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27. CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVENTH. (continued)
Toward evening, Joe had his turn of delirium. The vast expanse of sand appeared to him an immense pond, full of clear and limpid water; and, more than once, he dashed himself upon the scorching waste to drink long draughts, and rose again with his mouth clogged with hot dust.
"Curses on it!" he yelled, in his madness, "it's nothing but salt water!"
Then, while Ferguson and Kennedy lay there motionless, the resistless longing came over him to drain the last few drops of water that had been kept in reserve. The natural instinct proved too strong. He dragged himself toward the car, on his knees; he glared at the bottle containing the precious fluid; he gave one wild, eager glance, seized the treasured store, and bore it to his lips.
At that instant he heard a heart-rending cry close beside him--"Water! water!"
It was Kennedy, who had crawled up close to him, and was begging there, upon his knees, and weeping piteously.
Joe, himself in tears, gave the poor wretch the bottle, and Kennedy drained the last drop with savage haste.
"Thanks!" he murmured hoarsely, but Joe did not hear him, for both alike had dropped fainting on the sand.
What took place during that fearful night neither of them knew, but, on Tuesday morning, under those showers of heat which the sun poured down upon them, the unfortunate men felt their limbs gradually drying up, and when Joe attempted to rise he found it impossible.
He looked around him. In the car, the doctor, completely overwhelmed, sat with his arms folded on his breast, gazing with idiotic fixedness upon some imaginary point in space. Kennedy was frightful to behold. He was rolling his head from right to left like a wild beast in a cage.
All at once, his eyes rested on the butt of his rifle, which jutted above the rim of the car.
"Ah!" he screamed, raising himself with a superhuman effort.
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