Medicinal Purposes

As day after day past I began to get very anxious and after the fifth day I determined that if he did not turn up that night I would take Knapton with me and start in search of him on the following morning.

I sat rather late that night writing in my tent while the whole camp was wrapped in sleep. I was just thinking of going to bed when I heard a coo-ee and the crack of a stockwhip in the direction of our stockyards. I knew at once that it was Bryan and I also had a feeling that he had been successful. In a few minutes he rode up amongst us and stated quietly to me that he had yarded the mob of horses.

His safe arrival was a very great relief to me as I had been most anxious for his safety for some days. The camp was now all alive and willing hands attended to his jaded horse which was soon unsaddled and turned down the river bank into good feed. While this was being done and the cook was getting him a good supper of tea, damper and fat corned beef, I hurried him away into my tent and poured him out a small glass of brandy of which I had laid in a small supply, for medicinal purposes only, as I could see that he was quite exhausted. As it was now past midnight I left him to have his supper and to go to his bed, telling him that I would not trouble him to give his report until the morning.

I should like to draw my readers’ attention to the fact that at this time (1874) [1875] there were very few natives in that part of the far Upper Murchison who had ever seen a white man. They were terribly afraid of us, and naturally looked upon us as deadly enemies, our horses were looked upon by them (as I afterwards learned) as so many gigantic savage dogs, ready at a word from their riders to tear them into pieces. No wonder then that these poor people with their primitive weapons, and their firm belief in the supernatural were struck with terror at the sudden appearance of this new and dreadful enemy, the white man. It was difficult in the extreme to get upon an amicable footing with them.