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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
Balfour, Frank
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper
Iraq ยป Baghdad

33.315241, 44.3660671

[21 June 1918] Baghdad June 21 Dearest Father. A meagre post has however brought me your long letter of Ap 17 and one from Mother of the same date. You had just seen Sir P. [Percy Cox] I'm so glad you liked him, but I knew you would, for he is a real person. I hope you saw him again as he was so long delayed and that Mother saw him also. Now he's going to Simla on his way home, which is very tiresome as I don't think I can wait for his return before going to Persia. He won't be here till the beginning of Aug, and it's beginning to be stuffy hot, nothing very much, but the regular sort of 105. The C in C has just been to Persia - he came back today - so I shall doubtless hear from him what it's like in the mts and I expect that will make me wish still more to be gone there. Meantime I've been busy with a lot of little odd jobs. I lectured one night down stream at the Advanced Base and supped afterwards with the local General. A nice man, our L. of C., Col. Alexander fetched me in a racing quick launch and brought me back. It was very pleasant flying along the river at night. Next I went up to the -th Brigade on the Euphrates near Rammadi [Ramadi, Ar], stayed a night with the General (Costello) and lectured there. That was amusing too. I motored out with a young man, about 50 miles, starting early and got in about 10 before it was too hot. The camp was on the edge of the river; they had prepared a luxurious tent for me and filled it with books and papers. It was hottish in the middle of the day, about 110, but pleasant after tea when General C. and I motored to the low hills which border the desert and walked for a bit looking out towards Syria. We all dined on the river bank and I had a really enjoyable audience that night, far the best I've had yet. Then iced soda water with the Queen's and to bed on the very lip of Euphrates. I slept too soundly to enjoy it to the full but I was wakened at 5 by the sun just tipping up over the broad river, very delicious. So back by motor with another young man, a very nice one whom I want to get for the Political Service. I had him to tea that evening at our mess and he took to us kindly.
There's always such a lot of small pox about that I've been vaccinated again and this time it has just taken enough to swear by so I don't think I need continue the habit.

From all this you may gather that I'm extremely well, and also I'm rather enjoying life more than I have for a long long time, darling Father. It's perhaps rather small beer but at any rate it's not the waters of bitterness. I'm amused at going about and seeing all these people even if they are not very exciting, bless them, and oh I'm looking forward to getting away into a tent up there in Persia. I've had enough of sedentary existence for a bit. There will be wonderful monuments to see, which I know only from books, and the great road of the Achaemenids, and no office, and Persian to talk. My Persian cook has been taken with a fever and I've sent him to hospital whence he returns tomorrow. His wife fills his place, not so well as regards cooking, but she's a mighty hand at talking, which is, you remember, a part of my cook's duties. The invaluable Tobi'a, my butler, is developing into a capital servant. He has a very small son whom I find sometimes toddling about my garden. He comes for green apples and like delicacies to be picked up in my servants' quarters. When I appear he runs precariously down the garden path and kisses my hand. He is most engaging. My gardener also has got a son and heir, a fortnight old, born in the garden, but he is so closely wrapped in swaddling clothes that he looks more like a chrysalis than a baby. How do they survive I wonder. The roses are very spindly now in the heat, but the verbena bed continues to flower bravely, red and purple.

Frank Balfour has gone on leave to England, he much needs a rest. I have told him to see you and report on me. I'm very sorry he has gone for I like him so much.

How funny about the photographs that weren't my house. I will take some for you, to illustrate my life and times.

I wonder if Sir P. will bring out my Geog. Soc. medal, and perhaps other things of more vital moment, such as boots. He will send them straight here by Capt. Marrs who is travelling with him, so that I shall get them before I go to Persia.

I want, if you please, 6 pairs of dark grey thread stockings, medium size. All the stockings lately sent me are so very large. Goodbye dearest - I'm your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

Mother got the letter in which I asked for 6 very warm woollen combinations, low neck and short sleeves? that's important for I'm so cold in winter. I think I also asked for thick black cotton ribbed stockings.

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