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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

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Oct 26 Dearest Mother. I've just got your letter of Aug 29 - I think the mails must certainly be going round by the Cape, they always take 2 months now. Thank you for your congratulations - I don't really care a button about these things and so far as I can see from the lists there doesn't appear to be much damned merit about this new order. To turn to more serious matters: are you sure there's no parcel post for members of the Force? It might be worth asking. Address Chief Political Office, Baghdad, M.E.F. As for Samarra, I've no luck with it, for just as I was starting - actually stepping into the launch to go and dine with General Lubbock on my way to the station, came a telegram from General Cobbe putting me off. Turks had heaved into sight and there was a possibility of active operations. They've since heaved out of it again, and I may after all go up presently, but I've ceased to believe it. I dined with General Lubbock all the same - he is a very nice creature - and I'm very much enjoying being back in the office though I'm not much more than a half timer as yet. Still I'm getting better every day. The weather is delicious but it is extraordinary how one feels the cold. My room at the office is never under 70°, but after sunset I sit wrapped up in a thick coat and add to it a woollen comforter to walk home in. It's a way the human frame has of showing resentment for having been called upon to endure a temperature of 122°. I find that this is the season for gardening operations; I've sown vegetables, peas, lettuce, onions and a local sort of mustard and cress - the latter I've not only sown but eaten. And in order not to be too utilitarian, I've bought 7 pots of geraniums and 4 of carnations, besides sowing carnations and escholtzias. I wish I had snap dragon seeds. A clump of chrysanthemums is coming into bloom, and my rose trees are flowering. Everything comes to life when the summer is over, even the washed out European. And one forgets at once how infernal it was. I hope my bijou residence won't prove too damp in winter; it's so nice being quite away by oneself. Anyhow it's particularly pleasant now.
The shirts haven't arrived but I expect they'll turn up and I've enough to go on with for the moment. And oh I'm so sorry to bother you, but would you send me 8 pairs of white thread stockings - they will go by letter post, at the worst, and they'll arrive just about the time the warm weather begins again. Those I have are worn out beyond mending.

I loved having your play with a purpose, and felt almost "in it" as dear Henry James would have said, while I read it. The food problem is no laughing matter here either.

I hear from India that the release of Mrs Besant has raised a hurricane. All the worst passions of Anglo-India are roused and not quite without reason. I much fear that it has queered the pitch at the beginning of a very delicate and difficult game. From the first I thought it an unwise move. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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