Letter from Gertrude Bell to Charles Doughty-Wylie written over two days from the 14th to the 15th of April, 1915.
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Ap. 14 (1915)
My dear. One of the drawbacks — perhaps the only drawback — of my present mode of life is that I have barely time to write to you. It’s true I don’t know whether any of my letters reach you, although I have been writing to you for 7 weeks by the almanack. But whether they reach you or not, it solaces me to write. Even when I don’t write, can’t for sheer weariness write to you, it’s largely you who enable me to get through the days. When all my faults of omission & commission gather round me in a threatening crowd of memories, I shake off the useless reflections & turn my mind to you, with the sense of one who rolls off a heavy weight & breathes a sigh of relief to find it gone. Nothing else would be strong enough to move it. But oh if I could hear from you! There’s no mail this week. It’s almost the hardest test I’ve had, but at least there’s the satisfaction of sailing gloriously through it. One letter from Marseilles, one from Malta & one from the island, in 7 weeks. It’s no fault of yours, I know, but it’s not much for me to live on, is it? And perhaps you have had nothing from me. I see no immediate break to silence. Your action is postponed — indefinitely, so far as I can see. Italy won’t move. And the longer we wait the harder does our task out there become. Already I believe the Dardenelles has grown into a very big, if not impossible business. You can’t tell me, but that is what I hear. Shall we give it up & try elsewhere, as some think best (perhaps wisely) or shall we hang on? I only pray that we shall not try to force the gates if they have closed too strongly against us. And I can’t help wishing, too, that you may be sent to some post where there’s a post. I long to know what you have been doing - & thinking. Thinking more than doing, I imagine, but what? that’s the vital thing. When you left I said to myself that it would be perhaps 3 months, 3 months before I might begin to picture your return. I’ve pictured it a thousand times, but here are 2 months gone & you’re no nearer. Dear life is there near or far for us? Is there any passage of time which can be measured by the hour glass? As if I didn’t know that as well as you know it. The dream is still the only reality.
When I walk across the park of a morning I come out into Piccadilly opposite your club & never pass it without wondering whether it was behind one of those windows which I can see that you talked to the old man on an August night nearly two years ago, & found that he could give you no comfort. My mind might be better occupied, perhaps you think? It’s occupied with one thing only, when once it has escaped from the chains with which Lord R. has bound it - bother him & bless him. At least they keep me from disintegration. But to have no news of you - that’s the rub. I’ll go to bed & dream there.
Ap.15. There’s supposed to be an air raid on London tonight which leaves me cold as the dead. They’ll perhaps injure another bicycle as they did at Newcastle. I wish they would totally destroy 20 Arlington St & set me free. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so tired in my life. Oh well yes, I suppose I was as tired this time last year when I rode up to Damascus. But there/then[?] at least I wrote to you daily; now I can’t even do that. Maurice goes the day after tomorrow & I can’t bring my mind to think of it. No news of Italy & none of you. Don’t, don’t forget that I love you & that I’m yours. I’m a beast to complain. It’s worse for you doing nothing but practise disembarkation.