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Updated July 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Mrs Rieder


July 4 [1911]

[15 lines omitted] Only make them think! that horrible 'Wullah ma arif' of this district is regarded as a satisfactory reply to a question, instead of being a disgrace. I always get wild, and if there is the least hope in the man I force him to think it out. It is a great thing to be an employer of labour. I have had quite a success with our donkey-boy, who really is getting a glimmering of what a brain-storm is. He is beginning to use his reason as well as his instinct: He taught himself to read a little, so I had very exceptional material to work on but I made him read and write much more than he ever did before. You know you cannot do much with a piece of stick and a scrap of dusty ground as materials. I am going to ask Miss Fareedah for a few simple books, amusing, for him to begin on. Remember he is to be left a Moslem. If you meet a man worth anything you might be good enough to remember this? A boy of 15... I would be vastly obliged.

Mother hates writing... and has the usual feminine (apologies..!) difficulty in finishing a sentence. You are exempted from this implied criticism, but don't trouble her with deep-burdened correspondence. She reads nothing now, though once she enjoyed it immensely. A Sense gets atrophied by disuse or misuse.

We too have had a visitor! Miss Christie, otherwise, undistinguished: don't fancy my mouth is going to water over fireworks and shoals of callers and promenades. We made a huge fire-balloon for the Coronation, and terrified every man woman and child in the village unintentionally. They shot the poor thing to death before it got out of range.

Salaams to Miss Holmes, or anyone within reach.


If you see any of the Petra party please thank them from me: very kind indeed of them.

Note: 'Wullah ma arif' - 'By God I don't know'


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Source: DG 115
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 29 January 2006


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