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OFFICIAL duty sent me not Old as she was, and almost long ago to visit a small town worn out after her forty years on one of the lower reaches of of struggle against the strong the Tigris. I was not sorry to current, she was spotlessly exchange the close atmosphere clean, as Tigris boats are only of the capital for the fresher clean when a British skipper air of the country, to leave commands them. As we waited behind for a brief space the in the wide sunlit river, with noises and smells of modern its few lazy balams and its Baghdad. The city may be, gleaming white gulls swaying doubtless is, a cleaner place on the ripples, I asked the than it was a decade ago, but captain when he meant to the reforming hand of civilisa- leave Basrah on his return tion has not made it more beau- journey. He must have fortiful. Empty kerosene tins gotten the perhaps apocryphal have replaced the graceful tale of the skipper in the early watering-pots of the women, days of Tigris navigation, who, rusty sheets of corrugated iron having shocked Muslim opinion the painted woodwork of the by omitting to qualify his rigid houses which lean across the programme with the pious pronarrow streets ; and dilapi- viso “in sha Allah God willdated Ford cars are rapidly ing," was duly punished for ousting the gaily-caparisoned his presumption by the burnhorses, which one still sees, ing of his ship. The present unsuperseded, in the districts. captain, who sinned in the

I made the journey down- same way in answering my stream in a paddle-steamer be- question, met with a lighter longing to the “Bait Lynch.” retribution in the shape of VOL, CCXVIII.-NO, MCCCXVII.


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