76 MULES RUN QUITE AWAY. [CHAF.IV.
Jonker is decidedly a talented man, and seems in full vigour though upwards of sixty years of age ; his remarks were particularly shrewd, and his descriptions concise and graphic. He came out quite as a diplomatist in the long conversations I had with him, artfully trying to turn the conversation to his own ends. I could not make out that there were more than forty horses belonging to Jonker and his men; neither they nor any others would sell me one; they said they could not possibly spare them. Those I had seen were sorry, half-starved creatures, but with many good points about them. They were all from the country about the Orange River. I endeavoured to appoint a general meeting at Schmelen's Hope for the Hottentot and Damara chiefs, where I would feed them well, and cement peace between them, as far as such an affair could do it. A time was fixed-about a fortnight thence-but it never came off. Everybody mistrusted his neighbours, and only Swartboy, who was my guest there for a couple weeks, was present. Kahikene sent a very friendly message, and I was quite enough satisfied with what I had done. The missionaries were highly gratified at my good fortune, and I had great pleasure in sending to Mr. Kolbe the apology and the promise that I had made ,Jonker write to him.
Matters now looked more sunshiny. There were nearly one hundred oxen in my kraal, and sixty or seventy sheep. My waggon-driver, who had stolen and who latterly had been insolent, I paid in articles of exchange and dismissed. Gabriel at his own wish was left behind. A dozen Damaras agreed to go with us up the country, and Kahikene, our friend, lay in our way. Hans and I rode short exploring excursions to find a road by which we could take the waggon out of the bed of the Swakop, and found one with great difficulty. Andersson then rode a wider sweep to see whether the country away from the Swakop looked open enough for a waggon. He went over a great deal of country, and returned with favourable news in five days, but he hardly saw a Damara, the land was so thinly peopled. We then made ready for our start, though the five mules had run quite away ; they were traced through Barmen and Otjimbingue to Tsobis, a distance of more than one hundred miles, and there the chase was given up. I may as well anticipate my story and mention that they, or rather three of them, arrived at Scheppmansdorf ; they had crossed the Naanip plain by instinct. The whole distance these runaways had travelled by themselves, viz., that from Schmelen's Hope to Scheppmansdorf is eighty-