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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

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Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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1 letter plus envelope, paper

46.6482045, 8.1497133

Kurhaus Rosenlaui Berner Oberland Thursday. Dearest Mother. I am established for a day or two in this enchanting spot, having been driven out of the higher mountains by a heavy snow fall on Monday which renders the big things impossible for a day or two. Here, there is a fascinating little rock range, which can be done in almost any weather, and which I thought would fill in my time pleasantly. So I walked over on Tuesday by the Great Scheidegg and was at once received into the bosom of the Collier family. They are the greatest dears and quite wonderfully kind. Lady Monkswell is a very sweet attractive woman, his lordship a nice old codger, and I like the elder of the two boys (my companions on the Schrechhorn) particularly. We spent Tuesday afternoon playing cricket, the whole family and I, with fir tree branches for stumps and large butterfly nets handy to fish out the balls when they went into the river! I dined with them all and went to bed very early. Yesterday my guides and I were up at 4 and clambered up onto the Engelhorn range to take a good look round and see what was to be done. It was the greatest fun, very difficult rock work, but all quite short. We hammered in nails and slung ropes and cut rock steps - mountaineering in miniature. Finally we made a small peak that had not been done before, built a cairn on it and solemnly christened it. Then we explored some very difficult rock couloirs and found the way up another peak which we are going to do one of these days. By this time it was past midday and the weather, which had been very threatening all the morning, definitely turned to the bad and we were enveloped in a very cold hailstorm. We lunched and waited on a little, but the hail got worse and the rocks became fearfully cold and slippery, so we decided to come down. In the valley we got into drenching rain and as my change of clothes had not yet arrived, Lady Monkswell lent me a skirt and I appeared, quite respectable, at dinner. I sat with them in their sitting room after dinner, and the Monkswells, a Mr Farrar, who is staying with them, and I played Bridge all the evening. They play much worse than I do even - it's just like their cricket, they play away perfectly contented and solemn, though it's as bad as ever it can be, dear creatures! It rained all last night and the snow is quite low down this morning, so there's nothing whatever to be done seriously. But it's a heavenly morning and I think things look well for the future. I have been sitting in the sun and talking to Lady M. Now Lily and I are writing our letters together under an ash tree in the garden. I have just received a great batch of letters from home. Please tell Father, I don't propose taking any steps about Mr Joseph Walton - he might warn him that the drinking of wine is prohibited by the faith in the countries he proposes to visit! I send you a letter from Mrs Webb. I am going to write to her and say that I am away, but that I think Saltburn might suit her. If you want to say anything to her, do, but I shall not mention that you are at home. I think I shall probably stay here till Sunday morning which will give the snow time to get right. Then I shall return to my great schemes. Meantime, this is ever so much nicer than Grindelwald, in fact it's most entertaining. But I wish the snow would melt quickly! Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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