– Left the Convent about eleven o’clock and have each day journeying
of the great Wilderness Tih. The first day it was over mountains; once or
twice we had to alight from our camels to climb them. Our sheik is a true
specimen of Arab character. A great deal of the country over which we passed
is chalk and flint. We went through a valley, walled on each side by a conglomerate
mass of limestones. We have passed through very little sand. We travel between
eight and nine hours a day; find it monotonous and are glad enough to get
to our tent toward the close of the day. I cannot get up the romance of
the author of Esther; the dislike of the tent; we are too anxious to end
March 10 – Today we have been passing over plain after plain of chalk, in some places looking like a flag stone pavement, so hard and smooth that the foot of the camel made no impression. We have had no very hot weather on the desert; the mornings are really cold. We have had rain once or twice. At this place our dragoman became intoxicated; so much so that he could not perform his duties. He said afterwards that it was caused by drinking sour milk, a drink much used by the Arabs and said to be the drink that Joel gave to Sisero. The Arab name for it is Leben.
March 10 – Sunday – Arrived at Nukhl between one and two. The sheik of the place and a flock of men and children came out to meet us, small children carrying others about one or two years of age across their shoulders. The girls had bracelets on their wrists, while the babies had them around their ankles. The women wear jewels around their necks, wrists, in their ears and on each side of their veils, such is the fashion of the Arabs. As soon as we reached here the gents went to see the Chief Dignitary representing the Turkish Government; was received in Turkish style, coffee and the Cabanche _________. He expressed himself in behalf of the village as being much pleased to see us; assured us of protection and provided us with a sheik and a fresh lot of camels, which are the best and largest we have had. They have not been sheared for some time; a few have very long hair. At five, three Dignitaries called upon us.
March 11 – Left Nukhl at 11 a.m. The scene of departure was very
amusing. After we had _______ and were seating ourselves on our camels,
our dragoman assaulted by a body of men we first thought for Backshish,
but it proved to be for washing put out by our waiter which was his business
to have done. The D. and gents would not pay it, so Solliman was called
upon to forfeit his pipe. The he would consent to but offered his watch
and chain and immediately burst into tears. Mr. M. finally paid the sum
and his jewels were restored. Notwithstanding our late start, we made
about six hours before camping.