Port Said, October 5, 1919 Dear Helen, I forgot when I wrote to you last, but I know it was when I was in hospital and under the influence of quinine. I'm not inspired in particular at present, but hope to get into the swing before many pages - I mean my present swing and style - not the same kind it was three years ago when I was fresh from college. It does make a difference, does it not? Well, here I am in the drawing room, and it's Sunday night. It is very quiet except for the jap of Indian waiters in the saloon below. A few people, mostly ladies, are reading here, but most of them are outside or ashore. It's just bright and quiet in here. Thank God, I'm demobbed at last and on board for Blighty and college - away from the burning sands of the desert and its tinkling caravan bells - into the fog of London and its noisy streets, and then to the cloisters of Oxford and buried among old books. Yes, I became a civilian on September 26th - in Jerusalem, where I spent five days previous to coming here on October 1st. I've embarked, but the ship is held up for coal and might not leave for several days, but still thanking my lucky star that I'm a civilian. I am not bored yet. Besides there is a fort- night's mail to come tomorrow which makes it worth staying. When I returned from hospital, instead of sanction for demob. there was a letter asking if I still wanted to be released locally. I had a choice between this course, which would enable me to see Jerusalem, and going home to England for demob. Naturally I chose the former and now am much further ahead as a result. With this delay to shipping I would have been held up some time. Well, I had another week in camp until the papers came through, during which time I took quinine as usual and killed time. Here endeth the tale of demobilization, and never again will I trouble you with the story of my captivity and the escape therefrom, it being sufficient to add in remembrance of the efforts exerted by the Canadian High (and mighty) Commissioner that his letters arrived after I had passed out of the hands of my keepers, to whome the aforesaid correspondence was addressed. I shall dismiss the question of malaria with the remarks that I am now on the road to health again and look well. I am weak but a week in England will make a great deal of difference, as it did in Jerusalem. Port Said, of course, would bring it on again. October 8th. The strike in England being over, the boat was coaled and left just after midnight, so all morning I have enjoyed the pleasant sea breeze. This week I intend to do some serious work at Persian and Arabic which have been neglected lately. The best of the five days in Jerusalem was when I went to the Dead Sea on a donkey. Starting at 6 a.m. I arrived in Jericho at eleven, and then after an hour went on to Shareiah (Gilgal) and thence to the Jordan, and on to the Dead Sea by sunset. The distance covered was about thirty-six miles. I was tired - too tired to sleep, but quite pleased with life, as it was my first day's trekking for nearly six months. It was magnificent - the Roman Road, bare Judaean Hills with their traces of the war, Good Samaritan Inn, Brook Cherith with its spring where Elijah was fed, and then a bursting into view of the Dead Sea and the whole Jordan Valley with the white houses of Jericho among the green fields and gardens and the stately Hills of Moab beyond. October 9th. I did not get away from Port Said without a touch of fever, and now somehow the cool breeze which should be invigorating, makes me sluggish. The only remedy seems to be getting dressed warm and taking plenty of exercise. I'm just like a hothouse plant, but D.V. I'll get hardened before long and, I hope, stimulated mentally, I'll be drunk with excitement when I reach London. Somehow it seems only a month since I left. As usual I'll do my sightseeing there from the top of a bus. It's just ripping! This ship is a floating nursery - scores of children under ten and wee babies galore. Gee, what a change from troopships! They're having children's sports the second afternoon today, and I was really interested for awhile, but I think I prefer Arabic!! No, please don't think I am swatting the stuff, for I only do an hour or so a day. I wrote a Persian letter two mornings ago to my oId munshi. My fortnight's letters which were sent to Cairo have gone west - to London. I wired to have them forwarded to Port Said, and they did not come, and then I wrote to have them sent to London. That's the East again! I've found a real pal on board - a demobilized officer from the Indian Army. He is going to study for the Indian Civil Service in England. How different such men are from the students I knew at Toronto! I think that the ex-soldier should have a decided advantage over others, if he only gets busy and thus takes advantage of his experience. Well, here goes the tea-gong, and I'm without an inspiration to write more. October 17th. Do you remember the letter I wrote in June '17 when I was between Cape Town and Durban, the day I read Stephen Leacock's "Further Nonsense"? Well, this is such a night. We are in the Bay of Biscay (alias Biscuits because of the amount of these eaten to prevent seasickness). All the symptoms of bad weather are in evidence including very small attend- ance at dinner. We were held up a day at Gibraltar for coal and I had two half-days ashore. The first day my cabin-mate and myself went into town. It is a strange mixture of England, Spain and Morocco. Curiously enough, the parish church is built after the architecture of the latter country and it is very nice at that. We did not go to the old gun galleries as we have had enough of guns. Lunch took longer than the sightseeing, and we had two courses of sardines - tinned and fresh, with the usual other courses. After lunch we walked half way around the rock, across the Isthmus and along the Mediterranean. On the Spanish side it rises sheer out of the low land. The next day I was one of a party of twelve and we took a motor boat to Algeciras in Spain, across the harbour. Here we saw a bit of medieval dreamland; it was all so quaint and peaceful that one forgot about a twentieth century city. We walked along cobbled streets with their white enamelled brick houses, and glimpses into these revealed marble floors and fancy tiled wainscottings. Just outside the town on one of the green hillsides is the arena, which claimed our attention for a good half -hour. We saw the stables and listened to the guide's vivid description of a bull-fight, and bought darts as souvenirs. Taking up my cue regarding the Dead Sea trip, I must describe Jericho. It is a group of white brick houses nestling among the gardens and looks just like Winona from the T .H. and B. Railway. Of course the green only reaches a few miles on either side. Shareiah (the ancient Gilgal), contains a dozen houses of mud among vineyards and gardens with a few palms. It is watered by several springs. The soil is a black loam and capable of cultivation for miles around. I suppose it was much larger when Joshua conquered it. There are numerous other springs in the neighbourhood. The Jordan Valley offers wonderful opportunities for irrigation. Jericho has scarcely any palms now, but ten years hence those recently planted will make a fair showing. The Dead Sea lies between bare mountains and on the Jordan side nothing grows either. Its waters are so dense that one cannot sink. I had a bath in it the evening I arrived. This trip is my last holiday for some time - for years, perhaps. Now I must get busy and begin civil life over again. I think army experience is an advantage, not a drawback. Yours sincerely, Austin October 19th. Anchored in Thames until morning. It's awfully cold.