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The Museum Mystery: Thirtynine

“I want this load at our end,” said Hartley doggedly. “I want that coffin and the girl who’s in it. The weapons are yours. She’s mine…and whoever killed her.”

John Waddington-Feather continues his intriguing murder mystery story.

The detectives were gob-smacked! They retired to The Railway Tavern with their tails between their legs. They’d have to tell Donaldson and when he heard he’d get cold feet. They could see that a mile off. Even if they knew where the stuff had gone he wouldn’t let them follow. He’d hand over at once to the Anti-Terrorist Squad.

However, by the time their drinks arrived Mordecai Waheeb looked more happy. “Could be a blessing in disguise,” he said.
They took their drinks to a cubby-hole the other end of the bar.

“What d’you mean by that?” asked Hartley. “It’s almost as if they knew we’d been there and cleared off.”

“At least we know they don’t hang about. If we see another load going in from the quarry, we’ve got to act pronto,” said Khan.

“If?” said Hartley. “There won’t be another if. We only let on that last load by chance.”

The Colonel topped his ale, before saying, “You’re forgetting we’ve two aces still up our sleeves. Dr. Misha and D.W.C.Anwar. If they’ve kept their eyes and ears open we should know how they move their stuff to Cairo. And if you can’t get the El Tubans this end, we can intercept them at the other.”

“I want this load at our end,” said Hartley doggedly. “I want that coffin and the girl who’s in it. The weapons are yours. She’s mine…and whoever killed her.”

Waheeb nodded. “Point taken, my friend. I’ll let you know as soon as I learn where they’re warehousing those crates before they clear customs. Listerton will have to get clearance from customs before they be shipped out, that’s for sure.”
Puzzled, Sergeant Khan said, “Why should they want to take that coffin with the murdered girl in it - if it is her - all the way to Egypt? I mean, if she’s been sacrificed, she’s part and parcel of their set-up here.”

Mordecai Waheeb wiped his moustache with his handkerchief. Then cleared his throat. “The rites…the obscenities these people carry out are bound up with their belief that their goddess is reincarnated every time they kill. She can’t continue living her human life unless she if offered the body of a young girl. At the end of time, all her reincarnations will be restored to life as her daughters. They hold a special place in the after-life of her followers. That’s why they’re taking the girl’s body back to Egypt. To join the others.”

Khan looked shocked. “Are you saying there have been others, right from the time of the Pharaohs, like the mummy in the coffin?”

Waheeb nodded. “From that time to the present,” he said.

“And they’ve gone on unchecked?”

“Their secrecy is absolute. Their sect has recruited from the same families for generations. They intermarry. You can only be initiated into the high priesthood by marrying into it. It’s a caste system. That’s why the Whitcliffs always married Egyptian wives.” The colonel paused and took a sip from his drink. He wiped his tache again then continued slowly, “If anyone breaks ranks, if they discover an intruder…they eliminate him…or her.”

He let the significance of his words sink. They already had ample proof of that with Manasas’ murder.

“But, my friends,” he went on, more quietly, “I believe for the very first time we have the opportunity of breaking them.

They are few in number now. That’s why they’re going to such lengths to survive, to build up their ranks. Taking in such riff-raff as Blackwell and such charlatans as Madame Marie. It would have been unthinkable a generation ago.”

“And that’s why I want that coffin before it’s shipped out,” said Hartley grimly. “There’s more than murder been committed. There’s evil absolute and untrammelled.”

Ibrahim Khan glanced across at his boss. He’d long recognised Hartley fought more than crime. Each enquiry he conducted was his own personal war against evil. A jihad. A holy war. He was a priest and policeman in one. The longer Khan worked with him, the more his own policing went that way. Their religions joined in their fight against crime, especially murder.

Before they left the pub, they agreed they all must attend the opening of the Institute. That way they’d have a threefold chance of picking up a lead.

“The chief suspects will all be there. The whole jollyjack of ’em,” said Hartley. “Whitcliff, Listerton, Riad, Mukhtar - perhaps others we know nothing of. Not to mention Arthur Donaldson and the Chief Constable! I’ll have a word with Professor Edwards. He’s as keen as we are to catch the killers of Dr Manasas. He’ll get us on the invite-list.” Hartley gave the ghost of a smile. “Then I can show Donaldson my personal invitation card. He’ll like that!” He relished more watching his superintendent’s face when he turned up at the Institute as one of the guests.


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