Mr. Harold Armstrong


Good day. My name is Harold Edmund Archer Armstrong. I have spent much of my life thus far attempting to uncover the secrets of ancient Egypt with a modest amount of success. Now, I am ready to put pen to paper to share my notable adventures with the rest of the world, although I am encountering obstacles I did not anticipate. Obstacles, however, are nothing more than challenges to be dealt with. I have never backed away from a challenge.

I did not start out to be a man of adventure. I assumed I would follow in the footsteps of my father, a scholar of history. Intending to do so, I matriculated at Cambridge but in the third year of my studies, I grew restless and bored. With the impetuousness of the young, and against my father’s wishes, I left Cambridge to join several like-minded friends in an expedition to uncover ancient antiquities in the sands of Egypt. We were of a similar age with more enthusiasm than sense, more daring than discretion and a complete disregard for danger or the rules of appropriate behavior. Needless to say our venture was not successful. In hindsight, I can see where errors in judgement and poor decisions stemming from the arrogance of youth hindered our efforts. Even so, our first enterprise was not without lasting merit. Those men became my closest companions, the lessons learned have served me well and I discovered a passion for the lost splendor of Egypt that directed my existence for nearly two decades.

However, I have now put that behind me and have begun a new chapter in my life. Why, you ask? Any number of reasons really. I have recently inherited an unexpected title and the fortune that goes with it. When one reaches a certain age—I have just passed my thirty-eighth birthday—and when one has lost a good friend to an avoidable death, one does start to wonder if it’s time to chart the course of one’s life in a different direction. Passions fade, enthusiasms dim, even the most optimistic among us becomes cynical and tired. I have missed England and it’s time to come home. Some of my companions might laugh if they heard me express that sentiment. So be it. I have never cared for anyone’s opinion but my own.

Given that, my decision to turn my attention to chronicling my years in the desert may have been ill-advised. The only important opinions apparently belong to those who read your work or purchase it for publication. Those few people who have read my efforts so far, including my father, have pronounced my work, in the kindest manner possible, rather dry and somewhat dull. I find this hard to believe. I have never been the least bit dry or dull but as these are the assessments of people I trust I concede there might be a modicum of truth in their judgement. Apparently the more dashing aspects of my nature do not translate well to the written page. I shall have to work on that. In addition, I was advised to peruse the work of a Mrs. Gordon. I am told she is extremely popular. Her readers call her the Queen of the Desert.

I call her a fraud. Even if one can get past the overly descriptive phrases and sentimental nonsense—a camel is a rude, disgusting creature whose only noteworthy feature is its adaptation to the severe Egyptian climate and not a noble ship of the desert sallying forth across the sands for God’s sake—her accounts of very nearly everything are not the least bit accurate. She has turned Egypt into a fairy story fit only to put children to bed at night. I have never been averse to competition, indeed, I have always relished a rousing rivalry but my factual depictions of my experiences simply cannot compete with something she spins out of falsehoods and fairy dust. I have already written one strongly worded letter to The Timesabout this woman’s complete and utter lack of accuracy.

I intend my work to be as well read as Mr. Haggard or Mr. Verne although my stories are not fabrications but true experiences. And I will not let this pretender stand in my way . . .

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