CHAP. IV.] THE MOUNTAIN ERONGO. 61
temper when annoyed (having already tried to stab two of his fellowservants), and now that the Damaras were thronging round us and teasing us a great deal, I was in much alarm lest some imprudence of the lad's should give them pretext for an attack. If fighting had once commenced, we should have been as full of assegais as St Sebastian ever was of arrows, and our guns would have availed but little. Just at this time, as we were all squatting in a ring, except Hans and John St. Helena, who were a little to one side and out of the way, some hungry native dogs paid our saddle-bags a visit, and gnawed at the leather. Gabriel took a rhinoceros-aide whip to frighten them off, and one snarled, but retreated to his master through the middle of the ring. Gabriel rushed, quite daft, after the dog, and gave a tremendous slash with the long supple whip at him, but he quite over-reached his aim, and the chief got the benefit of the cut full on his legs. Another instant and Gabriel was prostrate, while the chief, like a wild beast, glared over him; the muscle of every Damara was on the stretch Every man had his assegai. My gun lay by my side, but I had sense enough not to clutch at it. I tried with all my power to look as steady and unconcerned as I could, and I must partly thank the sun, which had baked my face into a set expression, for success. It was a fearfully anxious time to me, though it lasted but for a moment; gradually the savage's grasp relaxed, the Damaras around fell back into nonchalant attitudes, and at length the ferocious expression of the chief's face somewhat smoothed down, and he rose and allowed the disconcerted Gabriel to sneak off, but kept the whip as a trophy, and possibly as a memento of wrongs received. When we were about to start, I made myself as civil as I could, and then gently took hold of the whip, and he allowed me to coax it out of his hand, so all ended well.
We had bought four or five oxen and a few sheep, which we intended to drive with us to Erongo, the broad table mountain that now lay eight hours in front of us and bounded the horizon. It was five hours' travel to the next water, but it took us much longer, for we had some hunting by the way. The heat became fearful, and fever was upon me; I could hardly sit the journey out, and was extremely glad to get to the bed of the Canna river (a tributary of the Swakop), where an hour's " crowing" and digging gave enough water for the oxen. After a good meal, as the evening was clear, we were again in the saddle, and pushed on for the mountains, the length of whose escarpment from east to west was fifteen miles, Its height by rough sextant