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