March 28th, 1925 Part 1

My dearest Betty,

What you have not yet heard of our tale in Egypt will take some telling. Fortunately, we are now safely ensconced on a cruiser so I may take my time writing. We were rather eager to exit Cairo at haste, although we managed a dignified exit if I do say so myself. Mary is rather resourceful at packing.

On the evening of the 23rd, our merry band went back to Giza. Having obtained rooms at the nearby hotel, we repaired out of doors with lawn chairs, blankets, binoculars, and a cold, but delicious, picnic. I must see if Cook knows how to use dates. They use it to sweeten so many delicious dishes here and I know my table would be the envy of New York if I could replicate some of the fine pastries we have had here.

Ostensibly, and to any prying eyes, we were out to enjoy the evening and watch the stars. (which are magnificent out in the desert. Really, you must visit Egypt if you get the chance.) In reality, we were there to spy on our old friends the Clive Expedition. None of us trusted them at this point, although I do believe that dear batty old woman is being led by the pernicious knaves in their troupe.

We had driven past the Clive Expedition's new encampment on the way in that day and I was quite shocked to see just how much fortification had been done. Lord Covington explained to me that really this was nothing compared to a true military encampment and Louis helpfully pointed out their lack of discipline, but the heavy presence of imposing men and large guns made it quite difficult to ignore the new martial bent of their set up.

As we gazed at the stars and talked, I was quite conscious that things had not settled well between Violet and Louis. There was an unmistakable tension between them that I fretted over. So much so, that when a group of men and a woman walked up to the Monolith in front of the Sphinx I was almost too distracted to see them. They walked up and then somehow disappeared. We waited several minutes, but they did not reappear.

Adamant that I had not missed them, Louis and Violet went down for a closer look. As they were hardly speaking to each other, I was worried about this, but I suppose when you're attempting to be stealthy there isn't a need for words. Anyway, they returned later, having been caught by the guards and somehow talked their way out of it, to report that they had seen footprints, but they weren't sure whether they led into or out of the Monolith.

I tried to stay awake longer, but the excitement of the day was too much for me and I eventually nodded off. Lord Covington said he eventually saw a small group of people walking away much later in the evening.

We slept most of the 24th. With the late night and knowing we would likely be up late that day it seemed the prudent thing to do. I slept for a time, but arose in the early afternoon to supplicate myself to Bast and perform a small ritual that Neris had taught me.

You see, being a Priestess of Bast is not just words and bowing unlike so many other religions. As a Priestess, I am afforded certain abilities that have left the common usage. One such is said to imbue a blessing on a person, or thing. Knowing we faced certain danger, and with Bast's warning that she would not intercede herself on my behalf, I arose in the early afternoon, shuttered my window, put on my flowy robe, lit some candles, and proceeded to make the supplications and chants that would impart to our group a modicum of luck.

It is difficult to know if one has done such things correctly, but after repeating it several times over, I'm sure I must have had an impact for at least some of us.

Heading out that evening with the gentlemen all carrying an unusually large amount of artillery, the streets were unusually busy, much busier than we had seen them before. There were also more guards on the streets who we questioned as to what was going on. He said nothing of interest was happening tonight, but that tomorrow there might be something, some work for the locals to be done on the sights.

It was quite odd actually, as he first said it was a day of rest, which made no sense as it was a Monday, but then explained that the archaeologists did not need workers yesterday, but today which I supposed made some sense. At least a little bit more.

We followed the crowd towards the Sphinx. And what a crowd it was. Even the largest ballroom in New York could not have held the numbers that were there, and they were still coming. At first I thought it was perhaps 150 people, but as we moved further forward and realised how many there was and how packed they were, it was heading well past 500. Honestly, I had not realised there were quite so many locals to be brought together.

With the crush of people all moving towards the face of the Sphinx, a giant monster, I had the distinct impression of gathering fodder. And the oddest part of the crowd was that they were all wearing robes. Not light robes to keep the sun off yourself, but heavy, dark almost monkish robes. We eventually found a vendor with his cart selling them and purchased some for ourselves to better blend in, and even in that time the numbers grew more.

The press of people was becoming cloying. The gentlemen helped us push towards the front of the crowd. We ended up perhaps 10-20 rows away from the front, which was encircling the Monolith we had seen the small group approach the night before. Violet thought she saw some of the Clive Expedition as well as Omar Shakti, but it was a struggle to see anything other than the wave of brown robes. The heat of the day had not fully left yet, and I was sweltering in my robes, hoping that I would not faint, although if I had, I could not have fallen for the crush of people all around me. Eventually a hush fell over the crowd.

Dinner is being called, and I suppose this is a good place to stop for now. I shall continue later, but do not worry, we all left Egypt in mostly one piece.


March 23rd, 1925

Dearest Betty,

I feel fully vindicated. I should warn you, this may grow long, as I've much to tell.

I have followed Thomas Jefferson's advice and determined I shall not be idle. Not that I've been particularly idle with my travels, but primarily when left to myself I've spent it reading rather than doing. This afternoon I resolved I was done with idling. 

Sending Mary on an entirely superflous errand that would keep her from the rooms for several hours, I retraced my drunken tipsy steps last night, donning my night gown again. I lighted candles, read out the words to the "bind cat" spell, and once again, nothing happened. Well, not nothing, as then I conversed with Moza, but no magical sign was given.

You see, I figured if I tried it again while wholly sober in the glare of daylight, then I couldn't possibly be imagining it, and it did so feel true before. Fortunately, I was not losing my mind again. Moza had conversed with Neris who would attend me later that afternoon. We conversed a bit, although his mind seems rather singly attuned to his stomach, so I can't call it particularly witty conversation.

At any rate, then I was terribly excited and spent the rest of the afternoon waiting on Neris's arrival. I half expected her to climb in through the window as a cat and transform before me, but my imagination had once more run wild. At precisely 6:07pm there was a knock on the door and I let her in.

Neris is a beautiful young woman, made even more beautiful I think by the knowledge she carries. Her mind is quick and that olive skin of the natives here gives her exotic features a beautiful glow. Were it not for her abnormally slanted eyes, she would be quite the hit in society.

Neris assured me the scrolls were safe where they once again belonged. I asked for assurances on that, and she confided that she is a Priestess of Bast- an Egyptian goddess. We got to talking and I asked if there was anything that could be done to help myself and companions in the upcoming New Moon. I think that was about when things went beyond the normal. Or perhaps it was what followed.

Regardless, its difficult to recount this part. Before Neris would help me, she insisted that she must get Bast's permission, which apparently, she could do right there in my room. We cleared the room of furniture as best we could and Neris began chanting and then... Then I had a conversation with a goddess.

I realise that when the others said they'd done similar, I scoffed. I even wondered at their sanity. I'm still not convinced at what happened to them, but I will tell you, if you ever have the... pleasure is definitely the wrong word... the experience of meeting a god, you will know it.

It was dark, there were cats, and a mighty presence. I will say I believe I did myself and Searle proud, not simply crumbling at the demands Bast made. I bartered and checked the terms and conditions as he would have done before accepting the mantle she offered/required for her help. She asked if I would sing her songs, but as you know I am not the most accomplished singer by any stretch of the imagination. So we bartered, and I said I would do my best, a certain hedge that I have no doubt will completely ignored should Bast will it.

Bast won't intervene on our behalf directly, although promised Neris would teach me some oblique manners of protection. She cautioned me that we were likely to die in the upcoming New Moon, which chilled my blood, but she made me promise to try to stay alive. In truth, that particular thread did not feel like much a bargain and her words left me shaking. When something larger than yourself expresses the desire to play with your soul, you do not argue too glibly.

In the end, I was relieved when she went, although burdened by my new station in life. I am a Priestess now, can you imagine? I may not have been the most religiously pious before, but I assure you, I will be keeping my obligations to Bast with a fervor I never felt before. Meeting your god will certainly be a converting experience.

I spent the rest of the evening conversing and learning from Neris. In the wee hours of the night, we fell asleep and it was nearly dawn when there was a racket at my door. I will admit to being rather frightened that Bast had returned to tear my throat out, but upon opening the door all I found was a thoroughly intoxicated Louis who stumbled in, made vague noises, and passed out on my floor. I covered him with a blanket and returned to my room in time to catch Neris leaving by the window. The manner in which she escaped made me feel as if we were lovers nearly caught. What an idea! But somehow I'm not ready to confess my new allegiance to those here. Writing it to you doesn't have the finality that saying it outloud would, so I think for now I shall keep it to myself.

Fearing for the state of my carpet, Mary and I dragged Louis to the bathroom, dumped him into the tub, and woke him with a pail of water. He was not impressed, but I did manage to get him cleaned eventually while waiting on breakfast.

Louis had no interest in breakfast, and confessed the result of his evening with Violet to me. It appears he broached the subject of their relationship and she envisaged her life as it is. Violet doesn't feel she can do the society thing, nor did she have any interest in stopping in her current career. To Louis that clearly meant there could be no help but to keep their relationship quiet, and Violet wasn't particularly impressed by that idea either.

Frankly, from the way he said it, I could hardly believe Violet sat through the whole thing without slapping him. Here we are in 1925, women even having the right to vote, and Louis is speaking to her as if he will have full control of her life and she would have to do everything he asks to have a relationship with her. I let him know precisely how badly he'd erred in his discussions with her.

In his defence, I don't believe Louis ever thought that one could have someone who was not merely a society wife. Louis had no idea that Father had been grooming Searle and I to carry on as a couple the way he and Mother had. I've put the notion in his head that she might still find some employment that would be suitable for the family as well as her ambition into his head and hopefully he has not entirely ruined their prospects as a couple.

Nevertheless, I doubt he shall have time to square things with her before we must act on the New Moon. It is tomorrow night, and today we shall travel out to enjoy a late night picnic by the pyramids. The pretense is a complete falsehood, but a necessary deception to confirm our suspicions about the Clive Expedition.

I hope to have more concrete answers on that front soon. In the meantime, I shall be following Moza's lead and spending my afternoon napping.

Your tired friend,


March 22nd, 1925


Perhaps the wine was an error last night, or more likely the brandy was the mistake. My head is less than clear this morning, but I feel obligated to denigrate myself with a tale you shall no doubt find hilarious and entertaining. 

After dinner last night, I was once again left to my own devices. Louis and Violet disappeared, and Lord Covington returned to his books, which left me with three bottles of good wine and some tall tales in books. As has become usual, my only companion was Moza and somewhere through the second bottle, I wished that he could truly keep me company. As if in answer to my desire, I stumbled across a section in Covington's translation that spoke of communicating with cats. I'm sure it was the wine that made me decide to attempt the "bind cat" spell.

This is where the brandy comes in, as I felt it necessary fortification. You'll tell me I'm being silly, but I've been so lonely lately that it somehow made sense.

I tried to remember all the things that I've seen psychics perform before communing with the spirits. I've never seen a sorcerer work, but I presumed it would not go amiss should I dress in my most flowy night gown (it's actually quite stunning, dark burgundy silk with embroidered flowers that Searle bought me for our first anniversary. He brought it back from the trip with his father to China). I also lit a few candles and dowsed the lamps for a more atmospheric feel.

With candles burning, I read out the words and followed the instructions as best I could. I expected some whoosh of the candle flame or a sound or some such, but there I was to be disappointed for nothing happened. Assuming failure, I turned to Moza and exclaimed what a silly girl I was to even think it would work.

"Maybe you just need more fish." I couldn't believe it. It just came right out of his little tiny mouth.

I tell you, I was quite taken aback. Moza has never before replied to anything and certainly not in such insolent manner, although truth be told, that shouldn't have surprised me. I asked after the lady, Neris, and what happened to the scrolls, which Moza assured me were safe. He would check to see if I could talk with Neris and suggested that the outcome might be more favourable if there were offerings of fish. Then he nipped out the window, leaving me alone once again.

I dutifully left a message for Mary to provide anchovies with the morning's breakfast, which was waiting on my waking. Had it not been for that, I might have guessed I'd dreamed the whole incident.

Moza was back from his midnight perambulations, and had the audacity to leap straight onto the breakfast table and start eating the anchovies. I asked Moza wasn't the anchovies for Neris? He gave me a baleful stare. He may even have been laughing at me.

Maybe it was just the wine, but I swear he was talking to me. I can't tell the others, they'd worry I was seeing Searle again and with the New Moon coming up they have too many things on their mind as is. I must find out what happened with Violet and Louis as well.

I will leave you with this tale for now. Do not laugh too heartily at my foolishness.

Your blushing cousin,


March 21st, 1925

My dear Betty,

The word for this week appears to be Temptation. We are swimming in the possibilities of our own vices and falling prey to our own devils, each, I suspect, in our own ways.

For me it has been gossip as you will no doubt have gathered from my last letter.

I finally tracked down Violet over breakfast and we talked long about what was happening between her and Louis. I fear my hopes may not have come off quite as I intended as she was quite stiff.

She cares deeply for Louis. I can see it in the myriad ways that she is attuned to every mention of him. I'm not sure she understood my warning that she might be required to let him down softly. Indeed, I think the depth of her affections is shown in how she was perturbed by such an idea. I was merely trying to inform her that he was doing some thinking on their lives and that it might be best to be prepared if she was not similarly engaged emotionally in their couple hood, but I'm afraid it didn't sound quite so sensible as it came out of my mouth.

She is also thoroughly enjoying the good Count. I don't believe she had really thought beyond what might occur in Cairo, much less in the future beyond it, before I brought the whole thing up. I almost regret doing so now, as I have barely been able to speak to her before now, and if she is worried that I disapprove of their relationship, then I will no doubt see even less of her now. She is happily enjoying "the only uncomplicated part of my life right now" which was enough for me to suddenly realise what we were discussing in the breakfast room and nearly choked on my delightful Eggs Benedict. You wouldn't think it, but The Shepheard's Hotel has some surprisingly excellent Hollandaise sauce.

I've been at a bit of a loss lately, and did not have a companion to accompany me to the Egyptian Museum, so I spent the afternoon and evening reading. Lord Covington was kind enough to lend me the translation he has made of the scrolls Vanheuvelen had worked on, which has not only the translation, but some notes he thought himself. It is fascinating in light of the rest of what I have been reading.

In spite of my exotic surroundings, outside of the gossip I'm afraid my life has become quite staid. I spend so much time reading alone now that I am grateful there is no society to speak of for fear of what might be said. I sit here now, well past midnight, a little maudlin with a book of magical spells in my lap and a stiff brandy in hand.

Do write to me soon and tell me of something fascinating.

Forever yours truly,