Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/51

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43
MISSIONARY LIFE.

of savages, and none of their noble qualities. So long as they are fed and clothed, they are willing enough to congregate round the missionary, and to listen to his exhortation. The moment, however, the food and clothing are discontinued, their feigned attachment to his person and to his doctrines is at an end, and they do not scruple to treat their benefactor with ingratitude, and load him with abuse.

The missionary is more or less dependent on his own resources. Such assistance as he obtains from the natives is so trivial, and procured with so much trouble, that it is often gladly dispensed with. The good man is his own architect, smith, wheelwright, tinker, gardener, &c., while his faithful spouse officiates as nurse, cook, washerwoman, and so forth. Occasionally, to get the drudgery off their hands, they adopt some poor boy and girl, who, after they have been taught with infinite labor to make themselves useful, and have experienced nothing but kindness, will often leave their protectors abruptly, or, what is nearly as bad, become lazy and indolent.

A Namaqua, it would appear, is not able to appreciate kindness, and no word in his language, as far as I can remember, is expressive of gratitude! The same is the case, as I shall hereafter have occasion to mention, with their northern neighbors, the Damaras, and though a sad, it is nevertheless a true picture.

When wagons were first introduced into Great Namaqua-land, they caused many conjectures and much astonishment among the natives, who conceived them to be some gigantic animal possessed of vitality. A conveyance of this kind, belonging to the Rev. Mr. Schmelen, once broke down, and was left sticking in the sand. One day a Bushman came to the owner, and said that he had seen his "pack-ox" standing in the desert for a long time with a broken leg, and, as he did not observe it had any grass, he was afraid that it would soon die of hunger unless taken away!