فصل 04

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فصل 04

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CHAPTER FOUR

The Black Mercedes

Inspector Ahmed and Leila were waiting for Salahadin when his plane landed at Cairo International Airport. They had a police car and a driver with them. The driver set out immediately for the Ministry of the Interior in the centre of Cairo.

‘Have you any news of Dr Farrow and his wife?’ was Salahadin’s first question.

‘We have checked every hotel in Cairo,’ replied Inspector Ahmed. ‘We cannot find them at all.’

‘What about Luxor?’ asked Salahadin. ‘Have you tried to find them in Luxor?’

‘Why Luxor?’ asked Ahmed.

Salahadin told Ahmed and Leila what he had learnt in London. And he told them about Dr Farrow’s book, The Mystery of Queen Axtarte.

‘In his book,’ Salahadin explained, ‘Farrow claims that the tomb of Queen Axtarte is near Luxor on the east bank of the Nile.’

‘But all the tombs of the Pharoahs and the Queens of Egypt are on the west bank of the Nile,’ interrupted Leila.

‘Farrow explains that in his book,’ replied Salahadin. ‘Queen Axtarte knew that all the tombs were on the west bank. She was a very clever woman and that’s why she had her tomb made on the east bank of the Nile.’

‘And you think that Farrow has come here to Egypt to look for this tomb?’ Inspector Ahmed asked Salahadin.

‘I’m sure that’s what he is doing,’ replied Salahadin; ‘And he’s not alone.’

‘Yes, his wife is with him,’ agreed Leila.

‘I don’t mean his wife,’ said Salahadin. ‘I think there is a gang of smugglers with him.’

The car stopped at a big roundabout in Heliopolis - a modern suburb of Cairo. A large black Mercedes drew up beside them.

‘Why do you think there’s a gang with him?’ asked Ahmed.

‘I’ll answer that question in a few moments,’ replied Salahadin. ‘First, I want to buy some cigarettes.’

‘What do you want cigarettes for?’ asked Leila. ‘You don’t smoke.’

Salahadin did not answer Leila’s question. Instead, he spoke to the driver, ‘Do you know that cigarette kiosk about two hundred metres on the right?’

The driver nodded his head to show that he understood.

‘Stop in front of the kiosk,’ Salahadin told the driver.

The car slowed down, moved over to the right and stopped by the pavement. Salahadin got out of the car and walked slowly over to the kiosk. He bought a packet of cigarettes and walked back to the car.

‘Don’t start yet,’ Salahadin told the driver. He turned and spoke to Ahmed and Leila. ‘Do you see that black Mercedes parked beside the pavement about twenty metres in front of us?’

They both looked at it carefully.

‘It’s got a foreign number plate,’ said Inspector Ahmed.

‘That’s the one,’ said Salahadin. ‘Now watch what happens.’

The police car drove away from the side of the road. When they had driven past the Mercedes, the Mercedes moved away from the pavement and followed them.

‘I noticed it earlier,’ Salahadin told the others. ‘I thought that car was following us. Now I am sure.’

They were approaching a busy road junction in the centre of Heliopolis. There were traffic lights ahead of them and a tram was coming up to the junction from the right. The lights in front of them were changing from green to red.

‘Drive as fast as you can,’ Salahadin told the driver. ‘Get across before that tram comes.’

The driver put his foot on the accelerator18 and drove across the tramlines. The Mercedes tried to follow behind them. The tram driver rang his warning bell loudly. The tram brakes squealed as the tram tried to stop. But it was too late. The tram hit the back of the Mercedes and the car ran onto the grass. It stopped in the middle of the junction.

‘Stop - quick,’ shouted Salahadin.

The police driver stopped as quickly as he could. Salahadin, Ahmed and Leila jumped out of the car and ran back. But they were too late. Two men who had been in the car had jumped out. They had disappeared through the crowd of people who were running towards the accident.

‘Too late,’ said Ahmed. ‘They’ve escaped.’

‘Let’s have a look inside the Mercedes,’ said Salahadin.

Inspector Ahmed went up to a traffic policeman and showed him his identity card.

‘Go and phone the police at the Ministry of the Interior,’ Inspector Ahmed told the traffic policeman. ‘Here’s the telephone number. Tell them that Chief Inspector Ahmed Abbas is here.’

Ahmed and Leila kept the crowd away from the Mercedes while Salahadin searched through it.

Salahadin sat in the driver’s seat of the Mercedes and looked around inside. He picked up a packet of cigars and a book which was lying on the back seat of the car. Then he looked in the boot which had sprung open in the crash with the tram. He found nothing else.

Two policemen arrived. Ahmed told them to keep the crowd away from the Mercedes and to wait for the police from the Ministry of the Interior.

‘They’ll tow the car away with them,’ he explained to the policemen.

They walked back again to their own car.

‘What did you find?’ Leila and Ahmed asked together.

‘A packet of cigars,’ replied Salahadin. ‘Dutch cigars.’

‘So it is the Amsterdam Ring,’ remarked Leila.

‘Perhaps,’ replied Salahadin. ‘But whoever they are, they’re involved with Farrow. Look!’

Salahadin held up the hook he had found in the Mercedes. It was The Mystery of Queen Axtarte by Dr John Farrow.

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