Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/98

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

narrow end, communicating with the interior by means of a small aperture. This being done, the party present place themselves in a circle, observing deep silence, and with open mouths, and eyes glistening with delight, they anxiously abide their turn. The chief man usually has the honor of enjoying the first pull at the pipe. From the moment that the orifice of the horn is applied to his lips, he seems to lose all consciousness of every thing around him, and becomes entirely absorbed in the enjoyment. As little or no smoke escapes from his mouth, the effect is soon sufficiently apparent. His features become contorted, his eyes glassy and vacant, his mouth covered with froth, his whole body convulsed, and in a few seconds he is prostrate on the ground. A little water is then thrown over his body, proceeding not unfrequently from the mouth of a friend; his hair is violently pulled, or his head unceremoniously thumped with the hand. These somewhat disagreeable applications usually have the effect of restoring him to himself in a few minutes. Cases, however, have been known where people have died on the spot from overcharging their stomachs with the poisonous fumes.

The Ovaherero use tobacco in a similar manner as just described, with this difference only, that they inhale the smoke simply through short clay pipes without using water to cool it, which, of course makes it all the more dangerous.

The first time we were present at a smoking bout we were disgusted and frightened; but, from its being of every-day occurrence, we at length became somewhat reconciled to it, as also to many other unpleasant sights and customs.

Instead of the naked and barren Naarip, the country had now begun to assume a more pleasing appearance; for, though every thing looked dry and parched at this season, there was no want of vegetation. Besides a variety of shrubs and stunted bashes, the periodical water-courses were marked by the handsome black-stemmed mimosa, and other species of the acacia family. The hill-sides, also, were in many