Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 45

He spun the volume knob down until Rule Britannia could barely be heard and waved for quiet from the others. In the near-silence, he could just make out beeps, standing out better against the lessened background noise. They stopped for a second, then started again. Cannon wrote down four letters: ECKS.

“Who’s Ecks?” said Burr.

“Not a name,” said Cannon, “the letter X. Something’s gone wrong.”

“Something else,” Burr corrected.

Cannon gave her a half-hearted glare. “Right. The Brits had Alexandria locked up tight on the way in. We’re better off keeping a low profile here and trying the radio again later.

The two men who had taken the camels burst through the door. Behind them, the camels waited outside. On the best of days, Cannon could barely follow spoken Latin. Masaracchia and his men spoke it so quickly that he had no chance at all.

After asking a few questions and receiving terse replies, Masaracchia turned to Cannon. “It isn’t safe here any longer. British soldiers are searching the town for your plane.”

“Something else,” Burr said.

Ignoring her, Cannon said, “Sounds like we’re better off getting out of Dodge now instead of later. Can we borrow your camels again?”

“We can do better than that.” Masaracchia headed for the door. “Follow me.”


Outside, in the gathering darkness, they kept watch for British patrols. Masaracchia led them down the street and around a corner. A heavy wooden door blocked access to a large house’s courtyard. One of Masaracchia’s men produced a key and turned it in the lock securing the iron bar across the gate. The other lifted the bar up, and together, they swung the door open. Masaracchia and his men rolled up the tarpaulin off of the shape within.

Iseabail burst into laughter, clutching at her sides and nearly tearing up.

“Did I miss the joke?” said Cannon.

Iseabail caught her breath and looked from Cannon to Burr and di Giacomo, who wore expressions of equal befuddlement. “Ye dinna recognize it? Na’ even you, cap’n?”

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