April 23, 1924: Journal Entry II

23 April, 1924


I received a letter from Peter this afternoon, and I confess that I feel quite guilty for not having gone to see him sooner, but I know that it was probably for the best that I stayed here today. I am sure that he will be interested in what I have learned, little though it may be in the grand scheme of things. But it is good that I know where the others seem to stand on the issue of the intruders. No one else seems to suspect what I do, or at least if any of them does, then they have not made it clear. I did not feel at my best when it came to reading people today, though, so perhaps I will have better luck at a later time, once I have fully recovered and have managed to catch up on my rest.

The most enjoyable part of the day was having tea with John, though I could not help but notice that he was apprehensive and troubled about something—though what that might be I cannot say. I suppose that he does not know me well enough to offer any confidences, though I hope that he will feel more comfortable doing so with time. There may be some potential there, or perhaps he can read me like a book and is merely humouring me. Time will tell, I suppose.

As for Jim, well, I do not think that he will ever open up to me, or in fact to anyone. I am normally quite good at putting people at ease, but when we were alone in the tent I was powerless. I should try to befriend him, though, for perhaps he will put himself at ease with a bit of effort on my part.

I spent most of the late afternoon and evening copying the symbols from the bricks and also Jim’s notes on them. There is still more work to be done, but I will do my best to rise early and continue the task before going to see Peter. If I cannot quite drag myself out of bed with the sunrise, I suppose I can finish it later in the day. I don’t know why I feel so compelled to have it done as soon as possible. It seems unlikely that there will be another break-in, but it is never wise to let down one’s guard.

And now, which such thoughts in mind, I must put out the light and do my best to sleep.

Also, I have several cotton balls to stuff into my ears tonight, just in case those wicked animals have any intention of disturbing my slumber again.

April 23, 1924: Journal Entry

23 April, 1924

My goodness, I believe that my life has become fodder for an adventure story!  Perhaps I ought to give up on archaeology entirely—goodness knows it would be safer—and concentrate on writing novels about my experiences.   Of course, in order to write a story, one must understand the mysteries that the reader does not. And therein lies the fundamental problem when it comes to such a change in profession: I have not a clue as to what has happened or why!

Perhaps a list is in order.  I wonder if my jumbled thoughts can be ordered in any coherent fashion, though…

Points to consider:
  •  Ungodly shrieking conversation of the jackals.   Is this natural?   Is this some sort of omen?  (Is this question valid at all or do I merely want to blame those hideous creatures because of the fright that they gave me?)  ((Purchase ear plugs!!!))
  • What can make a man stiff and immobile, yet not cause him to overbalance?   Drugs would surely not produce such an effect—at least I cannot believe they would, from what little I know.  Hypnotism, perhaps?   I have never experienced it myself, but have been told by several friends that it does indeed work.   Who am I to scoff at it?
  • What kind of thief goes to all the trouble of sneaking into the encampment only to be so foolish as to cause a noise loud enough to wake the people around him?  The answer: one who was hired to do the job by someone else, it would seem, and someone who was certainly no professional himself. It is possible that the thief acted alone, of course, but unlikely, I think. 
Oh, it is no use!  I am simply too edgy and tense to sit here and write any further.  I must go and do something, must try and unravel this mystery by discovering more clues rather than staring at my observations on paper.  There will be a time for messy lists at a later time.

I will take a little time to write Peter a note wishing him a swift recovery and assuring him that I will visit soon.  Then I believe that a trip to the antiquities tent is in order.  With all that has happened, I do not think that anyone has taken inventory of the damage.  On that subject, I spoke with the Major this morning and told him that I would be more than willing to pay for the construction of an actual building to house the antiquities, but of course that will take time to construct.   Money does not always buy rapidity here in India, much to my disappointment in this case.   Soon, though, I hope that we will all be able to sleep without fearing another rude invasion.

April 22, 1924: Journal Entry

22 April, 1924

There is really no point in writing about today. In particular, the very odd experience that I had this morning. I will never forget it, not even if I begin to lose my capacity for memory as I grow older. I think that, if I wrote it down, I would become obsessed with the pages and would revisit them often, revising the account, deleting, adding, making the tale an eternal palimpsest. So, no, I will not write about it.

April 22, 1924: Telegram

March 9, 1924: Journal Entry

9 March, 1924

India is just as I remembered it—almost. I cannot help but feel inadequate, for my knowledge of the language here is practically non-existent. With time, no doubt I will become a little more familiar with it, but right now I feel so overwhelmed with the actual purpose of my being here—i.e. the excavations and all the work and research that entails—that I fear I have learned little more than the obligatory pleasantries. For now, that must do. But I do so hate being the typical foreigner—or, worse, the British Imperialist—who has little knowledge of the language and culture.

An old acquaintance from Egypt who will no doubt become a friend over the course of the work this spring, is one Peter Cox, and it was quite a surprise to see him in India. I believe that my brashness put him off a little bit, so perhaps I shall hold back in the future. Admittedly, that is not likely. No doubt he will soon learn more about me and my ill manners and will perhaps grant me a little latitude, though goodness knows I do not deserve it! Yet I cannot help but be myself. I am always afraid that one compromise, however small, might lead to others and then spiral out of control. It is a silly fear, yes, and probably baseless, but I fear—naturally, as some of my female friends would say—any limitations to my person and my freewill. Were women truly the equal of men, perhaps I could relax and could be a better person. As it is, I have an excuse, albeit a very bad one, to be exactly as I am.

I have not met any of the administrators yet. Two of them are away at the moment and the other…well, I have been warned about the Major and am not eager to meet him before I have to. I fear that I may need a good night’s sleep and all of my wits to convince the man that I do indeed belong here as a scholar as well as a financier.

February 9, 1924

There are some problems that cannot be solved by normal means like persuasion, a blank check or throwing a fit. When the director of your excavations falls seriously ill, then one must simply deal with it and look to the assistant director to carry on the work. But when the assistant director falls into a coma after tumbling from his horse, then the dig is pretty much doomed. Without the brains behind the excavation, it is bad form to continue, even if there were other minds that could fill the gap.

The inscriptions that she had just begun to study were now locked up and in storage, and the new ones that were surely buried under the sand would remain so until at least the winter, if not longer.

Irene would take the train to Luxor the following morning, but for now there was little to do. Normally she would have gone out to eat and perhaps to a social even later, but tonight she was much too tired and too frustrated to do so. Instead, she ordered a meal from the hotel and settled in behind her desk with a stack of books and writing paper. She had a few letters to write, not to mention some more studying to do. At least she always had her books. The wonderful thing about knowledge is that it could always grow; that was also the frustrating thing about it, when one was trying to learn as much as possible. If she didn’t keep herself occupied right now, then she would feel the loss of the excavation most painfully.

It was a stroke of luck that she received an urgent telegram that evening informing her that a dig in Mohenjo-Daro had lost its primary funding and was in need of a philanthropist. With nothing else to do, Irene was happy to snatch a chance to return to India and to try out her new language skills. It was an offer that she simply could not pass up.

A trip to India might be very uncomfortable for some people, but Irene could afford the best, most comfortable transportation possible and could afford to haul with her anything she wished. She was a very happy woman when she and her books left Egypt and made the journey East.

January 19, 1924: Letter from Father

March 17, 1923: Journal Entry

17 March, 1923

My trip to India was a success in many ways. Not only did I travel around and see some lovely sites, but I also met quite a few scholars who told me that I must come and work with them when I am not occupied in Egypt. I am not sure whether they are eager to have my mind or my money, and am therefore somewhat hesitant to accept their offer. I am not interested in sitting on the sidelines and watching them dig, and that is what I am sure they will try to do. No matter, though, for I will not have time this year to make another journey, so I will not worry about it right now.

Nonetheless, I have been working on learning to read Sanskrit, and am doing tolerably well. If I do decide to go to India, at least I will be well prepared and will show them that I am much more than a walking pocketbook.

December 1, 1922: Journal Entry

1 December 1922

God dammit! Why did I have to break off with the man who would, less than two months later, make one of the greatest discoveries of this century? I am a complete idiot. Since we are not on talking terms at this time, I suppose I will have to sneak in and see the tomb when he’s not around. This is most vexing.

At least the French are happy to have me work with them in the North in March. They have some very interesting inscriptions and are on the trail of a long-lost temple. There is plenty of translation work to keep me occupied, which is a blessing.

Next year I think I will take a holiday, perhaps to India. I have been looking forward to seeing the country for many years, after all, and I need to be away from Egypt for a littIe while.

October 23, 1922: Newspaper clipping

May 30, 1921: Obituary clipping; May 30, 1921: Journal Entry

30 May 1921

There are no words to express the sense of loss that I feel. Even more so because Peter has been driven nearly insane by the loss. He even stopped so far as to blame ME, to say that the amulet I sent her had somehow poisoned her. That is completely nonsense, as every person with a brain and a library knows that the Eye of Horus is a sign of protection. He has refused any further contact. I can only imagine what horrid rumours he is spreading about me in England. Luckily he is acting too rashly and madly to be heeded.

Despite our falling out, I can only wish him well. He must shape up if he is to take care of Melinda. I wonder if she will be as pretty as Priscilla was one day. I must save my favourite picture of her mother for her, for surely she will wish to have it one day.

August 3, 1920 & August 24, 1920: Journal entries

3 August 1920

I had quite a time last night convincing the director general of the Department of Antiquities, Pierre Lacau, that I was not some rich idiot who didn’t know a real antiquity from the fakes that are peddled in the marketplace. He was perfectly friendly up until the moment he found out that I was not a socialite who had come to see the famous sites of Egypt, but rather a socialite with pretentions of joining an excavation. Understandably, he was worried. He as less so after we had a spirited debate about the relative merits of Thutmose III and Ramses II, the former of which I greatly favor. I believe that he is disappointed that I am not university educated—though he was too much of a gentleman to say so—but I expect no trouble from him in the future. It is too bad I spent the whole night wooing him, because in consequence I was not able to accomplish my actual goal, which was to find a director who was willing to take me on. That will have to wait a little longer, it seems.

Priscilla wrote back and assures me that all is well and that Father is as healthy as ever. My mind is a little more at ease, but I still feel that I left him too soon. But if I had stayed in England, I fear that I would have suffocated.
Oh, there is another bit of good news, which is that there is a house for sale in Luxor, a fairly new, large home with an extensive garden. It belonged to an Italian diplomat who was not, as he had hoped, able to settle in Egypt. I am to take a tour later this week.

24 August 1920

Mr Lacau—never will I allow anyone to say a word against him!—has unexpectedly found me a position working with Howard Carter. I am to be the photographer and researcher, as well as a helping hand in the sand, and have been promised more responsibility if I show promise. In return, I graciously funded this season’s dig and bought new supplies for the entire staff. Needless to say, they were grateful for that, and more than one of them told me that they were so relieved that I was not a stuck up snob who knew nothing about Egyptology. I suppose that means I am making a favorable impression, but I intend to do more than that.

Also, I signed the papers for the house I looked out earlier this month. It is to be redecorated and will be ready for me in three week’s time.

July 17, 1920: Letter to Priscilla