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ity of the Sultan of Oman, beat back his troops. He sent others, and the war con
tinued. Two years later the fighting, of which a young American explorer was the innocent cause, was still continuing. Every now and then the cables would carry a few brief lines describing some sanguinary skirmish. Then along came the Great War to
Misfortune continued to follow the young scientists. This time it fell upon the older brother, Paul, who was stricken down by a violent attack of typhoid fever. Fortunately, at Busra there was a missionary hospital where the sick man could receive good care. But for five weeks he lay so near to death that Wilson Popenoe scarcely left his
eclipse lesser struggles, and history thus far does not record whether or not the sultan ever collected the fines. Upon the return of Paul Popenoe to Muscat, his brother Wilson was convalescent and able to travel. Accordingly, they took ship for Busra, which they found to be a dismal, depressing collection of mud huts, set down on the treeless desert at the mouth of Shatel-Arab–the River of the Arab. The town was dirty beyond description, reeking with contagious disease, and filled with ragged, unclean beggars and hostile fanatics, known as Shiahs, who did not attempt to conceal their distaste for “infidel dogs.” But Busra, as a city, is important, because it is the seaport whence are exported the products of the richer interior. Particularly, it is the port of Bagdad, five days' travel by steamer up the river. The Shat-el-Arab is formed by the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers a few miles inland; and at this junction, tradition locates the original Garden of Eden.
bedside. At length, however, the fever broke, and Paul made a rapid recovery; but he was still thin and weak when he and his brother boarded a river steamer and a few days later reached Bagdad—the City of the Caliphs.
This was the Oriental wonderland of which both explorers, as boys, had read in the “Arabian Nights.” Here, a thousand years ago, Harun-al-Rashid had roamed the city in disguise, that he might come in closer touch with the lives of his subjects. Of all Oriental cities, this is the least touched by Western civilization. The brothers spent the first few days seeing the marvels of Bagdad, from the bridge of boats that spans the Euphrates, to the alabaster mosques that crown the city with their minarets. Yet the ancient city suffers from close inspection, for its population is the same wretched throng—dirty, ragged, and diseased—that the Popenoe boys had seen elsewhere under the rule of the Crescent.
Here they established their headquarters, for in the fertile areas near Bagdad is established the greatest date-growing industry in the world. Paul's experience in dealing with the sharp bargainers of the Samail Valley had taught a lesson to the explorers. They no longer attempted, in their amateur way, to chaffer and dicker with the date-growers of Bagdad, but they hired a man for this purpose, an official bargainer. Another indispensable employee was an interpreter.
ing into the thousands, at prices (in the equivalent of American gold) ranging from twentyfive cents to one dollar apiece. After a month of this bargaining, Wilson Popenoe went back to Busra to superintend the packing of the palms for sea shipment, for the plantation owners were now beginning to send their offshoots into Bagdad. Paul Popenoe remained in the City of the Caliphs to receive the palms and bargain for others. From the groves, the young palms were
They could find in Bagdad no available man who could speak both English and Arabic. The best they could do was to employ an Arab who spoke French in addition to his native tongue. Both Paul and Wilson Popenoe could speak French; and thus, through two intermediaries, the interpreter and the bargainer, they dealt with the native plantation owners. There was no doubt that the Arabs of Bagdad were unfriendly to the purpose of the Americans to take Arabian date-palms out of the country in order to establish a rival industry in another land; yet these American boys had gold in hand to pay for what they got, and this gold outweighed native patriotism. The swarthy growers shouted and gestured and perspired with the official bargainer, but at length they sold, no doubt privately wishing the Americans all the ill luck in the world into the bargain. Presently the contracts for palm offshoots were mount
freighted down the Euphrates to Bagdad in coracles, the round, basket-like boats of the Arabs, made of plaited willow calked with pitch from the tarry springs at Hit, in Arabia, the home of the ancient Hittites. The tradition is that Noah calked the seams of the ark with pitch from Hit. In Busra, Wilson leased compounds in which to pack and store the young palms, and hired Kurds as packers. For the long journey at sea, each offshoot had to be trimmed down; the butts were painted with white lead, to keep them from decaying in the moisture; then each shoot was wrapped in palmfiber, to retain moisture, and finally sewed up in burlap. Both brothers needed to be continually on their guard to keep from being swindled by the Arabs, who placed as many obstacles as possible in the way of the exportation. Unless palm offshoots are carefully pulled, the root and the heart of the stalk will remain in the ground, the hollow exterior and the leaves remaining in the hands of the careless workman. This carelessness mutilates so badly the offshoot left on the root that it will die, while the hollow leaf-stem has no life in it at all. But in such cases the date-growers usually resorted to the trick of packing the hollow stem with mud and passing it off as a perfect offshoot. The young scientists quickly discovered this trick, and thereafter they made a point of thrusting their thumbs into the butt of every offshoot. If their thumbs penetrated the shoot, it was cast aside and no payment was made to the outraged seller. On one occasion, when Wilson Popenoe came back to Busra, he found that the Kurd workmen had sewn up two thousand young palms in burlap without first wrapping them in palm-fiber. If not protected by this waterretaining fiber, the offshoots would surely dry up and die on the long voyage. The young man firmly insisted that the whole two thousand burlap packages be ripped open and repacked, while Oriental maledictions fell in showers on his head and the lamentations of the Kurdish contractor arose to the sky. At length the time drew nigh when the expedition should have accomplished its purpose. Wilson had packed five thousand palms at Busra, including those which had followed by steamer from Muscat. At Bagdad, Paul had four thousand shoots ready for shipment down the river to the compounds at Busra. And then a new difficulty arose: the owner of the Arabian steamer that plied between Bagdad and Busra firmly refused to receive the offshoots as freight. Nothing daunted, Paul Popenoe hired a barge and packed it high with the offshoots, intending to float down to the sea with the current. But at this point unexpected help was given to him by a Turkish steamer on the river, the captain of which offered to tow the barge. Thus, finally, the young palms were brought out to the coast and packed in Busra. Meanwhile, the brothers had made arrangements for a tramp steamer to carry the shipment to England, where they would reship it to America. There was nothing to do now but wander about the bazaars of Busra while waiting for this boat to arrive. In this inspection, the Popenoe boys found reasons why an American date-culture is likely to succeed against the competition of the Orient —one ample reason, at any rate, existing in the unsanitary conditions under which the
Arabians pack dates intended for American consumption. The Arabs despise our taste in dates. Americans demand golden dates, which the Arab regards as inferior. The Arab and the European consumer, too, prefer the darker varieties of dates; and our travelers who have visited Arabia are convinced that the dark dates are more luscious and better in every
DATE-PALMS IN ALGERIA, AFRICA
way except in appearance. Our scientists believe that dark dates, grown in America, will win popularity. The ripe date is a luscious fruit. When merely ripe, however, it cannot be packed. The date, instead of decaying on the tree or dropping off when it is ripe, remains in the cluster and begins to dry. In two weeks after dead ripeness, the dates are dry enough to pack in boxes, their heavy content of sugar having preserved them. When the tramp ship arrived, it took on a cargo of barley and dates at Busra. To the palms, the captains assigned that space on the deck known as 'tween decks. The nine thousand shoots, in their bulky burlap overcoats, completely filled this space. In addition, the Popenoes shipped casks containing one hundred tons of fresh water to supply moisture to the palms at sea. When the vessel had taken on this cargo, it steamed on the long journey around Arabia to the Island of Ormuz in the Red Sea to receive there a large consignment of oxide of iron and pearl-shell. For ten days she lay in the roadstead at Ormuz, while the Popenoe brothers watched the Arabian dhows, with their lateen sails, bringing the freight out from shore. The pearl-shell was stored in great heaps on the forward and after decks of the tramp. On the tenth day of the shell loading, a violent storm arose. The tramp steamer broke away from her mooring-buoy and began to drift toward the shore. But the ship had steam up, so the captain turned her to sea and left the rest of the shell shipment for some other voyage. This storm was quickly over, and the ship was headed northward for Suez. But once fairly out in the Red Sea, she was overtaken by a furious gale, a fluctuating wind of the kind that is called a hurricane in West Indian waters and a typhoon in the China Sea. Presently the tramp was in danger of foundering. The great billows were topping her decks and playing havoc with the deck cargo and everything loose. One wave carried overboard two hundred palm offshoots at a gulp, and the pearl-shell began to move in the wash. It was then the captain decided that he must jettison the deck cargo to save the ship. The chains that operated the rudder of this boat from the pilot-house ran along the scuppers of the open deck, and there was danger at any time that the shifting deck cargo would foul these chains so that they could no longer operate. Once the steering-gear was out of control, the ship would quickly drift into the trough of the sea and, in all probability, overturn and sink. But the two young explorers begged so hard for their cargo, explaining at what effort it had been procured, that the captain agreed to throw it overboard only if it came to a case of life and death for them all. In the shrieking gale, the sailors sprang forward and aft, and, keeping out of the way of the seas that frequently came inboard, they shoveled the pearl-shell into the water. After this the ship rode easier. The palms, in their burlap coverings, did not show any tendency to shift, and it was apparent that, unless the storm grew worse, they might be
saved. The gale moderated almost as suddenly as it had arisen, until by night the danger seemed to be past. . The ship pursued her leisurely course northward to Suez, through the canal, thence out into the Mediterranean. Several days later the vessel went into the port of Algiers to land Wilson Popenoe, who contemplated a trip to the date-groves on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Paul kept on with the tramp, to take charge of the palms at London and reship them to America. In the mid-Mediterranean the engines of the steamer broke down, and she was fifty-two days reaching London. There Paul dispatched the palms on a steamer bound for Galveston, Texas, whence they were taken on a special freighttrain to California. When the offshoots left England, Paul Popenoe returned to Africa and met his brother in Algeria. Wilson had been gathering offshoots of the choicest African datepalms, including scions of the famous Deglet Noor variety. Both brothers then took up the task until they had secured and packed six thousand shoots of Sahara date-palms. In all, these two young scientists collected fifteen thousand new date-trees for the American growers, including forty varieties in all. So carefully were the offshoots packed and cared for on the journey to America that most of them survived the trip, and the transplanting later on. Offshoots of every one of the rare varieties came through alive. The young palms were planted principally in the Coachella Valley in California, and five years later they began to come into bearing, to be the nucleus of the future date industry of America. The resolution and courage of Paul and Wilson Popenoe made them, more than any others, the fathers of that industry. The authorities of the Department of Agriculture, who had been watching the expedition with interest and receiving reports from it from time to time, were filled with admiration at the way in which this wholesale importation of a branch of agriculture had been accomplished, and rather astonished that men so young could have carried out the difficult assignment with so much judgment and tact. Wilson Popenoe was just twenty-one years of age when he landed at New York with the palms. There he found letters urging him to come to Washington. He obeyed, and within twenty-four hours he was enrolled in the government service. He became one of the most valuable of the Government's plant explorers.
“Oui, c'est moi! W’at ees et?” Julie, who had been half conscious of the pounding of hoofs and then of a hammering at the door below the little bedroom which she shared with her younger sister Louisette, wakened fully and looked out into the smoky half-dark of early morning as she heard her father's voice from the next room, and knew he was speaking from the open window to some one below. A rather excited voice answered, and for a moment or two a colloquy ensued in the French-Canadian patois which is still largely used in parts of northern Ontario as well as
in the province of Quebec. Finally her father said: “I mus’ do dat, for sure. Me, I mak’
steam on de Belle queek. Ha’f to wait for Mark to fire heem; but soon he come, I go on to Haileyburr' and pick up de men along dis side de lak’. Be up dar to meet de partie near eight o'clock!” This announcement was evidently to the satisfaction of the visitor, who immediately galloped away. For two summers previously, extensive sections of that part of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec which juts up far into the north—where such extensive finds of silver and gold have been made during the last decade—had been visited by terrible fires, destructive not only of forests and farm crops, but also licking up here and there whole towns and villages, causing a heavy loss of life. That year the country had escaped the usual menace until late August, but for the last few days the air had been laden with smoke, and stories had come in that fires were again prevalent in remote northern sections. Nothing, however, had
been feared, for the present at least, in the neighborhood of Lake Temiscaming. Now Julie had learned from the rapidly told story of the visitor that the fires were sweeping southward and were threatening the settlements in the Des Quinze district. Messengers had been sent out to collect all the available men to fight back the impending destruction, and her father had been requested to take out his little steamer, the Belle Marie, pick up men and equipment from the camps and farms along the eastern shore of the lake, and carry them to Tomstown, on the Blanche River, the nearest point of debarkation. As Julie rose and began to dress, looking out, meanwhile, to where the little steamer swung at her moorings, and thinking of what the day portended for the people of the north, she heard her father clatter hurriedly down the stairs and throw the latch on the door. Then she saw him make his way down the path to the Belle, from which in a moment came clashes of iron upon iron, indicating that a fire was being made. Ordinarily, this was done by Mark Lemay, the young man who acted as fireman, engineer, roustabout, everything else in the little boat. Years before, the Belle—under a less attractive and also less significant name— had been used by a firm of lumbermen on the upper Ottawa in “kicking out” the smaller rafts of logs into the river and in carrying supplies from camp to camp. And then one day when, as a result of neglect and illusage, her engine had balked, Julie's father, 'Poleon Lagasse, a sub-foreman, had made an offer for her, which was accepted on the .spot. A week or so of tinkering, with the addition of some new parts brought on from