132 NANGORO'S PALACE. [cuAs. VII.
I suppose, have submitted with the best grace I could. The Ovampo are, as all blacks and most whites, very superstitious; a particular fear seems to possess them of a stranger charming away the life of a person he may happen to eat with. Why dinner time should be the season when the charm has most power I do not know ; but such is considered to be the case. Accordingly, counter-charms are used ; sometimes one is in fashion, sometimes another now, Nangoro, when a young man, being a person of considerable imagination, framed a countercharm for his own particular use, and this being of course taken up by the court, is at present the fashion of the whole of Ovampoland, and it was to this counter-charm that I personally objected. The stranger sits down, closes his eyes, and raises his face to heaven ; then the Ovampo initiator takes some water into his mouth, gargles it well, and, standing over his victim, delivers it full in his face. This ceremony having once been performed, all goes on smoothly, though I am inclined to think that, like vaccination, it requires to be repeated at intervals, as its effect dies away. Old Netjo yielded to my objections the day I dined in his house, as Chik had done when I first met him, and compromised the matter by rubbing butter between my eyes instead. But Nangoro's mind was not so easily satisfied; he was harassed with suspicions; and though he invited me to drink beer at his palace, yet lie contrived to be out of the way when the beer was brought in, and made the three courtiers sit down with me instead.
The plan of all the Ovampo houses is intricate, but Nangoro's was a perfect labyrinth, and I could never find my way about it. Conceive walls of palisading, eight or nine feet high, the poles of which are squared, smoothed, and driven in so close together, that it is only here and there that an arrow could be shot out between them. With these an irregularly circular place of about one hundred yards across is walled, one entrance being left, and to that entrance a broad double pathway leads, which is marked and divided by slight hedges. Within the outer circle other walls of palisading are placed in various ways ; on one side a passage leads to the cattle kraal, in another place there is one leading to the dancing-court ; passages lead to Nangoro's rooms, to the granaries, to the threshing floors, to the women's apartments, and to those of the attendants and of the three courtiers. I tried to sketch out the plan several times, but my head would never take it in.
Nangoro came to my encampment one morning for a chat, and to see
the guns fired; we talked about the countries to the north, and of the