"No, my dear boy," he remarked to Carter when approached on the subject. "What we've found is not what you wish to think. They're only the things robbed from the tomb I've just discovered, stored in this pit by necropolis guards. There's no more to look for here, might as well move on to greener pastures!"
But there is infinitely more!" Carter's heart shouted at the time, only it was best to keep that feeling private, he knew.
The artifacts from the pit were forwarded to the Metropolitan Museum, New York. The Curator of the Egyptian Department, Mr. Herbert Winlock, examined them and came to a different conclusion, a less conservative view than Davis's. Since the world of working archeologists, particularly Egyptologists, is a small one when it comes to sharing ideas, it soon got round to Carter that Winlock thought the pit find was highly significant. Carter wired him immediately and got an answer, a telegram that gave his hands what felt like an electric charge:
T. DAVIS ITEMS EMPLOYED IN TUTANKHAMUM FUNERAL. SOME USED BY EMBALMERS. OTHERS USED IN BANQUET. EIGHT PEOPLE ATTENDED THE BURIAL DOES THIS HELP YOU ANY? H. E. WINLOCK, NEW YORK
So here was proof Tutankhamum was buried in the Valley, in a tomb no one yet had uncovered!
Unfortunately, despite his hard-won credentials as an Egyptologist, he hadn't what it took to follow this now confirmed, exciting lead. He needed money, lots of it, to really unlock Egypt's rich hoard of secrets. Professor Theodore Davis was well-heeled and financed his own digs, but Davis wasn't interested any further in Tutankhamum. So close, yet so far! Carter's frustration was indescribable.
The only option left was to find a patron with deep pockets. But that species was a rare one, indeed. And if you were poor or of modest income your chances of hobnobbing with the upper echelons, where you might find a prospective patron, were equally slim!
Yet he wasn't at a total loss for thinking of a prospective set of deep pockets. It was by recommendation of Lady Amherst that he first got his job as archeological draughtsman and assistant with Newberry. She had seen his drawings at an exhibition, met him standing nearby and from that chance encounter formed a good opinion of him and his work that led to his being hired in Egypt. Lady Amherst, of course, was no longer a possibility, having died two years aftewards. But she had made favorable mention of his talents and character to a certain Anglo-Scottish earl, Lord Carnarvon. The earl had gone so far as to write to him some encouraging words, to apply himself "most energetically and selflessly in that most exciting land of fabled Antiquities, Desertine Egypt" in a badly smudged, much blotted letter that also described the earl's disability brought on by a riding mishap while hunting fox. "I'm afraid I am little good for anything now," the earl lamented on pale green paper with the Carnarvon family coat of arms in gold, "except light reading of popular [blot] detective crime books and collecting curious old things that strike my fancy. I've quite filled the [blot] house here at [blot] Highclere and now resort to the outbuildings to [blot] store them all. My housekeepers are quite over-worked, having to dust so many trifling things..."
Lord Carnarvon's interest in him had struck Carter at the time, enough so he put the letter carefully away in his private papers after sending a brief reply on plain commoner paper. The earl had even invited him up to hunt the earl's own herd of red deer in a fenced deer park (artifi
cially-kept ice free with underground steam lines) on the estate lands, though saying he had "eschewed" hunting altogether since his accident. But Carter had no taste for hunting animals, and thought the earl a trifle barbaric and out of touch with modern youth like himself, so he put the letter and its invitation away and forgot it. Now he got the letter out and read it through. Was the earl still alive? He must be, Carter decided. Noblemen, even the gouty ones, don't expire prematurely of reading penny thrillers and collecting expensive knick-knacks. That type--unlike the risk-taking gentleman-sportsman--was known to hang on almost indefinitely.
As he had back then, he thanked the earl for the interest shown him, as if no significant time had elapsed. But he also brought the noble gentleman up to date on his work with Professor-Archeologist Theodore Davis, the Museum of Cairo, and the Egyptian government. As Inspector of Monuments Carter now had impressive credentials, and a prospective patron needed to be apprised of them. As for coming out with his reason for writing a second time--that he desperately wanted a patron to finance radical excavations in the Valley--he decided that would be just too bold. Better just a notification that he was working hard in Egypt--that he was one Briton who did not shirk his duty to bring glory to his country's escrutcheon if he could. If the earl responded in a friendly fashion, then he could be approached on the matter dearest to Carter's heart.
Still it was a mild shock to receive a letter with the same spidery and much blotted writing as his first crumpled specimen. It was almost like a ghost of yesteryear speaking to him. But the spirit behind the delicate writing was manly enough. Lord Carnarvon said how "pleased as punch" he was to see how well Carter had conducted his affairs since he left Britain for foreign shores. He knew Carter could do it! But he was a little confused, evidently, as to the object of Carter's second letter. Was Carter in need of anything? He feared Carter, as a "young gentleman of vocation", was too reticent and did not wish to make his needs known to an older man of the world and one so retired in habits as he. "Come out with it [blot], dear boy!" wrote the earl. "I'll either say yea or nay. And it's not bloody likely I'll turn a deaf [blot] ear to such a promising Egypto[blot] s you, Mr. [blot] Carter!" Then came the best part. "My daughter Evelyn and I [blot] will be vacationing in the Levant shortly. We will make it a point to stop by Thebes to see the monuments and also the Karnak collections. We would be greatly [blot] pleased if you can find time out from your archeological duties to [blot] show us round a bit. If then you wish to tell me what you wish me to do for you, you should find jolly ample opportunity. Yours [blot] Most [blot] Cordially--"
The evening after receiving Lord Carnarvon's letter, Carter went to the local village and danced up a storm of dust with the native men and youth to the wee hours of the morning. Of course, that wasn't done by an Englishman in those days! But let the niceties go hang, Carter thought. He really had something to celebrate: a patron! And the earl, holding stocks in the Bank of England and major Continental railways and shipping companies, was reputed to be one of Britain's wealthiest!