Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 51

Several more of them went by before Masaracchia detoured through the outskirts of Cairo, and then they were on the Cairo-Alexandria road. A few hours more, and Masaracchia opened the window at the back of the cab. I can see the first fortress. Twenty minutes to the city wall.”

Cannon checked his watch: 2:15. “We made good time.”

They came to the British checkpoint on the way in, and Cannon and his crew spent a few uncomfortable minutes under the blankets while a soldier looked into the back of the truck. It lurched into motion, and Cannon counted half a minute before he threw the blanket off, just in time to see the checkpoint vanish as Masaracchia turned a corner. Pedestrians swore as he drove down successively narrower streets, finally pulling up into a small driveway in front of a warehouse. A man looked out an upper window, and Masaracchia waved. The warehouse door swung inward, and Masaracchia pulled inside. As the truck stopped, Cannon jumped out and found himself nose-to-muzzle with a submachine gun.

“Brother monk?” he said.

Masaracchia rattled off a few sentences in Latin, and the gunman opposite Cannon slowly and suspiciously lowered his piece. The warehouse fit neatly in between two other buildings and Cannon hadn’t expected it to be quite so roomy. Two trucks, newer than their ancient Thornycroft, faced doors on the opposite wall. Sheets covered stacks of crates between them. Burr, Iseabail, and di Giacomo piled out of the truck. Masaracchia led them to a radio set.

Cannon sat at the console, spun the tuning dial, and tapped out two groups of three letters on the Morse key.

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