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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
Iraq ยป Basra

30.5257657, 47.773797

Jan 26. Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)] Dearest Mother. Still no mails. Do my letters to you miss fire in the same way? I suppose they do. In case my letter of last week didn't reach you I send an abstract of my directions to the Shirt Co. which it contained. I feel however pessimistic as to receiving anything and I expect I shall have to take to Arab dress next summer. I wrote you a very doleful letter last week - happy to tell you that I'm better physically but I'm suffering from a severe attack of softening of the brain which I don't know how to master. It makes all work horribly difficult, as well as valueless when done. I feel so useless that I wonder they don't turn me out - perhaps ultimately they will. But what I should do next I can't imagine. Beyond struggling with this devil I've done nothing for the last week except ride occasionally in the morning. It's delicious when I go out just after dawn but Basrah is much less pleasant than it was a year ago because it's all so full of camps. The palm gardens through which I used to walk are all peopled now and spoilt for my purposes. I don't wonder the Arabs are sick of us - I am too. And oh how weary we all are of the war! But I expect you feel that even more than we do. Yet it's like nursing someone through a painful illness - I don't know what we shall do when he's dead. Are we going to be beaten do you think, at the end of everything, or practically beaten? I don't believe I really care very much, but I suppose it would mean abandoning this country and that practically means backing out of Asia. Meantime would you be so very kind as to send me a new Swan Fountain pen, large size and broad nibbed. I've broken the sheath of mine so that it won't shut up properly. But if you could teach it to write interesting things before it sets out I should be all the more grateful. This one won't. Your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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