Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/77

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69
HANS LARSEN HIS GREAT STRENGTH.

but, becoming disgusted with a seafaring life, had a few years previously left his ship, and was now residing somewhere near to Walfisch Bay.

On visiting Mr. Bam at Scheppmansdorf, that gentleman confirmed to the full all we had been told about Hans, and strongly recommended Mr. Galton to take him into his service. It was not, however, until our arrival at Richterfeldt, where Hans then resided, that we had an opportunity to make his personal acquaintance. Up to a rather recent period he had been in charge of a herd of cattle, but he was now living independently on the produce of his live-stock and the spoils of the chase.

Hans was a fine specimen of the true Northman—fair complexion, light hair, blue eyes; and, though not above the ordinary stature, he was very muscular, and powerfully built. His strength, indeed, almost exceeded belief. One of his feats was to carry an enormous anvil—which no ordinary man could lift from the ground—with as many persons as could possibly cling to it. On one occasion he had borne from place to place a block of stone which required ten men to lift on to his shoulders!

In consequence of his great strength and courage, he was much feared by the natives, who nevertheless took pleasure in teasing him; but, being of a very quiet disposition, he seldom resented their impertinences. One day, however, when they had carried their jokes somewhat too far, he raised his Herculean fist, and with a single blow leveled to the ground the nearest of his tormentors. At first it was thought that the man was killed; but, fortunately, he was only stunned. On recovering from his stupor he vowed vengeance; but, unable to carry out his purpose alone, he laid his complaint before the chief of the tribe, and a "raad," or counsel, was held. Many were for severe punishment; but at last, when all the members had spoken, the chief rose and told them that, in his opinion, the offense should be passed over, and