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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
Hussein, Feisal bin al-
Eskell, Sassoon
Churchill, Winston
Askari, Ja'far al-
Joyce, P.C.
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper

R.I.M.S. Hardinge. Ap. 3 Dearest Father. You are I expect just arriving or arrived in England, and we reach Masqat [(Muscat)] tomorrow and spend a few hours there coaling. I never knew a ship that seemed to want feeding oftener than this one. The day at Aden [('Adan)] was, however, a great success. Gen. Scott provided me with a trolley on the railway and a charming guide, Col. Lake who commands the 1st (and only) Yemen Levies. I took with me Col. Joyce and Ja'far and we started immediately after breakfast. We ran through a desert country, covered with big thorny scrub and little thorny trees, to Lahaj [Lahij], the capital of an independent Sultan. It's about 24 miles from Aden and lies on the edge of a wide dry[?] valley wherein there is plenty of underground water, enough for a Bellt of cultivation some 4 miles wide. Railhead is 6 miles further up. It's nothing but railhead; however we got out and walked down to the valley, looked at the thorny trees and talked to some stray people. We had two of Col. Lake's orderlies with us and amused ourselves with puzzling out their Arabic. So back to Lahaj where we lunched in the Sultan's palace, entertained by his cousin since he himself happened to be at Aden. The lunch, like most Arab lunches, was so late that we nearly had to go away without it but when it came it was very good. The palace is rather ruined, having [been] occupied and sacked by the Turkish Commander during the war. It is a queer fortress-like building looking like the pictures one has seen of Yemen towns. Col. Lake who is the step-mother and father of the Yemen Levies, spent the whole of the war at Aden, eating his heart out, I expect. He is the sort of spare, sunburnt Englishman whom you know at a glance would command and control native troops. Gen. Scott warned us that he was very shy but he opened out like a flower and talked delightfully of his Levies and the country. So we came back and went to tea with the Barretts[?] and heard the news which was mainly concerned with the spread of communism in Germany. If we drive them into Bolshevism we shall have ourselves to thank. Sir Percy had a long cable from Baghdad where passions seem to be rising very high over the Amirate. We shall have a dramatic month or two when we return. I'm egging Sir Percy on to bring Faisal over by air; the sooner we put an end to the suspense the better.
I shall be immensely glad to get back. The journey is remarkably tedious and so much of vital interest awaits us. But I fear we shall not reach Basrah [Basrah, Al (Basra)] till the 8th. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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