My quest of the Arabian Horse – Homer Davenport, London, Grant Richards Ltd, 1911


In Constantinople my views about going to Deyr, however, were somewhat modified, although my plans were not entirely changed, as will be told further on, until we reached Aleppo.

At the Pine Palace Hotel in Constantinople we met Mr. Forbes of the firm MacAndrews & Forbes, the largest dealers of liquorice root in the world, which makes its exportations mainly through Alexandretta or Iskaderoon, as it is locally known. Mr. Forbes is intimately acquainted with the country around Aleppo and knows all about the desert beyond.

Mr. Forbes laughed at the idea of going to the Desert at that time of the year, and said that we ought to stay in Constantinople at least until January before making the attempt. He declared that we would be unable to stand the heat, even in Aleppo, and that because the Bedouin wars had been so many and frequent for five years, his firm had discontinued the shipping of liquorice from points near Deyr. We admitted that our knowledge such as it was, had been gained mostly from the books of Mr. Wilfred and Lady Anne Blunt, written thirty years before, but that we were prepared to go to Deyr if necessary.

Mr. Forbes still strongly advised against that plan, but gave us ample letters to his people at Alexandretta and Aleppo, and also cabled them that we were coming. Mr. Forbes owned and Arab horse in Smyrna with which he had won the Sultan’s cup in a race, and had been trying to get a horse he had heard of in Aleppo. This was a great brown stallion which had been recently presented to the Governor Aleppo. The Italian Government had tried to buy him, but he was known as the “Pride of the Desert”, and had been presented to the Governor by the combined Bedouin tribes.

Nothing, said Mr. Forbes, could persuade the Governor to sell him. He was beyond all value and price in the estimation of the Pasha. All this naturally aroused our great curiosity and interest and we were more eager than ever to be off, little thinking how well we were to become acquainted with the desert’s pride and his owner.

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