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Feb. 17. [17 February 1914] We were held up today by rain. It began,
most annoyingly, just after we had struck camp - at least I don't know
that it was so very annoying, for we put in a couple of hours' march.
But the custom of the country was too strong for me. You do not march
in the rain. It was, I must admit, torrential. It came sweeping upon us
from behind and passing on blotted out the landscape in front, till my
rafiq said that he should lose his way, there were no landmarks to be
seen. "No Arabs move camp today" said he "they fear to be lost in
the Nefud [Nafud, An]." And as he trudged on through the wet sand,
his cotton clothes clinging to his drenched body, he rejoiced and
gave thanks for the rain. "Please God it goes over all the world" he
said and "The camels will pasture here for 3 months time." The
clouds lifted a little but when a second flood overtook us I gave way.
We pitched the men's tent and lighted a great fire at which we dried
ourselves - I was wet too. In a moment's sunshine we pitched the
other tents, and then came thunder and hail and rain so heavy that the
pools stood twinkling in the thirsty sand. I sat in my tent and read
Hamlet from beginning to end and, as I read, the world swung back
into focus. Princes and powers of Arabia stepped down into their true
place and there rose up above them the human soul conscious and
answerable to itself, made with such large discourse, looking before
and after - Before sunset I stood on the top of the sand hills and saw
the wings of the rain sweeping round 'Irnan and leaving Misma'
[Misma, Jibal] light-bathed - Then the hurrying clouds marched over
the sand and once more we were wrapped in rain. No fear now of
drought ahead of us.