85. Lion's Den

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"This," Mr Ambrose said, gazing coldly at the two doors, "is inconvenient."

Karim swore violently.

"What is this?" I demanded, pointing to the bifurcation. "I thought you said there is only one corridor, and it leads straight on."

"I also mentioned that the plans were not up-to-date, if you remember, Mr Linton."

"Spiffing! Absolutely top-hole!" Angrily, I gave the wall a kick. Naturally, it kicked back as hard as walls usually do. "So we're just going to pack our bags and go home?"

"Certainly not," said Mr Ambrose, who looked as if the whole thing was nothing more than an intellectual problem to be discussed over tea and biscuits. "There are two corridors. We are three people. Simple Arithmetic tells us the solution. We will divide our forces, and whoever discovers Dalgliesh's office or his personal safe will have to acquire the file and make it out of here."

Karim, who had just been about to follow my example and kick the wall with all his force, stopped. I was rather glad. He might have brought down the house on top of us.

"Of course!" He exclaimed. "I'm at your service, Sahib. Where shall we go? Where shall we send..." His eyes rested for a moment on me, while he searched for the proper pronoun. "...this individual?" he concluded.

I opened my mouth to give him a piece of my mind, but Mr Ambrose was quicker.

"No, Karim. We will not go together. You will go one way. I and Mr Linton shall explore the other corridor."

Something like hurt showed under the black curls of Karim's beard. I might have been sorry for him if I hadn't been so busy suppressing a gigantic grin.

"You'd rather be accompanied by this creature than by me, Sahib?" the Mohammedan demanded.

Mr Ambrose made a terse movement with the head towards the second corridor. "I'd rather send somebody I can rely on where I cannot go myself, Karim."

Nice. The grin stopped trying to force its way onto my face. So he couldn't rely on me, could he?

Mollified by Mr Ambrose words, and probably also by the sour look on my face, Karim bowed.

"I shall do as you command, Sahib."

"If you find the file, leave. If you find nothing, leave. Don't wait for us. We will meet back at Empire House."

Karim didn't look too happy about that order. But he bowed again.

"As you wish, Sahib."

Without another word, he turned and disappeared down the corridor to the left.

"Come on." Mr Ambrose motioned down the other corridor and started forwards. "We have wasted enough time."

I almost ran after him. Not that I would ever have admitted, but leaving Karim behind sent a tingle of fear up my spine. No matter how many soldiers Lord Dalgliesh had at his command, I couldn't see any of them getting past the huge Mohammedan. Now that he was gone, all Mr Ambrose had for protection was his cane, which just now didn't seem as impressive to me as on the first occasion he had drawn its hidden blade.

Suddenly, Mr Ambrose stopped and held up his hand. That was a sign which even I, with my very limited experience in burglary, had no problems understanding. I halted, and waited with baited breath.

When, after a few moments, nothing had happened, I whispered: "What is it?"

"Voices," he said, in a low, but otherwise normal tone of voice. "Be quiet. And if you have to speak, don't whisper. We are soldiers, remember? We are supposed to be here, and if we whisper, it will sound suspicious."

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