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T. E. Lawrence to F. N. Doubleday


338171 A/c Shaw
R.A.F. Mount Batten
Plymouth

10.9.30.

Effendim,

Clear contrary to tradition and normally impossible for me to send you two letters running. Only they have told me lately that you are really sick, this time. Evans has been the informer upon you. He says you have had four doctors and an operation.

That, if you will pardon me, is better than one doctor and four operations. Either American doctors work in squads: or there have been three disappointed ones. It is a good rule, with doctors, to ask the advice of the most reputed. If he says anything disagreeable, go round the town saying 'Old so and so is out-of-date'. Then try another, and persevere till you find one who says the thing you feel to be right. Then return round the town and say that everybody is going to this last fellow. He will be so grateful that he will not send in a bill.

Evans, I needn't naturally tell you, is worried. He would be. I wrote back to him cheerfully and said 'Effendim is a hard case. When Effendim wants to hop it he will: till then all the doctors in two hemispheres will only annoy him and enrage him. When he is enraged enough they will quit and declare him cured.' The only thing likely to make him hop it, is (a) the failure of the dollar book, or (b) the publication by Heinemann of a best seller. (a) would show him that Nelson was wrong (nunc dimittis: my firm can err). (b) would show him that Heinemann could do without him. I am glad to say that the latest bulletins report the dollar books as the only thing in the American markets moving upward, while Heinemann's have not yet acquired Ethel M. Dell. Or is E.M.D. past?

Effendi, I am out of date. These young people are too much for me. If you will cede me half a palm tree, or whatever proportion of a palm tree will provide me with 365 cocoa-nuts per annum, in the Bahamas, I will retire from the world and lunch regularly with you and Mrs. Doubleday.

Last Thursday I broke two ribs in my chest (these are worse than stomach-ribs) so I am still sore and miserable about life generally. What can you be feeling like, with a hole six inches across in your stomach I can only guess. However this letter and me are eight days from you. So there is no harm in posting it, as you will be fractiously convalescent before it brings up.

Please tell Mrs. Doubleday that her last paragraph is filled with the sympathy she deserves. You are the centre of attraction and having a terrific time. Just think of her misery meanwhile. Really Effendi, you shouldn't scare all your friends stiff, like this. We want you to go on for ever.

Yours

T.E.S.

Source: DG 697-8
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 2 February 2006


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