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Specimens of Bushman Folklore, by W.H.I. Bleek and L.C. Lloyd, [1911], at


If a !kung woman steals, her father and her mother being (still) there, we take hold of her, we give her to her mother and her father; and they all go away from their place. Her stolen thing, we take it, we run, we give (it) to the other person, run to give to the other person the other person's thing. And we say to the other person: "My wife stole your thing which is here; your nice thing here, my wife stole. And I have given (back ) my wife to her father and her mother. For, my wife stole the nice thing here."

And the other person hears, and objects (saying):

"No; kill thy wife." And, we hear, (and) object (saying): "No; I do not listen to you, and will not kill my wife; for, my wife has gone away, has gone to her father and her mother; and is far away; and has gone to her country; and I will not kill my wife."

And the others cry, and we hear; and our hearts ache, and we go away; we say to the other people: "We go away; come, that I may kill my wife, kill my father-in-law, kill my mother-in-law, kill my. . ."[1]

On the day that the woman took the thing, we see the thing, we take the thing. The woman says to us: "My husband, look at my nice thing, here, which I stole."[2] And we hear; and we say:

[1. Another relation.

2. A !kung woman is not afraid.]

"My wife, give me thy thing, that I may look (at it)." And (we) persuade her; and she takes (it) and gives (it) to us. And we take (it), and put (it) into our bag; and she cries (saying): "Give me my thing, oh dear! My husband! give me my thing, oh dear!" And we refuse (saying): "No, my wife, I will not listen to thee; for, the other person would kill me; and I will give the other person the other person's thing. My wife! I will not listen to thee, for thou dost (try to) persuade me (in vain)."[1]

If a woman steals another person's thing, (and) returns to her husband, (and) her husband sees the other person's thing, his heart aches, and be kills her; he altogether kills his wife.[2]

Another man (i.e., his father) says to him: "No; do not quite kill thy wife."[3] And, he objects (saying): "No; I object to stealing; and my heart aches; and I will kill my wife; leave off talking to me; to-day ye must fear me."

A female child, if her mother is dead and the female child is an only child, goes to another person's hut. Another day, if she steals, the other person into whose hut she went (to live) takes her, (and) gives her to the other person, the other (from

[1. Should the father be dead, and the mother alive, the woman, who stole, is still taken and given back to the latter. And, should she be an old offender, the mother is said to give her, through a son, to another person, to be burned to death.

2. He shoots with an arrow, killing his wife; he shoots, killing his wife with a |nubbo (a particular kind of arrow).

3. Meaning, that he may beat her.]

whom she stole, the other people kill her altogether; (they) put her in a hut, and burn, killing her with fire; and she dies altogether; and the other people return home.

They say to the people, to the people who gave them the girl who stole, they, (who) killed the girl, they say: "We have burning, killed the girl with fire, put the girl into a hut, and burning killed the girl. Leave off reproaching us about the girl." And the. other people object (saying): "No; we are not scolding you; for, we object (to stealing); for this[1] girl stole; and we do not scold you; for, we hear, and our hearts are glad."

If a man steals, we kill (him), we shoot, killing him (with) arrows,[2] and do not put him into the fire; but, kill him altogether with arrows. It is only a woman (whom) we burn, burn, putting (her) into the fire.

If a child steals, we merely scold the child;[3] and do not kill the child.

Another day, when the child has grown up, if it steals, we object, we kill the child;[4] give the child to other persons, and they kill it altogether.

[1. We fear her name, and do not utter her name; (but) merely mention her.

We fear the people whom we kill, on account of their spirits.

2. Many arrows, not a single arrow; the arrows of many persons; many persons shoot at him.

3. For, we respect the stealing of a little child.

4. We fear its name, and call it "child". Those persons whom we kill altogether, we fear their names; we do not utter their names.]

If another woman comes into our hut (and) her child steals a thing of ours, (if) her child eats our food, (and) we see, we take it, and we take its mother, we give them to other people,[1] (and) the other people put them into the fire, and burn, burn, killing them with fire; (and) return (and) say to us: "We have, burning, killed the two people with fire." We hear; we say: "Yes; we object to stealing." And (we) are silent.[2] And they say: "We have burnt the two persons; ye must not scold (us)." Our hearts are glad,[3] and we sing. And (we) say to them: "We . . . object to stealing; and fear stealing; and do not steal." And those[4] (who killed the woman) hear; and (one) says: "Yes."[5]

And we give them a male elephant's tusk; and they go away to their home. And, another day, they give (it) to the Makoba. And the Makoba give them one bull, with Indian Hemp; and they give to us; and we kill, and eat (it) up; and they return to their home; and we speak nicely to them (saying): "Return ye to your dwelling; give us Indian Hemp; do not give us the bull alone; we object to one thing (only); we do not eat one thing; for, we eat two things." And they hear, and assent (to us); and they return to their home.

And we eat up the bull; and they say to us:

[1. (They) are not strangers, but, are our other people (of the same place).

2. It is not many of us, but, one of us (who) speaks to him (to the other person).

3. Our many hearts are glad.

4. They (are) many.

5. Many other people listen, displeased; and one person assents, and says: "Yes."]

"Ye have eaten up the bull; give us an elephant's tusk." And we hear; and our hearts are glad. The sun arises, and we return to our dwelling.[1] And come, telling the other people who are at our dwelling--our people--we say to them: "Give ye an elephant's tusk to the people." And the others, who are our people, hear; and we give them Indian Hemp.

[1. When we have eaten up the bull, (we) go to their dwelling, to seek Indian Hemp; and they give us Indian Hemp.]


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