The Diary of E.B Lawrence, 1922-1923 (2/2)

December 23rd, 1922

I managed to track down the ship he arrived on this morning. The captain spilt his secrets over very little money and they were as worth as much. He confirmed where he had been, although I found out he was at a dig site at Al-Batrá. Everything had the society’s seal but my own signet ring got me no further. Most of the information he gave me he back peddled on after realising who I was.

There are only a few left to have known what Father’s tasks were or currently are; the answers as to what he was studying and why. Nearly every lecturer, no matter how hard I try to please, they meet me with disdain. They delight in my results, my astute findings, even some of the queerer things but to my face…it’s as though the more I excel, the more they dislikes me. Is this their ‘academic process’ or a way to stop me from finding the truth?

Another is Sir William Knox and has suspiciously also resurfaced when my father arrived. For an old man, he has the agility of a ferret and a propensity to vanish like a meerkat. I was lead to believe he was retired, fishing somewhere in the Pacific but before I could lay eyes on the man he was already out of London. I managed to get Billy, their footman, to tell me where he went. His exact words were ‘…back to Wales.’ Another dead lead.

When I returned to Alexandra today, Ms Castello was in the process of unveiling the department’s latest find. It was a perfectly square, polished block of rose stone. It was made even more remarkable by the fact that, apart from its shape and material, it was entirely featureless. She had been informed by my father that this was an important Baetylus or God Block of the god Dushara. I knew my father and I knew his research. This confirmed his was at Al-Batrāʾ but why? Elizabeth, like everyone else, wouldn’t tell me.

January 4th, 1923

I think I may be onto him. Of course, he has left London before I could get to him. He’s been either careless or he wants to me to know what he is doing…

I received a telegram from a library in Soho about Father’s outstanding payment on a book fine. This was very unlike him. No matter how far away he was from England, somehow every bill, every birthday present, every RSVP was signed and sent. And Soho of all places, why was he even there?

The book was nothing of importance really. Well not to him academically. It was a child’s book, my book. He had borrowed it years ago and had kept up the payments until now. This didn’t sit right with me. I asked if Father had any further fines in his history. There was one other book. A book on calligraphy. Very unlike him again but I went to go find a copy of it.

I couldn’t initially see what he wanted me to see of course. It wasn’t a book on Arabic at all but English script, Elizabethan era. The author seemed to be a member of D.O.S.A by some of the trappings written into the prefix. A name stood out amongst those he thanked.

Lord Richard Ellis-Bates was a man of considerable wealth in the early 1870s. He was a well-known philanthropist and according to the sigil next to his name in the dedication, a member of the society. The author’s dedication mentions a fateful trip to the deserts which forever changed his life. That reminded me of something. Ellis-Bates was a man who I believe mentored my father when he joined DOSA. He and his generation of members were all heavily involved in joint research and was the last time anyone can remember the ‘curse’ hitting the faculty. If Father’s investigating this, if this isn’t some half-baked conjecture then what am I to do. They’ll never tell me anything.