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In Mesopotamia   By: (1884-1953)

Book cover

First Page:

[Illustration: THE GARDEN OF EDEN, KURNA.]

IN MESOPOTAMIA

BY MARTIN SWAYNE

ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR

HODDER AND STOUGHTON

LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO

MCMXVII

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

LORD RICHARD IN THE PANTRY

THE SPORTING INSTINCT

CUPID GOES NORTH

HODDER AND STOUGHTON

CONTENTS

PAGE I THE GATEWAY OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN 1

II BASRA 19

III THE SICK AND WOUNDED 37

IV HEAT STROKE 51

V MIRAGE 61

VI THE DAY'S WORK 71

VII THE NARROWS 85

VIII AMARA 101

IX ARABIAN COMEDY 121

X THE BATTLE OF THE BUND 131

XI EDEN REVISITED 159

ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

The Garden of Eden, Kurna. Frontispiece

Towing on the Tigris. 9

A Convoy of Sick and Wounded. 27

The Hospital Washing. 45

Donkey Labour in the Heat of the Day. 63

On the Shatt el Arab near Basra. 81

Arab Belum on Tigris. 99

Ezra's Tomb. 117

Walled Village on Banks of Tigris. 135

The Tigris near Kurna. 143

IN MESOPOTAMIA

I

THE GATEWAY OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN

There is nothing to suggest that you are approaching the gateway of the Garden of Eden when you reach the top of the Persian Gulf, unless the sun be that Flaming Sword which turns every way to keep the way of the Tree of Life. Of cherubim we could see no signs. We lay motionless awaiting orders by wireless. Of the country before us we knew next to nothing. We did not grasp that the great river at whose mouth we lay was called the Shatt el Arab and not the Tigris; and I do not think that a single one of us possessed a copy of the "Arabian Nights." Few of us knew anything about the gun running troubles in the Persian Gulf of recent years, and of the exploits of the Royal Indian Marine.

The approach to the Shatt el Arab is remarkably featureless. After the stark fissured coast hills of Persia and the strip of red Arabian coast that marks Kuweit, the mouth of the river appeared as a yellow line on the horizon intersected by the distant sails of fishing boats. At the bar where the sand has silted, a few steamers were lying. A steam yacht flying the White Ensign, with a pennant that trailed almost down to her decks, showing the length of service she had seen, passed us and dropped her anchor a mile to the south. The silence was only broken by the clacking of the fans in the saloon. One gazed listlessly west wards at the quivering haze that veiled Kuweit. There was a rumour that the ship's launch was going there with a party of nurses and a sharp voice sounded: "Nobody allowed on shore without a helmet." But it was too hot to move. At length a fishing boat emerged from the haze and slowly approached, rowed by four Arabs. It drew alongside, a spot of vivid colour against the dark sea. In it were half a dozen big fish. The Arabs began to harangue the occupants of the lower deck. We watched them curiously, perhaps wondering if they had poisoned the fish. The Tommies stared at them in silence. They were the first inhabitants of the country that we had seen.

The business of transhipping at the bar is a burden to all concerned. A steamer of shallower draught came alongside, and the derricks started to grind and clatter, and the big crates swung up from one hold and plunged down into the other for hour after hour. A squall arose and the ships had to part company and we lay for two days tossing and rolling in a dun coloured atmosphere. Then once more we joined up, and the unloading continued of the four hundred tons of equipment, which had already been dumped on shore at Alexandria... Continue reading book >>




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