April 28, 1920
My dear Frances -
We are delayed this morning owing to transport difficulties. I have been up since 4:30, and am waiting now in front of the American Consulate for our last van, of which we shall now have five, with two touring cars, making seven. In another hour we shall be off.
I was greatly pleased last night to receive your registered letter of February 18 and 19, containing many enclosures including your dear little girl’s drawing of the little Chinese children and her first letter, which I am treasuring among my home letters. Tell her they are very nice, and father thinks a great deal of them. The registered letter to Cairo has never turned up. It will now have to go on to Beyrut. I fear it will now be a very long time before I hear from you again. I have cabled Cairo to forward everything to Beyrut.
You will of course see that this sudden overland trip to Syria completely changes our schedule as sent you in recent letters. We shall be in Beyrut the first week in May, a month early, or nearly so. I lunched yesterday with the Commander-in-Chief. He thinks we shall get through all right, and hopes we shall be back soon for excavations. Promises all possible help.
The Arab governor of Aleppo and district is a native of Baghdad. His wealthy and aristocratic old father lives here still. I called on him yesterday with the American Consul. As soon as he heard I was going overland to Aleppo, he said, “I will give you a letter to my son, the governor of Aleppo”. The American Consul is still on duty there, in spite of many disturbances. We shall be treated royally by the governor on presentation of this letter, and get through to Beyrut without difficulty, or at least without danger. There is always very great difficulty. Last night our old friend the Vicar-General gave us a tea which proved to be a banquet in oriental fashion, at six o’clock at the house of his cousin. The old chap read a three page eulogistic speech (written on both sides) in choice oriental French. You should have heard my reply, also in French! The reason for all these attentions, it is better I should write you later.
I must go now and accelerate things as usual. Always your loving James.
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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