32 HALF-CAsrE MORALE. [trim, It.
festered, and we were not fit for much exertion. Stewartson told us innumerable anecdotes of events in the country since he had resided there. He showed me all the points of an ox; explained how im measurably superior that beast was in every respect to a horse-a fact which I cannot endorse-and every now and then gave me a mount. My first impression in riding an ox, was, that the saddle was ungirthed, for his skin is so loose, that hold on as you will it is impossible to be as steady as on horseback. I hated the animal's horns ; they were always annoying the rider or somebody else, but nevertheless are dearly prized by Hottentots as an ornament. I learnt it would cast infinite ridicule upon me, in their eyes, if, when I had ride-oxen of my own, I should saw off their tips. The footfall of an ox is peculiarly soft.
My men, I was glad to see, worked together pretty amicably, but there was no one amongst them with sufficient influence over the rest to be made into a head servant. John Morta, who had far the most character of them all, was unfitted to head the others from his ignorance of oxen and horses, and the whole of that very work that I especially wanted a head servant to undertake for me ; I therefore made him cook and housekeeper, and gave him the principal charge of the stores. Timboo had attached himself to me from the first, as henchman and valet-de-cleambre-that is to say, if I called out for anything, he would not let anybody but himself bring it-and he made my bed and saddled my horse, and so forth. I had intended Gabriel for that sort of work, but the poor led was quite bewildered and frightened. He was also a great scamp. In Cape Town he had been the ost impudent, self-possessed, and good-looking of young rogues, but the hard work and sense of anxiety quite dashed his spirits and his assurance, and he had relapsed into a timid, frightened boy, and used to talk to the men in a piteous way about his mother. Listening to the conversation of the men at our bivouacs I was quite shocked at the low tone of honour that pervaded it, and yet they must be taken as about the average of the working class in Cape Town. They were perpetually talking of the prison there, which they literally seemed to consider as a kind of club or headquarters, where a person had an excellent opportunity of meeting his friends and of forming fresh intimacies, but where he was at the same time subjected to considerable inconvenience. They positively reckoned dates by the epochs in which either they or their mutual friends had been confined.