Letters

8 January 1915

From/To: Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

[8 January 1915] Boulogne Jan 8 Dearest Mother. I've just had a delightful letter from you, but you must not bother to write such long letters when you have so much to do. When they do come however, they are very very nice. Oliver turned up at 4 this afternoon, on his way to join his battery. I had had a racing afternoon, for Mr Carlisle brought in the Fabian Ware book to be corrected and revised in an hour and a half and it was all I could do to get it done. But when Oliver came it was finished, and the essential part of the day's work too. Major Armstrong dropped in immediately after and we all went out and had a very merry tea at the chocolate shop, after which Oliver and I walked about and took his kit to the station. Finally he and Flora and I dined at the smart hotel and saw all the rank and fashion. He was very well and happy and it was delicious having him. But what has overjoyed me today is a letter from Harold saying that Maurice's departure is hung up again. I don't care how cross he is about it - every week he is not out here is a week gained, and a week less of horrible rain and mud - and a week less of horrible anxiety. So I turn back now to my work with the greater zest. Quite in private to you and Father, it will be a great relief to me if the Russells are drafted off to Rouen. I have made this office - it was fearfully wild before I came (you mustn't ever say this) and now I'm doing 3 times what was done before and 3 times as accurately. My chiefs know this. Mr Malcolm wrote to me before he came out saying that Lord R [Robert] was delighted and that he was prepared to take my advice in everything. So he was, but it has been rather difficult to take the place of authority above the Russells, you understand, and it's providential that they are dying to go to Rouen and start the branch office there, which will be under Boulogne or Paris. If we get that office started, Lord R. means to transport Sir H. Poe there where he can't do much harm (he isn't doing much good here, though he is a dear old thing) and give me officers and privates and everthing here, all in one office, with 4 or 5 clerks and a largely increased staff. Lord R. has asked Tiger Howard to come out to me here, which will be very nice. I have got the thing going on such a good system here that I'm sure I can take in the whole work and do it efficiently if they give me the clerical staff. And I shall like doing it. This is how things stand. Lord R and Mr Malcolm have gone off to Rouen to see what can be done there and I pray it will work out as we wish. I'm very grateful to Father for Lord Cunliffe's letter, of which I have sent on a copy to Paris. We might get one or two names through that way. Also I have had a small personal triumph with the F.O. The good Nico sent me, in answer to my letter, an excellent memorandum about communications with Germany, a new scheme which they have just started but which they hadn't thought of communicating to the Red X. So that it came from me, as it were, and Lord R. was enchanted. So was I. Whether the scheme will work I can't tell. The Germans are bad about giving news. But at any rate it's worth trying.

Now I really must read the papers and go to bed. But I'm too thankful to be so very busy.

Tell Father I sent the Anti Suffrage office ú10 out of his cheque for their entertainment scheme, so if they ask him for a subscription I don't think he need give one. Your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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