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.

1 comment:

da solomon said...

(Action continues in Smasher of Cities in the "Berlin & London" blog.)