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their mounts, throwing jerky In the distance were the palmbroken sentences at one an- groves of our destination, the other. This frenzied compli. highest point up the river ment to the British Army that the palm flourishes. All oontinued till dusk, when the the country we passed through pace moderated and eventually was deserted and barren, but slowed down to a walk, all the whole river - plain bore that the poor tired out beasts traces of former continous oulwere capable of. We were tivation. Everywhere ruined exultant. It is pleasant to aqueduots, wheel-pillars, and 800 a horse you've backed win. weirs, and the enduring traces Far pleasanter when it's a of ancient ploughs. Desolation, man; and in this case we both the trail of the Turk. had known and had steadily About 9 o'olook, as we neared baoked the winner for a long the outskirts of the town, four time.
of our planes came over quite Our joy, however, was some- low. The Tartars were greatly what tempered by personal perturbed. “Tyara, Tyara," considerations. We could not they babbled, snatched off our help wishing he had put it off hats and hustled us hither and for one night! Every yard thither in searoh of a place of back we went was making our concealment, the remainder escape more difficult. Various sourrying behind the nearest possibilities were discussed, the rooks and walls and opening fire. probabilities of what had been By this time every rifle in the happening were conjectured, town appeared to be engaged, and a line of action for the frantioally yapping. We were morrow decided on. Eventu- wishing the planes would go on, ally we composed ourselves to nervous lest a lucky shot might the effort of dosing between bring down one of them. But the jolts of the very long and with their customary magni. ohilly night's journey ; to ob- ficent indifference the planes tain any rest in that vehicle took no notice; they circled was a matter of considerable slowly round over the town, and continuous effort.
emptied a few Lewis gun megaDawn found the ponies dead- zinos, one of them in our direoboat. No brutality on the part tion, and then buzzed oarelessly of the Tartars could rouse off. It wasn't a very easy inthem. Oarselves, we were glad oident for the Pilot. enough to walk again. The At 9.30 A.M, we reached the road had been oonsiderably im. Military Headquarters on the proved by the Turks or Ger- river bank in the middle of the mans; it had been well graded town. We were received by a and was now fit for motor number of junior officers, and on transport, except for one big inquiring for the Commandant, nala, the bridge over which were told he was unfortunately was incomplete.
away on duty. Of the nature It was a jolly morning, full of of this duty we had a shrewd larks and breeze and sunshine. suspicion. But the fact was disappointing, as we partiou- nity with each non-Turk sepalarly wished to see the man for rately. “Are you an Arab?” various reasons, one of which “Where do you come from?” was to protest against having The fold was eventually narno officer to mitigate our Tartar rowed down to two: & plump, esoort. However, warned by timorous little denizen of Basra previous experience, we were and & grave grey-whiskered determined to waste no oppor- mariner from Baghdad. Fol. tanity this time. At once we lowed from us much praise of demanded to see the Dootor, these two picturesque habitats saying we were ill, much too of base-barnaoles. Eventually ill to travel any farther. We as either was isolated, he was were assured that we should asked whether he did not want spend at least two days here, to see his home again, Hot whilst suitable oonveyance was upon his heartfelt admission being arranged. We then de- came the demand, how much manded food, of which we really hard gold he wanted to enable were in need; as, with the ex- him to get home, taking us ception of the meal on the first along with him. By this denight, we had praotioally eaten lightfully direct method we nothing for over forty-eight had within an hour of our hours. It is a curious faot that arrival two active sympathisers neither of us had felt hunger. oudgelling their brains on our Possibly the figurative phrase behalf. “Fed up” has an actual physi. Meanwhile, Ballast had been oal significance.
making a personal reconnaisAs usual, every one seemed dance of the preoinots, and oame most anxious to tell us the news back full of information. There from France and the further appeared to be only two Tartar progress made by the Germans. sentries. From the latrine on We asked them what news the roof it was an easy drop there was of British progress into a shadowy palm-grove; in Mesopotamia, but the matter and, less than a hundred yards appeared to lack interest for across this, the hills rose steeply them,
at once. It would be a long The language difficulty was trek baok, as a big detour somewhat aoute here. No one would be necessary-sixty miles could talk English, and only probably. But the German two of them knew a little map had marked a big nala Frenob. The Pilot had a smat. running up into the interior, tering of Arabio, so the nego- and at the point where we had tiations were left to him. His crossed that this morning there procedure was simple in the had been water in it. With extreme: he tried each officer any look we might hope to find in French or Ara bio straight- water farther up also. way with “Are you a Turk ?" An excellent breakfast was The sheep were thus divided produced : boiled eggs—Ballast from the goats at one sweep. in his hurry found out too late Remained to seize an opportu. they were not hard-boiled
tiatiedare was simpleh officer any by farther up alsojfast was
two black loaves, dollops of certainly gained about half an sour ourds and date-treaole. hour, but had no lasting effeot. One black loaf made its way Meanwhile there were signs into our emergenoy bag. Soon of considerable bustle in the afterwards tho Dootor arrived. building, and the crowd of To our disappointment he Arabs on the river front before turned out to be a Turk, not an our windows had grown in Armenian. He seemed very numbers and interest. Several little impressed by the siokliness Germans were moving about, of our appearance, but we ex- but we saw no officers. plained at length that it was After registering every prorest and sleep that we really test we could devise, we were wanted. We also made request no longer able to avoid being for something to clean our conducted out to the main teeth with. Most men will road, where we were presented agree that though being un. with a fresh escort of twelve shaven is beastly enough, being Tartars on foot and a Turkish unable to wash one's teeth is officer on a diminutive pony. worse. Instead, however, of To start with, the Tartars the mouth-wash we hoped for, were turned out in full maroha packet of tooth powder was ing order, carrying knapsacks, produced. However, one's fore- blankets, &c.; but before we finger is a less inefficient tooth- had gone four miles everything brush than might be imagined. except rifles and bandoliers
Much refreshed, we were was slung on to our camels. composing ourselves gratefully The clothing of the men oonto sleep at last on the benches sisted mainly of ragged. odd. under the Turkish standard ments of European mufti, and which covered the ceiling the equipment of no two was of the Commandant's office, alike. Most of it seemed to when a strange officer entered be home-made. Amongst this brusquely and announoed that dozen of our escort we noticed he was desolated, but that four different patterns of rifle orders had come for our de. of as many different calibres. parture onwards at once. Ho Every man carried some two much regretted that camels hundred rounds for his own were the only means of oon partioular pattern. Possibly veyance available for the next this was the reason they took three stages, as all carts had every opportunity of discharghad to be sent off for those ing their pieces : at a bird, into wounded in a small skirmish the river, or apparently just that had ooourred with the from sheer light-heartedness. British yesterday. We asked After all, every shot legsened the reason for all this hurry their loads. We soon found if the British as they stoutly that as usual the Tartars maintained-had made no ad- could speak no language but vance. We temporised and their own outlandish tongue, entreated. We even appealed of which the Turkish officer to the dootor again, which was wholly ignorant. Indeed, he was aoquainted with noth- of which was crammed with ing but Turkish, of which ammunition. neither of us knew one single We had been warned that word. Communication between there were three barren the component parts of the marches ahead, with no vilmenagerie was therefore neither lagos or cultivation. The last rapid nor accurate. For our palm-trees stop at the bend comfort and deleotation two above the town, where a big camels with pack-saddles had fort on the bluff opposito com. been provided. One was white mands both reaches of the and one was brown, and they river, up and down. The road were the most contrary pair does not follow the river, but of animals possible. More- climbs on to the plateau and over, these camels have no cuts ten or twelve miles across nose-oords, and are acoustomed a big bond. to be driven in droves, not Talking it over, we agreed led. They objeoted loudly and that the British victory must viciously to being made to have been pretty complete to sit down, and the moment have put the wind up to their heads were released the extent that was evident. would jump up violently and It seemed probable that the promptly clear their imme- cavalry bad rounded up the diate vicinity. All of which whole bunch and then gone faots proved ultimately very on to clear the village, where fortunate for us.
we spent the day yesterday, The Aleppo road runs in which case the armoured straitly at the very foot of cars might possibly be sent the low cliffs which here on as far as the town we had form the edge of the plateau. just left. That was about all The river plain is narrow, they could be expected to and for five miles it is filled manage. It was & vexatious from water's edge to oliff wall refleotion. The pilot was oon. with date and fruit gardens. fident, however, that his planes Walls and houses, well sop- would make great efforts to arated and mostly set along find out where we were, and the river's brim, break up the possibly even to rescue us. A greenery pleasantly. There are few days previously one of our islands in the river, and the two-seaters had been brought water is green and clear and down in the desert. A singlerapid. The result is the most seater, seeing the situation, picturesque town in Meso- had swooped down, made a potamia. Bright yellow cliffs, landing alongside, picked up grass crowned; palm plumes both occupants, and got away and sunshine; almond blossom, home all right. But there had and the river racing broad been no enemy close by. under the sun.
In our case matters were At one point on the edge more diffioult. Even if we of the road, in the cliff face, were recognised, our escort were several caves, the biggest stuok so olose to as always, that Lewis gan fire would be camel was a little distance off impractioable; whilst it was the path at the time, with only very evident from what we had two Tartars Dear. He had his seen, that if any attempt were feet well tuoked up out of reach, made to bounce them, they unconcerned by the excitement would unhesitatingly lay us of the Tartars. However, he out first, whatever they decided took off his hat to temporise to do afterwards. However, an with them. He was detereven ohanoo was more than we mined to stay on the oamel if expected to get; and the R.F.C. possible, so as to be more conwould probably devise some spicuous for the observers. wily stratagem, if only they Overhead oame the planes; and could first asoertain our where. then they began ciroling down abouts.
over our groups. The Tartars Conversation was diffioult, as themselves were in two minds the two camels liked to go what to do. Lower and lower different paces, and whenever came the planes. Surely they they saw the least chance would must see us now. Surely! wander off the road to graze, Ballast put up his topi at arm's till driven back with blows length and waved it vigorously. and impreоations by the esoort The enraged Tartar standing or the Baddu driver-a decent below tbrew up his rifletbe fellow, named Muhammad, who muzzle within a foot of Ballast's kept himself austerely aloof back-and pulled the trigger. from the Tartara. Sitting on The cartridge missed fire. the paok-saddles, we had no Ballast, so engrossed in lookcontrol whatever over the ing up and waving to the plane animals, as there was no nose- that he was unconscious of string, and our guard refused this outrage, treated it acoordto allow us even a twig in our ivgly with the courage and inhands to direot the beasts. difference that comes of ignor
We had been going about anoe, and continued his sigfour hours when there was a nalling. The infuriated Tartar, sudden commotion and shouts impatient of the unreliability of “Tyara ”; and, sure enough, of modern inventions, reverted there were two of our planos to the methods of his fathers, ooming along. Much running clubbed his rifle and caught hither and thither ensued. The him a swinge across the butPilot was pulled off his camel tooks that brought him off the and hurried away from the oamel on to the ground. Both path; his topi was torn off ; Ballast and the Tartar were every one gave orders-except now frenzied, and anything the Turkish officer, who seemed might have happened, had not to be the only one that obeyed the plane at that moment, them. Men dashed about in crowning irony - opened an all directions, quite uselessly, extremely accurate and wellas there was no cover worth directed burst of fire on the mentioning anywhere on that pair of them, knooking up the part of the plateau. Ballast's dust all round. By some fluke