In our clinic that evening appeared one of the men claiming to suffer from rheumatism. I suspected him, and still suspect him, of malingering in advance in order to get out of the hard work we must soon undertake, but had no means of proving my suspicion. However, I decided to administer asperin. We possessed only the powdered form of the drug. I dumped about five grains on his tongue, and was about to proffer him the water with which to wash it down—when he inhaled sharply! I do not know the precise effect of asperin in the windpipe, but it is not pleasant. The boy thought himself bewitched. His eyes stuck out of his head; he gasped painfully; he sank to the ground; he made desperate efforts to bolt out into the brush. By main strength we restrained him, and forced him to swallow the water. Little by little he recovered. Next night I missed him from the clinic, and sent Abba Ali in search. The man assured Abba Ali most vehemently that the medicine was wonderful, that every trace of rheumatism had departed, that he never felt better in his life, and that (important point) he was perfectly able to carry a load on the morrow.
THE UNKNOWN LAND.
C. returned the next day from V.’s boma, bringing more potio and some trade goods. We sent a good present back to Naiokotuku, and prepared for an early start into the new country.
We marched out of the lower end of our elliptical valley towards the miniature landscape we had seen through the opening. But before we reached it we climbed sharp to the right around the end of the mountains, made our way through a low pass, and so found ourselves in a new country entirely. The smooth, undulating green-grass plains were now superseded by lava expanses grown with low bushes. It was almost exactly like the sage-brush deserts of Arizona and New Mexico—the same coarse sand and lava footing, the same deeply eroded barrancas, the same scattered round bushes dotted evenly over the scene. We saw here very little game. Across the way lay another range of low mountains clothed darkly with dull green, like the chaparral-covered coast ranges of California. In one place was a gunsight pass through which we could see other distant blue mountains. We crossed the arid plain and toiled up through the notch pass.
The latter made very difficult footing indeed, for the entire surface of the ground was covered with smooth, slippery boulders and rocks of iron and quartz. What had so smoothed them I do not know, for they seemed to be ill-placed for water erosion. The boys with their packs atop found this hard going, and we ourselves slipped and slid and bumped in spite of our caution.
Once through the pass we found ourselves overlooking a wide prospect of undulating thorn scrub from which rose occasional bushy hills, solitary buttes, and bold cliffs. It was a thick-looking country to make a way through.