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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

33.223191, 43.679291

Tues March 23. [23 March 1909] Very cold in the night and early
morning. I got up before sunrise out of a very stony bed and we were
off at 6.15. After we had crossed the valley we rode for 3 hours over
gently rising levels so that we never saw more than a quarter of a mile
ahead. Almost nothing grew on it but the yellow bitter apples of the
colocynth - haudul[?] - strewn about as if someone had been playing
a game with them. Muhammad says they are so bitter that if you hold
dates in your hand and crush the haudul with your foot, the dates are
too bitter to eat. He told tales and repeated verses the whole day.
Fawwaz and Hussein listening with delight, repeating the last word
and saying at intervals Sahih! or Allah! At 9.15 we got to the top of the
rise and saw the dark line of the palms of Rahaliyyeh [Rahhaliyah]
which were 4 hours' away. At 10.30 Muhammad said we were near a
bir called Gulban which lay to the right. At 10.50 we dropped into a
valley called El 'Asibiyyeh and lunched under the shade of the steep
opposite bank. This is no doubt K.'s sumpfiger Thalkessel. We saw
it quite dry but there had been water in it and the bed was deep sand.
We stayed till 11.35, they lit their narghileh and takayyifu. Soon after
we had set off again we saw the black line of Rahaliyyeh and
reached the tamarisk and reed growth of the Buaireh at 12.30. There
are quantities of springs here and little mud forts built over them from
which the people watch till the gazelles come down to water and
shoot them. Soon after we got to long pools of standing water and the
air was heavy with the rotten smell of them. We rode through the
palms and reached the house of the Mudir at 2. He poor man has
been here 6 years. He has one foot soldier and can do nothing to
keep the Arabs in check. There are 100 houses here, about, and
16000 palms. We camped in a palm garden and I presently had a
party of musicians, two beating drums, one blowing a double flute and
one dancing under the trees. They were all negroes as to type of
face but not very black. Hussein declared them to be aboriginal. [8
lines of Arabic] Extraordinary yellow sunset glow between the palms
and new moon. Outside my garden walls the naked desert. [Written
at top of page:] Nakib Jemil. M. Afzul Khan. Ibrahim Fehir[?]
Ammaliyyeh Mukallfeh[?] Aridiyyeh Aminiyyeh

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