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But the letters to her family have provided such abundant material for the reconstruction of her story that it has not been found necessary to ask for any others. She always wrote 'siezed,' 'ekcercise,' 'exhorbitant.' Sometimes she wrote 'priviledge.' The cooking lessons referred to in the diary and sometimes in the early letters did not have much praftical result. The two or three Years following the time described in the diaries were spent happily at Redcar with Maurice--years of playing about, and studying under a German governess, and having pet animals, of which there were always one or two on hand. I should very much like for a Christmas present Jonson's works edited by Gifford in 3 vols. Except Petra, Palmyra is the loveliest thing I have seen in this country. Last night there arrived from the East a big caravan Of camels belonging to the Agail Arabs, who are going to sell them in Damascus. I had met him yesterday in Palmyra, and he told me that 'Please God, who is great,' he meant to travel with me.
Besides these home letters, she found time for a large =and varied correspondence with friends outside her home circle both male and female, among the former being some of the most distinguished men of her time. Went to bed tired, had a little talk not fun and went to sleep. [Gertrude never entirely mastered the art of spelling, and all her life long there were certain words in her letters that were always spelt wrong. I have read Swinburne's Jonson which I will keep for you, it is quite excellent. The stone used here is a beautiful white limestone that looks like marble and weathers a golden yellow, like the Acropolis. I got up feeling extremely brisk, and spent the whole morning exploring Palmyra. I am returning by the ordinary tourist route, The old high road across the desert.
Gertrude Bell, happily for her family and friends, was one of the people whose lives can be reconstructed from correspondence. About the little girls frocks Hunt would like to have one for Molly made of cambric matching the pattern of Elsa, 16d a yard 40 in. It looks like the white skeleton of a town, standing knee deep in the blown sand.
Gertrude was three years old when she lost her mother, who died when Gertrude's brother Maurice was born. The cheap insertion is not at all bad and I think it would not look otherwise than well but there is no doubt that the other is nicer. And beyond all is the desert, sand and white stretches of salt and sand again, with the dust clouds whirling over it and the Euphrates five days away.
She was able at the close of a day of exciting travel to toss a complete account of it on to paper for her family, often covering several closely written quarto pages. Then the time came when she ceased to write a diary. We now have out some yellow crocus and primroses snodrops and primroses. The record, the celebrations, and all the presents seem amusingly childish for a little girl who was reading Green's history before breakfast, and devouring every book she could find.] When I woke up I went to see the time. When we were ready we went into Mother's room and there I found a hopping toad from Auntie Bessie dinner set from Mother, watering can from Papa. We shall be delighted to have you though, one's own society palls after a time. I was too sleepy to be very hungry, but someone brought a big bowl of milk and I ate sour bread and dibbis, while the brother of the Sheikh talked to me and the howling wind scattered the sand over us.
It was fortunate for the recipients that the act of writing, the actual driving of the pen, seemed to be no more of an effort to Gertrude than to remember and record all that the pen set down. [The only remaining entry in the diary is an account of her birthday, the day she was eleven, Monday, 14th of July. Then I found under my pillow a book from nurse then we got up. The little girls think it is a great pity you are coming back so soon, because we are so comfortable. If you let it stand for 12 hours the taste almost goes away, but it remains flat and disagreeable, and I add some lemon juice to it before I drink it. We pitched our tents by a charming temple in the very middle of the ruins--it was before the mules came up, we having got in at 10.
From 1919 onwards the confidential detailed letters of many pages, often written day by day, took its place. Then we went downstairs to breakfast Mother and Maurice and I cooked a dinner because it was wet. We had a capital cooking lesson yesterday, made scones and gingerbread and boiled potatoes . There seems to be always a wind here; it was such a hurricane in the afternoon and evening that I thought my tent would go, but it held firm.The word 'Bagdad' which used to be regarded as the English name of the town, a translation and not a transliteration, was spelt as I have given it in Gertrude's first letters long ago. Hogatth has been good enough to read the preceding pages of this Prefatory Note, and to give them his sanction. But Gertrude's keen interest in every detail concerning her home was so delightful, and present her in such a new light to many who knew her only in public that these passages have been included. Courtney gradually gave place to an increasing taste for dress, and she is remembered by more than one person who saw her during the finals of the History School appearing in different clothes every day. One suddenly finds that one had formulated some view from which it is very difficult to back out not because of one's interlocutor but because the mere fact of fitting it with words engraves it upon one's mind. The ladies of Clarence were friendly, and oh, unexpected joy ! The Agail have pitched a black tent not far from me, and stuck a lance into the ground beside it, and they are now making bread for their supper. I wish I could manage to travel on the approved lines, but the fates are against me.It is now everywhere, even when regarded as a translation, spelt 'Baghdad' and it ought to have been so spelt in this book. He adds the following paragraph: "A more difficult question still in reproducing proper names has been raised by the vowel signs in Arabic, including that for the ain and by the diacritical points and marks which convey either nothing or a false meaning to uninstructed Western eyes." I have therefore omitted the vowel signs altogether. I am most grateful to the people who have given me counsel and help in compiling this book: Sir Valentine Chirol, Mrs. Her love for her family, for her parents, for her brothers and sisters, her joy in her home life, has always seemed to those who shared that life to be so beautiful that it is worth dwelling on by the side of more exceptional experiences, and by the side of the world-famous achievements of one whose later life especially might well have separated her in mind and sympathy as well as in person from her belongings. The parents of the candidates were admitted to the 'viva voce' part of the examination, and I have a vivid picture in my memory of Gertrude, showing no trace of nervousness sitting very upright at a table, beneath which her slender feet in neat brown shoes were crossed. Then one is reduced to the disagreeable necessity of trying even involuntarily to make the facts of one's real life fit into it thereby involving oneself in a mist of half-truths and half-falsehoods which cling about one's mind do what one will to shake them off. I had laid all my plans for coming back from Palmyra like a lady, but no! We got off rather late this morning, it was before I left Ain El Baida, and then the mules were not ready.Or she would lead a climbing expedition on to the top of the greenhouse, where Maurice was certain to go through the panes while Gertrude clambered down outside them in safety to the bottom. The Audley Square circle, the house, the hosts, the people who used to assemble there, formed for Gertrude, as for many others, a cherished and congenial surrounding.] To H. I had intended to go on another two hours and camp, leaving a short day's march into Karyatein next morning, but at Kast el Khair we found that the two water skins on Sheikh Muhammad's camel had leaked and were quite empty, and Hanna told me that Yacoub, the muleteer, had refused, after I left, to carry his two skins and had poured the water out on the ground.They both of them rode from a very early age, and their ponies, of which they had a succession, were a constant joy. So here we were with two skins and a couple of leather bottles for ten animals and seven people.
Those letters, varied, witty, enthralling, were a constant joy through the years to all those who read them. He gave me scales a fireplace with pans kitchen furniture. The horses drank eagerly, however, and we went on down a line of columns to the second spring which is much purer, though it, too, tastes strongly of sulphur.