CHAP. V.] HEAR OF ANOTHER ROAD. 8)
The Damaras have a wonderful faculty of recollecting any ox that they have once seen, and whenever I came to a new werft the natives always went up and down among my oxen to see if any that had been stolen from them were among the number. I found a great advantage in having bought the majority of mine from Hans, for they had been in his hands for four years, and no Damara could lay a claim to any of them, but in those I bought myself I had to be very careful, as they were pretty sure to have been stolen at some time or another, and might, according to the custom of the land, be reclaimed at any moment by their former possessors.
Hans and John Allen were very quick at recollecting oxen : I never could succeed in doing so myself: but it is perfectly essential to a traveller here that some trustworthy persons of his party should be able to pick out his own oxen from any drove in which they have become mixed ; for, depend upon it, the strange Damaras will give no help on those occasions. When fresh oxen are bought, the old ones butt and fight them for a few days before admitting them into their society, and during the time of probation the new oxen are always trying to run off and get home again. Now the tribe from whom they were bought may be lying at eight or ten scattered kraals, to any one of which the ox that had been bought but a few hours before and seen for a few minutes only, may have made his escape. He has to be picked out from among five hundred or six hundred head of cattle, and this the Damaras can do with perfect certainty. They do not seem to know the sheep or to care much about them, but their thoughts and conversation run upon oxen for the greater part of the day.
By dint of excessive badgering and cross-questioning, I found out that it might be possible after all to turn Omagunde's flank. I had now two or three Damaras who had once been that way, and my men were willing to go,on. We bought a few oxen here. Some zebras were shot and given to Kahikene's people, He made a last endeavour to persuade me not to go up the country, but in vain ; and we separated with some regret, I going on my journey, and he to his hopeless attempt against Omagunde's people. I took a few men from his werft, and by dint of constant bartering, started with one hundred oxen, twenty-seven goats, and thirty sheep. Poor Kahikene! of all the Damaras I saw in my year and a half journey, none had so thoroughly ingratiated himself with my party as he had. We tolerated a few others, but became really attached to him.