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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

31.7053821, 35.2024425

Sun 24. [24 December 1899] Pouring. A good morning's Arabic.
Found Nina and Ch. making their Xmas tree and helped them after
lunch. Then home and read and wrote letters. Called on the
Dicksons and came back for the Rosen's Xmas tree. The boys
perfect darlings and most delighted with their toys. At 8.30 we started
off driving to Bethlehem [(Beit Lahm)] and went to Pastor Bˆtcher's
[see also Bˆttcher] where we arrived at 9.30. Schmidts there. Had
tea, then wine, then beer (I didn't have this however) with biscuits, and
sausages and at 11.30 set off in streaming rain and deep mud to the
Franciscan church. Full of people, the men on one side, dark and
ragged and unkempt, the exquisite Bethlehem women in their white
veils on the other, dainty and fair some of them. Some of the married
ones looked terribly young. We in the middle of them next to Oseppi,
Kurdi and Blanchon. High Mass began at 12 and lasted till 2. An
image of the Child unveiled over the altar. Singing awful but the
organist was not bad. They came and swung their censers at
{Oseppi} Auzepi and gave him holy objects to kiss. At 2 we all
started off in procession to the Grotto of the Nativity carrying tapers.
Round the long corridors lined with Arabs, across the Chapel of the
Greeks between rows of Turkish soldiers and squadrons of dirty
Arabs into the Grotto of the Nativity where we heard Luke 11 read and
saw an effigy of the Child laid in the manger. Awfully hot, lighted by
lots of silver lamps and all our torches. Back to the Church where we
were blessed and dismissed to drink chocolate with Oseppi, Mme
Scaniglia came too and some Italians, della Tore, on their
honeymoon. So to bed past 3, all three of us in one room, but very
comfy and slept soundly till 8.

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