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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

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Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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1 letter, paper

43.296482, 5.36978

Grand Hôtel du Louvre Marseilles [Marseille] Nov 30 Dearest Father. Here I am in the hotel in which we stayed together - but I am not going to make a long stay this time, I have only come for lunch and a wash. My adventures are tame, so far. It was not the nurse who shared my cabin (she belonged next door and was looking after a great big Englishman, very sick, I should think) but an uninteresting little Frenchwoman who trembled every time she addressed me and was quite overcome by shyness when I spoke to her. She is going on to C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)] by my boat - I hope she won't be dull enough to share my cabin again! I woke up just before Avignon - a most heavenly morning with a white frost and lots of sun. At Avignon I hopped out and had coffee and rolls and then looked out of [the] window at the enchanting country all the way to Marseilles. I hadn't been this way since our sharing travel together. It is still Autumn here, not winter. The leaves are all on the trees, but red and yellow and it was all bathed in sun and looked as if it expected sunshine as a right every day of the year. As we flew past Arles I just saw the top of the arena and the Saracen towers and wished I were going to stop there. Do you remember the bothering hedge of cypresses planted quite close to the line on the left side? It's a most silly plan and quite spoils one's view of the hilly country beyond. But how like Italy it all is. At the station I found a most amiable commissionaire who charged himself with my luggage and is going to meet me with it at the boat an hour before it leaves. I've lost my nailbrush and must go and buy another. These are the little rubs of travel! And after lunch I shall go for a drive, but I wish it were lunch time now for I'm extremely hungry. The Petit Marseillais says that there were terrible scenes in the Cape when our troops disembarked - they wept when they heard they were going to fight the Boers - a fact which apparently hadn't occurred to them till then - and many of them ran away and had to be brought back by force!
Whom do you think I saw at Amiens and again at Paris? Major Forster! I fled and I don't think he saw me, but if he did, he wd certainly have taken me for an unknown Russian princess, I had such a beautiful fur coat on! He was with a woman - is he married, I wonder? As I passed them I heard him say "I'm a man who has a very small opinion of myself." I was glad I wasn't sharing that conversation though the obvious repartee was "Not so small as I have." I don't think she made it however, she seemed to be listening with attention. Love to my family. Ever your very affectionate daughter Gertrude

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