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Home -> David W Carnegie -> Spinifex and Sand -> Part 5 Chapter 11

Spinifex and Sand - Part 5 Chapter 11

1. Part 1 Chapter 1

2. Part 1 Chapter 2

3. Part 1 Chapter 3

4. Part 2 Chapter 1

5. Part 2 Chapter 2

6. Part 2 Chapter 3

7. Part 3 Chapter 1

8. Part 3 Chapter 2

9. Part 3 Chapter 3

10. Part 3 Chapter 4

11. Part 3 Chapter 5

12. Part 3 Chapter 6

13. Part 3 Chapter 7

14. Part 4 Chapter 1

15. Part 5 Chapter 1

16. Part 5 Chapter 2

17. Part 5 Chapter 3

18. Part 5 Chapter 4

19. Part 5 Chapter 5

20. Part 5 Chapter 6

21. Part 5 Chapter 7

22. Part 5 Chapter 8

23. Part 5 Chapter 9

24. Part 5 Chapter 10

25. Part 5 Chapter 11

26. Part 5 Chapter 12

27. Part 5 Chapter 13

28. Part 5 Chapter 14

29. Part 5 Chapter 15

30. Part 5 Chapter 16

31. Part 5 Chapter 17

32. Part 5 Chapter 18

33. Part 5 Appendix

34. Part 6 Chapter 1

35. Part 6 Chapter 2

36. Part 6 Chapter 3

37. Part 6 Chapter 4

38. Part 6 Chapter 5

39. Part 6 Chapter 6

40. Part 6 Chapter 7

41. Part 6 Chapter 8

42. Part 6 Chapter 9

43. Part 6 Chapter 10

44. Appendix



On leaving Family Well it was suggested by Charlie and Godfrey that we
should take one of our native friends with us. No doubt this would have
been the most sensible plan, and would have saved us much trouble.
However, I did not care to take either of the females, the sick man was
evidently of no use to us, and it was pretty evident that the sound buck
was the chief hunter, and that without him, the little tribe would be
hard pressed to find food. As we were not in absolute need of water for a
few days to come, I decided to leave the family in quiet enjoyment of
their accustomed surroundings. I had now given up all hope of finding any
other than desert country ahead of us, and had no longer any other
purpose than that of traversing the region that lay between us and
"white settlements" with as little harm to ourselves and our camels as
care and caution could command. Our course was now North-East, as it was
necessary to make more easting to bring us near the longitude of Hall's
Creek. We continued for three days on this course, the ridges running due
East and West. The usual vegetation was to be seen, relieved by
occasional patches of a low, white plant having the scent of lavender.
This little plant grew chiefly on the southern slope of the ridges, and
was seen by us in no other locality. A specimen brought home by me was
identified at Kew Gardens as a new variety of Dicrastylis, and has been

Large tracts of burnt country had to be crossed from which clouds of dust
and ashes were continually rising, blown up by "Willy-Willies" (spiral
winds). These were most deceptive, it being very hard to distinguish
between them and hunting-smokes. After one or two disappointments we were
able to determine, from a distance, the nature of these clouds of black
dust. On the 22nd we turned due East towards some smokes and what
appeared to be a range of hills beyond them. The smokes, however, turned
out to be dust-storms, and the range to be immense sandhills. Here we saw
the first desert oak, standing solitary sentinel on the crest of a ridge.
Around the burnt ground several old tracks were visible, some of which we
followed, but with no better result than two dry rock-holes and a dry
native well one mile from them. Near the latter was an old native camp,
in which we found several small, pointed sticks, so planed as to leave a
bunch of shavings on the end. I have seen similar sticks stuck up on
native graves near Coolgardie, but have no idea of their proper
significance. Probably they are merely ornaments.

A line of cliffs next met our view, and to them we turned. These were
higher rocks or hills than we had seen for some time, and presented
rather a remarkable appearance. Formed of a conglomerate of sandstone and
round ironstone pebbles, they stood up like a wall on the top of a long
slope of easy grade, covered with gravel and loose pebbles. At the foot
lay boulders great and small, in detached heaps like so many pieces
broken from a giant plum-pudding. In the face of the cliffs were numerous
holes and caves, the floors of which gave ample evidence of the presence
of bats and wallabies. Of these latter we saw several, but could not get
a shot; careful exploration of these caves, on hands and knees, led to
the finding of a fair-sized rock-hole, unfortunately quite dry. I have no
doubt that these wallabies, like the spinifex rats, are so constituted
that water is not to them a necessity, and that the spinifex roots
afford sufficient moisture to keep them alive. We saw no traces of
spinifex rats at any of the wells we found, nor did we see any water
which they could reach or from which, having reached it, they could climb
up again to the surface. From the top of the cliffs an extensive view to
the South and North was obtained. But such a view! With powerful
field-glasses nothing could be seen but ridge succeeding ridge, as if the
whole country had been combed with a mammoth comb. From these points of
the compass the cliffs must be visible for a considerable distance. Their
rather remarkable appearance made me think them worth naming, so they
were christened "Wilson's Cliffs," after my old friend and partner.

The entry in my diary for the 25th would stand for many other days. It
runs: "Most wretched sand-ridge country, ridges East and West, and
timbered with very occasional stunted gums--extensive patches of bare,
burnt country with clouds of dust. Absolutely no feed for camels--or for
any other animal for that matter."

Such miserable country beggars description. Nothing is more heartrending
than to be forced to camp night after night with the knowledge that one's
poor animals are wandering vainly in search of feed. To tie them down
would have given them some rest, but at the same time it entailed their
certain starvation; whilst, wandering about, they stood some chance of
picking up a mouthful or two. How anxiously each ridge was scanned when
camping-time drew near--no feed--on again another ridge or two, no
feed--just one more ridge, and, alas! "no feed" is again the cry. So we
camped perforce without it, and often the famished camels would wander
two or three miles in the night in search of it, and this meant an extra
walk to recover them in the morning.

On the morning of the 27th Warri brought in all the camels but one, with
a message from Breaden that Misery was dying. Small wonder if all had
been in the same state, for we were now eight days from the last water,
and tough as camels are they cannot go waterless and foodless for very
many days in such trying country as this. Poor old Misery! This was sad
news indeed, but all that could be done to save him should be done.

This morning a smoke rose due West of us. We had seen so few signs of
natives lately that we could not afford to neglect this, even though it
was so far from our proper course.

By the time we had loaded the camels and distributed his load amongst the
rest, Breaden brought Misery into camp, and when we started, followed
with him behind us, coaxing him along as best he could. Eight miles
brought us into the region of the burning spinifex and fresh tracks;
despatching Charlie on Satan, and Godfrey and Warri on foot, to track up
and catch a native if possible, I unloaded the camels and awaited
Breaden's arrival. Presently he came alone, saying that poor Misery was
done for and could move no further, so he had left him. I felt sure that
that was the case, since Breaden would not have come without him if there
had been any possibility of getting him further. Nevertheless, I could
not bear to leave my faithful and favourite camel to die by slow degrees,
and returned on Breaden's tracks. I took with me a brandy-bottle full of
Epsom salts and water, for from Breaden's account of his way of going on
I felt sure that poor Misery had eaten some poisonous plant. Four miles
back I found him lying apparently dead in the shade of a tree, or where
the shade would have been had there been any foliage; he knew me and
looked up when I spoke to and patted him, and rested his head in my lap
as I sat down beside him; but no amount of coaxing could get him on his
legs. Having administered the salts, which he evidently enjoyed, I
proceeded to bleed him by slitting his ear; my knife, however, was not
sharp enough, (for everything becomes dulled in this sand) to do the job
properly, and he bled but little. I could do nothing but wait, so taking
a diminutive edition of Thackeray from my pocket, for I had foreseen this
long wait, I read a chapter from "Vanity Fair." Presently I got him on
his legs and he walked for about thirty yards, then down he went in a
heap on the ground; another wait, and more "Vanity Fair." Then on again,
and down again, and so on hour after hour. Soon nothing but brutal
treatment would make him stir, so I hardened my heart and used a stick
without mercy. What a brute I felt as he turned his great eyes
reproachfully upon me! "Never mind, Misery, old chap, it must be done to
save your life!" At last I reached a ridge within one hundred yards of
the camp, and here Breaden met me, bringing with him four gallons of
water and the welcome news that the others had captured two bucks who had
shown a well three miles north.

This water saved Misery's life, and was just in time. We reached camp as
the camels were reloaded and ready to start for the well under the
guidance of the two bucks. Both of these were fair-sized men, and one
stood six feet at least, though from the method of doing the hair in a
bunch at the top of the head they appear taller than they really are.
Godfrey and Warri had tracked them right into their camp and surprised a
family of numerous gins, young and old, several picaninnies, and three
bucks, one of whom was stone blind. They were preparing their evening
meal, and amongst the spoils of the chase there were opossums, whose
tracks on one of two large gum-trees not far off we afterwards saw. I had
always associated opossums with good country; however, here they were. Of
the natives, some fled as soon as Godfrey and Warri approached, whilst
the men were uncommonly anxious to dispute this unceremonious visit to
their camp. They were on the point of active hostilities when Charlie
rode up on Satan, and they then thought better of it. Even so they were
not persuaded to accompany the white men back to camp without
considerable difficulty. The smaller man managed to escape; the other we
afterwards christened Sir John, because he was so anxious to make us dig
out old dry wells, so that presumably they should be ready for the next
rain. There seemed to us to exist a certain similarity between his views
and those of the Government, which is ever ready to make use of the
pioneer's labours where it might be justly expected to expend its own.

This fellow was most entertaining, and took a great interest in all our
belongings. I, coming last, seemed to excite keen delight, though he was
naturally a little shy of his captors; he patted me on the chest, felt my
shirt and arms, and was greatly taken by a tattoo on one of them.
Grinning like any two Cheshire cats, he showed his approval by "clicking"
his tongue with a side shake of the head, at the same time snapping his
thumb and finger. Breaden, too, came in for Sir John's approval, and was
similarly patted and pulled about.

Godfrey had taken a rather handy-looking tomahawk from the buck, made
from the half of a horseshoe, one point of which was ground to a pretty
sharp edge--a primitive weapon, but distinctly serviceable. Unlike our
friend at Family Well, this man had not even a shell to wear, and beyond
an unpleasantly scented mixture of fat and ashes, with which he was
smeared, was hampered by no sort of clothing whatever. As usual, he was
scarred on the chest and forehead, and wore his hair in a mop, held back
by a band of string. His teeth were a picture, not only clean and white,
which is usual, but uncommonly small and sharp, as one of us found!
Leaving him to the main party to take on to the well, I and Warri
remained behind to bring Misery on--and a nice job we had too. I thought
of waiting and packing water back to him, but in that case he would have
fallen an easy victim to the natives, who were bound to be prowling
about, nor could one of us be spared to watch him. So he had to be beaten
and hauled and dragged, by stages of twenty yards at a time, over the
ridges. After darkness fell we had to follow the tracks with a firestick
until we had the fire at camp to guide us. This we reached about 9.30
p.m., fairly tired out, but satisfied that the poor, patient sufferer's
life was saved. The others had already started work on the well, but
knocked off when I got back, and we had a good feed and a short rest. Sir
John was much distressed at his party having taken away all their food
when they retreated, and was hardly consoled by what we gave him.
Tethered to a ti-tree, with a little fire to cheer him, he was apparently
happy enough.

The rest of the night we worked at the well in shifts, and Charlie and I,
the first shift, started off soon after daybreak with the buck to find
more water, for it was evident that our present supply was insufficient.
We felt pretty certain from the way the tribe had left that another well
existed close by; the question was, would our captive show it? He started
in great glee and at a great pace, carrying behind him, like a
"back-board," a light stick. This will be found to open the lungs and
make a long walk less fatiguing, except for the strain on the arms.
Occasionally he would stop and bind strips of bark round his ankles and
below the knee. "Gabbi" was just over the next ridge, he assured us by
signs--it was always "the next ridge"--until when nearly ten miles from
camp we saw a smoke rise ahead of us, but so far away that we could do no
good by going on. However, we had gained something by locating a fresh
camp, so started homewards, the buck becoming most obstreperous when he
saw our change of plan, for he made it clear by signs that the gins
(indicating their breasts by covering his own with his hands) and the
blind man (pointing to his own closed eyes and making a crooked track in
the sand) and the rest, had circled round and gone to the camp from which
we could see the smoke rising. However, he could not escape and soon gave
in, and followed reluctantly behind, dragging at the rope.

Walking was bad enough, but this extra exertion was rather too much.
Besides, we were sadly in need of sleep; so, taking advantage of what
little shade we could find by following round the shadow of a gum tree as
the sun moved, Charlie slept whilst I watched our black friend, and then
I did the same. On arrival at camp we found that our companions had been
so successful in "soak-sucking," i.e., baling and scraping up the
miserable trickle of water as it soaks into the "caisson," that by
sunset we were able to give the camels eight gallons each, and two
gallons extra to Misery, who was showing signs of a rapid recovery.
Luckily there was a little patch of dry herbage not far from the well,
and a few acacias over the ridge. All the next day we were occupied in
"soak-sucking," and Warri went back for Misery's saddle, which had been
thrown off. I took the opportunity of writing up my diary--anything but a
pleasant job, for shade there was none, except in a reclining position
under our solitary ti-tree bush. The native's close proximity and the
swarm of flies, made the task quite hateful, for under the most
favourable conditions there are few things I dislike more than writing.
On September 28th I chronicled a most remarkable fact, viz., that the two
camels Satan and Redleap had had no more than thirteen gallons of water
in the preceding thirty-eight days--a wonderful exhibition of endurance
and pluck in this burning weather and barren country. It came about in
this way:--

August 22nd. At Woodhouse Lagoon they had a full drink in the morning.

August 29th. At Warri Well, where the parakeelia grew, two gallons in the

September 8th. At Patience Well they were the last to be watered, eight
gallons in the evening.

September 18th. At Family Well, parakeelia again, three gallons at night.

September 28th. Half a drink.

Therefore between the 22nd of August and the 28th of September they had
no more than thirteen gallons.

Satan had more travelling, though carrying a less load, than any of the
rest, being used for scouting and finding natives.

On the evening of the 29th I left my work down the well to take some
observations; unluckily I was just too late for the stars I wanted, and
had to wait up for some long time. We had divided the night into five
shifts for baling; when my turn came my companions did not wake me, but
did my shift for me. I am sure I appreciated their kindly thought, and
felt thankful indeed, and not for the first time, that I had managed to
choose such excellent mates--for I had long realised that without peace
and unanimity in such a party, our chances of getting through the desert
would be greatly minimised.

I found our position to be lat. 21 degrees 49 minutes, long. 126 degrees
33 minutes.

By morning we had given the camels another five gallons apiece and had
some to go on with in our tanks, having, by working for two days and
three nights, scraped together 140 gallons in all. On the 30th we
travelled again Westwards, though making some Northerly progress towards
the smoke which Charlie and I had located. We had a long talk about our
methods of travelling, and Charlie thought that I was inclined to spare
the camels at the expense of ourselves. We travelled all day without a
break so that they should have the longer to look for feed at night, then
we always hunted for tracks and water on foot, and when we found water,
gave it to the camels before looking after our own wants, and he thought
we might do longer stages straight ahead so long as we had a native. I
held, and I think the outcome of the journey proved me correct, that our
own well-being was a secondary consideration to that of our animals, for
without them we should be lost. "Slow but sure" was my motto.

Though anxious to make as much northing as possible I did not feel
justified in passing by almost certain water for the sake of a few hours.
I felt always that we might come into an even more waterless region
ahead, and perhaps be unable to find any natives. Some twelve miles
brought us to the well--the smoke had been beyond it--and a more wretched
spot I never saw. Absolutely barren, even of spinifex, were the high
ridges of sand between which was the well--merely a small, round hole,
with no signs of moisture or plant life about it, not a tree "within
cooee." We had to go far to collect enough wood for a fire, and cut two
sticks with which to rig up a fly to shade us from the sun--a purely
imaginary shade, for light duck is of little use against the power of
such a burning sun; but even the shadow cast by the fly gave an
appearance of comfort.

At this camp we made two new caissons, as our old tin-lined boxes were no
longer strong enough. Amongst our gear were two galvanised-iron boxes,
made to order, with lids which completely covered the boxes and were held
on by straps. "Concertina-made boxes" they were called by the
tinsmith--a name which gave rise to a curious misstatement in a Perth
paper which published a letter I wrote to Sir John Forrest. The letter
read: ". . . We made boxes out of concertinas"! I fear any who read
this must have thought me fairly good at "romancing." I had them made
that shape so that they might be filled to nearly double the capacity of
the boxes and still have serviceable lids. I had hoped to have filled
them with specimens of plants and birds. Unfortunately we had neither the
time to, nor the opportunity of making any such collection, though we
might easily have filled them with specimens of the desert house-fly
which swarm at every well! By sawing off the ends of these lids we had
two useful boxes, with neither top nor bottom, and by screwing them on
to a framework of wood we manufactured a most useful caisson, 2 feet deep
by 1 1/2 long and 1 foot wide. By forcing this into the sand in the well
and digging out the sand contained in it, and then patiently waiting with
a pannikin for the small trickle of water creeping in from between the
outside of the caisson and the sides of the rock-hole, then again forcing
the box lower, and clearing out the sand above, now drained of its
moisture, and repeating the baling process, we were enabled to drain the
well of almost every drop it contained. On first acquaintance with these
wells a novice's impulse would be to dig out the sand until the bottom
was reached; but as the sand holds the water he would find himself with a
nicely cleared hole, but cleared of sand and water alike. Therefore,
without some such makeshift as that already described one would be in the
most unsatisfactory position of knowing that water existed, and yet of
being unable to obtain any but a very small supply. The natives use
comparatively little water, since it is only for drinking purposes,
washing being unknown, and as the water sinks in the well the sand is
scooped out gradually and carefully and plastered round the sides of the
hole, so preventing the inrush of sand. Very often when they require a
drink they bend down and suck up the water through a bunch of grass,
which prevents the sand from getting into the mouth.

The water from the wells was always bad, and on first being brought to
the surface was hardly fit to use; the camels would not, unless really
dry, drink it until it had been exposed in our canvas troughs to the air
for some time. Lying stagnant perhaps for a year or more, protected by
the sand, it is not to be wondered at that its flavour is not of the
best. Digging in the sand discloses all sorts of odds and ends that could
not fail to contaminate the water. It contains also--derived, I suppose,
from the sandstone--a certain amount of iron, which I believe to have
acted as a sort of tonic to us. A many-tinted, bluish scum always floated
on the surface and tea made with it turned as black as ink--nevertheless
it was quite good drinking.

October 1st and 2nd we spent at the well, working as above described,
whilst Warri tended the camels a couple of miles away on a patch of weeds
he discovered. This weed which I have mentioned is the only available
feed in this region--without it the camels must have starved long since.
The plant somewhat resembles a thistle, but has a small blue flower, and
when fresh forms the best feed. So far, however, we had only seen it dry
and shrivelled. It is known to science as TRICHODESMA ZEYLANICUM. This
camp was the scene of a vicious onslaught on Charlie, made by the buck,
whilst away looking for the plant from which to make a chewing-ball.
Taking Charlie unawares he nearly accomplished his escape. Charlie, as it
happened, was the very worst to try such tricks on, for he
was the strongest of the party, and a very powerful man. During the
struggle the black-fellow grabbed Charlie's revolver pouch, and somehow
the revolver exploded, the bullet narrowly missing them both. It had the
useful effect of attracting our attention, and we were in time to save
Charlie some nasty wounds, as the buck was using his powerful jaws to
great advantage. Of course we could not blame him for trying to
escape--that was only natural--but it made us more cautious in the
future. Excepting the inconvenience of being unable to get away, he
had nothing to complain of, and had the advantage of plenty to eat
and drink without the trouble of looking for it. The manufacture of
the "quid" mentioned above is interesting. Cleaning and smoothing a
place in the sand, a small branch from a silvery-leafed ti-tree
(a grevillea, I think), is set alight and held up; from it as it
burns a light, white, very fine ash falls on to the prepared ground. Now
the stems of a small plant already chewed are mixed with the ashes. The
compound so formed is squeezed and pressed and kneaded into a small,
oval-shaped ball, of sticky and stringy consistency. The ball when in use
is chewed and sucked but not swallowed, and is passed round from mouth to
mouth; when not in use it is placed behind the ear, where it is carried.
Nearly every tribe we saw had such "quids." No doubt they derive some
sustenance from them. Sir John preferred his "chew" to any food we gave
him; though he did not care about tobacco.

For the next two days the sand-ridges seemed to vie with each other in
their height and steepness, between them there was hardly any flat ground
at all; mile after mile we travelled, up one and down and over the next
without ceasing. First came the native and his guard, then in a long,
broken line the string of camels. What a labour it was! Often each camel
had to be urged in turn over the ridge whilst those behind were
continually breaking their nose-lines to lie down or hurry off to the
nearest shade, however scanty, and there await the blows and exhortations
of their driver; those which remained in their places were continually
lifting their feet, for they could not stay still on the burning sand;
then their packs were always being jolted about and thrown out of place,
necessitating reloading, and when at last we had them again in line the
whole performance had to be repeated a few ridges further on.

Sometimes our caravan would cover half a mile or more, the guide and
guardian waiting far in advance whilst the broken line was rejoined and
the stragglers brought in, and away far behind the last camel would
appear alone, with his nose-line dangling and tripping him up. Usually
Billy brought up the rear--nothing would induce him to follow close
behind; a jerk of his head and away went the nose-line, and Billy was
left behind to follow when so inclined. The heat was really tremendous.
It can be fairly sultry around Coolgardie, but never before have I
experienced such scorching heat; the sun rose like a ball of fire, and in
two hours' time had as great power as at any period during the day. How
one prayed for it to set, and how thankful one was when in due course it
did so, sinking below the horizon as suddenly as it had risen!

I am not sure which felt the heat most, poor little Val or the buck. He,
curiously enough, seemed more affected by it than we were. At night he
drank more than we did, and then was not satisfied. Sometimes when
waiting on ahead he used to squat down and scoop out a hole in the ground
to reach the cool sand beneath; with this he would anoint himself.
Sometimes he would make a mixture of sand and urine, with which he would
smear his head or body. Poor Val was in a pitiable state; the soles of
her paws were worn off by the hot sand; it was worse or as bad for her to
be knocked about on the top of one of the loads, and although by careful
judgment she could often trot along in the shade of one of the camels,
she was as near going mad as I imagine it possible for a dog to go. Poor
little thing! She used to yell and howl most agonisingly, with her eyes
staring and tongue hanging. We had, of course, to pack her on a camel
when her feet gave out, and by applying vaseline alleviated her pain.

Our guide took us to two dry wells and watched our disgust with evident
satisfaction, and I had to resort to the unfailing argument of allowing
him no water at all. He pleaded hard by sounds and gesture and no doubt
suffered to some extent, but all was treated as if unnoticed by us.
Thirst is a terrible thing; it is also a great quickener of the wits, and
the result of this harsh treatment, which reduced the poor buck to tears
(a most uncommon thing amongst natives), was that before very long we
were enabled to unload and make camp in one of the most charming little
spots I have ever seen. A veritable oasis, though diminutive in size; but
not so in importance, for without its life-giving aid it is hard to say
how things would have gone with us. The weather, as I have said, was
scorching, the country destitute of feed, almost waterless, most toilsome
to cross, and our camels were worn to skeletons from starvation and
incessant work, and had they not been fine specimens of an exceptionally
fine breed must have long since succumbed. Surely this is one of the
noblest of creatures and most marvellous works of the Creator!

Brave, dumb heroes, with what patience and undaunted courage do they
struggle on with their heavy loads, carrying what no other animal could
carry in country where no other could live, never complaining or giving
in until they drop from sheer exhaustion! I think there are few animals
endowed with more good qualities than the much-abused camel--abused not
only by the ignorant, which is excusable, but by travellers and writers
who should know better. Patience, perseverance, intelligence, docility,
and good temper under the most trying conditions, stand out pre-eminently
amongst his virtues. Not that all camels are perfect--some are vicious and
bad tempered; so far as my experience goes these are the exceptions. Some
few are vicious naturally, but the majority of bad-tempered camels are
made so by ill-treatment. If a camel is constantly bullied, he will
patiently wait his chance and take his revenge--and pick the right man
too. "Vice or bad temper," says the indignant victim; "Intelligence,"
say I. In matters of loading and saddling, ignorance causes great
suffering to camels. I can imagine few things more uncomfortable than
having to carry 150 pounds on one side of the saddle and perhaps 250
pounds on the other, and yet if the poor beast lies down and complains,
in nine cases out of ten his intelligent master will beat him
unmercifully as a useless brute! Nearly every sore back amongst a mob of
camels is the result of carelessness. It is hard to avoid, I am well
aware, but it can be done; and I speak as an authority, for during our
journey to Kimberley and the journey back again, over such country as I
have endeavoured faithfully to describe, there were only two cases of
camels with sore backs--one was Billy, who had an improperly healed wound
when we started, which, however, we soon cured; the other Stoddy, on the
return journey. This state of affairs was not brought about except by
bestowing great care and attention on the saddles, which we were
continually altering, as they were worn out of shape, or as the camels
became thinner--and thin they were, poor things, tucked up like
greyhounds! A few days' rest and feed, fortunately soon puts a camel
right, and such they could have at the little oasis we had reached on
October 5th. In the centre of it lay a splendid little spring, in many
ways the most remarkable feature we had encountered, and therefore I
christened it after one whose love and helpful sympathy in all my work,
has given me strength and courage--my sister Helena.

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