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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
Wortley, Edward Stuart
Wilson, A.T.
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Jan 31 Dearest Mother. Col. Wilson telegraphed home this week saying he would like to send me to England - more or less as his liason officer while so much is under discussion there. My own view is that he will get no answer. They haven't shown any desire at home to have any of us at their elbow and I don't see why they suddenly feel an urgent need; but I have of course told him that I will do anything he likes. If I go he would probably want to send me by Aleppo [Halab] so that I might have a glimpse of Syria in my study. Meantime I have Belloved letters from George and Blanche saying how much they look forward to seeing me in Bombay on my way home, and that delightful project would I fear have to be given up. But I don't think myself that there is any particular hurry, as the settlement out here will probably be long delayed. Reuter says it will be referred to the League of Nations when the Peace is concluded. However, I don't worry one way or the other, for I shall do what I'm told. It has been cold and abominably muddy. I don't believe the rain is over yet though we have had an unusual amount. For my part I have done a great deal of work there being nothing else to do. Richard is back in Baghdad with General Cobbe who takes over when the C. in C. goes on leave, in about 10 days. Gen. Cobbe came to tea yesterday. He is dying to get away but I suppose he will have to wait till the C. in C. comes back from leave. Richard dined with me; I gather he expects to get away quite soon. I rode today with General Stuart Wortley - he talks of getting away some time in March, and he won't come back. He doesn't like the East. If we get our permanent form of Government established here by this time next year I think we shall be lucky; meantime we shall go on, I suppose, as we are, with the C. in C. at the head of the administration. As long as it is Sir William it doesn't matter how long he occupies that post, for he is so wise and liberal in his dealings with the administrative side, and so anxious, now that war is over, to let the administration have its fullest development. It is an immense job, the conversion of a military organization into a civil administration; all the technical part of it is so overwhelming, posts, telephones, medical and sanitary organization etc; and it means that you cannot demobilize wholesale, as if you did there would be a sudden break down in all the functions of government. I haven't anything to do with these things, but I can see how intricate they are. I have planted my garden most beautifully with hedges of chrysanthemums - it ought to be a sight next autumn; and now I'm supplying chrysanthemums to Evelyn Howell for his garden and taking over the planting of the C. in C.'s little garden in his courtyard, so that we may all have flowers in the autumn. The seeds Hanagan sent me have all done well and there will be beautiful flower beds in May, but I shall not be here to see them. However the carnations will carry on till the autumn. This is the most flowerless month; I have nothing but violets, having just cut down my rose bushes. I must bring out quantities of bulbs which I feel certain would do admirably and fill in this blank time. I'm sorry I shall not see the country here this spring; it will be wonderful after such a winter of rain. But I shall see you and I'm immensely looking forward to it. I can't quite believe yet that in 6 weeks or so I shall be in England. I expect I shall be pretty busy, you know, unless they go on the plan of not wanting to hear anything from the people who come from the place they are talking about, which is quite likely. Anyhow I think it will be good for me to go away for a bit; I feel I've become very provincial. How can one help it when one's whole time and thoughts are given to one's province? But it is not a good plan to get quite out of touch. One is more useful here for knowing what the pulse is like at home. I would like to do some propaganda for my province - lectures perhaps, though my mind rather shrinks from the idea at this moment. The Geog. Soc. would perhaps be a good platform, but it will probably be too late in the year for them - they don't, if I remember, have meetings after Easter. Heaven knows I shan't regret it personally - it's only that I want to advertize my province you understand. And do you know what I look forward to very much? a leg of mutton! that's not poetic is it, but you should see - and try to eat - the meat we live on. I can't think what part of an animal it grows on. I must learn to cook mutton chops while I'm at home - and then see if I can't get them here. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude. Also I'm looking forward to not being dressed in clothes made by the good nuns!

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