25 January 1900

From/To: Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

[25 Jan 1900] Jan 25. Jerusalem [(El Quds esh Sherif, Yerushalayim)]. My Belloved Father. Your letters had warned me that Maurice was very likely to go out, but the arrival of your telegram was a great blow all the same. Further, we have had very stormy weather with the result that no more posts have come in and I am longing to know more details. I console myself with the thought that he cannot be on the spot for about 6 weeks and a great deal may have happened before that. Have you any idea what they intend to do with the volunteers? I rather hope they will use them more for protecting the lines of communication than for actual fighting. Still it will be a very anxious time. It has been a particularly horrid week, for I have had a cold and it has poured without ceasing. The disgustingness of rain here is past words and by the time the evening comes and I have to go out again to dinner through sheets of rain, I feel inclined to weep - only that would make it wetter! However, it doesn't happen often, nor last very long so it's absurd to make such a fuss. I am much troubled by the thought of how worried you must all be. I expect you will now postpone your journey until Maurice has left, but I do hope that you will get away then, for you must need a holiday. When I think that if all had gone well, we should now have been together in Egypt! however it's no good regretting things. Arabic is a great rock in time of trouble! If it were not for that, I think I should have packed up and come home, but that would have been rather a silly proceeding and I don't much see what I should do when I got there. {As far as I am concerned} An absorbing occupation is the best resource, but if you would like me to come back, you have only to say the word and I will return at once. The weather is a little finer today and my cold better. The news about Aunt Ada seems as bad as possible. If there is so little chance of an ultimate recovery, how terrible that all this suffering should last so long. How is Uncle Arthur? one's heart aches for him. I am dreadfully sorry about Mrs Kirby - what a miserable world it is for everyone this year. Poor, dear Mr Kirby! She may, however, be recovering so I will not be too despairing about her. I have now reached the moment when my papers have ceased and I hope Smith and Sons will soon begin them again. I went to call on Mrs Dickson today and met there Mrs Theodore Bent the widow of the Ruined Cities of Mashonaland[?], a thin stiff little Englishwoman, I don't think I like her very much. I am quite the family friend in the Dickson house! I took Mrs Dickson some of my Jericho photographs of the Epiphany Ceremony and gave them to her, good old soul. They are awfully good, though I say it as shouldn't. I am going to send one or two to Mme Yacovlew, AuzÇpy and the Mudir! I am writing the Mudir a beautiful letter in Arabic - it takes a lot of composing. This is how it begins: the Excellency, the Presence, the Mudir, the Exalted, the most Gracious, the Venerated! (pas plus que áa!) May he (i.e. God) prolong his existence!

You remember how cold Venice [Venezia] was even in April; I should have thought Florence [Firenze] would have been better, when you do get away - may that be soon! but of course you might have a spell of fine warm weather. It will be most amusing taking the children to Italy for the first time. I wish I were going to assist at their first impressions. I had a delightful long letter from Mother - oh, I think I must write her a line and not send messages. Do you know I had a beautiful plan for bringing you back here for a week from Egypt! It would have been so enchanting to have shown you all this, dearest and best of companions. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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