“I had left my horse in the shade of a large tree, and it was there that they had come to compliment me. I remained there for only a few moments, in order to refresh myself, for it was with relish that I contemplated this interesting tribe, and I went towards them escorted by the whole troupe. As I passed by the huts which, like the huts of the Hottentots, have only a low doorway, the mistress of the place (who had at first shown herself in order to see me coming in the distance) immediately withdrew, with the result that I was continually obliged to bend down in order to inspect the interior. The sight of those brown, immobile faces, glued as it were against the wall at the back of the hut, and seen only in outline, was a most curious spectacle for me. I might just as well have left my visiting card with all the ladies, for I was received by none of them.
However, their shyness gradually dissipated, and in the end I was surrounded by them, each bearing a gift of milk. As Narina had not yet joined these curious ladies, I asked after her, and someone ran off to fetch her. She arrived carrying a container of warm goat’s milk which she came and gave me with great eagerness. I preferred to drink her milk, as much because of the naturally graceful manner in which she presented it to me as because of the care she had taken over the cleanliness of her vessel, which the containers of the other women were far from having.
Moreover these women, dressed in their best outfits, freshly decorated with grease, their faces painted in a hundred different ways, clearly showed both the stir that the news of my visit had caused among the tribe, and the particular consideration which they had for this stranger. Narina had adorned herself in the presents I had given her, but I was more than a little surprised to see that she had not adopted the same regime as the other women, and had not anointed herself as they had done. She knew how much I disliked this particular form of coquetry and, however difficult it might have been for her to set it aside, she had made this effort in order to please me. She introduced me to her sister, who I thought was pretty; but whether it was because my feelings for another blinded me to her attractions, or because the smell of her cosmetic preparations repulsed me, I did not find that she had the same piquancy as Narina, and I felt nothing for her.
When I arrived at Haabas’s hut he pointed out his wife to me. There was nothing about her that distinguished her from the others, and I saw here (as is often seen elsewhere) that Madame la Commandante was supremely old and ugly. Nonetheless, playing the part of the polite courtier, I presented her with a red handkerchief, which she received unceremoniously and immediately wound it around her head. I added a tinder box to this gift but, as I really wanted to discover what sort of things she liked, and since I really wished to see a savage woman struggling over the choice of her finery, I showed her my entire collection of glass trinkets, and invited her to choose for herself whatever she liked best. But I did not obtain the satisfaction for which I had hoped for she threw herself without hesitation on the white and red necklaces; the other colours being, she said, too close to the colour of her skin, produced no effect and were not to her liking. I have always noticed that, in general, the savages do not much favour black or blue. I also gave her some thick brass wire to make two pairs of bracelets, and it appeared to me that this was the item she liked best.
The other women were not without envy with respect to these presents: they raised their hands in ecstasy and, full of admiration, they declared in a loud voice that Haabas’s wife was the happiest of women and that her collection of jewellery surpassed anything yet seen among all the tribes of the Gonaqua nation.
Next I distributed the remainder of the glass baubles I had brought, and I openly confess that I gave the best pieces to the youngest and most beautiful women.”