[an error occurred while processing this directive] Oriental Institute | Pioneers to the Past | Thursday Evening
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Thursday Evening

March 4, 1920

We have been having delightful weather. A perfectly calm sea, and a breeze so cool that I have put on a woolen traveling suit.

To resume with some account of our brief stay in Bombay - As I returned to our barracks at the laboratory, dead fagged and longing for a night’s sleep, I remembered that I had met Colonel Sanders an hour earlier, and that he had told me that he had just left a very poor room up under the roof of Watson’s hotel, to go and take up quarters in one of the English clubs. It was nearly six o’clock; but I took a carriage, and while the boys were down paying for the berths I had secured, I drove over to Watson’s, sent my card in to the manager, and as a result succeeded in nailing Sanborn’s [Sanders’(?)] room! It was indeed a dirty and squalid shack of a room, opening on a crazy wooden veranda, with a monkey tied to the railing at the door of the next room where some British officer was lodging. But in spite of the noise from the sculleries immediately below, it was much quieter than the laboratory barracks, so I went over to the latter, gathered up my stuff and shifted over to my palatial new quarters in the hope of securing at least a little sleep. Room and meals go together in the East, so I dined alone, with only a British officer at the table to which I was taken. He proved to be a very pleasant and intelligent official in the government, just out of the army. I had a very instructive conversation with him, and he told me his wife was an American.

The next morning, according to arrangements with the boys, I called for them with a car, and we drove out along the beautiful water-front of Bombay, several miles to Government House, where I wished particularly to hand in the letter from Sir Valentine Chirol, which he especially charged me to deliver. The private secretary said he was sure the governor would like to see me. I explained the shortness of my stay in Bombay, wrote a greeting for the governor, Sir George Lloyd, on my card, and told the secretary it was not at all necessary for His Excellency to spend a moment of his busy time on an itinerant orientalist. But he insisted on my waiting. The sea was washing the sands below, and the palms nodded in at the windows, as I sat in this paradise of a garden at Malabar Point and waited. Scarlet vestmented native attendants flecked the masses of tropical foliage with brilliant color, and presently one of them entered to tell me His Excellency was awaiting me. I followed this gorgeous display of color across the superb garden, was presently met by a young aide-de-camp and in a moment I was presented to the governor of sixty million Orientals.

Sir George Lloyd is probably under fifty and looks less. He was informal and engaging in his manner, leading me by the arm to a sofa where he sat down with me, expressed great interest in my mission, and asked many questions about our work. As he did so, and the feeling of momentary strangeness passed away, we seemed all at once to be excellent friends on a very informal basis. He drew up his foot on the sofa, rubbed his shoe and nursed his ankle, as we do in a porch chair on a summer veranda, while we talked of the big things in the present world situation. He seemed anxious to justify British stewardship in India, and charged me with messages for my countrymen. Some of them were striking. “In managing the public revenues of 60 million of people, how many white men do you think I am able to put over the task?” he asked. “Just two,” said he, as he held up two fingers, “and the native personnel is practically worthless. With a personnel absurdly under-staffed, we are endeavoring to carry on heavy responsibilities in a very exhausting climate. My private secretary, who brought you in, has been serving out here twelve years, and has had only three months leave in all that time. I have been on duty for six years myself, without leave. We are very weary of our heavy load”, he continued, “and we believe if the United States understood the nature of our task and our motives for carrying it, they would come in and help. I wish you would tell your people this”. This must suffice to suggest what was to me a very interesting conversation. I might add that when I referred to the complete collapse of Wilson’s alleged statesmanship, he said: “You know Frederick the Great said that the most brutal conceivable punishment for a guilty people whom he wished to chastise, would be to put them under the rule of a philosopher!” He asked me when I was returning to Bombay on our way back, said he would be out at his summer place, where he carries on his administration during the hot months, in the Poona hills, and urged me to come out and be his guest there, as it was but four hours distant from Bombay.

We passed by the Towers of Silence on our way back to the city and the rest of the morning was spent in arranging our return passage from Bombay next June, and from Naples to New York next August. We had a bad scare at the ship, the port officer at the gangway meeting us with the unexpected news that the ship would sail at 4 P.M., whereas we had been told by the company we should sail at five. Our baggage was on the way down in a large native handcart, and if the ship sailed at four, there was every prospect that we would be obliged to go with the clothes on our backs and nothing else. I hunted up the captain at once and he assured me the ship would not sail till five. Not long after four, our baggage duly arrived. My only trouble then was the fact that I had been unable to secure the return of my revolver, which I had deposited at the Customs on landing. I happened at that juncture to notice a fine looking harbor officer, a native, handing a revolver to an Englishman, and explained to him my difficulty. He at once went with me, called a carriage, and drove with me to two different offices, where at length I found the revolver. I was somewhat anxious lest I should miss the ship, but my courteous guide smiled pleasantly, saying, “Have no anxiety. I have the ship’s clearance papers in my pocket, and she cannot sail without them”. We reached the ship again a few minutes before five.

This ship is very much more comfortable than the one which brought us out to Bombay. By the way, I hope you have received a full account of that voyage which I mailed to you by registered post at Bombay. Luckenbill and I occupy a large room with three beds in it, and the three young men have a similar room next to ours. Mrs. Warren is not on the ship. We are exceedingly comfortable, and I am even able to write in the stateroom which is a great help, for public rooms are so noisy and disturbed. The passengers are very pleasant people, mostly British officers, their wives, and even some children, cared for by native Indian servants. The oriental life on the steerage deck fore and aft is very picturesque and diverting, especially when the natives line up before the deck furnaces to receive their food. There is one gaily colored harim of three wives and eight children, living together in the utmost harmony. The oldest and fattest of the wives, who is evidently on the retired list as far as family expectations are concerned, does the cooking on two little charcoal stoves on deck, and brings forth some very tasty looking stews, of which we catch distant but appetizing whiffs. The dishes and the children are washed in the same pot. A line of painted sheet iron deck-latrines provides a cleanly solution of an otherwise difficult problem for such a mass of people.

For the full story of my exciting trip you should come to the special exhibit “Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East, 1919-1920,” at the Oriental Institute!

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