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.
We always have our little services with the American Missionaries. We can get no news from Tiflis and they all seem fighting like cats and dogs there, poor devils – and starving. Daisie may be glad I never reached there – and I also feel that the chaos had reached too great a pitch for me to restore order – Yet perhaps I might have helped – God willed otherwise.
Kasvin seems to be in a dangerous state, but I can do nothing till the 29th, if they can hold out till then. I am sending Colonel Bicherakov with his Cossacks to hold Kasvin, but he cannot get there before the 29th – it’s a race between him and Kuchik Khan’s men.
Major Bartellot arrived en route to Teheran and brought, at last, some post and I had the enormous pleasure of 6 sweet letters from my darling Daisie – but only up to Jan. 24th and I had hoped to get as late as the middle of February. I go on calling and returning calls on Persian officials and noblemen and I am sure this helps to keep the situation quiet. The Governor is a democrat and a supporter of Kuchik Khan, a weak man who wants to make his pile and sail with the wind. To-day the big landowner from Sheverin called on me – Amir-i-Afgham, a fine old, rich, non-political, type – certainly anti-democratic – he is rough and ready and hates the Governor. He is called the Black Fox. Brings with him a horse to carry his hookah, with a brazier of burning charcoal, nearly setting the saddle alight.
He captured two Turks yesterday, but let them go as harmless – the country is full of Turkish escaped prisoners from Russia, trying to get home.
Been in bed a couple of days with real bad influenza – seem to be reviving to-day. Daisie telegraphs frequently and longs for news from me, but my brain is full of men and horses, guns, rifles, equipment, ammunition, supplies, petrol, motor-cars, aeroplanes, clothing, cold, snow, marches, languages, tribes, politics, information and rumours, spies, pro and anti, finance, routes, tactics, strategy, geography, history.
Owing to the secrecy of my arrangements, I am called the Commander of the “Hush, Hush Army”. I blossomed into a Major-General yesterday – as it was obviously foreseen Daisie had made the holes for the new resplendent stars. After fixing up all plans to start, I get a wire to say that Enzeli, my destination on the Caspian Sea, has been seized by some horrid fellows called Jangalis (a very suggestive name) who are intensely anti-British and are in the pay of Germans. It will have to be plot and counter-plot.
These long journeys are full of dramatic change. I am just waiting to jump off into darkness and eternity for a space, with a fair hope of emerging on the far side, and here I have a pantomime with string band and as I stand on the verandah at night, the romantic Tigris flowing as it has flowed for many thousand years, and the moon-light on the water, and everything good the world holds except Daisie to share the beauty and romance of it – but women have no romance!
Daisie came with me to Delhi where I had to have interviews with the Chief and the Staff about my mission. We lunched with the Commander-in Chief and Lady Monro, who talked glibly to Daisie across the table about this very “Secret Mission” and told her many things I had refused to divulge to her! When state secrets are given away you may be sure the guilty ones are those in high places. Not the subordinates.
Daisie came down to Karachi to see me off, and we stayed in a nice hotel.
[Here insert Vol B – Vol C War Diary]
7 a.m. Just off! It is sad breaking up this little home where we have had 2½ happy years – but I felt all the time it was wrong to have so much happiness amidst the misery of War time. Our Christmas Dinner was a great success in spite of all – and my farewell to the Home was also inspiring. Last night I had 36 men of the Church of England Men’s Society to tea – including Corporal Gould. Daisie comes down to the port with me and Susanna stays here with Miss Key.
I suppose I go to Baghdad* and thence go on to serve with the Russians, the very job I am fitted for and that I have desired since I knew that we had linked up with them. Daisie thinks the Russian anarchists and Bolsheviks will kill me, which is quite likely!
* Reference to Fall of Baghdad, 1917