May 14, 1924: The British Museum/Library

Kathleen had the ability to wrap her father neatly around her finger. While Sir Frederic was certainly a fine scholar, he was much more of an administrator and delegator than a hands-on man. Therefore, while he was interested in Irene's enthusiasm for Indian archaeology and epigraphy (she told him very little, only that she was working on deciphering some unknown hieroglyphs), he was not too keen to delve into it himself. It was not his particular area of interest and, alas, his time was taken up with meetings and so forth. So it was with relative ease that he allowed Irene and Kathleen to have almost free-run of the British Museum (thank goodness Irene had letters of recommendation from important persons in Egypt!). At that time, the library and artifacts were housed in the same building, making the establishment a veritable goldmine, a one-stop for any and all scholarly needs. Still, Irene was not certain that even the wondrous British Museum would hold even a small clue to the mystery she sought to unravel. But she had to try.

But the main reason that she was here today was that she needed to attempt her own investigations before revealing to anyone else what she was studying. She loathed the very thought of showing “Pashupati” to anyone else, not only because she felt an attachment to it that went beyond the sentimental, but also because it might be foolish to do so. She and Peter had, after all, stolen the thing! If the Major realized that his precious amulet was missing—and surely he would at some point!—and he happened to mention it to anyone and word traveled back to England, as it always did…yes, there were definite dangers in showing anyone the item.

As for informing Miss Kenyon about the reasons behind her investigation, Irene had been honest in some ways and reticent in others. She had shown the amulet to her new friend and had explained why she had taken it—and here she painted the Major as a somewhat stupid and ignorant man, more so than he was in real life, but she needed Kathleen’s sympathy. Irene was very clear that she was not going to keep the amulet, but merely needed a little time to research it. She told Kathleen about the strange occurrences, but left out the specifics of her and Peter’s speculations about the cult. Instead, she simply left it to Kathleen’s imagination as to what had happened, though she tried to lead her to believe that whatever was written here was of great importance, but potentially dangerous as well, hence the need for secrecy.

Irene and Kathleen had spent the busiest time of the day looking over the collection that was on display, which, while large, was only a small part of the holdings. They had not been expecting any breakthroughs there, but it had to be done; besides, it made for a pleasant morning excursion.

Now the hour was growing late and the number of scholars, students and visitors had greatly diminished. Furnished with keys and permission from the director, Irene and Kathleen intended to begin to look into the uncatalogued artifacts from India. Some came from previous excavations, others had been acquired (some certainly illegally) or left to the museum. This would be the place to find something of use, Irene was sure of it. These were the ill-understood and forgotten artifacts and they were just begging to be rediscovered and appreciated again. Irene was more than happy to oblige.

May 12, 1924: Journal Entry

9-12 May, 1924

I arrived in London on the 9th in the mid-afternoon and had a lovely time with my father and new mother. I am always in awe of how the mere presence of those you love can be such a immensely powerful method of detoxification. We did not stay in for long, though, for the next day we went to visit friends, look several walks in the city and then had a perfect dinner in the center of London. After that, time sort of blurs together (oh how I am ashamed to admit it!), though believe that I do remember most of it.

Honestly, I did not plan to forget my troubles by attending party after party, but my friends and family pounced on me and, well, a little persuasion and a few drinks was really all that was needed to get the ball rolling, so they say in America. And what better cure for one’s troubles than two nights of drinking, dancing and acting as if you haven’t a care in the world? Besides the peer pressure, I also put blame squarely on my stepmother, Aurelia, who wasted no time in presenting me with a divine dress that simply begged to be worn. While in the course of my work and everyday life I am not overly interested in skirts and dresses, I must admit that when it comes to an evening out I can be as dreadfully girlish as most of my sex manages to be at all hours of the day. I do love to dance and to just let go once in a while. Perhaps that is how I can maintain such a dull and serious air most of the time!

But, alas, it is but a temporary high. Nothing has been resolved, and I am left with a headache and a desire to escape once more from the pressures of the real world. I must be strong and resist the temptation to repeat the ordeal, though. Once in a while, yes, I will indulge. But now it is time to get down to work.

Oh, but I did, however, run into Kathleen Kenyon while I was out. She is now eighteen, just four years younger than me, and she quite surprised me by saying that she admired me! Why, I had not thought that anyone even noticed me at all! I am certainly no Gertrude Bell or Margaret Murray or Winifred Lamb! But of course I attempted to be humble and accepted the praise graciously, for who am I to correct the daughter of the director of the British Museum? But my interest in her is not only selfish. She does indeed have a wealth of interesting contacts, but she is also an intelligent, enlightened young woman and an interesting conversationalist. I have not felt so close to another woman in a long while, since dearest Priscilla.

I am debating how much to tell her about what went on in India. I would feel safer entrusting some of the specifics of this mystery—though certainly not all of it!—to a woman that I can relate to rather than any number of stuffy old men who run the museums and academies and institutes here. Some of them are quite nice (except that Earl of Balfour…I cannot stand the man!), but they might take one look at the amulet and decide that they must have it and the glory of deciphering it all to themselves. No, enquiries would have to be very, very careful.

Ugh, I fear it is time for a nap. Perhaps that will chase away the throbbing that plagues my skull.