"The sand people have places along their paths where they bring water. They travel with donkeys, carrying water in bags like the ones we have, and empty jars. They do not carry the water in jars, because if a donkey trips over, it would break the jar, and all the water in it would be lost. †When they reach a watering place, they fill the jars from the bags, close them, and leave them there. Anyone who comes can drink from these jars."
Mut-Bity gave me a little cup full of water and I drank it carefully, not wanting to lose a single drop. My teeth were gritting with sand.
"Won't the water run out then, if everyone drinks from it?"
"These are ancient paths between different places where the sand people have travelled since time immemorial. When they leave one place, they carry enough water to reach the watering place, and leave some water there. And the same in the next watering place. If the journey is a long one, their water will run out. But because they have been doing this for too long for men to remember, they can trust that when they reach the next watering place, there will be water in jars for them to drink, left by others traveling from the opposite direction. And when they later come back along the same path, they again leave water there. Sometimes they travel with lots of donkeys, all carrying water and jars, and fill every watering place with water. This is the rule of the desert – you must leave water for the next person when at all possible. And you should never ever break the water jars. There is no worse crime in the desert."
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