Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/487

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479
MYTHOLOGY—RELIGION—POLYGAMY.

a dead man. And, to give effect to my threat, I added, with a significant look at the gun, that they well knew I was not much in the habit of missing my mark. Conceiving that I was in earnest, they thought better of the matter, and in a few seconds I had half a dozen of them at my feet, begging I would spare their lives, and promising that if I would not mention the circumstance to their paramount chief, Lecholètébè, they would forthwith restore the missing articles.

Being but too glad to recover my property on such easy terms, I declared myself satisfied, warning them, however, of the consequences of any future attempt on their part to steal, as I should certainly not again trouble myself about inquiring who was the thief, but would simply shoot the first man I came across. This had the desired effect; for they not only left my property untouched for the future, but treated me with far more civility than they had hitherto manifested.

The men, excepting when hunting and fishing, in which pursuits they show great activity, usually lead a very idle life at home. All the drudgery falls on the women, who till the ground, reap, and afterward cleanse and grind the corn, &c.

Respecting their mythology and religion I am so much in the dark that it would not be worth while to communicate to the reader the little I know. It is always difficult to obtain information on these subjects from savages; and, besides, it requires both time and a knowledge of their language. This applies also, though not to as great extent, to their superstitious notions, which are numerous, and, as may well be supposed, often ridiculous.

Polygamy prevails among the Bayeye, and one not unfrequently finds the more wealthy consoling themselves with half a dozen wives.

They live in large round huts, covered with matting made of rushes, and constructed in the same manner as those of the Namaquas.