Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/83

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75
THE DOCTOR'S ADVENTURE.

thirsty. On inquiry of his attendant whether any water could be obtained, he received a sulky and unsatisfactory answer, and was about to prosecute his journey, when the man thus abruptly addressed him:

"You've got a very nice hat, sir, which you must give me, or I will not stir another step."

Under ordinary circumstances, to comply with such a request would have been inconvenient, but it was still more annoying in the present instance, exposed as the doctor was to a scorching sun. Finding himself, however, entirely at the man's mercy, and seeing nothing but a howling wilderness all around him, he grudgingly gave the hat, hoping to be exempted from further importunity. But he was mistaken in this matter; for he had not proceeded much farther when the Hottentot sat himself quietly down on the sand, complaining bitterly of the immense distance they had yet to perform, adding, with a sly look at the doctor, that he thought his jacket would fit him exactly! The medical gentleman was amazed at the fellow's impudence, and at first refused this new demand; but, as the man said that unless he received the garment he would leave him to his fate, he was obliged to comply.

In this manner he gradually divested the chicken-hearted doctor of his apparel, and would, in all probability, not have left him in possession of the shirt on his back had it not been for the timely arrival of Hans and another European, then on their way to Walfisch Bay. The doctor's story was, of course, soon told, and the rascally Hottentot was not only deprived of his booty, but soundly thrashed into the bargain.

After having given the animals the necessary rest, we set out the next afternoon, about three o'clock, on the last stage for Scheppmansdorf. As the evening was starlight, we proceeded at a brisk pace till about midnight, when there suddenly arose from the sea a gloomy, bitter cold mist, which soon enveloped us in total darkness, and completely saturated