48 DIGGING HOLES. [cxxe. In.
and put a large bullet through his ribs, which sickened him at once. I then rode in front of him, as he slowly kept on his road at a pace between a walk and a trot; but when I began to re-load, I found to my intense disgust that my powder-horn had jolted out of my pocket. I could not turn the giraffe; he forged steadily on at about seven miles an hour, and, as the evening was closing in, I had to leave him to go where he pleased. I offered a good reward for my powder-flask, which I could not easily spare ; and men, women, and boys ran off the next day on my horse's spoor, and found it. I never carried a powder-flask loose in my pocket again. Other Damaras followed, and got my giraffe for themselves.
In return for the meat of the dead mules, the Damaras worked at strengthening my kraal, building me a but in it, and digging a well. I had logs of wood or branches of trees planted upright in the ground at intervals all round, and plenty of dabby bushes rattled in between them. I made a good gate to the whole; for I wished to feel, that when Timboo, John Morta and I remained behind, and the rest of the party were gone down to the Bay to fetch the waggons, I might have a place of security against pilferers and night marauders.
When the holes had to be dug for planting the uprights, I was infinitely amused at the adroitness with which the Damaras made them. I should have used spades, and, in default of those, I really do not know what I should have done, but the natives each took a common stick, pointed at one end, and, holding it like a dagger, broke up the ground with it; they then scratched out the loose earth with their left hand, working in this way until holes were burrowed deeper than the elbow, and only some six inches in diameter. Savages have so many occasions for scratching up the ground, as in digging for deep roots, for water, when the wells are partly choked up, and such like, that the Damaras often carry a stick for the purpose among their arrows, in their quiver. The Bushmen do the same, and this method of digging is called in Dutch patois " crowing "the ground ; thus, " crow-water,' means water that you have to crow for, and not an open well, or spring.
To return to my horse ; the day arrived when lie was doomed, and the fatal distemper made him its last victim. It appears that distemper is most fatal in the months of September, October, and November, and that it generally ceases with the first rains. The Hottentots were hardly able to contend with it at first, but by degrees places were