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left bank, and near the mouth of one of them we passed a boat with a man in it. Him we hailed, and Abdullah, the ship's interpreter, found out from him the best point at which to land in order to reach the village, the name of which, he said, was Mashúr. The khor in which was his boat was the one which led to to Mashúr; but it was now dry, and even at high water it at high water it would searcely have been deep enough to carry the steamoutter to its head. There was six feet of soft and sticky bank, and up this it was necessary to drag ourselves in our gumboots, using our boat-hooks as alpenstocks, in order to reach the path to the village on the hard ground on the top. The unshaded sun was pouring down on us, and there can seldom have been a trio of adventurers of a more degraded appearance than Kemp, Abdullah, and myself, when at last we were ready to start on the two-mile march to Mashúr. Our sun-helmets, our white uniforms and gum-boots, were daubed heavily and disgust ingly with mud; our scarlet faces rained down with muddy perspiration, and we each still bore our long mud-clogged staves, to aid us in case of need when crossing further creeks on the line of march. We were absolute mud-larks! There was no possible means of "tidyingup," so we set forth at once for the little village. Being May, it was the time of barley harvest, and we passed many people out at the reaping. As we approached the cause
way leading to the village gate, there were women coming out with pitchers to draw water from the little rainfilled reservoirs among the date-palms. They gazed at us for a horrified moment; then, setting down their burdens, they fled back home in an anguish of amazement at our appearance, possibly mingled and, if so, very justifiablywith amusement!
While we were en route Abdullah had induced one of the reapers to leave his work and to go before us to proclaim our arrival to the authorities; and now, as we entered at the gate, our messenger appeared, to lead us to the house of the Sheikh. We were conducted into a humble mud - walled vestibule, half open to the sky, half thatohed, cool and shady, and bidden to sit down on a dais at one end. Before us sat the Sheikh, amid a group of village fathers, who received us with the grave inborn politeness of a thousand generations of disciplined good manners. We were handed tumblers made of thick green glass, and an attendant filled them, from a leathern bottle, with cool, exquisitely cool, rainwater. In our overwhelming drought we drank, regardless of microbes; but if existed in the potion, our personal temperatures, which seemed to be many degrees above boiling point, must have sufficiently sterilised the liquid as it hissed down our throats. No ill effect, anyway, was caused by it.
Our position was, in many
respects, a delicate one. The name of "Mashúr" was well known to the gunboat officers of the Gulf as that of the base of the constant petty piracies which took place, unpunished, in the northern end of it; but of its actual whereabouts no one knew, or at least no one would tell. The name was entered on the chart, it is true, but it was placed fifty miles, and more, to the eastward of its true position, and was carefully marked with a large ? Khor Musa had now rendered up to us the long-guarded secret. Anything less like pirate chiefs than these grave polite old men now confronting us can scarcely be imagined, surprised, as they had been, in their lair by their remorseless, but now entirely defenceless hunters. Yet not the slightest resentment was shown. We were guests; and it was the will of Allah that we should discover themtherefore, useless to oppose it. Courteous compliments were exchanged, local information asked and given; and finally, on hearing from the Sheikh that there was a river close at hand, which discharged its waters into Kher Musa, nearly abreast of the new anchorage of the Sphinx, we asked if he could provide us with a pilot to take us, in the steam-cutter, up it. In a few moments there arose one of the greybeards, who declared himself to be pilot to the Sheikh of Mohammerahthe chief Sheikh of the whole district-and that he would take us for twenty rupees.
VOL. CCVII.-NO. MCCLVI.
This was the final coal of fire on our head, and we rese to go back to the boat. Coffee of an admirable flavour, but thick with sweetness, in the Arab fashion, had followed the
draught of water; and now the parting the parting guest must be politely speeded on his way. The Sheikh sent for, and presently a mule and a donkey were brought, the sole available beasts of burden in the village, and by taking and by taking turns in the saddle, we four,- for Hajji Gulim Shah, the pilot, came with us,-having reached the steam-cutter just at sunset, got back to the ship before complete darkness had set in.
The expedition up the new river, which was named Khor Dorak, was arranged for a day later-and took place under the most fortunate circumstances. We chanced to have hit upon the day of springtides, and thus we started off in the steam-cutter on the first of the flood stream at 6 A.M., were carried up on its wave by noon to the head of navigation, thirty-five miles inland to the westward, where was a village named Beziya, stayed there an hour, and returned to the ship by 7 P.M., swiftly and easily, on the ebb stream. Under no other tidal conditions could we have carried out such a programme, though it was impossible for us to have known this beforehand. We should have had to wait a fortnight for another similar day.
In one way, this river was our most important find in connection with Khor Musa. If the khor ever was to be
a "base," either for ourselves came out to view the first
or for any other Power, a good supply of fresh water was a primary essential. It would be a necessity anywhere; but how much more so in the arid and nearly rainless Persian Gulf?
Hitherto, we had found the water of the khor to be of the most bitterly salt character, having nearly twice the salinity of the open ocean; and the lack of fresh water, I could not but feel, was a severe handicap on the value of the discovery of this other wise possible base for small oraft.
But as we steamed up Khor Dorak, and every few miles tested the water for density, I found, to my great satisfaction, that first it was becoming less and less salt, then less and less brackish, until finally, at about fifteen miles from the mouth, it was quite fresh. The scenery ohanged with the saltness. The dreary sandy plain, fronted by tidal mud-flats, gave way, as we steamed inland, before the soft influence of the fresh water. At ten miles from Khor Musa coarse bamboograss began to fringe the banks, while the strip of pasture-land on both sides behind them became wider and wider, richer and richer, until it spread out, green and far, to the flat horizon, and was dotted with cattle and sheep. After twenty miles, villages and date-palm groves began to appear on both sides, whence stupefied men and a myriad of half-terrified children
steam vehicle of their lives, unable to decide whether it was Jinn or Afrit, but hoping for the best!
At last our waterway narrowed into a small stream ten yards wide, and finally we were brought up by a small bridge thrown across it at the village of Beziya. Here we landed, and while Abdullah bought fowls for us at a shilling apiece, and five fat sheep at twelve shillings each (O happy uncontrolled land!), I got observations of the sun to find out our geographical position. When the ebb stream began, we started home with it; and as we went back, checked the running survey of the river I had made on the way up, getting more sun-observations for longitude when the conditions were propitious. far from the spot where Khor Dorak opened into Khor Musa there was a sand-bar, which we had just, but only just, negotiated in the steamoutter on the way up. The boat was then drawing 21 feet; but on the return journey, with our marketings at Beziya making a considerable extra cargo, several further inches had been added to our draught. It was getting dusk when we reached this point, and the old pilot was squatting in the bows, directing our course with solemn authoritative wavings of the right hand or of the left. Presently he gave quiet utterance to a short remark. Abdullah translated: "The pilot says,
sir, that he thinks it is too late to cross the bar; the water has already fallen too low." And, just as he said this, we grounded. The skiff was hauled swiftly up alongside, and every available sheep and weight, living and dead, was cast into her. In the steam-cutter every one seized oars and boat hooks, and shoved hard, but the heavy deep - keeled boat remained with bows buried in the sticky ground, as unmoved as was the old pilot himself. There he sat, calm, imperturbable, amidst our activities, and our, to him, undignified anxieties, merely pointing out the best direction in which to push, in order most quickly to reach deeper water. "Ask Hajji Gulim," I said to Abdullah, "if he thinks there is any chance of our getting off -to-night, or if we shall have to wait for the morning tide."
A few grave words fell from the pilot's lips in reply. "He says, sir," says Abdullah, "that it is as God wills.' This was serious. On hearing it, Abdullah—a portly person -was ordered into the skiff. She was already crammed with panting sheep and terrified fowls, but he managed to find foot-room, "One, two, three-shove." We shoved feverishly: it was now or never! The steam-cutter withdrew her bows, grudgingly, a few inches. "Again so!"-and she floated, touched, floated, touched the ebbstream carrying her gently down meanwhile, until at last she was over the bar and in
The skiff re
deep water! joined us, and we were back on board the Sphinx within an hour.
On the next day, when it came to paying-off the old pilot, before sending him home to Mashúr, it appeared that he was considerably more sophisticated than we had previously supposed (probably from intercourse with the steamer world of men dealing at Mohammerah and Basra), and that he was completely aware of the fact that the Western seafaring man in the hands of the Eastern bargainer is as wet olay in the hands of the potter. He moulded us, therefore, according to his will; that is to say, he squeezed an extra ten rupees out of his helpless employers, and left, declaring that "he had never before met naval officers like unto ourselves "-an enigmatic utterance the purport of which I am not, even now, quite clear.
Having thus explored the N.E. branch of Khor Musa and its offshoots, we now took the Sphinx back down again to our first anchorage-ie., the spot where the original main channel forked into two parts, in order, from there, to examine the western going branch. After a short pioneering visit in the steamcutter, we moved the ship up this new channel for a distance of five miles, and anchored her there in seven fathoms. It was considerably narrower and less deep than the other khor, but still quite a good anchorage for small vessels. From the new anchorage we went
to the water's edge, a sandy eliff, apparently ten or twelve feet high, with some flat ground in front of it. In the face of the cliff was a row of caves, high enough at their entrances for a man to stand upright; and they were barricaded, each of them, with boughs of brushwood. On the flat top of the cliff into which they had been scooped stood a few low treetrunks, cut "short off." Kemp, who was accompanying me as usual, was as much interested and surprised as myself. This was, to him as to me, quite a new type of Arab habitation; and we decided to land at the spot, to visit the troglodyte dwellings, and examine the unusual vegetation. As we approached in the boat, we were rather surprised to find that the caves seemed somewhat smaller than we had at first supposed; but we landed abreast, and walked up to them. On reaching them, we looked at one another in blank and even creepy dismay! It was as if we both had fallen under the spell of seme ancient Arabian necromancer! For the "cliff" had become only twelve inches high; the "caves"
on, for a further twenty miles, in the steam-cutter to the westward. The khor ended here in a muddy cul-de-sac, into which fell several small streams of fresh water, none of them large enough, however, to affect the salinity of the khor. water to any marked degree. There were no inhabitants nor cattle to be seen; but it was evident that, once upon a time, the surrounding land had been lived on by men, for traces of irrigation channels, now wrecked and fallen in, could be seen in all directions. Up at the head of the khor several wild pigs, outcasts of Arabia, could be seen rooting and wallowing in the mud of the streams. They looked at us in dismay, and rushed noisily away. On the return journey we met a native boat which had got into the khor through a branch channel, having come by a devious route from the Bahmishir river, some miles to the westward. The men in it told us that the kher was named "Bukhader," and that it had been, one hundred and seventy years ago, an outlet of running water from the Karún river, but that it had gradually silted up; and the villages were mere holes burrowed into which formerly had existed them by some sea - bird; the along the banks had disap- "barricades of boughs" turned peared as the water became out to be a few little brushmore and more salt. wood sticks laid in the mouth of the holes in the form of a nest; and the "tree-trunks on top were but the broken stalks of a scrubby plant, a few inches high, that covered the surrounding wilderness! We walked backwards from the spot, and as we did so magni
We had a curious experience during this exploration. As we steamed up the khor, I was looking out for a place at which to land to get sunobservations for longitude, when I saw, 8 short way ahead of the boat, and close