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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

Rosenlaui Thursday. Dearest Mother. We are enjoying real Alpine weather today - mist on the hills, rain in the valleys, and a vanishing mercury in the barometre [sic]. I don't fancy it's going to last however so I will quickly tell you of my adventures up to now. We had a delightful day on Tuesday, did a charming little rock, up one way and down another, both ways new though the point had been made from a third side by some guides. It was very good fun, especially the descent which was quite difficult. We got ourselves landed onto the top of some very smooth rocks, down which we slid on an extra rope, with the exciting uncertainty as to whether the rope would reach far enough and as to what would lie Bellow. But the rope was exactly long enough to a foot and led us down to some broken cracks and couloirs by which we descended onto the grass slopes. It all looks exactly like the pictures of Switzerland in advertisements. The big gentian is flowering everywhere in profusion with most heavenly primulas and auriculas to keep it company. Wednesday we did nothing except walk up onto the glacier and examine with glasses some precipices in which we discovered a crack by which we think we can make a new ascent of the Wellhorn some day. If you look at the little picture at the top of the sheet you will see what it is that we are now bent on. Between the two Wellhorns there is an arête of rocks which has never been attempted - it is indeed one of the 4 Impossibles of the Oberland - and we intend to do it and we think we can. The difficulty is in one place of the arête where there is a considerable overhang, but looking at it through glasses we think it will be possible to creep round it on one side or the other and we mean to try. Accordingly we got up today at midnight, a beautiful starry night, and set off with quantities of spare rope up the slopes to the foot of the Vorder Wellhorn. We hadn't been gone more than half an hour before a storm began coming up from all sides at once and we called a halt to see how matters were going to turn out. We lay shivering under a rock for some time while the clouds blew up faster and faster, and the lightning began and the thunder and the first drops of rain reached us. Fortunately there were some deserted châlets just Bellow us so I sent Ulrich to see if we could take shelter in them. He came back looking rather dubious and I asked whether there was anyone in them "Dere is pig" he replied. Still pig was better than rain, so we hurried down and fortunately found a hut with nothing in it but some clean hay on which we established ourselves luxuriously. It was half past 2 or 3 by this time and we lay and waited to see what the dawn would bring, Ulrich relating alpine adventures to pass the time. But the dawn brought more rain and more thunder and we gave up hope and ran down to the inn where we arrived about 5. I went to bed promptly and slept till 12. And if it clears we are going to begin the same game again tonight.
I send you back L'Etape - I don't think Bourget is well suited to the character of a writer of tracts. You shee [sic] we don't do that! I feel as if I ought to run out and forge a cheque in order to keep up my character as an unbeliever. Do you think Hugo corresponds to Jean? Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude.

IIIF Manifest