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Chapter 6: WATER! WATER! (continued)
As soon as we were all well awake we began to discuss the situation, which was serious enough. Not a drop of water was left. We turned the bottles upside down, and licked their tops, but it was a failure; they were dry as a bone. Good, who had charge of the flask of brandy, got it out and looked at it longingly; but Sir Henry promptly took it away from him, for to drink raw spirit would only have been to precipitate the end.
"If we do not find water we shall die," he said.
"If we can trust to the old Dom's map there should be some about," I said; but nobody seemed to derive much satisfaction from this remark. It was so evident that no great faith could be put in the map. Now it was gradually growing light, and as we sat staring blankly at each other, I observed the Hottentot Ventvögel rise and begin to walk about with his eyes on the ground. Presently he stopped short, and uttering a guttural exclamation, pointed to the earth.
"What is it?" we exclaimed; and rising simultaneously we went to where he was standing staring at the sand.
"Well," I said, "it is fresh Springbok spoor; what of it?"
"Springbucks do not go far from water," he answered in Dutch.
"No," I answered, "I forgot; and thank God for it."
This little discovery put new life into us; for it is wonderful, when a man is in a desperate position, how he catches at the slightest hope, and feels almost happy. On a dark night a single star is better than nothing.
Meanwhile Ventvögel was lifting his snub nose, and sniffing the hot air for all the world like an old Impala ram who scents danger. Presently he spoke again.
"I smell water," he said.
Then we felt quite jubilant, for we knew what a wonderful instinct these wild-bred men possess.
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