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فصل 15

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Chapter fifteen

‘You found your young man?’ asked Mr Dakin.

Victoria nodded. ‘Yes, and Edward thinks he can get me a job at the Olive Branch. And they know something about Anna Scheele there.’ Victoria repeated what Edward had told her.

‘Now that’s very interesting,’ said Mr Dakin.

‘Who is Anna Scheele?’ asked Victoria.

‘She’s secretary to the head of an international bank. She disappeared in London about ten days ago.’

‘Is she coming to Baghdad?’

‘If we can believe this young woman Catherine, then yes, she is,’ Mr Dakin said thoughtfully.

‘Perhaps I can find out more at the Olive Branch.’

‘Perhaps - but be very careful, Victoria. I would prefer not to have your body floating in the river.’

Victoria shuddered, ‘Like Sir Rupert Crofton Lee’s? That was horrible. Mrs Clayton got the awful news at breakfast - that’s when we heard it. A report from Cairo announcing that the body of Sir Rupert has been taken out of the Nile. First Carmichael and now Sir Rupert. All the people who know about this business are being killed. You know, that morning when Sir Rupert was here at the hotel, there was something strange about him.’

‘In what way - strange?’

‘Well - different.’ She shook her head, annoyed. ‘I will remember it sometime. Anyway. There is something I want to ask you. Who stabbed Carmichael? Was it someone who followed him here?’

‘No,’ said Dakin slowly. ‘He came in one of those Arab boats - and he wasn’t followed. I had someone watching the river.’

‘Then it was someone - in the hotel?’

‘Yes, I was watching the stairs and no one came up. Yet all the people in the hotel are unlikely for one very good reason.’

‘What is that?’

‘Carmichael was on his guard. He had a very strong instinct for danger. So he must have been stabbed by someone he trusted.’


Somehow, Edward had persuaded Dr Rathbone to offer Victoria a very low-paid job. She spent most of her time typing - or encouraging good feeling amongst visitors who mostly looked at one another with dislike. The Olive Branch was full of that sort of international peace. The meetings were held with orange juice to drink and boring food to go with it. As far as Victoria could see, everything was respectable and very dull.

She was now living with some other young female workers in a house by the river. It seemed to Victoria that Catherine watched her in an unfriendly way - it was known that Edward had helped Victoria get her job and several pairs of jealous eyes looked at her unkindly.

Though the Olive Branch seemed respectable, Victoria had a strong feeling that Dr Rathbone was not. Once or twice she noticed his dark eyes looking at her and though she returned her most innocent and sweet expression, she felt a sudden shock of fear.

She rarely saw Edward since he was always being sent to far- off places by Dr Rathbone - he had only just come back from Iran.

‘Really,’ thought Victoria, ‘I see so little of Edward, I might as well have stayed in England!’

Soon afterwards, however, Edward brought her some papers. ‘Dr Rathbone would like these typed at once, please, Victoria.’

A tiny note in Edward’s handwriting was pinned to the top sheet.

The Tigris riverbank, past the House of King Ali, tomorrow morning about eleven.

The following day was Friday, the weekly holiday. Victoria s spirits rose high. She really must get her hair washed.

‘It really needs it,’ she said aloud.

‘What did you say?’ Catherine, at work on a pile of leaflets, raised her head suspiciously from the next table.

Victoria said, ‘My hair needs washing. Most of these hairdressing places look so dirty, I don’t know where to go.’

‘Yes, they are dirty. But I know a girl who washes hair very well and the towels are clean. I will take you there.’

‘That’s very kind of you, Catherine.’

‘We will go tomorrow.’

‘Thank you,’ said Victoria. ‘That’s very kind. But not tomorrow.’

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