Letters

25 March 1921

From/To: Gertrude Bell to Lieutenant Colonel Frank Balfour

[25 March 1921] Suez March 25 My Belloved Frank [Balfour]. I'm writing in the train - forgive a shaky hand - on my way back to Baghdad and I shall post my letter before I leave. It's in answer to yours which caught me in Cairo and filled me once more with regret that you were not coming back to us. I'm so glad of the news you give me about Phyllis - may all go well with her and with all of you. But it's an anxious time of waiting for you and hard on her not to have you with her.

Well, now I'll tell you about our Conference. I came very reluctantly and am now so very glad I came. It has been wonderful. We covered more work in a fortnight than has ever before been got through in a year. Mr Churchill was admirable, most ready to meet everyone half way and masterly alike in guiding a big meeting and in conducting the small political committees into which we broke up. Not the least favourable circumstance was that Sir Percy and I, coming out with a definite programme, found when we came to open our packets that it coincided exactly with that which the S. of S. had brought with him. The general line adopted is, I am convinced, the only right one, the only line which gives real hope of success. We are now going back to find Baghdad, I expect, at a fever pitch of excitement, to square the Naqib and to convince Saiyid Talib, if he is convinceable, that his hopes are doomed to disappointment - it's a disappointment which will be confined to himself. But I feel certain that we shall have the current of Nationalist opinion in our favour and I've no doubt of success.

My Father came out to join me - we had a wonderful week together. He was extraordinarily well and looked a year younger instead of a year older. I shall not see him again for a year, alas, for I can't leave Baghdad this summer, except perhaps to go up to Kermanshah [Bakhtaran] for 6 weeks of the hottest weather. When we get our Amir out he will need a great deal of help and guidance, and it's more than I could bear not to be there to give whatever hand I can. Oh Frank it's going to be interesting! if we bring it off we shall make a difference in the world, for it will be the beginning of a quite new thing which will serve as an example - let's hope not as a warning.

I can't write more - the train shakes too much - this is only a message of affection to you and yours to tell you how much I miss you and wish you were with us. Yours ever affectionately Gertrude

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