22 CHARJICTER OF MY MEN. [CHAP. ZZ.
is soft and porous, and of very little use ; camelthorn is almost too hard to be worked, it is very heavy indeed, and very brittle; still for want of better wood it has to be used for most carpentering work. We therefore made an expedition with the cart in search of a tree, as none grew within some six miles of Scheppmansdorf. Mr. Bam, my carpenter, and myself, went with tools. After a long search we found one, and my best axe splintered sadly in cutting it down; it was quite a long job to fell it. As it lay we roughly shaped it; and even then had to use all our strength to lift the future axle-tree into the cart.
When we got it home, I learnt how to season wood in a hurry: a trench was dug, a good fire made in it, and after a time the ashes swept out; then water was poured in, which steamed the hot earth; lastly, the wood was placed in the trench, covered up, and left to lie for a day.
After two days' hard work the axle-tree was formed into shape, the necessary holes were bored through it, and Mr. Barn laid it by, so that if his present one fairly broke, he could, with a day's work and ordinary tools, put in the new one, which, in the meantime, was left to season thoroughly,
I began now to see something of the character of my men, and what they were fit for, They had, on the whole, worked willingly and well; but a great deal of pilfering had been going on. In the constant loading and unloading of many things, it was impossible but that several occasions should occur for the servants to steal them, and some had certainly done so. However, I said nothing, but Anderson and myself both kept a sharp look-out. Mr. Bam had assured me of the general honesty of the natives at his station in such strong terms, that I felt I could safely accept a kind offer that he made, and leave all my boxes with him in the outhouse that I had occupied, and take the whole of my men with me.
It seems that these Hottentots have a great respect for locks and keys ; the wooden storehouse of the bay has been left entirely without protection for months, and although the natives knew that it was then full of the very things they valued so highly, no occasion was known of their having broken into it. The sandy soil is a great check upon dishonesty, for the spoor remains to tell of the thief and his whereabouts.
I had made my first attempts at mapping. From the sand-hills above Scheppmansdorf Walfisch Bay could be seen clearly; end as