May 14, 1908 Hôtel St Pétersbourg
Having come to a slight pause in the campaign I am seizing the opportunity to write to you. We have been scurrying round seeing things ever since we got here, almost in Yankee Style!
We arrived safely on Monday evening having had a nice smooth crossing though it blew a hurricane. Of course it poured all Tuesday so Paris hardly looked its best. We spent all the afternoon in the Louvre and there oddly enough we met May Prichard who is at school here now. Yesterday we wandered many miles up and down many streets looking for the Eiffel Tower. We found it at last and went up in a lift to look at Paris. We only went as far as the second stage as no one else semed to be going any further. It certainly looked as though there would hardly be room to stand at the top. In the afternoon we went on the top of a tram to Versailles, which must have been a magnificent spot in the days of its splendor. We finished up the day with the Opera, “Hippolyte et Aricie”, which was lovely. The night before we went to see Sarah Bernhardt in “Les Bouffons”. She was awfully good but I thought it a rotten piece when, by the aid of a little résumé on the programme, I had found out what it was all about, for my French won’t rise to understanding them when they get excited and gabble. This morning we went to see the Madeleine Church, the Palais de Justice, Notre Dame, and the Morgue (outside only!) and this afternoon we went to where the Bastille used to be and to Vincennes so we have not been wasting our time, have we!
May Prichard is going to spend the afternoon with us tomorrow and Norah arrives about 7:00 and we depart for Territet at 10:20 and get there about 10:00 the next morning. I shall be quite glad to move on, for it rained on and off all the time we have been here and I hate towns, especially wet and muddy ones.
I am so glad that mare has taken to going quietly. I wonder what made her? Perhaps she is getting older and wiser. I hope she will keep it up. [These references to rain and a mare and others below to “Pinafore” and lilacs derive from a letter of Robin’s which is not extant. It would have been written in late May or early April.]
Did I tell you I went to the Bourton Entertainment? I can’t remember what I said in my last letter. I had finished it in such a hurry and had no time to read it through.
To return to the Bourton Show (I went with the Richardson children) some of it was very good and some of it — wasn’t. The “Trial by Jury” was excellent. Daphne would have looked so nice but was spoilt by having her eyes much too heavily painted, which was a pity. The ventriloquist part of the entertainment was very stupid.
Was your “Pinafore” entertainment good? I saw Mrs. Yelf’s company do it at Moreton about two years ago. I like the music. I got it on the pianola the other day.
Norah says your photograph is perfectly horrid and she should send it back to you! I am getting quite to like it, now I have seen it more. Grandfather took endless ones of me when I was at Leamington. He has got a new machine which will take three or four on one plate, so I was taken shaking hands and holding animated conversations with myself! I hear some of them have come out very well. If that’s true I will send them on to you when I get there.
I hope the lilacs are going to grow nicely. I am so fond of them. I wonder if I am ever going to see them? I must tell you of the discussions I had with my relations at Leamington. Grandfather brought quite a new argument to bear on the subject. He says I am a horrid selfish beast to want to go right away from my family and that I have no right to do it but ought to consider Aunt Fanny who has been a mother to me. Granny said something the same too. I wonder if they really think that–that anyone can take the place of one’s own mother. Of course that would have been different, but I don’t seem to recognise the duty or the wish as things are. I can’t tell you all they said, it would take a week, but it came to this, that they would be very disappointed and upset if we stuck to the present plan. It never struck me it would really matter to them what became of me as I see them so little. Grandfather said he thought we ought to be able to afford to live in England and ought to do so. You could take a farm to amuse you if you wanted something to do!! and if I were still infatuated with B. C. in ten years time we could go out then. Of course I promised to think it all over most carefully. I am afraid this long dissertation will bore you horribly but you will have to think about it all as well as I. Auntie saw Mr. Martin the other day and he told her he believed I should have about £1000 a year when I am 25 or marry with his consent, which he will not give unless we live in England. I am going to stay there in July and shall then make him tell me all he can on the subject. I wonder what we ought to do? I hate to think people are going to be unhappy, especially when I am going to be so very happy, and I really don’t think it will matter to me so very much where or how we live so long as I’m with you, only I do want to see where you have been living all this time. Oh, I wish it didn’t have anything to do with me.
We got here yesterday morning. It’s perfectly delightful with snow-covered mountains all round the lake and woods stretching right up behind the hotel. Tomorrow we are going up by a cable-tramway to the Rochers de Maye. I suppose that will be above the snow-line and I believe there are field of wild narcissi on the way up so it ought to be rather fascinating.
There is a wretched phonograph thing playing close to us which is entirely upsetting my brain. It’s such a horrid scratchy one.
You sound a very accomplished and capable person, but if you are cook, housmaid, and butler etc., what should I do? The ploughing and sowing, I suppose, or else I should be bored to death.
There was fearful excitement in the hotel last night over a game of sort of glorified nine-pins. Each country seemed to enter for a competition and the band played national airs belonging to each while it performed. We thought it very absurd and only stopped a minute, but they all seemed to get wildly excited over it and loud shouts of encouragement in all languages kept floating up to us. It went on for hours. They do take their pleasures oddly here!
The weather is quite glorious, blazing sun and yet a nice breeze. I only hope it will last this year as it’s such a nice change from what we have been having in England. I was so pleased to hear you had had a nice soaking day in your pattern climate!
I hope poor old Nunnie is better. I should so like to go and see her but I don’t quite see how I could manage it. I should be sure to meet some wandering soul on the way.
The fashions are something terrific here. Charming creatures walk out with flower gardens or whole fruit trees on their heads with a flight or so or sea-gulls or parrots thrown in.