Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/89

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81
SERVANTS.

time before he could reconcile himself to make a beef-steak à la façon sauvage.

John had a famous way of telling stories, and, like his own dishes, they were very savory and well-spiced: a tale never degenerated in his hands; and when, in his happier moments, he condescended to open his mind, he never failed to keep his audience in a roar of laughter. He had, moreover, great ambition, and could never bear that any one should interfere with his cooking establishment. The arrival of a batch of natives at his fire was the signal for a general burst of eloquent abuse; and if this did not suffice, he had a provoking way of scattering the hot coals and ashes over the naked legs of the poor unsuspecting savages, which, of course, never failed to have the desired effect. I often trembled for John, for his mind was clearly too republican to make any difference between chief and subject, and I was surprised that he never got into a scrape. I suppose, however, the comical manner in which his dangerous experiments were always carried on served rather to amuse than irritate or provoke.

John lived to return to the Cape, where he became another Gulliver, embellishing his adventures among the savages with marvels which would have done honor to the invention even of Dean Swift.

I now come to the last, but certainly not the least interesting of the servants. This man's name was Timbo. He was a native of Mazapa, a country far in the interior, lying to the west of the Portuguese settlements on the east coast of Africa.

When yet a child, Timbo's country was invaded by a ferocious and powerful tribe of Caffres, who carried off the cattle, and slew many of the inhabitants. Among the latter were his parents; he himself escaped to a neighboring tribe. As this, however, soon after shared a similar fate to his own, he was, for a long time, a "stranger on the face of the