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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Florence Bell

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Gertrude Bell
Lady Florence Bell
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter plus envelope

Palazzo Gritti Friday. Dearest Mother. I'm obliged to write to you on this very touristy paper which Papa has insisted on buying in order to use it up! We went this morning to Torcello, it was windy but we went by the steam boat and didn't mind. The lagoons are the most extraordinary places - one is never tired of looking at them. As we went it was very low tide and we steamed along a narrow channel of water between fields and fields of brown mud, when we came back the sea had covered it all again and we steamed through a great lake with the Alps on one side and the low lying Lido on the other. The islands were a mass of fruit blossom, red and white across the grey sea wrack - too lovely for words. Torcello is nothing but almond trees and 2 churches and a lot of little begging children. On the way back we stopped at Burano, the oddest little fishing village with a great crooked tower and canals for streets, and Venice [Venezia] for a background at the end of each little squalid canal. I loved it all - and specially Torcello. At 3 I had my parlatrice until 4 when we went to tea with Miss Fletcher. Then Mr Benson (he's a little horror!) showed us his pictures (they are little horrors!) and we behaved in an exemplary manner, though I was very nearly siezed with a fou rire when he exhibited a large landscape with a dishevelled lady in the foreground and a naked green boy piping in her ear and explained to us that the beauty of the idea lay in each being quite unconscious of the presence of the other. How she could be unconscious of a large pipe in her left ear I don't know, but it was certainly an original idea. There came in while we were there Sir Hubert Millar, a young man in the Guards, who is engaged in furnishing the flat above the Bensons for his friend Mr Williamson, our fellow lodger and enemy, for he has taken our drawing room from us. Sir Hubert is a very odd creature, full of pose, but amusing. He told us he was quite Italian, in which case his knowledge of his native language in singularly imperfect! He walked home with us and rushed into all the little grubby shops we passed to look for furniture. He's a Catholic and gave us very useful advice as to the functions we should like to see these two days at St Mark's. You would hate the Bensons - they are awful people. We don't mean to see anything more of them.
I'm all right again today - did Papa tell you I was indisposed yesterday? Tell Molly the fields at Torcello were full and full of starch hyacinths - I gathered a great bunch of them and of scented violets. I wish Papa were not going so soon. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

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