92. Mine and Yours

858K 37K 33.5K

It only took me one look over the bush to be certain we were in the right place. Quickly, I ducked down again and whispered: "That's it! Lord Dalgliesh is here!"

"How do you know?" Mr Ambrose enquired, not looking at me, but staring through a gap in the foliage at the man standing at the entrance to the abandoned mine. "That's not Dalgliesh! I don't see him anywhere."

"Yes, but the guard at the entrance...!"

"He's wearing a French uniform. He's not one of Dalgliesh's men."

"Oh yes, he is! That's just it! I recognized him the moment I saw him. He was one of the men on the ship, one of those who were on deck when I climbed aboard."

Immediately, Mr Ambrose eyes turned sharper, more focused. They seemed to drill into the man who was standing at the entrance to the old mine, right in front of a worm-eaten old sign that said: Danger! Ne pas entrer!

"Hm. Well, if I can forge a uniform, then so can Dalgliesh. He might not even need to. Maybe he is actually in league with the French. They cannot like the idea of a canal at Suez under the control of an Englishman any more than he does."

I stared at him, incredulously.

"You... you actually think he'd consider treason?"

"It wouldn't be the first time."

There was a moment of silence, while I tried to digest that piece of information.

"All right," his voice finally cut through the silence, cold and controlled. "There are two possibilities. Either this guard is genuine, in which case he will turn us back with a few polite 'Pardon, Messieurs'..."

"I told you he isn't genuine!"

"...or you are right and he is in Dalgliesh's pay, in which case he should take us for soldiers of the Presidency Armies and let us pass." He shot me a dark look. "But in that case, there is no return. Once we're out in the open, we have to keep going, down into the mine. Do you understand, Mr Linton?"

I hesitated – then nodded. "Yes, Sir."

"I assume it would be of no avail trying to convince you to stay behind?"

I raised an eyebrow. "After I've come this far, you want me to stay here and miss all the fun? Are you mad?"

"You have a strange definition of 'fun', Mr Linton."

"And you don't have one at all."

"Mr Linton?"

"Yes, Sir?"

"Be quiet."

"Yes, Sir!"

Methodically, he took his watch out of his pocket and fiddled around with the dials. I wanted to ask what he was doing, but that would rather have been incompatible with staying quiet. Finally, he seemed to be content, and put his watch away.

"Mr Linton?"

"Yes, Sir?"

"Are you ready?"

"Yes, Sir, I am, Sir."

"Then follow me."

Slowly, he rose to his full height. Stepping out from behind the bush, he advanced on the guard in French uniform, his stride perfectly confident, as if nothing in the world could turn him back. I followed close at his heels. The guard turned his head, and spotted us.

Bugger! Please don't shoot us, don't shoot us, don't shoot us...!

He didn't make a move. Was he just too startled to react? For one moment, I questioned my own memory. Was he really one of Dalgliesh's men? His French uniform looked perfect to the last button. He could have come from a parade on the Chance Elysée. But if he was Dalgliesh's man, and saw through our disguise....

Storm and SilenceWhere stories live. Discover now