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CHAP. VI.]   WE GO TO A BALL.   131

Every night Nangoro gives a ball, to which the elite of Ovampoland have a free entree. He kindly sent me an invitation by Tippoo, that one of his three courtiers under whose protection we had been especially placed. As soon as night sets in the guests throng together from all sides, and as the country is full of palms, one member of each party generally picks up a dried, broken-off branch, and lights it as a torch. It gives a brilliant flame, and the effect of the many lights on every side is particularly pretty. I went, about eight o'clock, down the sanded walk, between quickset hedgerows, that leads to Nangoro's palisading. When we had entered it, we turned to the right, into the dancing -court, which was already filled with people who talked and flirted just as though they were in an English ballroom.

There was a man with a feeble guitar, or banjo, in one corner, and a powerful performer on the tom-tom in front of him. The first dance was remarkable as a display of dexterity, though I hardly think of elegance ; it was undertaken by twelve or fourteen gentlemen, all the others looking on. The dancers were ranked in double files, and dos-d-dos; they then 5asseed from side to side with a tripping operatic step, but a wary and cautious eye. Every now and then one of the performers spun suddenly round, and gave a most terrific kick right at the seat of honour of the gentleman whom he then found in front of him. This was the dance ; there was a great deal of dexterity shown both in delivering and avoiding the kick which, when successfully planted, hit with the force of a donkey's hoof. I observed that the three courtiers danced very well and very successfully, indeed I would not have found myself dos-d-dos with Tippoo for any consideration. The ladies applauded the dance most vociferously. After this came a promenade; we were all jammed together into a compact mass, and then stepped round and round the court to the sound of the tomtom, tapping the ground with our feet in regular time. Dance number three was for the Bushmen, a large kraal of whom lay close by Nangoro's palisading ; they are his body-guard. This dance was entirely mimicry, either of animal steps or anything else they liked, and then a grand promenade closed the evening. I saw only thirty or forty of Nangoro's wives there. I suppose that the others, being old, did not dance. They wear a copper armlet as a sign of distinction.

I had a difficulty with Nangoro, from not having complied with one of the principal Ovampo customs on first entering the country. I d :d not like it, though if I had had a proper idea of its importance, I should.