فصل 14

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فصل 14

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

In a hotel room in Marrakesh, Jessop was talking to Miss Hetherington. This woman looked the same as the Miss Hetherington that Hilary had known, but she behaved very differently. Now she was confident and positive, and seemed much younger. The third person in the room was a dark-haired, solid-looking Frenchman called Leblanc.

Janet Hetherington was telling Jessop about the people that Hilary - as Olive Betterton - had talked to when they were in Fez. ‘There was Mrs Baker, who I had already met at Casablanca,’ she said. ‘I still can’t decide about her. She was friendly with Olive Betterton, but Americans travelling abroad often are friendly. And she was on the plane, too.’

‘Yes, what do you think about this plane crash, Leblanc?’ said Jessop, turning towards the Frenchman.

‘We don’t know why the plane crashed,’ the Frenchman replied, ‘but everyone on board was killed.’

‘What do you know about the pilot?’ asked Jessop.

‘Only that he was young and was a good pilot,’ said Leblanc. ‘And badly paid.’ He paused. ‘But there were seven bodies. They were badly burned and couldn’t be identified - but there were still seven bodies.’

Jessop turned back to Janet Hetherington. ‘Did Mrs Betterton speak to anyone else?’

‘She did talk to one of the waiters - and Mr Aristides,’ she replied.

‘Ah,’ said Leblanc, ‘Mr Aristides, one of the richest men in the world. And what does he do with all that money? He shuts himself away in a castle in Spain and collects, so they say, Chinese pottery.’

‘Mrs Betterton also visited the old town of Fez with one of the guides,’ said Miss Hetherington. ‘Someone may have contacted her then.’

‘And she suddenly decided to go to Marrakesh,’ said Jessop thoughtfully.

‘Not suddenly,’ said Miss Hetherington. ‘Her tickets were already booked.’

‘I mean Mrs Baker, not Mrs Betterton,’ explained Jessop. ‘Mrs Baker suddenly decided to go to Marrakesh. And surely it’s strange that Olive Betterton was involved in two plane crashes?’ He paused. ‘Here’s another idea - perhaps the crash was faked.’

Leblanc looked interested. ‘It could be done, yes,’ he said. ‘They could land the plane and set it on fire. But the bodies - there were still seven badly burned bodies on that plane.’

‘I know,’ said Jessop, ‘that’s the problem. And there’s no trail to follow.’

‘I have people searching the area where the plane crashed,’ said Leblanc. ‘It’s a very lonely place. The plane was off its course - flying in the wrong direction.’

‘I’m sure that’s important,’ Jessop said. ‘Let’s look at the passenger list again.’

The Frenchman gave the list to Jessop and they both examined it carefully.

‘Mrs Baker, American. Mrs Betterton, English. Torquil Ericsson, Norwegian. I’ve heard his name before,’ said Jessop, frowning. ‘I’m sure he’s a scientist of some sort.’

‘Then there is a nun, Sister Marie,’ said Leblanc. And Andrew Peters, American, and Dr Barron, an expert on diseases.’

‘That all fits in with what we’re looking for,’ said Jessop.

The telephone on the table rang and Leblanc answered it. ‘Ah, yes,’ he said. ‘Send them in.’ He turned to Jessop. ‘My men have found something!’ he said with excitement.

A few moments later two men entered the room - a Frenchman and a local Moroccan man. ‘I told the local people that there was a reward if they found anything,’ the first man said to Leblanc. ‘And this man has found something important.’

The Moroccan took a small object from underneath his white robes. It was a large pearl. Jessop took the pearl and looked at it closely with a magnifying glass.

‘Yes! The mark is there,’ he said with excitement. ‘Good girl - she did it!’

Leblanc was questioning the Moroccan in Arabic. He turned to Jessop. ‘This pearl was found nearly half a mile from the burning plane.’

‘That means,’ said Jessop, ‘that Olive Betterton survived the plane crash, and though seven burnt bodies were found, one of them was definitely not hers.’

‘I will tell my men to search a bigger area now,’ said Leblanc. And this man here will get a big reward. When the other local people hear about it, they will look very carefully for these pearls. I just hope,’ he added thoughtfully, ‘that her fellow-travellers didn’t realize what she was doing.’

‘Why should they?’ asked Jessop. ‘Olive Betterton has broken her necklace and a few pearls fell out of her pocket. It isn’t suspicious.’

Leblanc looked at the passenger list again. ‘Mrs Baker, American. Mrs Betterton, English. Torquil Ericsson, Norwegian - a scientist. We know nothing about him. There is a nun, Sister Marie - a good disguise, perhaps, and Andrew Peters, a nuclear chemist, also American. Last there is Dr Barron - a famous doctor,

I believe. All these people have been cleverly brought together to travel in that plane - which is later found on fire with seven dead bodies inside. It is amazing! I wonder how they did it?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Jessop, ‘but putting the bodies there was very convincing. But now - because of the pearl - we know that six or seven people in that plane have started a new journey.’

‘We should move to a hotel nearer where the plane crashed,’ said Leblanc, ‘in case other evidence is found nearby.’

Over the next few days Jessop and Leblanc worked very hard, calculating how far a car could travel from where the plane crashed in each direction, and where it would stop. There were lots of false trails, but at last they got results.

‘We have found something,’ Leblanc told Jessop. ‘A pearl was found in a local man’s house. He was paid a great deal of money not to tell anyone that six people stayed the night there. And children in a local village nearby have found two more pearls. So now we know which direction they went in.’

‘That’s good news,’ said Jessop.

‘There is more, my friend,’ said Leblanc. A local man saw a car driving in the night. As it passed he saw the sign of the hand of Fatima on one side. It shone in the dark. It was a good idea of yours, to put luminous paint on a glove - it only shows up at night.’

‘It works well,’ said Jessop, ‘but it’s dangerous, because the people in the car can see it, too.’

‘It cannot be seen in daylight, said Leblanc. And the hand of Fatima is a popular religious sign - it is painted on many different vehicles.’

‘That’s true,’ agreed Jessop, ‘but we must still be careful. If they did notice it, it could be a false trail.’

The next morning Leblanc excitedly brought in some new evidence - three pearls arranged in a triangle, stuck together with chewing gum.

‘Three pearls in a triangle,’ said Jessop. ‘That’s our sign to say that the next part of the journey was by plane.’

‘You’re right,’ said Leblanc. ‘This was found on an old army airfield, in a very lonely place. It is not used any more, but there were signs that a plane landed and left there not long ago.’

‘Another plane,’ said Jessop slowly. ‘So now there is no trail and we don’t know where they’ve gone. Again they have left for an unknown destination.’

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