Letters

30 November 1915

From/To: Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

[30 November 1915] Cairo Nov 30 Dearest Mother. I telegraphed to you the morning after my arrival and asked you to send me by Lady B. [Brassey] another gown and shirt. It looks as if I might be kept here some time and as I knew she was coming it seemed the best thing to make preparations. I don't at all want to be drawn into the social life of Cairo, however, and I daresay I shall have no temptations. I have not yet been to see the MacMahons but I must leave a card on them today. For the moment I am helping Mr Hogarth to fill in the intelligence files with information as to tribes and sheikhs. It's great fun and delightful to be working with him. Our chief is Col. Clayton whom I like very much but did not know before. There are several other people in the office who are old friends; this week Mark Sykes passed through and I have seen a good deal of him. I have just heard that Neil Malcolm has arrived from Gallipoli [Gelibolu] - I think he is chief staff officer here; anyhow I have written to him and asked him to dinner if he is not too great for such invitations.

We had a horrible journey - almost continuous storm and the first two days as bad as anything I have known on the Mediterranean. Helen Brassey and I survived triumphantly and took comfort in one another's society - she is a very charming creature. There were some nice young men, Indian army going back to their regiments. One had been a long time in Persia and knew Major O'Connor and one had come back wounded from the Persian Gulf last year. There was also the Bp of Jerusalem [(El Quds esh Sherif, Yerushalayim)] and his wife. I made their acquaintance but did not see much of them as he was ill all the time. I shall probably see them here - this is the only part of their diocese which they can inhabit at present. We reached Port Said after dark on Thursday night. Capt. Hall, the brother of our Capt. Hall (he is head of the railways here) made every possible arrangement for my comfort and Capt. Woolley, ex - digger at Carchemish [Barak (Karkemis)] and now in the Intelligence Dept. at P. Said came on board to meet me. I had to stay there the night as it was too late to go on. I went with Capt. Woolley to see the governor of P. Said, Col. Elgood and had an interesting talk with him. Capt W. and I dined together - it was delicious after the horrible crowded boat. Next morning I came up here. At Ismailia Donald Davidson got into my carriage and introduced himself. He is in the flying corps as you remember. His observer was also travelling up for a day's leave in Cairo and we had a very pleasant journey together. Mr Hogarth and Mr Lawrence (you don't know him, he is also of Carchemish, exceedingly intelligent) met me and brought me to this hotel where they are both staying. Mrs Hall had taken me a room. And whom do you thing was the first person I met here? Cis Lascelles! her brother with whom she was staying has gone to the wars and she is going away today, to Italy I think. Mr Hogarth, Mr Lawrence and I all dine and lunch together; at our table sit two engineers, Col. Wright (brother of Hagberg and very nice) and Major Pearson. Occasionally we have the Graves in to dinner - he was Times Correspondent in C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)] in former days; I knew him there. Now you know my circle - it's very friendly and pleasant, but Mr Hogarth leaves next week which will make a terrible gap in it. You will write to me here in future won't you and will you have Times sent out to me - the edition which appears 3 times a week. I'm glad I came but I long for news of you. Your affec. daughter Gertrude

It's extraordinarily interesting here but I can't write about it.

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