Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/671

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A SOUTH AFRICAN ARCADIA.

strong that, when shooting-parties are made up, the right to the first shot passes from one to another by turns, so that it may be possible for each one to get a piece of game. The hunter who has to make the first shot is in that case the real hunter, and the others are only his helpers; but, if he misses, the right passes over to the next one.

Any one can cut down a tree who wishes to, but another is not allowed to appropriate the wood after it has been taken possession of. Any one may dig a well for his cattle wherever there is hope of finding water, but no one can drink out of the well which another has dug without the permission of the owner. The lord of the well, when he is asked for water, will generally order his people to wait upon the one making the request, so that he does not get paid for the water, but for the attendance; and, if he does not choose to permit the well to be used for another man's cattle, the argument that he did not create the water has no effect upon him. When any one finds a piece of land suitable for a garden, he can fence it and till it, and the crop will belong to him; and it is generally considered wrong for any one to enter upon land that has been put under cultivation by another and till it for himself. But it would be contrary to custom, and provoke resistance, if any one, leaving the place and abandoning his garden, should attempt to sell any right in it. The tract again becomes free for the first comer to occupy.

A kind of property in personal goods is theoretically recognized, but the right is, in practice, one that rather appertains to the family than to the individual. A general principle seems to prevail that it is not right to refuse a gift to one who asks it, particularly if he is a relative or a friend, or is powerful or rich. People of this class have no hesitation in begging, and the stranger may be sure that the ragged fellow who asks him for a new shirt in place of his worn-out one is a person of wealth who thinks he is doing him honor, and is according him the recognition he would give to his lord or his father. The denial of the first request does not generally give offense; but, if the request is granted, the asker will demand more and greater things, and will expect to get them; and, if a person gives to one of a number of beggars, he must give to all the rest, or they will think he is dishonoring them.

The people, however, exercise without scruple the right to appropriate their relative's goods to their own use, if he is not there to prevent it; and this state of public opinion leads to some comical scenes. A wealthy old chief, who had hundreds of dependents, possessed numerous articles of European clothing, without owning a complete suit; but, whenever he went out, he had to put his clothes all on, however hot the weather. He came to me to be photographed one day, having on a pair of shoes, three pairs of thick moleskin trousers, a waistcoat over an indefinite number of shirts, a large shawl around his body, a thick jacket, a shawl around his neck, with a large