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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

30.585164, 36.238414

Mon 13. [13 February 1905] Wonderful morning with mist on the hills
which lifted as the sun rose. The little hollow was filled with sheep and
the black tents smoked in the sun, more lovely than words can say.
Much coffee drinking and photography and we set off at 7.45 with a
letter from Fellah to Nasib of the Tarshan, sheikh of Salkhad. Rode
up the hills and N by NE over the rolling tops of them. Most beauriful.
Far away in front of us we could see the white feet of Hermon [Sheikh,
Jebel esh], his head in light cloud, and the outlying hills of the Jebel
ed Druze [Duruz, Jabal ad]. Below in the plain to the W we saw the
tents of Mukheimir with much washing hanging out to dry on the ropes
for the feast of Sacrifice which is tomorrow. The devil took the mules,
two of them ran away and fell down with their loads and had to be
reloaded. The ground was at first very bad and soft, full of holes like
a sponge - some of the holes were due to jirdi of which there were
100s. Presently we began to come to encampments of the
Hassanieh. There was sorrow in them for yesterday 500 khiyal of the
Sukhur and the Howeitat rode down on an outlying camp and carried
off over 2000 head of cattle and all the tents of the camp. In one tent
we found a man weeping because he had lost all his possessions.
When we got down into what had seemed the plain it was all up and
down in long low rolls. Every plant of the desert, and there are a great
many kinds, seems to have its use. They have learnt to make the
most of their scanty vegetation. With one leaf they scent their butter,
with a root they make a medicinal powder, with dry sticks they feed
their camels and their sheep. We saw to the W some 2 hours or less
from us the white Kalat ez Zerka. Gablan rather agitated because the
Hassanieh are their friends and if necessary they will have to help
them against the Sukhur. They are always a little on cool terms with
the Sukhur having been friends with the 'Anaza from the beginning of
time. Their real enemies are however E of the Jebel ed Druze, the
Haseneh and others. The Sukhur it seems have quarrelled with Ibn
Rashid. By the tents we passed great piles of scrub were heaped up
for tomorrow's sacrificial fire. We got into camp about 3, by some 20
tents of the Hassanieh we are pitched. A sacrificial camel is walking
about outside. Exquisite evening, from my tent door I can see far
away the low hills beyond the Zerka [Zarqa] and I laugh to think that if I
were there I should be in the hands of the govt. The houses of hair lie
in a hollow below us, turned towards us, each with its fire and its blue
smoke blowing away across the low ground into the twilight. It's very
odd that though the Arabs have been playing this kind of game since
the flood they shd yet be always, or so often, caught unawares. They
go in fear of their lives all their days and yet they camp about in tiny
undefended groups as if their world were all as peaceful as paradise.
There was a great firing off of guns at dusk. I too contributed by
request, with my pistol. All the Arabs hate the Circassians and the
Da'ja in particular who have to get their water from 'Amman in the
summer are constantly in conflict with them. There were several
ruined sites today, very small rujm.

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