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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
Cox, Percy
Philby, Harry St John
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Sep 25 Darling Mother. Just as the mail was going last week there came a letter from you of July 31 and indeed I should have had time to send a word in answer but for the fact that there were people of importance - no, of unimportance - waiting to be interviewed on behalf of Sir Percy. And next day there arrived a jeweller's shop of brooches and pendants - the loveliest things - how could you reconcile it with your conscience, both of you, to run to such extravagance. I've never had so many brooches in my life, for I had already got a dream of a little pearl-edged one from Asprey. I thanked Father for that before but I rather think that letter was lost at sea. Anyhow, bless you both; they are exquisite and I expect will excite the unbounded admiration of Force I.E.F.D. I'm writing betimes this week because I'm going to Samarra for a day or two. It will be very nice - I think it will do me good for I've not been very flourishing this last month since I came out of hospital and it will be a pleasant change of air and scene. I haven't stirred out of Baghdad since I got here in April. But it's amazing how unmonotonous it has been.
After these quiet months my soul revolts against the renewal of hostilities which we must have this winter. But I do believe that if we made a marked success of it the war would be materially shortened. Turkey could not stand against a final defeat here and it would take from the Germans the last big card which they might hope to play. The collapse of their Near Eastern policy is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to them. One doesn't the least know here what is the real temper at home and in France but I expect if the U.S.A. hadn't come in we should have been in a tight place.

General Wanchope came to tea to make the acquaintance of Sir Percy and dined next day, with Mr Philby and me to meet him. We spent a pleasant evening sitting on the balcony over the Tigris. It was cool and absolutely still with a moon in its first quarter shining on the quiet river - no hint of war except the khaki of the men, and the talk which, whatever you do, veers round sooner or later to the only subject which occupies our minds. Shall we ever think of anything else, I wonder. As for you, you must almost have forgotten the time when you indulged in ladylike pursuits. I love to think of you in the agricultural committees, but I fear you don't dress the part - what an opportunity wasted for bucolic uniform! Well I too have wasted my opportunities in the direction of uniform, thank goodness, and we decided nem. con[?] that the white tabs of a political officer wouldn't look well on my muslin gowns. You and I must be almost the only two women left who don't wear some sort of official dress, and even you wear nurses' clothes on occasion. And to think that I've been nearly two years without a maid! but I'm exceedingly tidy thanks to your good supply of clothes. Oh would you please send me a pair of plain tortoiseshell combs - not very large ones, the kind that used to cost about 30/ before the war, perhaps they are dearer now. Mine are beginning to crack and break - it's remarkable that they have held out so long. There's a lizard walking about my wall and catching, I suppose, sand flies - God prolong it's existence! But the sandflies are dying off under the influence of cool nights and we don't seem to have any autumn crop of flies here as we had in Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)].

I see I forgot to send back Lady Ritchies's letter. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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