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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
Balfour, Frank
Lascelles, Frank
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

Feb 4 Dearest Mother. I'm writing to you early this week because I'm going to Hillah [Hillah, Al] tomorrow for 2 days for a change of air. I've had a cold which has become a habit and I don't think I shall get rid of it if I stay continuously in this office. I have your letter of Jan 4 telling me about Uncle Frank. I'm so glad he didn't have a long difficult illness. And yes, I know - I had just the same feeling, the long long love and intimacy, yours longer than mine. People like him are like the redoubts that fortify one's life and when one falls one feels that the enemy has made a significant advance. Poor Florence! I'm sure she's unhappy.
I've been very busy; there's such a terrific amount to read, print and papers that come in about all the awful things that are happening everywhere. One has to read them because they all have a contre coup here, I mean Syria and Asia Minor and the Caucasus [Bol'shoy Kavkaz] - all that welter. And I won't say they are not interesting, these confidential documents, only one feels rather as if one were walking through a sea of slime. The French are much the worst - roguery and corruption and intrigue wherever one touches them - how they can go on with it when the world is busily falling in ruins round them! But they do.

I find social duties rather trying. These idle women here have nothing to do all day long and expect me to call and be called on in the one hour of the day when I can get out and think of nothing. The result is I never get out at all, but I'm going to stop this. It makes life too intolerable and besides it makes me ill. So they can think what they like about me but I won't bother about them anymore.

There has turned up a Lady Barnes, sister, I think of Sidney Buxton. She came [to] tea with me this week - rather a nice woman. She is visitng a son here and she brought me 70 rose trees from Blanche Lloyd bless her.

It makes me laugh to see you write about the warmth we're enjoying. We've had the coldest 10 days ever known in Baghdad, temp. 29 at night. It doesn't sound much but it's trying with doors and windows that don't shut and the only means of heating small oil stoves. However I think it must be nearly over.

Yes, I've heard from Sir William. He doesn't like his Indian job at all and wishes he had stayed here. So do I.

I've got Frank and 3 Arabs coming to dinner so goodbye. Your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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