Diary of Edward Benjamin Lawrence: December 1922 – January 1923

December 12th, 1922

Father has returned earlier from the East again and I have no idea where he is staying. As usual, he didn’t bother to tell me about his arrival. I had to find out from another Professor for the sixth or seventh time now. I am starting to lose my mind over this. What is he hiding?

I’ve done everything possible down here. The society is starting to choke me with their bureaucracy and due process. No matter how hard I work, how much I study, it’s never enough. There is always someone who knows something about my father but they just can’t or won’t tell me. What makes it worse is that the public, although completely mislead, know more about my father than me.

I should be meeting him for lunch at our London house. I haven’t been there in years. The Blackadders practically live there by themselves now. I wonder if the old man is still there?

December 16th, 1922

He didn’t show. The great T. E. Lawrence; diplomat, adventurer, military man and scholar but a father, no. They say he was posted out there to provide aid on behalf of the King and support Arabia against Ottoman rule. Father was many things but he was no diplomat. oN the other hand, he was a great storyteller. Up to the point where he would get wrapped up in his own fiction to the point where he believed it with such conviction, it was the truth to him and anyone he spoke to. Sometimes even me and mother were written out of his fiction just to ‘help’ the situation. He wasn’t over there to fix anything.

How the hell do you blame a broken family on a long dead civilisation? Father was and still is, an obsessive man as well. I always took his neglect as a result of his passions of studies and foreign lands but I know better now. It was this place, the society. How many of those trinkets he brought home were actually his? Where did he get them from? No doubt somewhere in Arabia but where exactly and why? If he had been a milder man, more like myself, we might have had a good family. He wouldn’t have gone to Oxford, joined the society, carried out their orders and neglected his wife and son.

Of course, this is just folly. I know better than to try to change my father. He might as well have had a long dead Arabic woman as his mistress. I have enough trinkets and relics from there that it might as well be a home away from home for her.

I must stop getting so frustrated and I need to stop blaming the society and this place. Separate the fiction and research from the man. Let him take the blame as a father, not as a scholar or adventurer.

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.