Heavy snow-storm, had a long talk with Revd. and Mrs. Hawkes about their missionary work, he has been here for 36 years. Wild alarmist rumours – about Kuchik Khan and Anti-British demonstrations in Teheran – and Russian dislike of us turning into actual hostility.
Persian political news confusing and disturbing. Two Russian Aviation officers came to me from Baku with offers of help, but when I cross-questioned them and it came down to bed-rock it was evident they could not help me and very much needed help themselves. They had, as usual, fantastic ideas, among others, that of capturing one of the Caspian Bolshevik gun-boats with one sea-plane – it is all very like Alice in Wonderland. A dull cold day and the white snowy landscape bores me to death. We hear that our mail is at last being brought up.
No cables yet from the Home Government – situation in Persia is dangerous and I have to be ready to meet attack. Revolutionaries in the town and social democrats trying to stir up the people against us. To-day is the first and I hope not the last fine day, a beautiful blue sky and quite a spring feeling. Coming over the Asadabad Pass yesterday, a Russian convoy of ammunition lost 30 mules and 6 men froze to death – glad I was not as bad as that.
* The diary records this entry as 29th February, but there was no such date in 1918, so I am assuming this is actually 1st March.
Left at 7 a.m., arrived at Kasvin 2 p.m., staying with Goodwin, Bank and Consul, Sir Charles Marling and Col. Napier* – Minister and Military Secretary, Teheran, came to confer with me – very interesting talk. There never was such a terrifying situation – but one is not paid to be terrified. The Caucasus seems already to be in the thick of civil war – and Persia also on the verge. My port of embarkation is in the hands of Persian revolutionaries and my port of arrival in the hands of Russian and Tartar anarchists. Kasvin is a filthy, filthy town, and full of disorderly Russian soldiers. But beautiful fruit gardens all round – I have at last seen a pistachio-tree – after meeting the liquorice bush in Mesopotamia – and some beautiful coloured tile domes in the town.
* I cannot identify any of these men
General Baratov returned my call and spoke for 3 hours without taking breath re the Russian evacuation, Russian financial requirements and Russian tactical considerations. I do much listening and the time is not yet for me to talk. The road ahead is reported dangerous and every animate and inanimate thing is out to stop me, but if you face the obstacles they disappear as a rule. Turkish, German and Austrian agents, all over the place, and hostile Bolshevik soldiers several thousand, blocking the road between here and Enzeli – it is lively.
More snow and more snow. It is awful. Had long talks with Shore, Goldsmith, Mc.Murray, Barttelot, Rowlandson etc. re this doubly, doubly complicated situation in North Persia and in the Caucasus – it is enough to make one’s brain reel and thoughts continued all night and destroyed sleep. Shore looks utterly nervy and broken down, Rowlandson also. Called on Russian General Baratov.
Very interesting work cross-examining a Turkish spy captured at the Malakand who pretends he’s a Russian – his Russian is very feeble and I’m afraid he’ll be shot.