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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
Richmond, Herbert
Hardinge, Charles
Henley, Anthony
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper
India ยป Delhi

28.7040592, 77.1024902

Viceregal Lodge, Delhi. Friday 11th Dearest Mother. I must begin the wonderful tale of my adventures lest I should have too much to write all at once. We were kept on the ship for another 24 hours and I was just preparing to remove to the Civil Hospital and telegraph to Delhi when an order came for the release of General Skeen and the wise embarkation officer came to the conclusion that he might as well let me and Col. Clarkson out too. This was at 3 p.m. and the train left at 7. After tea I removed myself and my baggage to the station, under the charge of a kind young man, name unknown, who had been a fellow traveller on the ship and having sent you a telegram and bought some novels at an unpromising shop laBelled "Books Musics" I met my two military dignitaries and stepped with them into the dining car of the Lahore express. The journey took two nights and a day. I had a carriage to myself all the way and was looked after hand and foot by that inestimable pair. But in order properly to appreciate dust you must go by train across the desert of Suide[?]. We reached Delhi at 7.30 a.m. I hadn't an idea what was to happen to me, nor whether anyone knew I was coming nor where Sir V.C. [Valentine Chirol (Domnul)] was - I had telegraphed to him at Delhi on the chance of his having left Bombay where he was originally to meet me - and behold when I got out, coated in dust on an icy cold morning, there was Domnul on the platform and a viceregal motor waiting outside. You may imagine my joy. He brought me here, lodged me in a luxurious tent, sitting room, bedroom and bath room, and sat with me while I had breakfast. Then he left me to a bath and reappeared soon after 10 for a long talk. In the middle H.E. [Lord Hardinge] came in, more kind than words can say and full of talk. He is very anxious that I should return to somewhere in the neighbourhood of my old hunting grounds and is going to speak to the General. When he left I drew him up a little memorandum as to what I might be able to do and then went up to the house to lunch - Lord Errington had come to fetch me, they are my next door neighbours along the street of tents. Besides ADCs and people of the house, Pertab Singh and his son were there. In the afternoon Domnul and I motored with the Maxwells - he is military {ADC} secretary to H.E. - to see Mr Baker and Mr Lutyens and had a delicious hour with them over photogrpahs and plans - so delicious that it was prolonged until tea time when it was too late to go and look at the actual foundations of the new Delhi. We are going to do that another day. We came home to a second tea with Mrs Maxwell and sat talking to her for some time. There were 20 people to dinner - Sir George Roos Keppel took me in, a cheerful bird. He is governor of the N.W. Frontier Province, I knew him before. And several other people I knew too. It's just like staying with the King - I imagine - you make a circle when the Viceroy comes in and curtsey - when he leaves too. And as the women go out of the dining room after dinner they stop at the door, one by one, and curtsey to H.E. After dinner people are brought up to talk to him. He was engaged all the evening yesterday with the governors and generals who were there and the women talked to the various people whom the ADCs brought up to them. It was all very amusing. This morning I wrote a memorandum about Arab shaykhs [sic] till presently Sir James du Boulay[?], H.E.'s private secretary, came to call. But he had not been with me 10 minutes before H.E. himself arrived and Sir James bowed himself out. We had a long and very interesting talk. He is delightfully wise. Then I went out to lunch with the Grants. Mr Grant - I don't remember if you know him, he is a friend of Anthony Henley's and is now with another man in charge of the F.O. here, I knew him both here and in London. He is newly married to a second wife, very pretty and attractive. He is extremely pleasant and was eager to give me all the information I want. I am going to the F.O. tomorrow to look through their files.
Later. I've just come in from another and yet bigger dinner party at Viceregal Lodge. At the beginning of dinner the V. sent me a scribbled card to say that it was all settled about my going on and that I was given permission to go much further up the river than I had originally thought of doing. I do not think there would be much value in availing myself of this - I'm not out sight seeing - but it's useful to have official permission in case I might want to use it for any purpose. I'm going to send a telegram in cypher to Egypt asking them to communicate with the Admiralty who will in turn let you know my moves. If I find I can't do anything when I get there - as is very probable - I shall come away. I don't want to stand idle anywhere. It's interesting, deeply interesting - but oh it's an anxious job too. I wish, I wish I knew more - and was more. And I am rather overwhelmed at meeting with so much kindness and confidence.

The mail goes tomorrow. I shall be here another week I suppose, but as to that I shall do what I'm told.

I know you will both think that this is right, but it is terribly long before I shall hear from you. Tell Maurice and Herbert. Otherwise I always think the less said the better. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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