A quiet story
Anne Riddick (riddick_a@KOSMOS.WCC.GOVT.NZ)
Thu, 30 Dec 1993 14:23:51 +1200
I was hunting for a New Zealand story to use at campfire on a camp I am going
on next week, and came up with this story. I think I'll put it into my own
words before I use it, as it seems a little dated, but here it is as found.
I hope you enjoy it too.
Loud Cheers for George
One moment the Lowe boys in their best clothes awaited the signal to set off on
an outing; the next moment it was plain that there would be no outing that day.
Little George stood on the veranda, hands in trouser pockets. To fill in the
time of waiting, his big brothers Arch and Jock began a friendly bout of
How it happened nobody knew, but next moment they had collided with George.
Headlong over the verandah steps he crashed. When he woke up, he was lying, to
his surprise, in the family sitting-room with his left arm hurting.
Soon the young doctor was leaning over George, and it was plain something would
have to be done for him at once. He was whisked off to hospital, and Arch and
Jock and the rest of the family went to bed very soberly that night.
They were even more sober at the end of the week - and at the end of the next
eighteen months when the damaged arm had still not mended. Operation after
operation was performed on it - the bone broken, set, re-broken, and set again.
'It looks pretty hopeless', George overheard the doctor say, 'he'll never use
that arm. I'm afraid he'll always be a bit of a cripple.'
George never forgot those words. Far from sinking into self-pity, he decided
that they should never come true.
After schooldays he left the farm and his family to go away to college, and to
university. He meant to be a teacher. His arm developed without muscle, but
little did he know what adventures lay ahead of him.
George Lowe was at college when he had a chance to help some of his friends
recut a track that had become overgrown in a famous mountain district of the
country. It was to be a holiday job - and they hoped, good fun. George was
just twenty-one and he had never been in the mountains before. More than that,
it was his first holiday away from home.
One day there, he fell into talk with a tall young man who had just arrived to
go climbing in the mountains. 'What do you do when you are at home?' George
'My father keeps a bee-farm', he answered, 'and I help him.'
'My father runs an orchard,' said George, 'with bee-keeping as a side-line. We
get our queen bees from a chap in Auckland - someone called Hillary.'
'That's us,' said the tall young man, 'my name's Ed Hillary. Small world,
And from that meeting, their names were to be linked together in the great
When Ed Hillary was chosen to represent his country to climb the highest
mountain in the world - Everest - George Lowe went with him. By this time they
had had a lot of practice together on mountains. But this was something really
special. Everest would challenge all their powers. Those who would conquer
that great peak would need great courage as well as skill and strength.
Breathlessness, piercing headaches and vomiting would have to be overcome.
It took a long time to get ready. Hundreds helped. Special tents had to be
made, special clothes, special boots. Oxygen-sets had to be tested for
breathing high on the mountain, where the air was thin. Special ropes had to
be got, and, together with special stores, carried high up the mountain. Lots
of mountaineers had tried before and failed. But this did not discourage two
young New Zealanders.
Ed Hillary with his Sherpa, Tensing Norgay, were the ones who got to the top;
but without George Lowe it seems certain he would not have managed it. Colonel
Hunt, the leader of the expedition, has told of the difficulty he had in
finding a suitable way up over a certain steep face of the mountain. Snow fell
daily, and the only way to get up was to hack great steps. Two of those who
might have helped fell sick, and could do nothing.
It was George, with his Sherpa, who saw the job through. For four days, in
falling snow in a freezing temperature, fifty degrees below zero, he stood out
there hacking steps in ice, with a wild hurricane wind lashing about the
mountainside. It was a glorious effort - full of courage.
And so Ed Hillary and Tensing Norgay got to the top of Mount Everest!
But for no one in the party was it a greater triumph than for George Lowe.
--Source : 'Around the Round World', by Rita Snowden.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City