Gilbert was beginning a new friendship with Mme Chariclée Baltazzis, the bereaved widow of one of the executed politicians. Her father and grandfather had both served in the highest political posts, and her late husband had served as Foreign Minister in Prime Minister Gounaris’ cabinet. Gounaris and Baltazzi had traveled together to London and Paris in a vain effort to obtain loans the previous year. Mme Baltazzis had traveled with her husband and was at that time so enormous that, when she gave a tea on the ship’s cabin, she sat on the bunk bed and disappeared from view as the springs had been broken. Both Gounaris and Baltazzi were executed in November 1922 by firing squad immediately after the show “trial of the six” (actually eight, as two of the accused, whom Gilbert later visited, were sentenced to life imprisonment). Within months by May 1923, Mme Baltazzis had grown terribly thin. 

After being released from prison, Admiral Goudas invited Gilbert to join him on the island of Poros in the Saronic Gulf, about two hours sailing from Athens, together with Mme Baltazzis, and Gilbert stayed with them from Monday 1 until Thursday 4 October, before returning to Athens to sail for Rome.

“The Baltazzis has sent me a photo of her husband. I wrote a nobilissima lettera [very eloquent letter] that took me the whole of the afternoon to compose. I was afraid I had laid it on a bit thick & showed it to Levi who thought it was excellent, &, as he said, in the circumstances she is not so critical about rhetoric as we are. It was certainly a very good bit of writing (Sunday, 30 September 1923)

In a letter dated 27 December 1923 from Chariclee Baltazzis to Gilbert, she wrote of Venizelos: “After having assassinated all the political men able to stand up to him, he will continue his work of destruction while always maintaining that he doesn’t dabble in internal politics. Unfortunately you are no longer here; for your pen would have presented to the whole world this entire tragedy with the clairvoyance which characterizes you.”

(To be continued)