A Dweller in Mesopotamia by Donald Maxwell

By Donald Maxwell

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Yet the best of these efforts is elaborately cumbersome compared with housing schemes on these flat lands bordering the Tigris and Euphrates. Not only has the Marsh Arab evolved a style of dwelling that can be built in a night, but he can boast of a device still more alluring in its naivity and utility—the Portable Village! A MARSH ARAB REED VILLAGE I once made a sketch of a Marsh Arabs' village at evening (reproduced facing page 34), and on returning thither on the following morning to verify certain details, I found it had gone!

The Turks lost Fao, the fort that commanded the entrance to the Shatt-el-Arab, within a few days of the opening of hostilities. They had imagined it such a formidable obstacle to our approach that they were thrown suddenly on their beam ends when we took it. Consequently they could not keep us out of Abadan, but fell back on Beit Naama vainly attempting to block the river by sinking ships. One of the hulks, however, swung round and left a channel through which a passage was simple. I once sketched some of these old ships as they lay throughout the period of hostilities.

Under the circumstances it was a providential happening. I ran into Brown. ".... "—Recollections of the Arabian Nights. Now I do not expect the readers of some previous notes of my sketching escapades[1] to believe this. It is almost too wonderful that a chronicler of travels in desperate need of some comic relief to save his book from dulness would be so lucky as to pick up such excellent copy as Brown, without previous intrigue. Nevertheless I do solemnly state that I had not the slightest idea where Brown was doing his bit in the war.

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