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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

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Reference code
Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Chirol, Valentine
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper
India ยป Karachi

24.8607343, 67.0011364

Karachi. Feb. 7. Dearest Mother. Except for the name of the thing we might as well be at sea, for though we have arrived in India we are not allowed to land. We have a case of diphtheria on board and the ship is in quaranteen [sic]. However it's not as bad as it sounds for the disembarkation officers have orders to let 3 of us, a general, a colonel and I, who are all going to Delhi, get off at once, and as soon as the necessary formalities have been complied with we are to be allowed to go. There's only one train a day and it is doubtful whether we shall get off in time to catch it. But it doesn't much matter; at the worst I shall have to spend a night here. It's 48 hours, or nearly, by rail to Delhi, and oh I shall be glad to arrive. It has been a very pleasant journey, however - but boring as the sea always is. It poured at Aden [('Adan)], a thing which doesn't happen once in 3 years, and subsequently we had a day or two of cold wet weather. Even here though the sun is hot, the wind is cold - I wonder if there is warm weather anywhere this year. I've done a good deal of work and all the people have been very kind. I like the general - Skeen is his name, he was on General Birdwood's staff in Gallipoli [Gelibolu]. The other man at the Captain's table, Col. Clarkson, was also nice. He was wounded in Mesopotamia and has now been sent back to India as fit for light duty, which I should think he isn't, as his wounded arm keeps breaking out again and he has to have bits of bone removed. He has had that done twice on the voyage. The others are two battalions of the Rifle Corps come out for garrison duty - rather touching people, none of them real soldiers, but lawyers and business men, mostly from Liverpool or thereabouts who must most of them have given up a good deal in order to serve. They's none of them been in the East before and were all wildly keen to know about it. They asked me to talk about Mesopotamia, and I gave them a short lecture one afternoon - rather a preposterous thing to do, but it would have been more preposterous to refuse. But I wonder what India will make of them. With the best will in the world they are not like real soldiers, and they all know it.
I write now lest I should miss the next mail from Delhi.

I shall be so glad to see Domnul. It's rather lonely wandering about the world like this with nothing but chance acquaintances to fall back on. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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