CHAP. x.] HOTTENTOT PASSION FOR ONSLAUGHT. 279
the werft confessed to the skin, and away we went in chase as before. The huts were such wretched affairs that it was not worth while to destroy them in retaliation for the robbery. We had now some long and severe running; with horses we could have done what we liked, but on foot the naked Damaras were more than a match for us. However, we took two men captive, whose looks almost warranted their being hung without any other proofs of their guilt, and we tied them together and drove them home with several women, whom we kept in different detachments. It was a long time before we were all collected together, as the men were dispersed over the country, and we had no water till ten o'clock, nor did we arrive at the encampment with our prisoners till midday.
After au hour's rest we tried the men, examining them separately. Amiral's shrewdness astonished me beyond measure. He was quite in his element, and wormed out the whole story with the greatest dexterity, and the judicial scene was closed with a business-like application of a new rhinoceros-hide whip.
I had gained quite an insight into Hottentot onslaught by these few hours' experience, and could perfectly understand how engrossing must be the excitement which they yield to savage minds. Compared with these, shooting lions and rhinoceroses must be poor sport to them. The last brings simply into play the faculties of a sportsman, and is an occupation dangerous enough to be disagreeable, but negroes are the woodcocks of Africa, the beau ideal of the game tribe, and they are pursued not with that personal indifference every one must feel towards quadrupeds, but with revenge, hatred, and cupidity. The Hottentot runs to the raid boiling with passion and hungry for spoils. He is matched with an equal in sight, hearing, speed, and ingenuity; the attack and the pursuit call forth the whole of his intelligence. If the negro has a perfect knowledge of the country on his side to aid his escape, the Hottentot has had time for forethought and preparation in the attack to match that advantage. The struggle is equal until the closing scene when the deadly gun confronts the assegai. Then come the tears and supplication and prayers for mercy, which must be music to the ears of the Hottentot, as he revels in his victory and pauses before lie consummates it. I have a pretty fixed idea that if English justice were administered throughout these parts of Africa, a small part only of the population would remain unhung. But we must not be too hard upon the negro and Hottentot morale on that account, or