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These young fellows are marvellously swift of foot

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These young fellows are marvellously swift of foot, speed reckoningas one of the chief characteristics of a distinguished soldier. Theyare also possessed of enormous endurance. You may send a Kaffir forsixty or seventy miles with a letter, and he will prepare for the startas quietly as if he had only a journey of some three or four milesto perform. First, he cuts a stick some three feet in length, splitsthe end, and fixes the letter in the cleft, so that he may carry themissive without damaging it by the grease with which his whole personis liberally anointed. He then looks to his supply of snuff, and,should he happen to run short of that needful luxury, it will add wingsto his feet if a little tobacco be presented to him, which he can makeinto snuff at his first halt.[Illustration: (1.) YOUNG KAFFIR ARMED. (See page 20.)][Illustration: (2.) KAFFIR POSTMAN. (See page 20.)]Taking an assagai or two with him, and perhaps a short stick with a
knob at the end, called a “kerry,” he will start off at a slingingsort of mixture between a run and a trot, and will hold this pacealmost without cessation. As to provision for the journey, he need nottrouble himself about it, for he is sure to fall in with some hut,or perhaps a village, and is equally sure of obtaining both food andshelter. He steers his course almost as if by intuition, regardless ofbeaten tracks, and arrives at his destination with the same mysteriouscertainty that characterizes the migration of the swallow.It is not so easy to address a letter in Africa as in England, and itis equally difficult to give directions for finding any particularhouse or village. If a chief should be on a visit, and ask his hostto return the call, he simply tells him to go so many days in such adirection, and then turn for half a day in another direction, and soon. However, the Kaffir is quite satisfied with such indications, andis sure to attain his point.When the messenger has delivered his letter, he will squat down onthe ground, take snuff, or smoke--probably both--and wait patientlyfor the answer. As a matter of course, refreshments will be suppliedto him, and, when the answer is handed to him, he will return at thesame pace. Europeans are always surprised when they first see a youngKaffir undertake the delivery of a letter at so great a distance, andstill more at the wonderfully short time in which he will perform thejourney. Nor are they less surprised when they find that he thinkshimself very well paid with a shilling for his trouble. In point offact, the journey is scarcely troublesome at all. He has everything hisown way. There is plenty of snuff in his box, tobacco wherewith to makemore, the prospect of seeing a number of fellow-countrymen on the way,and enjoying a conversation with them, the dignity of being a messengerfrom one white chief to another, and the certainty of obtaining a sumof money which will enable him to adorn himself with a splendid set ofbeads at the next dance.

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Kansas City Chiefs, Rev J G Wood

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