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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
Carter, Edgar Bonham-
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Nov 9 Dearest Mother. This week's mail brought no country letters, owing I suppose to the rly strike. It did bring however a bill from Harrods which seems to have contracted an unholy alliance with a grease pot on the road. This is the bill you said you would pay for me and you may have paid it so I don't. If you haven't, would you please be very kind and do so. There's also a bill from Truslove[?] and Hanson by which I see that you are ordering books for me from them so I'll write direct to them in future. The letters forwarded to me from Sloane St are insufficiently addressed. Office of Civil Commissioner, Baghdad is the right address, otherwise they wander about for a week before reaching me. Marie has left Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)] and should be here in a couple of days. I shall be glad to have her! also to have some clothes, for I brought scarcely any across Syria. I've done very little this week except sit in the office. I went to tea with the wife of Mustafa Pasha - he's the old swell of Khaniqin [Khanaqin] with whom I stayed in 1911 and she is the nicest of women. Also I went to tea with the Pachahji ladies whom I'm very fond of - he's the owner of my garden and lets me live in it. And I've been to a Jew tea party - you see I'm visiting all my acquaintances - and to a tea party of the wives of some of my colleagues, Mrs Wilson, wife of our architect, Mrs Walker (he is assistant Military Governor under Frank) and Mrs Bill (he's a judge.) I liked them all. Brides came out in swarms to be married here; we've had two weddings in my service since I came. Mr Bonham Carter dines with me tonight. He had a big function, to which I went as a P.O., for the opening of the new School of Law. Practically all the big people of Baghdad were present - I thought it a great success. Our greatest man of letters made a speech which it was a privilege to hear, not because the sense was so remarkable but because the sound was so wonderful. He is a born orator and the rolling Arab periods are magnificent when he declaims them. I went with George MacMunn yesterday to see the site of the new cantonment, down stream, and we walked along the river bank where the new town is to be. There was a full moon; the dusty land and the misty river melted together like a dream world. It's very beautiful at such moments. But you know I love it, I see it beautiful almost always. Frank dined with me one night and we had a good talk about all that is happening. He is overworked and the truth is that they are all overworked. We are going through a crucial time in the history of Asia and it needs thinking about; but there's no time to think, that's the worst of it. I like having them to dine with me; that gives an opportunity for talking about other things than our immediate little businesses. If only my furniture and crockery would come from Maples I could widen the circle of my dinner parties. I've telegraphed to Maples to ask when they were sent off. And when Marie is here she can look after the arrangements of my household and make it tidier and nicer, a thing I can't do when I'm at the office all day. Everyone says that George MacMunn will get the Q.M.G. in India but he hasn't heard officially yet. Nor do I know who will get the job here. I shall miss him when he goes. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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