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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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1 entry, paper

27.6121695, 38.5165234

Thurs Feb. 12 [12 February 1914] We were off soon after 6 and took a
pretty direct course onto the ta's called al Sabi.' Thence I got
bearings onto Dhaibat, the ta's above Shmukka, and Irnan. Also onto
Ghnaim, hills which are only an hour from Taimah [Tayma'], the plain
of Mhaimeriyyeh near Taimah, the whole of our road back to the first
sand hills of the Nefud [Nafud, An] and our way forward to Haizan [Bir
Hayzan]. The tu'us are heads of sand with no herbage on them.
They stand up pale yellow out of the Nefud and have a sort of moat
round 3 sides, the 4th being generally a deep depression. The sand
banks run mostly in an east-west direction, more or less. The valleys
between them have a way of dropping suddenly into a very steep
hollow called a Ga'r which on these edges of the Nefud has
sometimes jellad at the bottom. The tu'us have a very sharp E and W
ridge, the steepest slope being as far as I have observed, generally
to the N. While I was climbing up Sabi' the camels came up and F.
[Fattuh] reported that one had sat down and wd not move. M. al M
[Muhammad al Marawi], Fellah and I went back to her with some 'aliq
and found her lying on her side, twitching and evidently dying. M. said
"Rahat hadhi, Nahallalha?" I said Ahsan and he cut her throat,
thrusting his knife into the big jugular vein and giving it a sharp turn to
one side, with the words Bismillah, Allaha akbar. It was a disease
called al tair. Fortunately she was one of the weak camels. Lots of
baqr tracks. The rafiqs saw 3 baqr but failed to get near them. Also
fresh tracks of Arabs and as we camped we sighted ba'irin far off.
The rafiqs went off to see who they were - pray heaven they bring
back no bad tidings! The sand often very soft and exceedingly
heavy going for the camels up and down hills. We cannot keep to the
bottoms because of the deep gu'r. Sun hot in the middle of day, but
the air cold directly after sunset. M. once rode with letters from the Vali
to M. Sa'id Pasha who was returning with the Hajj in 3 days from
Damascus [Dimashq (Esh Sham, Damas)] to Ma'an. He left Dam. at
dawn and the following dawn was at Fdainmar Umm el Jemal, the
next at Annezeh near Keframeh[?] and by 8 AM next day at Ma'an.
Between the W. al Hesa [Hasa] and Ma'an he met M. ibn Jazi and 8
{camel riders} horsemen. He was gomani with the Ibn Jazi on
account of a dispute over some camels. It was before the days of
rifles and though he had a good Egyptian rifle they had only one
between them. M. ibn Jazi called on him to stop and asked him who
he was. He had couched his camel and was standing beside her with
his rifle in his hand. He cried out I am M., M. al Ma'rawi. Ibn Jazi
levelled his lance at him. M. cried I am M. al M. and you are M. ibn
Jazi. If you cast your lance I shoot. He had determined to shoot as he
saw the lance cast so that they might both die together. Ibn Jazi cried
Udbuh al kelb 3 men threw their lances at him from behind; they
touched him but only grazed him. Then Ibn Jazi siezed the rifle from
the Howaiti and shot. The shot passed under M.'s arm through his
clothes. Whereupon he shot aiming between M. ibn Jazi's legs and
the bullet passed between them. Thereat Ibn Jazi mounted his
{camel} mare and rode away, calling off his men. It wasted more than
an hour. Sa'id P. said "God delivered you from the Howaitat M. got a
fresh camel at Fdain from {Hgaish} the Khraishan and at Annezeh {he
met Khraisah} God sent him Ibn Jebel on his way to join Sa'id P. at
Ma'an and he gave him a fresh dulul. Both times the dulul he was
riding broke down in the night.

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