It was an incident that shocked Britain. In August 1882, Captain William Gill of the Royal Engineers, Lieutenant Harold Charrington of the Royal Navy and Edward Palmer, professor of Arabic at Cambridge, were murdered by Bedouin in the Sinai Peninsula. Khalil Atik, their Syrian Christian dragoman, and Bakhor Hassun, a Jewish servant posing as a Muslim, were murdered at the same time.
Palmer had made a name for himself. He had travelled in the Levant with Richard Burton and sometimes, like Burton, he dressed as an Arab and referred to himself as Sheikh Abdullah. In the belief that he could trace the route of the biblical Exodus of the Israelites,