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Of course it would have been foolish to say that the Arabian people were sentimentally devoted to Aretas.
In his difficult position he could not bid for their affection: he wanted only their obedience—prompt obedience and plenty of it.
There had been an unusually heavy snowfall in the winter, not only upon the King's land but throughout the country.
It was going to be a prosperous season for everybody.
It was a calm, early summer noon in the southern mountains of Arabia.
Sheltering the King's well-guarded domain, a mile above and a dozen miles east of the Dead Sea, motionless masses of neighbourly white clouds hung suspended from a remote blue ceiling.
I wonder why the Jewish King wishes the conference held there? And that will be the truth.' Retiring to his private quarters, the King resumed his contemplation of the conundrum.
Intertribal jangling and discontent would be reduced to a minimum. Viewed from the main entrance to the King's encampment the undulating plateau was a rich pasture on which a thousand newly shorn sheep, indifferent to the rough nuzzling of their hungry lambs, grazed greedily as if some instinct warned that there might be a famine next season.
Nor was a famine improbable, for the distribution of snow was unpredictable.
All but the King, whose encampment was a fixed establishment.
When the King had a dry season the tribes replenished his purse. It required a strong and courageous man to deal equitably with these restless, reckless, competitive tribesmen who were distinguished throughout the East for the brevity of their tempers and the dexterity of their knives.
Almost never were two consecutive winters partial to the same area.