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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
Iraq ┬╗ Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Aug 23 Dearest Mother. My letters to Father are just as much to you but I feel it's I who score for I get a double go of letters from home. You are the most excellent correspondents and I can't tell you what a joy your letters are. The last one from you is dated July 8 - it came with one from Father of July 14 which I've just answered. I do wish your throat wasn't such a trouble. Your intercourse with Maurice is a real problem. It's dreadfully trying to have to talk loud when you oughtn't to use your voice. I wonder whether he will go away shooting anywhere this autumn.
You will gather from my letters to Father how much everything is in the melting pot here. It's just like the years of the war. I feel as if I were living from day to day, without trying to make any plans for the future. And after these months of hot weather one's mind is so inelastic that it can't, so to speak, put two and two together. Also at this moment we are groping among problems the solution of which is very hard to foresee. I give it up, with a sort of dizziness, and turn, very inefficiently, to the daily job. We're so much accustomed now to sudden tragedy that we take it almost without turning a hair. It induces a numbness of sensation which makes one feel as if one were half dead. And at the bottom of my heart I think it possible that the situation may clear as unexpectedly as it has developed, though it's equally possible that it mayn't.

I pass now to more comprehensible details! Please don't pay any of my bills. It will bring about the most inextricable confusion. I pay them as soon as they reach me, but before my cheque gets to England they've sent them in again! If you've paid them in the meantime I shall never know where I am. You oughtn't, for example, to have paid Harrods. The things he sent were not right and I returned them. So that you have now paid for what I haven't got. It isn't of the slightest consequence if a bill comes in two or three times - please simply forward them and leave me to deal with them. I can't go quicker than the post.

Incidentally nothing ever arrives - or very seldom. I haven't got the lace or the blue tricotine which you said Elsa had been so angelic as to buy for me - nor yet the white stuff for Marie. They may turn up, or they may have been lost in the post.

But I have received - did I tell Father? - the charming silver bowl he chose for me, which has been presented with great ├ęclat. I thought it so pretty that I had some difficulty in parting with it.

Oh dear! I wish the world were a little more normal. Or do you think war and revolution may now be reckoned as normal? Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude.

I've just got your letter of July 14 with the account of Moll's boy - I wonder what he is called.

[Note on back of envelope] Your letter of July 20 just come.

IIIF Manifest