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Updated July 2012

T. E. Lawrence to his mother


21 March 1934

A line to you tonight. Your last letter (a fortnight ago) was written from bed. A chill, you said; and described the flat dank mud of the plains that lie round your town. I hope it was only a chill, and that no more came of it. You are not a good subject for damp.

England has been wet - at last. After a year of drought we have had a wettish fortnight... not solidly wet, but with heavy rains between spells of sun and cold wind. I have not been to Clouds Hill lately, but it pleases me to imagine its spring running stronger. It was down to 13 gallons an hour, and weakening daily. I was fearing its total failure in the summer; and all risk is not yet past. But things are better, far better. The ram may work again. We had to stop it off, to let the spring fill.

Pat has finished the great storage tank, and filled it from the overflow. So we have 7,000 gallons to help us through the summer. Now he is roofing it in glass. It will look ugly, from the upstairs window of the cottage, as it rises between the chestnut trees at the wild end of the Knowles' garden; but in front of it is a bank of rhododendron, already five feet high, and we have planted others to make a covering wall. In three years nobody will suspect the tank.

The Jeddah doors are to close one end of the tank, forming its north wall. They face inwards, and therefore make one side of a small glass study of mine which ends the tank-house. They will open, if their covering doors are first opened—and then they will throw the study and the tank into connection with the air and the bushes. Parsons, the carpenter, has mended the edges of the doors, and patched them with cedar, of much the same tint as the old wood. I think they will look magnificent. Pat is erecting them. The job costs money, but I am so glad to have found a use for them, after all.

Other news. You will laugh to hear that that Odyssey arrived, without explanation, packed as you had packed and addressed it. A day or two later Arnie came to the cottage (with his wife) and said he would like an Odyssey. So I gave it him. [three lines omitted]

I think they liked the cottage and its new fittings - but they emptied the cistern (poor Ram not working) and had to carry their water. They had their Morris Minor and went out for meals.

Other news. Sir Herbert Baker had a stroke two months ago, and has a dragging right foot and helpless right hand. The foot is improving, and they say the hand may. He is well and cheerful, in his head. I have seen him at Owletts, but he will not come to the Office for some weeks yet. He does not want it talked about, for business reasons.

I have been up and down the earth - Birmingham, London, Nottingham, Brentford. Liverpool this next week. Boats of course. Liddell Hart's book on me has come out, and been very well reviewed. Not much sensation-mongering. Cape tells me that it is selling - bout 6,000 already. I am not greatly interested by it. There have been interesting books (on other subjects) this year... new writers of promise. Yes, I got both your cheques, thank you very much. I am urging Pat to get the cottage finished, and shall then sit down and calculate how I stand, for income to live in it. I think all is well, but cannot well say till all the accounts are in. There is another £50 or so to spend.

John has had two sittings (or standings, rather) from me lately, for a new half-length. It is elongated but fine, I think, so far as it goes. He may finish it this Sunday. John very well and healthy-looking.

Mrs. Donnat sends her regards. I see her sometimes.


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Source: HL 387-8
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 15 February 2006


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