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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Florence Bell

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Gertrude Bell
Lady Florence Bell
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1 letter, paper

Weimar Wednesday. Dearest Mother. Yesterday afternoon the Grand Duke called upon me - no I mistake! it was {Baron} Graf Wedel the Hoffmarschall, but it's tout comme! This was how it happened. Maurice had left a card upon him but had not found him at home so the precise gentleman, wishing to find out what sort of youth he was, returned his call in person and Maurice not being at home he was told that he had a sister here and accordingly asked to see me. I was sound asleep and in a state of undress but he insisted upon waiting and I found him being entertained by Frl Sophie who was sitting very shy and very upright on a corner of the sofa. I suggested that we should continue the conversation in French to which he agreed delightedly for he speaks French extremely well. He told me a number of things about Maurice's presentation which I will relate to you when we meet and then proceeded to expound to me very clearly and well the second part of Faust which I was going to see that afternoon! He was a very polite and agreeable person and I was much amused by his visit. He expressed regret that I was going away since his wife would have liked to make my acquaintance, and he (I daresay) would have liked to have explained the rest of Faust to a willing and ignorant listener! Don't you think this is a funny little court? Do you suppose in England a Chamberlain hurries to make the acquaintance of everyone who wishes to be presented to the Prince of Wales! However I can only say it's a pity they don't if they are as agreeable as my courtly friend of yesterday.
Well we have seen Faust, both parts of it, between 5 and 6 hours of theatre for two afternoons running. I must say it's worth doing, though I don't know if I would do it again in [a] hurry. The first part is almost too tremendous, I did nothing but dream of it all night afterwards - lines of it keeping running through and through one's head. It ought really to be seen (if your constitution is a healthy one!) as Goethe wrote it in spite of its immense length. The prologue between the poet the director and the lustige person is so excellent and the vorspiel in Heaven sets the whole thing from the very beginning into its tremendous place. One does feel after the two nights that one has been carried through the whole circle of a man's life. I don't pretend to understand the second part properly, but it brings a big feeling to one and some of it one realises especially if one has Goethe's own life in one's mind. Maurice and I dined at the Russian Inn and were very comfortable, the rest of the audience appeared to take a sandwich in their pocket and were very uncomfortable I should think.

I've just been calling on her Excellence and have had an amusing talk with her and with the Admiral. We are going to a party there tomorrow night. This afternoon we and the Batches and a lot of Germans are making an expedition into the forest. The Lord be our Protector! I think it's going to rain.

I have half finished the Shadow of Death, which was Papa's suggestion. I think it will make into something. It's the last I shall have time to do here. I am expecting a telegram from Papa telling me whether I may remain here till Saturday. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude.

I hear my Ibsen place is not Amy's - hurray! Tell her I shall look to her playing the part of the Lustige Person!

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