فصل 01

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کتاب های ساده

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فصل 01

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CHAPTER ONE

Holiday in London

It is hot in Cairo in August - very hot. The people who live in Cairo go away in August if they can. Some go to Alexandria, where it is much cooler, and some of the lucky ones go abroad to Europe or America.

Salahadin El Nur, Chief Inspector in the Egyptian Police, was one of the lucky ones. He was able to go on holiday because no archeologists come to Egypt in August when it is so hot. Archeologists prefer to come to Egypt in the cooler months of winter.

It is hot in Cairo in August, but it is much hotter in the south of Egypt! In the desert around Luxor, the sun can burn a man’s body like a bar of red-hot iron. And it is there that most of the archeologists want to work. Many of the ancient temples and cities of Egypt are in and around the modern town of Luxor.

Thursday, 4th August, was Salahadin’s last day at work. He was going on holiday for three weeks. His assistant, Inspector Leila Osman, would be in charge while Salahadin was away. At half past eleven, Salahadin tidied up his papers and locked the drawers of his desk. Then he stood up and went over to where Leila was sitting. He gave her the keys.

Leila, like Salahadin, was a graduate of Cairo University. They had both studied Ancient History. Leila was twenty-seven, six years younger than Salahadin. She had joined his department five years ago and was now one of the youngest inspectors in the Egyptian police.

‘I’m off to London on Saturday,’ Salahadin told Leila. ‘I’m staying there for three weeks and I’ll be back again on Saturday 27th.’

‘And I’ll have a holiday here in the office!’ replied Leila.

‘There’ll be nothing for me to do. I’ll read the newspapers and count the days until you get back. Don’t forget to send me a postcard from Piccadilly.’

‘Why Piccadilly?’ asked Salahadin.

‘People say that Piccadilly is the centre of the criminal world,’ was Leila’s reply.

Salahadin laughed and hurried out of the office. He wanted to get a taxi before the lunchtime rush hour in Cairo began.

On Saturday, Salahadin arrived at Cairo International Airport early in the morning. It was already warm and everyone was getting ready for another day of burning heat. But the passengers were looking forward to going to Europe where it would be much cooler.

The customs and immigration officials knew Salahadin and he quickly passed through into the Departure Lounge. Soon he was in the plane and on his way to London.

In London, everything was very different. It was wet and cold. Salahadin arrived at his hotel in Gower Street just after three o’clock in the afternoon. It was a small hotel, but it was just round the corner from the British Museum. Salahadin was going to spend part of his holiday working in the Museum with a friend, Dr Peter Earl. The British Museum has one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world.

On Saturday evening, it was still raining a little, but it was warmer. Salahadin went for a walk through the streets of Central London. He walked down Tottenham Court Road to Leicester Square and then along to Piccadilly. When he was in Piccadilly, he remembered Leila’s postcard.

I’ll buy it now while I remember, thought Salahadin. He walked into a tourist shop selling postcards and books. Salahadin walked past the bookshelves to find a postcard. He found one which was a photograph of “Piccadilly By Night”. He walked back to the counter to pay for it. On his way back, he had a quick look at the books on the shelves. He noticed a book which interested him. The title of the book was The Mystery of Queen Axtarte and the name of the author was Dr John Farrow.

Salahadin knew that Queen Axtarte was a queen in Ancient Egypt. And Salahadin had read many books on Ancient Egypt written by famous archeologists. But he had never heard of an archeologist called Dr Farrow.

Salahadin decided to buy the book and read it later. He paid for the postcard and the book and walked out into the busy streets of Piccadilly. It was now raining heavily. Salahadin walked towards Leicester Square. He noticed that a new film was being shown in one of the cinemas. Salahadin decided that was the best way to spend a wet evening in London. He had a meal in a small restaurant and went into the cinema.

It was very late when Salahadin got back to his hotel. He went to bed and soon fell asleep. The Mystery of Queen Axtarte lay on the table beside his bed. It was still wrapped up in the paper from the bookshop.

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