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


My grandfather, !Xugen-ddi, formerly told me, that a man long ago did thus: when the rain fell he thought that he would go (and) sleep in a cave; when a lion had been the one who had made rain for him, so that he should not know the place at which (his) home seemed to be, that he might pass (it) by (in the darkness), so that he might go to a different place, that the lion might get hold of him.

The place was not a little dark, for, he continued to go into the bushes; he did not see the place along which he was walking. He did not know the place at which (his) home seemed to be. And he thought, 'I must go along in the darkness seeking for a cave, that I may go to sleep in it, if I find it; I can afterwards in the morning return home; for, the rain does not a little fall upon me.'

And the lion had come first to the cave; it came to wait for the man in the cave.

And it felt that it was also wet; when it had sat (for a little while) inside the cave,. it became warm, and it slept, when it had become warm; while it had thought that it would sit watching for the man, that it might do thus, if the man came in; while the man thought he would look for a place where he could lay down his things; it might catch hold of the man. It had thought so; (but) it fell fast asleep.

And the man came, while it sat asleep. And the man, when he had entered the cave, heard a thing which seemed to breathe; and the man thought: 'Can people have come to the cave? Do they wait at the cave, those who breathe here?' And he thought, 'How is it that the people do not talk, if people (they) be? Can the people have fallen fast asleep, that the people do not speak to me?' And he thought: 'I will not call out to the people, for I do not know, whether they are people; for, I will first feel gently about (with my hands), that I may feel whether real people (they) be. For, I should, if it were a different thing, I should call awakening it.'

And he felt about; and he felt that a thing which seemed to have hair was there. And he gently approached a little nearer to it; and he felt well about, and he felt that a lion was the one which slept sitting inside the cave. And he gently stepped backwards (and) turned round; and he went out on tiptoe.

And, when he had gone to a little distance, he ran swiftly, because he thought that the lion would smell his scent (where) he had gone to feel about for the lion; the lion would run to seek him.

And when he had gone to a little distance, when a little time had passed, he heard the lion, because the lion had smelt his scent, while the lion slept. And as the lion had in this manner sat sleeping, the man's scent had entered its nose, and, because of the man's scent, which seemed as if the man were standing beside it, it had growling arisen; because the man's scent which it smelt, seemed as if the man were standing beside it; that was why it snatched, it the place at which the man seemed to be.

And the man heard it; and the man exclaimed: "It sounds as if it had perceived my scent; for thou (addressing himself) art the one who hearest that the cave sounds thus; for the lion sounds as if (it) had been startled awake by my scent; for it sounds as if (it) were biting about, seeking[1] for me in the cave." And the man thought, that he would not go home; for, he would run to a different place; for, he knew that the lion would find his spoor; he would afterwards do as follows, when the day

[1. The narrator explained that the lion was smelling and growling about, in order to find the person (or persons) whom it had smelt.]

had broken)--if the lion had not killed him, he would afterwards look seeking for (his) home in the morning.

And the day broke, while the man was (still) running, because he had heard the lion, namely, the noise that the lion made, while the lion sought to get him. And, as he ran along, he espied the fire of some other people, which they kindled to warm themselves. And he thought: 'I will run to the fire which stands yonder(?), that I may go to the people who are making fire there, that I may go to sleep (among) them.' And he thought: I Dost thou not think (that) our fathers also said to me, that the lion's eye can also sometimes resemble a fire by night? I will look whether it be a real fire which burns there.' And he ran nearer to the fire; he looked, and he saw that people were lying round(?) in front of the fire. And he thought: 'I will go to the people; for the thing seems as if they are people.'

And he went to the people. And he told the people about it: "Do ye think, that I have not walked into death this night? It happened to me that the lion slept; therefore ye see me! For, ye would not have seen me, had the lion not slept; because it slept, hence it is that the thing seems that ye see me; I have come to you. For, I had thought that I would go to wait there (in) the cave, but, the lion had come to wait for me in the cave. I did not know that the lion was sitting inside the cave; I thought that I would feel about, seeking for a place which was dry, that I might lay down my things there. Then, when I walked into the cave, I heard a thing which sounded as if it breathed; and I thought that people seemed also to be waiting there (in) the cave. I heard that the breathing of the thing did not sound like a man; I thought that I would first feel about, while I did not lay down my things. I felt about, while I (still) had my things; and I felt gently about. I felt that I was touching hair; and I became aware that (it) must be a lion which slept, sitting in (the cave). I turned softly back, when I became aware that it was a lion."

He told the other people about it: Did not the other people hear its seeking? Therefore, the other people must watch for the lion; for the lion would come, when the lion had found his spoor. And they heard the lion, as the lion questioned, seeking to get him. The lion asked, where was the man who had come to it--because it smelt that the scent of the man's spoor had ceased at this house? The thing seemed, as if he were at this house; it wanted the man to become visible, that it might get hold of the man.

Day broke, while the lion was (still) threatening them. When the day broke, then it was, that the lion went away, leaving the people; because the sun was rising; therefore, it went away, leaving the people, while it felt that the sun rose. For (otherwise), the people would perceive it; for the lion is a thing which is not willing to come to us, when the sun stands (in the sky).

Next: Certain Hunting Observances, Called !Nanna-Sse.