O Babel, Babel! An Armenian doctor (member of Baku Committee) came to see me, I took him down to the office. On the road I met a Turkish naval officer coming to surrender. I went into the office and found Lt. Sokolov of the Russian Navy waiting to see me, also Lt. Poidebard of the French Army [most likely to be this man]. In the hall was waiting a Persian Gendarme officer we are going to use as a spy – and also a Greek merchant, who came with information which he gave through the medium of Hindustani, our only common language.
At last we got a mail with Daisie’s letters up to March 21st. Poor Daisie! what a terrible time she has been having – Living with the Starrs and Dr. Starr murdered at night by Pathans, poor fellow. He was stabbed in 5 places by men and lasted till the afternoon, when he died.
* Dunsterville was a renowned polyglot, speaking English, French, German, Russian, various Indian languages (such as Pushtu and Hindustani) and Arabic. It was his multilingualism which was a key reason why he was chosen for this mission.
Apricot is out and willows begin to have leaves. Weather very wintry with frequent blizzards on the Passes. – still in our nasty warm clothes.
Yesterday I sent a party to clear the snow off the Asadabad Pass and they found a caravan just being plundered and captured the robber band complete! A Russian lorry, en route Kasvin, was attacked on the road near Manian [possibly here, but unlikely?), 8 killed. I am sending Nizam-es-Sultan, the Governor of this town off to Teheran to-morrow to see the Government and put some new ideas before them – after having, in many interviews, shown him the meshes of German intrigue I hope it will be of use, and I have promised to prevent anyone else bagging the vacant Governorship during his absence. We have learnt to love each other so much that he insisted on giving me two smacking kisses on departure!
4 more Russians murdered on the road by Aveh and I am anxious about the party I am sending to Kasvin. It is always Alice in Wonderland. I sent Bicherakov’s fierce Cossacks down to take the Menzil Bridge from the Jangalis, which should have meant awful blood-shed, instead of which I hear the Cossacks and the Jangalis are sitting side by side alongside of the bridge are quite friendly with each other! One minute I have to implore Bicherakov not to kill too many and the next minute I have to urge him on to kill at least some of them.
Still in our warmest clothes and fires burning. Church Service as usual. Political situation complicated, I am quite genuinely friends with the Governor here, but my friendship is, I am afraid, more genuine than his. We meet every two or three days, and in the interval correspond a good deal. I have now given orders to Bicherakov at Kasvin to attack the Jangalis at Menzil with his cossacks and that I think, will bring the crisis to a head, for better or for worse. I wished to wait longer, but the situation compelled me. I trust he may be able to disperse the Jangalis and secure the Menzil bridge without actual bloodshed. I think the Jangalis will disperse when force is displayed. In the end there must be blood-letting, but I want another ten days, if possible.
I get my old fits of giddiness worse and more frequently as I get older – generally about an hour after breakfast, so I suppose it’s a form of indigestion – to-day I nearly tumbled down, some day I shall quite – as my father did on more than one occasion [note: it’s likely to be angina due to other symptoms mentioned elsewhere].
Situation to-day is bad. I sent Colonel Bicherakov with his Cossacks to save Kasvin against the Jangalis which he has so far done. This morning the Persian Government have ordered the Russians to leave at once and the fat is in the fire – Our Government is now at last compelled to do something either to fight or to withdraw from Persia. Baghdad beat their own record yesterday. As I have now some British troops I wired asking for “a butcher and a baker”. They have replied “For what purpose do you require a butcher and a baker?”
What a Babel. I talk English to my orderly in the middle of my Persian lesson, I receive a letter from the Governor which I have to answer in French and a Russian soldier calls in the middle to complain of a loss of money – and two days ago I was talking German to a German prisoner. I read last night a letter in Gurmukhi from Sunder Singh, a Subadar in the 36th Sikhs, and I spoke Pushtu yesterday to the one and only Afghan in Hamadan, and Hindustani to two Indian deserters! Left the Mc.Murrays’ comfortable house and moved over to mine, where I live with Col. Duncan and Capt. Topham, my A.D.C. If one allowed oneself to be worried by these fearful plots and rumours, one would get no sleep. The Democrats in the town are plotting to shoot me and also to down us by a sudden attack. The Kurds, close by, are being stirred up by the Turks to wipe out the English at Hamadan and Kermanshah, and Kuchik Khan with the Germans and the Baku Tartars, threatens to destroy us all – Col. Bicherakov’s Cossacks, whom I sent to Kasvin, are the only thing between us and disaster, and I cannot get Baghdad to wake up. I intercepted a letter yesterday from a big man in Teheran to Kuchik Khan, full of treachery and implicating even the Prime Minister!
Town quite quiet. My policy has succeeded well so far. Two aeroplanes were to have arrived yesterday, but failed to come.
Several of my officers have been shot at in the last few days, but never hit. I have written to warn the Governor that I shall have to defend myself and will not be responsible for consequences. The Governor called on me and promised his aid – not worth much, perhaps.
2nd party arrived – called on Governor at 2 p.m. and had the Foreign Office man, Haji Saad-es-Sultaneh there to interpret. He was late and I found I could quite easily get on in Persian with the Governor. We talked of many things. He asked if I trusted him. I know that he has been arranging for Kurds to attack us and turn us out, but I told him I had heard all sorts of wicked things about him, but would not believe them because he was so nice. I told him to advise the Teheran Government to ask for British troops instead of stopping us, otherwise they would have the Germans instead. I also said he might advise the Mejliss [council?] to close its doors for ten years and stop all this rot about politics while they created an Army – politics are no use without soldiers to back the policy.
There is a sense of unreality in life when one lives in the scenes of bygone Kingdoms – down below in Mesopotamia, English soldiers are handling bricks from Babylon with Nebuchadnezzar’s seal on them, the Turks are just beyond them in Nineveh, and here I live in the town of King Darius, King Cyrus and the Great Alexander. How paltry human life seems. 2nd party arrived Zagha and we sent out a motor to bring in our mails. I purposed to call on the Governor, but he made excuses – didn’t want to see me, I suppose, as he is harbouring one of the Persian revolutionaries just returned from Turkey. That’s the very man I want to see.