- Category: Edward John Eyre - Vol 1 - Ch 18
- Written by Edward John Eyre
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The 15th was another cold day, with the wind at south-west, and we could neither set the lines, nor spear sting-ray, whilst the supply we had before obtained was now nearly exhausted. One of the horses was taken ill, and unable to rise, from the effects of the cold; his limbs were cramped and stiff, and apparently unable to sustain the weight of his body. After plucking dry grass, and making a bed for him, placing a breakwind of boughs round, and making a fire near him, we left him for the night.
Late in the evening, the overseer and boy returned from the westward, and reported, that the cliffs were sixteen miles away; that they had dug for water, but that none could be found, and that there was hardly a blade of grass any where, whilst the whole region around was becoming densely scrubby; through much of which we should have to pass before we reached the cliffs. Altogether, the overseer seemed quite discouraged by the appearance of the country, and to dread the idea of moving on in that direction, often saying, that he wished he was back, and that he thought he could retrace his steps to Fowler’s Bay, where a supply of provisions had been buried. I was vexed at these remarks, because I felt that I could not coincide in them, and because I knew that when the moment for decision came, my past experience, and the strong reasons which had produced in my own mind quite a different conviction, would compel me to act in opposition to the wishes of the only European with me, and he a person, too, whom I sincerely respected for the fidelity and devotion with which he had followed me through all my wanderings. I was afraid, too, that the native boys, hearing his remarks, and perceiving that he had no confidence in our future movements, would catch up the same idea, and that, in addition to the other difficulties and anxieties I had to cope with, would be the still more frightful one of disaffection and discontent. Another subject of uneasiness arose from the nature of our diet; — for some few days we had all been using a good deal of the sting-ray fish, and though at first we had found it palatable, either from confining ourselves too exclusively to it, or from eating too much, it had latterly disagreed with us. The overseer declared it made him ill and weak, and that he could do nothing whilst living upon it. The boys said the same; and yet we had nothing else to supply its place, and the small quantity of flour left would not admit of our using more than was barely necessary to sustain life. At this time we had hardly any fish left, and the whole party were ravenously hungry. In this dilemma, I determined to have the sick horse killed for food. It was impossible he could ever recover, and by depriving him of life a few hours sooner than the natural course of events would have done, we should be enabled to get a supply of food to last us over a few days more, by which time I hoped we might again be able to venture on, and attempt another push to the westward.