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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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1 entry, paper

33.223191, 43.679291

Sun 22 [22 March 1914] We found as usual beautiful 'aishb soon after we had left camp and a clear water pool under some chalk rocks. Here we filled and washed our water skins and set off across the plain to 'Ain al Sayyid. As we rode a shepherd sent a rifle bullet between our camels' legs - we heard the whizz of it. Dawi bade his camel kneel, took a rifle and went off to expostulate - they were 5 or 6 men with flocks. 'Ali when he drew near rebuked him loudly - Wd a gomani come over the open desert in broad day ala kaifhu with hamilat? And if he was afraid the qa'ideh was to send a bullet over the riders' heads till he found out who they were. A horseman came up joined in this scene and the man admitted he was wrong. The horseman rode on with us. Presently we sighted another making for us across the plain. Ali waved his abba - useless! he shot at us too, but from far off. Our horseman went out and explained. We crossed a dry irrigation canal and near it a bit of a large stone column with a square base attached. The qasr looked big and I thought it really might be something, but when we came near it it was clear that it was not very old. Brick facing and rough stone and mortar .... ...... the walls. No decoration over the gate but a little spare[?] panelling on the sides of the double tower in which the door is set. Inside in the gate chamber roof like those in the Qumreh at Baghdad. The interior is full of houses all of which seemed to be modern. There is a small village outside built mostly of old bricks which they dig out of the ground. The inhabitants are mainly Arabs who grow corn on the abundant water of the 'ain, but some are Meshahadeh. They were all very civil. A foreigner has been there this winter related an old man. I rode to the mazar which is modern, bought a cast brick tile and so away on the high road to Meshhed [Najaf, An] of which we cd see the shining dome on the tar. We met a party of Arab zawwar who asked for news and a party of the qasr people who knew Dawi. Otherwise they wd probably have robbed us. We camed [i.e. camped[?]] in some sand hills with handh and gadhgab for the camels and an amazing swarm of sandflies. We stayed from 1 till 3 and it then ocurred to me to ask 'Ali if we were safe. He said we were not - too near the road, his mind not at rest. So we broke up camp in 1/2 an hour, carried the dinner in saucepans and marched off till at sunset we saw a village of wattle huts to the right of the road. There was corn in front of us and we feared water channels and mud - we had already passed through one patch - so we turned off and camped there, the villagers being most civil. They did not seem surprised at our having a hot dinner with us! They are Meshahadeh.

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