Topic: The Field of Battle
The Camel Charge
Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence, 1926
My camel, the Sherari racer, Naama, stretched herself out, and hurled downhill with such might that awe soon out-distanced the others. The Turks fired a few shots, but most only shrieked and turned to run: the bullets they did send at us were not very harmful, for it took much to bring a charging camel down in a dead heap.
I had got among the first of them, and was shooting, with a pistol of course, for only an expert could use a rifle from such plunging beasts; when suddenly my camel tripped and went down emptily on her face, as though pole-axed. I was torn completely from the saddle, sailed grandly through the air a great distance, and landed with a crash which seemed to drrive all the power and the feeling out of me. I lay there, passively waiting for the Turks to kill me, continuing to hum over the verses of some long-forgotten poem, whose rhythm something, perhaps the prolonged stride of the camel, had brought back to my memory as we leaped down the hill-side:
For Lord I was free of all Thy flowers, but I chose the world's sad roses,
And that is why my feet are torn and mine eyes are blind with sweat.
While another part of my mindthought what a squashed thing I should look when all that cataract of men and camels had poured over.
After a long time I finished my poem, and no Turks came, and no camel tread on me: a curtain seemed taken from my ears: there was agreat noise in front. I sat up and saw the battle over, and our men driving together and cutting down the last remnants of the enemy. My camel's body had lain behind me like a rock and divided the charge into two streams: and in the back of its skull was the heavy bullet of the fifth shot I had fired.