14 May 1917

“The weight is bearing me down now … pain and agony today.”

On 13 May, Lawrence – beset again with fever and boils – confided some of his misery to his pocket diary.

The following day, rest was taken in Wadi Jazil, a gorge full of tamarisk sprouting from a deep sandy bed. Next to a pool of brackish water, camp was made. Here, at Abu Ragu, for the next few days, they awaited the arrival of Sherif Sharraf, who was away raiding the railway.

Possibly it was this afternoon when Lawrence first met the servant boys named Daud and Farraj in Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Ali and
Othman in reality). Lawrence was resting …

“when a youthful voice made me see an anxious Ageyli, a stranger, Daud, squatting by me. He appealed for my compassion. His friend Farraj had burned their tent in a frolic, and Saad, captain of Sharraf’s Ageyl was
going to beat him in punishment. At my intercession he would be
released. Saad happened, just then, to visit me, and I put it to him, while Daud sat watching us …

“Saad’s reply was not comforting. The pair were always in trouble, and of late so outrageous in their tricks that Sharraf, the severe, had ordered an example to be made of them. All he could do for my sake was to let Daud share the ordained sentence. Daud leaped at the chance, kissed my hand and Saad’s and ran off up the valley; while Saad, laughing, told me stories of the famous pair. They were an instance of the eastern boy and boy
affection which the segregation of women made inevitable. Such friendships often led to manly loves of a depth and force beyond our flesh-steeped conceit. When innocent they were hot and unashamed. If sexuality entered, they passed into a give and take, unspiritual relation, like marriage.”

Events of 14 May 1917 as recounted by T. E. Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926).