CHAP. iii.] JONKER WRITES TO ME. 51
dressed in leather skirts, that showed off their peculiar shapes to greet advantage. Half of my things were put on ox-back, half on the mules. Timboo and I rode an ox and a mule between us. John Morta got a mount now and then, but he disliked both animals exceedingly. The mule curved his back and cocked his ears and switched his tail much more than was pleasant among the sharp rocks and abominable hakis thorns. These hakis thorns have overspread the whole country on this side of Tsobis ; the tree is seldom more than fifteen feet high, with a short straight stein and a spreading bushy head; the thorns are all curved (hakis is the Dutch for hook), and, consequently, they do not hurt you like other thorns when you tumble into a bush, but only when you try to get out of it. My hands were cruelly torn with these thorns, and as I was still in bad condition, ail the scratches festered; it was very painful, I could hardly close my hands for pain. Besides these there were the "black thorn" and the "white thorn" (I take the names as I heard them) ; the first produces crisp tasteless gum in great abundance, the other a very sweet gum, that tastes and feels exactly like jujubes, but has a great tendency to ferment.
We travelled on very quietly to Barmen, as John Morta was lame, and there was no hurry. We were four days in going there. I like gipsying work excessively, making a temporary home of a pretty spot and then going on without regret at leaving it. A heavy thunderstorm swept by us, the first we had yet seen, and the harbinger of the rainy weather that was to provision me, as far as water was concerned, for my approaching journey. Deluges of rain and peals of thunder passed down the Swakop, such as only tropical countries can show.
Jonker's answer reached me at Barmen; it was rambling and unsatisfactory, begging that I would come to his town and discuss the matters. The letter, instead of having been sent by a direct messenger, had been passed from one person to another, so that it had occupied a month in travelling from the blue hills that hounded the horizon before me. I thought this highly disrespectful, and hardly knew how to act, when three days later brought intelligence of a Hottentot raid of a more murderous and extensive description than any that had taken place previously. Eleven whole werfts had been swept away ; the Hottentots had passed within twenty miles of where I was, and fugitives came from every side telling of their misfortunes. Now this was too bad ; but I determined to have patience for a little time-a traveller must learn patience-and I wrote Jonker another