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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
India ยป Delhi

28.7040592, 77.1024902

Viceregal Lodge, Delhi. Feb. 18 My dearest Mother. I have your two letters of Jan 14 and 27 telling me about Aunt Bessie. I do so deeply understand your feeling that you have lost the last person with whom you had all the old associations in common. I knew it would mean that for you and it is a thing that nothing can replace. But how happy for her, wasn't it, to die without suffering and without fear.
I have written to Father and given him a general outline of my doings. I'm rather glad the crowd of people have gone. It's much pleasanter being a small party. We had one Indian potentate to lunch today, the son of the Begum - not a bright specimen of Indian wit. Conversation with him was like something out of Ollendorff - he never answered on the lines of the opening remark, as thus: G.B. Her Highness gave us a most interesting account of her pilgrimage to Mecca [Makkah]. Nawab. My brother is very fond of racing. I confess I was gravelled for a repartee.

The V. took me one afternoon to see the new Delhi. It was very wonderful seeing it with him who had invented it all, and though I knew the plans and drawings I didn't realize how gigantic it was till I walked over it. They have blasted away hills and filled up valleys but the great house itself is as yet little more than foundations. The roads are laid out that lead from it to the four corners of India, and down each vista you see the ruins of some older imperial Delhi. A landscape made up of empires is something to conjure with. It poured here yesterday and was as bitter cold as hot countries can be. Most people have retired to bed in consequence; I've varied the programme by having neuralgia. H.E.'s [Lord Hardinge] kind little doctor has just sent me a bottle which I hope will remove it. Mr Baker asked me to go with [sic] next week on a 3 days' expedition to see some Buddhist ruins. It would have been delightful, but I have refused. I'm dining and lunching with so many generals and magnates of the F.O. whom I can't throw over. And after all that's my job here and Buddhist ruins are a side issue, bother it. But I hope to have 2 days' in Lahore on my way to Karachi. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude.

My travel diary is in Egypt so don't look for it!

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