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You can lead ...


old man emu
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It was in the mid-1890's that a hopeful gold prospector without much luck in Coolgardie decided to head to the new finds at Kalgoorlie. He'd done well enough to afford to buy a work-worn dray and a scrawny nag to pull it. As he was loading the dray with his gear, food and water for the horse and himself, a young woman approached him.

 

"Are you going to Kalgoorlie?" she asked.

 

"Uh huh," was his eloquent reply.

 

"I want to go there, too, but I can't do it on my own. Can I travel with you?" she said.

 

The prospector thought a moment and remembered the loneliness of the Track. "Good-oh," he answered. "But you'll have to bring your own tucker and water and something for the nag."

 

The woman went away, but returned about a half hour later with a tucker bag, small keg of water, a bale of meadow hay and either a small trunk or a large suitcase, depending on your point of view. As she was hoisting these things into the dray the prospector said, "If you're going to the gold fields, where's your pick and shovel?"

 

"I don't need a pick and shovel. I'll make my fortune on my back," she said with a seductive wink.

 

They set off in the direction of Kalgoorlie. The woman proved to be a pleasant travelling companion, telling stories, singing songs and discussing the price of wool and wheat. However about mid-morning on the third day disaster struck. A wheel of the dray dropped into a washout and snapped several spokes. There was nothing to do but gather what they could load onto the nag and continue on foot. Soon they became lost in the vastness.

 

For two more days they trudged on, and their water supply ran out. Another day and another night they went without drink. Then, as the Sun rose the next morning the prospector saw flocks of birds wheeling in the sky. "There'll be water where those birds are," he told the woman. By late morning, with the Sun beginning to scorch the earth, they came upon a water that had collected in a natural trough in the rocks. But alas, it was not the cool, clear water of fiction. Green-brown slime covered the bottom of the trough and at the far end the partially decomposed body of a large black crow floated on the surface.

 

The prospector ignored the slime and the stink and drank his fill. 

 

"Drink some," he called to the woman.

 

"I refuse to drink that muck. I'd rather die of thirst."

 

Well, she stubbornly continued to refuse the water, and she died of thirst. Which just proves, you can lead a whore to water, but you can't make her drink.

 

 

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