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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

36.9165612, 34.8952102

Mon 24. [24 April 1905] The train left I think about 8.30. We went down
to the station and were welcomed by a polite station master in English
who gave us some details concerning the line and its origin. It was
made by a Co. partly French partly Belgian it is without kilometric
guarantee and it pays. The engines are all Belgian. Ours was the
Tarsus. The line is quite flat "There are no works of art" he said "only
one bridge" but it cost some £300,000 naps owing to jobbery. They
have some 80 rolling stock of all kinds and I think he said 12 engines.
We were delayed by a diverting incident. Some horses in a truck
began fighting together and finally kicked their way right through the
wagon. The wagon had to be taken off and the horses taken out.
They did not go that day at all. 4 days a week they run one train
backwards and forwards and 3 days 2. We were so busy talking all
the way that we did not see even the one work of art which is over the
Cydnus. We arrived at Tarsus about 10.30, blazing hot. Found my
caravan at the railway crossing. Mr Lloyd and I got into a carriage
and drove up to my camping ground which was a mound to the west
of the town, traces of fortification about it and a good view. To the W a
great stretch of gardens. The town lies charmingly with the great
mountains behind, and the gorge of the Cydnus running up into them.
Mr Lloyd went to his khan and I got into camp and lunched. He came
back about 2 and we went out to explore guided by a member of the
Old Syrian church from somewhere up Zeilan[?] way, a charming
person but he knew little about the town. He had come here by
reason of his having been imprisoned for 2 years, unjustly, in his
native place on account of some money trouble with the govt. We
went first to the new Armenian church. There is near it a tomb of an
English consul called Jones who died here some 70 years ago and a
very funny inscription on it describing his virtues and saying that it
pleased Almighty God to end his life in a brain fever. We next went to
the Dunuk Tash which is buried in gardens belonging to the {Dunuk}
Armenian church. It was however locked and we cd not get in. All that
there is to be seen is an oblong mass of rubble masonry with much
stony mortar with another mass of the same masonry to the N of it, all
deeply buried in vegetation. We then were taken out along a hot road
to the E to see an enormous cotton factory belonging to a Greek of
Mersina [Mersin (IÁel)] - Mavromati[?] I think his name was. It employs
500 hands. All the machinery came from Platt - we were glad to see it
was English. The people at work were evidently very proud to show
us their control over the wonderful whirring things. Men and women
are employed. So back to the town having at last persuaded Darad
that we wanted to see mosques. The first had been an Armenian
church. It had chambers on either side of the apse (which was A) and
Armenian inscriptions over the chambers. The only other mosque of
interest was the Jamiet en Nur which had evidently been a church. It
had a double line of columns alternated by square piers, the columns
of fine stone and old. No old capitals. There was another column
sticking up to the W in the graveyard. The great blue flags are out.
So back to my tents to tea after which we rode out to find the waterfall,
but ignominiously failed. So we came back and took a cheerful little
party who ran on ahead of us and showed us the way. It lies to the N
of the town. The Cydnus falls over a ledge some 20 feet high. They
say that on the rocks in the river when the water goes down in summer
can be seen the foundations of houses - ?a bridge? Very pretty. On
the way we met 2 Indians in long white turbans with whom Mr Lloyd
conversed. They had come from Bombay via Baghdad and were
going on the Hajj next year and so back. Dined in my tent - Mikhail
gave us a most excellent meal and sat talking till about a quarter to 9.
At the gates of the hills to the N is a round tell where is the cave of the
7 sleepers. There is a mazar half way up and it is a holy place of
Islam. Mr Lloyd tells me that the Ma'an railway is being carried
forward both to Akkaba ['Aqaba[?]] and to Meda'in Saleh [Mada'in
Salih]. The engineers think they will get through to Mecca [Makkah].
He heard that a great number of the soldiers who are being sent to
Yemen died on the road between Ma'an and Akkaba of thirst. There
are 3 wells but one is a little off the road and apparently they did not
know where it was and so perished. He says the railway is too comic.
Every fitting in the carriages except the seats has been stolen -
lamps everything.

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