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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

30.5257657, 47.773797

Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)] Feb 24. Dearest Mother. We are promised a mail the day after tomorrow which ought to bring me 3 weeks' of English letters. We have had rather a delicious week after the rain, at first quite sharply cold - for 3 or 4 mornings there was a real nip in the air when I was out riding before breakfast. And now a sudden warmth, not anything but pleasant, a sudden burst of spring, the willows putting out catkins and the pomegranates budding. I've been out every morning - it's too delicious to miss - and tomorrow I'm going to ride down to Bait Na'mah to breakfast, it being Sunday I shall take an hour or two off from the office. Today we have had the news of the crossing of the Tigris above Kut [Kut, Al (Kut al Imara)], which means I hope the fall of Kut before long and then probably to interesting developments among the tribes who are still hostile. It's a real triumph, the crossing of the river. I didn't think it would be accomplished. We had 700 prisoners in that week - I went to see them as they marched in to their camp. They looked hearty and well fed but they were terribly ragged. They had made a very splendid stand in the bend on the right bank of the Tigris. Oh if only all this had happened a year ago! But one realizes now how impossible it was a year ago, before we had proper transport or equipment of [sic] guns. It has taken a year of hard work to pull the thing straight and I think a good deal of the credit of the present success is due to the I.G.C. my friend Gen. MacMunn. I went with him and his staff to the play last week - the first play I had been to since the war. It was Chinese, if you'll believe me. We have a number of Chinese carpenters here and the W.O. has allowed them a company of Cantonese players to follow them. It seems to be the greatest theatrical success of modern times. The whole of the ground floor of the house was packed with Chinese, and in the gallery, boxes and dress circle, so to speak, sat rows of nurses and a good sprinkling of British officers.
I'm dreadfully badly off for dictionaries. I wonder if you could send me Steingass, Arabic-English, and Salmoné ditto, both in a shelf on the N. wall of my sitting room. And I should so very much like Roget's Thesaurus - it's somewhere in the same wall. I have so often to dress up the same theme in new words if I can find them. And since I'm bothering you with wants, would you please have sent to me ½ doz pairs of thin lisle thread brown stockings, rather dark brown I like and 3 yards of black elastic about ½ inch wide for riding hats, confound me. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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