فصل 08

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فصل 08

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Dr Jusef Strengel

While De Fries was driving slowly up the slope in the desert, Salahadin was flying south towards Luxor. He was sitting beside the pilot in a police plane. He could see the River Nile below him.

‘We’re getting near Luxor now,’ said the pilot. ‘I’ll turn east. Then I’ll turn south and fly over the desert towards Luxor airport.’

A few minutes later they were flying over the desert. Salahadin looked through the binoculars. He could see the rocks, valleys, and mountains below them.

‘It’s like a mirror,’ he said to the pilot, ‘the sun is shining back from the sand and rocks.’

‘You’ll see more clearly when we get down lower,’ the pilot told him.

Salahadin studied the map in front of him for a few moments. Then he looked again through the binoculars at the ground below them.

‘We’re nearly there,’ he said. ‘I think the tomb is somewhere down there.’

The plane flew lower. Suddenly Salahadin gave the binoculars to the pilot.

‘What can you see down there?’ he asked.

The pilot took the binoculars and looked down at the desert.

‘It’s a lorry,’ he said to Salahadin. ‘It’s moving over a high hill.’

‘It must be them,’ said Salahadin, taking back the binoculars and looking down at the lorry.

‘Shall I circle round and go lower?’ the pilot asked.

‘No - we don’t want to make them suspicious. Keep flying towards Luxor airport.’

The plane flew on and Salahadin studied the ground below them through the binoculars.

‘Look,’ he said after a few moments. ‘There’s another lorry down there. And its bigger than the first lorry.’

‘Is it travelling with the first lorry?’ asked the pilot.

‘I don’t know,’ replied Salahadin slowly. ‘It’s about three kilometres south of the first lorry, but it’s travelling in the same direction.’

‘That’s interesting,’ said the pilot. ‘If people are together in the desert, they keep close to one another.’

But who could be in this other lorry? said Salahadin to himself.

Salahadin carefully marked the positions of both lorries on the map. The pilot got ready to land at Luxor airport.

Police Inspector Musa Angheli was waiting for Salahadin at Luxor airport. The Inspector had met Salahadin many times. Salahadin had often come to visit the ancient monuments around Luxor. The two men shook hands.

‘A telex has just arrived for you from Chief Inspector Ahmed in Cairo,’ said Inspector Musa. ‘You’d better read the telex in my office in the airport building. It’s too hot to stand out here in the sun.’

On their way to the airport building, Salahadin told Musa about the two lorries he had seen in the desert.

‘Perhaps this telex will explain why there are two lorries in the desert,’ said Inspector Musa.

There was a small fan on the desk in Inspector Musa’s office. The fan moved the air around, but it did not make the office cooler. Salahadin sat down and read the telex from Ahmed.

ATTENTION: INSPECTOR SALAHADIN EL NUR LUXOR AIRPORT

RECEIVED REPORT ON THE BLACK MERCEDES. NO - REPEAT - NO - FINGERPRINTS OF THE AMSTERDAM RING IN THE CAR. BUT ONE SET OF PRINTS THOSE OF DR JUSEF STRENGEL - REPEAT DR JUSEF STRENGEL. NO NEWS YET OF CHRISTINE FARROW.

AHMED ABBAS

‘So, Dr Jusef Strengel is back in Egypt,’ said Salahadin. ‘A black Mercedes followed us in Cairo,’ Salahadin began. ‘Ahmed has found out who owns it. The Mercedes belongs to Dr Strengel.’

‘We know a lot about Dr Strengel,’ Salahadin went on. ‘His father was German and his mother was Lebanese. He smuggles antiquities. But he’s different from the other smugglers. People like the Amsterdam Ring smuggle antiquities and sell them to make money. Strengel has lots of money of his own. He has one of the largest private collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world. He’s not interested in making money - he wants the antiquities for his own collection.’

‘And he wants the treasures of Queen Axtarte for his collection,’ added Inspector Musa.

‘That’s right,’ replied Salahadin. ‘And I’m sure that he’s out there in the desert in one of those lorries. I think that the Amsterdam Ring is in the first lorry with Farrow. Farrow is taking them to the tomb and Strengel is following them.’

Salahadin discussed the situation with Inspector Musa. There were now two gangs of smugglers out in the desert. Salahadin and Musa could not fight them by themselves. They would have to have help.

‘We have a new Range Rover here,’ suggested Musa. ‘It’s the best kind of vehicle for moving over rocky ground in the desert. And I’ve got a good driver who knows the desert tracks . We can take three policemen with us.’

Salahadin agreed to Musa’s suggestion and soon the Range Rover was ready to leave. The three policemen had rifles with them. Salahadin and Musa had revolvers and there was a box of dynamite in the back. Salahadin got it from a store at the airport.

‘What’s the dynamite for?’ asked Musa.

‘We may need it,’ replied Salahadin. ‘I’ll explain why later.’

Salahadin showed the driver the map. He pointed to the place he had marked.

‘How long will it take us to get there?’ he asked the driver.

‘It’s very rocky ground out there,’ replied the driver. ‘If we’re lucky, we may get there in three or four hours.’

‘Drive as quickly as you can,’ said Salahadin. The driver started the engine and the Range Rover set out into the desert.

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