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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother Florence Bell, written over the course of several days from the 25th of February to the 13th of March, 1911.

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Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Berchem, Max van
Koldewey, Robert
Grey, Edward
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper

33.4366231, 43.2682801

Sat. Feb 25. Ramadi [Ramadi, Ar]. Dearest Mother. We did not leave Hit [(Is)] yesterday till 1 o'clock, having a good deal of repacking to do. Then I rode off with a zaptieh over the sandy wastes that surround Hit and presently came in view of Euphrates and put up a thanksgiving at the blessed sight of him. We rode on for 3 hours till we came to a little valley, full of water after the rains, and here we stopped to direct the baggage animals to the bridge and I heard for the first time the sound of my own caravan Bells. We camped a quarter of an hour further under a cliff by the river's edge near a few mean huts of the Deleim and a patch of green corn, with the sound of the waterwheels in our ears and the Euphrates lying big and calm under the sunset. There is no river to be compared to him. Neither is it possible to describe the comfort of a fully appointed camp. Praise be to God! as Fattuh frequently exclaims, there is nothing that we lack. Today we had a march of about 7½ hours - my caravan goes like the wind - not very interesting, the familiar barren landscape of the lower Euphrates. All the palm trees have been killed by the snow; they are miserable brown patches instead of the old vivid green. Kubeisa [Kubaysah] and Hit were scarcely to be recognised. It is a great misfortune. We camped about a ½ a mile outside Ramadi on the Rahhaliyeh [Rahhaliyah] road (which we take tomorrow) and Fattuh went off into the town to buy corn and things. I was sitting reading in my tent when suddenly I heard unusual sounds and stepping out saw my muleteers in the grip of about 15 rascally young men who had picked a quarrel with them, thinking they were alone. I rushed into the fray, feeling rather like the lady in the Nonsense Book (only I had no stick) and soon put an end to the business, for the roughs were alarmed when they saw a European. But after they had gone Mahmud discovered that his watch was missing and Fattuh, presently returning with Government in the shape of a couple of officials, found that a revolver had been taken from one of the saddle bags. So we lodged a complaint but whether the things will be recovered or not I don't know. It is a bore, but wasn't it surprising? A Deleim sheikh who is camped near us came down to offer his assistance and we have two of his men as watchmen tonight as well as 2 soldiers. So we ought to be all right. Anyhow I shall be less prompt by night for I shall be asleep.

Feb 26. [26 February 1911] There were no suites to last night's incident except that the Commissaire Effendi (whatever that post may be) paid me a second visit and after offering me his watch and revolver - this was merely formal - begged me not to lodge a complaint with Nazim Pasha of whom they are all mortally afraid. I gave the promise the more readily as I never had any intention of pursuing the offender - no more copy for the Daily Mail if I can help it! Moreover the combined value of the two things did not amount to 30/. We have taken a short cut to Ukheidir [Ukhaydir] via Rahhaliyyeh [Rahhaliyah]. It saves at least a day, probably two, and it saves some long marches along the high road, which I do not favour. Our path lies through the most pitiless desert I have ever seen, a pebbly sand like a hard sea beach, and sometimes not even hard. The pebbles are all waterworn; I expect this waste was once the bottom of the sea and I can't help thinking that had better have remained there, for it is unfit to meet the eye of the sun. The reports about water were extremely varied; there was said to be a salt well at Abu Furukh which the horses would drink and plenty of fresh water in the valley of Roda. We presently met a caravan from Rahhaliyyeh which said there was no water at Roda (this left me indifferent, for I had made Fattuh fill a skin with Euphrates water, knowing that no deep draughted expectations can float on desert rain pools) and when we got to Abu Furukh we found a good fresh pool in the sandy water course. (I relate this tale in full so that you may realize how difficult it is to get trustworthy information, our two zaptiehs were as ignorant as ourselves. But I am now instructed; I always carry water.) So we watered our horses at Abu Furukh and filled 5 skins for their evening provision. We came into camp among sandhills near Roda and since we have marched 9½ hours today I think we can only have about 8 before us, so we need not fear. It is impossible to get meat; I subsist entirely upon the hen, sometimes in the form of eggs and at other times in that of boiled chicken.

Feb 27. [27 February 1911] We got off at 6 this morning and reached Rahhaliyeh [Rahhaliyah] at noon. Seeing that it was so early we did not enter that little marshy oasis, but bidding farewell to our two soldiers, who had been bidden to accompany us only to Rahhaliyeh, we pushed on to Shetateh [Shithathah] and got into camp at 4.30 - a long march. I sometimes wish we did not march so far but when you have got no work the desire to get on to the next job is irresistible. And the next job is Ukheidir [Ukhaydir]. Shetateh looked very desolate in a grey wind with all its palm trees withered and dead. While we were pitching our tents the Sheikh of the town sent us an invitation to pass the night in his house and I replied that I was exceedingly grateful, which means No thank you. It looks like rain, but we can laugh at the rain now, for our tents are properly provided with flies. These we had rather recklessly sent on with the baggage when we crossed the Syrian desert, that we might lighten our camel loads, and I trembled at the thought of rain, for our roofs would not have been waterproof. However it only snowed, let us thank God. There is a hot wind and the temp. was 70° at sunset, the highest we have had. We bought a wild duck of [sic] a man in Rahhaliyeh marsh, the same appeared for dinner tonight. I said "Oh Fattuh this duck is very good." "May God conquer her women!" he replied "how much we laboured with her! She would not cook." "She had turned out well" said I. "A double health!" said Fattuh "May God destroy her dwelling!"

March 1. [1 March 1911] Yesterday morning broke grey and threatening and presently it began to rain. My men went off to buy necessary provisions in the bazaar while I devoted an hour or two to the darning needle. Then I received a message from the Mudir asking if I would honour him. So I went to the Serai and found him to be the very same old man who had given me a rose (together with a pretty speech) as I was riding out of Shethatha [Shithathah] two years ago. So we celebrated the renewal of our acquaintance with many cups of tea. By the time my caravan was ready it was near midday and the rain was coming down in torrents. TheMudir begged me to spend the night with him, but Ukheidir [Ukhaydir] was only 3 hours off and I wd not stay. It took us however an intolerable 4½ hours, mostly in streaming rain. We plunged for an hour through the slippery paths of the oasis, in mortal danger of tumbling into the irrigation streams, and for the rest of the time we plodded through the soppy desert, heavy going for man and beast. The rain had almost stopped when we reached the Belloved castle, but we were wet through. I carried a letter to Sheikh Sukheil of the Zagarit, a subtribe of the Shammar, who was camped near the castle, and sent out news of my arrival to his tents. He came at once with some 20 others and found us pitching our tents in the dusk outside the castle gate. We stabled our horses in the great hall, and the sheikh and 3 others stayed with us all night as watchmen. This morning we moved our tents into the inner court and put our horses in the 2 vaulted rooms that lead out of it. The pair of Arabs who were our guides yesterday have gone back to Shethatha and we are left with the men of the Zagarit who are extremely friendly and agreeable. I have had a hard day's work correcting a few details in my old plan and beginning the measurements for an elevation. We have 3 men to watch over us tonight and being within the castle walls I think we are safe from attack - at least I hope so; one is never safe at Ukheidir. My friends of last time have left and the castle is empty of all but us. I wish they had cleaned up a little before they went away; it is very dirty.

March 3. [3 March 1911] I worked for 11 hours yesterday at elevations and had therefore little time to think of anything else. The Zagarit are thoroughly enjoying our visit. They sit in an expectant circle round Fattuh's tent, waiting for any stray handful of dates or cigarettes that he may give them. They bring their needlework and establish themselves for the afternoon - I found the men of the tribe employed upon some new shirts (of which they stood in great need) when I came in for a hasty lunch. "Don't your women make your shirts?" said Fattuh. "Wallahi, our women do nothing but keep quiet" they replied. And I'm not sure that one can ask more of woman. They came down in the morning, a few of them, to look at me, but they don't interrupt me - I just go on working. This morning we rode out with the sheikh at 6 o'clock. I went castle hunting and he rabbit hunting. His equipment was the more picturesque for he came hawk on wrist, with his greyhound at his heels. While we were saddling our mares the greyhound foraged about for stray bones; when the hawk saw her eating he was very angry and screamed to her for food, but the sheikh would not let me give him any till we came back. He was a most charming bird. Unfortunately we found no rabbits, but as far as I was concerned the expedition was quite successful, for about an hour from Ukheidir [Ukhaydir] we came to the old plaster factory, from which, I make no doubt, they brought the plaster for the building of the castle, all standing and quite interesting. So I planned and photographed it and we got home at 10. The quarry is said to be about an hour in the other direction. The Mudir of Shethatha [Shithathah] came with a large party to see how I was getting on - very friendly of him. I handed him and his friends over to Fattuh who entertained them in the proper manner with coffee. After lunch the Mudir came and sat with me for a little and then they all rode away. It was a delicious day, the first fine day we have had here. I made a map of the site with a plane table and though it isn't amazingly good I feel unreasonably proud of it. You see it is the first. My plan of 2 years' ago, on the other hand, is wonderfully accurate. I have corrected one or two mistakes, but they are so insignificant that really they did not matter much. However I have the satisfaction of feeling that one or two points on which I did not feel quite clear, now explained. Also I have done a lot more at details of construction. Tonight we have seen the new moon for the first time. It is wonderfully beautiful peering over the edge of our ruined walls. While I was dining one of our night watchmen gave us a lifelike representation of robbery and murder, Fattuh taking the part of the sufferer. Nasir, wrapped in his brown dust-coloured cloak squirmed over the ground and stole a tent peg and knocked Fattuh on the head, in dumb show, to the great delight of the muleteers. I make no doubt that the success of the impersonation was due to expert knowledge.

March 4. [4 March 1911] We left Ukheidir [Ukhaydir] this morning - I wonder whether I shall ever see it again and whether I shall ever again come upon any building as interesting or work at anything with a keener pleasure. We are now bound for Nejef [An Najaf], but you are not to think that we are taking any common road to it. On the contrary, we have cut straight across the desert, for I had heard of a couple of ruins, one at least unvisited, which I longed to see. Sheikh Skheil and Nasir, the actor of last night, accompanied us to show us the way and hand us over to the Beni Hassan at the end of the day. We rode for 3[?] hours over intolerable sand, then climbed a low hill and got onto an immense level which was a little better going. At the top of the hill I looked back and saw Ukheidir for the last time. An hour or so further on we came to the first ruin, Mujdeh [Khan Mujiddah], which proved to be a very interesting round tower, built of brick and finely worked. I expect it was a beacon and I should date it somewhere in the 9th century. It did not take long to plan it and I caught up the baggage horses, lunching on my mare as I went to save time. 3 hours before we reached it, we saw standing up above the horizon the next ruin, Khan 'AtshÉn, so flat is the plain. All the desert was scattered over with the flocks and tents of the Beni Hassan and we found some of the tribe camped under the ruined khÉn. It was hot, the first hot day we have had, and I was feeling rather tired after 8½ hours hard morning - hard because of the sand and the sun - but the khÉn brought back my energies. For it is a really splendid ruin of I should think the 9th century, about the time of Samarra, and it opens up all kinds of interesting questions as to old roads and as to the date of Ukheidir itself. I set about the plan without delay and worked on till light faded and the camp fires of the Beni Hassan gleamed out red all over the plain. It's a wonderful sight, the desert in the spring. And this is our last night of it. Tomorrow we return to high roads and soldiers and the rest of it. Well, even high roads, when you must take them, have their advantages, especially in the matter of water. We brought ours from Ukheidir today and the horses were so thirsty after their hot march that there is not enough for me to have a bath. A misfortune! tomorrow, please God. All the Zagarit were very smart this morning in their new shirts. They do not, however, hem them up at the bottom, which makes them look rather rather ragged round the ankles. As we crossed the desert today the deserted encampments where the snow had fallen a month ago were marked by the corpses of sheep and donkeys. None of the Arabs had ever seen snow. The Mudir of Shethatha [Shithathah] told me that the people there, when they woke and saw it lying on the ground, thought it was flour.

March 5. [5 March 1911] The day broke grey and threatening and I was in mortal dread of rain, which would have made the heavy desert sand quite impassible. I don't know what we shd have done, for we had neither oats nor water, but I suppose we should have got through somehow. However we were not put to the test, for the rain held off. I had still an hour's work to do at the Khan and we did not get off till 7. We parted with the 2 men of the Zagarit and took as guides 2 men of the Beni Hassan. The map was of course a perfect and absolute blank and I had only a hazy idea where we were and how long it would take us to reach the road. I guessed we must be five hours from the first khan and I was only a ¨ of an hour wrong - it took us 4Û hours to reach it. Our landmark after the first hour was the Tower of BaBell. One of the Arabs sighted it first, an almost invisible speck on the NE horizon; it grew and grew till we could see it rising above a sea of palms, and finally when they were still 3 hours away, we saw the palm trees round Khan Hamad [Khan al Hammad] which was our objective. I confess I breathed a sigh of relief when we reached it and found ourselves upon the Nejef [Najaf, An] road. Here we parted from the Beni Hassan who had been most cheerful companions. They are better by day than by night. The men of the tents near Khan 'Atshan roamed round our camp all last night, and if my men had not kept good watch we should have found ourselves with seriously diminished possessions this morning. The road was almost as sandy and barren as the desert, but we saw far away to the east the line of palm trees that mark the Hindiyeh canal [Shatt al Hindiyah] and our way was enlivened by caravans of Persian pilgrims. Nejef and KerBella [Karbala] are, you know, the greatest Shi'ah shrines in the world and the whole of Persia comes on pilgrimage to them. The inhabitants (mostly Persian) are exceedingly fanatical; no Sunni is allowed to live within the walls of Nejef, nor may he enter the great mosque where the Khalif 'Ali is buried. The road between the two towns is provided with immense khÉns for the accommodation of pilgrims and by one of these we have camped. Its name is Musalla [Khan al Musalla]; there are a few houses near it, wells in a dry canal, soldiers, chickens and most of the other luxuries of civilization - at least so it seems to us who come to it fresh from difficult travel in the desert. I warned my Sunni muleteers to be on their guard and found that they had forestalled my prudence by becoming Shi'ahs for purposes of convenience. "My Lady" said they "we heard the men here calling upon 'Ali as we call upon Allah, and when they asked us what we were, we said we were Shi'ahs come from Aleppo [Halab] to pray at the grave of our Lord." Muleteers, having a wide experience of men and customs, are generally able to cope with new conditions, and since they don't mind passing as Shi'ahs, I do not think that my soul need feel the weight of the deception. We are all very cheerful at having got safely through the last few days. They were not easy. And do you realize that I have only been one day on a road since I left Damascus [Dimashq (Esh Sham, Damas)]? Fattuh and I feel some satisfaction when we look back on the events of this journey. "We are" says he "Praise be to God, skilled in travel - God made us!"

March 6. [6 March 1911] We were premature when we rejoiced last night over the end of our desert journey. I had determined to send my caravan into Nejef [Najaf, An] and to ride out myself to see some curious caves cut in the cliff that forms the northern boundary of an old lake, now dry, but still called the Sea of Nejef [Najaf, Bahr an]. Accordingly I took an Arab as a guide, Sheikh SelmÉn of the Beni Hassan. As we rode out across the desert he said "Do you want to go to RuhbÉn?" "What is RuhbÉn" said I. "It is a castle of the first time" said he "but you cannot reach Nejef from it today." In a flash my mind ran out to the Lakhmid castles, which none of us have been able to trace; in another flash I had turned round, stopped my caravan, told the men to buy corn at the khan and to come out with me into the desert. They accepted the order as cheerfully as if I had invited them into a garden. The golden dome of Nejef gleamed at us invitingly on the horizon, but ever more invitingly gleamed those delusive castles of Ibn Mundhir. There was a high wind and by the time we reached the cliffs of the Sea of Nejef, it had raised a dust storm. We climbed down them and crossed the floor of the sea in driving sand. Five hours from Musella [Khan al Musalla] we reached some water pools, bitter salt, but the horses drank there. I meantime lunched hastily and grittily in the unspeakable sand. An hour further we came to a pool less bitter and I left my men to fill the waterskins and rode on with the Sheikh. Presently the black mass of the castle appeared in front of us. I plunged on through the sand, reached it - and found it to be nothing but a mud built enclosure not 50 years old. "Oh SelmÉn" said I "this castle is not old." "Oh lady" said he "before my beard was grown I saw it here." It said much for the temper of my camp that when my men came in and I told them we had had all our trouble for nothing, no one was angry. So we camped - it was half past 3 - and I can see that the Lakhmid castles, if any of them still exist, are not for me. But what was I to do? I could not leave a ruin unvisited.

Friday 10th [10 March 1911] Babylon. I have been so busy travelling the last 3 days that I have put off letter writing till I got here. On the 7th we retraced our steps through the sand as far as Umm el Gharraf (the place where there are caves) and then journeyed by a good firm path along the bottom of the sea to Nejef [Najaf, An] which we reached at midday. It is a walled town standing on the edge of the cliff of the dry sea and surrounded on the other sides by a flat plain. Above the walls rises the golden dome of 'Ali's tomb which is the place of pilgrimage of all the Shi'ah world and outside the walls the town is encompassed on two sides by the graves of the Faithful who are brought from far to be buried here. We pitched our tents on the third side and after I had lunched I went to call upon the Kaimmakam who instructed the chief of the police to take me sightseeing. But there was little to be seen; I might not go into the mosque, nor even pass very close to the doors of it (even as it was the people eyed me angrily and one man jumped out of the crowd and tried to stop me from going near the mosque); the bazaars were without interest, and I presently returned to me [sic] tents where I received a number of visitors, sheikhs of the mosque and official personages. At night however I came into conflict with the officials who wished to place a guard of 30 soldiers round my tents. I protested with oaths and the guard was withdrawn. The reason for these precautions was that there are nightly disturbances in the cemetaries [sic]. The Arabs bring in their dead by night and try to bury them without paying the sum of 10/ which the town exacts as a fee for every grave; the soldiers shoot at them and they shoot back. We heard this shooting going on, together with the vibrating cry of the women, but we were far from the cemetary and noone troubled us. Next day I sent my caravan direct to Kifil [Kifl, Al] and taking an aged soldier with me (he was useless as a guide for he knew the way to nowhere) I rode out for an hour or two south to see the ruins of Khawarnak which really was one of the Lakhmid castles. Nothing remains but mounds but I was interested to see the site. So we rode back, mostly over rolling mounds which mark the site of the pre Mohammadan city of Hirah and the outskirts of Kufah [Kufah, Al], to the modern Kufah, a miserable village by the Euphrates. It was one of the first of the great cities founded by the Moslem invaders. Outside it stands the great mosque, at the gate of which 'Ali was murdered, but I might not enter. It has been rebuilt frequently so I don't expect it is of much importance. My old zaptieh, Abbas, was extremely conversational, but as he was also toothless it was difficult to understand all that he said. I asked him whether the land was more at rest under the new government. "Khanum" he said "the government[?] of Liberty has done nothing at all, but by the mercy of God, who created the world, the disposition of mankind has improved a little in the last two years, praise be to God." At Kufah he found to his horror that my tents were not there but at Kifil and that he wd have to ride with me thither. He did not, I need scarcely say, know the road, but what with maps and questions I managed to hit it off and we started. The maps were pretty bad (I was using the War Office map) and very deceptive in the matter of roads; the Euphrates is beginning to rise and the path along the bank - if it is ever passable, which I doubt - was blocked by flood water. Finally after drifting about a good deal we got back to Khan Masalla [Khan al Musalla], where I was greeted rapturously by my friends SelmÉn and Ali. Thence I took another zaptieh and with him got down to the ferry opposite Kifil. I found that half my caravan had crossed and Fattuh was busy putting up the tents on the further side. I crossed with the remaining baggage horses (no light business it was to get them all into the ferry boat) and got into camp at sunset. We were not really on the east bank. A small arm of the stream separated us from the village of Kifil, but the darkness would have overtaken us if we had tried to go on that night and our camp on the little island was very peaceful and pleasant. Before the sun had risen we were busy crossing the last remaining bit of the river. The ferry boat was so small that the horses could not get into it; we loaded it with all the saddles and pack saddles (the camp had already gone over in it), the muleteers took off most of their clothes and rode the horses over. The water came up over the backs of the horses. I crossed in the ferry boat like a lady. At Kifil is the tomb of the Prophet Ezra; it is a great pilgrimage place for the Jews. I paid my respects to his remains while the horses were being resaddled and visited the Mudir (it was then 6.30) after which I rode off with a guide lunched[?] on the top of the Tower of BaBell. You know what it was? It was an immense Babylonian temple dedicated to the 7 spheres of heaven and the sun god. There remains now an enormous mound of sundried brick, with the ruins of a temple to the N of it and on top a great tower of burnt brick, most of which has fallen down. But what remains stands up, like a finger pointing heaven-wards, over the Babylonian plain and can be seen from Nejef to Babylon. Under this brick tower I eat my lunch and surveyed the dusty plain and the Euphrates with its lagoons and the little clumps of palms that marked a village by some watercourse - a strange and ugly world; and then I rode on to Hilleh [Hillah, Al], meeting my caravan at the gates of the town. And as we rode through the bazaar an officious policeman took upon himself to sieze my rifle from Fattuh, saying that the carrying of rifles is forbidden. I went at once to the head of the police and pointed out that every Arab in the desert carries a rifle and that as we had come through the desert I had to carry arms; moreover I had permission to do so. But he would listen to no reason, so I betook myself to the Kaimmakam and found him to be an intelligent and cheerful soldier from Baghdad who promised at once to have the rifle restored. While matters were being settled with the police, the Kaimmakam and I inspected the school of the Alliance Juive where the little boys read English and French to me and sang songs, ending with God save the King - it was just recognisable beneath Arab flourishes, and the liberties which they took with the tune. Then we went on to a girls' school, founded by the Kaimmakam, Na'sak Beg is his name. And here he made the little girls read their letters - the women who were the teachers shrouded themselves in their cloaks the moment the Kaimmakam entered. By this time I had made great friends with Na'muk Beg, may God prolong his existence, and as we walked through the town he gave me his views of the government of Irak, with which I heartily concurred for they were very sensible. He is a man. The rifle having been returned, we parted and Fattuh and I rode gaily on to Babylon where I was received with all the former hospitality. Professor Koldewey is here - you remember he was ill last time I came - and one of the men whom I saw before. The other two are new (to me at least) and both very nice, and I am spending a delightful day with them all. They have done a great deal of work in the last 2 years which I have been inspecting this morning.

Sat 11. [11 March 1911] I left Babylon with many regrets early in the morning. You can't think how nice it was to talk once more to intelligent educated people. Koldewey is charming and they were all as kind as they could be. I rode {back} by the same dull and endless high road that I had followed 2 years ago - a very long and boring day - and lodged in the khan in the same room that I had slept in before.

Sun. 12. [12 March 1911] Today I thought I would be very clever and do two day's work in one. There was a point connected with the vaulting of Ctesiphon about which there has been some dispute and I deteremined to ride round and see the ruins, cross the river and so go up to Baghdad, sending my caravan straight in to Baghdad, a 6 hours' journey. There was said to be some difficulty in getting to Ctesiphon on account of floods, but I found a man who said he knew a way round and a ferry by which Fattuh and I could cross the river. As I wanted the morning light for photographing, I set out at 4.30. We got safely down to the Tigris, skirting the flood water, but when we reached the river we found it enormously swollen, the ferry boat was a world away on the other side and might return at noon, or perhaps at the asr (3 o'clock) God knew best. It was then 8.30 and if I had waited till then, or even till noon I could never have got in to Baghdad that night, so I turned sadly away and rode into Baghdad, an 8 hours' journey. So you see the net result was that I had a 12 hours' ride instead of a six hours'! Baghdad lies on the east side of the river but the bridge had been swept away by the floods, so Fattuh and I having left our horses at the khan with the baggage horses (which had come in hours before) stepped into a guffa and floated down the Tigris to the Residency. It was then 5 o'clock. The Lorimers were most friendly and gave me a large and very welcome tea, but unfortunately my letters were all locked up in the chancery and I shall not be able to get them till tomorrow. Sir W. Willcocks came in to tea and we fell upon each others' necks. He walked down with me to the hotel and saw that I was comfortably lodged. Then I washed and changed and went to dine with the Lorimers. They have a lot of people staying with them - I don't know who they all are, except that some are the relations of our Consul at Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)]. I got a Times yesterday which had come by the last mail and saw in it to my very great sorrow the death of George Grey. What a waste of a good life! Sir Edward will be very unhappy. I have written to him to tell him how sorry I am, but what can one say? Poor Sir Alfred! it was not necessary that this other misfortune should be heaped upon him.

Mon. 13. [13 March 1911] I have got my post, with 2 letters from you, the last dated February 2. I am so glad to hear that you are well again, but much concerned that you were so ill. I hope you will take care in Rome [Roma]. It is a very catchcoldy place. But there! you have been and gone by now! The Lorimers have asked me to go to them tomorrow when some of their guests leave, and I am going to accept gratefully. I shall telegraph to you as soon as my plans are settled, which they cannot be till I have looked at a bit of map which I have not got, but which Mr Lorimer will show me. I gather however that the telegram about my arrival at Hit [(Is)] only reached you a day or two ago. Mr L. was away and did not get my letter till he came back. Then he sent it. I have a delightful letter from Elsa which I will answer by the next mail. I think it possible that I may not be able to get letters again till Diarbekr [Diyarbakir (Amida)] but you will hear pretty regularly from me and if I am a long time on the road I will send you a telegram through the Diarbekr consul saying Arrived Nisibin [Nusaybin (Nisibis)], or wherever it may be. That does not mean that you to post letters to any other address than the one given in my telegram from here. It is just to tell you that I am flourishing. My dear love to you all. Your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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