome insects, that can not with propriety be named to ears polite. This was only one instance out of a hundred that might be named of their filthy customs.

As Frederick the chieftain, and a few of his half-starved and Chinese-featured followers, were one day intently watching the process of our packing and unpacking divers trunks, I placed alongside of him, as if by accident, a small box-alarum, and then resumed my employment. On the first shrill sound of the instrument, our friend leaped from his seat like one suddenly demented; and during the whole time the jarring notes continued, he remained standing at a respectful distance, trembling violently from head to foot.

As no draft cattle could be obtained in the neighborhood, nor, indeed, within a less distance than from one hundred and fifty to two hundred miles, Mr. Galton started on an excursion into the interior with a view of obtaining a supply.

His "turn-out" was most original, and would have formed an excellent subject for a caricature. From both ends of the cart with which he made the journey protruded a number of common muskets and other articles intended for barter. The mules harnessed to the vehicle kept up a most discordant con-