Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 14

Cannon followed the Nile up and down the map. About five hundred miles, he made it, from Alexandria to El Balyana. “Let’s get this straight. We fly down there, break into this place, nose around for van der Hoek or clues to his next stop, and vamoose before the British catch on?” Masaracchia began to answer, but Cannon cut in. “Who is ‘we’, and why did Massri clam up about this temple?”

Masaracchia glanced off to his left. “The rural Egyptian is a supersitious breed,” he said. “Many still cling to some belief in the ancient gods.”

“And ‘we’?” Cannon pressed.

“Friends of the church.”

“I get the feeling he’s not being on the level with me, Joe,” Cannon said.

“Hm,” Joe grunted. “Coincidence. I was thinking that too.”

Masaracchia looked between them. “Captain, surely you know there’s an element of risk in any venture concering the supernatural—”

“No angry locals?” Cannon interrupted.


“No vast conspiracy just waiting for us to let down our guard?”

“I can’t say for sure that one does not exist, but if it does, I’m not involved.”

“He’s a bit of a smart-aleck for a monk, isn’t he?” Cannon said. Joe replied with a nod. “No desert tribesmen to take our little expedition as an insult? No deathly traps?”

“No tribesmen,” Masaracchia said. “I say nothing about traps. Van der Hoek did vanish, after all.”

Cannon considered that. “Fair enough. Are you ready to go, or will you need a few minutes?”

Masaracchia blinked at him.

“Oh, don’t play coy,” Cannon said, rolling his eyes. “You’ve got a suitcase all ready to go under your cot, and if you’re just a monk—well, if you’re just a monk, then I’m the king of France. I won’t make an issue of it if you keep out from under foot aboard the zep.”

The monk grabbed his suitcase. “I’ll do my best, captain. Lead on.”

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