Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/88

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nuity, and self-confidence, that, out of mere admiration at his dexterity, I could not refrain from excusing him.

John St. Helena, a relative of the last-mentioned, was born in the Cape colony, and officiated as our head wagoner. This man exhibited the most extraordinary disposition; for, though sometimes he would be good-natured, willing, and hard-working, at others he was sulky, ill-tempered, and indolent. At first I felt much annoyed at his irritable and changeable temper; but I soon found that by interfering I only made matters worse; and, as he was an "excellent whip," it was necessary to put up with and overlook a great deal, as we should have found it almost impossible to replace him in so wild and inhospitable a region. About three years afterward I employed him again, and, strange to say, he was then the best of servants.

Another of the attendants, John Williams, also a colony man, was a short, stout, merry, mischievous-looking lad, who agreed to serve in any capacity to which he might be competent. He now cooked for the men, assisted in "in-spanning" and leading the oxen, washed clothes—in short, made himself generally useful. Still he was careless, thoughtless, and dirty in his habits, and had not the least idea of husbanding the provisions. The result was, that before we had been many months in the country, our stock of vegetables, coffee, tea, and other necessaries was all but gone.

Our own cook, John Mortar, a native of Madeira, was the very reverse of this. He was careful, frugal, industrious, strictly honest, and deeply attached to his master's interest. His only fault was irritability; but this, in a cook, is always excusable. I had a great regard for poor John, and I believe the attachment was mutual.

Mortar had been cook to the club in Cape-Town, where he won golden opinions; but, though he had certainly attained some proficiency in the culinary art, he required a whole grocer's shop to prepare a dinner; and it was some