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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

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Reference code
Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Cox, Percy
Wilson, Woodrow
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper

33.315241, 44.3660671

Baghdad Sep 21 Dearest Father. The mail is in but as yet I've only had one letter - from Milly. I hope for yours tomorrow; they take a long time to distribute. We are having deliciously cool weather, between 70° and 80°, and quite cold at night. I want nothing better but I think the moment of sudden transition is rather trying even if it's enjoyable. One doesn't know how to adapt oneself at first. I had an afternoon out this week - General Cobbe and I went to Kadhimain [(Al Kazimiyah)], 2 or 3 miles above Baghdad, a Shi'ah town with a very sacred mosque - I remember last time I was there, in 1909 it must have been, how I hurried past the gateway of the mosque with a sidelong glance into the courtyard. This time far from the contrary. Turbaned gentlemen did us the honours and escorted us well within the gates to the very edge of the courtyard. Except as an unexampled privilege there wasn't much in it for it's all the worst modern work, gimcrack and hideous, with tiles 30 years old already peeling from the walls and no loss either. Nevertheless I was vastly entertained, having been nowhere since I came to Baghdad. Richard was to have been of the party but he had a slight attack of fever. I went in to see him on my back[?], to say goodbye to him alas!, for they are going away tomorrow. But I'm invited to pay them a visit in Oct. which, Turko permitting, I shall certainly do.
I must tell you that the exchange question is very difficult. I wanted to draw a cheque for £50 and found the bank {charged} was only prepared to give me some £43 for it. Finally the kind Sir Percy, who has accounts both in London and in India, suggested that I should give him a cheque for £50 to send to his bank in London and he pay me here Rs 750 - as against the Rs 650 which the bank offered. I don't think he is losing on the transaction, is he? but if you could devise any better scheme, let me know. I paid him an extra 10/ as interest. I don't want much - perhaps £100 every 6 months or so. You haven't got any business account in India, have you? on which I could draw when I want any money. Exchange is to my mind a very mysterious affair, but probably you think it as clear as the day, so I won't enlarge on the subject.

Kermit Rooseveldt turned up this week with letters of introduction to me and to Sir Percy. I met him casually at G.H.Q. the day after his arrival and asked him to tea. We both liked him - a very pleasant creature, quite unostentatious. He is serving here as an engineer and has 3 brothers in the American army in France. They are doing their bit aren't they. He says President Wilson (whom of course he loathes) has prevented his father from going to France purely out of political jealousy, pooh poohs - or is it poopoohs? - the idea of the German-American element being a danger and declares that Wilson seized on any excuse to avoid going to war. I suppose that's to be taken with some grains of salt? He praised Springy and said he had never made a mistake though his part had been an extremely difficult one. He is attached to General Cobbe who likes him.

I still dine out of doors but I sit indoors afterwards, with all doors and windows open. It's most pleasant. I'm longing to begin riding again and indeed I did begin a few days ago, but it wasn't a great success - I felt too tired afterwards. So I shall be very prudent and wait a little longer. It isn't a time of year to play pranks; nearly everyone has little goes of fever when the heat begins to drop. I've escaped that luckily.

I wonder if you get weekly mails. We have had letters only once a fortnight for the last 2 months or so, but I hear that a new arrangement has been made and we are to have them once a week again, only after such fashion that A will probably arrive after B, C after D, and so on. However -

My dear love to all my family. I write indifferently to you and Mother as the letters are equally to you both. Your very affectionate Gertrude

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