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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell written for Charles Doughty-Wylie

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

Wed. 28. [28 January 1914] I would have you know that the quality
most needed when travelling among the Arabs is not (as some have
wrongly stated) courage, but patience. My fairy godmothers forgot to
endow me with it - well, you know how little I have it - But perhaps I
shall have learnt how to practice it before this journey is done. If I
have not, it will not be for want of opportunity. This morning when it
came to the question of our new rafiq, Harb and his brother and a
cousin of 'Audeh Abu Tayyi - the same who brought me the ostrich
egg - assembled solemnly in the men's tent and warned me that the
road south was full of danger. The Howaitat have left the dirah and
gone west: the desert is empty -given over to the raiders of the
Hetaim, the Fagir, the B. 'Atiyyeh, and I know not whom besides.
Anyhow they strongly counselled me not to take that path but go East
to the Wadi Sirhan [Sirhan, Wadi] and then S. as I would. And if I
agreed to this Harb's brother Awwad would see me safe into the
Wadi. Moreover my men were afraid of the southern road, even 'Ali
who is not easily alarmed. I could not go against this advice - it would
have been madness. Specially as it is all one to me which road I take
and from here to the W. Sirhan is unmapped ground. Further, I shall
see with satisfaction the Hejaz [Hijaz] rly growing more and more
distant. Taimah [Tayma'] was dangerously near it, it would have
been all too easy for Ibn al Rashid's agent then to advise in a manner
I should have found difficult to withstand, that the train to Damascus
[Dimashq (Esh Shams, Damas)] was better than camel riding. So we
go east with Awwad tomorrow, wa kasarna yaum, we have broken
another day here. In the afternoon I climbed up into the hills and
wandered by myself along a high rocky gorge where among the
stones I found Spring in the desert - the pallid meagre Spring which is
all the desert knows. There were flowers, red and white and purple -
we should scarcely notice them in our beflowered England, but here
they seemed like separate jewels. Even the thorns were covered
with the greenish white seed bags which serve them for blossoming.
And when I got to the top I looked out upon fold after fold of golden red
sand and smoke grey rock, with the black tents of the Howaitat
clinging to the slopes or nestled into the valleys. I longed for you to
look with me - it was a sight that filled the eyes and satisfied, for the
moment, even the most restless mind. Now the new moon triumphs
over the sunset - it is her third night; and presently I shall have the
company of the stars to light my dinner table.

IIIF Manifest