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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

27.5114102, 41.7208243

Tues. March 3. [3 March 1914] Ali went early into the town and
reported that his uncle had seen Ibrahim this morning and had sent
him to Fatima. I sent him and F. [Fattuh] and M. al M. [Muhammad al
Ma'rawi] into the town to see about calling in the camels. I sat with the
men and made Salih tell me the story of the defeat of Abd al Aziz. It
was somewhere wara al Qasun, 8 days they took to return walking; it
is 5 days on the dulul. They had raided and spoiled the Mtair who
sent to Riyad [Ar Riyad (Riyadh)] and suggested to Ibn Sa'ud that
they should combine against Ibn Rashid. He accordingly marched
out with them and Ibn Rashid did not believe that he wd come against
him. They camped, as I said before, and he insisted against all
counsel in resting that night - in the jellad near the nefud [Nafud, An].
They killed and eat and slept. In the night they heard the sound of
people, horses. They rose and told Abd al Aziz who refused to
believe. Katbthab he said. "Shubb al nar." They made up the fires
and this was their undoing for the foe saw them and shot at them. A. al
A. then jumped up and cried them to horse. With a handful of slaves
he rode forward against the enemy crying Ana akhu Nara - this is the
battle cry of the Rashid and is also used by the slaves of their house.
(The Shammar cry Khail al Rahman San'us. The Twail: Khail wa
hadla Tawaili.) They heard his voice and knew him. He was pierced
by a spear and fell from his horse. They brought the news to Ibn
Sa'ud who was himself some hours behind. He refused to believe till
they showed him A. al A.'s ring. The Qusman cut off his head and
carried it round the Qasim to show that he was really dead. They
knew it for his face was fair and he had a long beard and moustaches.
Ibn Sa'ud buried his body. His men had been surrounded - they took
us from behind - and in the night they cd not see. It was the will of God
said Salih. As soon as the Arabs heard that A. al A. was dead they
broke and dispersed and the Hayyil [Hail] men left everything and
fled mostly on foot. Rain today and thunder. The wife of Sa'id, a
slave of Muhammad, came to see me, a pretty graceful negress with
a soft sweet voice. She and Sa'id were with Saud in Medina [Al
Madinah] 6 or 7 years, some say 6 years, and some 7 she said. She
wore European clothes then. Here she returned to the dark purple
green hehmeed[?] women's robe and the orange inner robe.
Abdallah ibn al Jullul asked for 1000 camels to fetch the stuff from
Medain Salih [Mada'in Salih] and got only 400. A camel carries 50
rifles without ammunition. But all the 1000 loads may not be arms.
They say he is going to carry the stuff to Taimah [Tayma'] by relays
and subsequently in the summer, when the Arabs are in their summer
places, bring it to Hayyil. Sa'id told a ......... story last night. He was
going into the Great Mosque at Dam. [Dimashq (Damascus, Esh
Sham, Damas)] and at the gate he met a woman with a baby. She
begged him to hold it while she went in to fetch her husband. He took
it and wrapped it in his abba. She did not return. Then came one of
the mosque people, very angry and said every day he brought a
baby to the mosque and this was the third and now he shd take it
away with the two others which were accordingly handed over to him.
And off he went with the 3 in his abba. He went back to his father and
related the tale. "You are in bad luck," said Faris "what do you intend
to ...?" "We belong to God and to him we return" said S. "I must go
and find a woman who will nurse them." So he went down to the suq
and sought out a friend who told him of a woman. He fetched the
babies - and whether bint or walad he did not know - and went off to
the woman, hiding them in his cloak like rabbits. He knocked at the
door but fearing to show them all at once he did not open his cloak.
Then he went in and explained the matter - there was a woman who
had died in their house and this was the baby, wd she nurse it? And
with that he opened his cloak and there they were like rabbits. But the
other 2 he said wd she take for only one day till he found somewhere
to place them. She agreed and they fixed on a price and he went out
to buy her semneh and meat so that she might eat and have milk.
When he returned he was sitting in the house and there was a knock
at the door. She said it was her husband who wd kill and murder her if
he found Sa'id there. So they wrapped the babies in a qatifa and him
she bade to sit upon the bed and hung a sadajeh in front of him. It
was not the husband, but a neighbour and another and another
followed Said sitting there from the duhr till the 'asr. Then at last came
the husband and said he was tired and had fever and bade her
prepare the farsheh. She said she had washed it and hung it up to dry
on the roof. But he strode across the room pulled down the sadajeh
and found Said wrapped in his abba and holding it before his eyes.
The man stood amazed and S. cried out "Not I only! there is another
in that sauduq[?] and another wrapped in the Qatifa. The man turned
round to look and S. jumped up and ran out of the house. "And
afterwards?" said I. "Wallah ya sitt the rest of the tale is unknown to
me. They constantly bring children and leave them in the mosques
where they are brought up and taught trades.

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