The Waterless Desert

An incident that occurred while a land-surveying party was at work in central Australia serves to illustrate the ever-presence of divine Love. This party, consisting of an officer and an aboriginal black boy, started on the return journey, but they soon found that many water-holes upon which they were depending for renewal of supplies had gone dry, and disaster seemed imminent.

Riding along over the arid land, driven almost to despair by thirst, the officer noticed as they approached a tree that the native boy had slipped off his camel and run up to the tree, where he was vigorously digging into the ground with his tomahawk. The officer concluded that suffering had caused his companion to become demented, and so dismounted to render assistance. He found the boy busily cutting tree roots out of the ground. After he had severed them into short lengths, he put one end of each into his mouth, at the same time elevating the other ends into the air, and began to suck the roots. He motioned to the officer to do likewise, and on doing so the latter found that the roots yielded up clear, fresh cold water freely, so he accordingly cut enough roots fully to satisfy his thirst. They then filled a vessel with these short roots, and gravitation caused the water to run out in sufficient quantity to enable them to proceed on their journey in safety.

In pioneering days an exploring party set out from Melbourne to cross the continent, then an unknown land. When they had reached the extreme northern boundary and were returning homeward, they had to traverse a waterless tract, which at last compelled them to give up in despair. These brave men laid down their mortal sense of life because they believed water was unprocurable. It is obvious that every tree is a potential gatherer of water. The little rootlets, seeking out moisture stored up in the hard earth, send it along marvelous channels to feed the tree, and some species freely give up supplies when tapped. This fact had evidently long been known to the primitive inhabitants, so that when no water was visible to the senses they were able to supply their needs in the way described. Now if some one had come to the perishing explorers and had said to them, "My friends, why are you in such a plight when all that you need is right beside you?" (perchance they lay under one of those very trees), they would have replied, "Why do you mock us? we have searched and no water exists." Yet it was literally true that relief was at hand, if they had but been in command of the knowledge possessed by the aboriginals.

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Truth Substantial
June 24, 1916

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