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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
Wilson, A.T.
Balfour, Frank
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Oct 27. Belloved Mother. The post is dribbling in today and I've just had a letter from you dated Sep 24. It dribbles out this afternoon so I won't wait, indeed I can't, to see if other letters from home [sic]. I note with some anxiety that you say you are trying not to talk - not with any great success apparently. Your throat is still troublesome? I wish it would get quite well.
I wrote to you from Aleppo [Halab] and I'll now briefly outline the end of my journey. I left Aleppo on Monday 20th by motor and had two rather long days to Dair [Dayr az Zawr] on the Euphrates. The first day the road was fairly good and the second day awful. I slept the first night at a tiny village called Hammam, about midway, in a small mud room, where except for the flies, I was alone. The motors formed a kind of zariba outside - I had 3 of them. At Dair I stayed with my colleague, for we have an A.P.O. there - a very nice Captain Chamier. I stayed 2 nights, for the motors were rather the worse for wear - I don't wonder - and spent the intervening day seeing shaikhs, mayors and such like. We dined with the mayor the second evening. Next day a very long stage to within 50 miles of Mosul [Mawsil, Al]. We left at 6.30 am and got in at 7 p.m., the road good all the way, being flat desert. I stayed at Tell 'Afar [Tall 'Afar] with an A.P.O. and went on next morning to Mosul where I arrived at lunch time and spent the afternoon walking about the town. I stayed at the Political Office with very nice people. The next stage was by motor to railhead, Qal'at Sharqat [Sharqat], where I had often stayed with the German excavators. But when I got there, I found a great congestion of troops on the move and no available carriage so I motored on 50 miles more to a place called Baiji [Ba'iji] which I reached at 7 p.m. There I was given dinner at the hospital and put into a very comfortable carriage where I slept peacefully all night. We got to Baghdad about 10.30 on the morning of the 24th.

I've spent most of the time since in talking to A.T. Wilson  - it's surprising what a lot there is to learn about all the things that have happened since I left. The new rooms in my own house are quite delightful and my garden looks lovely. I've got one of my own servants back and am engaging a cook today. Marie hasn't arrived yet - just as well, as I shall be properly settled before she comes.

All the Baghdadis are beginning to drop in and see me - with much welcoming.

I feel rather bewildered at the huge business that it is to pick up threads again and I now want to find time to write a Syrian report. That must be done this week, in spite of reading files and receiving visitors. I dined with Frank Balfour last night and am dining with Mrs Howell tonight - she is one of the wives who have come out since I left.

This is a very dull letter but I'm writing short of time. My dear love to you and I'm your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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