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Updated July 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Florence Messham


June 13 [1911]

Dear Florence

I feel guilty for not having sent a letter to you before, but we are only two on this dig, and are always terribly busy. Even tonight I have cut short a letter to Mother to write this to you: and I believe she sometimes sends on to you letters of mine that she thinks might interest you. If she doesn't, she should.

We are having a splendid time out here: not that we are finding very much, but the place is splendid, and the workmen, and the climate. At present it is nearly warm enough to be just right (about 80 all day and night) and the new fruit is just beginning to come in. So we are going to enjoy ourselves the next months. We will be here another six weeks or so.

You would be amused at our workmen, and the curious tricks they play, to deceive us or to please us. Of course Thompson and I have to be doctors and fathers, and god-fathers and best men to all of them, and last week one man asked us to be good enough to pay the price (£12) of the wife he wanted to buy. She was a girl of the town, and so of course was a fearful extravagance for him, for he was quite poor, and could have got a girl from the village round about for two pounds quite easily. And for that two pounds the girl would be very fat (a sign of beauty here) with lots of tatoo-marks over her face, and able to make bread and knead dung-cakes for fuel. So we refused to do anything at all for this Suleiman Hissu, but gave him good advice instead. Often too we are bothered by having workmen in the same pit who have a blood feud together. One may have run away with other's wife, or killed his father, and if these two men come together they will try to kill each other. So then we have to run down and separate them, by sending one of them to another corner of the digs.

Our house (a big stone one, with mud floors and roof) is alive with cats and fleas: so much so that I have given it up for sleeping in but go out to the great mound on the river that we are digging up, to sleep. The air there is delicious, and there are no insects to bother one.

I won't go any further now: not tonight at any rate. Go to Oxford, sometimes, and try and get Mother away for a change. I know you won't mind taking her place for a little, and if you want to hear from me again, ask her to send you one of my family letters.




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Source: DG 112-3
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 28 January 2006


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