Diary 49 (Feb. 1899-Oct. 1899): Summary

(Kearby Chess)

Diary 49 begins at the end of February, 1899. Joseph was at Basra, loading cargo "aboard the Blosse Lynch." In the diary's first entry on February 28th, he noted that the Qajar prince "Abdulhussein Mirza Farman Farman Shahzade had booked passage to Baghdad" aboard the steamer. The prince and his extensive entourage had been exiled to Baghdad by his cousin, Shah Mozaffar-ad-Din, due to intrigues at court, in Tehran. However, Joseph did not record the details of Abdulhussein's banishment. Instead, the prince seems to have been treated to all of the typical pomp afforded to a visiting royal. The Valid of Basra, Enis Pasha, the British and American consuls, and representatives of the Lynch Company and Hotz Hamilton and Company all came to pay the respect to the prince. His retinue reserved two First Class cabins and a number of deck tickets for the journey north. Before Joseph departed for Baghdad, Eliza's son Rufail Sayegh came aboard the Blosse Lynch to call on him. He had been gone from his property at Gorna for several days and had to check in on it, but he promised his stepfather that if Eliza was truly determined to go to Paris to retrieve Alexander, he would accompany her there and back. (28 February 1899, 3-5)

The ship left Basra late the afternoon on the 28th, flying the Persian flag to honor their esteemed guest. Crowds of curious onlookers gathered on the banks of the Tigris at Kalat Saleh, Amara, and Coot to catch a glimpse of the prince. At each of their usual stops, Ottoman dignitaries and functionaries came out to greet Abdulhussein, and in the evenings he dined with Capt. Cowley while Joseph served as an interpreter. When the Blosse Lynch neared Ctesiphon, they made an unscheduled stop so that the prince could visit the famous arch. On the morning of March 4th, as they neared Baghdad, Abdulhussein sent for Joseph. He wished to give several kerans of gold to the crew and servants as tokens of his appreciation. The crewmen received three kerans apiece, the servants four. Evidently, this was a paltry sum, as Joseph wrote in his diary: ``What a mean and stingy man he is." The prince also gave Captain Cowley a carpet "worth about 25 Beshlics" and envelopes with 5 1/4 Toomans in gold to all of engineers and officers. According to Joseph all of the engineers and officers save himself and Metty refused the gift. Joseph understood that it would have been rude not to take such an offering, but in private Captain Cowley ordered him and Metty to take their gifts and give them to the poor through the Latin Church. On the evening of March 4th, they landed at the Custom House in Baghdad, welcomed by a throng of people, including Baghdad's head constable Mukhlus Effendi and Kader Pasha, aide-de-camp to the Vali of Baghdad. Along with the Persian Consul, Kader Pasha accompanied Prince Abdulhussein to the Persian consulate on the west bank of the Tigris. (1-4 March 1899, 5-13)

At home again, Joseph found a stack of letters waiting for him from Ibrahim Gejou, from Mr. Böhm, from Yousif Serpos all writing in response to his efforts to track down Alexander and bring him home. Alexander's situation was still unclear. He could have been in Paris, or Istanbul, or Port Said as far as Joseph knew. After Joseph read through his letters, his wife Eliza came to him. News of Alexander had come through the grapevine. Eliza had spoken to Joseph's sister Medula, who had been told by Mr. Richarz the German Consul that the Austrian Consul in Paris had written back to him in answer to the complaint about Alexander that they had cosigned in December. The Paris police had searched the addresses Joseph had provided but found no trace of Alexander. The Austrian Consul surmised that he must have stolen away to England somehow. He still had the 300 francs that Joseph had wired to him for Alexander's travel expenses in his possession, and was asking what should be done with it. Joseph decided to leave the money with the consul, so that Alexander could be forced to go back to him if he needed to withdraw it. (4-6 March 1899, 13-18)

As late winter turned into spring, very little changed for Joseph. Life carried on as usual, with frequent trips from Baghdad to Basra and back. He continued to record a similar litany of complaints in his diary. In mid-March 1899, he wrote that "an awful confusion and a rush of passengers" at Kut "mostly Shia pilgrims on the annual pilgrimage to Karbala" prevented the Blosse Lynch from taking on coal there for over an hour. The following day, Joseph confided to the diary his fear that a month-long run of dry weather would harm the growing crops and lead to a spike in food prices. "Fortunately, rain came the next day, bringing some relief." (16-18 March 1899, 32-5) On that rainy, muddy afternoon back in Baghdad, Joseph received a letter from a Rezooki Metchich. It was postmarked London and dated February 15, 1899. The letter stated that Alexander was in London, but Metchich did would not tell Joseph what his son was up to in England because he feared that Alexander would get angry with him. (18 March 1899, 35) On March 21, Joseph requested that Mr. Richarz write to the Austrian consul in Paris once again, to have him inform his colleague in London of the situation with Alexander. (21 March 1899, 38) Thanks to the rain and flood tides, Joseph recorded that the Tigris had risen 12 feet over the course of several days. While this normally would have been a happy occasion that would have eased the difficulties of navigation that had plagued river traffic for months, the rise in flow was so sudden that it threatened the Bridge of Boats that connected Baghdad to its burgeoning suburbs on the western bank of the Tigris. The Ottoman authorities cut open the bridge, but nevertheless several of the boats were swept away by the current. The river continued rising several more feet the next day. (22-23 March 1899, 38-40)

In late March, the diary provides a potent reminder that seemingly quotidian as it may have been Joseph's profession was still a dangerous one. After arriving at Basra on March 27, he wrote: "Our Fireman Shabo ibn Franso while he was working the starboard wheel fell in the river and struggled and cryed until he got to opposite my cabin under the sponsoon and sunk and disappeared not knowing how to swim and the Barge being close alongside the steamer so no help could be rendered immediately expecting him to drift down to the ship's stearn but he got drowned the whole crew were gathered to his rescue but they failed; he was an old servant in the service for about 15 years." (27 March 1899, 46-7)

Returning to Baghdad, the Blosse Lynch passed the British Residency's yacht the Comet going south on March 29th. She was carrying Major Melville, who had served as the acting Consul in the absence of Col. Loch. Loch, according to Joseph, was in Basra on his way back to his post in Baghdad. (29 March 1899, 51) In Baghdad, Joseph found his wife Eliza as she had been for ten days. In the time since he had left, there had been no letters and no news from Alexander. Thought Joseph was suffering from the same stomach ache that plagued him on and off throughout the years, he and Eliza made a point to attend Good Friday services at the new Chaldean Cathedral, which had been completed the previous spring (see Diary 47). (31 March 1899, 54) On Easter Sunday, Joseph and Eliza went to the Latin Church at 8 am, and spent the rest of the day calling on their friends and family in the Baghdadi Christian community. It was an exhausting day, Joseph wrote: "I called on 33 houses, and came very tyred and knocked up." (2 April 1899, 55-6)

Around the turn of the century, the telegraph line between Baghdad and Basra was a constant target of raids by local Arab tribes. Such raids disrupted the constant communication that provincial administration and business was coming to depend on, and undercut the authority of the local Ottoman government. In April 1899, Joseph recorded that the Blosse Lynch "landed a young Jew" employed by the telegraph office a few hours downriver Sheikh Saad. The telegraph line had been cut by members of the Beni Sudd tribe of Arabs, all followers of Hassan el Khayoon. The young Jewish man was there to forward "foreign telegrams to passing steamers so that they could" be sent to Basra. (8 April 1899, 66)

In a vague entry in mid-April 1899, Joseph wrote that Enis Pasha, the Vali of Basra, had come inquiring about passage aboard the Mejidieh. As Joseph recorded nearly a year earlier in Diary 47, Enis had been appointed as the Vali of Basra in the face of numerous protests from the British and French governments. He had previously been the Vali of Diyarbakir during the Hamidian Massacres of Armenians in 1896. Evidently, the British had lobbied heavily through diplomatic channels to have him removed from his office. Joseph wrote: "His dismissal is attributed to some English policy." At the same time, his replacement, Hamdy Pasha, was traveling down to Basra aboard the Ottoman steamer Ressafah. Hamdy Pasha landed at Basra "late at night" without the usual fanfare of a new governor's appointment. (9 April 1899, 70-3)

In the busy season around the pilgrimage to Karbala, Joseph complained that the Blosse Lynch was taking on too many passengers. He rained derision on the Arab Shia pilgrims that had come up from Bahrein and Hassa. There were 409 in all, but most of them bought the cheapest available tickets and slept on the deck of the ship. Joseph wrote: "they pack very thick and close and very little baggage, had there been any Persians or Basreh and Baghdad people, the deck would not have sufficed to such people." Later, as they picked up more pilgrims at al-Kut, he wrote: "Crowd of passengers came and they put up anywhere down on the lower deck an awful confusion; No head or tale we are full everywhere; there is no limit as rule on board, passengers can come and do what they like, there is no discipline, money making is the rule of the day." The rest of the crew seemed frustrated with the Bahreini passengers as well. A group of passengers offered Captain Cowley 100 rupees for a chance to stop and visit the ruins of the Arch of Ctesiphon. After an hour, Cowley took the money and left nearly half of the passengers on the shore. Before long, he developed a conscience and returned to the river bank to pick them up. (12-15 April 1899, 75-81)

Back in Baghdad in mid-April 1899, Joseph was called upon by Bedri Bey, a Turkish employee of the Museum of Antiquities in Istanbul. Apparently, Joseph's passion for archaeology had preceded him, and Bedri Bey stopped to visit him on his way from Istanbul to Hillah, where he was to join a German team excavating the site of ancient Babylon for the Museum of Berlin. (18 April 1899, 84-5) The following week, the Blosse Lynch was transporting Ahmed Pasha Zheir, son of Kassim Pasha Zheir. Ahmed Pasha had been detained in Istanbul on the order of the Sultan for more than 15 years, and was coming via Aleppo under Ottoman surveillance on a 3 month furlough to visit his family in Iraq. He was traveling under the watchful eye of one Noori Beg. At Amara they were greeted by the Pasha's brothers, Abdulmohsen and Abdulaziz, as well as his cousin Eassa Cheleby. Evidently, Ahmed Pasha was of some importance, as he was met with fanfare by many people at Gorna, including representatives from one of the Lynches competing firms, Gray MacKenzie. (21-23 April 1899, 90-6)

Later in April, Joseph once again returned to his wife Eliza in Baghdad to find that she hadn't received any news from Alexander. From London, Rezooki Korkis had written to his brother Yousif. Rezooki had been searching for Alexander, but had not been able to find him. The rumor on the streets of London was that Alexander had left for America. Yousif wrote back imploring Rezooki for more information. No answer came after five days, and Joseph and Eliza remained in a perpetual state of worry. (29 April 1899, 108-9) In early May, Joseph recorded an update on Anis Pasha, the disgraced Vali of Basra. Three years after aiding and abetting the massacre of Armenians in Diyarbakir, Anis Pasha had become politically toxic in Istanbul. Joseph wrote: "[He] will not be appointed Waly anywhere. the Powers must have pressed their influence on the Sultan to have him dismissed from his functions." (5 May 1899, 119-20)

On the morning of May 6, Joseph went to visit Yousif Korkis in his khan. That morning Yousif received a telegram from his brother in London confirming that he had been unable to find Alexander there. Rezooki suspected that Alexander had indeed gone to America. Joseph, for his part, seems to have taken this news in stride while visiting Yousif. Though he often confided to his diary when he was distraught over his son's behavior, in this entry he simply notes that he left Yousif's khan to take breakfast before returning to the Blosse Lynch to load cargo. That night, however, he wrote: "We are very sorry and disappointed at Alexander's behavior with us; he never writes or let us Know where he is, he is showing great savageness and ungreatfulness toward his father and mother." (6 May 1899, 121-3)

On May 14, the Blosse Lynch picked up a French civil engineer by the name of Monsieur Chavenise. The engineer was tasked with excavating the Old Naharwan canal, which ran from the Diyala river above Baghdad to the Tigris well below Aziziyeh. The intention in excavating the canal was to divert high water away from the Tigris if necessary, though with Joseph's constant complaints about the difficulties of navigation it hardly seemed that such a precaution was necessary. Unfortunately for the project, Chavenise fell ill in the desert in the midst of his survey. He was forced to return to Baghdad aboard the Blosse Lynch. (14 May 1899, 139)

On May 16th, Joseph heard good news from his nephew Artin. He was to bebetrothed to the daughter of Dr. Cazassian, an Armenian physician in the Ottoman military. The happy occasion was scheduled to take place on May 23rd, in a week's time. (16 May 1899, 142) As the month of May dragged on, there continued to be no word from Alexander. Returning from Basra, Joseph never found any letters or telegrams from his son. Even Rezooki had stopped sending updates. There was nothing for him to report. Though Joseph's sour mood persisted, he remained engaged in the social life of Baghdad. With Artin, he called on Monseigneur Altmayer to celebrate his 25 years serving the local Catholic community. Several days earlier, while Joseph had been away aboard the Blosse Lynch, all the Europeans and foreign Consuls attended a jubilee in the Archbishop's honor. For entertainment, the French nuns presented a play dramatizing the Book of Esther. At the same time, he continued his habit of noting the coming and going of important officials. Kuchuk Namik Pasha came to replace Atta Allah Pasha as Vali of Baghdad, and Atta Allah left by the desert route to Deir az-Zor and Aleppo. (17 May 1899, 143)

With no news from Alexander abroad, a new family drama unfolded in Baghdad. When Joseph arrived home from Basra in late May, Eliza told him scandalous news involving Artin. Just a few days after his betrothal to the daughter of the Armenian Dr. Cazassian, Artin was accused of all manner of sexual and romantic impropriety by a sixteen-year-old Assyrian girl named Zekky from Tel Kayf, a town north of Mosul. She had been in the employ of Artin's brother Johny as a servant to care for his baby daughter, and alleged that Artin had come to her two months earlier and promised to marry her. According to her story, she acquiesced and Artin used the occasion to take advantage of her before going back on his promise. Zekky became pregnant, and as an unmarried girl had to abort the pregnancy. Now, however, she was pressing her case at the instigation of other women of bad repute, according to Joseph arguing that under Ottoman law, Artin should have to take her as his wife. Artin protested and was arrested by the Ottoman authorities. He was being held in the prison at the Ottoman saray on the east bank of the Tigris pending an investigation. For the sake of his nephew's troubles, Joseph slept not a wink that night. (29 May 1899, 168-70)

The following morning, Joseph woke to find two letters about his own troublesome son. The first was from his old Lynch Company colleague Tom Blockey, who now lived in London. Blockey couldn't be sure, but he had heard that Alexander had gone to America with Marie Derisbourg in tow. The second letter confirmed what Joseph had suspected for weeks now. Rezooki Metchich in London had forwarded Joseph a letter written to him by Alexander. It was postmarked April 15th from Chicago, and contained Alexander's business card billing himself as "Traveller Explorer, and reporter to many newspapers and magazines." Alexander was apparently traveling around America as a "Member of the Geographical Society," and he left no return or forwarding address. (30 May 1899, 171-2)

Joseph had little time to ponder Alexander's actions, though. Artin's imprisonment hung like a pall over the entire family. Johny had tried to enlist the services of a lawyer by the name of Abduljebbar, but Joseph wrote: "this man seems not so inclined to defend Artin." Abduljebbar's intercession might not have even been necessary. The authorities called a number of witnesses to the saray, so many in fact that their testimony could not all be taken in one day. The morning of May 31st, Joseph was called to the saray to speak to his friend the Court Inspector Hamdy Bey. Ultimately, Joseph's testimony was not required. Artin was released on bail. In all, the incident had cost Artin 50 Turkish Lira in official fees and bribes. (31 May 1899, 172-7)

The early weeks of summer dragged on without any news from Alexander in America. Life continued much as usual. Colonel Loch, the British consul who had replaced Mockler in 1897, had served a short stint in Baghdad that was now coming to an end. In early June 1899, he was transferred to Nepal. Before leaving Iraq, Loch held an auction of all his kit at the British Residency. Joseph purchased one of the Colonel's bookshelves for just over 12 rupees. Later, when the the Blosse Lynch passed the Comet carrying the outgoing consul to Basra, Joseph wrote that Loch's departure "was of great regret as he is very much liked by all the Europeans in Baghdad." (2-9 June 1899, 179-90)

Joseph continued writing of the vicissitudes of the weather, notable passengers and cargo, and so forth. In mid-June, Joseph heard from the Sanitary Officer of Basra that the plague, which had been raging at Bombay and Muscat, had come to Bushire in Persia. The Persian government had established a quarantine at Bushire, and Joseph implicitly worried that the disease might spread to Basra. (13 June 1899, 197) Later that month, Joseph went with Artin to the home of Dr. Cazassian, the father of his fiancée. The Cazassians were Armenians from Istanbul. They had come to Baghdad four years earlier, on Dr. Cazassian's assignment with the Ottoman army. Of his nephew's fiancée, Serpohy, Joseph wrote: "I found the girl intelligent, jolly, but not some handsome she is about 18 years old; speaks French, Armenian, Turkish, and Arabic, she learnt French here at the French nuns school; and plays Piano." (16 June 1899, 200-1)

Returning to his home from visiting the Cazassians, Joseph ran into Ibrahim Gejou on the street. Gejou had returned to Baghdad from Paris several days earlier, after a month and a half of travel through Beirut, Damascus and Deir al-Zor. "I reproached him for not coming to see us before anybody else," Joseph wrote. He made arrangements for Gejou to come after breakfast to debrief him and Eliza on Alexander. Gejou assured them both that Alexander was still in London, not gallivanting about America as he and Rezooki Metchich had claimed. He explained that most of Joseph and Eliza's suspicions about Alexander's lies were true: He was never ill, he never had sore eyes that needed medical attention, Marie had indeed gone with him to Vienna, and he had only been in such dire financial straits because he spent all his money on lavish excesses such as carriage hires. (16 June 1899, 201-2) There was little time for Joseph to ruminate on his son's misdeeds before he left again for Basra, though.

Steaming down to Basra, Joseph noted that Pere Emmanuel was going down with them to catch a steamer to plague-ridden Bushire. The epidemic had left the Christians in that city without a priest, and the Carmelite father volunteered to tend to the flock. (18 June 1899, 206-7) On June 18, 1899, Joseph heard that word had come from Istanbul to the Ottoman governments in Baghdad and Basra that the Lynch Company could once again begin towing barges. Evidently, the Lynches in Britain had been able to successfully negotiate for that privilege, which had bedeviled them so much a decade and a half earlier. The decision came suddenly, and there was very little extra cargo waiting at Basra for the company to ship. As the Blosse Lynch passed the Khalifah going north, Joseph noted that it was towing an entirely empty barge. (18 June 1899, 207-8)

In late June, it seemed the affair with Artin and the servant girl Zekky had not yet been finished. On the 29th, Joseph wrote that Artin had been called to trial once again. His judgment would be given in just a few days. Joseph was disgusted with the community's reaction to the case: "His case has caused great talk and scandal in town and especially among the Christians who are all against him as it is generally the case with such brutes and only seek to break one another's neck." (27 June 1899, 221-2) The next several days surely were tense as the family awaited Artin's trial and judgment. Joseph's sister Eliza was in an especially "Great way" over her son. (30 June 1899, 225) The trial was held at the saray on July 1. Joseph did not witness it; he spend the day tending to business aboard the Blosse Lynch. Artin was tried before a panel of judges consisting of the "Reys el Jeza" and his two deputies Abdulla Effendi Farhat and Rashid Effendi. Also present were the Moawen an adjunct to the court and Abduljebbar, Artin's lawyer. After several hours of deliberation the Reis and his deputies rendered their judgment on Artin. Much to Joseph and the rest of the family's relief, he was acquitted and released. (1 July 1899, 226-7)

The evening of July 1, Joseph returned home to find his brother-in-law Antone Marine. Antone had with him an issue of the illustrated London paper "The Sketch," which featured a photo taken by Colonel Mockler and a bird's eye view of Baghdad along with some words about the city. Joseph and Antone surmised that Alexander, without a regular remittance from his father, had turned to journalism to make ends meet, just as his card had said in the letter allegedly written from Chicago. (1 July 1899, 227) A few days later, on July 7, Joseph remarked that it was the day of Alexander's 21st birthday. Acknowledging that Alexander had reached the age of majority, Joseph nevertheless lamented: "he is still at large and we do not know where he is but most likely he is still in London, his foolish behaviour toward us causes us great grief and sorrow, and we do not know when he is going to come to his senses and return to his father and mother." (7 July 1899, 237-8)

Later that night, the Blosse Lynch had another close encounter with a "Native Boat." At about 9:30, as they were steaming up from Basra, they struck a boat sailing downriver. The impact damage the port side of the Blosse Lynch, smashing part of its wooden hull above water, and bending the iron frame. In writing, Joseph castigated the men on the bridge for their carelessness. The offending crew members were the ship's new Second Mate, Mr. Smart, and the steersman Selman, brother of the pilot Mahmood. By Joseph's calculation, Selman was "a stupid and ignorant man who the captain tolerate[d] for his brothers sake." Fortunately, there was little damage to the other boat, and the Blosse Lynch was in no immediate danger of taking on water. (7 July 1899, 241)

On July 15, Yousif Korkis brought Joseph a letter forwarded by his brother Rezooki in London. It was from Alexander, addressed to Eliza, and written in Arabic. Alexander did not state when or where he had written the letter, but let loose with complaints at his father and mother. "He is very angry why I accused him to the Austrian Consulate in Paris," Joseph wrote, "he says he is in America and he is making his livelihood and gaining about 500 Beshlics per month, and he hopes of seeing us one day." (15 July 1899, 257-8)

In mid-summer, the low waters of the Tigris bedeviled the Blosse Lynch just as they had been doing for months. Steaming up and down the river was a monotonous process of running upon a shoal, dropping anchor and sounding for a deep enough channel to navigate. The constant striking on the bottom took its toll on the steamer itself, forcing the men to make repairs and compounding the delays they faced. Often, with low water, the crew would have to heave over shoals and sandbars in order to make any progress whatsoever. Joseph recounted a typical vexing upriver passage by al-Kut in late July. A stretch of barely four miles took more than 24 hours to traverse: "At 6.35 A.M. anchored below Coot reach and sent to sound; Found no water enough, marked the place and took anchors out and hove; at 1.15 P.M got over and proceeded to Coot; we took no coal; sounded opposite Coot, the place is bad, we left at 2.30 and steamed onto the Shoal and touched; took anchors ahead and hove on, two anchors were taken on the Starboard and Port and kept taking them further ahead and hove she went up, gradually and slow. The islands have appeared and the water is dispersed among so many of them. At 8.30 we hove over and had hardly steamed up passed the Islands to the opposite side when we again touched a Shoal and could not pass, took an anchor ahead and hove and by 10 P.M. they knocked off and all went to sleep; At 4 1/2 A.M. they begun to work, she floated and rounded and again struck, the steering chain broke aft, the block parted, they repaired it; At 7 A.M. we finished and proceeded from opposite Coot." (23-24 July 1899, 273-7)

Though they were intended to ease the difficulties of navigating through these low waters, towing the barges was an unenviable task. Despite their small draft, they had to be lightened in the summer months to navigate the extremely shallow river. Svoboda records: "Cowley is in a great funk about towing the Barge in this low season." (3 August 1899, 298-9) There was especially great difficulty navigating through the Devil's Elbow, where the river was too narrow to accommodate the length of both boat and barge. (4 August 1899, 301)

The sweltering summer heat made the days long and arduous for Joseph. In the whole month of August, he heard from his son only once. Rezooki Metchich had forwarded another letter from Alexander, this time saying that he was in New York. He repeated the same empty promises that he would soon return home. (10 August 1899, 313) Meanwhile, Joseph was miserable and in ill health. His stomach churned with bile. Some days, his spine troubled him so much that he could barely walk. He tried all manner of medicinal concoctions in search of relief, Castor Oil, Opodeldoc, Cajaput Oil, and more, but found none. (10-17 August 1899, 315-27) Joseph was nearing his 59th birthday, and seemed to grow more cognizant of his own maladies and of the mortality of his friends and family. On the sudden death of Artin Apikyan, an Armenian clerk, Joseph wrote: "it must be from appopletic attack, he was subject to that and being very fat and; with a short neck, he is about 60 or 61 years old." (19 August 1899, 333)

At the end of August, the Lynch Company received a familiar telegram. Over the decades the company had waged a constant battle with the Ottoman government over its right to tow barges on the river. Though they had been re-granted permission to do so in June, word came that the Vali of Basra had yet again told them to put a stop to the practice, on the orders of the Minister of the Marine in Istanbul. (28 August 1899, 348) However, the following morning, the Blosse Lynch left Baghdad with a loaded, barge in tow, paying no heed to the Minister's orders. (29 August 1899, 349) When they reached Basra, they found that the Lynches' agent and the British Consul at Basra Mr. Wratislaw had both wired regarding the barges. There was some confusion as to whether or not they would follow the order. The crew began loading the barge and the ship's officers prepared to accept the consequences if they were detained by the Ottoman authorities. As they were loading cargo, Wratislaw came aboard and discussed the matter with Captain Cowley. The order to stop had not come directly from the Sublime Porte. Rather, the Minister of the Marine had telegrammed the Commodore of the Ottoman naval detachment. It was decided that unless the order to stop came directly from the highest authorities in Istanbul, they would continue towing the barges. Without confirmation of this decision from the Lynches, the Blosse Lynch departed Basra on September 4, with a barge in tow. (3-4 September 1899, 358-61) They did not encounter any trouble from the Ottoman authorities.

Later, at home in Baghdad, Joseph found a letter from Edward Blockey in London, dated August 19. Blockey had tried on several occasions to contact Rezooki Metchich, who had been forwarding Joseph and Eliza the letters that Alexander had allegedly written from America. Blockey could not find Metchich, but he did meet with Metchich's landlord. The landlord told Blockey that Alexander had come to visit Metchich about three weeks prior. This, of course, must have meant that Alexander had not gone to America after all. (10 September 1899, 375-6) After months of deception, Joseph seemed resigned to his son's mischief; he did not bother to even register his disgust in his diary, as he often did before. Instead, deaths in the community and the pace of work weighed heavily on his mind. First, Yousif Yaghchi's newborn son took ill and died, then Haji Abdulrezack Khdery passed away from cancer at age seventy. Meanwhile, the company shipped so much cargo that Joseph's precious days at home in Baghdad were spent at the Custom House overseeing a continuous schedule of loading and unloading. On September 11, he wrote: "At 3 P.M. came on board to work, we shipped Cargo, at 6 P.M I went home; what a fine life this is, we arrived last night, and today am working on board and tomorrow also the whole day and we leave the day after, I am so disgusted seeing such a work." (11 September 1899, 377-8)

In late September, Joseph received a letter from his brother Alexander's widow Blanche. Blanche wrote that the younger Alexander had corresponded with her from London, repeating many of the same "lies about his illness" and so forth. Hearing of Alexander's renewed deceptions left Joseph and Eliza in a foul mood, "so much that [he] could not eat or sleep the whole night." (26 September 1899, 405-6) At the beginning of October, Joseph arrived in Basra aboard the Mejidieh. There were a number of ocean steamers in the quarantine: the Turkistan, Kurdistan, and Afghanistan for Asfar and Company, the Norge for Gray MacKenzie and Company, as well as the Royal Navy Gunboat Lapwing. "There were rumblings" in the town of a cholera outbreak. Arab laborers had come down with severe diarrhea and vomiting, and an 18 year old Christian boy had died a few days earlier. Rumors abounded. Some in Basra said that it was cholera, others downplayed the sickness.(4 October 1899, 419-21)

On the morning of the 5th, Joseph left Basra aboard the Mejidieh with a barge in tow. Passing Aziziyeh on the morning of the 11th, Joseph was awakend by the sound of Ottoman zaptyehs shouting from the shore for the Mejidieh to drop anchor. The crew sent their steam launch to shore to collect a telegram from the Lynches. Because of the appearance of cholera at Basra, Cowley was ordered to stop at Azizyeh and not proceed to Baghdad, pending new orders. This notification came from the British Consulate. This telegram confirmed Joseph's expectations that they would be stopped for quarantine on account of the cholera at Basra. Diary 49 ends abruptly here, with Joseph and the crew of the Mejidieh in quarantine. The last page of entries is torn. The final fragment of text indicates that Captain Cowley attempted to send a telegram to shore, but the Ottoman zaptyehs refused to take it. (11 October 1899, 430-1)