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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Saud, Abdulaziz ibn

23.885942, 45.079162

Tues March 17. [17 March 1914] It froze hard in the night. We rode down into the Batn which is a belt of low ground, but not very low, broken into banks and basms and stretching a great distance. Here we presently were approached by 3 camel riders of the 'Abdeh who came out to know our business. We saw some white Slubbah donkeys in the distance. We were now near the limits of the Shammar and 'Ali was anxious as to our relations with the Ri'u, the Meshhed [Najaf, An] tribes, who he said, are much worse than the Bedu. Our rafiq Sa'aiyid ran out and questioned some women who said they were Bedu camping with some of the Ri'u behind us. We rode on and presently dropped into our encampment of Ri'u. At the first tent we passed some women were wailing the dead, their their [sic] arms thrown up to heaven. We met 2 more women who were coming down to the washing. 'Ali stopped and asked whether it were man or woman. A man. Shab or shaiyid. La allah yusallimah, walad tayyib. A man came out of one of the tents towards us. 'Ali greeted him and he returned the greeting, but took 'Ali's gun and bade us come to his tent. Asked what dauleh we belonged to. To the dauleh of M. Rashid said 'Ali. 'Ali said that that was where we were coming. We dismounted and they nowwakhed[?] the camels and while we sat in the tent a man proceeded to rifle my saddle bags. 'Ali protested that that was not zain and he was told to desist. The conversation was at first very uphill. 'Ali said we had come from Hayyil [Hail] where we had stayed 16 days and had met the Amir in the W. al Khadd [Khadd, Wadi al] and were going on to Meshhed [Najaf, An]. We wanted a rafiq. The ferij behind us had told us to come on to him and he would give us a rafiq. And why do you not camp in their menzel[?] where the aishb is zain and the fug'u wajid? (Fuqu are kamr) It was the order of the govt. that I shd take a rafiq from every tribe. When he said he came from Baghdad a man replied that the people of Baghdad were gom to them. 'Ali replied rather angrily that if they wanted our loads they had better say so and shalah us. No said the man there has been no rifling[?] yet and Fellah intervened with a word while I said No all we wanted was a rafiq from them upon our road. They then went and talked outside. A green turbaned Sayyid came in and sat by me - he was quite friendly. Finally the atmosphere cleared, but they declare that they daren't go by the straight road because they fear people whom they do not know and could only take us to Sbitza. I tried to get off that moment but 'Ali thought it better to camp with them, which we did after eating dates and semen with the shaikh. They then all repaired to our camp fire and talked. I heard Ali giving them all sorts of false news about the taking of Jof [Jawf, Al (Al Jauf)]. Ali sang to me the praises of the Muntefiq. They are far more generous than the Rashid. What they undertake always is to pay the price of blood to any man of their people who has had the misfortune to murder someone, and the price of a bride to any who is not rich enough to buy one - shughl muluk, added 'Ali. The Beni Hassan - for that is what they are - sat round my camp fire at night and waited till the lamb was cooked. I made great friends with them, especially with the blue eyed shaikh Jadu'. They gaith round Samawa [Samawah, As] and they told me of the Warkah [Erech (Uruk)] diggings. Jadu' knows Muham. Daghestani and wondered at my intimate acquaintance with men and things.

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