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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his family


Akaba

8.1.18

In this country one’s movements never work out as planned: in proof of that, here I am in Akaba again after quite a short excursion up country. I wrote to you last from Cairo, I fancy, and prophesied that I would be a long time away! Tomorrow perhaps we will get off about midday, to go up towards the Dead Sea, on the East side. It is beautiful country, but too hilly for pleasure. Today I'm busy buying some new riding camels, and saddles and saddle-bags. I looked through the last few letters received, but I don't think there is anything requiring answer. Newcombe, about whom you asked, has been taken prisoner, and is now probably in Asia Minor. He was working with the army in Palestine when he was caught.

Posts have been a little disorganized lately, for the last letters from England are dated November 9: however one knows that had there been anything wrong there would have been telegrams about. It is only good news which is not worth spending money on: you hear the bad too soon.

This Akaba is a curious climate. On the coast we have a typical Red Sea winter, which at its worst is like a fine October day, and at its best is like summer weather. No rain to speak of, not much wind, and persistent sunshine. If you go thirty miles up country at once you get into cold wet weather; with white frosts at night. If you go 20 miles further East you find yourself in miserable snow-drifts, and a wind sharp enough to blow through a sheepskin. Next day you are in Akaba again, and thoroughly warm.

I'm sending you a photograph or two with this letter: none of them are very interesting, but some day we may be glad of them. The Arab Bureau, to which Mr. Hogarth belongs, has a wonderful collection of Arabian photographs, of which I want a few published in the Illustrated London News. They include a rather impressive snap of Feisul himself, getting into a car at Wejh, and some of his bodyguard, taken by me from the saddle, as I was riding in Wadi Yenbo with them and him. It would take a great painter, of course, to do justice to the astonishing life and movement of the Bedouin armies, because half the virtue of them lies in the colours of the clothes and saddle trappings. The best saddle-bags are made in the Persian Gulf, on the Eastern shore of Arabia, and are as vivid and barbaric as you please.

One of the prints to appear, showing the Sherifian camp at dawn, in Wadi Yenbo, was taken by me at 6 a.m. in January last, and is a very beautiful picture. Most sunrise pictures are taken at sunset, but this one is really a success.

There, I have an article to write for an Intelligence Report published in Egypt, and much else to do. Don't expect any letter from me for a time now. I'll be very busy, and quite away from touch with Egypt.

N.

Source: HL 346-7
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 13 January 2006


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