6 December 1915

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

[6 December 1915] Dec 6. Cairo. Dearest Mother. The mail is late this week and I have not had letters from you - I expect I may get some today. Mr Hogarth leaves tomorrow, to my great sorrow. He has been a most friendly support and I have scarcely yet found my own feet yet, or made sure whether I shall find them. They have given me some work to do on Arab tribes, their numbers and lineage. It's a vague and difficult subject which would take a lifetime to do properly - I should think it will be about a month before I can get it into any sort of shape, but it rather depends on what information one can collect here. I haven't begun yet for I have been doing odds and ends of jobs for Mr Hogarth which have taken all my time. Yesterday I made holiday for an afternoon and went to see Lady Anne who was most kind and affectionate. We had great talks about Arabia and I shall go down to her again next Sunday. It's an oasis of peace and quiet after the noise and crowd of Cairo. How I hate hotels and the perpetual living in public which they imply! One loathes it more than ever after months of a hermit's existence. I have dined with the Grahams - he is in charge of the Interior - and I spent a pleasant evening with the Macdonells - he is one of the men in the Intell. Dept. But far the nicest people whom I have met are the MacMahons, with whom I dined last night. They are both charming, so pleasant and agreeable. They gave me a standing invitation to come in whenever I liked, and I am going to have a long talk with him one of these days. Sir Courtauld Thomson was there, but I scarcely had any speech with him. There was also a general called Ellison whom I liked. He had found the foundations of a temple on Imbros [Gîkáeada (Imroz, Imbroz)] and had occupied any spare time he had in trying to trace its outlines. He said it gave his mind a rest to think for a little about temples and I deeply sympathised with him.

Sometimes I think it was ridiculous to come here and sometimes I rather enjoy it. Anyhow I will stay for a bit and see what comes of it. I'm afraid we are going to have rather a difficult winter during which we shall to mark time and be patient.

I shall be so glad to have news of you. Has Maurice been home I wonder? It seems impossible to write to him from here - I think I must send a letter enclosed to you. My dear love to you and Father. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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