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

June 28, 1920

I have been the rounds of the steamship offices this morning, and I find I can get a berth without difficulty for myself; but you know the cheap seats always sell out first, and so I find both third and second classes are both full up, and there is no room for Ali; — for of course I can’t pay first class for him. So I engaged two berths for myself on two different ships: CELTIC (White Star), sailing July 7th, and CARONIA (Cunard), sailing July 10th. The first will arrive on the 16th and the second on the 20th as it stops at Halifax. Then I saw the managers of both agencies, showed my letters and was assured they would consult the government and see if they could not secure me room for the boy from the government reservation of 2-½ % of the ship’s space. To clinch matters I then telephoned to Lord Curzon’s secretary and was assured by him they would leave nothing undone to secure me a third class berth for Ali on the CELTIC. So I hope to sail on the 7th. This is very different from my situation last summer when I tried to secure the influence of the American Embassy here (Wilson’s outfit of course) and found myself awaiting around in anterooms and not getting through them. It is a satisfaction to be able to get around our own Embassy and deal directly with His Majesty’s Government.

This morning as I came out of a steamship office in Trafalgar Square, a good looking young American stepped up to me and greeted me by name. He then took me over to his car where his wife sat, with a University of Chicago pennant across the windshield in front of her. It was one of my students just finishing up a six week tour through Wales and Cornwall with his wife and twin boys!

On my return my phone rang and I found Mrs. John Collier, Huxley’s daughter on the other end, with a cordial invitation for lunch tomorrow. Her husband is a famous painter and Member of the Royal Academy, and you may recall that I met them last winter in Sir Valentine Chirol’s party at Luxor. Some of the people I called up are returning from the week’s-end and I shan’t be quite so lonely. I walked down Whitehall to the Author’s Club for lunch this noon and found the secretary just at lunch, and a vacant place beside him where I fed much more congenially than at this painfully modish hotel. It is so much so that your mother will be interested to know I felt obligated to doff my shabby old hat in favor of a new gray velour from the Civil Service Stores. I think the uniformed flunkies at the doors have already noticed the difference, and I have distinctly gained caste! That reminds me that clothes are still very much cheaper here than with us, in spite of having gone up 100%. I have taken advantage of the opportunity and ordered a lounge suit, as they call them here, at the Civil Service Stores, where I have long been a life member. The cost is 7 pounds, with a bit extra for the American pockets and belt loops, making the total about $30! I shall not take more than one, for the fit is indifferent, though the goods are the best.

There, I think you have all your father’s highly important doings since landing again in Europe! It is just ten months since I landed here last summer, with no arrangements made and feeling utterly in the dark on a host of matters essential to the success of my mission. Scientifically I have not accomplished a great deal, but with regard to museum returns and the practical foundation necessary for our work to take a place in the newly organized Near East emerging from the Great War, I am quite satisfied. The vexations and disappointments, of which there was no lack, now seem insignificant. I am sorry I ever mentioned in my letters any of those which inevitably arise from differing temperaments and dispositions. I have forgotten them all and they never should have been recorded. I found no letters at Cook’s this morning and I fear the time is too short for me to receive the last home letters.

I have just got a seat to hear a new play by Galsworthy, which you may know, called “The Skin Game”. I don’t propose to be taken in by an American melodrama this time! I must go now and try on those clothes, and then it will be time to find some dinner and go to the theater. I have just been telephoning to Hodder & Stoughton, the London publishers of my large Egyptian history, — indeed of all my Scribner books, — and found it amusing. I had asked Ginn’s office here to secure two copies of the larger Egypt and to send them, together with a copy of Ancient Times, to the Prime Minister and to Lord Curzon, as a kind of preparation for the ordeal. These statesmen bluff the public all the time with their “show-window stuff”, and so I was playing a little of the same game! Imagine my disgust at receiving a letter from Ginn’s saying Hodder & Stoughton reported none of my books in stock, — and they the publishers of the book! So I got the manager of Hodder & Stoughton on the wire and asked them whether they had ever heard of a book called so-and-so, which I understood was on their publishing list. When the manager found out who it was, he gave me a lot of stuff which I confess was very pleasant to hear from a London publisher, and assured me it was a matter of binding, as they are finding it exceedingly difficult to get back to normal working speed since the war. But when he heard the names of the two people the two copies were for he promised to get them out of the bindery this afternoon, and see that they go over tomorrow morning. I have the use of Ginn’s stenographer while I am here and I hope to get some of my writing done.

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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