Chapter 11: Wall Street Swastika: Nazis at the British Museum:
It was clear now that the Prof’s identity had been compromised. He might have gotten away with taking the Lawrence maps from Dora during the ball in the Queen’s Room on the Mauretania. But now he was seen with Edward, Churchill, and Dora in public in a restaurant in the south of England. He had also accompanied them to Studland Beach. It was obvious that the Prof could not just return to Oxford with the maps and expect to remain unmolested.
“We’ve got to find a safe dumping place for the maps so we can decide what to do next about Hitler,” Winston suggested. “They have been left all sorts of places in the past. We have to be very original now to fool the enemy.”
Dora remembered how she had babysat the maps herself at the end of the Great War. First Edward had sent her the map of Petra, Lawrence’s greatest victory, to hide in her closet in her bedroom back in Pittsburgh. She had guarded it with her life and even brought it with her to the Paris Peace Conference where she first met Lawrence of Arabia face to face to talk to him about Edward’s fate. Then Lawrence himself, the Great Man who had drawn all the maps that had made the Germans go crazy for the past generation, had presented her with a humidor full of his maps to take back to Pittsburgh and guard with her life.
Since that fateful day the Lawrence maps —- and the Great Man had added to the trove since with new maps —- had been hidden everywhere from the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum to a miniature Grecian temple on the grounds at Ware Hall, to the floorboards at the bedroom at Ware Hall, to Churchill’s estate at Chartwell, to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe, to the Rose Tree Museum in Tombstone. Each locale had its own adventure and own drama associated with it. The chase never seemed to end. And here they were again.
Churchill and the Prof left at night so as to elude the enemy. They had called for a car, and it had been delivered. Dora and Edward had to wait and watch for things to be arranged. Meanwhile Edward kept the maps up his sleeve.
There was an uneasy truce with the Germans. They prowled around the beach day and night. Dora would often see strange figures up on the rocks and know who the blond Arayans worked for. Meanwhile when they went out to buy necessities they had to take two large hired thugs with them that Dora had hired over the phone.
The phone rang one night about a week later. It was Churchill. He told them that they would meet at the Garden Hotel across the street from the British Museum in London. They would meet for dinner in the main restaurant. There they would rendezvous with the archaeologist Leonard Woolley who had once excavated at Carchemish with T. E Lawrence, Edward, Edward’s father Sir Adolphus Ware, and a crew of workmen during the seasons 1913 and 1914.
Dora remembered Leonard Woolley! He had helped them hide the Lawrence maps once before. After all, he had special access to the collections at the museum.
Edward and Dora left at night. Edward insisted on driving the whole way to London himself using back roads cutting through the New Forest. When Dora thought she saw somebody following them, Edward eluded them. It got to the point she was spooked even by the moonlight on the Neolithic Bronze Age burial mounds lining the road. If something seemed to move it had to be the light or a ghost. It could not be a German.
They finally arrived at the hotel and were shown to their places at the patio overlooking private gardens in a room they had rented just for the occasion —- meaning no one else besides their party was allowed in. Leonard Woolley greeted them over tea and crumpets and showed them the worker suits they were to wear when they followed him back to the museum. Dora thought that was original. She only hoped it was enough of a disguise.
She got dressed and pinned her hair back underneath a special cap. Again under cover of darkness when the Museum was closed for the night, Woolley took them through the little used back entrance, up the stairs, into the main part of the British Museum. They were all carrying lights, flashlights, and lanterns for illumination.
Dora started. She thought she bumped into somebody. A lady with black braids was looking at her severely. She hoped it was not a German spy!
“These are two Egyptian sarcophagi from the Middle Kingdom during the time of Queen Hapshepsut,” Woolley lectured them. “This is the perfect hiding place for the Lawrence maps.” He reached out and grabbed one of the carved wooden black braids cascading down over the lady’s shoulder to her waist. At the end he had punched a hole. Edward handed him the maps. He inserted them in the opening and then plugged it shut again wtih the bottom of the carved wooden braid.
They stood there admiring the Egyptian twin figures with almost religious reverence. “Your secret could be kept for three thousand years!” Leonard Woolley boasted.
“Not that long!” chuckled Churchill. “Just until we defeat Hitler and any Germans who might be hanging about your museum.”