THE BOY WITH BLUE EYES

By Len A.Hynds

Camel caravans still crossed enormous distances of desert in 1948, as they had done for thousands of years, there still being very few roads as such. Although we were very near the Red Sea, we were on the fringes of the great Sahara which swept south around Cairo towards us. Nomads On Camels

We used to carry out two man patrols, with a jeep and trailer between the Suez Canal Zone and Egypt proper, and occasionally came across nomadic Arabs in that desolate desert. These desert Arabs were entirely different from their town or mud village cousins, as they moved from oasis to oasis, and they were terribly old fashioned in so many ways. They were honest to a fault, and in their theatrical sincere greeting of touching their forehead, their lips and then their heart, I would match them and show them every courtesy, which delighted them.

We were on such a three day patrol, when many miles away I spotted tiny black figures, so we decided to stop and see who they were. Within half an hour, I could see three camels with riders approaching. They were desert Arabs, and I waved in friendship. We started the kettle going for tea, our fire being an old biscuit tin half filled with sand with petrol poured on it and lit. As they got closer, it was an elderly grey bearded Arab, with his nine year old grandson sitting behind him. and the old mans' sons each riding another camel. I held my mug of tea aloft, and pointed to the blanket I had spread on the sand, inviting them to join us in tea with a flourish of my arm.

They got the camels to kneel, and then sit, and they alighted, and after much salaaming and greetings so loved by them, they joined us, the grandfather having the privilege of the blanket seat, sitting with crossed legs. He was the only one who could speak English, but my Arabic was good enough for all. They told me they were going to buy camels from another tribe. Frank my colleague did the honours with tea, and passed round cigarettes, whilst I cut slices of bread, spreading tinned British butter and strawberry jam which they had never tasted before. The little boy never said anything, but I could tell that he wanted more, so cut up the whole loaf for them. I suddenly realised that the little lad was staring at my blue eyes, and realised that he also had blue eyes, I said to the grandfather in English that the boy had the same colour eyes as myself, and appeared never to have seen another person with blue eyes. The old man thought for a moment and then said in English, "His father was an English soldier, who wanted to marry my daughter. He approached me properly, and I agreed. But he was sent away, saying that he would return but Boy With Blue Eyes he may have been killed. He didn't know about his son. Then Mohammed sent Abdullah to us. "He pulled the young boy towards him and kissed him. The two uncles smiled at their fatherís affection for the young lad.

When farewells were said with much salaaming, the lad kept turning round looking at us as they rode away into the distance. It didn't matter that he didn't know his English father he was surrounded by so much love in that family.