Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 21

Behind him, Masaracchia said, “Do you read hieroglyphics?”

“By heart, only a few,” said Cannon, kicking himself. His library aboard Inconstant held a copy of Alan Gardiner’s Egyptian Grammar, but without it he was working from memory alone. He ran a finger along the rows of glyphs. “Here,” he said, pointing at a pair of symbols: an owl in profile, looking out of the stone, and a man, viewed from above, laying on his side. “This pair means death.”

“An’ Osiris is god of the dead, aye?” Iseabail said.

“Yes,” Cannon said, glancing over his shoulder in surprise a moment later. Iseabail’s face glowed with curiosity. “I see you did your reading. Let’s see. This next one…” Two arms spread palms apart. “It’s common, I know that. Gives or takes, maybe?” The next symbol he recognized at once: a half-circle trailing lines beneath it. “Amen-ta,” he said. “The Land of the Dead. It’s the sunset, you see, with reflections on the river.” He looked up from the stele. “The Egyptians put sunset and death together, and they buried their dead on the west side of the river. This is a temple to Osiris—it could be a burial ground, too.” He looked over the inscription again and read, “The dead are taken to Amen-ta.” A few glyphs further down the face of the stone caught his eye. One depicted arms bearing a shield and a weapon. “This one means to fight.” A few others whose meaning Cannon could not discern followed, and the line ended in a man bowing. On the next line down, a man, laid out horizontally, fell onto a pair of spikes. “Trap,” Cannon said. “Good thing we brought you along, Isea.”


“Alright. That’s all the ones I—”

“Over here, skipper,” Burr called. “You’re gonna want to see this.”

Cannon straightened and went over, Iseabail and Masaracchia behind him. Burr pointed at an object in the sand—a revolver. Cannon looked up to the top of the hill and back at the revolver; it was the object he had spotted earlier. He picked it up and turned it over.

“L. Nagant, Liège, 1913,” he read off the frame. Opening the loading gate, he turned the cylinder around. “”Three chambers empty.”

Burr looked from side to side, scanning the horizon. “What do you think he was shooting at? And where did he go?”

“Beats me,” said Cannon. He unbuttoned the flap of his holster. “If it shows up again, let’s make a better show of it.”

“Absolutely,” Burr agreed.

This entry was posted in Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman's Cross, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply