WOA Image: "There is something sobering and solemn in these great tracts of sand..."
January 15.—This morning, as I looked out of the tent, I saw a halo round the moon, and thought there would be rain; but no such luck has come, though the sky was overcast and the day sultry. We made a great effort to get off early, and there was a great deal of “yalla, yalla” from Mohammed with very little result, for the men had been celebrating our passage of the Nefûd, which began seriously to-day, with a final feast on kid, and were dull and slow in consequence. Wilfrid made them a short speech last night, about the serious nature of the journey we were undertaking, the hundred miles of deep sand we have to cross, and the necessity of husbanding all our strength for the effort. With the best despatch we can hardly hope to reach Jobba under five days, and it may be six or seven. No heavily laden caravan such as ours is, has ever, if we may believe Radi, crossed the Nefûd at this point, and if the camels break down, there will be no means of getting help, nor is there any well after Shakik. Abdallah has accordingly been made sheykh of the water, with orders to dole it out in rations every night, and allow nobody to drink during the day. […H]ere improvidence can only bring disaster, and we think Abdallah as well as Mohammed are impressed with the situation. There is something sobering and solemn in these great tracts of sand, even for the wildest spirits, and we have begun our march to-day in very orderly fashion.
An Nafud, Arabian Peninsula, 1879
Source: Lady Anne Blunt, A Pilgrimage to Nejd Vol.1, London: John Murray, Albemarle St, 1881
Lady Anne Blunt, Rosemary Archer & James Fleming (Eds), Lady Anne Blunt Journals and Correspondance 1878 - 1915, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire: A.Heriot, 1986
Lisa Lacy, Lady Anne Blunt in the Middle East: Travel, Politics and the Idea of Empire, I.B. Taurus & Co. Ltd, 2017