Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Four-Fifty Miles to Freedom
Author: Johnston, Maurice Andrew Brackenreed, Yearsley, Kenneth Darlaston
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Four-Fifty Miles to Freedom" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



available by Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries
(https://archive.org/details/toronto)



      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries. See
      https://archive.org/details/fourfiftymilesto00john


Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      A carat character is used to denote superscription. A
      single character following the carat is superscripted
      (example: M^c).



FOUR-FIFTY MILES TO FREEDOM


[Illustration:
_From a photo taken at Famagusta, Cyprus, by Lieut. E. F. McAlpine, H.L.I._
(_attached Royal Scots_).

THE SUCCESSFUL ESCAPE PARTY, WITH SOME CAPTURED TROPHIES.
  Left to right--standing: Captains J. H. HARRIS, F. R.
  ELLIS, A. B. HAIG, Commander A. D. COCHRANE,
  D.S.O., R.N., Captains V. S. CLARKE and M. A. B.
  JOHNSTON. Seated: Captains R. A. P. GRANT, M.C., and
  K. D. YEARSLEY.]


FOUR-FIFTY MILES TO FREEDOM

by

CAPTAIN M. A. B. JOHNSTON, R.G.A. and CAPTAIN K. D. YEARSLEY, R.E.



William Blackwood and Sons
Edinburgh and London
1919

All Rights Reserved



   _TO THE_
   _REVEREND =HAROLD SPOONER, C.F.=,_
   _FELLOW-PRISONER OF WAR
   IN TURKEY._



CONTENTS.


  CHAP.                             PAGE

     I. KASTAMONI AND CHANGRI          3
    II. FIRST PLANS FOR ESCAPE        15
   III. AN ATTEMPT THAT FAILED        39
    IV. YOZGAD CAMP                   55
     V. THE FLAG FALLS                83
    VI. THE PEACEFUL SHEPHERDS       108
   VII. RECAPTURED?                  124
  VIII. THE ANCIENT HALYS            140
    IX. A RETREAT UNDER FIRE         159
     X. THE THREE HUNS               176
    XI. IN THE HEART OF THE TAURUS   195
   XII. DOWN TO THE SEA              211
  XIII. ON THE COAST                 233
   XIV. FAILURE AND SUCCESS          253
    XV. FREEDOM                      278
   XVI. CONCLUSION                   293



ILLUSTRATIONS.


  THE SUCCESSFUL ESCAPE PARTY, WITH SOME
    CAPTURED TROPHIES                        _Frontispiece_
  AN OLD BRIDGE AT KASTAMONI                  _Facing p._ 4
  COUNTRY KNOWN TO THE LOCAL HUNT CLUB
    AS "HADES"                                    "      60
  YOZGAD CAMP FROM N.W.                           "      94
  UPPER HOUSE, YOZGAD, FROM N.N.E. (WINTER TIME)  "      98
  THE FLIGHT FROM MOSES' WELL                     "     162
  LIFE IN THE RAVINE                              "     234
  THE MOTOR BOAT                                  "     274
  MAP                                              _at end_



Four-Fifty Miles to Freedom.


PRISONER OF WAR.

  When you've halted after marching till you feel you do not care
    What may happen, for you can't march any more,
  And the order comes to "Fall in" and to march you know not where,
    Then thank God you're not a prisoner of war.

  When you're fighting in the trenches ankle-deep in mud and slush,
    With the north wind cutting through you keen and raw,
  While the second hand ticks slowly till it's time to make the rush,
    Then thank God you're not a prisoner of war.

  When the order's "Up and at 'em" and the blood beats through your head,
    When the dead are falling round you by the score,
  And when all you think and all you feel and all you see is red,
    Then thank God you're not a prisoner of war.

  When you're fighting in the desert where the heat waves never stop,
    And you've never known what thirst has been before,
  Though you'd sell your soul for water and you know there's not a drop,
    Then thank God you're not a prisoner of war.

  We've been handed down a birthright which the bards of ages sing,
    From the days of Agincourt and long before,
  That a Briton owns no master save his God and save his king,
    But you find a third when prisoner of war.

  It's a feeling right inside you, and it never lets you go,
    That you haven't been allowed to pay your score:
  You may still be hale and hearty, but you're missing all the show.
    What offers for the job? Prisoner of war.

  M. A. B. J.
  _Written in_ KASTAMONI,
  1916.



CHAPTER I.

KASTAMONI AND CHANGRI.


"Il n'y a pas trois officiers." Such was the memorable epigram by which
Sherif Bey, Turkish Captain of the Prisoners-of-War Guard at Kastamoni,
and a man regardless of detail, announced to us that four officers,
whose escape has been described in 'Blackwood's Magazine,'[1] had got
safely away from the camp. Those of us who knew that the attempt was
being made were anxiously waiting for news. To others it came as a
great surprise. Captain[2] Keeling, in his story mentioned above, does
not, for obvious reasons, name any one who helped them. Now it does not
matter.

Officers sang loudly and long to prevent the nearest sentry from
hearing the noise of rusty nails being pulled out of a door not many
feet away from him, though hidden from view. More metaphorical dust was
thrown in this wretched man's eyes and ears by the incorrigible James,
who during these critical moments described to him, in very inadequate
Turkish, but with a sense of humour equal to any occasion, the working
parts of a petrol motor-engine. Another helper was an orderly, Gunner
Prosser, R.F.A., a remarkable man with a passion for wandering about
in the dark. The thought of spending a quiet night sleeping in his
prisoners' quarters was repellent to him. As far as we could make out,
he never missed a night's prowl. A fez, a false beard, and a civilian
overcoat were the only "props" he used. This was undoubtedly the man
to help Keeling's party out of the town, for the by-streets were
better known to Prosser in the dark than they were to other prisoners
by daylight. Accordingly, he led the four officers out of Kastamoni.
Some one, however, must have seen and suspected them, for less than
three-quarters of an hour after their start the alarm was given. Shots
were fired and the camp suddenly bristled with sentries. Through this
cordon Prosser had to get back to his quarters. A Turkish sergeant,
into whom he ran full tilt, was knocked over backwards. Followed by
revolver shots from the angry _chaouse_, Prosser darted up one side
street, doubled on his tracks by another, and by his own private
entrance reached his quarters in safety. Here he disposed of his beard
and fez, shaved off his moustache in the dark, and got into bed. When
a few minutes later Captain Sherif Bey came round to feel the hearts
of all the orderlies, Prosser could hardly be roused from an innocent
sleep, and his steady heart-beats allayed all suspicion as to the part
he had played.

[Illustration:
_From a sketch by Major F. S. Barker, R.E._
AN OLD BRIDGE AT KASTAMONI.]

The effect of the escape of these four officers on our camp was
considerable. We were confined to our houses without any exercise
for ten days; sentries were more than trebled on the principle of
locking the stable door. This, however, did not affect Prosser, who
took his nightly walks as usual. Our commandant, Colonel Fettah Bey,
was dismissed in disgrace and replaced by a Sami Bey, whose rank
corresponded with that of a brigadier-general. Now came rumours of the
closing down of the camp at Kastamoni and a move to Changri (pronounced
Chungri)--a mere village about eighty miles due south of us.

Keeling's party escaped on August 8, 1917. Each day that followed,
Sherif Bey brought official news of their capture in different parts
of Asia Minor. One was reminded of Mark Twain's stolen white elephant.
The marching powers of the four officers must have been phenomenal:
sometimes they covered hundreds of miles in a few hours. Confined to
our houses, we amused ourselves taking bets with the Turkish sentries,
who were convinced that the fugitives would be brought back to
Kastamoni within a week. In their opinion those who had escaped were
madmen. What could be more delightful than the life they were running
away from,--one could sit in a chair all day quietly smoking cigarettes
and drinking coffee, far away from the detested war--assuredly they
were quite mad! Now it was unwise to bet, because when we lost we paid
up, and when the Turks lost they did not feel in any way bound to do
so. Our first commandant, Colonel Tewfik Bey, betted heavily on the war
ending before Christmas 1916. He went on the doubling system. On losing
his bet he deferred payment and doubled his bet for a later date, till
by the time he lost his job as commandant he had mortgaged most of
Turkey.

One half of the prisoners at Kastamoni moved to Changri on September
27, 1917, the other half about ten days later. Three weeks before the
departure of the first party we were told to be ready to move in a few
days' time. Preparations were made, rooms dismantled, and home-made
beds, tables, and chairs pulled to bits for convenience of transport;
kit and crockery were packed, and all of us were living in a state of
refined discomfort, when we were told that the move had been postponed,
owing to lack of available mules and carts. Some of us set to work to
rebuild beds and chairs, others resigned themselves to fate and were
content to sleep on the floor and sit on boxes. If we remember aright,
there were two postponements.

At last the day of leaving Kastamoni really did arrive. We had been
promised so many carts and so many mules and had made our arrangements
accordingly. At the last moment we were told that fewer carts and
mules had rolled up. This meant leaving something behind, or marching
the whole way--one decided for oneself. Many of us marched every step
to Changri. Our departure took place at 1 P.M., and a weird
procession we must have looked--carts and mules loaded high with
all manner of furniture, stoves and stove-pipes sticking out in all
directions.

The poor Greeks of the town were very sad to see us go. The Rev. Harold
Spooner, through the Greek priest, had been able from time to time
to distribute to these destitute people fair sums of money supplied
by voluntary subscription among the prisoners. In addition to this,
families of little children used to be fed daily by some messes,
and so we were able, in a small way, to relieve the want of a few
unhappy Christians. Before we left Kastamoni, the Padre showed us a
letter which he had received from the head Greek priest, thanking us
for having helped the poor. We had, he said, kept families together,
and young girls from going on the streets, and he assured us that it
would be the privilege of the Greek community to look after the small
graveyard we had made for the six officers and men who had died while
we were there.

By 2 P.M. we were clear of Kastamoni. The change of camp
would be a great break in the monotony of our existence, and for the
time being we were happy. The journey was to take four days. At night
we halted near water at a suitable camping-ground by the roadside, and
in the early morning started off again. A healthy life and a great
holiday for us. For the first two days the scenery was magnificent, as
we crossed the forest-covered Hilgas range, but as we approached our
destination the country became more and more barren. On the fourth day,
coming over a crest, we saw the village of Changri built at the foot of
a steep and bare hill. We went through the village, and a mile beyond
us stood our future home.

A dirty-looking, two-storied square building it was, surrounded on
three sides by level fields edged with a few willows. On the west the
ground rose a little to the main Angora road. Close to the barracks
were sixty graves, which looked fairly new. This gave a bad impression
of the place at the start. On entering, we were too dumfounded to
speak, and here it may be added that it took a lot to dumfound us. The
square inside the buildings was full of sheep and goats, and the ground
was consequently filthy. The lower-storey rooms, which were to be our
mess-rooms, had been used for cattle, and the cellar pointed out to us
as our kitchen was at least a foot deep in manure. Only one wing of the
barracks had window panes, and these were composed of small bits of
glass rudely fitted together. Truly a depressing place.

Many of us elected to sleep that night in the square in preference
to the filthier barrack rooms. The sanitary arrangements were beyond
words. The next morning we set to work cleaning up, but it was weeks
before the place was habitable. Another great inconvenience was that
for many days drinking-water had to be fetched in buckets from the
village over a mile away; but for this the Turks finally provided a
water-cart.

It was at Changri that most of the twenty-five officers who escaped
from Yozgad on August 7, 1918, made up their parties. Our party, only
six at that time, consisted of--

  Captain A. B. Haig, 24th Punjabis;
  Captain R. A. P. Grant, 112th Infantry;
  Captain V. S. Clarke, 2nd Batt. Royal West Kent Regiment;
  Captain J. H. Harris, 1/4 Hampshire Territorials;

and the two authors. Throughout the remainder of our narrative these
six will be denoted by their respective nicknames: Old Man, Grunt,
Nobby, Perce, Johnny, and Looney.

Roughly speaking, there were four alternative directions open to us.[3]
Northwards to the Black Sea, a distance of 100 miles; eastwards to
the Russian front, 250 to 350 miles; to the Mediterranean, 300 miles
southward, or 400 miles westward. Compared to the others the distance
to the Black Sea was small, but outweighing this advantage was the fact
that Keeling's party had got away in that direction, and the coast
would be carefully guarded if another escape took place. The position
of the Russian front, so far as we knew, was anything up to 350 miles
away, and the country to the east of us was very mountainous. In
addition, an escape in that direction would entail getting through the
Turkish fighting lines, which we thought would prove very difficult.
The Salt Desert, at least 150 miles across, frightened us off thinking
of the southern route. The remaining one was westward: it was the
longest distance to go, it is true, but for this very reason we hoped
the Turks would not suspect us of trying it. The valleys ran in the
direction we should be travelling, and if we did reach the coast, it
was possible that we might get in touch with one of the islands in
Allied hands.

Having made up our minds, we sent code messages home to find out which
would be the best island to make for in the following early summer.
We also asked for reduced maps to cover our route from Changri to the
selected island, and requested that a look-out should be kept from it
in case we signalled from the coast.

Shortly after we had made our decision the question of giving parole
cropped up. To any one who gave it the Turks offered a better camp and
more liberty. It was a question for each to decide for himself, and we
did so. On the 22nd November 1917, therefore, seventy-seven officers
went off to Geddos. It was very sad parting from many good friends, and
when the last cart disappeared round the spur of the hill, one turned
away wondering if one would ever see them again. There were still
forty-four officers and about twenty-eight orderlies in Changri. These
officers were moved into the north wing of the barracks, and there
they remained for the next four and a half months. At this period we
had a great financial crisis--none of us had any money, prices were
very high, and it came to tightening our belts a little. Our long and
badly-built barrack rooms were very draughty, and as we had no money
there was not much likelihood of getting firewood. Some cheerful Turk
kindly told us that the winter at Changri was intensely cold, and that
the temperature often fell below zero. Altogether the prospect for the
next few months was anything but pleasant.

During our most depressed moments, however, we could always raise a
smile over the thought that we were "The honoured guests of Turkey."
Enver Pasha himself had told us so at Mosul, where we halted on
our four-hundred-mile march across the desert, after the fall of
Kut-el-Amara.[4] So it must have been true.

At the time we write this unscrupulous adventurer, Enver--a man of
magnetic personality and untiring in his energy to further his personal
schemes--has but lately fled to Caucasia. He is a young man, and
having held a position of highest authority in Turkey for some years,
presumably a rich one. Doubtless he will lead a happy and prosperous
existence for many years to come.

There are thousands of sad hearts in England and in the Indian Empire
to-day, and hundreds of thousands in Turkey itself, as a result of the
utter disregard for human life entertained by this man and a few of his
colleagues. Of the massacre of Armenians we will not speak, although
we have seen their dead bodies, and although we have met their little
children dying of starvation on the roadsides, and have passed by their
silent villages; but we should fail in our duty to the men of the
British Empire who died in captivity in Turkey did we not appeal for a
stern justice to be meted out to the men responsible for their dying.

It may perhaps be said with truth that it was no studied cruelty on
the part of the Turkish authorities that caused the death of so many
brave men who had given themselves to the work of their country: yet
with equal truth it may be said, that it was the vilest form of apathy
and of wanton neglect. Where the taking of a little trouble by the high
officials at Constantinople would have saved the lives of thousands
of British and Indian soldiers, that trouble was never taken. Weak
with starvation, and sick with fever and dysentery (we speak of the
men of Kut), they were made to march five hundred miles in the burning
heat across waterless deserts, without regular or sufficient rations
and without transport--in many cases without boots, which had been
exchanged for a few mouthfuls of food or a drink of water.

We officers, who had not such a long march as the men, and who were
given a little money and some transport, thought ourselves in a
bad way. But what of the men who had none? There were no medical
arrangements, and those who could not march fell by the desert paths
and died. The official White Book gives the number 65 as the percentage
of deaths amongst British soldier prisoners taken at Kut, a figure
which speaks for itself.

It is a law of the world's civilisation that if a man take the life
of another, except in actual warfare, he must pay forfeit with his
own life. Take away bribery and corruption and that law holds good
in Turkey. Now when a soldier is taken prisoner he ceases to be an
active enemy, and the country of his captors is as responsible for his
welfare as for that of her own citizens. What if that country so fails
to grasp the responsibility that its prisoners are allowed to die by
neglect? Should not its rulers be taught such a lesson that it would
be impossible for those of future generations to forget it?

It is not enough to obtain evidence of a cruel corporal at that
prisoners' camp, or of a bestial commandant at this, and to think that
by punishing them we have avenged our dead. These men are underlings.
The men we must punish first are those few in high authority, who, by
an inattention to their obvious duty, have made it possible for their
menials to be guilty of worse than murder.

We pride ourselves on the fact that we are citizens of the most just
country of the world. Let us see to it that justice is not starved.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] "An Escape from Turkey in Asia," by Captain E. H. Keeling.
'Blackwood's Magazine,' May 1918.

[2] Now Lieutenant-Colonel.

[3] _Vide_ map at end of volume.

[4] "Kut," correctly pronounced, rhymes with "put."



CHAPTER II.

FIRST PLANS FOR ESCAPE.


With the departure of the party for Geddos, the camp at Changri did
what little they could to render the long bare barrack rooms somewhat
more endurable as winter quarters. Each room was about 80 feet in
length, and consisted of a central passage bordered on either side by
a row of ugly timber posts supporting the roof. Between the passage
and a row of lockers which ran along the walls were raised platforms,
affording about six feet of useful width. Each platform was divided
in two by a single partition half-way along the room. Viewed from one
end the general effect resembled that of stables, to which use indeed
all the lower rooms had been put previous to our arrival. Each length
of platform was allotted to a group of three or four officers, who
were then at liberty to beautify their new homes as ingenuity might
suggest. Planks were hard to come by, so for the most part old valises,
blankets, and curtains were strung from post to post to screen the
"rooms" from the passage, and thereby gain for the occupants a little
privacy.

As the severity of the winter increased, caulking floor-boards became
a profitable occupation, for an icy draught now swept up through the
gaping cracks. By the time the financial difficulties to which we
have referred were at an end, it was no longer possible to obtain in
the bazaar a sufficient quantity of firewood for anything except our
kitchen stoves. It was not, however, until snow was lying deep upon
the ground that Sami Bey could be prevailed upon to let us cut down a
few of the neighbouring willow-trees, for which it need hardly be said
we had to pay heavily. Apart from the exercise thus obtained--and it
was good exercise carrying the wood into the barracks--an odd visit
or two to the bazaar, and a few hours' tobogganing as a concession on
Christmas Day, were the only occasions on which we saw the outside
of our dwelling-place for three long months. Nor was there anything
in the way of comfort within. The number of trees allotted to us was
small, and the daily wood ration we allowed ourselves only sufficed
to keep the stoves going in our rooms for a few hours each day. The
fuel, moreover, being green, was difficult to keep alight, so that we
spent many hours that winter blowing at the doors of stoves; and the
stoker on duty had to give the fire his undivided attention if he
wished to avoid the sarcastic comments of his chilled companions. It
was a special treat reserved for Sundays to have our stoves burning for
an hour in the afternoon. For over a month the temperature remained
night and day below freezing-point, and the thermometer on one occasion
registered thirty-six degrees of frost.

An officer who used to fill up an old beer-bottle with hot water to
warm his feet when he got into bed, found one morning that it had
slipped away from his feet and had already begun to freeze, although
still under the clothes!

But enough of the miseries of that winter: in spite of such
unfavourable conditions, the camp was a cheerful one. We were all
good friends, and united in our determination not to knuckle under to
the Turk. Our senior officer, Colonel A. Moore, of the 66th Punjabis,
was largely instrumental in making our lot an easier one. This he did
by fighting our many battles against an unreasonable and apathetic
commandant, and in all our schemes for escape he gave us his sound
advice and ready support.

Compared to his two predecessors, this commandant, Sami Bey, was a
very difficult person from whom to "wangle" anything. Although he
could lay claim to no greater efficiency for his task of commanding
a prisoner-of-war camp than they, he made himself very obnoxious to
us by his policy of pure obstruction. If we applied for any sort of
concession, however reasonable, he safeguarded himself by saying he
would have to wire to Constantinople for orders, and of course no
orders ever came. With the two commandants we had had in Kastamoni, a
threat by our own senior officer to report any matter under discussion
to the Turkish Headquarters was enough to make him give in over any
reasonable request without further ado. Sami, however, would look
the question up in his Regulations. On one occasion we bombarded him
from every quarter with demands to be allowed to go out tobogganing.
Finally the answer came back: "The Regulations do not mention the word
'toboggan'; therefore, I cannot allow you to do so." Even the Turk,
then, though he uses sand instead of blotting-paper, has his office
"red tape"!

The average Turkish officer is an ignoramus, and the following story
of Sami Bey will serve to show that he was no exception to the rule.
At the time that the German gun "Big Bertha" was bombarding Paris at
long range, he was very proud to produce a picture of it in a German
paper. It was one of those semi-bird's-eye views, showing Paris in the
left-hand bottom corner, and along the top the Straits of Dover and the
English Channel. The gun was about half-way down the right-hand edge,
and the curved trajectory of the shell was shown by a dotted line from
the moment it left the muzzle to the moment when it entered Paris. To
a British officer to whom he was showing the picture, Sami explained at
great length how the shell passed through St Quentin, Cambrai, Douai,
up to one of the Channel ports, and then down again viâ Amiens, until
it finally arrived at its destination in Paris and exploded! This
Turkish brigadier-general believed this to be a solemn fact, and his
"ignorant" British hearer was polite enough not to undeceive him.

Ours claimed to have been the first party formed with a view to escape,
but it was not long before there were several others, and it became
evident that some plan would have to be devised by which a large number
might hope to make their way out of the barracks fairly simultaneously.
Since these had been designed for Turkish soldiers, every window was
already barred. But we were in addition a camp of suspects, who had
refused to give their parole; so at night, in addition to sentries
being posted at every corner, visiting patrols went round the building
at frequent intervals. Three or four fellows, of course, might cut the
bars of a window and slip through, but hardly five or six parties.

At this moment an old magazine came into our hands containing an
article which described how thirty or forty Federal officers had
escaped from a Confederate prison by means of a tunnel. This was at
once recognised as the ideal solution of our problem if only we could
find a suitable outlet and the means of disposing of the earth.

While the general plan was still under discussion, we were reinforced
by the arrival of three officers from Geddos. They had refused to give
their parole in spite of the Turks' threat that they would be moved
to Changri if they did not change their minds. Here then they arrived
one cold December morning, looking very racy in their check overcoats,
supplied to them by the Dutch Legation. These coats were doubtless
the last word in Constantinople fashions, and in the shop windows had
probably been marked "Très civilisé," for it is the highest ambition of
the Turk to be considered civilised.

Nothing hurts his feelings more than to be the object of ridicule on
account of any lack of up-to-dateness, as the following story will
serve to illustrate. While we were at Kastamoni, a chimney in one of
the houses occupied by the prisoners of war caught fire, and, with a
great flourish of trumpets, the town fire-brigade was called out to
extinguish the conflagration. Let not the reader, however, picture to
himself even the most obsolete of horsed fire-engines. In this town,
with a pre-war population of something like 25,000 souls, and with
houses almost entirely built of timber, dependence in the event of a
fire was placed on what can best be described as a diminutive tank
carried on a stretcher, and provided with a small pump worked by a
lever, seesaw fashion. The tank was kept filled by buckets replenished
at the nearest spring. The sight of two men in shabby uniform solemnly
oscillating the lever by the handle at either end, and of the feeble
trickle of water which resulted at the nozzle of the hose, was too
much for the sense of humour of the British officers who happened to
be present at the time. At this moment the commandant, then one Tewfik
Bey, appeared on the scene. Horrified at such ill-timed levity on the
part of the onlookers, he seized upon a major standing by and had him
escorted to his room, there to be confined till Tewfik's anger should
abate. To the Turk this tank was the latest thing in fire-engines.

To carry the story to its happy ending, we may add that, after three
days of confinement, the major addressed a letter to H.E. Enver Pasha
through the commandant, which ran somewhat as follows:--

  "SIR,--I have the honour to report that, owing to the
  close confinement in which I have been kept, my health has now
  entirely broken down. I therefore request that, with a view to
  providing some slight possibility of recovery, I may be allowed to
  go to England on one month's sick leave, and that as far as the
  port of embarkation I may be accompanied by _posta_[5] 'Ginger,' as
  he alone in all Turkey really understands my temperament.--I have
  the honour to be, sir, your most obedient prisoner of war,

  X."

Whether this letter ever reached His Excellency we shall probably never
know. From our knowledge of the Turk's total lack of humour, however,
we should say that it is more than probable that Tewfik Bey solemnly
forwarded it on through the proper channel. That no answer was received
proves nothing; for it is a matter of years to get a reply to an
application like this from the authorities at Constantinople, and the
letter was only written three years ago. At least it had this good
effect, that the major was released from confinement forthwith.

But we must return to our real subject. Amongst the three officers from
Geddos was one Tweedledum, so named from a certain rotundity of figure,
which even the scanty provisions said to be obtainable there had failed
to reduce. From his lips we first heard of the wonderful capabilities
of the Handley-Page passenger aeroplane. Such machines, he said, could
carry fifteen to sixteen passengers, and three of them had recently
flown from England to Mudros, with only one intermediate landing in
Italy. A pilot of one of them had been a prisoner with him at Geddos.
A few evenings later Nobby had a great brain-wave; fetching a 'Pears'
Annual,' he turned up the maps of Europe and Asia Minor, and, after a
few hurried measurements, unfolded to his stable companions, Perce and
Looney, what was afterwards known as the "aeroplane scheme." These
three had, with much expense and trouble, managed to collect enough
planks for a real wooden partition to their "room," and it was behind
this screen that this and many another devilish plot was hatched.

Briefly, Nobby's idea was for a flight of five or six Handley-Pages
to be sent from Cyprus, swoop down on Changri, and pick up the whole
camp, both officers and men--and Sami too. We should, of course, have
to take over the barracks from our guards, but this should be easily
effected by a _coup de main_, and probably without having to resort to
bloodshed. At first the idea appeared a trifle fantastic, for after
being cut off from the outside world for two whole years it took time
for us to assimilate the wonderful advance of aeronautical science
which the scheme assumed; but given that Tweedledum's statement was
correct, the scheme was feasible, and we soon took up the question
seriously. Our representative of the R.F.C. pronounced the surrounding
fields practicable landing grounds; a committee confirmed the
possibility of taking over the barracks by surprise; and the whole
scheme, illustrated by a small sketch of the vicinity, was soon on its
way home.

We were fortunate in having a method of sending secret information
without much risk of detection. The censorship of our letters, like
most things in Turkey, was not very efficient. Looney's brother in
England was the inventor of the secret means. The first code which he
devised consisted merely of diminutive gaps between pairs of letters
in an apparently ordinary communication. That there was a message
contained was indicated to the addressee by the writer adding after his
signature his address as "Codin House, Thislet Terrace."[6] The exact
nature of the code then had to be discovered by guess-work. After two
letters had been received, Nobby noticed the gaps, and the clue was
discovered. By stringing together all the letters preceding the gaps,
one obtained the concealed message.

The way thus opened, more effective means of communication could be
developed. One of these was to send out messages written on a slip of
paper, wrapped up in silver tissue and then inserted in a full tube
of tooth-paste. As parcels, however, took anything from eight months
to over a year to reach the camp, the value of the news contained was
considerably diminished. Moreover, this method was not available for
sending news from Turkey to England.

The final method was simple, yet perfectly effective for smuggling
news into a country such as Turkey. It consisted of pasting together
two thin post-cards, the gummed portion being confined to a border
of about an inch in width round the edges. The central rectangle so
left ungummed was available for the secret message, which was written
very small on the two inner faces of the cards before they were
stuck together. Further space for writing was obtainable by adding
another slip of paper of the size of the rectangle, and including this
within the cards when gumming them up. After being pressed, the final
post-card was trimmed so as to leave no sign of the join. The position
of the rectangle containing the message was indicated on the address
side by at first two lines, and later by the smallest possible dots
at the corners. Well over a score of such cards must have passed from
England into Turkey, and more than half that number in the reverse
direction, without discovery ever being made by our captors. In the
camp, to avoid the risk of being overheard talking about "split
post-cards" by one of the interpreters, these cards were known as
"bananas"--an apt name, as you had to skin them to get at the real
fruit inside!

This explains the method by which it was possible to suggest the
aeroplane scheme to the home authorities.

Unfortunately it used to take at least four months to receive a
reply to a letter. For this reason we could not afford to wait until
a definite date was communicated to us, so we ourselves named the
first fifteen days of May as suitable for us, and agreed, from 6 to 8
A.M. on each of these days, to remain in a state of instant
readiness to seize the barracks should an aeroplane appear. For the
sake of secrecy, the details of the _coup de main_ itself were left to
be worked out by a small committee, and the report spread amongst the
rest of the camp that the scheme had been dropped. The true state of
affairs would not be divulged until a few days before the first of May.

The committee's plan was this. There were at Changri 47 officers and
28 orderlies--a total force of 75 unarmed men with which to take over
the barracks. Our guard, all told, numbered 70 men. At any one time
during daylight there were seven Turkish sentries on duty: one outside
each corner of the barracks, one inside the square which had an open
staircase at each corner, one at the arched entrance in the centre of
the north face, while the seventh stood guard over the commandant's
office. This was a room in the upper storey over the archway and facing
on to the square.

On each side of the commandant's office, therefore, were the barrack
rooms inhabited by the British officers, and to go from one side to the
other it was necessary to pass the sentry standing at his post on the
landing in between. From here a flight of steps gave on to the road
through the main archway; on the other side of this again, and facing
the stairs, was the door of the ground-floor barrack room used by our
guard. This room was similar to those in the upper storey already
described, and we found out by looking through a hole made for the
purpose in the floor of the room above, and by casual visits when we
wanted an escort for the bazaar, that the rifles of the occupants were
kept in a row of racks on either side of the central passage-way.

By 6 A.M. on each morning of the first fifteen days of May
every one was to be dressed, but those who had no specific job to do
were to get back into bed again in case suspicion should be caused in
the mind of any one who happened to come round. The aeroplanes, if
they came, would arrive from the south. Two look-out parties of three,
therefore, were to be at their posts by 6 A.M., one in the
officers' mess in the S.E., and the other in the Padre's room next to
the chapel in the S.W. corner of the barracks.

The staircases at these two corners of the square were to be watched
by two officers told off for the purpose, one in each half of the
north wing. When the look-outs in the south wing had either distinctly
heard or seen an aeroplane, they were to come to their staircase and
start walking down it into the square. Our look-outs in the north wing
would warn the others in their rooms to get ready, and the officer who
had the honour of doing verger to the Padre, and who used to ring a
handbell before services, would run down the north-eastern staircase
and walk diagonally across the square towards the chapel, ringing the
bell for exactly thirty seconds.

The stopping of the bell was to be the signal for simultaneous action.
The sentry on the landing could be easily disposed of by three
officers; most of the rest were to run down certain staircases, cross
the archway, dash into the barrack room and get hold of all the rifles,
a small party at the same moment tackling the sentry at the main
entrance.

On seeing the rush through the archway the look-out parties from the
south wing would overpower the sentry in the square. The arms belonging
to the three sentries and one other rifle were to be immediately taken
to the corners of the barracks and the outside sentries covered. The
orderlies, under an officer, would meanwhile form up in the square as a
reserve.

Surprise was to be our greatest ally, and we hoped that, within a
minute of the bell stopping, the barracks would be in our hands.

Having herded our Turkish guard into a big cellar and locked them in,
we would then signal to the aeroplanes that the barracks were in our
possession by laying out sheets in the square; while small picquets,
armed with Turkish rifles and ammunition, would see to it that the
aeroplanes on landing would be unmolested from the village. We are
still convinced that the plan would have succeeded.

Even those in the know, however, put little faith in the probability
of the aeroplane scheme being carried out, realising that the machines
necessary for such an enterprise were not likely to be available from
the main battle-fronts. Preparations, therefore, continued for working
out our own salvation, as though this plan for outside help had not
entered our heads. With the first signs of spring the tunnel scheme
began to take concrete form.

As already mentioned in the description of the barracks, the ground
to the west rose gently up to the Angora road. In this slope was a
shallow, cup-like depression at a distance of forty yards from the
building. If only a convenient point for starting a tunnel could
be found in the nearest wall, the cup would form an ideal spot for
breaking through to the surface. A night reconnaissance was made in
the downstairs room on the western side of the barracks. As a result
of this there seemed a likelihood that under the whole of the platform
in this room we should find a hollow space varying from one to three
feet in depth. If the surmise were correct and a tunnel could be run
out from here, there would be no difficulty in getting rid of all the
excavated earth into this hollow space. Unfortunately the lower room,
though not in use, was kept locked.

It was discovered, however, that the walls of the barracks consisted
of an outer and inner casing, each a foot thick, and built of large
sun-dried bricks, the space between being filled up with a mixture of
rubble, mortar, and earth, and a few larger stones. This was in the
bottom storey. Above that the construction of the wall changed to two
thicknesses of lath and plaster attached to either side of a timber
framing, and the thickness of the wall diminished to only nine inches.
The total width of the wall below was five feet; therefore the lockers
in the upper room were immediately above the rubble core of the heavier
wall. It would thus be possible to get down through the lockers and
sink a shaft through the rubble to a trifle below the level of the
ground, and from there to break through the inner casing and come into
the empty space below the ground-floor.

Work was commenced in the middle of February 1918. For the next few
weeks an officer was usually to be seen lolling about at either end of
the first-floor rooms, and, on the approach of an interpreter or other
intruder, would stroll leisurely down the passage, whistling the latest
ragtime melody.

Within the room all would now be silent; but when the coast was again
clear there could perhaps be seen in the barrack room a pair of weird
figures, strangely garbed and white with dust. Somewhere in the line of
lockers was the entrance to the shaft-head. The locker doors being only
a foot square were too small to admit a man, and so the top planks at
the place where we wished to work had been levered up and fitted with
hinges to form a larger entrance. To give additional room inside, the
partition between two consecutive lockers was also removed; the floor
of one locker and the joists supporting the platform at this point were
then cut away, and we were free to commence the shaft.

For this job six officers were chosen, of whom three belonged to our
escape party. The six were divided into three reliefs, and each worked
for two hours at a time. The hole was of necessity only just large
enough for one man to work there, so of the pair one did the digging,
while his partner, when the shaft had progressed a little, sat inside
the locker at the top of the hole. When actually at work, the time
went quickly enough; but sitting in the locker was very wearisome,
as one's only duties were to pass on the alarm when the ragtime was
whistled, and from time to time to draw up by a rope the small sacks
filled by the digger. When all the available sacks were full, work was
stopped, and the two would emerge from the locker. The sacks of rubbish
were then carried a few yards along the room and emptied into a space
underneath some planks which had been loosened in the platform. At the
end of their relief, the two would go off to change their clothes,
leaving the work to be continued by the next pair.

During the time spent in the locker, one of the six learnt 'Omar
Khayyám' by heart. Reading a book was almost impossible owing to the
lack of light; even if it had been permissible, in view of the risk
of the reader becoming so interested as to miss the signal of the
alarm. 'Omar,' however, was a different thing. A verse could be read
line by line at the streak of light entering by a chink in one of the
ill-fitting locker doors, and then committed to memory--not a very
engrossing task, but it helped to pass the time.

The working kit was a light one: a shirt and "shorts," sand-shoes,
and a Balaclava cap. Round his mouth the digger usually tied a
handkerchief, so as not to swallow his peck of dust at one time, while
the cap prevented his hair and ears getting quite full of rubbish.

Let us work for one relief. You are dressed for the occasion. The
tools, consisting of two chisels, are at the bottom of the hole, which
is, say, twelve feet deep. A couple of candles and a box of matches is
all you need take with you. It is your turn to dig. You get into the
locker and climb down the rope-ladder as quickly as possible, but you
must take care not to touch the outer casing of the wall as you go, or
you may find yourself staring at an astonished sentry outside: there
are already a few holes in the wall through which daylight can be seen.

The candle lighted, you have a look round: but this is absurd! No one
has done any work since you were down there yesterday morning. That
beastly stone in the corner looks as tightly embedded in the mortar as
it was then. You bend down to pick up a chisel and you bump your head
against a projecting brick. You try to sit down, but there is not
enough room to sit and work at the same time. You try kneeling, but
it can't be done. After twisting your limbs in a hitherto undreamt-of
fashion you begin to chip away at the mortar round your old friend.
Nothing seems to happen; then suddenly your candle falls down and goes
out, leaving your chamber of little ease in Stygian darkness.

You think you hear your partner say "Stop!" and you look up just in
time to get your eyes full of grit, for he has merely shifted his legs,
which are dangling above you. After untying yourself you relight the
candle and again get down to the stone. You pick and scrape and prise,
and then as the chisel slips you bark your knuckles; and so you go on.
All sense of time is lost, and your one thought is to get that stone
out. Now it moves. You work with redoubled energy, with the result
that you break into a profuse perspiration. How you hate that stone!
Finally up it comes when you don't expect it, and the bruise at the
back of your head is nothing compared to the joy of the victor, which
is equally yours.

The rock is too big, however, to go into a sack, so you shut your eyes
and whisper to your partner above you. He then lets down an old canvas
bath kept in the locker for this purpose. The periphery of the bath is
attached to a rope by several cords, the resulting appearance as it
is lowered towards you being that of an inverted parachute. The stone
is difficult to lift and your feet are very much in the way, but in
the end the load is ready. There is not enough room in the shaft for
the stone and the bath to be pulled up past your body, so you climb up
the ladder and help your partner to haul. This done, work is resumed.
A small sack is filled with bits of mortar picked away from round the
stone, and this too is pulled up the shaft, but the sack being small
you need not leave the hole.

Now your partner tells you that it is time for the next shift. You
leave the chisels in an obvious place, blow out the candle, and climb
to the locker. Here your partner is tapping gently against the door. If
your look-out says "All safe!" you push open the lid and emerge. The
big stone is hastily carried to an empty locker and the rubbish from
the sack disposed of as already described. The plank in the platform is
replaced, the bath and sack returned to the locker, the lid closed, and
the place once more assumes its normal aspect.

You then nip along to the nearest inhabited room, where you find your
relief waiting for you. One of these two is almost certain to greet
you with the words: "I suppose you got that stone in the corner out
straight away. I practically finished it off last night. It only wanted
a heave or two." It is useless to point out that, had it not been for
the masterly manner in which you had worked, the stone would still be
firmly embedded there. You merely bide your time, certain that within
a few days you will be in a position to make a similar remark to him.

Work was now being carried on continuously throughout the day. Besides
the diggers, there were 24 officers who took their turn as look-outs.
It was not possible to keep the work going at night, for from time to
time the sentries outside would patrol this wing of the barracks. In
the daytime, when they approached the point where we were at work, our
look-outs could stop the diggers, but this would have been impossible
after dark. Moreover, light from a candle would then have been visible
from outside through the cracks in the outer casing.

At this stage our plans received a rude shock. We were suddenly
informed that we were to be moved to the Prisoner-of-War Camp at Yozgad
(pronounced Useguard), eighty miles south-east of us. We were to be
ready, said Sami Bey, to start within a week. After our experience
of the departure from Kastamoni, we came to the conclusion it might
equally well be a month before the necessary transport was collected.
We determined, therefore, to push on with the tunnel at high pressure,
and if necessary to bring it out to the surface short of the spot
originally intended, and then one dark night to make a bolt for it. So
the work went on.

For the first three feet of the shaft we had found merely loose rubble
and stones easily excavated, for the next thirteen we had had to dig
out stones embedded in very hard mortar. Here we progressed only a few
inches a day. Below this there was solid concrete. Every few feet we
came to wooden ties holding the inner and outer casings together; but
fortunately these were on one side of the hole, and we did not have to
cut through them.

At the time the move was announced we were at a depth of 16 feet,
just entering the concrete. Here we were below the level of the lower
storey, so we broke through the inner casing into the space beneath
the platform. We now found, to our disgust, that the ground was on an
average barely a foot below the joists, and the surface, being composed
of dust which had been falling for eighty years between the boards of a
Turkish barrack-room floor, was very unpleasant.

Our disappointment, however, was counteracted by a stroke of good luck.
At each end of the barrack room above there was an alcove, and we found
beneath the nearer of the two alcoves an empty space 8 feet by 6 by 5.
In this we could dispose of a good deal of the spoil from the tunnel.
To get rid of the rest we should have to make a main burrow below the
floor, filling up the remaining space on either side between the ground
and the floor, and eventually packing the burrow itself with earth
excavated from the mine. Should this again not suffice, the surplus
earth would have to be pulled up by way of the shaft, and distributed
under the boards of the upper-room platform. All that now remained for
us to do before actually starting on the tunnel itself was to sink a
secondary shaft about 6 feet deep, so as to get below the level of the
concrete foundations. After this we could strike horizontally towards
the Angora road.

The method of moving about in the confined space was that employed by
the caterpillar that loops its back, draws its hind legs under it,
and then advances with its forefeet; and we found it a slow means of
locomotion. The burrow to the hollow under the alcove was completed,
and another in the opposite direction to the farther alcove was well on
its way when we started to work on the second shaft. Three feet down we
came to water. It was a great blow to us; and although with unlimited
time at our disposal the difficulty might have been overcome, under
present circumstances we had to consider ourselves defeated in that
direction, especially as we heard, a few days later, that transport was
already on its way from Angora.

The early move would also, of course, upset the aeroplane scheme, and
we sincerely hoped that the authorities at home would hear that we
had left Changri in time to prevent aeroplanes being sent. Although
the scheme sent to them had provided somewhat for this contingency
by arranging that the aeroplanes were not to land till they saw the
special signal from us, it was not pleasant to think that we might
be the cause of risk to valuable pilots and machines, and all to no
purpose. Apart from the move, however, it eventually turned out that
the scheme could not be entertained at home, as in April and May 1918
every available machine was being urgently required for making things
unpleasant for the Germans behind the main battle-front.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] = soldier.

[6] = code in this letter.



CHAPTER III.

AN ATTEMPT THAT FAILED.


Thus disappointed of two of our schemes, we looked around for other
ways and means of escape. Nobby had another of his brain-waves. In
search of dry firewood he had made several tours inside the roof of the
barracks: for the ceilings and tiled slopes were carried not by modern
trusses, but by the primitive and wasteful means of trestles resting on
enormous horizontal baulks, running across from wall to wall at close
intervals. Having entered the roof space by a trap-door in the ceiling,
it was possible to walk on these completely round the barracks, and eke
out the miserably green firewood we collected ourselves by chips and
odd ends of comparatively dry wood, left up there presumably several
decades before, while the barracks were in building.

Why not, said Nobby, disappear up there one night and leave the Turks
to infer that we had escaped, encouraging them in the belief by leaving
the bars of some window cut and forced apart? We could then wait until
the rest had left for Yozgad and slip out from the deserted barracks at
our pleasure.

There were, however, two obvious objections to this scheme. It was
hardly feasible as a means of escape for more than one or at most two
parties: the Turk might be deceived into thinking half a dozen fellows
had slipped past his sentries, but hardly twenty or more. Secondly, it
was quite conceivable that the escape of even a small party would lead
to the move being cancelled altogether: it is true it would be possible
for the stowaways to be fed in the roof by their companions below, but
the prospect of spending "three years or the duration of the war" in
that dark and musty garret took away from the otherwise considerable
attractions of the scheme.

In the end a very much modified form of the roof scheme was permitted
by a committee of senior officers, and our party of six, having been
adjudged by this committee to have the best chances of success on
account of our prearranged scheme when we reached the coast, was given
the privilege of making the attempt. As will be seen, however, it was
less an actual attempt than a waiting upon favourable circumstances
which would arise should our captors make a certain mistake. In any
country except Turkey the whole conception would have been absurd; but
we had seen enough of Turkish methods to know that there anything is
possible.

By good luck the party's preparations for escape were already far
advanced, although, apart from the move, we had not proposed starting
until June: the rains continue off and on till then, and the crops
would be in too immature a state at an earlier date.

At the cost of a good deal of time, temper, needles and thread, we
had each succeeded in making ourselves a pack: to furnish the canvas
we sacrificed our valises. Up till almost the last night, however, we
were busy repeatedly cutting off straps and sewing them on again in a
different place, in a wild endeavour to persuade our equipment to ride
with a reasonable degree of comfort.

Food was an item of vital importance in any plan of escape, and we had
decided to follow the example of Keeling's party and pin our faith
mainly to a ration of biscuits. We had also for some months past been
collecting from our parcels all tinned meat, condensed milk, and
chocolate.

We brought our biscuit-making to a fine art. One of the ground-floor
rooms had been set apart as the officers' shop for carpentry and
bootmaking--for we had long taken to making our own furniture and
repairing our own boots. Here then was started the "Bimbashi"[7]
Biscuit Department of Escapers, Limited. At one bench would be Grunt
and Johnny busily engaged in the uncongenial task of taking the stalks
off sultanas, and the pleasanter one of eating a few. At another stood
Perce with his bared forearms buried deep in a mixture of flour, sugar,
and sultanas, to which from time to time Nobby would add the requisite
quantities of water and eggs. The Old Man presided at the scales and,
weighing out the dough into lumps sufficient for twenty biscuits,
passed them on to Looney. Armed with rolling-pin, carving-knife, and
straight-edge, the latter would flatten out each lump until it filled
up the inside of a square frame which projected slightly above the
bench to which it was fixed. When a level slab had been obtained, the
ruler would be placed against marks on the frame and the slab cut five
times in one direction and four in the other. It then only remained to
transfer the twenty little slabs to boards, prick them with any fancy
pattern with a nail, and send them to be baked by one of our orderlies.
The biscuits were each about the size of a quarter-plate and half an
inch thick, and when cooked weighed five to the pound, and were as hard
as rocks. Their best testimonial was that, without being kept in tins,
they remained perfectly good for six months.

The biscuit-making concern was run regardless of expense. A pound of
flour was costing at that time two shillings, sugar ten shillings,
sultanas five; and eggs three pence apiece. (These, by the way, were
only about half of what we soon after found ourselves paying at
Yozgad.) The final cost was something like half-a-crown a biscuit.

For their escapes Keeling and his companions had decided, if
questioned, to say that they were a German survey party, and for this
purpose had forged a letter purporting to come from the commandant of
the Angora Division, and ordering all whom it might concern to help
them in every way. They had written to say this letter had been of the
greatest assistance to them. As we were going in a different direction,
we thought that the same story would serve again. Grunt, being the best
Turkish scholar of the party, accordingly drafted a suitable legend in
a crisp style such as might be expected to emanate from Enver Pasha's
pen; while Johnny, aided by infinite patience and a bit of blue carbon
paper, set to work and produced a faithful imitation of an office stamp
found on a Turkish receipt. We hoped that the elaborated lettering of
such a crest would be as little intelligible to the average Ottoman as
it was to ourselves, but as a matter of interest decided to show the
original to our Greek interpreter and casually ask its meaning. It was
as well we did so, for it was the stamp of the Prisoners-of-War Camp,
Changri.

After this unfortunate set-back, our pair put their heads together, and
finally evolved a design of their own, bearing the inscription: "Office
of the Ministry of War, Stamboul."

All this time, of course, we were subjecting ourselves to a course of
rigorous training--football, running in the early mornings, Müller's
exercises, and cold baths. We spent half the day walking round and
round the exercise-field, wearing waistcoats weighing twenty pounds.
These, if disclosed from under the coat, would have reminded any one
but a Turkish observer of one of those advertisements of a well-known
firm of tyre-makers; for each waistcoat was lined with a series of
cloth tubes filled with sand.

Nobby, who detested sewing more than any of us, went to the trouble of
making a practice rucksack holding sixty pounds of earth. The whole of
our last few weeks at Changri, one may say, were spent by the party in
preparing for the escape in one way or another.

On the evening of the 10th April 1918 the cart transport for our
journey drove into the barrack square and there parked for the night.
Orders came from the commandant that we were to start next day, so we
decided that before we went to bed our preparations should be completed.

A light ladder was made by which to climb up into the roof;
drinking-water was taken up in buckets and hidden there; a window-frame
in the east wing was prepared so that the iron bars could be withdrawn;
and we made certain, by going through a list, that our packs contained
all that we had decided to take. The latter were then unpacked and they
and their contents placed in two boxes, each of which had a false
bottom. Here were concealed our most incriminating and at the same time
our most precious aids to escape: our maps, helio-mirrors, fezes, and
compasses. The boxes were then locked, strongly bound with rope, and
labelled very appropriately, "Trek Stores."

For the work on hand that night the occasion was an excellent one.
Every one was busy packing, having left this unpleasant duty till the
carts actually arrived. There was a lot of noise being made--to wit, a
blend of singing and sawing; and when at 1 A.M. we could at
last go to bed, there was still much activity around us.

Next morning we showed ourselves as much as possible, and took care to
find an opportunity of talking to the two camp interpreters. It was
conceivable that they might take our names in the barracks as usual
each morning, and the commandant, being satisfied that every one was
present, might omit to call roll when the move actually took place;
or alternately, in the excitement of the moment, there might be no
roll-call whatsoever.

On one or other of these possibilities depended the success of the
modified scheme, which stipulated that until the carts were definitely
on the move we were not to hide ourselves in the roof. Should the party
go off without a roll-call, we were allowed to leave ourselves behind.
If, on the other hand, roll was called, we had to turn up for it. This
explains the necessity for the two boxes of "Trek Stores": if we were
left behind, these could be quickly taken up into the roof; and if roll
should be called, we could hastily, and without losing our valuable
escape outfit, join the carts, carrying two boxes apparently containing
food only.

After loading up our own carts with the rest of our kit in case the
scheme miscarried, we took these boxes into the mess-room at the S.E.
corner of the barracks; and as the time of departure drew near, went
there ourselves and sat round a few bits of bread and an empty jam-pot.
Our excellent friend H---- promised to come and warn us should there be
a call over.

From the windows facing south could be seen the Angora road, and this
we watched eagerly. The barracks were quite quiet. After many minutes
a loaded cart appeared on the road followed by another. Our hopes
began to rise. The one-in-a-thousand chance might yet come off. There
were more carts moving on the road now, but to our disappointment they
suddenly stopped.

A few seconds later H---- dashed in. They were calling the roll. We
carried the boxes outside, there to be met by several officers who had
come back, so they said, to collect some firewood for the journey, but
really to make our late appearance as unsuspicious as possible. No
wonder we were as happy at Changri as it was possible to be, having
men like these for our companions.

You may think that it was not worth our while to have taken so much
trouble for so small a chance, yet you probably take a ticket in the
Derby Sweep. It was, we admit, a small chance, but the prize was a
great one, so we were unwilling to let it slip by. Although a roll-call
was held, we heard afterwards that it was only as an afterthought on
the part of Sami Bey, and despite our disappointment after coming so
near to success, we had at least the satisfaction of finding that our
late arrival caused no suspicion in the minds of our captors. After a
little difficulty in finding carts which were not too overloaded to
take our two precious boxes, our party was soon marching southwards
with the rest of the prisoners.

Although the direct distance from Changri to Yozgad, as the crow flies,
is barely 80 miles, the only road open to our wheeled transport was
that which runs by way of Angora: our march was then about 100 miles
longer. For the first sixty, that is to say to Angora, the country was
familiar to us, as we had marched along this route in the opposite
direction on the way to our first camp, Kastamoni, nearly two years
before. It was impossible, unfortunately, to induce our commandant to
say beforehand each day where would be the halts for the midday meal
and the next night; in fact, he did not know himself, as this was
a matter to be fought out with his brother officer in charge of the
transport. In other respects this march, like that from Kastamoni, was
a pleasing innovation after the monotony of our long confinement. After
the first few hours the escort wearied of their primary keenness, and
allowed us to march pretty well at our own pace, except for occasional
halts to allow the carts to come up. In fact, precautions against
escaping _en route_ were unexpectedly lax. On the very first day, for
instance, it was not until after dark that we halted for the night,
and a dozen officers might easily have slipped away from a party which
went to the river a few hundred yards distant to fetch water: roll-call
was not held until we marched off next morning. We had agreed amongst
ourselves, however, that we would now wait until we reached Yozgad,
and could contrive some plan by which all parties might once more have
an equal chance of escaping. It was for this reason that the above and
later opportunities to make off while on trek were allowed to slip by.

Half-way to Angora we came to the village of Kalijik, where we were
offered billets in the local jail, already well peopled with Turkish
criminals. On our refusing this offer, we were housed for the night in
an empty building on the edge of the village.

We reached Angora four days after leaving Changri, and were
accommodated in up-to-date buildings, designed by Germans as a
hospital, but since used as Turkish barracks. Luckily the particular
house in which we were billeted had not as yet been used by Turks.
During our two days here, we were allowed very fair liberty in visiting
the bazaars, the shops of which, after our six months at Changri,
appeared almost magnificent in the profusion of their wares.

In one of these Nobby espied a pair of real Goerz field-glasses.
Telling his companion to lure away the _posta_ who escorted them,
he entered the shop, and succeeded in purchasing the glasses, and a
schoolboy's satchel in which to conceal them, for about £18--a tall
price, and yet, if the prices of other things had been in no higher
proportion to their real value, living in Turkey would have been
comparatively cheap. In the end these glasses were of inestimable value
to our party.

While we were in Angora some of us went to see Sherif Bey, whose
propensity for epigram was touched upon in the opening words of our
story. As second-in-command he had accompanied us in our move from
Kastamoni to Changri. There he had been perpetually at loggerheads
with our new, as indeed he had been with our two former, commandants.
Having eventually relinquished his ambition of superseding Sami Bey,
he had recently accepted the less remunerative post of commandant
of the British rank-and-file prisoners in the Angora district. Some
of the men whom we succeeded in meeting had certain complaints to
make against their previous commandant. A deputation of officers,
therefore, waited upon his successor, who received them with a show of
great friendliness, and assured them that under his benevolent sway
such things as the looting of parcels would be impossible. Whether he
fulfilled his promises we are not yet in a position to say; the fact
remains that he treated very badly the five officers who stayed behind
a few extra days for dental and medical treatment, asserting that they
had only stopped in Angora with a view to escape.

Moreover, there were at this very time under Sherif Bey's orders
two submarine officers who had been sent from the camp at
Afion-Kara-Hissar, and were to join our convoy when it went on to
Yozgad. Since their arrival in Angora a week before, they had been
confined to the only hotel and had not once been allowed to visit
the bazaar. One of the two was Lieut.-Commander A. D. Cochrane (now
Commander Cochrane, D.S.O.), who was destined to play the leading
rôle in the eventual escape of our particular party. The other was
Lieut.-Commander S----. These two had, with one other naval officer,
attempted to escape from the camp at Kara-Hissar, but had been
recaptured when within sight of the sea; they had since spent ten
months in a common Turkish jail.

Lieut.-Commander S---- had also been sent to Constantinople under
somewhat amusing circumstances. Whilst he was in the P.O.W. camp at
Kara-Hissar an order arrived one day ordering that two officers of high
birth and closely connected with the British aristocracy should be
selected and sent to Constantinople. Thereupon a list was prepared of
officers related to Labour Candidates, Dukes, Members of Parliament,
&c. Thinking that this promised at least a jaunt in Constantinople,
S---- had claimed descent from the bluest blood of England. After
consideration of the rival claims, he and one other were selected.
Their self-congratulations, however, were a little premature, as the
commandant now informed them that the Turkish Government, having heard
that their own officer prisoners in India were being badly treated,
proposed taking reprisals on these two until their powerful relations
in England should think fit to remedy matters on both sides.

In vain the unfortunate dupes protested that the report was obviously
false, asking that further inquiries should be made before reprisals
were carried into effect. The reply was that the order was Enver
Pasha's and could not be questioned, but that if they agreed to go
quietly to Constantinople, they would at once be led into the presence
of the Generalissimo, where they could forward their protest in person.
To this they had perforce to agree, but on arrival in the capital were
at once flung into prison, kept in solitary confinement, and fed on
bread and water. In this state they remained for some three weeks,
after which the Turkish authorities discovered, as was only natural,
that there had not been an atom of truth in the report upon which they
had acted. By way of redress they allowed the innocent sufferers six
days' absolute freedom in Constantinople, after which they were taken
back to their old camp.

From Angora onwards we were escorted by parties of the local
gendarmerie; of the Changri guard who had so far accompanied us only
a few came on with us to Yozgad; and they, ill-trained, ill-fed, and
ill-clad, were rather passengers who called for our pity than guards
capable of preventing us from decamping.

The gendarmes were, for the most part, remarkably well mounted, and
in charge of them was a benevolent old gentleman of the rank of
_bash-chaouse_, or sergeant-major, who was for ever holding forth
upon his friendship towards the English and his utter inability
to understand why we were not fighting side by side in this war.
The sergeant-major talked much to us, punctuating his remarks with
"Jánom" (My dear). He was jovial, he was pleasing to look at, he was
interesting. He had been through several Turkish wars, and he discussed
the Great War with more intelligence than many of the Turkish officers
we had met.

One day as two of us were marching beside the horse he was riding,
the dear old man pointed out a deep ravine some few hundred yards to
our right. His face lighted up with pride of achievement and pleasant
recollection. "Do you see that ravine?" he said. "Well, there I helped
to massacre 5000 Armenians. Allah be praised!"

The 120-mile march from Angora to Yozgad occupied eight days. As usual
we bivouacked each night in the open, on one occasion coming in for a
tremendous thunderstorm. Our best day's march was one of thirty miles,
and brought us down to the Kizil Irmak, better known to Greek scholars
as the ancient river Halys. We camped on the western bank opposite
the village of Kopru-Keui (= Bridge-Village), so called from the
picturesque old stone bridge which here spans the largest river in Asia
Minor. We were all glad of a bathe, although this was only safe close
to the bank, where the water was hardly deep enough to swim in. The
main stream was a swirling torrent of brown and muddy water, dashing
between enormous rocks, which protected the bridge from its fury. It
passed under only two of the nine arches and so onwards through a
narrow gorge between high precipitous cliffs. The bridge itself, with
narrow and steeply cambered roadway, and pointed arches of varying
height and span, seemed almost one with the rocky cleft it spanned.

The rest of our trek to Yozgad was uneventful except for the upsetting
of two carts, owing to reckless driving on the part of the Turkish
Jehus.

Our last day's march began on the 24th April 1918, when we set out from
a small village twelve miles from our destination. The way climbed
gradually till we topped a high ridge. Over this we marched, swinging
down the farther slope at a quicker step. The winding road curled round
spurs and valleys, and from one such spur we obtained our first sight
of the town of Yozgad.

Unprepossessing it looked lying in a valley surrounded by barren hills,
a few poplars here and there, the usual timber-built houses, a few
mosques.

Four months later we looked at it for the last time. We could only see
a few twinkling lights to the east in a curtain of starlit darkness;
but we were well content as we turned away, for we had shaken the dust
of prison from our feet.

FOOTNOTE:

[7] A Turkish word meaning "Major."



CHAPTER IV.

YOZGAD CAMP.


With our arrival at Yozgad was renewed many an old friendship, dating
back to the earlier days of the campaign in Mesopotamia; for, like
ourselves, the majority of the eighty officers whom we found there were
victims of the siege of Kut-el-Amara. A few days later about twenty
officers of the original camp were transferred to Afion-Kara-Hissar,
leaving us now a combined total of roughly 100 officers and 60
orderlies.

The "camp" occupied six detached houses, divided into two groups
of three houses each, the one on the western, the other near the
south-western limits of the town. With a single exception each house
stood in its own grounds, which comprised something under an acre of
garden apiece. These were in most cases planted with fruit trees, and
in all cases surrounded by high stone walls. The first comers had by
April 1918 converted these previously unkempt areas into flourishing
vegetable gardens. For our safe custody there were on the average two
sentries over each house; these had their sentry-boxes in the garden
or at the entrance to the enclosure wall. There was also a post on the
four-hundred-yard length of road which connected the two groups of
houses.

As had been our impression on arrival, the town of Yozgad could by no
manner of means be called picturesque. It is squalidly built on the
steep slopes of a narrow valley, surrounded on all sides by bare and
rugged hills. The larger houses, it is true, have a few fruit trees
in their gardens, and tall poplars line the river bank; the country
around, however, is destitute of trees except for a small pine wood on
the high ridge south of the town. The camp was both higher and less
accessible than any other in Turkey; for Yozgad stands some 4500 feet
above sea-level, and in the heart of the rugged mountain system of
Anatolia, seven days' march from the nearest railway station.

The town itself is said to have had a population before the war of
some 20,000 souls. At the time of our arrival it could hardly have
contained one-fifth of that number; for, shortly before the formation
of the camp in July 1916, most of the Armenians had been massacred;
and they had formed a large proportion of the inhabitants. Their shops
had been pillaged, and whenever there was a shortage of firewood the
Turks merely proceeded to pull down another of the Armenian houses,
which, as usual throughout Anatolia, were largely constructed of wood.
The crash of falling timber as a building was demolished was a sound
so common as to pass almost unnoticed by the prisoners. Of Turkish
brutality, however, we had an even more constant reminder than the
sound and sight of ruined buildings; for every day there were to be
seen numbers of Armenian children dying as they lay in the narrow
streets, starved, emaciated, and clad in rags. For us to provide
relief on the large scale required was impossible, owing both to the
difficulties of obtaining money and the necessity of screening our
philanthropy from the commandant and other Turkish authorities. To the
credit of the Turkish soldier be it said, however, that he at any rate
did not prevent us from helping these poor miserable creatures; and it
was thanks to connivance on the part of our sentries and escorts that
we were able towards the end of our time to give away money and bread
daily in the streets.

The White Paper published in November 1918 on the subject of the
Treatment of British Prisoners of War in Turkey describes the
commandant of the camp at Yozgad as a "Turk of the old school--polite,
honest, and silent." Silent, or, we would rather say, taciturn,
Kiazim Bey undoubtedly was, for it needed many applications before
an inquiry or request received an answer at all. Polite, too, for
when he did vouchsafe to reply he would promise almost anything; but
is it not known to those who have dealt with a Turk, albeit one of
the old school, that in his estimation a promise costs nothing and
involves no obligation of fulfilment? It is merely his method of
temporarily soothing your feelings, and is not this of the essence
of politeness? As to his honesty, if he did not loot our parcels or
steal our money, he was not averse from accepting a regular commission
from every shopkeeper who wished to supply his wares to the camp.
Even our sentries had to bribe him before they were allowed on leave.
Ten Turkish pounds, or an equivalent in kind, passed hands before a
fortnight's leave was granted.

The following story can be vouched for. One of our guard, when
desiring a holiday, turned up at the commandant's office, but he was
out. His son, however, a boy of fourteen, was there, and to him the
simple soldier gave his money to be handed on to Kiazim Bey. Such an
opportunity did not often occur; so the boy spent the rest of that
day gorging costly sweetmeats in the bazaar. After several days the
soldier made further inquiries about his leave, and the truth was out.
The story ends with a good beating for the boy and no leave for the
soldier. Another of our guards used to mend boots for us, but finally
gave it up, declaring openly that the commission demanded by his
commandant made it no longer worth his while.

By the time of the arrival of the party from Changri, a number of
so-called privileges had been granted by this polite, honest, and
silent old Turk--although, it must be admitted, rather in the spirit
of the unjust judge worried incessantly by the importunate widow. The
most useful of these concessions was the permission to go out coursing
on two days a week. The "Yozgad Hunt Club" boasted a pack of no less
than three couple of "hounds." These were of a local breed, and had the
shape of small and rather moth-eaten greyhounds, mostly, however, with
black, or tan and white, markings. Nevertheless, they were clean and
affectionate, and, thanks to the master and whips, became wonderfully
good coursers. Seldom did they fail to account for at least one hare or
fox between the hours of 4 and 9 A.M. each Monday and Thursday
in the spring and summer of 1918.

One exception we remember was the day when the master appeared for
the first time in a pink coat of local style and dye, and then we
drew blank. The field themselves were dazed, so the hounds had to be
excused. Some of the happiest recollections of our captivity are of
those glorious early mornings in the country, far away from the ugly
town which was our prison. Here for a few brief hours it was almost
possible to forget that we were prisoners of war, until reminded
that this was Turkey by the monotonous drawl of one of our greatest
exponents of the Ottoman tongue. Wafted on the soft morning breeze as
we wended our way back to bath and breakfast, would come at intervals
of half a minute some such sounds as those which follow: Er ... er ...
posta ... bou ... bou ... bourda ... er ... er ... aie ... der.... Such
fluency almost suggested that Turkish was a simple language, instead
of one of the most difficult in the world, second only, it is said, to
Chinese.

Although attempts were made to play football, no suitable ground
existed in or near Yozgad, and four-a-side hockey became the form
of recreation which for the majority in the camp provided the best
means of combining pleasure and hard exercise. Hockey was available
at any time of day, as the ground was within the precincts of the
camp, being in fact the lowest of a series of terraces in one of the
gardens belonging to our houses. It was a bare plot, with a hard but
dusty surface, and surrounded on three sides by stone walls: the area
available for play was, perhaps, the length of a cricket pitch and
about ten yards across, so that there was not room for more than a
total of eight players.

[Illustration:
_From a sketch by Capt. E. B. Burns, E. Kent Regt._
COUNTRY KNOWN TO THE LOCAL HUNT CLUB AS "HADES."]

The equipment consisted of a soft leather ball, and for each combatant
a stick made from selected pieces of firewood, shaped according to
fancy, subject to the finished article being passed through a 1½-inch
ring. The resultant game was always fast and often furious, its only
drawback as a means of training for would-be escapers being the not
inconsiderable risk of losing an eye, finger, or portions of an ankle
or knee. The excitement created by such matches as the old camp,
Yozgad, _versus_ the newcomers from Changri, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th,
and 5th teams, reached at times a pitch rarely attained in the most
hotly-contested house-match at an English public school.

For those debarred for any reason from this strenuous form of exercise
there were walks each evening, except on hunting days and Wednesdays.
On the latter days there were, during the summer months, weekly picnics
in the neighbouring pine woods, to which about 50 per cent of the camp
would go.

During daylight intercommunication was allowed between the two groups
of houses: nominally an escort was necessary to accompany such visitors
along the intervening road, but in practice this rule was a dead letter.

So hard-won, however, had been these few privileges, that the prospect
of any one attempting to escape and thereby causing their suspension
was looked upon by the majority of the original camp almost with
horror. And this was not altogether without reason, for some of them
had gone seriously into the question of escape, and had come to the
conclusion that, from so hopelessly inaccessible a spot, all attempts,
at least without outside assistance, were doomed to failure. Those
of us who had come from Changri, however, were not likely to give
up our long-cherished hopes without a struggle, but in the meantime
kept our nefarious intentions to ourselves, except for half a dozen
Yozgad officers whom we knew for certain to be keen to escape. The
arrival of Cochrane had more than countered the additional difficulties
involved by our move from Changri to Yozgad. While at Kara-Hissar, he
had arranged a scheme with the powers that be in England by which a
friendly boat should remain off a certain point on the coast of the
Mediterranean for a definite number of days at the end of August 1918.

Cochrane now placed this scheme at the disposal of the Changri
division. There was some reluctance to give up old plans, but in
the end four parties decided to take advantage of "Rendezvous X,"
as Cochrane's meeting-place was called--suffice to say that it was
on the Adalian coast nearly due south of Kara-Hissar. Of these four
parties ours was one. Our route to the island of Samos--our original
scheme--would now be some 450 miles. Actually this was only 50 miles
farther than to Rendezvous X, for the only feasible route to the latter
was _viâ_ Kara-Hissar, owing to the desert and mountains which would
have to be crossed on a more direct route. Cochrane's scheme, however,
promised an almost certain ending to the march to any one who reached
the coast; whereas, even if we reached the western shore of Asia Minor,
we should still have the problem of getting across to the island, and
that from a coast which must inevitably be very carefully guarded.

Our six therefore decided to give up the old plan, and soon after
were joined by Cochrane himself and Captain F. R. Ellis, D.C.L.I.
This was a tremendous advantage to us, as Cochrane not only had the
experience so hardly gained by his previous attempt, but had actually
seen some of the country over which we should have to march if we
succeeded in passing Kara-Hissar. It was of course impossible for him
to do guide to all four parties, as large numbers marching together
would be immediately tracked; so he gave what suggestions he could,
and the other three parties were to make their way to the rendezvous
independently.

Our party therefore numbered eight, all of whom have now been
introduced to our readers. We were the largest, and may claim to have
been the most representative party, including as we did one naval
officer, one gunner, one sapper, one British Infantry, two Indian
Army, and two Territorial officers. The other three parties making
for Rendezvous X numbered in all nine officers and Gunner Prosser.
Besides these there were two parties having other schemes. The first,
consisting almost entirely of Yozgad officers, intended marching for
the Black Sea and crossing to Russia, the full facts of whose chaotic
state were not known to us at the time. There were six officers in
this party. Lastly, a party of two more officers determined to set
out eastward, and hoped to make their way into Persia.[8] There had
been three or four other officers beside these who had seriously
contemplated escape while at Changri, but who were now forced to change
their mind through sickness or temporary disablements, such as crocked
knees, &c.

The 26 starters--25 officers and 1 man--were scattered over five out
of the six houses comprising the camp. It was necessary, therefore,
for those in each house--in no case all of them members of the same
party--to devise their own particular means of getting out of the camp
precincts, and then for a committee composed of a representative from
each party to co-ordinate their respective schemes as far as possible.

The first thing was to settle on a definite date for the attempt. As
the majority were to make for Rendezvous X, to fit in with Cochrane's
prearranged scheme, the date had to be later in the year than had
been our idea while at Changri. It was decided that the night chosen
should be the one towards the end of July most suitable as regards
the moon. To enable the members of the various parties to join up at
some convenient local rendezvous, and then put as great a distance as
possible between themselves and Yozgad before the following dawn, the
ideal was for the moon to rise an hour or so after we had all left
our houses. Great credit is due to Captain T. R. Wells for correctly
computing the times of rising and setting of that irregular planet. The
only material available was a Nautical Almanac some four years old.

From his predictions, the 30th July was eventually fixed upon as the
best night. The moon would rise about 10.30 P.M., and 9.15 was
fixed upon as a suitable time for all to leave their houses--if they
could. This meant all would have been present at the evening roll-call,
which took place during dinner at about 7.45 P.M.; and their
absence, if no alarm occurred, would not be discovered until the check
taken at dawn next day.

The advent of Cochrane to our party led to a reconsideration of the
whole question of the food and kit we should carry on our momentous
journey. His previous experience and that of Keeling's party was that
35 lb. was about as much as one could expect to carry across country
consistently with making reasonable progress. In the end, however,
we found that there were so many essentials that we should have each
to take about 43 lb., exclusive of the weight of packs, haversacks,
&c., to carry them. The following list gives some idea of our final
equipment. Each member of the party was to take the following:--

  _Food_--
    Sixty-eight biscuits, made by "Escapers Ltd.," five to the lb.
    Six soft biscuits, four to the lb.
    Sultanas, 4 lb.
    Cheese, ½ lb.
    Fresh meat (for the first two days only), ½ lb.
    Rice, 2 lb.
    Cocoa _or_ Ovaltine, 1 lb.
    Soup tablets (Oxo), 12 cubes.
    Chocolate, 1 lb.
    Tea, ¼ lb.
    Salt, about 1/8 lb.
    Emergency ration of chocolate, Horlick's malted milk tablets, _or_
    Brand's essence, about ½ lb.

  _Clothing_--
    Spare pair of boots, or several pairs of native sandals.
    Spare shirt.
    Towel.
    Several pairs of socks.
    Felt mufti hat or service-dress cap.
    Vermin-proof belt.
    Spare bootlaces.
    Handkerchiefs (mostly in the form of bags round the food).

  _Miscellaneous_--
    Share of medicines, mainly in tabloid form.
    One large and one small bandage.
    Matches, two or more boxes, one being in a water-tight case.
    Flint and slow-match cigarette lighter.
    Cigarettes or tobacco, according to taste.
    Soap, one piece.
    String.
    Mug and spoon.
    Wool for repairs to socks.
    Spare razor-blades.
    Compass.
    Clasp-knife.
    Whistle.
    Tooth-brush.
    Comb.
    Notebook and pencil.

In addition, the following were to be distributed in more or less equal
weights among the party as a whole:--

  1 pair of field-glasses.
  6 skeins of ¾-inch rope.
  2 boot-repair outfits.
  1 housewife.
  3 chargals (canvas bags for water).
  Map, original and copies; and enlargements from a small map.
  Cardboard protractors.
  "Sun compass."
  Book of star charts.
  Extra tea in the form of tablets.
  1 aluminium "degchie" or "dixie" (cooking-pot).
  1 very small adze (a carpenter's tool used in the East).
  2 pocket Gillette shaving sets.
  4 candles, } for giving red-light signals at
  red cloth  } Rendezvous X.
  2 pairs of scissors.
  2 iron rings, for use in the event of having to tow our kit across
    an unfordable river.
  1 sausage of solid meat extract.
  Opium.
  1 bottle of "Kola" compound.
  1 lb. tapioca.
  Small reel of fine steel wire.
  One ½-pint bottle of brandy.
  Fishing tackle.

The actual clothes to be worn on starting were left to individual
fancy. It was a question first of what one possessed; secondly, of what
one anticipated would suit the temperatures we should meet, and best
resist the wear and tear which our clothing would have to withstand.
Some decided on Indian khaki drill, others on home service serge
uniform; others again on a mixture of the two. One had a rainproof
coat cut down and converted to a tunic, which in practice was found to
answer well.

"Shorts," we knew, would be very comfortable, but unfortunately they
are a peculiarly British style of garment; so they were vetoed, at any
rate for wear by day. One or two, however, rendered their trousers
convertible to "shorts," for use during darkness, by slitting each leg
along one seam to a point above the knee, adding buttons and cutting
button-holes at the correct places to enable them to be turned up and
fastened, so as to leave the knees free. Most of us, however, preferred
not to risk the loss of any protection against cold such as this plan
involved, and eventually started off wearing trousers tied below the
knee with a piece of cord, in true navvy fashion.

It was realised that we could not hope to pass for Turks by day, so
no elaborate disguise was attempted. At night, however, a Turk's
silhouette does not much differ, except for his headgear, from that of
a European--for a Turk is not a European, even though he is allowed a
bit of European soil. We accordingly decided to wear fezes, so that
any one passing us at night would mistake us for Turks and ask no
questions. For the daytime we would hold to our original Changri scheme
of pretending to be a German survey party, and for this purpose would
carry either Homburg hats or British field-service caps.

As to the best means of taking along all this kit, opinions were most
diverse. The weary experiments which had been commenced whilst at
Changri were continued with renewed zest at Yozgad, until by a system
of trial and error each had worked his own particular idea into a more
or less practical form. Our difficulties were enhanced by the necessity
of concealing our experimental models from the eyes not only of
brother Turk, but also of brother officers, so that all our tests were
carried out in the somewhat confined space of the room cupboards. While
so situated there was the risk of finding oneself shut in for half an
hour if an officer not in the know came into the room to describe the
events of the latest fox-hunt. Eventually the equipment of our party
varied from a simple but enormous rucksack, with water-bottle slung
separately, to a rather complicated arrangement by which the pack was
balanced to some extent by biscuit-pouches, haversack, and water-bottle
attached to the belt.

In all cases the total load carried, with water-bottles filled but
chargals empty, amounted to close upon 50 lb.; of this 25¼ lb. were
food, 5 lb. water-bottle, and 12 lb. accessories and spare clothing;
and the remainder the weight of the equipment itself--in one case as
much as 8 lb.

A few notes as to the above food and equipment may be of interest. The
soft biscuits were obtained at the last moment from an officer who had
intended to decamp but was prevented from so doing by a game leg. They
took the place of 1½ lb. of a kind of sun-dried meat known locally as
"pastomar," similar to "biltong," but seasoned with garlic. This we had
bought two or three weeks previous to the date of departure, for it was
not always obtainable in the bazaar. Hence it was necessary to take it
while the chance offered, in spite of the unpleasantness of having to
keep such evil-smelling stuff in a living-room. Its taste to any one
but the garlic-loving Oriental is as disagreeable as its scent, so that
it was not altogether without relief that we found at the last moment
that most of the pastomar was already breeding maggots, and we replaced
it with the odd six biscuits apiece.

Having read during our captivity a good deal about Arctic exploration,
we had also experimented with the local pemmican, but found it would
not withstand the heat. The cheeses were from home parcels, and to save
weight were taken out of their tins on the last day. The same was also
done with the cocoa and Ovaltine, which were then carried in bags made
from handkerchiefs.

Two of the party also carried an extra pound of chocolate and some Oxo
tablets, on the understanding that they were to be thrown away if the
loads proved too heavy, for most of us felt that the last straw was
already nearly reached.

Spare clothing was left for individuals to decide for themselves, and
some carried a little thin underclothing and a "woolley" in addition to
the spare shirt and socks.

The medicines comprised quinine, aspirin, cascara sagrada, Dover's
powders, and iodine, these being supplied to us by our own doctors.
Also some arrowroot and Ovaltine in case any one had to diet himself.
We had in addition, while at Changri, managed to obtain from the
local chemist about fifteen opium pills per head. Most of us further
carried either boric powder or ointment for the feet. The vermin-proof
belts were to be more useful as a safeguard against chill than against
vermin, as in the end we on no occasion slept inside a Turkish dwelling.

With one exception, all the compasses were of the poorest description,
being of the more or less toy variety with a mirror on the back.
Changri, however, produced one of superior pattern, which we purchased
without arousing suspicion, and attempted to make more efficient with
the luminous paint off the face of an old watch, but without very
lasting success.

It is not easy to make a bag of canvas which will hold water, but by
dint of fine stitching and a special kind of beeswax, our naval leader
succeeded in producing three chargals which did yeoman service.

The map on which we were to rely was a French one, forty years old,
and on a scale of about twenty-four miles to the inch. An officer
had bought it for five pounds from a Greek dentist at Kastamoni. As
it happened it was not bought primarily for escape purposes, but we
persuaded him to sell it to us on his leaving Changri for Geddos. In
this the hill features were very indistinctly shown by vague hachuring,
and even a big river such as the Kizil Irmak was in several places
shown dotted, signifying not that this dried up during parts of the
year, but that no one had surveyed it. An up-to-date but very small
map had been received from home by means of a series of six "bananas,"
each containing a tiny section; but, owing to our change of plan, this
showed little of our proposed route.

The "sun compass" needs some explanation. This was an invention of
Captain A. B. Matthews, D.S.O., R.E., who had been a prisoner of war at
Yozgad since the fall of Kut-el-Amara. Wishing to make a rough survey
of the immediately surrounding country for the use of the Hunt Club,
and finding that local magnetic attraction made a compass altogether
unreliable, he bethought him of a simple means of utilising the sun,
which in the wonderful climate of Asia Minor is rarely obscured
throughout the spring, summer, or autumn. The "sun compass" consists
merely of a thin wooden disc of say 5 inches diameter, with the outer
edge divided into 360 degrees, and with a hole at the centre through
which can be inserted a piece of stiff straight wire. A table of the
sun's bearing at any hour on any day completes the instrument. In
actual use the disc is held horizontally, with the graduations upwards,
and the wire kept vertical and protruding above the disc. Then, by
turning the latter till the shadow of the wire falls on the sun's
bearing plus 180 degrees, you have the disc set to read off true
bearings in any direction.

Captain Matthews was also responsible for the star charts. By means
of two maps of the heavens obtained from a book on travel, published
by the Royal Geographical Society, he devised from first principles a
"bus" consisting of three concentric cardboard discs. By means of these
it was possible, almost mechanically, to read off the bearings of the
brighter stars in the main constellations for any hour and any night
of the year. It was thus possible to obtain a series of charts showing
on which star one should march for any required bearing, and at any
particular time. We prepared them for all hours of the nights from the
1st August to the 15th September 1918. This chart-book was of value
as a check on a magnetic compass by night, but assumed an elementary
knowledge of at least those constellations which would be of use for
the particular purpose in view.

Although it was expected that if we wished to evade recapture we
should have to avoid replenishing our supplies at any villages, it
was necessary to take money in case we were compelled to do so as a
last resource. For this purpose a certain amount of gold and silver
was essential: otherwise it was quite possible that, in payment for
anything in an out-of-the-way district, the paper money would be
received at its true value, namely, nothing at all. A certain amount
of paper money was, however, advisable in view of the conditions we
might expect if we were recaptured, as paper money was less likely to
be taken away from us than gold and silver. It was decided then to
start if possible with at least £2 each in gold, £30 in paper, and two
medjidies (worth four shillings each) in silver. This we succeeded in
collecting, thanks to being able to cash a few cheques locally: for
both the gold and the silver, however, it was necessary to pay five
times their face value in paper. We bought silver coins, a few at a
time, from various sentries. These men thoroughly understood our desire
for them when we hinted at a pretty girl in England who would look very
handsome with a necklace of medjidies round her neck.

While at Changri our party had succeeded in obtaining from other
officers two _pukka_ helio-mirrors, which had escaped destruction
on the fall of Kut-el-Amara. With these we had fitted up a duplex
heliograph, complete with signalling key and adjusting screws. Whereas,
however, for the Samos scheme it would have been invaluable, for
Rendezvous X its use was more problematical; and in view of the way in
which essentials had gradually mounted up, it was in the end rather
reluctantly decided that the helio must go by the board, as it weighed
about three pounds.

Another decision now made was that in our party we should not use
violence in order to make our escape, unless it should be necessary
on the coast itself to avoid throwing away a really good chance. It
was recognised that if bloodshed occurred, the Turks would be quite
capable of killing off the whole of our party, and possibly others, if
recaptured. For this reason no attempt was made to procure firearms,
though this would probably have been no more difficult than obtaining
the fezes, compasses, and field-glasses.

During the four months we were at Yozgad, Grunt, being one of the best
Turkish scholars in the camp, started a class for any who chose to
learn Turkish. About five times a week, therefore, all the original
six of our escape-party and a few others used to meet in Grunt's room
for an hour's instruction. In the case of would-be escapers, the main
attraction of these lessons was this: if any of us were recaptured,
as some were practically certain to be, it would be possible to make
oneself understood to some slight extent, and thereby perhaps alleviate
the unpleasantness of prison life by being able to let our jailers
know our wants. Since, also, to judge by the experience of those who
had been recaptured, we should, if equally unfortunate, spend several
months in the close company of some of the worst criminals in Turkey,
it would be a pity not to take the opportunity of picking up a really
good conversational knowledge of the language under exceptionally
favourable circumstances. For this a grounding in grammar would be
invaluable. Nothing else but these considerations would have induced
the majority of us to attempt so difficult a task as learning even the
rudiments of the Ottoman tongue.

As the time grew near for the great adventure, the last stage of our
training was entered upon. Every opportunity was taken of going out
hunting, although the field was limited to a total of thirty. Keenness
in hockey died off, as many of us were afraid of sustaining some injury
which might incapacitate us on the actual day. Running and hard walking
round the garden became a regular institution in some houses; and
several cupboards, if suddenly opened at almost any hour of the day and
at many in the night, would have disclosed a member of an escape-party
loaded up in the most extraordinary manner, and performing gymnastic
exercises for the strengthening of leg and shoulder muscles. In view
of the inevitable hard marching, towards the end several of the party
even went so far as to soak the feet several times a day in a strong
solution of alum, in the hope of hardening the feet and avoiding
blisters.

At the same time efforts were made to build up the stamina necessary
for a 400-mile march by eating the most nourishing foods obtainable,
irrespective of the fact that the price of any food seemed to go up as
the cube of its body-building value. To give one instance, sugar at
this time cost a sovereign the pound.

It was almost inevitable that, with so many preparations in progress,
the secret of our intentions should leak out in the camp; and once
suspicions were aroused many of our actions would go to confirm them.
Thus it came about that a few days before the 30th July, the whole of
the camp at Yozgad knew pretty well that attempts to escape were on
foot; the shopping lists for the Changri division were alone enough
to have set people talking. Everybody wanted bootlaces, straps,
hobnails, rope, &c., in prodigious quantities. Unfortunately the Turks
also appeared to have got wind of it. For the last week of July,
sentries were visited and awakened with unheard-of frequency. Even the
commandant himself occasionally visited the different houses after
dark. In the case of one house, an extra sentry was suddenly posted in
the garden.

However, our preparations went quietly on; our "hosts" might have
nothing really definite to go upon, and the more keen the sentries were
now, the more weary they would be by the time the real day arrived.
We therefore continued to make holes in walls, loosen iron bars, dig
unnecessary irrigation channels in the garden, &c., &c., all as aids to
egress from one house or another on the final night.

In the particular house of our original six, (Cochrane and Ellis lived
in another), we had come to the conclusion that our best chance was to
prepare a hole through the outer wall of the kitchen belonging to our
mess. This kitchen, it is necessary to explain, was built along the
high enclosure wall of the garden, and was separated from the house
itself by a narrow alley-way, over which one of the sentries stood
guard. Next to the kitchen in the same outhouse was a little room with
one small window opening on to the alley, the entrance being _viâ_ the
kitchen itself. This second room was used as a fowl-house, and it was
here that we made up our minds to prepare a hole three-quarters of
the way through the outer wall. How exactly those escaping from our
house were to get across into the kitchen and finish off the hole on
the final night was a problem of which the solution was only settled
in detail at the last moment, and we will therefore leave our readers
in a similar state of suspense. The essential was that all should be
present at the evening roll-call, and yet the hole must be completed
and everybody be across at precisely 9.15 P.M.

So uncertain were we of the means of effecting this that we had a
second alternative in case the first scheme could not be carried out.
This involved getting over the wall by ladders.

A day or two before the 30th July, representatives of the various
parties met once again in solemn conclave to ensure that the various
plans should not clash, and a few general instructions were issued to
parties with a view to obtaining as long a start as possible. Every
one was to be represented in bed on the night by a dummy; boots were
to be padded, likewise the ends of khud-sticks (these were a _sine qua
non_ of our equipment for night-marching); water-bottles were not to be
filled because they gurgled; every man's equipment was to be finally
tried on to make certain that it would not make any noise.

Lastly, a lamp-signal was arranged between houses in case any party
should be caught just prior to leaving their house, for instance while
completing a hole. If that signal were given, it would no longer be
necessary for the other parties to wait until 9.15 before they started;
on the contrary, they were advised to start away at once before the
alarm reached the sentries in the other houses.

The 30th July arrived, but with it an unexpected complication. Vague
news had just come through that an exchange ship was being sent out
from England to fetch some of the worst cases of sick and wounded from
among the British prisoners in Turkey. The boat, said the rumour, was
due to arrive at some port at about the end of August, and the question
therefore arose at the eleventh hour whether, if we set off now, it
might not give the Turks the pretext that our Government had informed
us of the visit of this vessel, and that we were making off in the
hopes of getting aboard her secretly. The argument was of course, on
the face of it, ridiculous, but then so is the Turk, and it would be a
terrible responsibility for us if by our escape we destroyed the hopes
of these poor sick and wounded men. A vote was therefore taken as to
whether we would postpone the date, with the result that the motion was
carried by a small majority.

This was a terrible disappointment, for it meant, we thought, another
month of indecision. Moreover, there would be no hope of finding a boat
still awaiting us at Rendezvous X, and it would be too late in the year
for much chance of our finding crops to eat or hide in. It was the
moon, however, which in the end decided that the postponement could
not be for so long. On working out its time of rising, it was found
that if we waited till the end of August the moon would only rise late
enough to let us leave our houses at 9.15, when within four days of
its disappearance. In this way we should be handicapped by having the
maximum of dark, or practically dark, nights for our journey. The whole
question was therefore revised in this new light, and it was decided
that we must either start before the new moon came or else give up
all hope of leaving in this year at all. The night 7th-8th August was
then chosen. This would be a Wednesday, and the following morning a
hunt-day, when the check taken at dawn was confused by the movements of
thirty officers dressing in haste for the day's sport.

The week's grace was spent in perfecting all our arrangements. One
refinement was to collect our own and other people's hair when cut
by an officer barber, and paste it on to the outside of a cloth bag
stuffed with rubbish or towels made up to about the size of a man's
head. These were to be the heads of our dummies. Meanwhile we were more
careful with our shopping orders, and were relieved to find suspicions
in the camp dying down.

On the morning of the 31st July an officer, who was supposed to know
nothing of the escape, had been called by his orderly and told, "They
ain't gone after all, sir!"

FOOTNOTE:

[8] The following is a list of the officers who attempted to escape,
but were unhappily all recaptured, mostly within a few days of
starting, but in the case of one party not until they had been at large
for eighteen days and covered over 200 miles: Major C. H. Stockley,
66th Punjabis; Captains C. Manners, 104th Rifles; A. B. Matthews,
D.S.O., R.E.; E. W. Burdett and C. A. Raynor, 48th Pioneers; T. R.
Wells, R.A.F.; R. O. Chamier, 110th Mahrattas; H. H. Rich, 120th
Infantry; E. T. M. Patmore, Hants Regiment, T.F.; Lieutenants Tudway,
R.N.; J. H. Brabazon, Connaught Rangers; A. V. Barlow, R.A.F.; H.
D. Stearns, I.A.R., 117th Mahrattas; A. Macfadyen, I.A.R., 110th
Mahrattas; F. S. Sheridan, I.A.R., Gurkhas; J. Dooley, I.A.R., M.T.; M.
L. C. Smith, I.A.R., 7th Rajputs.



CHAPTER V.

THE FLAG FALLS.


At last the long-deferred day had dawned--the cause rather of relief
than excitement to our party, after their planning and scheming for
eleven long months and active preparations for as many weeks. Our only
prayer now was that we should at least have a run for our money, and be
spared the ignominy of being led back into the camp at Yozgad without
the taste of even a few days freedom.

The 7th August being a Wednesday, at 11 A.M. the usual picnic
party set off for the pine woods. The majority never dreamt for a
moment of the intention of twenty-five officers--a quarter of all the
officers in the camp--to escape that night. Their departure was the
signal for feverish activity in completing preparations which, by
their nature, had to be left until the last day. Such, in the house
then occupied by the present writers, called Hospital House, was the
screwing together of the ladders required in case an alternative
scheme for getting out of the camp should prove necessary. Then there
were rucksacks and haversacks to be finally made up, and the whole
"Christmas Tree" to be tried on to ensure that there was no rattling.
For reasons which will appear, it was necessary too for the Old Man
and Looney to convey their kits across the alley into the fowl-house
and there leave them concealed, the one in a blanket and the other
in a box. Meanwhile, Grunt and Perce put the finishing touches to
the hole commenced, as previously described, in the fowl-house wall,
until daylight could be seen through every joint in the outer skin of
masonry, and until it was as certain as such things could be that the
remaining stones would come away easily. Watches had to be synchronised
to ensure that all six parties should start simultaneously; the
fresh meat for the first two days to be issued, and so on almost _ad
infinitum_. It was at this stage that we discovered the maggots in the
"pastomar" or "biltong," to which reference has already been made.

That evening, before the hour when intercommunication between houses
was supposed to cease, there were many visits from well-wishers living
in other houses who knew of our intentions, and last arrangements were
made with our British orderlies to play their part. Doubtless they did
it well. One can imagine the delight with which they would put some of
our dummies to bed after our departure, and as we left we heard their
efforts in the house to cover our exit with the noise of a sing-song.
If no alarm occurred before daylight, they were to remove the dummies
after these had served their purpose at the 4 A.M. "rounds."
One orderly had also volunteered to build up the hole in the wall as
soon as the house and kitchen doors were unlocked next morning.

At last all was ready, and we sat down to what, we hoped, would be
our last full meal for many a day. Twenty minutes to eight came and
went, the time when the _onbashi_, or Turkish corporal, usually took
roll-call; but it was not till eight o'clock that evening that the six
of the party in our house, who, with a Major A---- and the "King of
Oireland," another escaper, formed the mess on the top floor, heard his
footsteps on the stairs. We returned his good-night with rather more
than usual gusto, and waited till he had disappeared, as his custom
was, into the next room. Now was the moment. Old Man and Looney slipped
out of the room and downstairs into the kitchen, the door of which,
with the side-door of the house, was allowed to remain open every night
until our orderlies had "washed up." These two were to go across in
their shirt sleeves and carrying plates, so that, if he noticed them
at all, the sentry posted over the alley separating the main building
from the outhouse would naturally mistake them for orderlies. In the
excitement of the moment, however, Old Man had forgotten to bring down
his coat; and Looney, now safely ensconced in the fowl-house, wondered
why he had not followed him across. Next minute there was a tremendous
crash and a tinkle of broken crockery. The Old Man, discovering his
loss, had turned back and slipped on the stairs. Nothing could have
exceeded in realism this unintentional imitation of an orderly. As
he picked himself up, he saw the feet of the _onbashi_ descending
the stairs above him, with the result that he lost no further time
in crossing to the kitchen. Orderly M---- was sent back to fetch the
missing article, which arrived in due course.

Now followed an anxious few minutes. Sometimes it happened that the
_onbashi_ would miscount an officer or man, or count one twice over,
and the check would then be repeated throughout the house. We realised
that if this occurred on the present night it would be necessary for
Old Man and Looney to reappear from the kitchen, and for scheme No. 2
to come into operation. Incidentally their kits, then in the outhouse,
would have to be brought back in the blanket and box by our orderlies.
Scheme No. 2 was to leave the house, carrying ladders, through a window
on the eastern side; after which would follow a ticklish crawl between
two sentries forty yards apart to the garden wall nine feet in height.
The bars of the window in question had been loosened and cracked by
Looney, with Old Man watching the sentries' movements, during some
amateur theatricals held in the house on the previous night. To our
relief, however, this plan had not to be put into execution.

As was his custom, when the orderlies had finished their work, the
_onbashi_ locked the house and kitchen doors. No sooner had his
footsteps died away than the advance-guard of our party set to work to
complete the opening of the wall. It was now about 8.15 P.M.
The work went on quickly but quietly. A few minutes only and the clear
starlit sky was visible through the rapidly enlarging aperture.

Then came another anxious moment. As the two were relieving one another
at the work, there suddenly appeared at the half-completed task the
head of a mongrel dog. One growl or bark would suffice to draw the
attention of the watchmen over the vegetable gardens outside, who did
not hesitate to fire off their ancient rifles on the slightest alarm;
but the dog after one look in at the hole strolled on, and the good
work was resumed.

There was one large stone which seemed likely to give trouble; indeed
it had almost been decided to let it remain, when it suddenly came away
and crashed noisily to the ground. But the sound, if heard at all, fell
on deaf ears--although it must have been at about this very time that
some of the party, still in the house and overlooking the wall, saw a
man standing within a score of yards from the hole.

Their work completed, Old Man and Looney proceeded to screen it from
any one passing casually along, by affixing a square of canvas over
the outside with "blobs" of beeswax. It now only remained to arrange
for the easy withdrawal of the staple of the kitchen door, so that the
latter could be opened from the outside, although padlocked; then,
having donned haversack, water-bottle, and pack, to await the arrival
of the remaining six from this house, four of our own and two of
another party.

When Old Man and Looney had stepped off to the kitchen the other six
of the second-floor mess had remained at table, talking and smoking as
usual. The Turkish corporal taking roll-call reappeared from the room
beyond the dining-room, and was told not to forget the "yourt" for the
next day. "Yourt," a kind of junket, is a staple diet of the Turk, and
most of the prisoners became very partial to it. As it was hard to
come by except through the medium of a sentry, it was their custom to
remind him each evening, so that he might have some faint chance of
remembering about it next morning.

A few minutes later they heard the kitchen door being locked, and
heaved a sigh of relief. The advance-party had had enough time to get
across to the kitchen, and roll had been correctly called the first
time. Major A---- in our mess, who was not escaping, had offered to
watch the Upper House for the alarm-signal, and he was left sitting in
the mess-room while the others set to work on various jobs. Grunt and
Perce removed all obstructions to exit from the carpenter's shop door,
while Nobby and Johnny took the four ladders from their hiding-place
in a wood-store and tied bits of felt round the ends to deaden the
sound when they should be placed against the wall. After this the
ladders were taken into the cellar, whence scheme No. 2 might have
to be worked. They then went upstairs to the bedroom, where their
escape paraphernalia was stored. Here they hung towels and blankets
over the windows, and started to dress by the light of a candle.
It was a queer sight indeed. They were, at this point, joined by
Sheridan, who belonged to a downstair mess, and one Pat. The latter was
dresser-in-chief, and helped them on with their equipment. He was very
miserable that he was not going himself, but he had a crocked knee and
it would have been madness for him to think of marching over broken
country by night.

He now employed spare moments repeating certain sentences that he
had learnt in order to call away the sentry over the alley: on this
depended the best scheme of getting out of the house. The bedroom was
the one in which Old Man, Grunt, and Johnny slept, and those in the
room now set to work to make up the dummies in the three beds. The
heads had already been fashioned, and, with a few clothes stuffed under
the blankets and the heads placed in position, the beds were soon
occupied by three graceful figures in attitudes of deep repose. The
small piece of towel forehead that could be seen over the edge of the
blanket looked perhaps a trifle pale, but, apart from that, the beds
seemed quite natural. They could not resist the temptation of calling
the Major away from the mess window for a moment, just to have a look
at the sleeping beauties, and he returned chuckling to his post.

Water-bottles were then partially filled with a thick paste of cocoa.
Although water was not to be carried at the start, on account of the
impossibility of preventing a gurgle in the water-bottle, the cocoa
paste was permissible, for, being only just liquid enough to pour,
it made no noise. It had been decided that morning that it would be
best to leave the bedroom before 9 P.M., at which time the
sentries changed. A few minutes before this hour, therefore, the six
officers gave their feet a gouty appearance by tying felt padding on
to their boots, and then started down to the ground-floor. On the
way, Johnny turned into the orderlies' room to say good-bye, thanking
them hurriedly for their help, without which the preparations for the
escape would have been almost impossible. A few days later he found
in the pocket of his jersey, which had been mended by an orderly
belonging to the Norfolk regiment, a small piece of paper on which was
written, "Good-bye, and good luck, sir.--B.," and he still has it in
his possession. Going downstairs they met an officer prisoner, who, not
having been admitted to the secret, nearly had a fit at the sight of
six such extraordinary objects.

Grunt looked in at another orderlies' room above the exit, and asked
them to blow out their lamp and make a noise. The six then crept
quietly into the prearranged room, and waited breathlessly by the door.

Sentries were changed, and once again all became still. One lived every
second of that waiting.

Their plan now depended on the aid of Pat. Although debarred from
escaping himself, he was willing to help others to liberty at
considerable risk to himself. Punctually at 9.15, the hour at which
the parties in the different houses were allowed to start, Pat's clear
tones could be heard calling to the sentry on the alley-way--

"Nebuchi, nebuchi, jigara dushdu." ("Sentry, sentry, I've dropped my
cigarettes.")

And indeed he had: a hundred scattered about a cabbage-bed should keep
the sentry busy for some time. But the wretched man nearly upset all
calculations. Wearied with a quarter of an hour's duty, he was already
almost asleep.

It was a moment of terrible suspense for the six officers waiting,
ready loaded up with their kits, in the ground-floor room opposite to
the kitchen. The door of this led on to the alley-way; normally it was
disused and kept locked, but the lock had now been picked and the door
could be opened in a moment.

Would the sentry hear Pat calling? And would he desert his post even if
he did hear?

They had heard Pat's first sentence. No reply.

It was repeated, then again and again.

After they had heard him shouting for many hours (perhaps thirty
seconds, as time is reckoned by a watch), the sentry answered.

His form was just visible as he passed by a small iron-barred window,
and now was the opportunity. They could cross unobserved to the
kitchen. An open door, three steps across the alley-way, a fumble
with the kitchen door staple; another open door, a turn to the left,
bend down or you'll knock your head off getting into the fowl-house,
starlight showing in a black wall, through head first and almost on
your face into long grass, and there you are--a free man.

Meanwhile Pat was no doubt explaining to the delighted old sentry from
the upper window how he could have a few cigarettes himself and return
the remainder next morning. We sometimes wonder whether the sentry was
foolish enough to mention to his relief about the cigarettes he had
been given. At the time of writing we are still ignorant how long it
was before our departure was discovered.[9]

Looney and Old Man, being already on the spot, had been granted the
privilege of leading through the hole, the remainder following in an
order arranged by lot, since ours was not the only party represented.
It so happened that the two of the other party were sandwiched between
the other four of ours. This caused a temporary separation; for at the
best it took an appreciable time to crawl through the wall and pick
oneself up on the other side, but these two were especially slow. Grunt
too had lost time when it came to his turn. Impatiently waiting to see
the starry sky once more when the then broad form of Johnny should have
ceased to obscure the hole, he eventually discovered that the cause of
the darkness was not that Johnny had jammed, but that the canvas flap
had fallen, and was covering the hole all too effectively.

Our main object at this stage was to avoid disturbing the garden
chowkidars, and therefore each as he emerged lost no time in creeping
along the high garden wall, and dropping down into the friendly shelter
of the river bed. For all its "hundred springs"--the meaning of the
name "Yozgad"--the river for the greater part of the year consisted
merely of a shallow and dirty stream, not more than ten feet broad,
although its banks were as many yards apart, and from five to eight
feet in height. It was along this that we all turned down-stream,
Johnny now taking the lead. A few days previously he had suddenly
developed a passionate interest in natural history. A polite letter, in
which the word "ornithological" played a great part, was written to the
commandant, and Johnny was permitted to join two real naturalists in an
expedition starting at 4 A.M. on our last Sunday morning at
Yozgad.

These two had been at Changri with us, and knew we had intentions of
escaping, so Johnny told them in which direction his party wished to
start off, and this direction was now taken. Johnny counted his steps,
noted landmarks which would be visible by starlight, and was able
to draw a rough map of the country. All three dug at intervals for
imaginary field-mice, until the sentry with them thought they were
more insane than even the average Englishman, and said so. In the end,
however, the strain of this great thought overpowered him and he fell
asleep, giving Johnny the opportunity he required. He climbed a hill,
took bearings, and was able to see our future route to within half
a mile of a rugged piece of country known to the local hunt club as
"Hades." On the return journey the three came back along the edge of
the stream which ran past the bottom of our garden wall, and in which
we have just left the six of our party.

[Illustration:
_From a sketch by Capt. E. B. Burns, E. Kent Regt._
YOZGAD CAMP FROM N.W.
  A = Hospital House.         C----D = Course followed to river bed.
  B = Upper House.                 E = Market gardens.
  C = Position of hole made in fowl-house wall.]

In accordance with the plan then settled we follow the river-bed
until almost clear of the most westerly houses of the town, then turn
right-handed up a stony track, passing between two high walls till
the track ends. A few more paces to the west and we shall be safe in
the open country. These few paces, however, will be along a main road
directly in front of two or three houses on the outskirts of the town,
but the alternative of following the river-bed farther and then turning
up would necessitate passing through vegetable gardens, which, as
already mentioned, are jealously guarded.

In the event, the original plan was justified by success, although the
six of us, at this time unintentionally split up into parties of four
and two, passed fully in view of a man sitting on one of the verandahs
overlooking the road. It was probably thanks to our fezes that we
escaped detection, for other disguise we had none. It was lucky that
we had taken the precaution to cover our boots with felt pads, for the
ring of an Englishman's boots on a metalled road would, we know, have
aroused the envy and suspicion of any Turk who heard it, accustomed as
he is to the soft footfall of the country sandal or "chariq."

Once comfortably clear of the town, the leading four could afford to
wait for the other two to come up, and with their arrival we began to
enjoy our first taste of freedom from Turkish toils. The only question
to disturb us now was whether Cochrane and Ellis had got out safely
from their house. So far, at any rate, there had been no sounds of an
alarm. We therefore lost no time in setting off to the rendezvous,
where we hoped to join up as a complete party of eight. This was to be
at the bottom of the "Hades" ravine, at the point where it was crossed
by the telegraph line to Angora. The distance from our houses, as the
crow flies, was perhaps two miles. For this, taking into consideration
the darkness of the night and the difficulty of the country, we had
allowed two and a quarter hours. At 11.30 P.M., any one who
had failed to appear was to be considered recaptured or lost, and those
who had arrived were to go on. An absurdly liberal allowance of time
you may say; but even the six whose movements we have followed, and
who had the advantage of Johnny's guidance over a route reconnoitred
by day, took till 11 P.M. to cover these two miles. We were
experiencing, some of us for the first time, the difficulties of a
night march. In addition, it was our first trial of carrying our loads,
weighing nearly fifty pounds, anywhere outside a cupboard. No wonder
then that our progress was slow, and at one time we began to think that
we must have already crossed the line of telegraph which was to lead us
down into "Hades" itself. But there it was at last, and we were soon
slipping down--only too literally--into the ravine.

Our first act, after quenching our thirst, was to fill up our
water-bottles. As 11.30 approached, with still no sign of Cochrane and
Ellis, we began to wonder whether, perhaps, they might not have gone
on to another ravine in "Hades," and be awaiting the rest of us there;
so some commenced scouting around, while others remained to show their
position by periodical flashes with a cigarette lighter. This was so
desolate a bit of country that the flashes entailed no appreciable risk.

At 11.30 we decided to give them another quarter of an hour; to delay
after that would be to jeopardise the remainder of the party, for it
was already only four hours to dawn. Great, therefore, was our relief
when, at the last moment of this time of grace, we saw two forms appear
on the skyline, and presently heard the rattle of loose shale as they
picked their way towards our flashes. So far so good; and we were
soon exchanging mutual congratulations on joining up, and saying that
even this one night's breath of freedom, after two and a half years'
captivity, would be worth all the trouble of our preparations.

But we must go back for a moment and narrate the experiences of the
late-comers in leaving their house.

This was called the Upper House, and to the east overlooked the main
street below, but was separated from it by three shallow terraces,
which boasted some treasured vegetables and a few fruit trees. To the
north the ground fell steeply by three higher terraces to a small
patch of ground enclosed by walls. It was here that we used to play
the four-a-side hockey. The upper terrace on this northern face was
visible to a sentry at the main gate of the Hospital House, which was
on the other side of a road running along the hockey ground wall. The
two remaining sides of the house abutted on tumble-down cottages, from
which they were separated by a narrow alley. At the north-western and
south-western corners sentries were posted.

The number of officers escaping from this house was five. The bars
of a window on the side facing the main street had been cut with the
aid of a steel saw, and at 9.15 P.M. the five climbed down a
rope-ladder to the ground. Skirting the edge of the house at intervals
of two minutes they crept quietly through the garden and reached the
second of the three terraces on the north side, keeping well under the
high bank. Here they passed within three yards of the sentry's box, on
the top of the bank above them. Absolute silence was necessary, and
this was the reason that the two had been so late in arriving at the
rendezvous, for each step had to be taken with extreme care.

[Illustration:
_From a sketch by Capt. K. F. Freeland, R.A._
UPPER HOUSE, YOZGAD, FROM N.N.E.
(WINTER TIME.)
       A = Sentry's box.
  B----C = Track followed by Cochrane and Ellis.
       D = Hockey ground.]

The terrace a few yards beyond the sentry's box sloped down into the
large market-garden to the west of the Hospital House. On the south
side of this was a wall, along which they picked their way. Here, too,
great caution was required. Look-out huts had to be passed within a few
yards, but finally they were across the garden. A high wall had now
to be climbed, but fortunately it was in bad repair and afforded good
footholds.

Here Cochrane and Ellis heard voices. An old woman had seen Stockley
and Rich and was wanting to know what they were doing. Our two did not
wait to hear much more. Turning right, they were on the same stony
track up which the first party had turned from the river-bed, and now
they followed Johnny's route till they finally struck the telegraph
post and arrived at "Hades."

Ellis had arrived puffing and blowing, but there was no time to be lost
if we were to be at anything like a safe distance from Yozgad before
dawn broke.

Five minutes before midnight, then, we started off a complete party,
and were soon scrambling up the northern side of "Hades" on to the
plateau above. Having left the line of telegraph poles for the sake of
an easier ascent, we were unable at once to find it again. Although it
had been our original intention to follow the telegraph wires as likely
to lead over a passable line of country, it was decided to waste no
further time in a search for them. Instead we would set off by compass
and stars in a due westerly direction, and hope to pick them up again
later on. The ground proved favourable: our course took us over fairly
level country, a considerable portion of which was under cultivation,
and for some time we were walking over stubble. Although there was no
moon, our eyes rapidly accustomed themselves to the bright starlight,
and hopeful progress was made, but not without occasional alarms.

The first occurred within an hour of leaving "Hades." Looney was
temporarily relieving Cochrane of his task of guiding the party, when
the leading six suddenly found that the other two had disappeared, and
inwardly cursed them for straggling. In reality, what had happened
was this: the party, moving in no regular formation, had got a little
separated, when suddenly the two in the rear had seen the glowing
tip of a cigarette moving obliquely towards them, and immediately
afterwards descried the shadowy forms of three mounted men. Quick as
thought they lay down and waited till the horsemen had passed; the rest
moved on in blissful ignorance of their danger, until, on turning for
the others, they too saw the cigarette and realised what had happened.
Those three men were almost certainly gendarmes. Apart from this, we
occasionally found ourselves coming upon little groups of huts and
villages, and these entailed wasteful detours. We had, in addition, an
uncomfortable feeling that we were leaving behind us a rather obvious
track through the crops where yet uncut.

About 2 A.M. we once more picked up the line of telegraph
poles. We were all the more glad to follow them as we saw difficult
country ahead, and they were likely to lie along a practicable route.
Practicable it was, but then it is practicable to reach the bottom of
most slopes if you are prepared to sit down and slide; for that is what
we had to do for the latter part of the descent into the steep-sided
ravine, across which our telegraph line now led us. At least, however,
we had the satisfaction of a much-needed drink from the crystal-clear
water of a mountain stream.

Here indeed would have been an ideal hiding-place for the coming day;
we could have bathed and drunk to our hearts' content, shielded both
from sun and view by enormous rocks which towered above us, almost on
the water's edge. But we were only seven or eight miles from Yozgad,
and an hour lost now meant one to be made up later on. After a drink,
then, we clambered up the farther slope, to find as we struggled on
that we were once more coming into open country, with less and less
prospect of a suitable hiding-place. To turn back was out of the
question. The first light of dawn caught us still moving forward, and
within sight of a village. The sun had not risen before men and women
were on every side of us, going out to work in their fields. We came
to a stream running through a grove of trees, but it was too near the
village to remain there. Our freedom was to be short-lived, we thought,
as we took a hurried drink and proceeded across more open country.
Eventually, at 4.50, we dropped down into a tiny nullah on the open
hillside. The only merit of this spot was that it was not directly
visible from the village.

It was obvious that we could not hope still further to escape
observation from the fields if we continued to lie there all day, so
Looney went off to scout around for something better. A more hopeful
nullah, with banks in places five feet high, was reported half a
mile beyond the next low crest. To that therefore we moved in broad
daylight, glad to find that we should at least have some water, for a
muddy trickle flowed down the nullah bed. Without this the heat would
have been intolerable, for, until late in the day, the banks proved too
shelving to provide shade from the sun. Even with water, Turkish-bath
conditions are conducive neither to sleep nor appetite. Not one of us
slept a wink that day. As to the day's ration, it was with difficulty
that we forced ourselves to eat a quarter of a pound of salted meat and
nine ounces of home-made biscuit--not an excessive amount, even when
you add to it one and a half ounces a head of chocolate, which Grunt
produced from the store of extras he was voluntarily carrying.

We reckoned that we were perhaps ten miles' distance from Yozgad. After
the events of the morning we entertained little hope of our whereabouts
not having been reported, but we were to learn that we flattered
ourselves as to the interest we aroused among the country people. The
fact at least remained, that we were left undisturbed in our somewhat
obvious hiding-place: the only signs of life that we saw during the day
were a shepherd with his flock of sheep grazing a quarter of a mile
away, and a Turkish soldier who, in the early evening, came down to our
nullah a little below us, and was probably himself a deserter and so a
fugitive like ourselves. Towards dusk we stood up and watched a stream
of men and carts returning to their villages after the day's work in
the fields.

By 7.30 all was clear, and we lost no time in making our way to the
line of telegraph poles which we could see disappearing over the crest
of the next rise. Alongside we found a splendid track, which we were
able to follow over undulating country for several miles. Nobby was
in trouble with his "chariqs"; in spite of experiments carried out
for weeks beforehand he had not succeeded in getting a pair which did
not now gall him in one place or another. This was serious, as he was
relying on these country sandals to carry him down to the coast; strong
English boots were hard to come by. On this night, after several delays
as one after another of his spares was tried and rejected, he was
eventually able to wear a pair lent him by Cochrane.

Twilight had now faded, and we were dependent once more on the light
of the stars. The track, easily distinguishable while it kept to the
telegraph poles, had begun to wind about as the country became more
undulating. In a little while it could no longer be followed with any
certainty. We therefore ceased to worry about the track and trusted to
the telegraph to lead us towards Angora, until this too failed us, for
it went too much to the north of west. We thereupon proceeded on our
proper course by compass.

We had started in the evening feeling unexpectedly fresh, and it says
much for our training that the first night's march had left none of us
in the least bit stiff. Nevertheless the day in the hot sun and the
lack of all sleep had tried us more severely than we thought, and we
were now beginning to feel the effects. The idea had been to have the
regulation five minutes' halt at the end of every hour's marching, but
we soon found that we were taking ten minutes' rest every half-hour.
We were, moreover, consumed with an appalling thirst; even at night the
heat off the ground in this arid track of land was stifling, while the
parched and cracked surface held out little hope of there being water
in the vicinity. At 11.30 we decided we must have a long halt, in the
hopes of a little sleep; two volunteers shared the watch. Shortly after
midnight we marched on again considerably refreshed, the main anxiety
now being for water. Two hours later we saw looming ahead a low ridge
of hills, and decided to go and wait there until dawn should reveal
the most likely direction for a drink. A little searching round then
showed us a fair-sized stream in the next valley to the south-west:
in Asia Minor, however, where there is a perennial stream, there is
fairly certain to be a village or two, and so it proved in this case;
but water we must have; besides, on the hillside, where we had rested
till daylight, there now appeared a shepherd with his flock. Hastily
gathering up our kit, we dodged up dry and rocky nullahs and over the
next ridge. Once more it was broad daylight before we settled down for
the day in our hiding-place, in rocky ground intersected with crevices
just wide enough for a man to lie in. On the way we had to descend a
steep slope covered with loose shale, and this proved a sore test for
important portions of our clothing, for it was impossible to keep to
one's feet.

When four of the party went to the stream below us to fill up the
water-bottles, they found they were within a few hundred yards of
another village, so that one visit to water had to suffice for the rest
of the day. They had been seen by at least one boy who was looking
after a flock of sheep near the stream.

We were lucky, however, to discover, close above our hiding-place, a
tiny spring. From this, thanks to a couple of water-holes dug with the
adze by Perce, it was possible to collect about a mugful of water in
an hour. Cochrane now told off the party into watches by pairs; but,
on watch or off, there was little or no sleep to be had. During the
morning we made a fire and "brewed" some arrowroot and cocoa, and had
three ounces of chocolate apiece. All of these Grunt and Ellis had
carried in addition to their ordinary share of rations, and, try as we
would, we found that, owing to the heat, we could not eat more than one
and a half out of the ration of three biscuits allowed for that day.
Of course this saved food, but it also meant the gradual exhaustion of
one's strength, and no reduction in the weight to be carried next day.

Our progress on the first two nights had not been up to expectation: we
reckoned that we were still within eighteen miles of Yozgad, whereas
we had hoped to cover something over twelve miles a day. If we were
unable to maintain our average when we were fresh and not yet pinched
for food, we could hardly hope to do better after days of marching and
semi-starvation. Our advance on the third night was to provide little
encouragement, for we barely made good another eight miles.

Having waited until 8 P.M. before we dared to descend to the
stream, we halted there in the dark for a deep drink and the refilling
of our water-vessels. Half an hour later we left the valley and found
ourselves in a network of hills. From these we only emerged into open
country shortly before eleven o'clock, passing but one small channel
of very bad water on the down-stream side of a village. Our course
now lay across an arid plain, featureless except for a few village
tracks and low cone-shaped hills; and we began to wonder whether dawn
would not find us without water or cover, when at 2 A.M. we
dropped into a patch of broken country, and decided we would rest there
till daylight. As a look round then disclosed no better hiding-place,
we settled down where we were for the day. The remains of an old
spring were found, but it was dry. Thanks to the chargals, most of
our water-bottles were still three-quarters full; but this was little
enough with which to start a day in the almost tropical sun. Most of
us rigged ourselves partial shelters with our towels and spare shirts,
supported on khud-sticks. These, however, provided little protection
against the fierce rays. But all things come to an end--even this
seemingly interminable day; yet it was to be nothing compared to the
night which followed.

FOOTNOTE:

[9] Since writing the above, we have learnt that the officers escaping
from one of the other houses were unable to leave it until after 11
P.M., and even then were at once seen, but took to their heels
and got clear. For some unaccountable reason the Turks only proceeded
to check the officers of that particular house. At dawn, the _chaouse_
taking rounds in the Hospital House was completely deceived by the
dummies; not so, however, an interpreter, who had seen the same game
played when Keeling's party escaped. We thus enjoyed about 6½ hours'
start.

The Turks were completely at a loss to know how the eight from Hospital
House had got out of the garden. The only possible means seemed to them
to be that we had got _over_ the wall by means of nets flung out from
a top window of the main building right over the outhouse. The hole in
the wall they took to be merely a blind! The nets were simply goal nets
made while at Changri, and of course used for none but their original
purpose.



CHAPTER VI.

THE PEACEFUL SHEPHERDS.


There was not a drop of water in any of our bottles when, at 6.30 that
evening, we emerged from our hiding-place and made our way down towards
the open valley which had been running south of us and nearly parallel
to our course of the preceding night; for this direction seemed to
offer the best prospect of water. On the far side of the valley rose
the wood-covered slopes of the Tchitchek Dagh, or Flower Mountain. Far
away to the west we could see the purple ridges of the Denek Dagh,
slightly to the north of which we hoped to cross the Kizil Irmak. Our
hopes rose high as we saw beneath us a narrow streak of green which
betokened the existence of the longed-for water; but if, in England,
where there's a dog there's a man, in Turkey where there's a stream
there are sheep. We soon found that all the flocks of the countryside
were settling down for the night on the banks of our promised water
supply, while farther to the north-west our way was barred by the
inevitable village.

There was nothing for it but to lie where we were till twilight had
faded, and then to cut south-west with the idea of hitting the nullah
at a point above the flocks. On doing so we were much dismayed to find
that the nullah was dry. By this time we were all fairly "cooked";
Ellis, in addition, was suffering from a strained heart--for such it
now turns out to have been. For half an hour we carried his kit and
helped him along between us, but he still could not keep up.

At 9.30 we decided to leave him behind, in a dry nullah we were
following at the time, with Grunt, who volunteered to stay with him
while the rest went on to find water--if they could. The six plodded
on with frequent halts, and resorted for the first time to the bottle
of "Kola" tablets, which provided a much-needed stimulant. The country
was still an arid waste with here and there a dry nullah, each one like
the rest; and as time went on without a sign of water, those of us with
Cochrane began to wonder how we should ever find the derelict pair
again. A solitary light twinkled away to our left, another far ahead.
Were these from villages, or were they shepherds' fires? On trudged the
six on their western course towards a jagged ridge which now met their
view. An hour and a half after leaving the pair they crossed a narrow
embankment. This they recognised as that of a light railway, then
under construction, between Angora and Sivas, for we had seen another
bit of this on our way from Angora to Yozgad.[10] At length they came
to water--a stagnant lake it proved and brackish, but at least it was
water. Curiously enough, they discovered they were not as thirsty as
they had imagined, but a paddle was most refreshing.

After forty minutes' halt, Cochrane, Johnny, and the Old Man
loaded themselves up with the chargals and all except three of the
water-bottles, and leaving their packs behind set forth on their
urgent quest for Grunt and Ellis. The remaining three divided up the
watches between them until dawn. Nobby and Looney had a midnight bathe,
finding one place even deep enough to swim in; but it was chilly work
drying on a couple of silk handkerchiefs sewn together which served
as towel, scarf, or sunshade indiscriminately. Sleep was impossible,
for the bank swarmed with mosquitoes and sand-flies, so after a while
Nobby went a-fishing with a sultana for bait, but without result. At
2 A.M. the monotony was broken by the arrival of a dog. It
stood a few yards away and proceeded to bark for about ten minutes.
That light we had seen ahead, and which was now close by, was probably
a village fire; so the three just lay low. At length, to their relief,
the owner of the beast came and called it off, not worrying to find out
at what it was barking.

In the meantime Cochrane and the two others had to get back to the
nullah where Grunt and Ellis had been left. They recrossed the
railway embankment and eventually struck a nullah. As they proceeded
this petered out, and the three started wandering over the country,
whistling now and again, but receiving no answer. At 2.45 A.M.
they again struck the embankment and walked along it for an hour, but
could not pick up their bearings. Accordingly they halted and waited
for the light. After being heated by the strenuous marching, they soon
began to shiver violently with the cold and dosed themselves with
quinine.

As prearranged in the event of the others not having returned, Nobby,
Perce, and Looney at dawn moved off from the pool into hiding in the
hills to the west. The packs of the search-party were left concealed
under a ledge of the bank and covered with reeds and grass. From the
top of the ridge they overlooked the desolate country traversed the
night before. Close below them stood an Arab encampment with its black
camel-hair tents, from which both the light and dog had doubtless
proceeded. A few ponies grazed near the water, now seen to be one of
a series of pools lying stagnant in an otherwise dry river bed. A man
appeared leading a string of camels. The three were thinking that
little prospect remained of joining up again that day, when suddenly
they saw figures hurrying across the plain, and recognised with relief
that they were Cochrane, the Old Man, and Johnny.

At the first sign of dawn they had marched eastwards for a quarter of
an hour, and then had to give it up as a bad job, having failed to pick
up their bearings. Accordingly, they turned round and walked westwards
along the embankment as fast as they could. An hour and twenty minutes
later they reached the point at which they had crossed on the previous
night, and made for the water where the packs had been left. Here
they could see Nobby's party flashing a mirror: for it was now broad
daylight. On their westward march they had passed a big railway working
camp, and people were moving about.

It was no use for all three to risk being seen, so Johnny took a
long drink, put on his pack (in case it should prove impossible to
join up as a complete party again), loaded himself up with three
additional water-bottles and the big chargal, and started off once
more to find Grunt and Ellis. Cochrane and the Old Man went off to
join up with Nobby's party, having arranged to come down to the water
the same evening to show Johnny the way. The latter, looking like a
pantechnicon, passed several people in the distance and one man on a
donkey at a few yards. Finally he spotted the tracks of the previous
night, and in time came upon the correct nullah. It could now be seen
that there were three very similar shallow valleys running parallel to
one another, and that is how the searchers must have lost their way the
night before.

At 6.45 A.M. Johnny saw Grunt's head showing above the edge
of the nullah. Grunt was almost done to the world and looked ghastly.
Except for a little brandy (the party's one flask), he and Ellis had
had nothing to drink for twenty hours. They had each tried to take
an opium pill during the night, but simply could not swallow it. The
very brackish water Johnny had brought provided Grunt with what he
considered the best drink of his life. Ellis's thirst was unquenchable.
On the previous night they had heard some one whistling in the
distance, but had not dared to call out.

The three set about collecting sticks in the nullah and brewing some
strong tea, which refreshed them immensely. Except for two halts for
three-quarters of an hour, Johnny had been on the go for over twelve
hours, loaded for the last hour and a quarter with a weight of about
67 lb., owing to the extra water he was carrying. The day was passed
trying unsuccessfully to get some shade with coats placed over sticks.
Johnny slept only twenty minutes that day,--it was a trying time. The
party was split up, and Heaven alone knew when we should all be able
to join up again. However, they had two more brews of strong tea--one
at 2 P.M. and one at 5. The heat was too great for them to eat
anything.

Meanwhile the Old Man and Cochrane had rejoined the three on the hill,
who prepared them a welcome mugful of tea. On the way up they had
noticed a small cave. To this it was decided to move, in preference
to the present exposed position. Eight o'clock accordingly found the
five huddled up within the cave, thankful at least that they would be
sheltered from the sun for the day, but miserable at the thought of
what the other three must be going through.

An hour later a man appeared at the entrance. They at first understood
him to be a shepherd. He said he had seen the three arriving at dawn,
and watched the five move down to the cave, but that they had nothing
to fear. At the same time he rather anxiously inquired whether they
had firearms. Without Grunt to interpret, the five were somewhat at a
loss to follow the conversation that ensued, but, in dealing with this
unwelcome visitor, they at least had the benefit of Cochrane's former
experience of the art of escaping.

The uninvited guest was welcomed in, and was soon afterwards squatting
down and enjoying some of the party's precious 'baccy and biscuits.
The ease with which he bit off pieces of the latter testified to the
excellence of his teeth. When he was once more in a position to resume
the conversation, he led his hearers to believe that he had already
sent a message to the nearest gendarmes and was now awaiting their
arrival.

Possibly he was misunderstood, for cross-examination elicited the fact
that as yet no one else knew of the fugitives' whereabouts, and it
became evident that he would not be above accepting a bribe--a failing
for which the Turk is perhaps more famed than for any other of his
peculiarities. Casting longing eyes upon the clothing which protruded
from an open pack, he asked to have a look at a shirt. This seemed to
be to his taste, so it was thought expedient to offer it to him as
a gift. It was not disdained. That "woolley," too, looked warm and
useful. He might as well have that. A skein of rope now caught his eye,
so that also changed hands.

"Have you any gold?" was his next demand.

One must cry a halt somewhere to such greed, so the five regretted they
had not, but later had to compromise and give him paper money. With
the addition of some more 'baccy and biscuits he appeared temporarily
satisfied, and agreed to bring along some water and sour milk from the
Arab encampment. Nobby requested him to conceal his gifts. This he did
by the simple expedient of winding shirt, "woolley," and rope round his
waist beneath his cummerbund.

True to his word, he soon reappeared with a skin of water and a copper
bowl full of sour milk, promising to bring more in the evening. He
insisted, however, that his protégés should not show themselves outside
the cave. To this they agreed, although the latter was too cramped to
be comfortable,--nowhere was it wide or level enough to permit of any
real rest of body, and peace of mind was out of the question so long as
the fate of the missing three remained uncertain. It was decided not to
risk a "brew," although the "shepherd" had said they might safely do
so, and fuel in the shape of dried camel-thorn lay ready to hand.

As evening fell, the friend was back again, this time bringing water
only. His appreciation of the biscuits and tobacco, however, remained
unqualified.

Conversation was turning to lighter subjects, when it was interrupted
by the entrance of another chance (?) comer, who made no bones as to
the price of his silence, and proved a much more difficult customer
to square. He eventually accepted five liras in gold--the party had
discovered that they had some after all--together with some more paper
notes. He also said he was badly in need of a watch, so Cochrane handed
over his, omitting to mention, by the way, that it could only be coaxed
to go for a few hours at a time! Even so, it was not until 7.15 that
our cave-dwellers were able to get rid of this persistent stranger. The
next step was to effect a reunion with the missing three.

By the light of the young moon they moved off clear of the cave,
the track past which constituted a danger. No. 1 scallywag was then
informed that the five were not the only members of the party, and
that the other three must be collected before they themselves could
go on. In case the others should have been recaptured, it was thought
advisable not to send still another member of the party back to the
pond, for fear the spot where they had been should now be watched.
No. 1 was therefore impressed for the task, and provided with a note
to show to the absentees, if they arrived. He was instructed to come
back if they had not returned within three hours. At the best the
Turk has a poor idea of time. Two hours later he was back without the
missing three, but once more accompanied by No. 2. No explanation was
either asked for or given as to the latter's reappearance: it was quite
evident that the two had been in league from the beginning.

They now put forward a proposition: the Turkish authorities, they said,
were very much concerned about the escape of the twenty-five officers
from Yozgad. All the roads and paths round about were being watched,
and that very morning about sixty soldiers had been seen passing by the
locality, presumably looking for them. They suggested the party should
lie hidden in the cave for another three days, while things quietened
down a bit. After this they would themselves come along with us and
clear out of the country. Their story seemed likely enough; they had at
least named the correct number of officers who had escaped. Moreover,
it was impossible to think of going on without a final search for the
others. The five therefore fell in with the proposal provisionally and
returned to the cave. Looney then went down to the pool in the company
of the two "guides," to look around for the missing three.

These had started down their nullah at 6 P.M., taking things
very slowly with long halts for Ellis. In any case, it would have been
dangerous to cross the line again during daylight, so they stopped
amongst some shrubs a quarter of a mile short of the embankment. Here
they waited until 7.30 P.M. They then marched straight for the
pool, which they reached in another half-hour. Cochrane was nowhere
to be seen. All three now stripped, and had their first wash for five
days. Where they were the pool was very shallow, and they discovered
that the only way to wash the soap off was to lie first on the back and
then on the face. Cleaning the teeth they found refreshed them greatly.
Despite all the water and tea he had had during the day, Grunt drank
twelve pint mugfuls of the brackish water straight off the reel. This
may sound incredible, but the fact remains. After their bathe they
dressed and felt very clean. To sit and wait for Cochrane was the next
thing to do. The night was cool, and it was no use all keeping awake,
so Johnny took the first watch, while the others tried to sleep; but
the sand-flies and mosquitoes saw to it well that they did not get the
chance.

At 11 P.M. approaching steps could be heard. Grunt and Ellis
crept down the bank into hiding, and Johnny waited on the top. As
the shapes became visible, he was horrified to find that he did not
recognise them, and thought he was in for it, till Looney spoke.
The latter gave a hurried explanation of the presence of the two
murderous-looking strangers with him.

The four officers and the two brigands reached the cave about 11.30
P.M. Here was quite the stage setting for villainy of the
deepest dye. Two slopes meeting in a V stood out very clearly against
the bright starlit night. In the V a small crater was filled with the
most ruffianly-looking fellows in fezes, which English and Turks wore
alike. The peaceful shepherds, as we sometimes called them, talked
a lot and again agreed to come with us. They tried on our packs and
strappings. Cut-throat No. 1 appeared to be keen on joining us; No. 2
we thoroughly distrusted. At one side of the crater was the entrance
to the cave, at the end of which burned a candle, throwing flickering
shadows into the crater outside, and lighting up first one unshaven
and haggard face and then another. The peaceful shepherds took their
departure exactly at midnight--another touch of true melodrama--each
the richer by about thirty paper liras and some gold ones. The first
shepherd promised to bring some more milk and water in the morning.

It was too cramped in the cave, so we slept in the ravine outside--a
long sleep of nearly four hours. This was as much as we had had in
the previous five days. Grunt had slept least. The day Johnny took
him the water Grunt took some opium and slept for half an hour in the
afternoon, and this, with five minutes now and again at halts on the
march and his longer sleeps during the daytime, made a total of under
four and three-quarter hours out of one hundred and seventeen. Without
sleep, days spent in the hot sun and nights in carrying fifty pounds
over difficult country without any moon at all are apt to take it
out of one, and this we found was the case. We were becoming visibly
thinner.

Next morning the second peaceful shepherd told us that yet a third
peaceful shepherd had discovered our whereabouts, and though he did
not put in an appearance, his friend, kindly acting on his behalf,
took another thirty liras from us. This decided us to go off that very
night, as our money affairs would not stand the constant drain. To
be once more a complete party, however, was a great relief. Although
cramped for room--for we crowded ourselves into the smallest possible
space at the dark end of the cave--we were out of the burning sun. Our
spirits went up and we were all cheery, quite a change from other
days. By 11.30 A.M. three quite good jokes had already been
made. We were able to eat more, most of us managing several biscuits
and two ounces of cheese. This also could be accounted for by the
shade. The cheese was excellent, and was called by the endearing cheesy
diminutive of "Chedlet." It was eaten in the approved style, with a
penknife and by cutting pieces off towards the thumb. At about noon we
all momentarily held our breath, for we thought we heard footsteps. No
one appeared, however, and after a while we discovered the noise came
from a tortoise, which was scratching the ground at the entrance to the
cave.

During this day a decision was arrived at which affected the whole
trend of events. As the two Turks were going with us, we determined
to change our course and make almost due south, thereby reducing the
length of our march to the coast by about a hundred miles. By taking
this route we should, of course, have no boat to meet us, but we
relied on our guides to get a dhow. We thereupon proceeded to cut
down the food supply and kit which had been necessary for the longer
journey, and rely on our delightful friends to purchase food for us
from any convenient villages we might pass. Travelling lighter, we
should be able to move more quickly. We knew that the Salt Desert had
to be crossed on our newly-chosen route, but we were prepared to take
the risk of having a few thirsty marches. The last sentence written
in Johnny's diary that afternoon was, "Grunt, I am glad to say, is
sleeping."

At 8.15 P.M. a miniature avalanche of stones rattles over the
cave, and thus heralded, the peaceful shepherds enter. They are late,
but the slight delay does not matter, as in any case we cannot risk
going down to the water near the tent encampment until it is quite
dark. It is a spring of sweet water to which they are going to take us,
and not to the brackish pool, so we follow them. About a hundred yards
short of the water we are made to halt. Shepherd No. 1 then takes us in
pairs to get a drink and fill our water-bottles: one pair has nearly
got to the spring when the shepherd suddenly freezes and then squats
down--actions which his companions hasten to imitate. Some one has
arrived from the camp to draw water. Nothing happens, however, and when
the footsteps have died away they go on to the spring, rejoining the
party shortly afterwards.

We now retraced our steps up the ravine, and here once more our friends
stopped us. Before going any farther, they wanted to know what they
were going to receive for their trouble. We told them that when we got
to the sea we would take them with us to Cyprus, and there give them
each £200. The arrangement, however, was not at all to their liking.
What they wanted was ready cash. They now demanded from each officer
another fifteen liras down. To comply with this demand was of course
impossible, as it would have run us out of nearly all our money, with
most of our journey still to go--especially at the present rate of
meeting peaceful shepherds. We therefore told them that all the money
they were to expect was a lump sum when we were free men.

At this the ruffians refused to come with us. Warning them that if
we were caught by gendarmes we should know who had given us away, we
promised to make known to the officers of the law how good our friends
had been to us. After an hour's irksome haggling we decided to go on
without them. We set off, and had not climbed one hundred yards up
the hill when the kind shepherds changed their minds and offered to
accompany us without thought of profit.

FOOTNOTE:

[10] Many of the British rank and file prisoners were employed on this
nearer Angora.



CHAPTER VII.

RECAPTURED?


No. 2 was now allowed to lead the way. Of this he said he knew every
foot; but we had only just started when the course he took veered
almost to due north. Cochrane, who was next to him, caught hold of his
arm and told him we were not imbeciles, and the man then led us along a
fair line of country bearing between S.S.W. and S. He informed us that
we would come to water on that night's march after four hours, and that
we would then halt. It was decided to leave affairs in his hands: if
his plans were successful, well and good; if not, we would go our own
way.

Not more than two hours later we came to a small stream where the
peaceful shepherds wanted to halt for the night, but we insisted on
proceeding. Finally, we settled down to go to sleep on the side of
a small valley at about 2.30 A.M. on August 13th. Nothing
untoward happened till about 7 A.M. Then suddenly there was
a shout, and shepherd No. 1 could be seen dashing down the hillside
above us. He had been keeping watch, he said, but as events turned
out it is more than likely that he had been signalling while we were
asleep. As daylight appeared the eight of us had moved for better
concealment to the bottom of what was seen to be a horseshoe valley,
and when the shout was heard we were lying there in a small nullah
which was narrow and steep-sided.

On standing up, the first things we saw were two ragged-looking
gendarmes, one of whom was dressed in a long tattered black coat, and
had a black handkerchief tied pirate-wise round his head. Compared to
the black-coated gentleman, the other was almost gaudily dressed in a
very dirty old grey uniform and "Enveri" cap. What was more important
than their dress, however, was the fact that we found ourselves
looking down the muzzles of a rifle and revolver carried ready for
trigger-pressing by Beau Brummell and his seedy-looking friend. These
two gentlemen now came to the kneeling position for greater effect.

The shepherds were greatly agitated; but whether their excitement
was due to fear or the anticipation of more loot we cannot say. They
told us to close up towards the rifle muzzle, which was remarkably
steady and enfiladed the length of the nullah; so we all bunched up.
It is very hard to remember what one thinks about on these occasions:
perhaps the reason is that one does not think of much. One wants
something to happen and the suspense to end; the "Come on! get done
with it quickly" sort of feeling.

Our two old friends now tried to show that they were not really fond
of us. They made threatening gestures, and when Grunt moved to pick up
his hat, shepherd No. 1 hit him a terrific blow on the side of the head
with a thick and heavy stick. Grunt was stunned, and had a bad gash on
the right ear, but he soon came round or there would have been a free
fight.

Fortunately the stick had been very dry and had snapped off at the
force of the blow; otherwise without a doubt Grunt's skull would have
been broken. We put iodine on the wound and bound it up with lint and
bandages, and in a few minutes he was discussing matters with the new
folk.

Beau Brummell said he was a sergeant of gendarmes; his companion had
failed to reach the exalted rank of N.C.O. They now produced rope, and,
to add insult to injury, they produced it out of our own packs. Two of
us were bound together at the elbows, back to back; the rest round the
wrists with their hands behind them.

The sergeant then started talking--we need not say lying. He was going
to take us back to his regiment. He wanted to know where we were going,
and we broadly mentioned the Mediterranean. He thought we were men who
had escaped from some camp on the railway, and it took long to convince
him that we were officers from Yozgad. How had we managed to escape? We
pointed out to him that a Turkish sentry is so overworked that his only
time for sleep is on sentry duty. At this he had enough sense of humour
to smile. He was curious as to the route taken by the others who had
escaped the same night as ourselves: had we told him he would no doubt
have called on them too, so we merely said we had not seen any of them
since we left Yozgad.

Finally the whole point of the story was reached, and he started
talking business. We had felt for some time that the conversation
was veering in that direction, but these delicate situations have to
be very carefully handled; so we left it to him to open the subject.
He led up to his proposition by asking whether we would prefer to be
recaptured or to go to our "memlikat" (home). We need hardly say what
was our reply. He then wished to know what money we possessed, and with
moderate truth we told him. As already mentioned, we had started each
with at least thirty Turkish pounds in paper in addition to some gold;
this, then, with the exception of the sums No. 1 and No. 2 had already
received from us, and a little we had fortunately concealed in odd
places in our clothing, he now took from our pockets.

He seemed quite pleased with his takings, as indeed he should have
been with such a windfall, and was graciously pleased to signify that
he would now let us go. As we were supposed to be penniless, we pointed
out that we had yet many miles to the coast and would need to buy
provisions on the way: unless, therefore, he left us with some money we
should still have to give ourselves up. Upon this he magnanimously gave
us back a bunch of small notes, to the value of about seven Turkish
pounds.

For the same reason he prevented our quondam guides from helping
themselves to the essentials contained in our packs; for by this time
they had opened them and were enviously fingering our spare boots and
clothing. Instead of being allowed to make off with further loot, they
were now ordered to undo our bonds; after this they went away under
the escort of the black-coated gentleman. He being a representative of
Turkish law, could make his own selection of a souvenir of this happy
occasion, and his choice fell on Johnny's fez. This was to prove a
great loss, and on future occasions when fezes were the order of the
day, Johnny had to wear a khaki handkerchief tied round his head.

Beau Brummell himself remained behind for a friendly chat. He advised
us to make as quickly as possible for the Tchitchek Dagh to the south,
lest the peaceful shepherds should again get on to our tracks and hand
us over to further brigands. By this time he was quite frank. If we
did this, he said, he would undertake to look after them for the next
four hours. (No doubt he also took care of any money they still had on
them.)

As we prepared to take his advice he remarked that we were soldiers
and he had been one too, and that we were therefore friends. He then
went off, waving his hand and saying, instead of the usual Turkish
valediction, "Adieu." That brigand had more of the sportsman in him
than any Turk we had previously met.

The moment the brigands were out of sight we moved away over the head
of the valley in the opposite direction, and keeping a little west of
south, marched for an hour, taking it in turns to carry Grunt's pack.
We saw a fairly good hiding-place in a small ravine. It was a question
of halting and taking the risk of being caught again by the brigands,
or moving on and being almost certainly seen by fresh people; so we
decided to stop. The time was half-past ten.

Let us quote from a diary written that day. "It is now 1.30
P.M., and no one has asked for money for four hours, so
things look brighter. The clouds are getting up, which is a godsend,
as our last night's water-bottle will probably have to do us for many
hours more. The position is this: we are bound to go by the southern
route, as we have thrown away a lot of food. We have no guide, thank
goodness. We have already had to bribe four people, and there is not
much bribing power left. We are likely to be very thirsty in the near
future. In fact, in appreciating the situation it cannot in any sense
be called a hopeful one. Nevertheless, we are still free men!"

During the day we made a chargal to replace one which leaked. For this
purpose we had brought along the sleeves of a waterproof coat, the
remainder of which had been left in the cave when we reduced loads.
Boots, too, in some cases, already needed repairs.

Towards evening Grunt's ear was again bathed and dressed. As dusk came
on Cochrane and Nobby went off to look for water near a small grove of
trees a quarter of a mile away. Here they found a patch of cultivation,
and there was probably water in the vicinity; but so many people were
about that the two had to come back without having found any. There was
no choice but to trust to finding water while on the march. We started
at 8.30 P.M., when the moon was up, keeping in the shadow
of the hills which ran along the edge of the valley containing the
cultivated patch. After going a mile we saw some damp green grass, and
a short way farther on we came to a four-feet square pool of an average
depth of an inch. The water gave out a most horrible stench, and must
have been the last summer resort of the cattle and buffaloes of the
neighbourhood. Nevertheless, we were very glad to drink it and fill our
water-bottles, though a second mugful nearly made us sick, and we each
had to eat a few sultanas to take away the taste. That drink is not a
pleasant memory.

Over the rise at the end of the valley we came to good going, and
finally reached a road running in the right direction. Our luck,
however, did not take us very far, as a short distance ahead was a
village where we could hear men talking and dogs barking. To avoid the
village we made a long detour to the east and soon found ourselves in
the middle of numerous steep and rocky ravines. Unable to get back to
the road owing to the nature of the country, we were forced to bear
to the left or east, and spent the whole night going up and down the
features of the mountain that had been pointed out to us that morning
by Beau Brummell.

As already mentioned, this range is called Tchitchek Dagh, or Flower
Mountain, the oak-scrub with which it is covered being in Turkey a
near enough approach to flowers to give it that name. On this night we
made our first acquaintance with sheep-dogs. Shortly after midnight we
heard one barking not far ahead of us, and the tinkle of bells, so we
again sheered off a little. The dog, however, was not going to miss a
really good opportunity of barking, and it came nearer and nearer in
the darkness, making an almost deafening noise. The sheep-dogs are the
only ones in Turkey that are well treated; some of them are magnificent
animals and ugly customers to meet, especially at night. The brute
finally stopped ten yards short of us, and as we moved hastily on he
sped us on our way with a series of roars.

Half an hour later, to counteract our general depression due to the
events of the last few days and to the heart-breaking country we were
traversing, Cochrane found a spring of good water. He had suddenly
turned off to the right, saying he smelt it, and sure enough before we
had gone fifty yards we came on a spring. Here we had a huge drink and
got rid of the putrid water in our water-bottles.

On this march we found that if we drank enormous quantities of
water--in fact, if we forced ourselves to drink more than we wanted--we
could carry on like a camel for a long time without a drink when
the need arose. It may here be said, though a digression, that the
fact about camels going for many days without water only holds good
if they are trained to it. A friend of ours--a colonel in a Gurkha
regiment--had told us that in the attempt to reach Gordon at Khartoum
the camels with the relieving force were marched for a few days along
the Nile and were watered twice daily. They naturally became used to
drinking only a little at a time, and when they were suddenly taken
across the desert it needed but two or three days without water to kill
most of them.

We moved on from the spring in very much better spirits. At 2.30
A.M. we rested for an hour till daylight, for we were now
at the summit of the range, and might only involve ourselves in
unnecessary difficulties if we went on without being able to see the
country. Sleep, however, was impossible. It was exasperating, indeed,
to find that by night it was too cold to sleep, and too hot by day. It
seemed there was some truth in the saying--

  "As a rule a man's a fool:
  When it's hot he wants it cool;
  When it's cool he wants it hot,--
  Always wanting what is not."

At daylight we marched on for another two and a half hours. The whole
mountain range was covered with the oak-scrub, which practically hid
us as we walked along the bed of a valley. At 6 A.M. we
turned up a small ravine off the main valley we were in, and hid in
pairs in the scrub. As we climbed to our hiding-places we disturbed
a pair of huge eagle-owls. With these birds we were acquainted at
Yozgad. "Patters," one of the naturalists with whom Johnny went out
that Sunday morning, had kept a tame one. Whilst out hunting he had
found a nest in a precipice, and, with the aid of a rope and two
assistants, had managed to reach it. The nest contained two baby owls,
one of which he brought back to the camp with him. It was at that time
only a week old, and merely the size of a fowl, but in a few weeks it
became a fine upstanding bird, guaranteed to implant terror within the
most resolute breast. At the age of three weeks it would swallow with
consummate skill any dead sparrow that might be thrown to it: nothing
remained to tell the tale except a few straggling feathers attached to
his majesty's beak and a satisfied leer in his eyes. Mice, of course,
were as easy for him to gulp down as sugar-coated pills would be to a
sword-swallower. One day the youngster and a full-grown gander were
placed face to face a few feet apart. Panic-stricken, they eyed each
other for a few breathless seconds, then both turned tail and fled.

But to return to our story. While in hiding in the scrub we did not
dare to move, though it was agony lying at a steep angle, one's hip
on a pointed rock. We hardly spoke a word all day, which was very
creditable; but none of us had any desire to be caught again by
brigands. By reason of the cover it afforded the Flower Mountain was
obviously very suitable for what the Turk calls a "Haidood." From this
word, which means "outlaw," we coined an expressive adjective, and were
wont to talk of a "haidoodish" bit of country. Towards sunset we felt
justified in having been so cautious, for we saw five armed men driving
half a dozen cows over the crest of an opposite ridge, and the haste
with which they were moving made it seem very probable that they were
cattle-lifting.

We left our hiding-place about 7 P.M. and retraced our steps
down the valley to a pool where we had seen a little water in the
morning. On reaching it we found that nothing remained except some
moist earth trampled by cattle, a herd of which must have been there
during our absence. An hour after sunset we were back again at the foot
of the slope where we had hidden all day, and now commenced a long
march. It took us two and a half hours to get clear of the Tchitchek
Dagh. It was very up and down, but fairly smooth going. After this the
country opened up a little, but once again it became very difficult,
with all the valleys running transversely to the southerly course we
were steering. These valleys and two villages, to avoid which we had
to make detours, cut down our speed in a useful direction to about one
mile an hour. During the night we halted in order to get some sleep,
but once more the cold was too great. Even during the five minutes'
halts at the end of each hour we were chilled to the bone, and it was
an effort to get moving again. On these short halts it was a waste of
precious resting-time to remove our packs, though we had done this at
the start. We now used to lie on our backs without taking anything
off, and with our legs up a slight slope, so that the blood could run
away from our feet. At 4 A.M. we resumed our march, meaning
to go on for the first hour of daylight, then to find a hiding-place
and stop there. Unfortunately an hour's marching found us stranded in
unpleasantly open cornland and surrounded by villages and harvesters
working in the fields.

There was no hope of concealment, so we had to carry on. Coming over
a rise, we found ourselves forced to march boldly through a village
which, by the headgear of the women, we took to be Turcoman, though
this part of Asia Minor is rather out of the Turcoman's beat. Along
the road we passed scores of people, mostly women, riding on donkeys.
Having once started, however, the only thing to do was to follow a
track leading as much as possible in the desired direction, and to
pretend to have some business there. Grunt, with his head bandaged,
looked like a wounded soldier, and the rest of us might have looked
soldiers of a sort.

On the far side of the village we marched across a broad valley,
in which were more women working at the crops and some men tending
cattle. After plodding on for four more hours, the last three in broad
daylight, we at length reached a range of bare hills, at the foot of
which we saw a dozen splendid wild geese, but these potential dinners
flew leisurely away at our approach. Painfully climbing half-way up
a rocky and winding ravine, we threw down our packs. We had started
marching over thirteen hours before, and, except for one and a half
hours rest, had been on the move all the time, so we were very weary.
The daily ration had been about twelve ounces of food--not very much,
when one was carrying a heavy load and marching many miles a day over
mountainous country.

Some cocoa was made; and when that was finished we boiled up a mixture
of rice, Oxo cubes, and sultanas, which for lack of water was very
uncooked. On arriving at the ravine we had found a small tortoise; but
while every one was busy making the cocoa, Master Tortoise disappeared,
and though we hunted for him, with a view to adding him to the rice, we
never saw him again.

This day we worked out a new distribution list for the extra biscuits,
rice, and sultanas, which we had made into two packages in the cave
for our two guides to carry for themselves. When our two friends had
threatened not to come with us, these had been taken away from them
and hurriedly distributed amongst the party; even when they afterwards
did accompany us we had providentially kept these supplies in our own
packs. Counting everything, we found that we had nine days' supply of
food, on the basis of about twelve ounces a day each.

As there still remained some 200 miles to go before reaching the coast,
we realised that we should have our work cut out to get through. So far
we had obtained no food from the country, though when we started we had
hoped to do so. By now we were beginning to feel really hungry. For
the first few days of the march the heat had taken away our appetites,
but we were getting acclimatised, and the exhaustion of our reserve of
strength made us feel the full effects of a reduced diet. At intervals
we regretted having left nearly half our food behind in the cave. At
the time we did so, however, it was the wisest course, and had we not
reduced our loads it is certain we should not have been able to make
the same progress.

A mile north of the range of hills in which we were hiding we had
passed a line of telegraph poles, and what we had supposed to be a main
road running east and west. This was in a very bad state of repair, but
was evidently the road which our forty-year-old map informed us was
only six miles from the Kizil Irmak. More than once we discovered that
the map was a mine of misinformation. It is only fair to say, however,
that the river in this part was shown in a dotted line, an admission
that it had not been surveyed.

During the day one or two marmots came out of their holes to inspect
us, standing up like picket pins the while, but without a trap they are
very hard to catch. Looking up between the sides of the ravine, which
were at least 300 feet high, we saw several vultures hovering over our
heads. A few butterflies flitted about near us; and these were the only
signs of life. Nevertheless it was not pleasant waiting there, as we
had to do for nearly ten hours till darkness should come. We knew we
had been seen by many people in the village and in the fields, and any
gendarmes who might have been given news of our whereabouts would have
ample time to catch us up.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE ANCIENT HALYS.


Shortly before sunset on August 15th we started to climb the ravine.
This was a mile and a half long, and by the time we reached the top
night had fallen. On our way up we had seen a stone that looked very
like a bird; as one of us stooped to pick it up, the stone, to our
great surprise, turned itself into a night-jar and fluttered away. The
hills we now crossed were very rough and steep. At the bottom of the
first valley to which we came we found a stream, by which we halted
in the bright moonlight for a few minutes' rest and a drink. It was
fortunate we were amongst some rushes, for suddenly three or four men
rode by on donkeys not ten yards from us. They did not see us. Later,
on coming to a big nullah, we followed it, hoping that it would lead us
eventually to the Kizil Irmak, but by 3 A.M. we had tired of
its winding course and took a more direct line to the south.

The wind was bitterly cold, and the only comfortable few minutes' halt
enjoyed that night was under the lee of a hayrick. At 5 A.M.
we caught a glimpse of a big river six miles away; remembering,
however, our enforced march of the previous morning, we decided to halt
where we were without venturing farther. A shallow ditch, about two
feet deep, was our hiding-place for the day. Here we found some straw,
which proved a blessing. With it we obtained for our heads some sort of
protection from the sun, but, despite the shelter, the heat entailed
upon us a sleepless day. A bunch of straw, too, served as a cushion
for our thinly-covered hip-bones. Later on in the day we used straws
for drinking out of our water-bottles. It was a good scheme, for, by
judiciously choosing a very thin stem, one had the satisfaction of
drinking for minutes at a time without having expended more than a few
drops of water.

The cold wind of the night had died down at dawn, but towards sunset
a light breeze again sprang up, and this refreshed us greatly. We had
been so sure of reaching the Kizil Irmak on the previous night that
we had made no provision for water. Consequently, by now, it was much
needed, and we felt that when we did reach the river we would make a
good effort to drink it dry. Some of us ate grasshoppers that day. The
small nourishment they afforded did not make it worth our while to
expend any energy in chasing them, but if one came to hand and allowed
itself to be captured it was eaten. Opinions differed as to their
succulence. Nobby stated they were like shrimps; Johnny noted in his
diary that they were dry and rather bitter.

To the general relief, Grunt's ear had begun to heal; we had by now
used nearly all our supply of iodine and bandages on it, and had it
become poisoned Grunt would have had a very bad time.

It was not till nearly 10 P.M. that we reached the Kizil
Irmak, and then only with great difficulty. The country was well
populated, and many shepherds' huts and sheep-dogs barred our path.
At one point we actually passed by the front door of a small house,
outside which two men and their families were lying. The men sprang up
in alarm at seeing eight extraordinary figures walk by, but we did not
wait on the order of our going. Before reaching the river we came to a
small stream where we drank our fill: then making several detours and
walking as noiselessly as possible, we finally reached the bank of the
Kizil Irmak. It was difficult in the moonlight to judge how broad it
was: probably 300 yards across. But at that time of year half the bed
was merely sandbanks, with a few trickles running through them. Taking
off our boots and socks we tied them round our necks; trousers were
pulled up over our knees, and we started off, hoping that we should
find the main stream fordable. At the point where we stood the river
was on a curve, and it was clear that the deep water would be on the
opposite side. Walking along in single file we crossed in a direction
slanting up-stream, and to our delight reached the other bank with the
water only just above our waists. This bank was covered with reeds and
difficult to climb.

The river water had been much warmer than the small streams we had
passed, but now as we sat wet to the waist in the wind we soon became
very cold; for it was a lengthy process wringing out our clothes and
dressing on the steep bank where we remained so as not to be seen in
the bright moonlight. Here we also washed our faces and brushed our
teeth. When we started from Yozgad we had thought of the Kizil Irmak
as the first definite mark in our journey, and though we had not
crossed it as soon or in the same place as we had intended, yet we
were across it, and one stage was successfully accomplished after nine
days' march. As soon as all were dressed and ready we again set off,
and, passing a gigantic and solitary rock near the bank, here running
almost due N. and S., we went up a steady incline over prairie land.
At 2 A.M. we halted and slept for two hours under the shelter
of some small rocks. At daylight we crossed a valley which had been
converging on the left with our course, and drank at a little pool on
the farther side. This would have been a pleasant resting-place for
the day: we could have lain and slept under the shade of the trees
which ran the length of the valley, and we even saw a few blackberry
bushes to tempt us; but there were signs of human activity in vegetable
gardens around, so we proceeded.

Again it was a case of out of the frying-pan into the fire, as we soon
came into open country that was cultivated and signally lacking in
cover. Two men on a track we were about to cross stared very intently
at us, but moved on. An old man on a donkey was ruder still; for not
only did he stare at us, but he waited till we came up to him, and then
without an introduction asked us where we were going and whence we had
come. These questions were answered by Cochrane pointing vaguely to the
south, and then to the north; and so we left him. At 6 A.M.
we were momentarily out of sight of mankind in a shallow depression in
the ground. It was overlooked by a hill to the north, but a glance over
the next ridge showed us that we were half encircled by villages: we
therefore stayed where we were. All day we must have been seen again
and again by herd-boys and women on the hill, what time the sun beat
down upon us from a cloudless sky. Cooking a meal or tea was out of the
question, and our 11 oz. of food that day consisted of two biscuits, 1
oz. of chocolate, and 4 oz. of sultanas. The last named are not only
of excellent food value, but last a long while when eaten one at a time.

When we marched on at 7 P.M., thirst once again controlled our
movements, and we spent over an hour in an anxious search for water.
After visiting one clump of trees after another, we were at length
rewarded by the discovery of a trickle feeding a small pool. The water
moreover was sweet, and we felt that the refreshment of that drink was
well worth the hour's search. Having filled chargals and water-bottles,
we set off once more over easy rolling country, and within three
hours were again drinking our fill at an unlooked-for spring. The
moon set shortly after midnight, and coming soon afterwards to a deep
reed-filled ditch, we thought it would best repay us to rest there till
dawn should reveal what sort of country lay ahead. The icy wind which
on the march had been a blessing, now threatened to be our bane. The
nullah itself was sheltered, but it was marshy; so we lay down in a
shallow but dry water-channel beyond, and obtained what sleep we could.

It was, however, with little regret that at dawn next day we restored
our frozen circulations by a brisk walk, the improving light having
revealed the existence of a village close at hand. Making off into some
low hills to the S.W., we proceeded to pick our way up a small valley,
until at 5.30 we reached the head of a dry water-course. Here we
settled down for the day. It was not an ideal hiding-place, but by this
time we had ceased to expect one. We soon discovered a village track
led by our lair a few yards above our heads. Along this would pass
from time to time a country bullock-cart. The creak of the primitive
axle revolving wood against wood within its rude socket was a noisy
reminder, which we little needed, of the backward state of Turkey's
civilisation. In view of the persistence of such anachronisms even in
India, perhaps we should say it was a symbol of the stupid conservatism
of the East. In addition to the unfortunate proximity of the road,
our valley had the disadvantage of being itself the frequented path
of cattle, a small herd of which came leisurely by not long after our
arrival and showed more surprise at the strangers than did the two
boys who followed them. We had seen water a little farther down the
valley--mere puddles, it is true, but sufficient to justify our using
a chargalful for cooking. It was not long, therefore, before a welcome
half-mug of cocoa was being measured out, to be followed later by the
standard mixture of rice, Oxo, and a few raisins. During the day most
of us got more than the usual quota of sleep, for the cool wind still
held.

At 5 P.M. our conversation, carried on now almost
unconsciously in the low tones of the fugitive, suddenly broke forth
into a more natural loudness; for two men had seen us from the road
and were bearing down upon us. We had fortunately decided beforehand on
a story containing a touch of local colour. Salutations over, the usual
questions were asked as to where we had come from and what was our next
objective. A Turk does not usually stop to inquire who you are; but
this time we volunteered the information that we were German surveyors
who had been engaged on fixing a site for a new bridge across the Kizil
Irmak, and that we were now making our way to the railway at Eregli.

The pair appeared satisfied, but put the question why we did not
shelter from the heat in one of the villages round about. To this
came the ready reply that one day we had done so, but had not been
politely treated, so now we only entered when in need of food. We took
the opportunity of finding out from our two callers the names of the
various villages visible from the road above; unfortunately, none were
marked on our forty-year-old map, so that this means of settling our
position failed. However, we at least had the satisfaction of learning
that there was a spring only a couple of hundred yards farther up the
hill; in fact, when standing up we could see its stone trough.

Despite their apparent friendliness and the absence of any sign of
suspicion, we were relieved to see our visitors depart; and having
filled ourselves and our water-vessels at the spring, lost no time in
moving on. We soon found that we were on the top of a small plateau,
which to the east rose gently towards a low range of hills; while to
the S. and S.W. the country fell away in a steep scarp. Below this
stretched the desert plain, in the midst of which could be seen in the
failing light the shimmer of the great salt lake. Even when we expected
to have the guidance of the peaceful shepherds, this desert had not
been a pleasant prospect; still less did we relish the thought now,
after the troubles we had experienced in comparatively well-watered
country. It was, however, a matter either of going on or giving up, so
we went on. We had now been free men for eleven days.

The moon at this time served us for rather more than half of each
night, so that even after sunset we could see the solitary peak of
Hasan Dagh rising majestically over the plateau's edge to a height of
several thousand feet above the plain. As we descended the scarp to
our right we lost sight of this landmark; but our course was decided
for us, since we soon found ourselves compelled to follow a gradually
narrowing valley. For the next three and a half hours we were confined
to a steep-sided gorge. A little before this a man mounted on a donkey,
and accompanied by a boy, had seen us, and to our disagreeable surprise
turned and followed. We had shaken them off, when in the shadow of the
gorge we saw a group of several men. It is hard to say whether they
were more likely to have been brigands or fugitives like ourselves: one
thing seemed certain, they had no business there. At any rate, they
let us pass undisturbed, but the impression was forced upon us that
this ravine we had entered was a death-trap, and when it veered more
and more to the west we decided to make an attempt to get out of it.
A clamber up the rocky southern slope, however, only revealed ridge
after ridge and valley after valley between us and the plain, so we had
perforce to go back into the ravine. Our relief was great indeed when
at 1 A.M. the valley opened out, and we debouched on to the
desert past a village.

Before we left Yozgad, Nobby had continually impressed upon the party
the need of living as much as possible on the country. To aid us
in this he had consulted with another naturalist, and prepared an
elaborate list of somewhat uncommon but possible foods. Amongst them
appeared tortoises, snails, frogs, snakes--these last were especially
nutritious, stated this unique document--rodents, and grasshoppers.
There were also notes regarding mushrooms, and how to distinguish
them from poisonous toadstools. Tortoise we ate at Yozgad, not, we
must hasten to add, because we were reduced to it by lack of better
nourishment, but with a view to testing its edibility. It proved
messy and uninteresting, but at least non-poisonous. We had, however,
hardly come across any tortoises during our march, although we had seen
many on the journey from Changri to Yozgad four months previously. In
fact, the only item of the list we had sampled so far had been the
grasshoppers. We had, of course, also placed considerable dependence
on being able to eke out our meagre ration by plucking corn as we
went along at night, intending either to boil or to parch it the next
day. We had discovered that the Turkish soldiers did the latter very
quickly and effectively by making a small fire of twigs, placing whole
ears of corn on them, then adding more twigs on top. When the fire had
died down they took out the corn and separated the grain by the simple
process of rubbing it between the hands. Unfortunately for us, although
we had passed a good deal of ready-cut crops, there never seemed to be
enough grain inside to be worth the trouble of collecting.

On this particular night, however, Nobby was able for once to satisfy
his predatory instincts by looting a couple of water-melons, for there
was a bed of these outside the village we were now passing. These were
cut up and divided out among the party without further ado, and eaten
as they continued on their way. As a matter of fact, the melons were
far from ripe; but even the rind seemed too good to throw aside, for
by this time we were ready to eat anything: but it did not tend to
quench thirst, we found, so the rind was sacrificed.

The going was easier, and with one long halt of an hour and a half
we plodded on steadily until 5 A.M. It was then, of course,
daylight; and as a mile to our west there was a large town, boasting
a rather fine-looking white tower, we resolved to lie up in a dry but
grassy irrigation channel. A light haze covered the country, but in the
direction opposite to the town we could just recognise Akserai built
near the foot of the Hasan Dagh peak. Before us stretched the desert
plain, bare except for an occasional nomad encampment; there seemed
little sign of movement, even around the town near by.

By 10 A.M. this 19th of August, we came to the conclusion that
we might as well go on by day. We had practically no water, and if we
were to be in the sun it was better to be on the march as well. The
next water shown on our map was a river called the Beyaz Sou, or "White
Stream," and thither we set forth, once more transformed into Germans
by the simple expedient of replacing the fezes we had been wearing by
Homburg hats or service dress caps, one or other of which each of the
party carried for this very purpose.

In less than an hour we were glad to find ourselves nearing a stream,
on the banks of which were a few reed huts and a vegetable patch with
some more of those excellent water-melons. This time, however, there
were not the same facilities for their removal, and, as we rather
anticipated, their wild owners would not part with them, money or
no. We therefore proceeded to the stream, which was perhaps a foot
deep and twelve feet across. The paddle was refreshing to the feet;
the water for drinking purposes less encouraging, for above us were
cattle watering and the bottom was muddy. It belied its name of "White
Stream," we thought, as we filled up our water-bottles. While doing
this and wiping the mud off our feet, a villainous-looking cutthroat
came out from a tent close by and drew near for a talk. We told the
usual German story, and he asked for no details, but mentioned there
was better water in a village farther on; we could see its grove of
trees to our left front.

On resuming our march we did not visit it, but kept due south over the
scorched prairie land, varied here and there with a bit of plough. The
heat was already terrific. At 1 P.M. we halted for an hour
within a broken-down enclosure of large sun-dried blocks of mud. Two
of these made an excellent fireplace for the dixie, while dry camel
thorn and scrub provided fuel in abundance. Here we cooked some rice
and cocoa, which, although amounting to only half a mugful apiece, took
some time to demolish, for in that temperature the food was long in
cooling.

Here a dissertation upon mugs. If an aluminium mug saves an ounce
of weight, it makes a ton of trouble: and Looney's was thoroughly
unpopular on account of its unpleasant habit of burning the fingers of
any one who handled it. Moreover, it shared the failing of instability
with Perce's empty ovaltine tin, which did duty for mug after his own
had fallen out of his haversack on the very first night. Its small base
was a source of anxiety both to its owner and the disher-out of brews.
If you ever think of having all your food for a month or so out of a
mug, let it be a squat enamelled one.

While we were eating our simple fare, a man passed ahead of us, but
took no apparent notice of our little group.

We marched on at about 2 P.M., having as our next objective
Mousa Kouyousou, _i.e._, the Well of Moses: aptly named we thought,
for the parched plain before us would need a Moses' wand to make it
bring forth water. No treed oasis round this well was to help us in our
quest; the map itself wrote the name vaguely across the desert without
committing itself to any definite spot. All we could say from the map
was that the well should be almost due west of Hasan Dagh. In that case
we ought to find it within eighteen miles of the Beyaz Sou, and that
as we imagined was now five or six miles behind us. An hour later we
unexpectedly came upon a couple of small irrigation canals, at the
first of which we halted a few minutes to bathe our scorched feet. The
heat and glare of the desert were indeed overpowering; mirage seemed
to raise the southern end of the Touz Cheul--the Salt Lake--above the
level of the plain, and mocked us with the vision of an arm of water
stretching out eastwards at right angles to our course, until we began
to wonder where we could best cross it. As we proceeded, however, it
became clear that this was in reality but the broad white bed of a
dried-up river.

A horrible suspicion entered our minds that here was the real Beyaz
Sou, and that the muddy stream and two canals we had crossed were
merely its diverted waters. The surmise was soon confirmed, for, as
we drew near, we were able to see far away to the S.E. a humpbacked
bridge of some antiquity, now standing high and dry. This meant that
those eighteen miles to the Well of Moses were still before us. On the
far bank of the old river-bed could be seen a few huts, apparently
deserted, while a little farther on, and to the west, stood an old khan
or inn which eventually turned out to be in ruins. It was possible,
however, that a well might be found there, so we decided to go rather
out of our way on the off-chance. We amused ourselves by estimating how
long it would take to reach it. The most pessimistic view was twenty
minutes, but from the time of the guess we were on the march for a full
hour before we finally reached that khan: so much for distance-judging
in the desert.

At 5.30 P.M. haggard eyes were peering down into the depths
of two wells, obviously long disused, but which might still perhaps
contain a little water. As it happened one of them did, and Cochrane
lowered a mug. All he succeeded in drawing up were a few putrid dregs,
in which floated some decomposed cockroaches--to Nobby's disgust
especially; for it was his mug. Prospects were not very bright: Moses'
Well, if it existed at all, was still something over twelve miles
distant, and if we marched on at night it would be the easiest thing in
the world to miss it in the darkness.

At length the sun set, and as the air became cooler our spirits revived
a little. We made up our minds that we would carry on for only part
of the night, so as to be short of the well when daylight appeared. 7
o'clock accordingly saw us once more on the march; the going remained
good, although the country was becoming rather more undulating. There
were still the little fields of dusty plough in the midst of otherwise
hopeless desolation. After a couple of hours we took our long halt
on the edge of one of those ploughed patches. Nobby, wiser than the
remainder of the party, dug himself a shallow trench in the loose
soil, and so slept for five happy hours undisturbed by the cold which
woke the rest; for we seemed to live in extremes of temperature.

Dawn on the 20th August found us very anxious. Having marched for
another two hours or more, we felt that the well must be somewhere
near. As the light grew stronger, we crossed a couple of steep rocky
nullahs, and looking back saw that we had passed not far from a village
in a group of trees. A minute later two stunted trees ahead caught our
eye. We thought there might be water here, but were disappointed. By
six o'clock we were seriously thinking of going back to the village
behind us, when another came into view on our left. This time, however,
there were no trees, and the huts seemed entirely deserted; but next
moment our steps quickened as we recognised the stone circle of a well.

As in other countries in the East, so in Turkey, water is often drawn
up by bullocks: they are harnessed to a rope which, passing over a rude
pulley supported directly over the mouth of the well, is attached to
a large waterskin. The track beaten out by the patient beasts as they
go to and from the well gives a measure of its depth. In the present
instance, we could see by the length of the track that our well was a
deep one; but it was comforting to find that the hoof-marks appeared
fairly recent. So deep, indeed, was this well that no sound could be
heard of the splash of a dropped pebble, but as the eyes became more
accustomed to the dark depths, it was possible to recognise the sparkle
of running water.

Packs were off in a moment, and while Johnny and Grunt went on to
see what they could find in the village, Cochrane joined up the
heterogeneous collection of string and cord produced by the rest.
There was still insufficient length, however, until we had added on
a couple of strands unravelled from a skein of rope. Nobby's mug was
then lowered, and we began filling our water-bottles and chargals. No
drinks were to be allowed until this had been done--a wise precaution,
for after a few mugfuls the string snapped, and poor old Nobby's mug
was gone. It was not long before a new line was made, this time all
of strands from the rope, and a water-bottle was lowered, suitably
weighted to make it enter the water mouth upwards. As soon as the
supply was ensured, Ellis and Looney started a fire in a high stone
enclosure near the village huts; for here it was possible to obtain a
little shade from the already burning sun.

Inside the enclosure there was a limitless supply of canes, placed
there by some unwitting friend, and these, after weeks in the sun,
were dry and burned admirably. Things were certainly beginning to look
up, and we refreshed ourselves with a series of brews--cocoa, rice
and Oxo, and tea--calculating with satisfaction that we had covered
something over forty-four miles in the preceding thirty-five hours.

Our contentment was but temporarily disturbed by the arrival of two
men on donkeys--who with three or four boys now came into the village.
They passed by the open side of our enclosure, so we thought it best
to call out the usual greeting, as though pleased to see them. To this
they responded, and a few minutes later, having dismounted in the
village, the two men came up, borrowed a brand from our fire, lit their
cigarettes, and chatted pleasantly enough. The conversation turned, as
often, on the subject of firearms. We slapped our thighs in a knowing
way, and left them to infer that we had revolvers. They seemed to take
our presence as a matter of course, and asked no awkward questions as
to what we were doing in such an out-of-the-way place. After a short
rest they took their departure, and we thought no more about them.



CHAPTER IX.

A RETREAT UNDER FIRE.


An hour later, having refilled every water-carrying vessel, we too got
under way. Scarcely had we gone three hundred yards from the well,
however, when a rifle bullet whizzed over our heads and plunked into
the higher ground some distance beyond. We stopped and turned, to find
that we were followed by a party of five ruffians, two of whom we could
see had rifles. Grunt shouted out to ask what they wanted, upon which
they waved to us, as much as to imply that it was all a mistake and
we could go on. It is difficult to know what leads one to do certain
things on such occasions: whether we were not inclined to allow so
risky a mistake to pass unnoticed, or whether it was that we did not
like to leave such doubtful characters in our rear; something at any
rate induced us to find out more about them, so we began to walk back
towards the well. To our surprise they too then began retreating, so
six of us halted while Cochrane and Grunt approached them alone.
Still, however, our friends seemed far from keen to make our nearer
acquaintance--or rather we should say, renew it, for it was now
possible to recognise amongst them the two who had ridden in on donkeys
an hour before. This helped to explain their caution, for perhaps
seeing our bold front, they thought it better to keep out of range of
those revolvers of ours; at any rate they kept moving off as fast as
Cochrane and Grunt advanced towards them. Even the armed men would not
remain within shouting range, so that pour-parlers were somewhat at a
standstill.

Others were by this time getting in amongst the village houses, where
it was hard to see what they were up to. They might work round under
cover, and so suddenly come in on the flank of our two envoys if they
went back much farther towards the well. Cochrane wisely called a
halt, and waited for the six behind to move up to some higher ground
from which it would be easier to watch the opposing party. Some of
these, however, even disappeared over the low ridge beyond the village,
reappearing later reinforced by three more men. Meanwhile a period
of stalemate ensued: our two envoys were not to be enticed into the
village, still less would the enemy come any nearer. It must have been
a full quarter of an hour that we stood there looking at one another.

At length, in reply to Grunt's repeated inquiries as to what they
wanted, the nearest man started taking off his clothes, and made signs
for us to do the same. This, at least, was plain acting if not plain
speaking.

Events now began to move much more rapidly. There was not much
difficulty in deciding what to do, and in any case, on these occasions
one acts almost intuitively. If we thought consciously at all, it
was that though we were hardly in a position to dispute these men's
demands, seeing that our revolvers were only imaginary, we could at
any rate give them a run for their money--or, more accurately, for
our clothes. To give them these without a struggle was tantamount to
relinquishing once and for all what little hope remained of getting
out of Turkey; it would further involve the very unpleasant, if not
positively dangerous, experience of spending several days and nights
in the friendless desert, with next to no clothes or food. Cochrane
and Grunt, at any rate, did not hesitate for a moment, although for
the last few minutes one of the armed men had been covering them at a
range of little over a hundred yards, and was sure to fire when they
turned. And so it happened; but a sustained aim does not make for good
shooting, and the shot went wide. The remaining six waited for the two
to rejoin them, and then all of us, extending into skirmishing order,
began a hasty retreat.

The chances were not very equal: even if both sides had been unarmed,
we were severely handicapped by our packs and water-bottles. The two
full chargals Johnny and Looney had to empty as they ran. Moreover,
although by this time we were in hard enough training, we could
scarcely expect to possess sufficient stamina for a protracted
retirement; and if the ordinary villagers of this lawless countryside
were in the habit of turning brigand on every favourable opportunity,
we might have others joining in the chase when the first tired of it: a
second village had already come into view.

But there was little time to be thinking of all these possibilities;
we had the more immediate danger of being hit by one of our pursuers'
bullets. As soon as they had seen us take to flight they had reopened
fire. One of the rifles was obviously a Mauser, the other gave the
impression of being rather an antiquated old blunderbuss; but it is
not pleasant to stop even one of those comparatively slow-moving lumps
of lead. Strangely enough, however, none of us felt afraid for his own
safety: the chief fear of each was that some one else of the party
might be hit, which would mean that all our plans of escape would have
to go by the board, for we should naturally all have stayed with the
wounded man. Providentially, the wild villagers' shooting was not very
good, although one shot struck the ground between Nobby and Perce.

[Illustration:
_Sketched to Authors' description by Hal Kay._
THE FLIGHT FROM MOSES' WELL.]

At this stage we seriously thought of dropping one of our packs, in the
hope that the Turks might delay their pursuit to look at their loot,
but the suggestion was not entertained for more than a moment. So we
carried on, doubling for a hundred yards in every three. With these
loads it was impossible to keep running continuously.

The shots were now beginning to follow one another at longer intervals.
Looking back, we found to our joy that we were actually outdistancing
our pursuers. This seemed almost too good to be true. We began to look
round anxiously in case they might perhaps have something else in
store. One armed man sent round on a pony or donkey would be enough to
cut us off; we accordingly kept a sharp look-out to right and left.
No one, however, appeared, and after a precipitate flight of over two
miles, and the creation, if there had been some one to time us, of a
world's record for speed under novel conditions, we found that our
pursuers had abandoned the chase. Probably those imaginary revolvers of
ours had still kept them in check, for we noticed that they followed
us over each little rise with considerable circumspection, as though
fearing we might be lying up for them.

We had come through with the loss of the water in the chargals and of
Ellis's water-bottle. The later had jumped out of its sling at the
hottest stage of the pursuit, and had to be left where it fell. May its
new owner find it always as empty as it seemed to be with us!

It was now about 12.20 P.M. and the heat at its worst. It
was no time, however, to rest or even to slacken our pace more than
we could help: and we did in fact carry on at well over four miles an
hour until 2.30 P.M. Then seeing no further signs that we were
followed we allowed ourselves a short halt.

By this time our throats were parched with thirst and our clothes
saturated with perspiration; but worst discomfort of all was the
pain of our feet. The violent running and marching, the fiery heat
of the sun above, and the radiation from the glowing earth beneath,
had combined to reduce them to bits of red-hot flesh, and we longed
for water to cool them. But everywhere stretched the desert, dusty
and bare, bordered by naked barren hills. To avoid approaching those
immediately S. of us, we had latterly altered our course rather to
the S.E.; for we were developing an unholy and not unnatural dread of
brigands, and imagined that every hill was infested with them.

Not till 4.30 that evening did we dare to take more than a few minutes'
rest. As we lay on the ground we scrutinised with deepest interest the
Taurus Mountains, which, as the heat-haze lifted, stood out clearly
ahead--the last great barrier to be overcome before we reached the sea.
From a distance of about sixty miles it looked a level range, broken
by no outstanding peak, pierced by no low-lying pass. Anywhere in the
portion where we were likely to cross, however, the map indicated a
height of not more than 5000 feet; so we turned our attention to nearer
objects. In the next shallow valley we could see several flocks of
sheep, or so we thought. These we watched eagerly through our glasses,
for their presence denoted water. We fancied we could see a stream a
little beyond them, but when we reached the spot after dark we found
that mirage had once again deceived us. It was not until we had marched
another sixteen weary miles that our needs were to be met.

That night, the beginning of our third week of liberty, the strain of
recent events and our anxiety for water were reflected in our tempers,
and Cochrane had the thankless task of trying to keep the balance
between those who demanded water on or off the nearest route, and those
who howled for smooth-going for the sake of their agonised feet. A
twentieth-century Solomon, he kept the balance well: for the sore-feet
brigade he had two hours over an ideal marching surface; then, in
deference to the all-for-water party, two hours over stone-strewn
ground at the foot of some low hills. These held out the best prospect
of finding the precious fluid. The search, however, was all in vain;
for although we passed close above a village where there must have been
water, we did not dare to seek the source of its supply. This night
opium pills and "Kola" tablets were in great demand, but even those
could not keep some of us going, and soon after midnight we took an
hour's rest. A little before, we had passed by an enormous flock of
sheep: so disheartened were some of us that we very nearly decided to
go up and ask the shepherd to show us the nearest water. This, however,
Cochrane wisely decided not to risk. Instead, while the remainder lay
down and rested, he left his pack and went off with Old Man to search
for it.

Their self-sacrifice was without result. After an hour's absence they
rejoined the party, and we marched on, determined to make a last
desperate effort to reach the Ak Gueul (White Lake) near Eregli. This
was still fifteen miles or more away, and would, we knew, be salt;
but it was the next water marked on our map. Just before we halted we
had crossed a track, and along this we started off at something over
four miles an hour. Doubtless this pace could not have lasted, and
providentially, an hour later, we were deterred from our purpose by the
sound of more sheep bells. There must, therefore, be water somewhere
in the neighbourhood. Though it was a pity to waste the moon, which was
at its full and would only set an hour before dawn, we decided, after
all, to wait the two hours which remained before daylight. We could
then find out where the flocks were watered, and be fairly certain to
find good concealment amongst the ridges of the Karadja Dagh, which was
visible to the S.W. At this time we had, on the average, less than a
pint of water a head.

Dawn on the 21st August found us huddled behind a couple of small
rocks, seeking in vain for shelter from the cutting wind which was
blowing harder every minute from the north. So chilled were we that
another opium pill all round was voted a wise precaution. "Seeing red"
is not an uncommon occurrence, but, owing to the opium, some of us
that morning saw a green sunrise. In the valleys on either side were
numerous flocks and herds; but no stream gladdened our straining eyes,
nor could we recognise a well. There was no village in sight, so at six
o'clock we determined to take the risk of passing the shepherds, whom
we could see below, and to push on at all costs towards Eregli. We had
moved down the S.W. slope of the hill for this purpose, and had gone a
few hundred yards across the valley, when we hit upon another Moses'
Well, this time no less than 200 feet deep. With joy did we draw water
out of that well of salvation, for such in the light of later events it
was.

We were at the time within a few hundred yards of a large flock of
sheep; but a rainstorm was brewing, and the shepherds were far too
occupied with getting their sheep together to worry about our presence.
We were thus able to fill up all water-vessels undisturbed. After
this we went back to some broken-down stone enclosures which we had
previously passed. One of these, about ten feet square, we reached at
8 A.M., having collected little twigs and dried weeds as we
went. We now had concealment from view and a little shelter from the
wind, but not from the rain, which soon began to fall and continued
in heavy squalls until late in the afternoon. Every now and then the
officer of the watch peeped over the wall to see that no one was
approaching. That day, however, we saw nothing but the flocks and some
men with camels, who came over the hills where we had been at dawn
but did not come our way. At intervals we regaled ourselves with tea
and brews of rice and cocoa, or rice and Oxo. Of rice we had almost a
superfluity compared with other food, owing to the number of days on
which we had been unable to cook. But the hot food and drink did not
suffice to keep us warm: every shower left us shivering like aspen
leaves.

Even opium proved no longer effectual, though probably to it and to
liberal doses of quinine is attributable the fact that none of us
suffered from chill or fever after our exposure on that day.

Late that afternoon the sun appeared for a time, enabling most of us
to snatch a little sleep. This was what was needed more than anything
else. Much refreshed, we left our rude shelter at 6 P.M., and
hurriedly refilling our water-bottles at the well, continued across the
valley. Within an hour we were lying at the top of the low ridge on
its southern side. From here we overlooked the bare plain stretching
to the marshes near Eregli, and thought we saw the reflection of water
in the Ak Gueul. When six hours later, and after covering seventeen or
eighteen miles, we reached the lake, it was to find that it was dry,
and that it had been only the white salt-encrusted basin that we had
seen. There was nothing to do but carry on. Besides the need of water
to keep us moving, an icy wind blew without respite upon our backs,
making even the short hourly halts a misery. Secondly, we had on the
previous day checked our food supply, and calculated we had only enough
for another four days at the most. Meanwhile, there still remained the
Taurus range to be crossed.

We therefore pushed ahead, and were soon fighting our way through thick
reeds. The struggle continued for two hours, and so exhausted us that
towards the end we had to halt for a few minutes and eat the biscuit
which was part of the coming day's ration.

When we renewed the battle, it was with the expectation of finding
ourselves at any moment crossing the main line of railway between
Karaman and Eregli. This, of course, had not been built when our map
was made, but we judged it must be on our side of the foot-hills of
the Taurus, to the nearest point of which we were now making in the
hope of being hidden there by dawn. If the railway were guarded, as it
had been at all bridges and culverts when we passed along it on our
way to captivity more than two years before, our approach, we thought,
would be well advertised by the crackling of the reeds. In many places
these were as stiff as canes, and as much as eight feet in height.
Our only hope was that the sentries would be octogenarians, and be
stupefied into inaction by the apparent charging of a whole herd of
wild elephants.

At 4 A.M. we emerged from the reeds to find that the railway
was not on our side of the nearest ridge. Dawn found us safely hidden
in a deep and rocky ravine, preparing to spend our first day in the
Taurus. The merciless north wind still sought us out--so much so,
indeed, that even in the sun it was impossible to keep warm until
close on midday. We had about half a bottleful apiece of water, and
under these chilly conditions it would have been ample for the day.
Unfortunately it was again essential to cook rice, as we could afford
no more biscuits; so all the water had to be expended on boiling. To be
precise, our day's ration consisted of one pint mugful of rice and Oxo
each: liquid refreshment there was none.

Some of us felt half drunk for want of sleep, or perhaps as a reaction
after the opium, when at dusk that evening we moved up to the top of
the ravine; but our limbs were slightly rested. It was a relief too to
find that at sunset the icy wind had dropped for a while, and that the
country ahead of us was a plateau with only slight undulations and a
splendid marching surface. A S.S.E. direction was now taken, for we had
decided to make our way across the Taurus by the most direct route to
the sea. At 8 P.M. we were settling down to our second five
minutes' halt, when Looney caught the glint of steel rails to our left
front, and a look through the glasses established the fact that we had
reached the railway. No sentries or patrols appeared to be in sight, so
we completed the usual hourly rest and then cut boldly across the line
and gained some slightly more hilly country to the S.E. From here we
saw a hut some way down the line, which may have been built for the use
of sentries; but whether this was so or not had ceased to be of vital
interest, for we were now safely across.

After only another hour's march all of us were beginning to feel much
more fatigued than we had expected on setting out that evening, the
effects probably of lack of sleep and water. However it was, we now had
another consultation as to the route we should attempt to follow to the
coast. This time we came to the conclusion that it would be taking a
very grave risk to go by the shortest way--for the following reason.
In that direction the map showed difficult country and very little in
the way of villages or likely places for water, so that, with the short
rations now remaining, an accident, such as descending a ravine and
finding no immediate way out again, or even a sprained ankle, might be
disastrous to the whole party. It was decided then, if nothing else
interfered, to go at first a little west of south, and later make our
way across the Taurus where the mountains were lower, following the
valley of the Sakara river down to the sea.

At 9.30 P.M. a halt was called to give ourselves a long
sleep till midnight. Before the end of it most of us were sorry we
had settled upon such a lengthy one, so chilled were we by the cold.
While we were resting, a train rumbled by in the valley below, showing
that we were still not far from the railway. On resuming our journey,
therefore, we kept among the low hills. An hour's fast marching brought
us into sight of a village, round which we worked our way, and on the
farther outskirts were overjoyed to find a well. The water was about
sixty feet down, and so cold that for all our thirst we could hardly
drink a mugful each. We remained at the well for nearly three-quarters
of an hour, filling all our water-bottles and chargals. Now and again
a dog barked, but no inhabitants put in an appearance. There was even
leisure to inspect a bed of Indian corn near by. Unfortunately only
a single cob could be found. It was very young and tender, and most
refreshing, as far as it went when divided between eight.

With our thirst quenched by the ice-cold water, we were able to
maintain an average pace of three miles an hour until 4.30 next
morning. The indefatigable Cochrane was even then for going on. Most of
the party, however, were utterly exhausted: since leaving the well the
surface had been passably good, but the country had been on a slight
incline, and intersected by a series of irrigation channels and natural
nullahs, which all added to our fatigue. In one of the latter, then, we
removed our kits, and collected little bits of dried thorn and scrub in
readiness to make a fire as soon as it should be light enough to do so
without risk of detection.

We had marched sixteen or seventeen miles, though not all in the most
useful direction, so there was gladness when the two cooks on duty
announced that the first dixieful was ready. A mixture of rice and
cocoa once more graced the menu. Cochrane, who had gone ahead to
reconnoitre, had still not returned, and the rest began to be anxious
lest he should have been seen, or have come to grief in some way. After
a while three volunteers went out to look for him, and eventually saw
his head peering cautiously over a rock. He had been cut off from the
nullah by the chance arrival of a shepherd, and had been biding his
time till the latter should think fit to move to pastures new.

The sun was already hot, and its heat, although considerably relieved
by the cool breeze, once more precluded the possibility of any real
sleep. Nor could we forget our hunger. On this occasion we were rather
extravagant with our water. We had two brews of rice and Oxo and one
of tea; then we boiled our last two handfuls of rice with a little
cocoa, and so had a rice mould to take along with us in the dixie and
eat that evening. Unfortunately the cook, who shall be nameless, upset
it, so that a fair proportion of grit became an unwelcome ingredient
of the dish. Our lavishness in water knew no bounds when we proceeded
to boil up half a mugful, in which we were all to shave. This was the
first time we did so since leaving Yozgad sixteen days before, so that
the two little safety-razor sets were given an arduous task that day:
few of us succeeded in removing all the growth without the use of two
of our spare blades. It was a long and painful performance, but most
refreshing in its result, and, as it proved, a very timely return to
comparative respectability.

During the morning we went once again into the problem of food. At
dawn we had most of us been in favour of going into the next suitable
village, and there boldly replenishing our supplies as Germans; but as
we recovered a little from our over-fatigue, we agreed with Cochrane
that we might still reach the coast in three days. On tabulating our
total supplies, we found we should in this case be able to allow
ourselves the following daily rations: For the rest of the day already
begun, the rice, cocoa, and grit mould. For the second day, remnants
of tapioca, beef-tea, and Ovaltine, amounting in all to about 4¾ oz.
per head; and chocolate, cocoa, and arrowroot, totalling perhaps 1¾ oz.
per head. For the third day, there would remain for each member of the
party one biscuit, 5 oz. of raisins, 1 oz. of chocolate; and, between
the party as a whole, four tins of Horlick's malted milk tablets.

For emergencies after the third day nothing would be left, so that, if
on reaching the sea we did not at once find a dhow or other boat, and
that with provisions, we should still be lost. But man proposes, God
disposes; and it is as well for man that it is so.



CHAPTER X.

THE THREE HUNS.


As the country before us appeared to be quite deserted, we began to
move off a little before 3 P.M. The going was much the same
as in the early morning, but what had then been small nullahs became
broader and deeper ravines, running across our path at intervals of
seven to eight hundred yards. The north sides of the ravines were
especially steep. An hour and a half after our start we saw ahead of us
some men and a string of camels, possibly engaged in contraband affairs
with Cyprus. Accordingly we halted under cover of some rocks until we
could march again unseen. The rate of marching was slow, hardly two
miles an hour, for we were all very exhausted, trudging along in the
hot sun, and Grunt was almost fainting. After two hours he had to give
up. The terrific blow on his head by the brigand must have been the
start of his collapse, and now, after many days of sticking to it, he
could go no farther. His head felt very dizzy and each foot weighed a
ton. We knew there must be water in a valley a few hundred yards ahead,
as we had seen some trees and a bit of a village. We therefore halted
for food in a small nullah, meaning to get to the stream after dark.

The dixie containing the cocoa, rice, and grit mould was produced, and
we had our meal. The grit was a blessing in a way, as one had to eat
slowly. Two ounces of rice, tinged with cocoa, does not go far with a
ravenous craving for food. As dusk came on we walked slowly for the
few hundred yards to the edge of the river valley, the sides of which
were precipitous and impossible to manoeuvre by moonlight. Cochrane and
Nobby walked along the edge of the ravine to see if there was an easier
descent, but found none. While they were away Grunt told us that he
wished to be left behind, as he was afraid of keeping us back. He said
that if we left a little food with him he could lie up for a couple of
days till we were clear of the locality, and he would then go to the
nearest village, buy food, and make for the coast later,--if he felt
strong enough and was not captured.

When Cochrane returned we held a council of war and decided to halt
for the whole night. Accordingly we returned to the rice-and-grit
nullah, and worked down it towards the main valley until we found a
good resting-place. Nobby found a spring of excellent water a short
way farther on, and there our water-bottles were refilled. By way of
medical comfort Grunt was given the small quantity of Ovaltine that
remained and a piece of biscuit. The Ovaltine had been carried loose
in a bag since we started, and was in consequence as hard as a brick.
Johnny tried to cut bits off the brick, but the knife edge merely
turned on its owner's thumb, so finally Grunt had to gnaw it.

On these very cold nights we had a system of what we called snuggling,
usually in pairs; in larger numbers if the ground permitted, but only
once did the level of our sleeping-place permit of more than two. That
was on the following night. This night Grunt's snuggling partner lit a
pipe, the best pipe of his life, and listened to poor old Grunt gnawing
Ovaltine. It was hard to bear. Fortunately the pipe and the Ovaltine
lasted for the same time. Grunt was very depressed. He reminded his
partner how at Yozgad one day he, being of massive build and great
strength, had prophesied that he would stand the trek worse than any
of us. Ellis, as usual, was very restless. He is a noisy sleeper. When
he doesn't grunt he snores, and he is not still for a minute. We never
heard him whistle in his sleep, but doubtless he does. When lying in
hiding by day we had to wake him if any one came at all close to us.

Before we went to sleep it was decided that the following morning
three of us should go to the nearest village on the river in the guise
of Germans, and buy enough food for the party to finish the journey to
the coast, some fifty-five miles away.

At daylight, about 4.30 A.M., a move was made farther down
the nullah. Here was cooked a two-ounce porridge ration, and then
began our preparations for entering the village. The three to go were
Grunt, Nobby, and Johnny. Grunt had the best Turkish of our party, so
he also had the undying disgrace of playing the _rôle_ of Hun officer.
Nobby and Johnny were the Boche rank and file. It was essential to the
success of the scheme that we should make a good impression on the
villagers. Smartness was our watchword. The theatrical party therefore
were allowed to commandeer clothes. Grunt had Nobby's "Gor Blimy"
(better known, perhaps, as cap, service dress, mark two, star); Ellis's
uniform coat, his own trousers, the Old Man's wrist-watch, and Perce's
boots--not a bad effort. Johnny had his own kit with the exception
of his trousers, an important part of which had remained lazily
behind on a rocky slope the second night of the escape, while Johnny
energetically slid on. Nobby had Ellis's "Gor Blimy" and boots, the
Old Man's coat, and Looney's trousers. The three actors then shaved,
washed, put "Vermi-jelly" grease on their boots to give the latter a
false air of respectability, and at 8.30 A.M. were ready for
their performance.

They thought they were playing a drama at the time: looking back it
was true comedy. The three set off down the steep goat-track towards
the village. It was a tense moment, and we all thought that the
evening would most probably find us once more under the orders of some
uncivilised Turkish _chaouse_; for we had decided that if the three
were captured in the village the other five would give themselves up.

Poor old Cochrane looked very anxious, and it was not to be wondered
at. On the seventeenth day of his former attempt to escape, some two
years previously, he and the two other naval officers of his party of
three were compelled by starvation to buy food from a shepherd's hut.
This man informed on them, with the result that they were taken by
gendarmes. Recaptured, they were kept for six months in a filthy prison
in Constantinople, untried by any court-martial. When the latter was
held, Cochrane and his friends were given a three weeks' sentence,
but actually were imprisoned for yet another four months. This is an
excellent instance of Turkish justice, and the kind we were to expect
should any one make a false move in the village.

Grunt, the officer, walked on ahead. Nobby and Johnny, each carrying an
empty pack and haversack, marched behind.

The first glimpse of the village with its two grey-domed mosques and
a few hundred houses rather frightened them: it was a much bigger one
than they had expected, and the larger the village the more likely
they were to be discovered as impostors. It was, however, too late to
turn back. There were men and women working in the fields who had seen
them, though they caused no real interest except to small boys, who
are inquisitive the world over; so they marched on, Nobby and Johnny
keeping perfect step, with Grunt at a respectful two paces in the rear.
When they entered the village they asked the way to the headman's house.

Their story was to be a plausible one. Their German surveying party
was composed of one officer and seven men. They had left the railway
at Eregli, and, taking to cart transport, were making for Mersina. The
carts had unfortunately broken down, and being pressed for time they
had marched on. They now wanted a few days' supplies for the party.
A hard story to disprove without taking a lot of trouble, and Turks
usually avoid taking much. Also, they had that forged document in
Turkish, with the office stamp of Enver Pasha's Ministry of War on it
to prove their _bona fides_; but this was only to be shown as a last
resource.

After being wrongly directed three times by people who, if questioned
further, would probably have said they were strangers to the place,
the party entered a shop, and Grunt requested the owner to allow his
small boy to show them the way. They were taken to a two-storied
timber-built house, against the door of which lolled a Turkish private
soldier. The conventional greetings passed, and the man asked in
Turkish if they were Germans. The reply was in the affirmative. To
their immense surprise this "simple soldat" in an out-of-the-way
village started talking a very fluent German. It was the limit. The
rank and file now came to the fore, and one suggested that the man
had misunderstood them. They were not Germans: they were Magyars
(Hungarians), and did not understand a word of German. The last part of
the statement was untrue by two words, for the three of them compared
notes that evening and counted the German words they knew--"Verboten,
Schweinfleisch, and Bier" were the sum total.

Stepping by the soldier, Grunt led the way into a small hall furnished
with some harness and a few carpet saddle-bags. On the left was an
open door, which they entered. Here was a long narrow room with a low
ceiling. On three sides of it carpets were spread, with a few cushions
on the floor. Reclining against the cushions on one side were two
grey-bearded Turks, and a young Greek in a straw hat, blue suit, and
brown boots. As they came in, the Greek said in English, "Come on,
come along,"--the limit was surpassed! Later it was found that the
Greek knew only a few words of English, but it was very unpleasant at
the time. Grunt gave the Turkish salutation and sat down. Nobby and
Johnny stayed strictly at attention. Grunt motioned with his hand, and
received a smart salute and heel-click from his two subordinates, who
then dared to seat themselves.

The old Turk, who received Grunt's salutation, was obviously the
headman. His jacket was gaudy, his pantaloons were very voluminous, and
many daggers graced his highly-coloured belt.

To our party's disgust the German scholar now appeared and sat
down beside Johnny. People began to flock in, and the questioning
started--thousands of questions. The three answered as best they could
and gave their story. The soldier now explained that he had served
many years in Austria and knew a great deal about it. The actors did
not. Where had they come from in Austria? Oh, Pruth! This opened the
flood-gates once more. Did they know such and such a place? At some
names they nodded and looked intelligent: at others they shook their
heads. Fortunately the headman here broke in. Had they rifles and
revolvers? Revolvers, yes! but the rifles had been left in the carts.
Would they show him the revolvers? Grunt refused, saying there was an
army order against it. So it went on.

Then another unpleasant incident took place. Grunt was wearing Ellis's
service dress jacket. Before we left Yozgad its brass buttons had been
covered with cloth, so as not to flash in the sun or in the moonlight.
One of the large front buttons, however, had during the days that
followed escape become uncovered, and though we remarked upon the fact
when Grunt put on the coat in the morning, it was not covered again.
Now it caught the scholar's eye. He crawled along to Grunt and started
fingering it. He knew something about buttons, he said, and that
particular one was an English button. The scholar was no fool! Johnny
was very contemptuous,--didn't the man know that it was a specially
good Magyar button, and one of the latest pattern? The scholar
certainly made for excitement.

Now was committed a grave error that might have had disastrous results.
A small bag containing ¼ lb. of tea had been brought along to the
village, in order to propitiate the headman should need arise, and
at this juncture Grunt thought fit to offer it to him, extolling its
excellence as he did so. No sooner had the bag changed hands than to
their horror the three saw that the word TEA was marked plainly on it
in indelible pencil. Had the Greek seen it, he would almost certainly
have been able to read a simple word like this, and the game would
have been up. But once more the party's luck stood by them, and the
incident closed with the headman putting the bag in his pocket.

It was dangerous for our party to talk anything but Turkish, even
amongst themselves. Hindustani might have been safe, but they did not
think of it. Early in the morning we had decided what food should be
demanded. The list was as follows:--

  Five okes of meat (an oke equals 2¾ lbs.)
  Eight okes of raisins.
  Twenty   "    bread.
  Ten      "    wheat.
  Eight    "    cheese.
  Half an oke of butter.
  One      "     honey.
  Half     "     tobacco.
  150 eggs.

Of course we did not expect to be able to obtain all these, but they
were now asked for. As each item was named, the price was discussed by
all the occupants of the room except the wretched buyers. Usually the
price first mentioned was fairly moderate, but in a short time they had
run it up amongst themselves as if they were bidding at an auction.
They then turned to the buyers and said "such a thing costs so much,"
and the buyers were hungry enough to swallow any price. It is a trait
of Turkish commerce that no article ever has a fixed value. Finally 23½
Turkish pounds were paid in advance for the stores.

It was here that the party obtained a little war news. Of this we had
had none since leaving Yozgad, and at that time the Turkish papers
would have had us believe that the Germans were even then knocking at
the gates of Paris. In the headman's house the war was now discussed,
and the fighting powers of the various nations criticised. As for the
British, they were a very rich and powerful people, and yet just look
how they had been driven into the sea at Gallipoli, and how the Turks
had forced them to surrender at Kut-el-Amara. The French, of course,
were not good fighters, and the Americans quite untrained to arms. The
actors had perforce to agree to all these statements, but their joy was
great, though well hidden under a disgusted mien, when they heard that
the Germans were retiring.

After this conversation came a welcome diversion. A round table like
a dumb-waiter, about 9 inches in height, was brought in. With it came
a large supply of chupatties, a flat plate of honey, one of cream, a
bowl of sour milk, and a dish piled high with greasy wheat pilau; and
following the food came the headman's son--a lad of nine. The headman
beckoned our three to approach, and, sitting on their hunkers round the
table, the breakfast party of seven began the meal.

The method of eating is simple, but one requires either genius or years
of practice to be any good at it. Break off a piece of chupattie,
quickly shape it into a shovel, scoop up as much honey or cream as
possible, eat the shovel and its contents, and start again. Johnny is
a novice at the game. Though ravenous for food he is an amateur: his
miserable little shovels are merely damp with honey or cream when he
eats them.

Mark Twain is unfortunately dead. He alone could have described how the
nine-year-old boy ate: his shovels were immense, and he always took a
full scoop. He was swallowing continuously, and while his right hand
was feeding his mouth, his left had already shaped a new shovel. He
was an expert--a record-breaker. Grunt and Nobby fared little better
than Johnny, for the three had to conceal the fact that they were
starving. The meal lasted not more than six minutes. Johnny reckoned he
had absorbed one chupattie with a negligible quantity of honey, cream,
and pilau. The boy must have eaten eight, and the greater part of
everything else, and thoroughly earned the undying admiration of three
Englishmen. The meal over, Nobby and Johnny put on their packs and
haversacks. For a change the German scholar said they were really good
Austrian packs and haversacks: perhaps the button incident had affected
him.

A guide was now produced, and the Magyar rank and file went a-shopping.
The packs could not possibly carry the amount of food which it had
been decided to buy, so quantities were cut down, and finally the two
returned to the headman's house, each carrying a load of about 57 lbs.
During their absence Grunt had to answer innumerable questions about
his firearms.

After a short delay the three took their departure, Nobby and Johnny
again clicking heels and doing a pantomime chorus salute. The distance
to the remainder of the party was one and a half miles, and the path
climbed steeply the whole way. The Hun officer of course marched
coolly ahead, while Nobby and Johnny plodded behind, anything but
cool. After going a few hundred yards they glanced behind them. As
was to be expected, they were being followed. First came the beastly
German-speaking man, then the Greek, and after them the headman himself
on a donkey. Johnny advised Grunt to go on ahead and warn the others
that we were now Magyars, and that we each had a revolver. Nobby and
Johnny walked as fast as they could, but the sun was very hot and the
loads very heavy for them in their weak condition. The men who were
following eventually caught up with them and together they came to
where the remainder of the party were camped. This gave the headman a
bit of a shock, as he thought we had lied about everything, and so did
not expect to see five other Magyars.

As soon as the party could get their equipment on we formed up in two
ranks. Grunt made some guttural sounds, at which we "left turned" and
started to march off into the blue, leaving three very puzzled men
behind us. After an hour's going we halted and, seeing no one following
us, had a meal of two chupatties and six raw eggs each. For the two odd
ones of the fifty that had been bought we had "fingers out."

"Fingers out" was a procedure whereby all such debatable matters were
decided during our escape. On the last sound of the words "Fingers
up!" each member of the party held up any number of fingers he chose,
subject to the maximum being four and the minimum one. Having decided
beforehand at which person the counting would start, and which way
round it was to go, the total number of fingers shown was added up and
on whatever member of the party this number ended when counting round,
that was the man. This was the sort of thing that happened: "Starting
with Perce, going round right-handed, Fingers up!" Suppose the total
was 19. That would mean, in our party of eight, that the man two after
Perce would win the count. "Fingers out" was used only to settle
who was to have the pleasant things, such as these odd eggs, or the
scrapings of the cooking-pot; duties such as going on ahead to scout or
going back to a spring to fetch water were undertaken by volunteers.

We were still on the wrong side of the ravine in which was the village,
and inasmuch as it was dangerous to stay in a locality where we had
aroused such suspicion, the ravine must be crossed. A mile farther on
we discovered a possible line of descent to a ledge half-way down.
The ravine was about four hundred feet deep and its sides almost
precipitous.

As we climbed slowly down, Perce, who was coming last, started three
enormous boulders, which crashed below. As Johnny leapt aside one
missed him by only a few inches. Half the descent was successfully
accomplished, but the ground beneath fell sheer away; so we went a
few hundred yards in an up-stream direction on our own level. Coming
round a rocky spur a wonderful sight met our gaze. Beyond us the cliff
curved round in a shallow crescent. It was of soft yellow sandstone,
and contained two large uninhabited cave-villages, about two hundred
yards apart. With the passing of centuries the cliff had worn away,
revealing a honeycomb of square caves. The larger village must have had
ten or twelve stories of rooms connected up by some form of staircases
inside, but we did not see them. The smaller one had two stories laid
bare, but it was not as well finished as the other. The entrances to
the village were Roman arches: under these ran a short passage leading
to the door itself, which was rectangular in shape. In some cases the
one archway contained two doors. The finest arch was carved on both
sides, with crude paintings on it. From the foot of the villages a very
steep pathway ran down to the river-bed below. This we followed, and
a quarter of an hour later arrived at the bottom. Here was the most
delightful sight we had seen since our start from Yozgad: green and
shady trees lining the grassy bank of a murmuring mountain stream. The
water was ice-cold and as clear as crystal--a merit when we thought
of the stagnant cattle-wallows from which we had had to drink. It was
too tempting to leave at once. We found what we thought was a secluded
spot, and here we first of all arranged our packs so that each of us
had an equal weight to carry after the morning's purchases. Then we
bathed. The joy of that bathe after seventeen days was indescribable,
and worth many a hardship.

A bridle-path ran along the edge of the stream, and unfortunately any
one who happened to pass would be able to see us. As luck would have
it, an old man rode by on a donkey while we were engaged in giving our
socks a much-needed wash. When he had gone we looked at each other and
heaved a sigh of relief, for he had not even glanced in our direction;
but when he rode past us again twice in the next twenty minutes and
still failed to look at us, we thought it was time to move. Hastily
filling our water-bottles and chargals, we started to climb the other
side of the ravine. The chargal, an extra weight of ten pounds and
hard to carry, changed hands twice before we got to the top, from where
the view of the cave-villages was very fine.

For the next three hours we picked our way over dreadful going, amongst
grey limestone rocks, cracked and pock-marked everywhere. Progress was
very slow, as one had to watch one's feet the whole time for fear of
breaking an ankle. It was here that we started a leveret, and made a
vain attempt to kill a long snake which swished past Johnny's feet.
We saw four snakes during our escape--one of which made Nobby leap
violently into the air as he nearly trod on it. When there was a chance
of resting, we were almost too tired to think at all, so the thought of
snakes did not worry us.

At about 5 P.M. Cochrane betted Johnny half a sovereign that
the sea would be visible from the next rise, provided there was no
further mountain range within five miles. The bet was lost by nearly
a week, for it was not till the twenty-third day out that seascapes
became part of our scenery.

At 6 P.M. we halted in a rocky cup-shaped depression with some
dried wood lying about. Here we set to work with the meat bought at the
village. It was, or had been, a beautiful goat-kid, and from it we made
a stew such as no multi-millionaire can buy. Certainly no "Cordon-bleu"
has ever achieved such an appetising dish. The recipe will now be
divulged: Take a joint of goat-kid, put it on a rock and saw pieces
off it with a blunt clasp-knife. Place the bits in a dixie over a wood
fire, add a little water, and wait impatiently till the meat is half
cooked. Put your share into an enamel mug, and with the hunger of
seventeen days' starvation as relish, and the thumb and forefinger of
the right hand as a fork, eat, and thank your God.

Our dinner this evening was one to be remembered: a mugful of meat,
two chupatties, a table-spoonful of cheese, and a few spoonfuls of
cooked wheat for each of us; and for the first time for many a day we
lay down feeling well fed. That night we found a level bit of ground
where five could sleep together. Of the rest, two slept practically in
a bushy fir-tree, and Cochrane curled round the fire. All went well
until some one of the five--Ellis for a sovereign--wanted to turn, and
the chance of sleeping was at an end. Fortunately, it was nearly time
to move off, so we did not lose much rest. Just before daylight we
started and did about two miles in two hours, the going being of the
ankle-breaking variety. We were not many miles from a main road, so it
was senseless to risk travelling much after dawn. Looney, too, with his
iron-clad ammunition boots, was going very lame, with large blisters on
his heels. We therefore hid for the day in another rocky cup similar
to that of the previous evening. Shortly after dawn, Nobby, a keen
shikari, slaughtered a hoopoe, which had the misfortune to have a fit
in front of him. This made a welcome addition to our larder, and when,
at our meal before starting that evening, we had "fingers out" for it,
Nobby very appropriately won it. In this bivouac we had the misfortune
to lose our second and last pair of scissors--they were a great loss,
and we sadly needed them later on. The cracks in the rocks, where we
spent the day, were several feet deep, and the scissors are no doubt
lying at the bottom of one of these.

There was some doubt who was guilty of the crime of losing them, but we
bet another sovereign it was ----.



CHAPTER XI.

IN THE HEART OF THE TAURUS.


During this 25th August we had fixed our position so far as our
obsolete map would permit. We had, we thought, just crossed the
watershed of the Taurus, and if the day had only been clearer might
perhaps have obtained our first view of the sea from our point of
vantage that morning. This fact of being on the watershed, together
with a compass-bearing on to a peak recognisable to the south, settled
our position fairly definitely as a little to the west of the range
marked Gueuk Tepe on the map. This was in agreement with a check by
dead reckoning based on Looney's diary from the time we had passed the
Ak Gueul, and meant that we had still forty-five miles between us and
the sea, even as the crow flies; or, by the way we should take for the
sake of better going, something well over fifty miles.

Soon after setting out on the following night's march, the accuracy
of our estimate was confirmed, for the map showed a main road not
far ahead from our supposed position, and this as a matter of fact we
crossed within half an hour's trek. Just beyond the road and a little
to the east of our course rose a cone-shaped hill, crowned by what at
first looked like an old castle, but which, on a nearer view, resolved
itself into a natural outcrop of white rock. It was then 7 o'clock. An
hour later we were grateful for the find of a small stream of perfectly
clear water. This was the first we had discovered since crossing the
beautiful valley where we had enjoyed our much-needed bathe thirty odd
hours before.

By this time, however, we had become comparatively inured to a shortage
of water. It was only a fortnight ago that one of the party had
collapsed after a lesser privation. Now we did not even trouble to fill
completely the larger of the two serviceable chargals, although it is
true there were other reasons which encouraged us in this serenity. For
one thing, now that we were on the southern slopes of the Taurus, we
hoped that our water troubles were over. In point of fact, we were to
find ourselves sadly disappointed. Then again, we were loth to put such
a drag upon our speed as a full chargal certainly was, change hands
though it might every half-hour. So far that night we had maintained
a pace of four miles an hour. The meat eaten during the previous two
days had undoubtedly met a very real need, and with the cheese and
chupatties, and the longer periods for rest, had given us a sense
of renewed vigour. Time, however, still passed with the same deadly
slowness. On the first night that we had started taking the chargals
turn and turn about at regular intervals, more than one of the party
had imagined that he had been doing a spell of a full hour, and was
horrified to hear that in reality it had been only half that length.

On this night the moon rose at about 8.30; there was thus a short
period of darkness between sunset and moonlight, and as we should have
a three-quarter moon for the whole of the rest of the night, we could
afford to rest for twenty minutes when the twilight had faded. This was
the more desirable, as we were still in difficult country. The surface
itself was not as bad as might have been expected, for, after all, we
were in the Taurus; but our course was constantly being crossed by
steep nullahs. The climb up their farther sides was very fatiguing.

To avoid some of these, we proceeded, wherever possible, to follow the
crest-line, and as soon as the moon was up the field-glasses once more
proved their value by enabling Cochrane to pick out the best route. As
time went on, however, the country became more and more broken, until
we found it necessary, if endless detours were to be avoided, to take
the nullahs as they came. After a few more climbs, we almost gave up
trying to keep on our proposed course, which was a little E. of S.,
and nearly decided instead to follow down a valley to the S.W., which
promised better going. In the end, however, we contented ourselves with
making a mile and a half an hour in our original direction, and were
rewarded by finding in one of the nullahs a little spring of water.

At 11 P.M., having found a fairly sheltered nook (for the wind
at night was always cold at this altitude), we took the opportunity
of snatching a little sleep. It has to be confessed that some of us
also made a premature attack on the next day's ration of cheese and
chupatties. To help level up our loads, these had been shared out
already, and after our experience of the joys of a full meal--we allude
again to the goat--we found having food in our packs a sore temptation.
Without the safeguard of common ownership, it ceased to be inviolable.
Yet perhaps after all it was best to eat at night, when we were doing
all the hard work, and when, in addition, it was cold.

Shortly after midnight we moved on, and were soon cheered by the
discovery of a narrow track leading in the right direction, and
cleverly avoiding all the difficulties of the broken ground on either
side. This we were able to follow at a hard 3½ miles an hour until
a little before daybreak. Then seeing lights ahead, we left the main
track, thinking it must be leading us on to a village. Immediately
around us there was no cover from view, and as the first tinge of dawn
lit up the countryside, we saw that our only hiding-place would be in
the wooded hills on the farther side of the valley in which lay the
supposed houses. Proceeding at our best speed, we began a race with
the sun, punctuated only by halts of a few seconds now and then as
Cochrane searched anxiously round through the field-glasses; for we
could hear herds moving about, and other lights had come into view. The
descent proved steeper and longer than had been anticipated, and it was
not till after five o'clock, and just before sunrise, that we reached
the foot of the valley. Here we found we had to cross a stream ten to
twelve feet wide, and, on account of the marshy ground, at a point
not 500 yards away from the lights. These came, as we now saw, from a
small group of timber huts, and in our haste to reach cover we plunged
straight through the stream, to find that only a few yards farther up
we might have crossed by stepping-stones in a place where the stream
was only a foot deep.

This was no time for vain regrets, so we were soon clambering up the
farther slope, which was covered with scattered pines. Under cover of
these we gave ourselves a couple of minutes' breathing space, for the
hill was steep, and then went on over the top of the first ridge, a
thousand feet above the stream, and into a little dip beyond. Here we
found a trickle of water, and settled down amongst some small trees and
thorny scrub. The first thing to do was to take off our soaked boots
and let them dry; after this a brew of cocoa was prepared--well earned
by what we reckoned was a 27-mile march in the previous twelve hours.
Most of our feet were terribly sore, and Looney spent an hour sewing on
bandages before he struggled back into his boots that day.

With the present satisfactory rate of progress we could afford to be
rather more liberal with our food; and so the camp fire never died
down, for we took it in turns to make "pilaus" all that day. These were
made from crushed wheat, and differed from the porridge we had been
accustomed to make from it while at Yozgad, in that before boiling
it was mixed with a little melted dripping, a supply of which we had
obtained from the village. The resulting pilau was a vast improvement
on the plain porridge, besides being rather quicker to cook--a
consideration in view of the smallness of our cooking-pot. Altogether
we must have had five pilaus at this bivouac, but as each when
distributed filled only a third of a pint mug, we cannot be accused
of greed. To avoid all waste we had brought along even the bones of
the goat; from these we now made a weak soup, after which the bones
themselves were divided out for a last picking, some of us even eating
their softer portions. We were out of sight of the huts in the valley
which we had so hastily crossed, but could see the top of the hill on
the farther side; here was a fairly large walled village, with houses
built of stone and roofed with the usual flat mud roofs. Although
we could see this with our glasses, we were too far to be observed
ourselves, and moreover little sign of life appeared there. That
afternoon, however, we had a few anxious moments, when two men came
over the next ridge to the south of us: they passed within a hundred
yards of where we lay, but appeared not to have seen us.

In the evening, having moved a short distance up the same ridge, we
were having a five minutes' halt when two more men, this time on
donkeys, came over the crest and almost rode on top of us. They asked,
"Who are you? Where are you going?" and "Why hiding?" We did not
answer, so they said, "Are you foreigners that you don't understand
Turkish?" Then they went on, and so did we. Fortunately, even should
they report any suspicions they had, we were in country that was much
intersected and in which it would have been difficult for any one to
trace us. So difficult, in fact, was the bit of ground which met our
view on reaching the top of the range we were on, that it was some
minutes before we could make up our minds which would be the best line
to follow.

Eventually we decided to make for a ridge which seemed negotiable,
and on proceeding came very shortly afterwards to a spring and a
goat-track. After drinking all the water we could, we followed the
latter. It was as well we did so, for the track took us round the head
of a precipitous ravine which might have taken a whole day to cross if
we had attempted to pass over direct. On the far side, too, the track
still kept the general direction we wanted, namely, some twenty degrees
east of south, and so we clung to it steadily until 8.30 P.M.
We had been marching for three hours, and now following our procedure
of the previous night, slept till 9.45, by which time the moon had
risen. Before halting, we had seen one or two shepherds' fires ahead,
so took the precaution to move fifty yards or so off the track in case
there should be any traffic. By this time we had given up keeping a
watch on the night halts, though we still did so by day. The reason for
this was that sleep was only obtainable during the nights, and we could
not afford to let even one member of the party go without it. On this
particular occasion it was comparatively warm, considering that we
were on an open hillside in the Taurus, and we were much rested by the
sleep we obtained.

When we resumed our way we still kept to our friendly path, although
it was becoming more and more stony. A little before midnight we found
ourselves in a dilemma, for, after leading us to the edge of a deep
valley which ran at right angles to our course, the track now branched
right and left. The problem was which path to follow. If we had stopped
to think we might have realised that, in mountainous country, even
the most friendly road cannot always take you by a direct route, and
that the longest way round is often the shortest way home. However, on
this occasion we made an error of judgment and went straight ahead.
The slope, at first comparatively grassy and gradual, became rapidly
more rocky and precipitous, until at about 1.30 A.M., after
descending close upon 1500 feet, we found ourselves on the edge of a
yawning gorge, at the bottom of which foamed a raging mountain torrent.
We were not as glad to see this water as usual, for we had crossed a
rivulet on our way down: at this we had already quenched our thirst,
although at the time dogs had been barking at us from some shepherds'
huts on the valley slope. The difficulty now was to find a practicable
path up the farther bank. The torrent itself was passable easily
enough, for natural stepping-stones abounded in its rock-strewn bed;
and in fact we did cross and re-cross it several times in a painful
endeavour to make our way a little farther to the west.

Everywhere, however, beyond a rough and narrow ledge of rock by the
side of the stream, the far bank rose up sheer above us. In the
moonlight the scene was wonderful, and we could not help thinking how
perfect a place this would have been for a day's halt. But we could not
afford to lose precious time, and for the present our whole aim was to
leave it as soon as possible. At one spot, having seen a light burning
not far from the water's edge, we proceeded very cautiously. It proved
to proceed from the stump of a tree which some one had probably set on
fire to warm himself and had left burning: happily no one was there
now. After a two hours' struggle we had to own that we were defeated,
and were compelled to climb back out of the gorge and still on the
wrong side. Moving along its edge at a higher level, for another two
hours we searched in vain for a more likely crossing-place, and were
almost in despair when we suddenly heard the voices of men and women
below us. Looking down, we saw in the moonlight a party of Turks or
Armenians in the act of crossing a fine old bridge which spanned the
gorge between two absolutely vertical banks in a single semicircular
arch of stone. Even now it was some little time before we could pick
up the path leading down to it, but when we did so we were agreeably
surprised to find that the bridge was not guarded. In the last five
hours we had progressed but one mile in the right direction.

When at last we crossed the gorge it was barely an hour to dawn, and
we had not followed the mountain road leading up the farther side for
long before we had to be on the look-out for a hiding-place. There was
little cover higher up the hill; so we turned right-handed and dropped
down once more towards the gorge, hoping that after all it would do us
the good turn of providing us with water and shade for the day. On the
way down, however, we saw a cave hollowed out in the rocky hillside,
and as the bank below was very steep, we decided we would not give
ourselves a single foot of unnecessary climbing when we started off
again next evening. We accordingly entered the cave; but Cochrane and
Perce, after ridding themselves of their packs, valiantly climbed down
again to the water and came back with the two chargals full. So much
had all the fruitless clambering taken out of us that we were more
tired on this day than after double the distance on the night previous,
and, except for taking turns to cook, every one lay like a log in
the cave. The latter faced west, and was roofed by two elliptical
semi-domes side by side beneath a larger arch in the rock, but being
shallow in width compared to the height of the roof, allowed the sun to
stream in upon us in the latter part of the afternoon.

On leaving the cave at about 7 P.M., as rugged country still
lay ahead, we thought it best to work our way obliquely up the hill and
regain the track which had led us up from the bridge over the ravine.
To this we clung for the greater part of the night which followed,
although it involved passing through several villages. We found
ourselves in the first almost before we realised that a village existed
there at all: it seemed, however, a city of the dead.

Not a dog barked at our approach, and the narrow crooked streets
appeared deserted, until suddenly the white-clad figure of a woman
flitted across our path. Fortunately she did not pause to find out who
were these strange nocturnal visitors.

Not long afterwards we saw lights ahead, and as we drew nearer found
that our road branched to right and left, the latter branch leading
towards the lights which seemed to proceed from a village. After the
previous night's experience we had no intention of attempting any
cross-country going if we could possibly avoid it. Here, indeed, to go
on direct would have necessitated crossing first a valley of unknown
depth, and then an enormous ridge which reared up its black bulk
against the clear starry sky. It was fairly obvious that the two roads
went round either end of this ridge; after that it was a toss-up which
was the more likely to lead us towards the sea. In view of the village
and of the noisy clatter on the stony track of the booted members of
the party, Cochrane elected to take the right-hand branch, and this
we followed for over a mile. It was leading us due west, and seemed
likely to continue to do so for several miles more before the ridge
was rounded. The coast opposite our position ran, we knew, rather from
N.E. to S.W., and so every mile we marched west added another to our
distance from the coast. At the next halt we reconsidered the question
of roads, and decided we must go back and risk the village. But it was
essential to make less noise, and so, as we once more approached the
cross-roads, those not wearing "chariqs" padded their boots with old
socks, bits of shirt, and pieces of felt.

It gives some idea of the absolute weariness of body which now
was ours, when it is stated that it was only after much forcible
persuasion from Nobby that those who would have the trouble of tying
on the padding could be induced to take this precaution. But in the
end wise counsels prevailed, and we succeeded in passing through the
village--and it was a large one--without causing any apparent alarm.
Looney, however, lost one of his mufti hats with which he had padded
one of his boots.

The track now increased in width to as much as ten feet, being roughly
levelled out of the solid rock, and running along a ledge above a
precipitous ravine. Below us we heard the roar of a mountain stream,
and as at one point a rough path had been cut down to water-level,
Cochrane descended it and fetched up a chargal full of water. It was to
prove a serious mistake that we did not fill all our receptacles here.
On resuming our way, we were taken by our road over another striking
bridge which crossed the ravine a little higher up. This time the arch
was a pointed one. Once more we found the defile unguarded. We were
probably in magnificent mountain scenery, but could see little of it,
as the moon had not yet risen. Even though after crossing the bridge we
waited in the warmth of a little cave till after the time of moonrise,
the moon itself did not become visible until two hours later, so steep
were the slopes on every side of us. We could see, however, that we
were going round the eastern shoulder of the ridge which had blocked
our direct route, and this ridge rose sheer from the very edge of the
ravine.

Without a road to follow, we should have fared badly indeed. Even
with it, the climb from the bridge had been severe, but on proceeding
we soon came to the top of the rise and found ourselves walking on a
carpet of pine-needles through a beautiful open forest. This was a
wonderful contrast to the arid wastes or rugged ridges across which had
been so many of our long and weary marches. Even here, however, the
country was soon to resume its more normal aspect. We found ourselves
descending into an open valley with no signs of trees or vegetation.
Our road, too, dwindled to the width and unevenness of an ordinary
village track, and this it turned out to be, for it led past a few
isolated huts, and finally at 1 A.M. took us into a village.

A little before, during one of the hourly halts, we had seen in the
moonlight a man approaching on a donkey; so we took to our feet and
marched again in order to pass him the more quickly. This we did
without a single word being exchanged.

In the village we could hear the sound of men talking and laughing
together. This was rather disconcerting, as for one thing we had been
hoping to find where they obtained their water. Far from finding
either well or spring or stream, however, we even had some difficulty
in finding the path out of the village. We were about to cut across
country, and had gone as far as to climb over a hedge into some
vineyards, when we recognised the path to the west of us. It worked
along the side of a hill apparently towards a saddle in the steep ridge
which closed the valley ahead. While we were in the vineyard we felt
around for grapes, but the vines were barren; in fact the whole valley
seemed waterless. We now regained the track and had nearly reached the
top of the ridge when our path suddenly took into its head to start
descending the valley again. Though we were loth to leave any track so
long as it made some pretence of going anywhere in our direction, this
was too much for our patience, and Cochrane led us due east, so as to
cross the bleak ridge which bordered the valley on that side and see
what the next valley could do for us. But even here our difficulties
were not to end: the farther hillside was rocky in the extreme and
covered with scrub and stunted trees, amongst which we clambered for
some two hours without finding any valley to promise easy progress in
the direction of the sea. To "Kola" tablets we once more resorted.
Finally, an hour before dawn, we lay down as we were, disheartened,
without water, and without a road.



CHAPTER XII.

DOWN TO THE SEA.


When daylight came, we found ourselves in a network of extraordinary
valleys. Large trees grew on the rock-strewn slopes, while along the
bottoms were little strips of bright red soil, sprinkled with stones,
and yet suggestive of great fertility; and indeed in some parts it
was clear that the ground had in a previous year been ploughed. Yet
as far as human habitation was concerned the valley seemed entirely
deserted; only here and there as we marched on we passed a few timbers
of some ruined shelter, indicating its former occupation by shepherd
inhabitants. The whole scene gave the impression that here had once
been flourishing well-watered vales, which had then been blasted by
some strange upheaval of nature, by which the whole water supply had
suddenly been cut off and the former inhabitants compelled to quit.

To open our eyes on such a scene did not tend to revive our spirits. We
had not a drop of water in our water-bottles, and although a valley
was soon found leading in the right direction, we followed it without
much hope of being able to quench our thirst. After an hour or so,
however, at a place where the valley widened a little, we picked up in
the soft red soil a number of goat-tracks, and noticed that several
others joined them, all seeming to converge towards the same spot.
These suggested water, but soon after they suddenly ceased.

Fifty yards up the hill there was a stone enclosure, and just as
Cochrane was leading on, Nobby thought it was advisable to make sure
there was nothing there. This was most fortunate, for inside he found a
well. Next moment we were all within the enclosure, and on lifting out
the heavy timber bung which closed the hole in the stone-built cover,
found water not twenty feet down. It tasted slightly stale, and no
doubt the well had not been used for some time; but this did not affect
our enjoyment of a couple of brews of "boulgar" (porridge made from
crushed wheat), which were now prepared, and flavoured with a spoonful
of our precious cocoa.

Still more refreshing to those who could summon up the necessary
energy, was a wash and a shave. Even a wash-hand basin was provided in
the shape of a little stone trough which was built into the enclosure
wall, and was doubtless intended for use in watering the flocks of
sheep and goats.

After nearly two hours' grateful rest and refreshment, we resumed our
course, and soon after entered a broad ravine. Here grew enormous
oak-trees, seeming to flourish amid the barest rock and boulders,
although the bed of this quaint valley appeared to have had no water
in it for ages. At one point, where we halted under the shelter of a
rocky outcrop, some of the party filled a haversack with the tips of
stinging-nettles. Gloves were not an item of our equipment, and our
fingers were badly stung, but a little spinach would provide a pleasant
variation in our next cooked meal.

We went on till 11 A.M. without seeing a single sign of life.
Then we came to a strong timber barrier across the narrow foot of the
valley, and saw beyond it a man engaged in winnowing. We quickly drew
back out of view, and decided we should have to make a detour. The
country was not so desolate or uninhabited as we had thought. First,
however, we would fortify ourselves with a little food. For this
purpose we climbed a short way up the western side of the valley and
settled down in the shelter of a big tree. While Cochrane and Perce
cooked some "boulgar," the rest lay down and were soon fast asleep.
It was a hard struggle indeed to rouse oneself from such delightful
oblivion of all our cares, but our Mr Greatheart was not to be denied,
and after our food we left the Enchanted Ground.

To avoid the risk of being seen by people in the valley, it was now
necessary to climb up the steep rocky ridge ahead instead of circling
round its foot as would otherwise have been possible. The surface was
atrocious; jagged points of rock cut into our feet through the soles
of our much-worn footgear. If one wished to avoid a sprained ankle,
every step had to be taken with care, for the rock was cut up into
innumerable crannies and honeycombed with holes. It took eight hundred
feet of stiff climbing to reach the top of the first ridge. Beyond it
we were not pleased to find a whole series of equally steep though
smaller ridges and valleys, and all at right angles to our proper
course. After a long struggle we had to give up the idea of going
straight ahead, and instead began to follow down one of the valleys.
This led us back into country very similar to that in which we had
found ourselves early that morning: once more our path took us over the
small boulders and down the line of red earth.

There were no further signs of life until nearly four o'clock. Our
sudden appearance then startled three or four small children who were
tending some goats on the hillside. A moment later we came into view of
a single black tent, set up at the junction of two branches into which
the valley now divided.

Concealment was impossible; besides, we were in our usual trouble
for water. The only inhabitant seemed to be an old woman, who came
out of the tent to find out why the children had run back. To avoid
frightening her, the party halted some distance off, while Cochrane and
Grunt went forward alone to find out what sort of reception might be
expected.

For some minutes the Circassian (for we thought she must be one) stood
talking to the two envoys at the door of her tent. Then she signalled
us to approach, and invited the whole party inside her abode. Here
she offered the equivalent in the East of a chair--namely, a seat on
the mats which covered the earthen floor. The amiable old dame next
produced a large circular tray, which she set in our midst, and on
which she placed some wafer-like chupatties and a couple of bowls of
the inevitable "yourt." Never did simple meal taste so sweet, but the
amount provided served only to whet the appetite of the eight hungry
travellers. It was gently suggested that we should like a little more;
we told her we would pay for everything we had. At the same time we
produced some of our mugs as likely to provide a method of eating the
"yourt" more in keeping with our hunger. Lest the full number should
alarm her, we tendered only four, and these she filled readily enough,
and several times over, from an almost unlimited supply which she kept
in a row of large copper vessels standing along one side of the tent.
We noticed also several large sacks, which we thought must contain
flour or wheat, and thought it would be advisable to lay in further
supplies if we could. Not a thing, however, would our hostess sell:
neither flour, wheat, cheese, goat, nor fowls. We asked her to make us
some more chupatties, but without avail. No money would tempt her--she
was evidently not a Turk,--even the offer of a little tea could not
work the oracle. Her hospitality--and it was true hospitality that she
had shown to us--was limited to what we might eat on the premises.
From what we could gather from her rather peculiar Turkish, the old
lady seemed afraid to sell us anything without her husband's consent.
It was impossible not to admire her steadfastness, and as we left we
presented her with three silver medjidies (worth altogether about
twelve shillings). On this she relaxed to the extent of allowing us to
take three eggs that she had.

We tried to find out how far we were from the sea; but she seemed
hardly to know of its existence, so cut off had she been all her life
in her mountain fastness. She directed us, however, to some other tents
farther down one of the valleys, and said we might be able to buy some
food there; so thither we now wended our way. There was a well outside
the tent, but it was dry at the time and was being deepened. A few
drops of water which she had given us within had come from some distant
stream, she said. "Yourt," however, is a wonderful thirst-quencher, so
lack of water did not cause any worry for the time being.

We agreed, as we went on, that if we found the tents which we were
now seeking, only half the party should go to buy; partly because we
thought in that way we should be less likely to frighten the occupants
from selling us food, and partly to avoid letting people see the exact
strength of our party, in case any one should take it into his head to
report our presence. Accordingly, when three-quarters of an hour later
we arrived at two more tents, Cochrane and Nobby approached one, and
Grunt and Looney the other. The first pair were not received with very
open arms, and had to be satisfied with only a little "yourt" eaten
on the spot, and a few coarse chupatties which they were able to take
away with them. They came on to the second tent, to find that the other
pair had fallen upon their feet. They had arrived at a very propitious
moment. Just inside the doorway they had found a smiling old dame
busily engaged in making the chupatties for the family's evening meal.
With some of these she regaled her guests, and Grunt at once asked
her if she would bake some more for companions of his who had gone on
to prepare the camp for the night. With a good deal of coaxing, and
influenced perhaps a little by the sight of silver coins, she finally
made another dozen. Meanwhile another woman entered and ladled out
some beautiful fresh milk which was boiling in a large cauldron in the
tent. The four were able to enjoy two mugfuls of this between them,
but could only induce the woman to give them one more mugful to take
away for the others. After much haggling, however, and on receipt of
two medjidies, she was persuaded to let them have six pounds of fresh
cheese made from goats' milk.

As prearranged, the rest of the party had gone a few hundred yards
farther down the ravine in which stood the tents, and finding that no
further purchases were to be made the four now rejoined them.

The camping-ground had been chosen some forty yards up the southern
side of the ravine. The steep slope was covered with pine and oak
trees, and at their feet we slept. It mattered little to us that our
beds were uneven. We had before this slept soundly at all angles and on
pointed rocks; and here we had a mattress of leaves and pine-needles
on which to lay our weary bodies. The occasional bark of a dog or the
soft hoot of an owl were the only sounds that broke the stillness of
the night. Through the trees could be seen patches of the starlit
heaven. We owed much to those wonderful stars. Big and bright in these
latitudes, they had led us on our way for many a night, and when there
was no moon to befriend us they had lighted our path so that we could
still march slowly on.

It was after a sound and refreshing sleep, that shortly before 4
A.M. next day, while it was yet dark, we shouldered our packs
and moved eastwards down the stony bed of the confined valley. This
gave on to a broader one at right angles to it; crossing which we
halted in a small wood for an hour to prepare our simple breakfast.
Here Cochrane climbed an oak-tree hoping to obtain a glimpse of the
sea, but it was not yet in sight.

Hardly had we started off again when we suddenly saw a boy coming
towards us through the wood. He was carrying a few chupatties and a bag
of "yourt." We stopped the lad, and although at first he was unwilling
to part with the food, which he intended to sell to some tent-dwellers,
yet finally we persuaded him to humour us in exchange for two silver
medjidies. While eating this unexpected addition to our breakfast, we
questioned the boy as to our whereabouts. Though very uncertain about
it, he thought the sea was three hours' journey away: the nearest big
town was Selefké (the ancient Seleucia), but where it was he did not
know; we should see a well near two tents in the next village.

Thus informed we left him, and on emerging from the wood saw the two
tents about a mile distant and close to what must be the main road
to Selefké; away to our left stood some very fine ruins. Through
field-glasses they looked like some ancient Greek temple.

We decided to go to the tents for water, and in order to vary our
story to suit our surroundings, for this occasion we would be German
archæologists. Arriving at the encampment, we were received by an old
Turk and his grown-up son, and taken into the bigger tent. Here we sat
down on a carpet, and leant against what felt like sacks of grain.
Having given our reason for being in the locality, we explained that we
were willing to pay a good price for antiques.

"I have none," replied the old fellow. "Of what value are such things
to me? But you Germans are for ever searching after relics from ruins.
Four years ago a party just like yours came here for the very same
purpose, asking for ancient coins and pottery." So we had hit upon a
most suitable story.

A little girl now appeared on the scene. To keep up the conversation we
asked the old man her age.

"She's seven years old," he answered, "and my youngest grandchild. I
have six sons, of whom five are at the war. One of them is a _chaouse_
(sergeant) on the Palestine front; another an _onbashi_ (corporal) near
Bagdad. I had another son in Irak too, but he was taken prisoner by the
English."

"Have you good news of him?" asked one of us.

"Yes, I had a letter from him a year ago, saying he was in good health
and well treated."

What the other two in the Army were doing we do not remember, though
doubtless we were told. The sixth son, perchance a conscientious
objector, was in the tent with us. He joined in the conversation now
and again, and finally produced a musical instrument like a deformed
mandolin.

"Can any of you play?" he asked.

"I don't think any of us can," replied our Turkish scholar. "But we
should like to hear you play us something," he added politely. "First,
however, could we have some water to drink? We are all very thirsty."
This saved us the ordeal of listening to Oriental music, for the little
child was sent round to each of us in turn with a shallow metal cup
of water, and by the time we had had a drink the musician had put
his instrument away. Encouraged by these beginnings of hospitality,
we asked if they had any bread for sale. At this the old man shouted
some questions to the other tent, at the door of which a woman soon
appeared. She talked so fast that we could not understand what she
said, but the expression on her face and all her gestures gave us
clearly to understand that she had never heard such impudence. In the
end, however, the old Turk gave us half a chupattie each. Meanwhile two
of the party had gone off to the well to fill all our water-bottles,
the rest remaining in the tent trying to persuade the man to give us
more bread. Since no more was forthcoming, as soon as the two returned
with water we moved on again.

Food-hunting was now becoming a vice, of which, in our hungry
condition, we found it difficult to cure ourselves. Though we had
still some of the food bought at the big village on August 24, we
eased our consciences with the thought that we might have to spend
some days on the coast before we found a boat. Moreover, in these
isolated tents, dotted about in so unfrequented a district, we might
with safety try to obtain additional supplies, for there was not much
likelihood of meeting gendarmes, and there was no town very near where
the tent-dwellers could give information about us. The next few hours,
therefore, were spent in searching for these isolated dwellings. But
our luck had changed, for at four tents we were received with a very
bad grace. One old woman, in particular, who, without any make up,
could have played with great success the part of one of the witches in
"Macbeth," showed great animosity towards us, and ended her tirade by
saying that nothing would induce her to give food to Christians.

Thus rebuffed, we marched on. A mile to our left front were the ruins
we had seen earlier in the day. Their fluted columns were immense, and
the capitals richly carved; but a closer inspection would mean going
out of our way, and a few minutes later they were lost to view.

Only two of us went to the fifth tent that we saw. The remainder walked
on a few hundred yards, and waited hidden in a small valley, easily
recognisable, because it led up to a conspicuous tree. Half an hour
later the two rejoined the main body, having bought 1½ lb. of crushed
wheat and the dixie half full of porridge made with plenty of sour
milk. This was divided amongst the six, as the purchasers had had a few
spoonfuls in the tent.

Continuing, we came across some dry wells and also a few fruit trees.
The fruit was unripe, unpleasant to taste, and unknown to any of us;
but we ate it. The trees may have been plum-trees, which after many
decades had reverted to the wild state. At 1 P.M. we found a
well containing a little water, and not far from another tent. Once
more only two went to buy supplies, while the others stayed at the
well. Here, after much talk, the old woman in the tent let our agents
have a dozen chupatties and some good cheese. The latter she took
out of a goat-skin bag from under a millstone, where it was being
pressed. Though rather strong, it was very good indeed, and tasted like
gorgonzola. Near the tent was a bed of water-melons and a patch of
Indian corn; but the good lady refused to sell any of these. Judging
by the heap of melon-skins lying in a corner of the tent, she and her
better-half were very partial to this fruit; hence, no doubt, her
disinclination to part with any. We now decided that we were becoming
demoralised by this "yourt-hunting," and that we would not visit
any more tents; so when, half an hour after resuming our march, we
passed close to one, we walked by it without taking any notice of the
occupants.

All this time the going was very bad. Countless small nullahs crossed
our path. The ground was rocky and thickly covered with thorny bushes
the height of a man, so that it was necessary to take a compass-bearing
every few minutes. For a long time we had been steering a very zigzag
course, when at 2.15 P.M. we arrived at the head of one of
these many nullahs and saw beneath us a deep ravine running in a
south-east direction.

Through the undergrowth at the bottom it was possible to recognise the
dry stony bed of a river, and this we decided to follow. A little north
of where we were the ravine made a right-angled turn, and at this bend
we were able to find a track to the bottom. Elsewhere the sides were
sheer precipice, impossible to descend. On our way down we passed a
massive sarcophagus hewn out of the solid rock. The lid had been moved
to one side, and the chamber was empty--a result, perhaps, of the
visit of the German archæologists of whom the old Turk had spoken that
morning. An eerie place for a tomb it looked, perched on the side of
a steep cliff. It was a relic of a former civilisation. That part of
Asia Minor was once fertile and well populated, but some underground
disturbance of nature had diverted or dried up the water without which
the land could no longer live. Now it is a dead country. The terraced
gardens near the coast still retain their step formation, but that is
all. Only the wild locust-tree can find enough moisture to produce its
fruit, and bird and animal life have almost ceased to exist.

On reaching the bottom of the ravine in safety, we allowed ourselves
nearly an hour's rest before we followed the slope of the stream. This
in the main continued to take us in a south-easterly direction, though
at times it ran due east. Along the bottom ran a rough and stony track,
crossing frequently from one side of the river-bed to the other as the
valley twisted and turned. At many points, too, it had been overgrown
by the thick brushwood which had sprung up in the scanty soil at the
foot of the ravine, and often we had to push our way through.

By this time, in fact, marching was altogether a most painful
performance. Our footgear was at an end. Uppers had all but broken away
from the soles, which were nearly worn through, so that walking over
stones was a refined torture. After two hours' going in the ravine we
saw a side valley running into the left bank. Here was a camel with two
foals, which were picking up a scanty living in the main river-bed. We
also heard the bells of goats and the voice of a small boy shouting
to them somewhere on the top of the ravine. Assuming there was a tent
village not far off, we made as little noise as possible. Nothing
however appeared. Towards six o'clock we came to a very sharp bend,
where the track we had been following climbed up the side of the ravine
in a southerly direction. At the time we debated whether to follow the
track or the river-bed, and finally decided on the latter course. As we
proceeded, the bed became rougher and rougher and the track less and
less defined, and just before dark we halted. We had walked for many
hours that day, but could only credit ourselves with five miles in the
right direction.

Moonlight, for which we had decided to wait, did not reach us in our
canyon till after 2 A.M. next morning, though the moon itself
had risen some time before. In the meantime we had cooked a little
porridge and obtained a few hours' sleep. Now we retraced our steps
till we came to where the track had left the ravine, and up this we
climbed into the open.

At the top we found ourselves in an old graveyard near a few deserted
and ruined huts. Halting for five or six minutes, we ate a few
mouthfuls of food and lightened our water-bottles. We then followed
the track till 5 A.M., when we came to another deserted
village. Near this was a well; so we replenished our stock, and halted
in some thick scrub a few hundred yards farther on. Here Grunt, to his
consternation, discovered that he had lost a small cloth bag containing
one and a half chupatties and two sovereigns. The loss of the coins
was nothing, but the bread was all-important. Grunt therefore decided
to go back to the deserted village near the graveyard, where he had
last eaten from the bag, and Nobby went with him. A couple of hours
later the searchers returned with the coveted bag, and said they
had seen the sea; the rest could raise no enthusiasm, and were very
sceptical.

At a quarter to eight we set forth from our hiding-place, and five
minutes later the party as a whole had its first view of the sea.
The morning sun was on it, making sky and sea one undivided sheen.
It was difficult to realise that at last we were near the coast.
From the point where we were to the shore could be barely six miles.
Within forty miles of the coast we had been at a height of something
approaching 5000 feet, but each ridge we had passed had in front of
it another to hide the sea from us. Thus it was that not until we had
marched for twenty-three nights and twenty-two days did we first look
on it. As we scanned the water through the field-glasses, it looked as
dead as the adjacent country. Not a sail was in sight anywhere, not a
single ripple disturbed the shining sheet of glass in front of us. With
heads uncovered, and with thankful hearts, we stood gazing, but without
being in any way excited. Thus it was that no shout like the "Thalassa!
Thalassa!" of Xenophon's Ten Thousand broke from the lips of our little
band that still August morning; although here was the end of our land
journey at last in sight after a march of some 330 miles. Had we seen a
single boat it would have been different. There was nothing.

Our great desire now was to get down to the coast itself. We thought
that there must surely be a village somewhere down on the shore, where
we should be able either to get hold of a boat at night or to bribe
a crew with a promise of much money if they would land us at Cyprus.
Before us, the intervening country was covered with bare rocks, stunted
trees, and scrub, and fell away to the sea in a series of small ridges
and terraces. Still following the track, our party, weary and hot, came
to a halt at 11 A.M. on the 30th August, two miles from the
shore, in the shade of a ruined stone tower. There were similar square
towers dotted along the coast; perhaps their ancient use, like that of
our own Martello towers, had been to ward off a foreign invasion should
need arise; or, in less exciting times, to show lights towards the sea
to guide at night the ships in those waters. We stopped at the tower,
because we thought it was unsafe to go farther and risk being seen by
any coastguard that might happen to be stationed there. It was well
we did so. From here Cochrane went on alone, and while he was away we
saw our first boat. Coming round a headland of the coast, a few miles
east of us, a motor-boat passed across our front and disappeared into
a narrow bay a mile and a half to our west. She towed a cutter full of
men. Cochrane also had seen them, and came back to the tower to tell us
the news; unfortunately, he had not found the hoped-for village.

A few yards from the tower was a shallow stone-built well. Its water,
though very dirty, being merely a puddle at the bottom, for us was
drinkable. The day was very oppressive, with a damp heat, so we
refreshed ourselves with a dixieful of tea. After this, Cochrane,
taking Ellis with him, again went forward, this time to try to find
the exact anchorage of the motor-boat. On their return they said
there were tents on the shore. In one of them were horses, and in the
neighbourhood several Turkish soldiers were moving about. Studying our
map, we decided we were within three miles of Pershembé, a point for
which we had headed for some days past. The coast-line before us ran
N.E. and S.W. We were on a narrow plateau one and a half mile from the
sea, and the high ground continued till within a few hundred yards of
the water; in some places even to the edge of the coast itself, which
was indented with small bays and creeks.

On the headland to the east, and gleaming white in the sunshine, stood
a magnificent stone-built town, walled and turreted, but showing
no signs of being inhabited. Nearer to us, on the foreshore, was a
small lagoon, spanned at one corner by an old bridge: on the water's
edge could be seen green reeds and half a dozen palm-trees, and here
three or four camels were feeding. Opposite to the lagoon and some
eight hundred yards off the shore was a small island fortress, its
turreted and loopholed walls rising sheer from the sea. It boasted fine
bastioned towers, and when the sun was willing to act as master showman
this dazzling gem was framed in a fit setting of sapphire. This, though
we did not know its name at the time, was Korghos Island.

Here may be mentioned a very peculiar coincidence, although we only
learnt of it after our return to England. This was, that Keeling, after
his escape from Kastamoni, had spared himself no trouble in attempting
to arrange schemes of escape for his former companions, and only a
few weeks after our departure a number of his code messages reached
the camp at Yozgad, amongst them one detailing our best route to this
very island of Korghos. Here were to be waiting either agents with a
supply of food or a boat, between three different pairs of dates: one
of those periods coincided with part of this very time that we were on
the coast. When we eventually reached Cyprus, we learnt also that two
agents had been landed on Korghos Island, but that they had been seen
and captured.

To continue the description of the coast at which we had arrived:
immediately below us the ground fell away to a low-lying stretch of
foreshore, which extended for nearly a mile between the end of our
plateau and the sea. Half a mile west of us lay a deep ravine, which
looked as if it would run into the creek entered by the motor-boat.

Along the sea and lined by the telegraph poles the main coast road
wound its way. In the early evening Nobby, Looney, and Johnny went off
to reconnoitre, but it was impossible to approach the coast by daylight
because of the men moving about, and they had to return to the tower
with little additional information. There were five tents for men and
a larger one for horses, and though no guns were visible it was very
probable that here was a section of a battery for dealing with any boat
that might attempt to spy out the nakedness of the land. Two years
before that time, Lord Rosebery's yacht, the _Zaida_, had been mined
a few miles along the coast at a place called Ayasch Bay, which she
had entered for the purpose of landing spies. Four of her officers had
come to the prisoners' camp at Kastamoni, and we heard from the three
of them who survived that there had been some field-guns on the shore
where they were captured.

Our resting-place near the tower was an unsatisfactory one. We were
close to water, it is true, but we were also close to a track leading
down to the coast, and though we were soon to change our minds, we
thought at the time that no flies in the world could be as persistent
and insatiable as those which all day attacked us. For these reasons,
and the additional one of wishing to be nearer the creek which we
thought the motor-boat had entered, we decided to move to the ravine
half a mile west of our tower. We would visit the well early in the
morning and late at night for replenishing our water supply.

Accordingly at dusk we again packed up. Our way led us through thick
undergrowth along neglected terraces, and at about 6.30 P.M.
we were on the edge of the steep-sided valley. By a stroke of luck we
almost immediately found a way down to the bottom. Although we were
to become all too well acquainted with that ravine, we only found one
other possible line of ascent and descent on the tower side, and one
path up the western edge. The river-bed, of course, was dry, and filled
with huge boulders and thickly overgrown with bushes. Pushing our way
through these, we had only gone a quarter of a mile down the ravine
when we decided to halt for the night.



CHAPTER XIII.

ON THE COAST.


There was still, however, no time to be lost in discovering and
obtaining the motor-tug or other boat, seeing that we had arrived on
the coast with barely three days' supply of food. That same night,
then, Cochrane and Nobby carried out a reconnaissance, continuing
to follow our ravine down towards the sea, in the hope that they
would come out opposite the bay into which the tug and her tow had
disappeared that afternoon. The remainder settled down to sleep as best
they could, without a dinner and on hard and stony beds, taking it
in turns at half-hour intervals to keep watch. This was necessary to
prevent the two scouts passing them unawares should they return in the
dark.

The whole party had reached the coast on their last legs. In the case
of Grunt especially, nothing short of the certainty of being able to
walk on board a boat could have moved him that night. He had still not
recovered from the effects of the blow on the head. As for Cochrane
and Nobby, it must have been pure strength of will which enabled them
to carry on, after the trying day in the damp heat. Cochrane, indeed,
had undertaken what proved beyond his powers; upon him more than any
had fallen the brunt of the work of guiding the little column night
after night and day after day. It was not to be wondered at that on
this occasion he had not proceeded a mile before his legs simply gave
way beneath him, and he had to allow Nobby to proceed alone.

Soon afterwards the ravine took an almost northerly direction. When
it eventually petered out it was at some distance to the north of the
probable position of the motor-boat. Nobby now found himself crossing
the coast road; this we had assumed would be guarded. On the way out
he saw no one; but on his return journey next morning he proved our
assumption correct by almost stepping on the face of a man who lay
sleeping on the road. He was presumably on duty. The propensity of
the Turkish sentry for going to sleep at his post once more stood us
in good stead. During the night it had been too dark to see much, and
Nobby had had to return without having discovered a boat. After hunting
round, he had settled down on the edge of a small creek running into
the sea, where he remained till the first streak of dawn enabled him to
pick his way back to the mouth of the ravine. His main difficulty that
night had been to keep himself awake. All the time he was in deadly
terror of falling asleep and awaking to find himself stranded on the
coast in broad daylight.

[Illustration:
_Sketched to Authors' description by Hal Kay._
LIFE IN THE RAVINE.]

He tried to occupy himself with fishing. He had taken with him the
line and hooks which were an item of the party's equipment on leaving
Yozgad; but no bites came to keep up his flagging interest. Before
long he had a midnight bathe, to the great envy of the rest of the
party when they heard of it next morning; but the water, he said, had
been almost too warm to be really refreshing; the rocks, too, were
unpleasantly sharp to stand on. He next picked at an exposed nerve
in one of his teeth, and the acute pain thereby inflicted served to
keep him awake for the rest of the night. At long length the sky began
to lighten, and Nobby, after his narrow escape while re-crossing the
road, once more entered the ravine and picked up Cochrane. The two then
rejoined their anxious comrades.

It was now 5 A.M. Dawn was slow to reach our hemmed-in
hiding-place; but when it was light enough to see, we discovered that
the sides of the ravine were covered with trees bearing what Ellis
fortunately recognised as "carobs" or locust beans. We were soon
doing what we could to stifle the gnawing pains of hunger by eating
quantities of this wild fruit. Some people believe that this is what is
meant by the "locusts" eaten by John the Baptist. To our taste they
seemed wonderfully sweet and had something of the flavour of chocolate,
so that throughout our stay on the coast they formed an unfailing
dessert after, and often before our meals. When we eventually reached
Cyprus we found that there the tree is cultivated, and that thousands
of tons of carobs are exported yearly for use in cattle foods. However
humble their use, in our case at any rate they were not to be despised,
and as a matter of fact the cultivated beans are used to some extent in
the manufacture of certain chocolates.

The night reconnaissance having failed to solve the question of the
motor-boat's anchorage, at 7 A.M. on this last day of August,
Johnny and Looney set out on a search for the elusive bay by daylight.
Climbing up the southern side of the ravine, they had to keep out of
sight of the men who were known to be below them, so they at first
remained at some distance from the coast, moving parallel to it for
over a mile. They then turned towards the sea until they reached a
terrace below which the ground fell away rather steeply to the shore.
From this point of observation it was possible to see the greater part
of the series of capes and bays into which the coast was divided. Still
no sign of the tug gladdened their eyes. A closer approach by day would
involve considerable risk. A couple of motor-lorries and a mounted
patrol had already been observed moving along the road. The two scouts
sat down awhile on some boulders behind a large bush, and while Johnny
peered between the branches through the field-glasses, Looney drew a
rough panorama so as to be able if necessary to indicate to the rest of
the party any particular bay.

It was about 10 A.M.: the two were about to seek some point
of vantage from which it would be possible to see more of some of the
bays, when suddenly they heard the hum of a motor. Next moment the
tug shot into view from the hidden portion of one of the bays to the
N.E. Once more she towed a cutter full of men and stores, and through
the glasses it was possible to recognise the Turkish flag flying at
her stern. The two remained where they were, watching her until she
disappeared round a bend far up the coast towards Mersina.

Possibly she made daily trips, carrying working parties and material to
some scene of activity, so the two decided to try to overlook the head
of the bay in which she had appeared, in order to discover something
definite about the anchorage. To reduce the risk of detection, they
first withdrew out of sight of the road and worked their way more to
the north before cutting down again towards the shore. On the way
out from the ravine they had passed near some ruins, and these they
now took in their course to see if there might be a well there with
water in it. It was unfortunate that there was not, for in this dead
city there was one enormous and very deep amphitheatre, into which it
was possible to descend by a path cut in the rocky side. Here shade
from the sun would have been obtainable at all hours of the day, and
altogether it would have been a better hiding-place than the ravine, if
only it had contained a water supply. But though they found the remains
of one well, it was absolutely dry.

The two now made their way cautiously towards the place whence the
boats had been seen to emerge. The slope of the ground, however, became
more and more pronounced as they approached the coast, so that they
were able to see little more of the bay than had been visible from
their earlier observation point; although by this time they were within
sight of the tents seen on the previous day. These stood a little way
out on a small cape. Dodging from cover to cover amongst the patches
of scrub, sometimes on hands and knees, they finally found themselves
close to the coast road itself.

Leaving Looney screened from view, Johnny now went on alone. He was not
twenty yards from the road when a Turkish soldier passed along it. A
moment later four or five others were seen skirting the seaward edge
of a rocky headland to the south, apparently engaged in looking for
mussels. It was now obvious that opposite the head of the bay which
they sought, the coast rose so sheer, that to obtain a view of the
whole would entail going forward across the road to the edge of the
cliff beyond. With so many people moving about, this, by daylight, was
out of the question, and after seven hours' reconnaissance in the hot
sun the two had to be satisfied with bringing back the information that
they knew which bay the boats had entered the day before, but that they
were there no longer.

Meanwhile another party of two--to wit, the Old Man and Perce--had gone
forth from the ravine in a last search for food. Without a further
supply of this we should be compelled to give ourselves up unless we
at once discovered a boat. Of inhabited villages there appeared to be
none, even should we have dared to attempt another entry after the
experiences of "the three Huns." The Circassian encampments, too, had
ceased.

It is a fairly well-known fact that in the East if villagers are driven
away from their homes for any cause, such as a punitive expedition,
they usually take steps to bury any valuables which they are unable
to carry away, the most common of which is grain. We had bethought
ourselves of the deserted village some miles back, near to which we
had halted just before our first glimpse of the sea. It occurred to us
that the occupants might have been compelled by the Turkish authorities
to quit on the outbreak of war, as being within too short a distance
of the coast. In this case, then, there might be food there, buried
or otherwise concealed. In this, providentially, we were to find
ourselves not mistaken, although the search party set off with little
hopes of success.

It required a five-mile climb up the series of ridges to reach the
village, and the track was very rough to the feet. On the previous day
even the descent had been trying enough in the oppressive heat which
seemed to prevail on the coast; so the ascent was doubly so. Moreover,
the village itself did not come into view until one was within a mile
of it, and as there were remains of other tracks branching off at
frequent intervals, it was not easy for the Old Man and Perce to keep
to the right one. Great was their relief when, after a good deal of
wandering, they found themselves safely within the farm enclosure; for
really the "village" comprised only one house with its outbuildings,
all within a square walled enclosure.

There seemed to be no one about, so they set to work to force the
rough country locks with which all the doors were fastened. They
had brought the little adze with them, and for this work it was
invaluable, although its steel edge was not thereby improved. One of
the upstair living-rooms was first invaded. On entering they found
the floor bare, but cupboards and lockers in the wall stuffed full of
a wonderful variety of things--rolls of cloth (obviously made on the
spot, for there were remains of the looms), coarse cotton-wool, a few
handkerchiefs, cobbler's materials and tools, an old coffee-grinder in
pieces, some hoop-iron, an enamelled mug, a dozen wooden spoons, and a
miscellaneous collection of odds and ends such as seem to collect in
all houses, English and Turkish alike. The only items of present value
were the handkerchiefs, a little prepared leather, the mug, and some of
the spoons. These they removed, and by dint of looking into many small
cloth bags found something of greater value--namely, a couple of pounds
of dry powdery cheese, and as much salt as we were likely to want if we
stayed on the coast for a month.

These alone, however, were not going to keep eight hungry mortals
alive, so the joy of the two searchers was proportionately great when,
on breaking into an outhouse and stumbling over a litter of wooden
staves, they discovered in the next room something over 300 pounds of
wheat lying in a heap on the floor. The grain was uncrushed and dirty,
but that disadvantage could be overcome with a little trouble. Further
search revealed nothing more in the way of food, but it was noted that
in other rooms there were several cooking-pots which might be worth
taking down on a future visit. For the present the two loaded up their
packs with some grain, and hurriedly bundling back the things which
they had turned out from the cupboards, set their faces once more
towards the sea.

At 5.45 that evening two weary figures staggered into view, being met
by Cochrane, Nobby, and Johnny, who had gone up to the well near the
tower to draw water. They had reason to be happy, for this find of food
postponed indefinitely our capitulation to hunger.

All five remained at the well till after dark in order to grind enough
grain for an evening meal, using a heavy stone to beat a little of it
at a time inside a hollowed-out slab, intended for use in watering
sheep. Nobby and Johnny, who stayed a few minutes after the other
three, were accosted on their way back to the ravine by a couple of
men riding away from the coast on donkeys. They asked our two whether
they belonged to the camp below, and seemed quite satisfied when they
said they did. This confirmed suspicions which some of us had had the
previous day, that certain of the tents we had seen contained Germans;
for the two men could certainly not have taken any of us for Turks.

Crushing grain by pounding it with a primitive stone pestle and mortar
is at best a fatiguing process, nor are the results favourable to easy
digestion. Not only did some of the grains escape being crushed, but
chips of stone from the sides of the mortar became mixed with the food,
which was none too clean in itself. Cochrane said he would make the
most worn-out old coffee-grinder do better work with the expenditure
of half the energy, so we decided to have another expedition to the
village next day to fetch the one which had been noticed there.
We could hardly hope to make a series of visits without eventual
discovery; it was best therefore to fetch down at the same time as much
more of the wheat as we were likely to want.

Accordingly at 7 A.M. on the 1st September, four of the party
started off carrying empty packs. These were Nobby, Johnny, and Ellis,
and the Old Man, who went for the second time to show the others the
way. On arrival they found distinct signs that the two men who had been
met the previous evening had gone to the farmhouse and to the well just
below it. Whether they had noticed anything wrong, there was nothing to
show. In any case, the four lost no time in loading up and returning to
a safer spot, reaching the ravine at about 3.30 P.M.

The other half of the party had gone in turns to the well, to fetch
water and do some more crude grinding for the day's food. It took
an hour and a half to do a single trip for water alone. Each time
nearly an hour was spent in drawing up water mugful by mugful till all
available receptacles were full. So we were thankful when later on that
day, Cochrane, scouting around, discovered another well. This was not
only a little nearer to our lair, but also had one place deep enough
to permit the use of a canvas bucket. This meant a great saving of
time. The water, too, held in solution rather less mud, and none of the
bits of mouldy wood which formed a fair proportion of the hauls from
the well by the tower. Near the new well there were more ruins, in this
case only a few low walls, and, standing apart, a semicircular arch of
some twelve feet in diameter--just the bare ring of stones remained and
nothing else.

From now onwards, for the rest of our stay on the coast, we settled
down to a new kind of existence--in fact we may be said to have
_existed_, and nothing more. Life became a dreary grind, both literally
and metaphorically. For the next few days, at any rate, we thought of
nothing else but how to prepare and eat as much food as we could. This
was not greed: it was the only thing to do. None of us wanted to lie a
day longer than absolutely necessary in that awful ravine, but we were
at present simply too weak to help ourselves. To carry out a search for
another boat was beyond the powers of any one.

Cochrane rigged up the coffee-grinder on the same afternoon as it had
arrived--lashing the little brass cylinder to the branch of a tree at
a convenient height for a man to turn the handle. A rusty saw, cutting
like all Oriental saws on the pull-stroke, had been discovered in the
village and brought down by the last party, and this proved useful now
and on subsequent occasions.

Whilst one of the party worked at the mill, and another supervised
the cooking of the next dixieful of porridge, the rest were busy
picking over the grain in the hopes of removing at any rate some small
proportion of the empty husks and the bits of earth with which it was
mixed. Even so it was impossible to clean the dirt off the grains
themselves.

Nothing, we thought, could be more wearisome than this never-ending
task. Our misery was aggravated by the swarms of flies which
incessantly harassed us as we worked. What right they had to be alive
at all on such a deserted coast was never discovered. He whose turn
it was to cook found in the smoke from the fire a temporary respite
from their attentions; but they took care to make up for lost time
afterwards. When the water was nearly boiled away, bits of porridge
were wont to leap out of the pot and light on the cook's hands. The
ensuing blister did not last long, for within twenty-four hours the
flies had eaten it all away. We had no bandages left, and pieces of
paper which we used to wet and stick on the blisters fell off as soon
as they were dry. It was not many days before Old Man's and Johnny's
hands became covered with septic sores. Unfortunately, too, most of us
were out of 'baccy, as a means of keeping these pests away. Some took
to smoking cigarettes made from the dried leaves which littered the
stony bed of our unhappy home. Even the non-smoker of the party had to
give way to the pernicious habit once, out of pure self-defence.

Nor at night was it easy to obtain peace. The flies had no sooner gone
to their well-earned rest than the mosquitoes took up the call with
their high-pitched trumpet notes. But of course it was not the noise
which mattered, but their bites; and in the end most of us used to
sleep with a handkerchief or piece of cloth over our faces, and a pair
of socks over our hands.

Ravine life was most relaxing--partly owing to the stuffiness of the
air in so deep and narrow a cleft, overgrown as it was with trees and
scrub; but perhaps still more to reaction, after more than three weeks
of strenuous marching. So long as we had had the encouragement of being
able to push on each day, and feel that we were getting nearer home, we
had no time to think of bodily exhaustion: the excitement, mild though
it was, kept us going. Now, unable to do anything towards making good
our escape, it required a big effort to drag oneself to one's feet
for the purpose of fetching a mugful of porridge. It required a still
bigger one to go up in pairs to fetch water from the well, although it
was essential for every one to do this at least once a day, merely to
keep the pot a-boiling. This, too, was the only way of obtaining a deep
drink; except for half a mug of tea made from several-times stewed
leaves, all the water brought down to the nullah each day was utilised
for cooking the wheat. Fortunately, to take us to the well there was
the further inducement of a wash for both bodies and clothes. The
latter by this time were in a very dirty and also worn-out condition;
but thanks doubtless to our having spent no appreciable time inside
villages actually occupied by Turks, they were not verminous.

On account of the washing, visits to the well were apt at times to
develop into lengthy affairs--anything up to five or six hours, which
did not help towards getting through the daily tasks necessary to keep
ourselves fed. Not only did this involve having reliefs at the mill
for eight out of every twenty-four hours, but much work was necessary
to keep up the supply of cleaned wheat to feed the machine. Necessity,
however, is the mother of invention, and from the 5th September, acting
on a suggestion made by Looney, we used to take the next day's wheat up
to the well and wash it there in a couple of changes of water. There
was a convenient stone trough on the spot. The chaff floated to the
surface, while the earth, whether in loose particles or clinging to the
grains themselves, was dissolved. After washing, the wheat was spread
out in the sun on squares of cloth brought down from the village, and
when dry was fetched back to the ravine by the next water-party.

Like most schemes, this one had its weak points. It was very
extravagant in water, and in a few days our well began to show distinct
signs of being drained to emptiness; in fact, only a puddle could have
existed to begin with, though a larger one than that in the well near
the tower.

The second disadvantage was that the grain, while left out to dry,
might be discovered and give away our presence; but, in any case, one
pair or another of the party was so often up at the well that the risk
was not greatly increased; besides, there was not much to induce a Turk
from the camp below to visit the ruins.

In the end we were seen, the first occasion being on the 6th September.
That evening, Cochrane, Old Man, and Looney were up at the well,
when an old fellow with a dyed beard--a Turk, as far as they could
say--suddenly appeared, and eyed their water-bottles very thirstily. He
accepted with readiness the drink they offered to him, but appeared to
be nothing of a conversationalist. He was indeed almost suspiciously
indifferent who the three might be. There was a mystery about that man
which we never entirely solved. From then onwards, almost to the end of
our stay on the coast, not a day passed without his seeing one or other
of the party. To explain _our_ presence at the well, the water-parties
pretended they were German observation posts sent up to watch the sea,
over which, as a matter of fact, one could obtain a very fine view
from that place. We usually carried up the field-glasses to have a
look round, and these perhaps helped out our story. To live up further
to our Hun disguise, we once told the man that really the place was
"yessak." This is the Turkish equivalent to "verboten," and, to judge
from our experiences in the camps, is about as frequently used.

On another occasion it was sunset when some of us saw him. After
his usual drink he washed his hands and face and said his prayers
Mohammedan-wise. After his prayers he said he had seen two boats go
past coming from the east and disappearing to the west. Little remarks
like this made us think at one time that he might possibly be a
British agent, landed to get information, or possibly for the express
purpose of helping escaped officers like ourselves: for there had been
plenty of time for the news of our escape from Yozgad to reach the
Intelligence Department in Cyprus.

One day Grunt and Nobby deliberately went up to try to get into
conversation with the mysterious individual. In the end they came to
the conclusion that he must be some kind of outlaw. He told them that
a friend and he had come from a place far inland to sell something or
other to a coastal village, and he himself was now awaiting the other's
return. They were going to take back with them a load of carobs, of
which he already had been making collections under various trees. The
beans seemed to be his only food, and he was obviously half-starving.
This, combined with the fact that he relied on us to draw up water
for him when there must be good water near the Turkish tents below,
showed that he was in hiding for some cause or other. This was as
well for us, as, if he had thought at all, he could not for a moment
have been deceived by our story. Even if we were on watch, we should
hardly trouble to bring up not only our own, but a lot of other men's
water-bottles to fill with muddy water at a disused well. Whatever the
explanation, the great thing was that he did not interfere with us. Two
evenings before our final departure from the ravine, he told us that
his donkeys would be coming back next morning, and that was the last
time that he was seen.

A few extracts from diaries may serve to convey some idea of our
feelings during these earlier days in the ravine:--

"_2nd Sept._--Struggled up to well at 8 A.M. Had wash in
mugful of water: temporarily refreshing, but exhausted for rest of day,
and feeling weaker than ever before in spite of five brews of boulgar"
(each brew was at this time about the half of a pint mug all round)
"and one small chupattie each, made by Nobby. Flour for last made with
much hard grinding after mill had been readjusted. Readjustment alone
took two hours to do.... Flies awful all day...."

"_3rd Sept._--Locust beans quite good toasted over ashes, and make
sweet syrup if first cut up and then boiled, but this entails a
lot of work. Every one cleaning and grinding wheat all day. As now
set, grinder produces mixture of coarse flour and boulgar. Tried
unsuccessfully to simmer this into a paste and then bake into thick
chupatties." (All our efforts at this stage were directed towards
producing something digestible with the minimum of work.) "Day passed
very slowly, with occasional trips for water."

"_4th Sept._--Most of us rather doubtful whether we shall be able to
get back our strength on a boulgar diet, and flour takes more grinding
than we have strength for at present--rather a vicious circle." Another
diary for the same date says--"Feeling weaker now than I did when we
first arrived; no energy for anything."

Next day the tide seems to have been on the turn.

"_5th Sept._--Most of us slightly stronger, but held back by chronic
lethargy. Continuous brewing all day. To save interruptions at the
grinder we now feed in two parties of four, taking alternate brews:
this means we get nearly a big mugful at a whack, at intervals of about
three hours.... Most of us fill in gaps eating burnt beans. Charcoal
said to be good for digestion!... One thing is, our feet are rested
here, and blisters healed. We are also undoubtedly putting on flesh
again, and if we can get rid of this hopeless slackness shall be all
right.... Grunt, working from 1 P.M. onwards, made 1 large and
4 small chupatties each, so we are coming on." It was something to feel
full again sometimes.

"_6th Sept._--My energy as well as my strength returning a bit now....
Mill hard at it all day.... 4½ mugfuls boulgar (1 pint each) and 6
chupatties (4½ inches diameter and fairly thick) the day's ration."



CHAPTER XIV.

FAILURE AND SUCCESS.


Our experiments at chupattie-making had led us in the end to grind the
wheat in two stages--first into coarse meal, and then, with a finer
setting of the mill, into flour. This meant less strain both for us and
for the machine: upon the safety of the latter practically depended
our survival, and frequent were the exhortations to the miller on duty
not to be too violent with the wretched little handle. Standing there
in the sun--for though there were trees in the ravine, they were not
high enough to shelter a man standing up--one was greatly tempted to
hurry through the task of twenty hoppers full of grain, and so risk
breaking the grinder. A quotation which Looney had learnt from a book
read at Yozgad proved very apposite on these occasions. It was from a
label pasted on to a French toy, and ran as follows: "Quoi qu'elle soit
solidement montée, il ne faut pas brutaliser la machine!"

When enough flour was ready, some one would knead it into a lump
of dough, which would then be divided up by the cook and flattened
into little discs. These were baked several at a time on the metal
cover of our dixie. When enough chupatties were ready, the cook would
pick them up one by one, while some one else, not in sight of them,
called out the names of the party at random. This was to get over the
difficulty caused by the chupatties not being all of quite the same
size. Similarly, after each brew of porridge had been distributed into
the mugs by spoonfuls, we determined who was to have the scrapings of
the pot by the method of "fingers-out." It was necessary to scrape the
dixie each time to prevent the muddy paste which stuck to the bottom
becoming burnt during the next brew; and the way to get this done
thoroughly was to let some one have it to eat.

On the 4th September, Nobby discovered a shorter way up to the well,
by first going a little down instead of up the ravine we were in. From
that date onwards, except for one night when it was necessary to be
on the spot in case of eventualities, Looney and Perce, and on one
occasion Johnny, went up at dusk to sleep near the well. Although the
mosquitoes were almost as troublesome there, they found that the air
was quite invigorating--a great contrast to that in the ravine, where
no refreshing breeze ever found its way.

By this time hardly one of us had any footgear left worthy of the
name, so we soaked an old _mashak_ (skin water-bag) and a piece of
raw hide, both of which had been brought down from the village on
the second visit, with a view to using them for patch repairs. Both,
however, proved too rotten to be of use, for they would not hold the
stitches.

We had been a week in the ravine before any of us felt capable of
farther exploration. To save time in getting to work again, on the
last two evenings Cochrane and Nobby had had a little extra ration
of porridge. Now at length, on the 6th September, they felt that it
was within their powers to make another reconnaissance. Nothing more
had been seen of the motor-boat, but the bay in which had been its
anchorage on our first night on the coast seemed to offer the best
prospect of finding a boat of some sort. Accordingly at 5 P.M.
the pair set off once again down the ravine, hoping to arrive near the
end of it before dark. And so began another anxious time for all, as we
wondered what the final night of our first month of freedom would bring
forth. It had not been easy to keep a correct tally of the date during
the march to the coast. More than once there had been no opportunity of
writing a diary for three days at a time; whilst on the coast one day
was so much like another that to lose count of a day would have been
easy. One of us, however, had kept a complete diary, and so we knew
that we had now been at large for a month.

To celebrate this we had decided, if all went well that night, to
have something very good to eat on the morrow. Every one voted for
a plum-duff. Johnny had cooked a date-duff one evening during the
siege of Kut, when his Indian _khansama_ (cook) found the shell-fire
too trying for his nerves. To Johnny then was given the post of
_chef_. During the day each of the party did an extra fatigue on the
coffee-grinder, with the result that by dusk we were able to set aside
about two pounds of flour for the pudding. Its other ingredients were a
couple of small handfuls of raisins and a pinch of salt. When Cochrane
and Nobby departed operations commenced. The ingredients were mixed;
the dough was kneaded on a flat rock and the resulting mass divided
into two, for our little dixie was incapable of holding all at once.
Each pudding was then rolled into a ball, tied up in a handkerchief,
and boiled for two and a half hours. Thus it was close upon midnight
before our dainties were ready for the morrow. The stillness of the
nights in the ravine had often been broken by the melancholy chorus of
a pack of jackals, usually far away but sometimes close at hand. We
decided to take no risks of loosing our duffs, and so slung them in the
branches of a tree.

Meanwhile Cochrane and Nobby proceeded on their reconnaissance. We had
made plans before they started in case of certain eventualities. One
was that if the two were recaptured they should lead the Turks to the
rest of the party; it was realised that otherwise they might be very
hard put to it to prove that they were escaped prisoners of war and
not spies. A more cheerful eventuality was the possibility that the
motor-boat might have returned unobserved. In that case if a favourable
opportunity of capturing it occurred, Cochrane and Nobby were to seize
the vessel, make their way to Cyprus, and send back help for the rest
four nights later. The rendezvous from which they would be fetched was
to be on the headland opposite the little island on which stood the
ruined castle. We eventually learnt that at the proposed rendezvous was
stationed a battery of guns, so that it was well for us that this plan
had never to be executed.

Our two scouts had many exciting moments in their reconnaissance that
night. They went to within a few hundred yards of the mouth of the
ravine, and then, turning to the right, made their way up to higher
ground by a side ravine. They climbed hurriedly, for the light was
rapidly failing. From the top it was still impossible to overlook the
bay which they wanted. They were moving along parallel to the sea when
suddenly they heard voices. They could pick out four figures a little
more than a hundred yards away, silhouetted against the sea on their
left. These were Turks; they seemed to be looking out to sea, and after
a minute or two squatted down on what appeared to be the flat roof of
a house. At this juncture Cochrane swallowed a mosquito. Nobby says
that to see him trying not to choke or cough would have been laughable
at any less anxious time.

After this episode the two moved off with extra carefulness. It was
now quite dark. They had not gone much farther when they again heard
voices. This time the voices were quite close and coming towards them.
Our pair took cover and waited: happily, at the last moment the owners
of the voices turned off.

In view of the number of people who seemed to be about it was no good
increasing the risk of detection by having two persons on the move; so,
soon after, Cochrane left Nobby in a good place of concealment, and
went on scouting around by himself.

Half an hour later he came back. He had been able to overlook the cove,
and there were two boats there. It was too dark, however, to see of
what sort they were, and as there was a shed with a sentry on duty
close to the boats, the only thing to do was to wait for daylight. The
two now slept and took watch in turn. At the first sign of dawn they
moved down to a rock, commanding a good view of the creek. One of the
boats appeared to be a ship's cutter, some twenty-eight feet long, the
other perhaps twenty feet in length. Having seen all they could hope
for, they lost no time in moving off, as it was now quite obvious that
the house on which they had seen the four men on the previous evening
was a look-out post; and it was now becoming dangerously light.

Instead of returning directly to the ravine, however, they made their
way some distance down the coast to the S.W. They were able to see
Selefké, and to recognise through the glasses a dhow in the river
there, but it was some way inland. It was 11 A.M. before the
reconnoitring party again reached the ravine. The news they brought
gave us something definite to work for, and we decided that if we could
finish our preparations in time we would make an attempt to seize
one of the boats two nights later. That would be on the night of the
8th-9th September. But there was much to be done before then. Masts and
spars, paddles and sails, and four days' supply of food for the sea
journey had to be made ready. For the paddle heads Cochrane and Nobby
had brought back some flat thin pieces of board which they had found
near a broken-down hut; and also a bit of ancient baked pottery which
would serve as a whetstone for our very blunt knives and the adze.

On the strength of the good news and to fortify ourselves for the work,
we decided to wait no longer for our feast. The duffs were unslung
from the tree, and each divided with as much accuracy as possible
into eight pieces: in this way we should each have a slice from either
pudding in case they varied in quantity or quality. Both were superb,
and the finest duffs ever made. We commented on their amazing sweetness
and excellent consistency. In reality a raisin was only to be found
here and there, and the puddings were not cooked right through. When we
had finished, Old Man asserted that he could then and there and with
ease demolish six whole duffs by himself. This started an argument.

"What!" cried one; "eat forty-eight pieces like the two you have just
had. Impossible!"

"Granted; twenty pieces would go down easily enough," said another,
"and the next ten with a fair appetite. But after that it wouldn't
be so easy. You might manage another ten, but the last eight would
certainly defeat you."

Old Man, however, stuck to his assertion and refused to come down by so
much as a single slice. As it was impossible without the duffs under
discussion to prove him right or merely greedy, the subject was allowed
to drop.

By this date Perce was the only one of the party who still had some
tobacco, English 'baccy too, for he smoked very little. To celebrate
the discovery of the boats, he now broke into his reserve. A single
cigarette was rolled and handed round from one to another of us. It
only needed a couple of inhaled puffs to make each of us feel as if we
were going off under an anæsthetic. After the two or three puffs one
thought it would be nice to sit down, and in a few seconds one felt it
would be pleasanter still to lie down full length. That is what we did.
The effect only lasted a minute or two, but it showed in what a weak
condition we were.

On the evening trip to the nearer well it was found quite impossible
to draw up any more water from it. It had been gradually drying up,
and now the two on water fatigue could not scoop up even a spoonful of
water when they let down a mug, so they had to go on to the well near
the tower. This, too, was going dry, but still contained a little pool
of very muddy water.

Shortly after four o'clock that afternoon Looney and Perce had started
off on the third visit which was paid to the deserted village. They
were armed with a long list of requisites: more cloth for sails; a big
dixie for cooking large quantities of the reserve porridge at a time;
some more grain; nails and any wood likely to be of use; cotton-wool
for padding our feet when we went down to the shore; and many other
things. They returned next morning at 9 A.M. with all the
important articles, together with some hoop-iron and a few small poles.
The latter were the very thing for the paddle-shafts. They also
brought down some raw coffee-beans which they had found in a little
leather bag; these we roasted and ground next day, and enjoyed the two
finest drinks of coffee we remember having had in our lives.

Meanwhile we had started cooking our food for the sea voyage. It was to
consist of small chupatties and porridge, but the latter would not be
cooked until the latest possible date for fear of its going bad. Forty
reserve chupatties had been set aside before we retired to rest on
the night after the feast-day. From that day onwards till we left the
ravine the coffee-grinder was worked unceasingly from 5 A.M.
till 7 or 8 P.M. There was no question of a six hours' day
for us; for while we ground flour and porridge for the reserve, we had
still to provide our own meals for the day. We realised then, if never
before, the truth of the saying, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou
eat bread."

Little of the 8th September had passed before we realised that it was
hopeless to think of being ready by the following night. We therefore
postponed the attempt, and settled down to our preparations in more
deadly earnest. Cochrane decided on the size and shape of the sails,
which were to be three in number. The rolls of cloth obtained from the
village were about fourteen inches in width, and the biggest of the
three sails was made with seven strips of the cloth. It was a good
thing that we had still two big reels nearly untouched of the thread
with which we had started from Yozgad.

When the strips had been sewn together, the edges of the sail were
hemmed. Later, pieces of canvas from Ellis's pack, which was cut up
for the purpose, were added at the corners for the sake of additional
strength. No one had a moment to spare. Those who were not sail-making
were doing something else,--either at the mill, at work on the paddles,
cutting branches off trees for the spars, fetching water, or cooking.

September 9th was similarly spent, but again on this day it soon
became obvious that we should not be ready by nightfall. By the time
we retired to our sleeping-places, however, our preparations were well
advanced. Two of the sails were finished, the spars were cut, some of
the paddles were completed, and the larger part of the chupatties and
porridge cooked. The porridge was put into one of our packs. It was not
a very clean receptacle, but being fairly waterproof would, we hoped,
help to keep the porridge moist; for our chief fear with regard to the
coming sea voyage was shortage of water.

On the 10th we worked continuously from daylight till 3.30
P.M., by which time our preparations were complete. Before
moving off we hid away all non-essentials, so as to reduce our loads.
With the big cooking-pot half-full of water, and the spars, sails,
and paddles, these were going to be both heavy and cumbersome. We
also buried our fezes and the copies of the map, lest, if we were
recaptured, they should encourage the Turks to think that we were
spies. For the same reason, any allusions to what we had seen on the
coast, and to our visits to the deserted village, were carefully erased
from diaries. These precautions completed, we carried our unwieldy
loads down the ravine to a point opposite the shorter path to the
wells. Here we left our impedimenta, and taking only water-bottles,
chargals, and the big cooking-pot, which had a cover and swing-handle,
climbed up to the well near the tower and filled up. The water supply
was almost exhausted, and it took an hour and a half to fill our
receptacles and have a drink. It was impossible to practise the camel's
plan, and drink more than we really needed at the time. It required a
tremendous effort to force oneself to drink a mugful of these muddy
dregs.

While the rest were filling the water-bottles, &c., Old Man and Nobby
went off to a suitable point for a final look at part of our proposed
route to the shore. Then all returned to the kits in the ravine. We
had decided that we would move down to the beach in stockinged feet,
so as to make as little noise as possible. For most of us this was
not only a precaution, but a necessity, since our party of eight now
only possessed three pairs of wearable boots between us. We accordingly
padded our feet as best we could, and proceeded once more towards the
sea.

The going was so difficult that we had several times to help one
another over the enormous boulders which filled the bottom of the
ravine, and down precipitous places where there had once been small
waterfalls.

At 7 P.M. we were not far from the mouth of the ravine. Here,
then, the party halted, while Nobby, who had been there on two previous
occasions, scouted ahead. When he returned, reporting that all seemed
to be clear, we crept on out of the ravine. It was now night. Walking
very carefully, testing each footstep for fear of treading on a twig or
loose stone and so making a noise, we came to a wall. This we crossed
at a low place where it had been partially broken down, and a hundred
yards beyond found ourselves approaching a line of telegraph poles and
then the coast road. Up and down this we peered in the light of the
young moon, and seeing no one went across. The ground here was level,
but covered with big bushes and a few stunted firs, between which we
made our way to the shore. It was grand to hear the lapping of the
waves and smell the seaweed after nearly four years.

The creek, in which were the two rowing-boats, lay a mile to the west
of us. We had intended to strike the shore where we were, for by
walking to the creek along the edge of the sea the risk of stumbling
against any tents or huts in the dark would be reduced; but it took
us longer to reach our objective than we had expected. It was almost
midnight when, a quarter of a mile from the creek, and near a place
where a boat could be brought conveniently alongside, the party halted.
Leaving the others here, Cochrane and Johnny were to try to seize one
of the two boats marked down four nights previously, and Nobby was to
accompany them in case they needed help.

The shore line, which they now followed, rose rapidly to a steep
cliff forty feet or more above the level of the sea. When within a
hundred yards of the boat which they wanted, they found a way down to
a narrow ledge two feet above the water. The moon had long set, but
they could see the boat as a dark shadow against the water reflecting
the starlight. Here, then, Cochrane and Johnny proceeded to strip. They
continued, however, to wear a couple of pairs of socks in case the
bottom should be covered with sharp spikes, as had been the rocky edge
of the shore for the most part. They tied two pieces of thin rope round
their waists with a clasp-knife attached to each. Thus equipped, they
let themselves down off the ledge, and slipped quietly into the sea.
Fortunately the water was warm; but it was phosphorescent too, so they
had to swim very slowly to avoid making any unnecessary ripple.

As they neared the boat, which now loomed big above them, some one in
the shadow of the cliff a few yards away coughed. Next moment they
heard the butt of a rifle hitting a rock as the sentry (for such he
must have been) shifted his position. Hardly daring to breathe, they
swam to the side of the boat farther from him and held on to it. Here
the water was about six feet deep. After waiting a few minutes to let
any suspicions on the part of the sentry subside, they moved along to
the bow of the boat.

They had hoped to find it anchored by a rope, but to their great
disappointment it was moored with a heavy iron chain. Speaking in very
low whispers, they decided that one should go under the water and lift
the anchor, while the other, with his piece of rope, tied one of the
flukes to a link high up in the chain. When the anchor was thus raised
clear of the bottom, they would swim quietly away, towing the boat.
Accordingly, Cochrane dived and lifted the anchor, while Johnny tied
his rope round a fluke and made it fast to a link as far up the chain
as possible. They then let go.

With what seemed to them a terrific noise, the chain rattled over
the gunwale till the anchor was once more on the bottom. Were they
discovered? Another cough! They did not dare to move. Could the plash
of the water lapping against the sides of the creek have muffled the
sound of the rattling chain? If only the chain had been fixed! But
perhaps a short length only had been loose.

Another attempt was made. This time it was Johnny who lifted the
anchor, while Cochrane tied his rope to it. Unfortunately he had the
rope still round his waist, and when the anchor dropped he was carried
down with it. How lucky that he had his clasp-knife! For though he was
free in a few seconds, he came to the surface spluttering out the water
he had swallowed. It was a near thing that he was not drowned. Where,
meantime, was the anchor? Little did they realise that it was lying
once more on the bottom and laughing at their efforts to carry off the
quarry that night.

Some point of the chain, of course, must be attached to the boat, but
it was risky to continue getting rid of the spare length by the present
method. Besides, there was no more rope with which to tie up the anchor
to the chain. As for getting into the boat and weighing anchor from
there, it would be sheer madness. The sentry would be certain to see
them, naked and wet as they were.

By this time they were both shivering violently with cold, though, as
has been said, the water was quite warm. As a last attempt they tried
to take the boat out to the end of the chain by swimming away with it
farther from the sentry. Again the chain rattled over the gunwale, and
there was nothing for it but to admit defeat.

Slowly they swam back to the ledge where Nobby was awaiting them. He
said they had been away for an hour and twenty minutes, so it was
not surprising that they had felt cold. With numbed fingers they put
on their clothes and climbed gloomily up the cliff. By this time the
walking over sharp rocks had cut their socks and padding to pieces, so
that they were marching almost barefoot, a very painful operation.

On their rejoining the party, the sad tale of failure was told. As the
time was 3 A.M., the only thing to do was to get into the
best cover we could find near the coast and sleep till dawn. About a
hundred yards inland we lay down in some small bushes beneath stunted
pine-trees. There we slept.

Our thirty-fifth morning found us in a state of great depression. There
seemed no chance left of getting out of the country. Lying in our
hiding-places we reviewed the situation in an almost apathetic mood.

We were on the eastern side of a W-shaped bay, a mile wide, and opening
southwards. Its eastern arm was the creek, in which was the boat we had
failed to capture. There was a similar western arm, the two creeks
being separated by a narrow spit of land. From quite early in the
morning motor-lorries could be seen and heard winding their way along
the tortuous road. In several places this closely followed the coast
line, and at one or two was carried on causeways across the sea itself.
We lay on a headland on the seaward side of the Turkish encampment, and
were overlooked by the look-out post on the cliff-side.

At noon a council of war was held. As we were lying dotted about some
distance from one another, for the time being we all crept into an
old shelter made of branches, not many yards from us. There matters
were discussed. Although several schemes were put forward, going back
to the ravine in which we had spent so many wearisome days was not
one of them. To return there would have made us into raving lunatics.
The final decision was to make another attempt that night to seize
the boat; this time there should be four of us in the water. If that
failed, about the most attractive proposal was to go boldly on to the
coast road and by bluff obtain a lift on a motor-lorry, demanding as
Germans to be taken in a westerly direction to the nearest big town,
Selefké: we might get a boat of some sort there. The chief lure of
this scheme was that, should the lorry-driver believe our story, we
should cover a few miles without walking on our flat feet. This was a
fascinating thought indeed, for despite nearly a fortnight on the coast
we had no wish to set out on the tramp again.

Two or three of us, however, thought we might sum up the energy to
march eastwards along the road in the hope of finding a boat in the bay
of Ayasch. But even if we did this there was still the difficulty about
food and drink. Unless we replenished our supply we should have to
undertake a sea voyage of at least a hundred miles with only two days'
rations and perhaps a water-bottle full of water apiece. The consensus
of opinion was thus come to that if we failed again that night we might
as well give ourselves up the next day. We then went back into our old
and safer hiding-places.

At about two o'clock in the afternoon we heard the sound of a far-off
motor. This was no lorry. It came from a different direction. In a few
seconds we were all listening intently.

"It's only another lorry after all!"

"No, it can't be. It's on the sea side of us!"

As the minutes passed, the noise became more and more distinct. Then
our hearts leapt within us, as there came into the bay, towing a
lighter and a dinghy, the motor-tug which we had last seen the day
after we had reached the coast. Skirting the shore not three hundred
yards from where we lay, the boats disappeared into the eastern creek.

Apathy and depression were gone in a second. Excitement and--this we
like to remember--a deep sense of thankfulness for this answer to our
prayers took their place.

The motor-boat was flying at her bows a Turkish and at her stern a
German flag, but most of her crew of seven or eight looked to us like
Greeks. In the lighter were over twenty Turks.

Another council of war took place, but of a very different type from
the last. All were hopeful, and we made our plans in high spirits.
Throughout our discussion, however, ran the assumption that some of the
crew would be on board the motor-boat, and we should have to bribe them
to take us across to Cyprus. It never entered our heads for a moment
that any other scheme would be possible. In fact, when about an hour
before sunset the dinghy with a few of the crew and some water-beakers
on board was rowed across to a point opposite us on the western side
of the bay (where there must have been a spring of fresh water), we
determined to hail them on their return journey.

At one point they came within three hundred yards of us. In answer
to our shouting and whistling, they stopped rowing and looked in our
direction. They must have seen us, but they refused to take any further
notice. Whom did they take us for? And why did they not report our
presence when they went ashore? No one came to search for us; and as
the mountain had not come to Mahomet, Mahomet would have to go to the
mountain. Some one would have to swim out to the boat that night, and
proffer bribes to the crew.

As the dusk of our thirty-sixth night fell, a ration of chupatties and
a couple of handfuls of raisins were issued. A move was then made to
the nearest point on the shore at which there was a suitable place for
a boat to come alongside. There we waited till the moon set at about
8.30. In the meantime we drank what water remained in the big dixie.
This left us with only our water-bottles full.

At this time our best Turkish scholar was feeling very sick. The last
scrapings from the pack containing the porridge had fallen to him, and
as all of it had turned sour during the previous night, Grunt's extra
ration was proving a not unmixed blessing. This was a serious matter,
as we relied on him to negotiate with the motor-boat's crew. However,
at 9 P.M., he and Cochrane, the Old Man and Nobby, set forth
on the last great venture. The others moved all the kit close down to
the edge of the rock where a boat could come in.

An anxious wait ensued. The four had set out at 9 o'clock, but
it was not till 11.30 that Looney, with his last reserve--half a
biscuit--gone, saw a boat coming silently towards him. In a trice the
other three were awakened. Was it friend or foe? She had four men on
board: they were our four. The moment the boat touched at the rock the
kit was thrown in. Cochrane had done magnificent work. He had swum
round the creek, found out that there was no one in the motor-boat,
cut away the dinghy belonging to the lighter, swum back with it, and
fetched the other three.

Eight hopeful fugitives were soon gently paddling the dinghy towards
the creek, keeping, so far as might be, in the shadow of the cliffs;
for though the moon was down, the stars seemed to make the open
bay unpleasantly light. As noiselessly as possible the dinghy came
alongside the motor-boat and made fast. The creek here was about sixty
yards wide. The tug, moored by a heavy chain and anchor, was in the
middle of it. Some fifteen yards away was the lighter; on this were
several men, one of whom was coughing the whole time we were "cutting
out" the motor-boat. This took us a full hour.

On trying the weight of the chain and anchor, Cochrane decided to loose
the motor-boat from her anchorage by dropping the chain overboard. He
did not think it would be possible to weigh the anchor. Odd lengths
of cord were collected and joined up in readiness for lowering the
end of the chain silently when the time came. But success was not to
be attained so easily. Boarding the motor-boat, Nobby and Perce had,
foot by foot, got rid of almost all the chain which lay in the bows,
when another score of fathoms were discovered below deck. It would be
quicker, after all, to weigh anchor, and by superhuman efforts this was
at length achieved without attracting the attention of the enemy, our
coats and shirts being used as padding over the gunwale.

[Illustration:
_From a photograph by Mrs Houstoun taken at Kyrenia, Cyprus._
THE MOTOR BOAT.]

As soon as the anchor was weighed, we connected the motor-boat with
the dinghy by a tow-rope found on the former; all got back into the
dinghy, and in this we paddled quietly away. With our home-made paddles
and heavy tow we were unable to make much headway. With six paddles in
the water, we could credit ourselves with a speed of not so much as a
single knot.

Once clear of the bay, Cochrane again went aboard the motor-boat and
this time had a look at the engine. We had remaining at this time
about an inch of candle, but this served a very useful purpose. By
its glimmer Cochrane was able to discover and light a hurricane-lamp.
He told us the joyous news that there was a fair quantity of paraffin
in the tank. Unfortunately no petrol was to be found, and it seemed
unlikely that we should be able to start the engine from cold on
paraffin alone. So weak indeed were we, that it was all we could do
to turn over the engine at all. While frantic efforts were being made
by Cochrane and Nobby to start her, those in the dinghy continued
paddling. After three hours all were very tired of it, and very
grateful for a slight off-shore breeze which gave us the chance of
setting a sail. Cochrane rigged up our main-sail on the motor-boat; all
then clambered aboard the latter.

Our speed was now quite good and many times that of our most furious
paddling. Suddenly looking back, we saw the dinghy adrift and
disappearing in the darkness behind us. Whoever had been holding the
rope at the dinghy end had omitted to make fast on coming on board the
motor-boat. The dinghy still contained all our kit; so to recover this,
including as it did what food and water remained to us, Cochrane and
Johnny jumped overboard and swam back to it. The sail on the motor-boat
had been furled, and in a few minutes the dinghy was again in tow.

After this slight misadventure the engine-room was once more invaded,
and Looney and Cochrane experimented with the magneto. There was a
loose wire and vacant terminal which they were uncertain whether to
connect or not. Eventually, with Nobby turning over the engine, a shock
was obtained with the two disconnected. Two were now put on to the
starting-handle. But the cramped space produced several bruised heads
and nothing else as pair after pair struggled on.

At length at 4.30 A.M., little more than an hour before dawn,
the engine started up with a roar, in went the clutch, and off went the
motor-boat at a good seven knots. At the time when the engine began
firing, Nobby, who was feeling very much the worse for his exertions in
weighing anchor followed by his efforts to start the motor, was lying
on deck in the stern. Startled by the sudden series of explosions, he
thought for a moment that a machine-gun had opened fire at short range,
till he discovered that he was lying on the exhaust-pipe, the end of
which was led up on deck!



CHAPTER XV.

FREEDOM.


We reckoned that by this time we were some three miles from the creek,
so we could hope that the roar of the engine would be inaudible to
those on shore. On the other hand, sunrise on the 12th September was a
little before 6 A.M., so that dawn should have found us still
within view from the land. A kindly mist, however, came down and hid us
till we were well out to sea. As soon as it was light enough we tried
to declutch in order to transfer our kit from the dinghy to the tug.
But the clutch was in bad order and would not come out. The alternative
was to haul up the dinghy level with the tug, with the motor still
running, and then to transfer all our goods and chattels on to the
deck. It was a difficult task, but it was done. We then turned the
dinghy adrift. This meant the gain of an additional two knots.

It now seemed as if our troubles really were nearing their end. The
engine was running splendidly, the main tank was full to the brim;
there was enough and to spare of lubricating oil, and in a barrel
lashed to the deck in the stern was found some more paraffin. A beaker
contained sufficient water to give us each a mugful. It was brackish,
but nectar compared to the well-water which we had been drinking for
the last fortnight. We also allowed ourselves some chupatties and a
handful of raisins.

Our principal fear now was of being chased by one of the seaplanes
which we thought to be stationed at Mersina, not many miles away. We
had seen one on two occasions during our stay in the ravine. Time went
on, however, and nothing appeared. Instead of looking behind us for a
seaplane we began to look ahead, hoping to come across one of our own
patrol boats. It says much for the deserted condition of those waters
that during our fortnight on the coast and our voyage of about 120
miles to Cyprus not a single boat was seen save those five that we had
seen in the creek.

Discussing the matter of the discovery of the loss of the motor-boat
and the subsequent action of the crew, we came to the cheerful
conclusion that probably the loss would not be divulged to the
authorities for a considerable period. The rightful crew would know
what to expect as a punishment for their carelessness, and would
either perjure themselves by swearing that the boats had sunk at their
moorings, or thinking discretion even better than perjury, disappear
into the deserted hinterland through which we had marched. Should these
two guesses be wrong, there was yet another course which we thought
possible, though not so probable, for the crew to take. Thinking that
the motor-boat and dinghy had drifted away, they would not mention
their disappearance till a thorough search had been made of all bays
and creeks within a few miles of the locality.

The cherry of this delightful cocktail of fancy was very palatable;
whatever else happened, the occupants of the lighter, agitated to the
extreme and dinghyless, would have to swim ashore, and this thought
amused us greatly.[11]

Now for a few words about the motor-boat. She was named the _Hertha_,
and boasted both a Turkish and a German flag. In addition to her
name she had the Turkish symbol for "2" painted large on either side
of her bows. Broad in the beam for her 38 feet of length, she was
decked in, and down below harboured a 50-h.p. motor. In the bows of
the engine-room we found a couple of Mauser rifles dated 1915, with a
few rounds of small-arm ammunition; some of the latter had the nickel
nose filed off to make them "mushroom" on impact. We also discovered a
Very's pistol, with a box of cartridges; trays of spanners and spare
parts for the motor, and two lifebelts taken from English ships whose
names we have forgotten. On deck, immediately abaft the engine-room
hatchway, was the steering-wheel, while farther astern was the barrel
containing the extra paraffin, a can of lubricating oil, and various
empty canisters.

Till noon the sea was sufficiently rough to be breaking continually
over the bows, and three of the party were feeling the effect of
the roll. To the rest, to be thus rocked in the cradle of the deep,
borne ever nearer to freedom, was a sensation never to be forgotten.
The motor was going splendidly, and we all took turns at the wheel,
steering by the "sun-compass," and, with the exception of Cochrane,
very badly.

By 1.30 P.M. we could recognise the dim outline of the high
mountain-range of Cyprus: on the strength of this we each ate another
two chupatties and a handful of raisins, finishing our meal with a
quarter of a mugful of water.

But we were a trifle premature in our lavishness. Our troubles were
not at an end, for half an hour later the engine began to fail, and,
while Cochrane was below looking for the cause of the trouble, she
petered out. The fault was subsequently traced to the over-heating of
one of the main shaft bearings, the oil feed-pipe to which had been
previously broken, and had vibrated from its place. Having satisfied
himself that no serious damage was done, Cochrane decided to wait half
an hour for the bearing to cool. During this time Old Man and Looney
had a mid-sea bathe to refresh themselves, while Perce and Johnny tried
to boil some water for tea. The fire was made on an iron sheet, on
which some bights of chain were shaped into a cooking place for the big
dixie. The roll of the boat, however, though very much less than in the
morning, proved too great to allow the dixie to remain steady on the
chain, so the idea of tea had to be abandoned. We now had leisure to
observe the sea, and we decided that its colour was the most wonderful
we had ever seen--a clear purple-blue.

When the bearing had cooled, we tried to start the engine again. One
pair followed another on the starting-handle, but all to no purpose.
All four sparking-plugs were examined: the feed-pipe, separator,
and carburetter were taken down. Except for a little water in the
separator, all seemed correct. We refilled the tank with paraffin from
the barrel on deck, but our renewed attempts still met with no success.
Our efforts to turn the crank became more and more feeble, until, by
4.30 P.M., we lay down on deck utterly exhausted.

Just before sunset we decided we would make a final attempt to start
up. Should that be unsuccessful, we would set the sails; but to our
great relief she fired at the second attempt. Our joy was somewhat
tempered by her refusing to run for more than a few minutes at a time.
It was found that this was caused by the feed-pipe from the tank
repeatedly choking, owing, no doubt, to grit in the oil obtained from
the barrel, which, as we had noticed when pouring it in, was very dirty.

After dark, Cochrane did all the steering; while down in the
engine-room were Looney as mechanic, and Old Man and Johnny as
starters. Meantime, Perce sat on deck with his feet through the
hatchway against the clutch-lever below him. By jamming this hard down,
and tapping the clutch with a hammer, it was possible to persuade the
cones to separate when required. For over four hours we spent our
time starting and stopping. Our two best runs lasted for thirty and
thirty-five minutes. Usually a run lasted for five or less. We took
it in turns to tap the feed-pipe with a piece of wood, in the hope of
keeping it from clogging; but it was of little use. Each time the
engines stopped, Looney took down the separator and feed-pipe and blew
through them, getting a mouthful of paraffin for his pains. When all
was ready again, the two starters, though almost dead-beat, managed
somehow to turn the crank.

By 10 P.M. we were becoming desperate. It was only Cochrane's
cheering news that we were within two hours' run of the coast that kept
the engine-room staff going. A run of five minutes meant a mile nearer
home, so we carried on.

An hour later, Cochrane told us all to sit on the starboard side, for
it was on this side that the feed-pipe left the tank. This was sheer
genius on his part. From that very moment the wilful engine behaved
herself, and ran obediently till we meant her to stop. As we neared
the coast, at a distance, perhaps, of three miles from it, Nobby
fired off a Very's light, in case there were any patrol boats in the
neighbourhood; but no answering light appeared. Next day, in Cyprus,
we asked the police if they had seen the light. They had not seen it,
they said, but had heard it. This proves how wonderfully sound travels
over water, for we would not for one second doubt a policeman's story.
But, as is hardly necessary to point out, a Very's signal, like little
children, should be seen and not heard.

Having had only our memories of the bearing and distance to Cyprus
from Rendezvous X to guide us, we had worked out in the ravine that
the bearing on which we had to steer would be S. 50° W. On sighting
the island in the afternoon, we had found that this was too much to
the west; so Cochrane had altered the course to make for the western
end of the high range of mountains visible about due south of us. When
about two miles from the shore we turned eastwards, and moved parallel
to the coast, on the look-out for a good anchorage, if possible near
a village. Finally, about a hundred yards from the shore, we dropped
anchor in a wide bay.

On leaving Yozgad each of the party had possessed a watch, but by this
time only two were in working order, and these were Old Man's and
Johnny's. As the chain rattled over the side, the latter looked at the
time, to find that the hand once more pointed to the witching hour of
midnight. This timepiece served its purpose well, for it was not till
an hour later, when it had ceased to be so essential, that it shared
the fate of most of its comrades and was broken. It was interesting to
find later, on comparing the Old Man's watch with Cyprus time, that
there was only two minutes' difference between them. We had checked
our time occasionally by noticing when one of the "pointers" of the
Great Bear was vertically beneath the Pole Star; the solar time when
this occurred on any night had been worked out before we left Yozgad.
Fairly accurate time-keeping was of importance, for on this depended
the successful use of both the "sun-compass" and the star-charts.

And so we had reached Cyprus, but we were all in too dazed a condition
to realise for the moment what it meant; in fact, it took many days to
do so. On arrival in the bay, Cochrane, with his keen sense of smell,
had declared that there were cows not far off, and at about 3 o'clock
we heard a cock crow. We said we would eat our hats, or words to that
effect, if we did not have that bird for breakfast. There was not a
single light on shore, and we had no idea whereabouts in Cyprus we
had dropped anchor. As the stars disappeared in the coming light of
dawn, we saw the coast more clearly. Then by degrees what we thought
were ruins on the coast, rocks a couple of hundred yards east of us
took form; later these proved to be the still occupied Greek monastery
of Acropedi. Then a house or two near by stood distinct; then trees;
and finally our eyes beheld not a mile away a large village, boasting
churches, mosques, and fine buildings set in trees, and beyond a
mountain-range rising sheer from the very houses.

With the first light came a man to the beach opposite us. We shouted to
him in English, French, and Turkish, but he appeared not to understand.
Soon he was joined by two or three others. Then they started arriving
in tens and twenties, men, women, and children. Mounted gendarmes
galloped down. We shouted ourselves hoarse, but to no purpose. We tried
several times to start up the motor, but we could not turn the handle.
Finally Cochrane jumped overboard in a shirt borrowed for the occasion,
as it was longer and less torn than his own. He must have felt still
rather undressed for the ordeal, as when he reached the water he
shouted for his hat, which was thrown to him. Clothed thus he swam
towards the shore. In two feet of water his courage gave way, and his
modesty made him sit down. So situated he harangued the crowd.

Finally there appeared a gendarme who understood English. He said there
was an English police officer in the village, which was named Lapethos;
so borrowing a pencil and a piece of paper, Cochrane wrote a note to
the Englishman reporting our arrival. He explained to the gendarme that
we wanted to bring the boat ashore, but that we could not start the
engine. When this was understood several men at once stripped and swam
out to the rest of us. Cochrane came back smoking a cigarette, which he
passed round when he got on board. The Cypriotes too brought cigarettes
perched behind their ear like a clerk's pencil, and these we smoked
with great appreciation. The scheme was for us to weigh the anchor,
give the men towing-ropes, and they would then pull the boat inshore.
The men, though small, were well built. As they had started swimming
almost before they could walk, it was no hardship for them to tow our
heavy vessel. Laughing and shouting, they pulled us along until they
thought a rest would be pleasant, then they came on board again. They
shouted now and then in sheer lightness of heart; they were very cheery
fellows. We were not towed straight inshore, but to a small natural
jetty a hundred and fifty yards west of us along the beach.

Here we stepped on British soil, eight thin and weary ragamuffins. We
know our hearts gave thanks to God, though our minds could not grasp
that we were really free.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our story is nearly at an end, though we have yet to bring our eight
travellers to England. Should our already distressed readers hope
against hope that the two authors will be torpedoed long before
arriving there, we will put an end to any such fond anticipations by
telling them truthfully that we were not. In order, however, to soothe
in a small way their injured feelings, let us divulge the fact that
we, with all but two of the party, spent several days ill in hospital
before we reached home. One nearly died from malignant malaria,
doubtless caused by the bites of the mosquitoes on the Turkish coast.

Having given the reader this sop we will continue. Surrounded by a
large but kindly crowd, we sat down on the rocks above the natural
jetty on which we had landed, and waited for an answer to Cochrane's
note. In the meanwhile a gift arrived from the monastery: a basket
containing bread, cheese, olives, and pomegranates. No larks' tongues,
nor the sunny halves of peaches, have ever been so welcome, and we had
a wonderful meal, finishing with clean sweet water and cigarettes.

About half an hour later an officer, in what looked to us then
extraordinarily smart uniform, came down to see why this crowd had
collected, and on hearing our story conducted us to the village. The
road led through orchards whose trees were heavy with pomegranates
and figs; past vineyards and banana palms, tobacco plants and cotton.
Everywhere we could see the signs of a fertile prosperous land, and
it struck us forcibly how different it all was from the barren tracts
through which we had toiled down to the coast of Asia Minor. No more
vivid testimony could be borne to the contrast between British and
Turkish sovereignty.

The officer with us did not belong to the police, but was on survey
work in the island. We were taken, however, to the barracks of the
Cyprus Mounted Police, and here, seated on chairs on the verandah, we
were given coffee with sugar in it. Everything seemed wonderful. We
could smoke as much as we wanted, and the barracks were scrupulously
clean and tidy. One by one we went into the garden near a whitewashed
well, and were shaved by one of the C.M.P. After a good wash we brushed
our hair for the first time for five weeks. All that time we had had
to be satisfied with a comb. As soon as Lieutenant S---- of the Police
arrived, we were taken upstairs to have breakfast, and right royally
did we feast. The meal ended, we were given the 'Lapethos Echo,' which
contained Haig's and Foch's communiqués of the 9th September. These too
were wonderful, and we were greatly amazed by the change which had come
over the main battle front since we saw the last paper at Yozgad before
we left; then the Germans were, so we were told, about to enter Paris.

After breakfast a hot bath and clean clothes were provided for each
of us, our rags being collected in a corner with a view to their
cremation. A Greek doctor anointed us with disinfectant and bandaged
anything we had in the way of sores or cuts.

At about 3 P.M. two carriages arrived and our triumphal
progress continued. We first paid a final visit to the motor-boat,
collecting our few trophies in the way of rifles and flags. This done,
we were driven to Kyrenia, a coast town eight or nine miles to the east
of us: the police officer and Greek doctor stopping the carriages at
every roadside inn to regale us with Turkish delight and iced water.
At Kyrenia we were expected by the British residents, who accommodated
us for the night and treated us with the truest British hospitality.

Our sensations on finding ourselves once more between sheets in a
spring-bed are more easily imagined than described. Late next morning,
after a bathe in the sea and when many snapshots of the party had been
taken, we were driven off in a motor-lorry, by Captain G---- of the
A.S.C., to Famagusta, the port of Cyprus on the eastern coast. It was
an eighty-mile drive, and what with stopping at Nikosia for lunch and
at Larnaka for tea, we did not reach Famagusta and the mess of the
Royal Scots, who had kindly offered us a home, till 9 P.M.

All the recollections of our four-days' stay in Cyprus are of the
pleasantest description, as were those also of our voyage to Egypt in
two French trawlers. As much cannot be said of the fortnight we spent
in Port Saïd, where we passed the first night sleeping on the sand
in a transit camp and most of the rest in hospital: nor of our ten
days in a troop-train crossing Italy and France. During this time we
learnt--what perhaps we needed to be taught--that we were after all the
least important people in the world. But to tell of these adventures
in detail would be to fill another book. Suffice it to say that we
were sustained by a few comic episodes. On one occasion, in Italy,
we spent five minutes talking Italian, based on slender memories of
school-day Latin, to men in another troop-train, before we discovered
that they were Frenchmen. On another, in France, we remember opening
a conversation in French with our engine-driver, who proved to be an
American.

At length, on the 16th October 1918, five of our party reached England
together, preceded by Cochrane, who had managed to arrange for a seat
in a "Rapide" across Europe, and followed by the Old Man and Nobby, who
had had to remain in hospital in Egypt for another fortnight.

Soon after arrival in England, each of us had the very great honour of
being individually received by His Majesty the King. His kindly welcome
and sympathetic interest in what we had gone through will ever remain a
most happy recollection.

Finally, we arranged a dinner for all our party, the date fixed being
11th November. This, as it turned out, was Armistice Night, and with
that night of happy memories and a glimpse of the eight companions once
again united, we will draw the tale of our adventures to a close.

FOOTNOTE:

[11] The following is an extract from a letter received from
Lieut.-Colonel Keeling since we wrote the above: "At Adana I met the
Turkish Miralai (= Brigadier-General)--Beheddin Bey--who was in command
on the coast. He was fully expecting the party [_i.e._, our party],
and put all the blame on the men in the boat [_i.e._, the lighter] to
which the motor-boat was tied. These men were all Turks, the Germans
being on shore. The loss of the motor-boat was discovered before dawn,
and at dawn a hydroplane was sent out to look for her; but she only
spotted a small boat a few miles out, presumably the boat with which
they had towed the motor-boat to a safe distance before starting the
engine. Beheddin Bey drew me a plan showing exactly how everything had
happened."



CHAPTER XVI.

CONCLUSION.


There is one note, however, which we feel we must add before laying
down our pens. Many of our readers will have already realised that
there was something more than mere luck about our escape. St Paul,
alluding to his adventures in almost the very same region as that
traversed by us, describes experiences very like our own. Like him, we
were "in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers,
... in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the
wilderness, in perils in the sea, ... in weariness and painfulness, in
watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
nakedness."

To be at large for thirty-six days before escaping from the country,
to have been so frequently seen, sometimes certainly to have aroused
suspicion, and yet to have evaded recapture, might perhaps be
attributed to Turkish lack of organisation. Our escape from armed
villagers; our discovery of wells in the desert, of grain in an
abandoned farmhouse, and of the water (which just lasted out our stay)
in the ruined wells on the coast; and finally, the timely reappearance
of the motor-tug with all essential supplies for the sea voyage--any
one even of these facts, taken alone, might possibly be called "luck,"
or a happy coincidence; taken in conjunction with one another, however,
they compel the admission that the escape of our party was due to a
higher Power.

It would seem as if it were to emphasise this that on at least three
occasions, when everything seemed to be going wrong, in reality all
was working out for our good. Our meeting with and betrayal by the
two "shepherds" ought, humanly speaking, to have proved fatal to the
success of our venture: we had thrown away valuable food, and were
committed to crossing a desert which previously, without a guide, we
had looked upon as an impassable obstacle. And yet we know now that it
would have been entirely beyond us to have reached the coast by the
route which we had mapped out to Rendezvous X, and that it was only
the deflection from our proposed route caused by this rencontre which
brought the land journey within our powers of endurance. It was the
same when we were forced, against our will, to replenish supplies at a
village; the breakdown of one of the party which compelled us to do so
undoubtedly saved us from making an impossible attempt to reach the
coast with the food which remained at the time. Still more remarkable
was our failure to take the rowing-boat on the night of 10th/11th
September, which resulted in the motor-tug falling into our hands and
being the final means of our escape on the night following.

We feel then that it was Divine intervention which brought us through.
Throughout the preparations for escape every important step had been
made a matter of prayer; and when the final scheme was settled, friends
in England were asked, by means of a code message, to intercede for its
success. That message, we now know, was received and very fully acted
upon. We had also friends in Turkey who were interceding for us; and on
the trek it was more than once felt that some one at home or in Turkey
was remembering us at the time. To us then the hand of Providence was
manifest in our escape, and we see in it an answer to prayer. Our way,
of course, might have been made smoother, but perhaps in that case we
should not have learnt the same lessons of dependence upon God. As it
was, it was made manifest to us that, even in these materialistic days,
to those who can have faith, "the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it
cannot save."


  PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS.


[Illustration: MAP OF ASIA MINOR
ILLUSTRATING
"FOUR FIFTY MILES TO FREEDOM."
_Approximate Route followed shown thus_ ----
_M^c. Lagan & Cumming, Litho Edin_]



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were ccorrected.

Hyphenation was made consistent.

P. 90: was not to carried -> was not to be carried.

P. 196: an an old castle -> an old castle.

P. 254: in case of eventualites -> in case of eventualities.

P. 263: helped to keep the porridge moist -> help to keep the porridge
moist.

P. 267: unnecssary ripple -> unnecessary ripple.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Four-Fifty Miles to Freedom" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home